Septifiria: The Becoming; Chapter 10

Ten
The rest of the week flew by in a non-stop blur of action for Septi, although she never stopped feeling alone. Mesmer and Raram had been avoiding her as if she were the plgue, and she hadn’t talked to Jade since before the fight with Steppe.
She had, however, texted Nito several times, and was finding that he was funny and quite a personality. He always seemed to have an answer for everything, but he also seemed to love the annoying and cheesy text forewards. Even with his quirks, Septi caught herself looking foreward to his texts and she was rarely seen without her cell phone.
Septi and Ferinequell had gotten through all of Steppe’s paper work within a couple of days and thy were now working on removing the bloodstainded carpeting from the hideout floors. This grunt work was wearing everyone down, but they knew it had to be done.
‘At least, assuming that I’m tired by the time I go to bed, I won’t cry much,’ Septi thought, removing a strip of carpeting. She had been crying herself to sleep almost every night for the last week, and that fact was making her even more miserable that she already was. She felt it was a dark and shameful secret, and was dead set that no one would ever learn of it.
“Septi,” Mes said, quietly slipping up behind Septi. “Raram told me what you said the other night.”
“Yeah? What of it?” Septi asked, batteling another strip of carpeting.
“Wasn’t it a bit extreme?”
“No,” Septi said shortly, turning to face Mes, releasing her grip on the carpet to do so. “You know why? Because I am done acting like i’m interested. You know what I find extreme? I have several things.”
“Oh, gods,” Mes muttered. “I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”
“No. Just listen.”
“Alright. Listening.”
“One, me going for months and only seeing you two when Steppe was having you torture me, then coming back and finding that you two have become BFF and obsessing-” Mes opened her mouth to say something, but Septi continued to talk, blocking out any protests Mes may have had “-over Lord of the Rings. Two, you exclude me and the rest of day to day life from your little fantasy world, and I have a huge problem with that. If we’re friends, then that’s great. Why don’t you guys act it? But if we’re not, then I’ll get on without you.” Mes stared at her, shocked.
“You’re not serious?” Mes asked, managing a hesitant laugh.
“Dead serious.”
“So let me get this straight. you’re upset about me and Raram being friends and talking?”
“Like I told Raram, it’s nt the fact that you two are friends, but that one minute you act like my friend, then the next you’re completely and totally ignoring me.”
“Oh, so now you’re saying that we ignore you?” Mes snapped, angry.
“Yes, I am, and I don’t know what you call excluding me from conversation, if ignoring isn’t the word.”
“You are unbelievable!”
“I notice that you’re nto denying that you exclude me from the conversations you two have.”
“But, Septi-“
“You know I read those books and watched the movies, and loathed them. So why were you talking about something I don’t like? Acting like I’m not there? Not letting me get a word in edgewise?”
“Because we like it, and we forgot that you hate them?”
“Mes, I highly doubt that’s it. I mean, if that were the case, then surely one of you woud have noticed that I wasn’t talking? That I was standing there bored out of my skull?”
“Um, no?” Mes said hesitantly.
“You guys have got to make a choice. Are you or aren’t you my friends?” Mes hesitated, and Septi turned back to the carpeting. “You go think about it. I’n the mean time, I have work to be doing.” Mes turned and walked away, slowly.
‘Why’d you do that, Septi?’ she thought.
‘Because I’m done messing around. I’m done pretending that I’m excited about every, little, stupid thing they obsess over. If they’re really my friends, then they’ll accept me as I am. I’m sick of hiding behind a smile. I just can’t keep going like this.’
‘But will you have any friends when this is over? Do you really want to be alone?’ The doubts filled her mind, and she viciously tore the carpeting up.
‘No, of course I don’t want to be alone,’ she argued with herself. ‘And I’m sure I can make it without my friends. But I want true friends, if I’m going to have any friends.’
‘So, what is a true friend?’
‘Someone who loves you for you,’ she thought. ‘Someone who you can laugh and cry with. Someone with interests similar to your own. Someone who realizes that those games may be fun, but they only last for as long as you let them. That even when you have a disagreement, your friendship is more important than anything else you two have.’
‘So are you a true friend?’ she thought. A knot settled in her gut as she realized the answer. ‘No, Septi, you’re not.’
‘But-‘
‘No, Septi. There are no excuses for this. You need to grow up and take some responsibilty.’
‘But I already have way too much responsibilty for someone my age!’
‘Can anyone ever have too much responsibility? It will help you grow.’
‘And if I don’t want to grow?’
‘Stop being a sulky brat, Septi!’ she thought, wiping her forehead with the back of her dusty hand. ‘You’re not a child anymore, so it’s time you stop acting like one.’
‘Then what should I act like?’
‘Yourself,’ she answered, returning to work.
‘But who am I?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘How do I find out?’
‘I don’t know that, either.’
‘What do you know?’
‘I know that you have a lot to do. Starting with you calling Jade and apologizing.’ Septi inwardly moaned.
‘This isn’t going to be fun.’
‘No one said that life would be all fun and games. Isn’t that what you were just scolding Mes about?’
‘Yes,’ Septi admitted reluctantly. ‘But maybe it should be.’
‘But it isn’t, so there’s no sense in arguing.’ Just then someone called to her, interupting her thoughts.
“Septi, what do you want me to do with Steppe’s personal effects?” Septi glanced around, to see a girl around her age. ‘Valencia,’ she thought, trying to figure out the answer to the question.
“I guess you should box the stuff that can go to Salvation Army up. His weaponry can be set aside, to be sharpened and used at a later date. I guess we’ll go through whatever else there is. See if we can find any friends of family of his that might want it.” Valencia nodded, then walked away. Septi returned her mind to her task, and the thoughts began to swarm again.
‘So, you’re going to call Jade.’
‘I really don’t want to.’
‘I really don’t care that you don’t want to. You will.’
‘What’ll I say?’
‘Apologize. Ask how she’s been. Try to act normal.’
‘Normal. What’s normal?’
‘Normal is non-mutant. Which you aren’t.’
‘Obviously. But that’s not a bad thing, is it?’
‘In some ways, yes, and in other ways, no.’
‘How is it good?’
‘You get a kick-butt power.’
‘That it?’
‘Pretty much.’
‘So how long is the list of bad things?’
‘Do you really want to know?’
‘No. But I already do.’
‘Touche. Well, there’s being hated, and maybe even feared by the “normal” people. There’s being abused by a tyrant of a leader. There’s having to fear for your life, and the lives of other mutants. That’s pretty much all there is.’
‘Great,’ Septi worked for a while without thinking. Then all of a sudden something occured to her. ‘I should appoligize to Raram. If nothing else, for being so rude to her. While I refuse to be treated like I’m invisible, I probably shouldn’t have reacted so strongly.’
‘You think?’
“Gah,” she muttered aloud. “This is getting to be a really bad habit.”
“You say something, Septi?” Ferinequell asked, glancing over from where he was sanding the newly revealed wood floor.
“Not really,” she answered. “Just thinking aloud.” He nodded and looked away, although Septi saw that the look onhis face was still slightly suspicious.

“C’mon, Jade. either pick up quickly or let the machine get it,” Septi whispered, her hand clenched tightly around her cell phone. They had finished the carpetting job mid-evening, and it was late now. Septi was sitting on her bed, her phone to her ear and all the lights but the bedside table’s lamp were off.
“Hey, you’ve reached the awesome Jade’s cell. Obviously, I can’t talk right now, so if you could leave a message, I’ll try to get back to you. Later!” The sound of Jade’s voice cut through Septi, and she considered hanging up for a paniced second before the beep, signaling that she should start to talk.
“Hey, Jade. It’s Renee…” her voice faltered for a second and she took a deep breath. “I had something I wanted to talk to you about, so if you could call me, that’d be great. Talk to you late. Byes.” She flipped her phone closed and sighed. Slipping between her covers, her mind started working double time with doubts.
‘What if Jade’s still mad at me about- what was it? Oh, yeah- Nito. What if she won’t talk to me? What’ll I say if she calls back? And what about the whole Mes/Raram situation? How will I handle this? What if they choose that they don’t want me as their friend? Will i be able to keep going through this crap without friends? Am I a horrible friend?’
‘Stop it, Septi,’ she mentally scolded herself, rolling over. ‘You’re just being pessemistic.’
‘But if it’s true that I am a horrible friend-‘
‘Go to sleep,’ she ordered herself. She closed her eyes and curled up and within minutes was fast asleep.

“-anybody got a friend like that!-” the song lapsed on the edge of Septi’s conciousness, until she realised that it was her phone, and Jade’s ringtone. “-scream and shout, if you know what I’m talking ’bout-” Septi fumbled for her phone and hastily answered.
“‘Lo?”
“Renee?” Jade’s voice was hesitant, but it was unmistakably Jade. “You said that you wanted to talk. What’s up?”
“The ceiling, hopefully,” Septi said sarcastically. Jade laughed slightly. “Though that’s not what I want to talk about. Look, Jade, d’you remember the last time we talked?”
“Yeah?” Jade’s voice was cautious. “We kinda had a blowup, and we both acted really stupid. How could I forget?”
“I don’t know,” Septi answered. “But we did act stupidly. And Jade, I was calling to apologize.”
“Was? You’re not gonna do it now?” Jade asked teasingly. Septi laughed, nervous.
“I am still going to,” Septi said, taking a deep breath and brushing a strand of hair out of her face. “Jade, I am sorry. I never meant to hurt you or anything.”
“Renee, trust me,” Jade said, her voice mild. “I wasn’t really hurt, just mad. I guess I do still like him, though I hate him too.”
“It’s like one of those cheesy movies,” Septi said, smiling and relaxing. “You know, where the heroine hates the hero so much that they fall in love and live happily ever after.” Jade started to giggle, and Septi laughed too.
“Well, if I’m a heroine, then why don’t I have perfect make up and hair, and a bunch of awesome clothes, and a hero who’s only goal is to get one thing from you?” Jade asked.
“Because this isn’t a movie.”
“So I’m a book heroine?”
“If this is a book, I’m a queen,” Septi said drily.
“Alright, alright. So I’m a real life heroine?”
“Or your own story. So, what were we talking about before we got off track?”
“Um, you were apologizing and, um, I admitted that I, ah, like Nito still.”
“Oh, so I was right?”
“Yeah.” Silence fell for a couple of seconds and Septi heard Jade breathing. “Renee?”
“Yeah?”
“I’m sorry, too, for acting like such a jerk.”
“It’s okay. I completely understand why you were. You were really mad at me.”
“So we’re cool?”
“We’re always cool.” They laughed again, then Septi serioused up. “Though in answer to your question, yeah, I forgive you.” Silence fell again for a couple of minutes.
“I’ve really missed talking to you, Renee.”
“And I’ve missed talking to you.”
“So, catch up time?”
“Sure. What’ve you been up to?”
“School. Work. Nothing much.”
“You got a job?” Septi raised her eyebrows, surprised.
“Yeah. Don’t sound so surpirsed, ‘Nee. I’m workinf at Hot Topic.”
“Typical you. Do you blow your paycheck walking out of the store?”
“Not usually, though it has been known to happen.”
“Oh, gods, Jade. What do you get?”
“I got a belt or two. Y’know, those studded ones that are sheer awesome-?”
“Yeah, I know what you’re talking about. And?”
“Some really awesome hair dye.”
“What color of dye, Jade?”
“Purple, and black.”
“How did it look?”
“I’ll text you a pic as soon as we hang up.”
“You’ve still got it in?”
“Duh! I love this stuff, and I like how it makes me look.”
“Alright.”
“So, enough about me. What have you been up to?”
“Well-” Septi hesitated.
“Let me guess. Mutant trouble?”
“Yeah. You got anyone listening on your side?”
“Nope.”
“Okay, then. What I’m telling you, you can never repeat to anyone.”
“O-o-oh, top secret. Okay, I swear that I’ll never breathe a word of it.”
“Jade. Seriously?”
“Dead serious.”
“Okay. So you know about my power and what my job is.”
“Yes, ‘Nee, I do.”
“So, um, I had a promotion.”
“A promotion?”
“Yeah,” Septi toyed with a strand of hair. “I’m now the commander of the group I work with.”
“You’re kidding.”
“No, I’m not, Jade.”
“You? Commander? Renee, c’mon, this is such a shock!”
“I know how it must sound.”
“That’s just… amazing!”
“It’s so weird, having people ask me what to do.”
“I bet. Wow. That’s just so cool.” Septi smiled at the shock that was still in Jade’s voice.
“I guess, yeah.”
“You guess? This is just… wow.”
“I wasn’t taken by surprise that I got it,” Septi said, her voice quiet.
“Oh?” Jade’s voice sounded perhaps a little confused. “‘Nee, what are you not telling me?”
“Jade, it’s confidential. I can’t tell you.” Septi’s voice sounded a little harsher than she meant it, and she flinched. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound like-“
“No, it’s fine,” Jade said, her voice thoughtful. “I understand.”
“Okay,” Septi said, feeling slightly guilty. “Sorry.”
“Not a problem,” Jade insisted. Septi sighed, then glanced at the clock.
“Hey, Jade, it was great talking to you again, but I gotta go.”
“Oh, okay.”
“So I’ll see you around?”
“Yeah. Hey, will you be back in class?”
“I s’pose I will be, at the start of next semester.”
“Awesome. Talk to you later!”
“Byes.” Septi said, hanging up, a slight smile on her face as she stood up. “Well, that was a nice talk,” she muttered, brushing her hair. She set down the brush and toyed with the ends of her hair.
“I’m gonna need to get my stuff from mum’s place,” she said, thinking aloud. “Move it to the hideout. Then I’ll have to change my address on the college info, and a new carpeting still needs to be put down in that hall. I have so much to do and so little time to do it. But at least I’m not alone, now.” She dressed quickly and left her room with a bouncy step.
“You look happy today,” a barely awake Ferinequell said when she walked into the kitchen, smiling widely. Ferinequell took a sip of his coffee, and a bird flew in with the paper in it’s claws. It dropped the paper in front of Ferinequell, who whistled slightly. The bird landed on his shoulder and he carefullymoved it down to a thickly papered portion of the floor, where a little tray was filled with bird seed.
“Maybe it’s because I am,” Septi said, practically floating around the kitchen as she prepared her breakfast. Ferinequell nodded, watching her.
“G’morning,” Mes said, slipping in. “You guys sure make a lot of noise.”
“Sorry,” Septi said, flashing her a quick, but apologetic smile. Mes stared at her for a moment, completely shocked.
“Wow,” Mes muttered. “You really are unpredictable today.” Septi laughed.
“I’m predictable in some circumstances.”
“Right,” Mes said slowly, leaning against one of the counters. “so what are the circumstances that would make you so happy?”
“My one friend calling and us making up,” Septi said. Mes sighed and crossed her arms.
“That’s why you’re practically delerious?”
“Yup,” Septi said, pouring herself a cup of ice water. Mes closed her eyes, her face thoughtful.
“Let me get this straight. You tell me and Raram to choose whether or not we’re your friends, and yet you’re this thrilled that your other friend is still your friend.”
“Yeah. Mes, I treasure each and every one of my friends, but I need to protect myself. Not put myself in a place where I’ll get hurt repeatedly, y’know?”
“I guess,” Mes said, her voice hesitant. Ferinequell seemed to be reading the news paper, but he was obviously listening to the girls conversation.
“Is that all you want to know?” Septi asked.
“Yes,” Mes said, flipping her hair. Septi carefully picked up her plate and cup and moved them to the table. “Chuck, you know I don’t appreciate it when you listen to conversations that have nothing to do with you. And you were listening, so don’t even deny it.”
“I wasn’t going to,” he said evenly. “But I wasn’t going to admit it either.” He rolled up the paper and pointed it at Septi. “So this is all about friends, hm?”
“Yes,” Septi said cooly, taking a bite of her breakfast.
“You’ve been having friend troubles, haven’t you?” he asked Septi, who nodded and swallowed.
“What, you’re gonna give me the third degree?” Septi asked, half jokingly, half complaining.
“No,” he said, unrolling the paper and opening it. “I just want you to be careful, Septi, and not rush into anything you’ll regret later.” Septi sighed.
“All right, Chuck,” she said, rolling her eyes slightly. He glanced at her over the paper, and chuckled slightly.
“Septi, you’re almost like a little sister to me, the way you act when I give advice.”
“Well, the VI4C is like an adopted family to me,” Septi said quietly. Chuck nodded.
“You know, I completely agree with that.”

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