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Default 10-19-2010, 06:11 PM


When they arrived, Rose whistled, impressed in spite of herself. The house was no mansion by American standards, but, compared to Rose’s fairly humble abode, it might as well have been. “Nice place,” She said, nodding. “So, where exactly am I staying?” She briefly wondered about the mailbox, then decided to add it to the long and growing list of Things To Ask About Later.

Rose did a little singing herself, but she preferred to spend her time studying animals. Working with Star in the lab as a child had actually left a profound effect on her, and she wanted to major in some sort of biological science. But, as of yet, she had no idea what she wanted to be specifically; not a vet, for she liked exploring far too much to be cooped up in an animal hospital. As for the rest, it was hard to choose, and she simple didn’t have the sort of money required to study all of the above. Since she was already eighteen, Rose had to choose one, and choose one fast. But how could she?

For the moment, at least, she was spared such painful thoughts. She picked up her luggage, turned around and grinned at Damien, then said, “You know, I must insist upon a tour.” And she meant every word.


Damien replied to Rose straight away, "You're staying in the guest room. I'll show you there first, so you've got someplace to dump your bags. Then if you want, I guess I'll take you round the rest of the house. I think Dad's out hunting right now, but Mom's around someplace, maybe in the utility room." Damien took Rose up the stairs to the guest room. It was very tidy and the bed was newly made. Damien waited for Rose to dump her bags on the floor before he took her to his room. Opening the door, he said, "This is my room. It's painted indigo, but you can't see the paint cuz of all the posters. I want to be a rock star, but right now, I guess I'll be sticking with the occasional government assignments. It pays well anyway."

The room was, to put it bluntly, a complete tip. The duvet was half off the bed, there were dirty clothes and music magazines on the floor, and a red electric guitar leaned against the back wall. The walls were covered with various posters of heavy metal bands, with some of girls posing with motorbikes amongst them. It was, in short, a typical teenage boy's room.

"Mom hates the way I'm so untidy," Damien explained. "She refuses on principle to tidy up, though. I have to give the room a blitz at least once a week, or else." He shoved a pile of magazines off the bed so that he could sit down. "Where else do you want to see in the house? I could take you down to the basement; that's where I practice my guitar."


While they’d been in the guest room, Rose had said, “Nice. Very cute but neutral,” she followed Damien to his room and couldn’t help but grin at the mess. She kicked aside a pile of dirty clothes and sat beside him on the bed companionably. “Rock Star? I can see that, and a little bit of secret-agent work on the side,” She grinned playfully at him. She politely ignored the posters of girls, deciding that would be the best course of action – for now. Later, when he’d warmed up to her, she might decide to pick on him. But, as it was, he was totally exposing himself to her, and she decided to play it nice.

“Well, you know, when parents just do everything for their kids, said kids won’t do anything to help themselves,” Rose said. “Wait, what sorts of consequences are there for not cleaning once a week?” She paused. “I want a quick tour of where the bathrooms are, a tour of the kitchen and where all the things like the utensils and plates and cups are kept, then I’d like to hear you play guitar.”

Rose was excited to hear Damien play, actually; she loved music. She was eager to discover how good Damien was, and whether he had a singing voice to speak of. Rose herself had a few friends back home she liked to get together and sing with while they did chores. She wanted to ask if Damien had any friends he could play guitar with, but was too nervous; would she be prying if she did ask?


"Well," Damien replied to Rose, "What Mom usually does is lock my guitar up until I clear up. I can't stand it when she does that, so I always have to buckle down and clean up the room. I'll have to do that before we leave on the flight, or there'll be hell to pay when we get back." Damien paused then said, "There's two bathrooms; one up and one down. I'll show you both of them. There's also a utility room attached to the kitchen, and a couple of garages round the back. The stuff there is mostly Dad's; like his motorbike. He's said he'll get me a bike when I'm old enough."

Damien was actually very good at playing guitar; and he had an average singing voice. He was lucky in that he'd inherited the ability to sing and know music from Okeam; Azhdeha had zero ability to sing, due to having a completely flat voice without inflections. He was also completely tone deaf and had little or no interest in playing an instrument. Damien's musical ability was down to the human genes inherited from his mother, which balanced out the reptilian ones inherited from his father. It was ironic that Azhdeha's son would be more what Dark Star had invisioned when she had created Azhdeha, than her original experiment was.

"I'll play you a couple of songs down in the basement," Damien said. "Then we can go upstairs and find Mom. She'll be in the kitchen or utility room at this time of day; probably fixing something. She likes to lay out the parts on the kitchen table." This was of course far from the norm of what most people would expect their Moms to be doing in the kitchen. But then, Damien's family was hardly normal.


“You’re gonna get a bike?” Rose said, quirking one dark brow. She then grinned, her black eyes sparkling with mischief. Playfully, she said, “Tré sexy.” She was finding herself wondering why she and Damien didn’t hang out more, for they seemed to suit each other well. “I’m not yet sure if my mom is going to get me one; I plan on going to university in London, and she lives there. I suspect my dad and mom are trying to surprise me with something, for both of them lock up tight whenever I broach the subject to cars,” her grin widened and she said, “So, if you become some super famous star, and you came on tour to the U.K., I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t get a backstage pass from you.” She emphasized ‘very disappointed’ by poking him squarely in the chest with her right hand index finger.

Rose still remembered the days when she and Ku, her very best friend to this day, were deathly afraid of Damien. Star had taken Rose aside and pointed out that, though Damien was odd, he was still a person, and needed friends. Thus, it had been Rose who had first bridged that gap and tried to play with Damien, and she was glad she did; now that she was older, she could only imagine how bad he’d be now if he’d been completely alienated then.

“So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get on with this tour, boyo,” she stood abruptly, that grin still on her face; Rose figured her cheeks would be hurting something fierce at the end of the day, but she couldn’t seem to stop smiling and settle down, she was too excited. She didn’t find it at all odd that Okeam might be doing abnormal things in a kitchen; that was just how Okeam was.

Thus it was that Rose followed Damien, finishing a tour of the house, meeting a very enthusiastic Okeam who had paused in the middle of some odd project or other to greet her, and listening to Damien play. Rose was very pleased to find that Damien was skillful with the guitar. His voice was okay; he hit all the notes perfectly in tune, but he lacked a bit of finesse. Rose thought she could maybe work with him on that, but not this time around. For now, she was fine with just listening to him play and talking with him. Boy, was she gonna have a lot to tell Ku tonight!

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