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Vintage Misery

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Jack heard Trixie long before he saw her. As soon as the elevator doors opened she was stomping down the hallway, and when she reached the office door she threw it open so hard it bounced off the wall and bumped against her outstretched hand. King, asleep beside the radiator, raised his head at the commotion. She slammed the door shut just as hard, and threw her handbag in her chair with enough force to knock it back. She came to stand in front of his desk, and though he couldn't see her - he was pretending to be absorbed in the day's paper, knowing it would only annoy and anger her - he could tell she was standing with her hands on her hips, glaring for all she was worth.

"Late night?" he asked, still not looking up.

"You know darn well it was," she answered. "What in the name of Saint Barnabas happened with the case work?"

Jack looked over the edge of the paper at her. "Saint Barnabas? And he would be the patron saint of…?"

“He could be the patron saint of book binders for all I know! What does it matter?” She grabbed the top edge of the paper and he was forced to put it down or let it tear. “And don’t change the subject. The case work, Jack - the case work you talked me into yesterday.”

“You mean the case we closed?” Jack asked, leaning back in his chair.

“I mean the case that kept me out past moon rise and nearly got you and Theo and a lot of other people bitten, maimed, and killed.”

They engaged in a brief staring match. Trixie continued to glare, and Jack attempted to gauge the extent to which she’d planned his murder. He didn’t like his chances.
Averting his gaze, he said "How was I supposed to know it was the full moon?"

"Because I told you half a dozen times the night before last!" Trixie exclaimed. "And it's marked in red on the gargantuan calendar I hung up when I moved into the office, completely for your benefit!"

Jack glanced at the calendar, hanging beside the door where he was sure to see it. November seventh was circled numerous times in bright red marker.

"I never look at that thing," he said easily, eyes sliding back to the thundercloud that had replaced Trixie's face.

Her eyes narrowed. “Well start, Justice, because what happened yesterday cannot ever happen again.”

He made a noncommittal noise.

“I mean it, Jack.” She crossed her arms. “Never again. We both know what they do to people like us when regulars get hurt.”

He tried but couldn’t keep himself from grimacing. The loss of face appeased Trixie enough for her to stop glaring daggers at him, and she retreated to her desk to begin fuming and ignoring him instead. He watched passively, desk chair rocking gently, while she shuffled papers back and forth across the immaculate surface of her desk. His chair started squeaking. King whined at the sharp noise.

Jack stilled. “You know I probably would’ve gotten pinned too, if anything had happened.”

Not looking up, Trixie said, “Believe it or not, I’m not actually comforted by the thought of you taking the fall with me.”

Something occurred to him. “You think I did it on purpose.”

“No Jack,” she said, tone clipped. “It’s been overcast every day for the last two weeks, and it’s only yesterday that you deign to do business during normal hours. Why in the world would I think you did it on purpose?”

He was too busy being appalled by her sincerity to offer a rebuttal. He eyed the calendar again, where the night of the full moon was loudly and inarguably marked. He remembered, much more distantly than seemed possible, other months with other days circled, and the longer he looked, the stranger the calendar appeared. How was everyone so sure it was November already? Summer couldn’t have been more than a week ago.

“Well I didn’t,” he said, disgruntled, and then because he thought it might make him feel better, he added, “Calendars are stupid.”

Trixie gave him a look that suggested she, like most of the world, didn’t share his feelings on timekeeping.

“They are,” he insisted. “Two thousand years ago some old men in togas decide we need a better way to keep time than the lunar calendar-“

“Are we really talking about this?” she interrupted.

Jack rode right over her. “- and the whole world just jumps on the band wagon and never looks back. Have you ever really looked at a calendar? I mean really looked. The numbers are all jumbled. Why is a week seven days? Why not nine? Or eleven? Didn’t Saturday used to be the day of rest? Who suddenly decided it was Sunday? And why are you making that face?”

Trixie shook her head and turned her attention back to the papers on her desk, sighing.

“What?” Jack demanded.

“You sound like my nana,” she said.

“What?”

She sighed again. “Old. You sound old.”

He scoffed. “Old? I’m not old. Not in any sense of the word.”

“Old,” she insisted, eyeing him again. “And something tells me it’s only gotten worse since you were Turned.”

Jack opened his mouth, but was strangely relieved to find he had no comeback. Knowing he couldn’t let Trixie have the last word, he opted for changing the subject. “So I take it Little Red Riding Hood was still waiting when the Big Bad Wolf made it back to her apartment?”

“Shut up,” Trixie replied as the phone started ringing.