A Chance to Feel Pretty

March 12, 2017:

A homeless waif walks into a boutique in Yonkers poor and out-of-place, and Butterfly gives her a chance to feel pretty.

Upscale Boutique in Yonkers, NY

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Scarlet Witch

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Butterfly Wings, the smart makeup which can replace an entire cosmetic cabinet, has gotten quite a bit of press and done quite well on the open market. That doesn't mean the owners of Everywoman Technologies, the company behind the smash hit, are resting on their laurels, though. Today, Kazumi St. Germain aka the social media star Butterfly, is at an upscale botique in Yonkers, offering demonstrations to women willing to contribute at least one hundred dollars to Planned Parenthood.


As anyone who watches her YouTube channel knows, Butterfly is… a bit unusual. Beautiful, if a bit androgynous, the woman's Asian heritage is obvious but so is her skin which is currently a Blade Runner-esque shade of neon green. She's dressed for the occasion, in a faux leather dress and jacket combo which makes it clear either her skin really is green of she's applied makeup everywhere. The heels, easily four inches, complete the outfit.


Standing towards the back and trying to peek around shoulders and heads, a blonde in beat-up sweatpants is trying to observe the demos. Her hoodie is up, exposing only a glimpse of the straight blonde hair buried underneath and she looks at best college-aged, perhaps even younger. With thick boots covered in more than a little dirt from the city streets and nothing more fashionable than a large backpack to round out her weathered look, she sticks out like a sore thumb.


The demonstrations are simple enough. The donation is made to Planned Parenthood via cash or credit card. Butterfly then walks the woman through applying Butterfly Wings. The smart cosmetic comes in a little jar and seems to resemble a yellowish, transparent goo. It is applied with a high tech little wand which has multiple functions, allowing it to spread wide over areas like the cheeks and lips, narrow around the eyes, or even blotting and dotting for special effects. Once the makeup is applied, Butterfly makes use of her phone to activate the nanoparticles and it becomes less a transparent goo and more a beautiful array of artfully applied colors. All the while, Butterfly talks, laughs, and even flirts with her client.


Nerina spies a jar sitting nearby while waiting her turn in line and cringes a little at the price tag. Once she gets to the front, the vagabond glances aside and tugs at the neckline of her hoodie, feeling as out of place as she looks.

"Cosi… the donation is separate from buying the makeup, yes?" She asks in a lyrical voice that's inflected with Italian, and then some. "How long does it last?"


Some women nearby snigger at the hoodie wearing waif. Butterfly shoots them THE LOOK and turns the full power of her smile on Nerine. "The donation is seperate." And a jar is a hundred dollars. "So, a jar lasts, you know, for about six months worth of daily use if you take care of it. You can wear it for roughly sixteen hours before you need to return it to the jar and plug it in to recharge the microbeads. That, like, takes about four hours. A love your hoodie. Somedays I'm all, God, I want to wear something comfortable and warm and just enjoy, you know?"


"It's not as warm as it look," Nerina admits. She doesn't even acknowledge the sniggers; she's weathered much worse. "So if I buy your hundred-dollar jar separate with no donation…" the blonde infers skeptically, "No one will show me how to use it?"


Technically, that's correct. Butterfly looks over Nerina for a moment. Muddy shoes to threadbare hoodie and then checks the FitBit attached to her wrist. "You know what? I've been doing this for four hours now without a break and it is lunch time. So, you and I are going to go next door, get some panini and tea, and I'll, like, walk you through the basics. Sound good?" When the shop clerk assigned to assist Butterfly begins to protest, the YouTube star just gives her a hip check. "Relax! You can totally handle this for thirty minutes while I make a new friend."


Nerina smiles at the offer but it mostly just makes her look tired. There's no makeup on her now - at all. Nothing to hide the bags under her eyes or the slightly sunken cheeks.

"Grazie," she nods appreciatively and lets Butterfly lead, though the hip check forces her to covers her face to hide a giggle.


It takes a few minutes to hand everything over. Then Butterfly grabs her little Pikachu backpack and leads Nerina out of the botique to the cafe next door. It doesn't take long at all to order paninis and tea, to be delivered to a corner table. "So." Butterfly says, "You got a name or do I get to make one up for you?"


The blonde orders water and a plain bagel with exact change and grabs a trio of butter packets on the way to the table. The backpack drops heavily in one seat and Nerina falls with less of a thump beside it, sighing a little at being off her feet.

She takes a sip of water before opening the plastic knife to start buttering her food. "I do, but try one. Guess," Nerina invites.


Butterfly leans forward, considering the blonde with the hollow eyes sitting before her. "Well, the accent is adorbs. Totes. Mmmm. And you are a cutie. Not everyone can, like, pull off the tomboy look. Soooooo…. you are, like, obviously… Artemis, like, goddess of the hunt. Totally. Doesn't matter what you tell me now. You're Artemis. Are you hunting me, Artemis?" She winks.


"Artemis" goes back for another sip while listening and promptly chokes. The blonde coughs to the side and thumps her chest until the water clears enough for her to catch her breath. "I… hunting you? Tomboy?"


Butterfly happily nibbles on her panini and sips a bit of her now steeped tea while the blonde gets ahold of herself. "I am, like, a total flirt. I warn you in advance. I can't help it. Just bubbles out of me the way, you know, some people exhale oxygen. I'll say to myself, now don't flirt with this one and five minutes later I'll be asking him or her or they what color underwear they prefer."


"That is… very open," Artemis considers, regarding the raven-haired woman a little warily. "What did you mean 'hunting you' and 'tomboy'?"


"I believe in being, like, open. Communicating. I'm used to telling people what I'm thinking. YouTube." Butterfly shrugs and nibbles again. She eats her food in tiny little bites. "Tomboy means a girl who acts and dresses in a traditionally masculine way. Hunting me means I was asking if you were looking to hook up with me. I was joking. I figure you just…." She pauses for a moment. Sometimes Butterfly does think before she speaks. "… sometimes we all need to, like, take a moment and do something ot make ourselves feel better."


Artemis looks ready to speak but stops as the green-skinned woman continues and brings up a deeper thought. Her expression flattens and her head tilts curiously, no more smile just to be polite, as fleeting as it already was.

"Like what?"


Butterfly considers the question. She looks upwards, as if searching her memory and then says, "Two years ago I was, like, really homesick. Really homesick. So, I went into a McDonalds and I ordered one of everything, ate it, got so sick I threw up for days." She sighs. "It was, like, totally stupid. I hadn't eaten meat in years."


The blonde's head cocks itself the other way. "I don't understand," she blurts.


"I am saying, if you want to spend today looking as pretty as you possibly can? I'm totally on board and I'll, like, do everything I can to help. Because everyone deserves to feel pretty." Butterfly tries to boil it down simply. "You ask, I'll help make it happen."


"I am saying, if you want to spend today looking as pretty as you possibly can? I'm totally on board and I'll, like, do everything I can to help. Because everyone deserves to feel pretty." Butterfly tries to boil it down simply. "You ask, I'll help make it happen."


Artemis can't stop a small smile from parting her lips as she turns down to her bagel and takes a bite. That she understood.

"Graphie," she murmurs around food, then swallows. "…How is that about… ''hooking up''?" The blonde asks, trying out the phrase.


"Getting together with someone for the, like, express purpose of some level of sexual intimacy." Butterfly gives as clinical a definition as she can considering she's so freaking bubbly.


Clinical to the vagabond just means 'big words' but she mouths an 'oh' anyway, then blinks, looks down at herself, and pokes at her chest with an expression of open surprise.


"I mean, you could be, like, straight. Or asexual. And I don't think you're really trying to, you know, get me in bed. Most people aren't. I don't have THAT big an ego!" Butterfly promises. "Really."


"But you're thinking about having me in bed," Artemis infers, her brain still a little jumbled. "*Me*."


Butterfly laughs. "A little. You're cute. I mean, you look like you could maybe use a week of good sleep and some time with a stylist and maybe some food. I'm not going to lie. But you're cute and you've got loads of potential. And your accent is sexy as ef, girl."


"Io non parlo italiano nativo…" the youth admits in her native tongue as she glances aside and twirls one of her bangs.

"I cannot tell your accent. Where are you homesick from?… And why are you green?"


"I'm from North Carolina. South of here. I was living in Paris at the time." Butterfly explains, "And I'm green because I was exposed to the Mists you see on the news. My skin changes color regularly." In fact, if one were to look closely, they might be able to tell Butterfly is a deeper shade of green now than she was when 'Artemis' walked into the store.


A less neon shade is good news in Artemis' book. If she knew the language better she might even crack a joke.

"Ahh, capisco." The youth's attention drops to her bagel with that, hoping to enjoy it while it's hot.


Butterfly pulls out her phone, taps in 'capisco' and checks the translation. "I like that. Capisco. I think I'll use it on the accountants the next time they start complaining about my shoes. I need shoes. They're a business expense."


"Boots last longer," Artemis helpfully supplies. "But you do look nice," she admits, glancing below the woman's face. "I would need more than makeup."

"Oh, do I need a phone to use your makeup?"


"I own boots, too." Butterfly assures Artemis. "Before I go home I'll put them on. I don't wear heels in the subway. Its a stupid thing to do. Likely to get the heel snapped off." She finishes her painini and sips the last of her cooling tea. "You, like need a phone. We've got apps that work on the most popular operating systems. Otherwise the makeup can't receive instructions."


Artemis grimaces for a moment before taking another drink as well. she returns to her food with thoughts churning, then asks her next question. "How much does six months of normal makeup cost for the same look?"

It says more than she might mean it to.


"Depends. For most women? Maybe twenty to a hundred dollars a month." Butterfly isn't in sales mode now. She's not pushing the product. "For some, as much as three hundred a month. You'd do well with, like, simple makeup. Nothing fancy. And I'm guessing you wouldn't wear it every day."


"Why not?" the youth asks simply, pointing to her face, fatigue lines, blemishes, and all. "This won't go away."


"True." Butterfly allows. "So you might go through it in, like, five months. I'm not, like, going to try to solve your problems for you. You obviously have them and I'd feel pissed off if someone came into my life without knowing me and tried to fix my problems. But is there, like, something I can do beyond makeup for you?"


Artemis giggles a little and looks aside with a distant expression as she scratches her cheek. "You remind me of Rosso…"


"I have no idea what that means." Butterfly says with a laugh. "And I do need to get back to, you know, work. But. Tell you what." She pulls out a jar of Butterfly Wings from her Pikachu pack and sets it down on the table. "Take this. and this." A business card joins it. "Personal number on it. When and if you're ready, you, like, call me. I'll pick it up. We'll talk."


Artemis' eyes go wide, showing a glimpse of warm seas in their blue depths. "I… grazie, molto grazie. Thank you!" She blurts, staring at the hundred dollar jar. It's a big figure in her world.

Without a second thought paid to her bagel, the jar is made to disappear into her backpack and the business card… under the table somewhere. It's safe to assume it found a pocket of some kind.

"E Rosso is my… friend," she explains. It's the first time she's said it. The blonde has another small smile stuck on her face, perhaps not quite capable of a big one, but it leans a little crookedly towards an amused smirk. "The first night she met me I went home with her."


"Well, if you need a couch…" Butterfly says, "You, like, call. Okay?" She has that moment. The 'have I done enough?' moment. The 'is she going to die in park somewhere and freeze to death tonight because I didn't do more' moment. But then she smiles and says, "You decide, okay?" She's not going to take away Artemis' agency.

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