3.09: TONE DOWN
She began to turn at the sound of her name, yet was not fast enough to avoid being blindsided by the fast moving splash of colour that was Chartreuse.
“Carrie!” the pink haired girl repeated desperately, grabbing onto Carrie’s arm to keep her from falling over. “Thank goodness I spotted you! Listen, Corry doesn’t, like, believe me when I say someone’s out to kill him. We’ve got to use your powers so we can, you know, stop this terrible thing from happening!”
Carrie coughed. “Ahem. I’m sorry, what – was – that – Chartreuse?” she said, inclining her head towards the person standing next to her.
Chartreuse turned to look at Carrie’s red-headed companion. “Oh, hi Glen! Uhmmmm, I need to use Carrie’s powers of… persuasion! Mind if I borrow your date for a little while?”
Glen laughed. “It’s okay Carrie, I don’t mind. I could use a dance break, and was planning on watching Corry’s performance anyway. You go tend to the serious matters your friend is referring to.”
“I’m sure they’re not that serious,” Carrie protested. It didn’t matter – Chartreuse had already muttered a quick thanks and was pushing her towards the hallway. Sighing, Carrie allowed herself to be led into the nearest unlocked classroom before confronting the pink haired girl.
“REALLY, Chartreuse?” Carrie said irritably. “What is so important that you felt it necessary to pull me away from the first truly enjoyable date I’ve had in months??”
“It’s like I said! I sensed something earlier, but it didn’t, like, hit me until I touched Corry’s hand,” Chartreuse explained in a rush. “It was one of my, you know, wham bang powerful impressions that told me he’d be dead before the night was out! And I bet it’s somehow related to the musical sets he’s gonna do! But I can’t see more than that without meditating, and I never know how long it’ll take to pick up something, whereas Corry’s starting in less than five minutes! So since you’re so much more powerful than me, you could look ahead–”
“Whoa, STOP!” Carrie interrupted. “Dial that back. I’m at a dance here. With Glen. This is NOT temporal session time. And even if it WERE, we’d started to work on mental shielding, not running up and down my timeline! I mean, I still have no idea whether something from the future will become fixed as soon as I see it. What if I see something horrible, and then we can’t change it??”
“But… we have to do something!” Chartreuse insisted. “Please, Carrie, can’t you at least work out the cause? Or get a list of suspects? Or a time frame? Something?? I swear, I’m not overdramatizing here! Well, okay, so Corry may not DIE, but I know Laurie’s brother will get badly hurt – unless we do something!”
Carrie groaned and pressed a couple fingers to her forehead. She contemplated Chartreuse’s request, the pleading look on her friend’s face, and in particular, how the two of them would feel should something disastrous actually happen to Corry now. “Okay. Okay! I’ll try a few tiny image jumps forward,” Carrie said reluctantly. “But you leave me and Glen alone for the rest of the night after this, understood?”
“Of course. Unless your help is needed again,” Chartreuse said brightly. Carrie opened her mouth to protest, but then decided it probably wouldn’t do any good. She simply sighed as she sat, cross legged on the floor of the classroom, and closed her eyes.
‘Thank goodness,’ Chartreuse thought, going down on her knees in front of the seated blonde. ‘We can fix this, I know we can! Still, I gotta take it easy on her…’
“All right, Carrie,” Chartreuse began, grasping the blonde by the hands. “I realize we’re not at my place with the crystals, but try to relax and–”
“I’m there,” Carrie murmured, eyes closed. “In the time stream.”
Chartreuse resisted the urge to flinch. ‘Damn, that was fast. I can see why it worries her.’ “Er, okay,” she continued. “See if you can centre in on Corry? Visualize that he’s standing there in front of you.”
Carrie nodded. “It’s not difficult, I’ve mentioned former time travellers are always a bit out of synch. He’s… yes, I’ve got it. He’s out in the cafeteria. They’re making preparations for their first number.”
“Do you sense any danger?”
“I… I don’t think so?” Carrie muttered. “The crowd is chattering, talking about his chances. I don’t know if I want to wade into it, my astral self has ended up back by the coat check. Oh, wait! Joe Drew is scowling at me! No, wait, it’s through me – towards the stage. Towards Corry.”
“Don’t forget, spirit body. Totally insubstantial, no one can see or do anything to you.”
“I know, I know. It’s a bit disconcerting, that’s all. Do you think I ended up here because Joe’s planning something?”
“Maybe… or maybe it was a subconscious attempt to avoid the crowd.” Chartreuse tightened her grip slightly. She had rather hoped to be able to sense something through Carrie, but so far, there was nothing. Was that because there was nothing to sense? Or because it didn’t work that way? How else could they interface?
“Okay, so… Corry’s announcing the first song. Now what?”
Chartreuse grimaced. They needed more. “So, do you think you’re up to trying a skip into the future? To establish a time frame? Please be honest. My prior attitude aside, I don’t want to push you beyond what you can, you know, handle.”
Carrie bit down on her lower lip. “I don’t know,” she admitted after a moment’s thought. “After all, I don’t want to physically time travel. Only project. But maybe if I simply imagine that I’m stretching forwards, moving faster than the water currents…?”
Julie allowed Clarke to lead her towards the cafeteria. “No deafening, pulsating beat,” the tall boy said to her, as he tugged at his necktie. “My guess is we’ve arrived just in time for Corry’s bit.”
“Um,” was all Julie could think to reply. After numerous wardrobe changes, she had finally selected a low key shirt and sweater ensemble with a long skirt. As they entered the cafeteria, only a couple of people picked up on her presence; Corry’s imminent performance was helping to divert attention.
‘Interesting,’ Julie mused. ‘A year ago, this sort of neglect would have infuriated me. Now I’m simply relieved.’
As the quartet of students started to play up by the stage, Clarke guided her back against the wall. “They’re quite good,” he reflected. “Tim’s looking a little out of sorts though. I hope Corry’s been treating him decently.”
“Clarke!” came a hushed cry. Both Clarke and Julie turned as the younger Veniti twin ran up, dressed like a red candle. “Clarke, we need your help! Chartreuse thinks Corry’s life is in danger!”
Clarke blinked. “I beg your pardon?”
“Chartreuse got this feeling that Corry was going to die or get hurt,” Laurie explained. “And she thought Carrie could help and so went to find her but now they’ve both disappeared and so you’re tall maybe you can see them since I’m not sure what’s going to happen any more and I’m so worried for my brother and by the way that’s a lovely tie you’re wearing and golly it’s such a pity that I’m not seeing it under better circumstances…”
The redhead was obviously distressed, Julie realized. She normally did a better job of controlling her run-on sentences these days, particularly in front of Clarke. The guy she’d once liked. Or still liked? Julie didn’t like to reflect on that too much.
“Whoa, okay Laurie, calm down,” Clarke was saying. “You’re saying you need to find Chartreuse and Carrie?” Laurie nodded wordlessly, eyes wide and full of concern. Clarke turned his attention to Julie. “Jewels, will you be okay here for a couple minutes while I try to track down Laurie’s companions?”
Julie nodded. “It’s fine, Phil, no one’s paying attention to me. And if someone tries to start something, I’ll simply go back outside.”
Clarke looked at her for another moment before returning her nod. “Okay. Now, Laurie, given Chartreuse’s preference for coloured outfits, I’m pretty sure I could spot her if she were in here,” he said. “Maybe she went to the washroom, or out for a breath of air? What was she wearing?”
Julie watched the two of them depart the cafeteria, then shrank back against the wall.
“Breathe, Carrie, breathe!” Chartreuse shouted desperately. “You’re not really drowning! Focus back in on Corry! Focus!!”
Carrie sucked in a great, heaving breath, her fingernails digging into Chartreuse’s palms. The pink haired girl ignored the pain, all of her attention on the blonde cheerleader who was now twitching in front of her.
“Okay Carrie, never mind Corry,” Chartreuse decided. “Come back to me, all right? Focus on me. On the present.” The fear that she was losing her friend was starting to tug at her heart.
Carrie didn’t reply, the twitching ceasing as her eyes snapped wide open. At least those eyes were blue, Chartreuse noted, and not golden. But they were focussed on nothing.
“Okay, bad idea, I’m sorry for pushing you into it,” the mystic continued, trying to suppress her rising panic. “I wasn’t, like, thinking straight. We can simply look into the usual suspects here, yeah? So come on, come back to me now, PLEASE Carrie…!”
Chartreuse felt the tightness in her chest release. “Carrie! Carrie, are you all right?”
“Am… fine,” Carrie murmured. “It’s… whoa, headrush.”
Carrie’s grip relaxed enough to allow Chartreuse to pull one of her hands away. She waved it in front of Carrie’s eyes. There was no reaction. “Carrie, what’s going on? Where are you?”
“Am… in future,” Carrie murmured. “Astral me. About ten… no, five minutes. Had to resist the pull to bring all of me. Th-Thank you for anchoring me in the present, Chartreuse.”
“No prob – are you SURE you’re okay?” Chartreuse knew her own heartbeat was still racing.
“Well, I’m… reorienting.” Carrie’s vacant eyes drifted closed once more. “Okay, Corry’s still performing. New song. I’m closer to him this time, near the front. Tommy is elbowing his way up here through the crowd, he’s… he’s going to throw something! But… it’s a tomato. That’s not life threatening… maybe there’s… something else. Oh, Joe!”
Carrie’s head whipped to the side. “Yes, Joe has left the coat check and he’s heading towards Corry! Or, no… it’s towards Julie. She’s edging away from him, so they’re both headed towards Corry. Damn!” Carrie mouth twitched. “Too many people. Too many, I don’t know so many of them, I’m not in the present, everything’s a jumble…”
“Stay calm,” Chartreuse soothed. Should they abort? “You’re only there for Corry. What’s, like, happening to him?”
“Corry,” Carrie murmured. “He’s singing. He’s… wait, Tim’s jumping up. He’s shoved his keyboard at Corry! Ow, audio feedback… something sparked… the crowd is reacting… Corry’s on the floor? Someone’s on top of him, everyone’s staring… now Glen is up here too.” Carrie shivered. “It’s like that time I saw him in the cafe, he’s staring at me. Are we sure I’m– OH!!!”
“What?” Chartreuse asked, gripping both of Carrie’s hands again as the blonde cried out.
“Where the hell am I? Who’s this girl in red?!” Carrie choked out. “Chartreuse, I’m… I’m in the wrong time again!!”
“Okay, Carrie, come back, time to come back,” Chartreuse declared. “Session over, we know enough, you have to return to the present!”
“Such piercing hazel eyes… she’s raising her hand… she’s…”
“Carrie, ohmigod, don’t let the forces take you! CARRIE!”
“I’m out!” Carrie screamed, flinching backwards. However, as Chartreuse was still grasping her hands, the sudden movement served only to jerk the pink haired girl off balance. With a little yelp of astonishment, she fell forwards into Carrie, both girls collapsing back onto the floor of the classroom. Chartreuse faceplanting into the blonde cheerleader.
And Chartreuse found that her first instinct wasn’t to roll away. Rather, it was to grab harder for Carrie, to press her ear against Carrie’s front, to better hear her friend’s heartbeat. Still there. So fast. Mirroring her own, beating away, racing, because of this shared experience. Between the two girls with powers.
Yes. Yes, her own heart was racing because of the experience, not because of Carrie’s dress, with it’s plunging neckline… Carrie, beneath her, and even after learning about being Chartreuse being bisexual, Carrie hadn’t called off any of their sessions, so maybe now this could become something more, and Chartreuse had someone who could finally…
“Unhh,” Carrie groaned.
Chartreuse knew she couldn’t have pushed herself up and away any faster, not even if she’d been lying on a bed of hot coals.
“C-C-Carrie?” she choked out. What the hell had she been thinking? She’d almost nuzzled in against Carrie’s neck! Carrie was her FRIEND. Her friend. Yes, only her friend…
“C-Carrie?” Chartreuse repeated. She swallowed, trying to bury her emotions. Especially the guilt. “Ah, so, are you, like, you know, okay?”
“I’ll manage,” Carrie said, her chest heaving – don’t look there, idiot! – as she sat back up. Thankfully, as their eyes met, Carrie didn’t seem to notice Chartreuse’s discomfort. “I just saw… well, I don’t know what I saw. Either way, I’ve had enough of this for tonight.”
Chartreuse nodded vigorously. “Yes, we’ve certainly seen enough tonight.”
“Hello? Someone in here?” came a new voice. The two girls on the floor turned as the classroom door opened and Clarke poked his head inside. “Ah! I thought I heard voices. Laurie thought she’d lost you.” Clarke turned to look back into the hallway. “They’re in here.”
There was the sound of running feet, and then the freckled girl poked her head in next to Clarke. “Chartreuse! Thank goodness!” Laurie said, not trying to disguise her relief. “Are you okay? What’s happened? Have you two figured out what’s wrong with my brother?”
“With your bro… right!” Chartreuse jumped to her feet. “It’s Tim! Tim’s going to snap and throw his keyboard at the guy, that starts a chain reaction in the equipment! We’ve got to get in there, fast!”
“Tim?” Clarke said, shocked. “What are you talking about?”
“No time, hurry!” Chartreuse said, charging past the two of them and out into the hall. As much to get away from Carrie’s perfume as to get back to the cafeteria.
Julie took another step closer to the student quartet. Since they really were quite good, and she wanted to hear them better – okay, no. She knew the primary reason for her approach was to distance herself from Joe Drew. He’d been giving her irritated looks ever since Clarke had moved off with Laurie. Hoping to ignore the scrutiny, Julie soon found that more difficult once Joe left the vicinity of the coat check in order to move closer to her position. Causing her to move further away.
So why was she moving towards the band? Why not outside? Heck, why react at all? Was it because Corry Veniti was one of the few people (aside from Clarke) who bothered to stand up for her on those occasions when she was being mistreated? If so, Julie knew this was a poor decision – Corry was busy right now. Besides, Joe wasn’t much of a threat on his own.
She made the decision to stand her ground. It was at that moment that Julie happened to glance beyond Corry – catching sight of the look in Sue’s eye.
And Julie knew Sue from when they had been allies. She knew that look, knew it meant trouble. Her suspicions were confirmed a moment later, during a drum solo, when Sue used the opportunity to let go of her guitar and reach for something back in the shadows, next to the stage.
Tim apparently noticed her action as well, and when he saw what she was grabbing, he stood up, reaching out towards her. But his leg buckled, sending him crashing into his own keyboard, palms first. The keyboard stand gave out, pitching forwards, sending the equipment towards Corry.
That’s when Chartreuse charged through Julie’s field of vision, reaching out in vain for the toppling instrument. Feedback erupted from the nearby speakers as it hit the floor at Corry’s feet. Then Clarke was there, catching Tim, and everyone’s attention was on what was happening with them – so it seemed like no one but Julie saw what Sue was about to do.
“Watch out!” Julie shouted, sprinting forwards. She threw herself at Corry, catching him around the waist, using her momentum to jerk him off his feet. The microphone Corry had been holding in his hands jarred loose and fell to the floor. An exposed wire created a small spark in the fresh pool of water. Water that had been thrown by Sue, who had not been able to check her swing. A few more sparks were seen, but Lee quickly reached his foot out to kick the power bar near the drums, killing all the electronics.
Julie breathed a sigh of relief. The brunette then discovered that, somehow, she had managed to land largely on top of Corry. One arm was caught underneath him, the other encircling his waist, and her sweater was pressed up tightly against his silk shirt. She quickly pulled back with an apology on her lips, but her voice got caught in her throat when she saw the bemused look on the redhead’s face.
“Julie… what the hell?” he questioned.
“Noooo!” came a cry of frustration from above them. Freeing her arm, Julie rolled away from Corry, looking up to see the brown haired guitarist. Sue was now being restrained by both Lee and Clarke. Carrie and Chartreuse had replaced Clarke at Tim’s side. Glen was there too.
“No, no, don’t you see?” Sue wailed. “I attacked him for you, Julie! Corry’s never been as good as you were. He never should have beaten you out the way he did! So I pretended to go along with him until I had this chance, this opportunity to shake him up a bit, to let him feel once again the wrath of Julie LaMille! So… so why did you save him, Julie? Aren’t you proud of me?!”
Julie blinked up at her former ally. “I… am going to be sick,” she realized, lurching to her feet and clapping a hand against her mouth. With a burning sensation at the back of her throat, she dashed for the nearest exit.
By departing, Julie didn’t hear the increasing chatter of the student body. Or how it was soon dispelled by the sound of an irate chemistry teacher, clearing his throat at the DJ’s independent electronics setup. “This dance,” Larry Fisk stated authoritatively, “is…”
“Going to continue shortly with more great songs from DJ Tuneup,” Mrs. Willis, the music teacher interrupted, grabbing the mike away from her colleague. “So please calm down and return to enjoying yourselves! I’m sure we all agree that it would be a shame to see this event come to an early end.”
Frank let out a low whistle. “I can’t believe it. Sue, out to get Corry. Who could have guessed?”
He and Luci had pulled back from the crowd of teenagers, to stand by the wall. With the DJ back in control, the dance was gradually getting back up to full swing. Carrie and Clarke had run out of the room after Julie, Chartreuse had gone over to talk with Laurie, and all the members of Corry’s band had been taken to the office to talk with Principal Hunt.
“I could have worked it out,” Luci decided, looking towards the stage. “If my mind hadn’t been wandering so much this week. After all, Sue’s looked distracted lately. Possible family troubles. And she lost her grandmother back around the same time as she ‘lost’ Julie… so it could be a case of displaced emotion? Not to excuse her actions, but that might be why she went a bit nuts.”
“Your whole school’s a bit nuts,” Glen remarked, approaching the both of them. “From what I’ve heard, some people are siding with Sue and her assault on your friend!”
“For real?” Frank raised his eyebrow. “I guess Corry doesn’t have the same support in his ranks that he once did.”
“On the bright side though,” Glen continued, “If Sue is out, there will be a vacancy in my fellow redhead’s band. So I can offer up my own guitar playing skills instead.”
Frank’s eyebrow twitched. “Uh, Glen? That’s not exactly a bright side.”
“No?” Glen shrugged. “It’s just, I’d hate to see Corry’s band dissolve on account of this. Wouldn’t you?”
“Hey, Carrie!” Luci shouted, waving. Frank turned, seeing that Carrie had entered the cafeteria again. Luci lowered her voice again once the blonde girl had paced over to join them. “How’s Julie faring?”
“She’ll be all right,” Carrie sighed. “Her stomach’s settled anyway. Clarke’s gone with her to the office, to give a statement to Mr. Hunt along with the band, though I think that’s mostly a formality. It’s pretty clear that she had no direct involvement in tonight’s activities.”
Carrie linked arms with Glen, leaning some of her weight onto him. “Still,” she admitted. “Now I feel guilty for insisting to Julie that she come. It’s not like she’ll have had a very good time.”
“It is a good thing she was here though,” Frank pointed out. “Or Corry could have been hurt.”
“That’s right,” Glen agreed. “Of course, one must still take care when using one’s powers of… persuasion. I imagine the results can be misleading, until the user has sufficient experience.”
Carrie turned to look into Glen’s face, and Frank wasn’t sure if it was her expression, or something in Glen’s tone that he found troubling. The redhead simply looked back at his date with a quiet smile. “Oh, whatever,” Carrie said aloud. “Come on, Glen. Let’s dance again?”
“I would be honoured,” he replied.
Frank and Luci exchanged a quick glance themselves as the new transfer student took the head cheerleader out for a spin around the dance floor. Meanwhile, a short distance away, Chartreuse turned away from Laurie, watching the pair herself while biting down on her lower lip.
(So, how much of that did you anticipate? If any? I suppose you’d at least anticipate another click request to vote for T&T at ‘Top Web Fiction’…)