Oh, and for those who missed bits... the
whole saga can be found at Fonts Of Wisdom(http://home.att.net/~lubakmetyk/),
managed by Lube Kmetyk, and very well, too. :)
"Blue or green?"
Jono gazed critically at the two shirts proffered for his inspection, and pointed at the blue one. ~Why?~
His travelling companion of nearly six months shrugged, setting up the ironing board and reaching for the iron. "'Cause I value your opinion and and consider your taste to be good. Duh. Toss me the spray stuff, will you?"
Jono did so, and shook his head. ~No, I mean why are you going for this interview? It's not as if you have to.~
She paused, iron in one hand and shirt in the other. "I know, but・ I've never even had a part-time job, you know? And unlike some people・" She grinned, tossing the spray can at him. "I'm not perfectly happy to sponge off Emma and spend all my time hanging around with arty types in black who don't know the meaning of the word 'shampoo' - even in French." She stepped into her room, leaving the door open a crack so he could still hear her. "And this job sounds like a lot of fun, you know? I mean, if Betsy can do modeling it can't be that hard. And the guy I talked to seemed pretty sure I'd make the cut." She chuckled. "And stop giving me that look, Jono. I *know* that 'you should be a model' is the oldest line in the book, but I checked this guy out and he's legit, and so are the tryouts today. So how do I look?" She stepped out from behind the door.
Jono eyed her critically, from the tips of her suede boots past the tailored black pants and the blue silk blouse to the top of the shiny black head. ~Adultish.~ he decided. ~And a bit too mature for my liking. You're not going out with Julien today, are you?~
"Nope. Called it off. He was nice, but his hands were getting a bit too friendly." She reached for the small suede backpack which matched her boots. "My makeup okay?"
~Fine. What do you mean, his hands were getting friendly?~ Jono followed her towards the door, frowning.
"Don't worry about it. His hands lost interest in my shirt right after my hand got friendly with his face." She opened the door, and beamed at the girl standing outside. "Sorry I'm late, Harm. Ready to go?"
"As I'll ever be, I suppose," Harmony said nervously. "Hi, Jono." Jono crinkled and waved. Harmony sighed. "I swear, Jewel, I don't know how I let you talk me into this."
The girl now known as Jewel Lee grinned. "Oh, stoppit. It'll be fun." She grabbed the other girl's arm and towed her down the hall. "Bye, Jono!"
~Bye! Have fun! Don't get mugged!~ Jono signed automatically.
"We won't. Don't get jumped!" Jewel finished their standard farewell. "And if you wanna make dinner tonight, I won't say no."
* * *
"Tres chic... sois charmant, sois aimable, souris, souris...d'accord, maintenant donne-moi heureuse, montre-moi heureuse... bien, tres bien.(1)" The photographer beamed at Jewel, who beamed back. Her French was by now almost perfect, and she was enjoying showing it off to Harmony, who, despite having two Parisian parents, had spent most of her life in Michigan and still needed a phrase-book occasionally.
"Lovely, lovely・ now flirt a little・" The photographer kept snapping. "Oh, very nice・ if I was twenty years younger I'd be drooling."
Jewel chuckled. "You mean older guys *don't* fancy fifteen year olds?"
"Mais bien sur!(2)" The photographer took one last shot and stood up. "We've just figured out how to keep our mouths shut. Okay, that's you done. Take yourself over there and send the next girl." Seconds later, Jewel could hear him flirting with the next girl, a honey-blonde with enormous blue eyes and a pink-and-white complexion.
"Bet she gets it." Harmony leaned back in her hard metal seat. "Look at her, she's Sailor Moon with breasts."
"She's got to be at least eighteen, though," Jewel said, looking as ordered. "They specifically said they wanted thirteen-to-sixteen-year-olds." The girl didn't look anything like Paige, she mused, despite their similar colouring. Paige had that fresh, innocent look that shouted 'just off the farm'. This girl looked like she was expensive, but not too, Jewel decided.
"Point." Harmony pulled out a chocolate bar and nibbled it. "Tu en veux?(3)"
"No thanks." Jewel turned her eyes to her friend. She'd met Harmony a little while after they'd arrived in Paris, and liked her immediately because she didn't remind her of anyone. Harmony was fine-boned and delicate, with wide hazel eyes and a great cloud of wavy dark-brown hair, and unlike most people, she didn't ask many personal questions. Jewel had said that she'd come to Paris to get away from everything for a while, and Harmony was bright enough to figure out that people who wanted to get away from everything didn't generally want to talk about it.
They weren't close, of course. Jewel had left casual friendship behind with Jubilee, along with neon colours, gum, and trust in her fellow person. Except for Jono, of course. Best friend, confidant, and guardian angel, all in one package, that was Jono. She smiled softly, remembering・
((They'd been in Paris for all of a week, and Jubilee had decided she'd found her place in the world. They'd rented an apartment, brought their rusty French out into the light of day, and gone clothes-shopping twice, once just this morning. Now they were sitting outside a café, Jubilee nibbling on a creamy confection consisting of as many different kinds of chocolate thing as could be found in the city. Jubilee was eating it in sections, savouring each one as it came. The mousse had been particularly good, but the icecream with fudgy bits promised to be even better.
(("Jono?" Jubilee held up her spoon for his attention. "I've been thinking about changing my name."
((That, she reflected a little sourly, was turning into his favourite sign. She secretly and uncharitably thought that he just used it as a distraction to give him time to dredge up a whole sentence worth of signs. "Because I want to. Jubilee・ isn't me anymore, you know? And Jubilation is just dumb." She waved the spoon for emphasis. "I want a new one, okay? Help me pick one."
((~All right. What sort of name do you want?~ Jono poked at his cappucino. He always got a cappucino. He never drank them, of course, but he always said that if he got something frothy he could at least play with it.
(("Something・ classy. Not babyish." Jubilee took a bite of her icecream. Mmmm. "Something that fits the new me."
((Jono looked her over assessingly. Sleek, shiny black hair with a peacock-blue streak, topping her beloved rich purple coat, belted to ward off the chill.~Jewel.~
(("Why?" Jubilee shot his favourite response back at him and smirked, savouring her icecream.
((~It suits you.~ Jono shrugged, and went back to playing with his froth. Jubilee knew from experience that that was all she'd get out of him on that topic. They sat for a while in companionable silence, then Jubilee brightened. She'd been considering suggesting something for a while now, and this seemed like the perfect time to bring it up.
(("Hey, Jono, I've got an idea." She put down her spoon and leaned across the table. "You know how your powers are kinda working now?"
((~I still can't use them to talk.~ Jono pushed his coffee away, his shoulders dropping in his own version of a sigh.
(("I know・" Jubilee reached over to pat his hand. "But you can kinda read minds, right? Can you say, pick up sensory input? See what I see, smell what I smell, feel what I touch?"
((Jono's head jerked up, and he shot her a horrified look. ~I wouldn't do that!~ The signs were fast and agitated. ~I would never invade your mind like that!! That's like・ like・ like peeking at you taking a shower or something!!!~
(("I know, I know," Jubilee soothed, taking his hands in hers. "I know you wouldn't even think of doing anything like that without telling me. But I'm offering, okay? I mean・ if you can do taste, too・" She smiled at him, and looked down at her slightly melted dessert. "Wanna share?"
((Jono stared at her, then down at the small dish. Slowly, half-disbelievingly, he nodded, squeezing her hands slightly. Jubilee waited until she felt the little mental twitch that was Jono's way of announcing his presence in her mind・ the equivalent of a casual hum to let someone know you were in the room, she'd always thought. Once she sensed it, she lifted the spoon, dug it into the remains of her dessert, and scooped up a bite of icecream. Jono's eyes followed the spoon as if hypnotized as she slowly raised it to her lips, tasted it, then let the cool icecream slide across her tongue. She savoured it, making sure she wrung every nuance of the flavour from it. And she did the same for every single bite, taking nearly half an hour to finish the dessert. When she'd scraped up the last drops of fudge sauce, she looked up at Jono.
((Her friend was leaning back in his chair with a glazed look in his eyes. She grinned. "It's true what they say about chocolate bein' better, huh?"
(( ~Given that I ain't 'ad either in a long time, I can't say f'r sure.~ Jono sat up, shaking his head a little. ~I・thanks.~
Jewel looked up. "Sorry, Harmony・ I was a million miles away. Qu'est-ce que tu as dit?(4)"
"I SAID, they're done," Harmony repeated. "They're deciding now."
"Oh." Jewel stood up, stretching. "Took them long enough." All around, other girls were stretching, touching up their makeup, or trying for a last flirtatious bit of eye-contact with the gaggle of men at the other end of the room.
"They're gonna go for the Silicone Sailor Moon," Harmony predicted gloomily. "And her Sailor Mars-lookalike friend. Ever notice how all the really gorgeous ones travel in pairs?"
"Yeah・ it's so that if they need to think about something, they can muster a whole wit between them," Jewel snorted.
Harmony giggled. "Of course! That must be it!" She brightened. "Hey, look, they're done choosing! They're picking girls out now・"
* * *
"Jono? Hey, Jono, guess what? I got it!" Jewel bounced into their flat, barely pausing to yank her key out of the door. "I'm gonna be a *model*, can ya believe it? C'est formidable!(5) Harmony and I both got in plus this other girl I don't know but she's only about twelve and she looks like a nice kid except that she looks I kid you not JUST like Monet only younger and・ Jono, what's wrong?" Jono was slumped in a deep armchair he'd pulled over to the window, staring out at the skyline with a numbed expression in his eyes. His hair was unbrushed and falling over his forehead, his hands restlessly shredding a small white envelope.
Jewel dropped to her knees beside him. "Jono, what's wrong? Qu'est-ce qu'il y a?(6)" He lifted a letter from his lap and held it out, still staring out the window. She unfolded the single sheet of paper, scanning it hurriedly. "Dear Jono, how are you and Jubes, blah blah, back with the team now, everyone's doing fine, Marrow went back to the X-Men but I think she'll be okay now, uh-huh, I don't know how to tell you this but it's been a long time and・ oh no." She bit her lip. "Jono, I'm so sorry・"
~Not yer fault.~
"But if ya hadn't had ta go with me-"
~It would have happened anyway.~
"But if you'd been there・" she looked back down at the letter again. (・it's been a long time, and I hope that you'll understand this. We'll always be friends, but that's all we'll be. It's hard to tell you this, but Angelo and I・ well・ he makes me happy, Jono. Please be happy for us.)
~It would have happened anyway.~
"I'm sorry." She wrapped her arms around him, eyes filling with tears. "I just・ I'm sorry." Slowly, inch by inch, his head drooped, and his arms tightened around her. Jewel hugged him tightly, whispering meaningless consolation and regret as he wept silently into her shoulder.
End Part Twelve
1) Tres chic... sois charmant, sois aimable, souris, souris...d'accord, maintenant donne-moi heureuse, montre-moi heureuse... bien, tres bien = Very nice・ be charming, be friendly, smile, smile・ okay, now I want happy, show me happy・ good, very good.
2) Mais bien sur! = But of course!
3) Tu en veux? = Want one?
4) Qu'est-ce que tu as dit? = What did you say?
5) C'est formidable! = It's so cool!
6) Qu'est-ce qu'il y a? = What's the matter?