The illegal sublet that Wendy Watson shares with another photogenic young artist
"This is Pip's way of expressing affection." Wendy Watson screwed the rental increase notification into a tight ball and sent it soaring with effortless accuracy out the open window. "I hold your pheromone-soaked dreams responsible, and consider it your duty to fix it up. You have sway with Pip."
Lacey Thornfield was aghast. "I never had sway! That was just a dream! There is no sway to be had."
Wendy shook her head. "You know what this means? We have only one option."
They sat together on the sofa in companionable sorrow, then rose together to draft the roommate notice.
1: River Tam
She was a tiny thing in a floral dress, bird-like feet jammed into heavy boots. Her hands fluttered through the air as she stood before the two of them.
"So," Lacey began brightly, "Where are you from?"
River spun dreamily, dress blossoming in a perfect circle. "From the dark. Vacuum pricks like stars and time bends a sickle around marbled spheres."
Lacey nodded thoughtfully, then showed River the door.
"I think you were a bit harsh," said Wendy. "Her vibe could have really suited us."
Lacey was adamant. "There's only room for one confrontational spoken word artist in this household."
2: Milla Donovan
Wendy was nervous about Milla – a divorce brought baggage that might show up at inauspicious moments.
Milla was sanguine though, tapping around the apartment with her cane. "We really didn't know each other. Once the mask came off, he was a stranger to me." Her hands found the window sill, and she leaned her cheek against the glass. "I've heard there are a lot of super-heroes in this city."
Wendy stared with narrowed eyes. There was a creepy undercurrent of longing in Milla's voice.
"This time," Milla sighed happily, "I'll find the right one to sweep me off my feet."
3: Martha Jones
"Wow!" Martha Jones turned a full circle. "You've used the space so well, I'd almost believe the inside was bigger than the outside."
"She's perfect," Lacey whispered to Wendy as she closed the door, while Martha admired the art hung around the apartment. "She's smart, she's funny, and she seems really easy going."
Wendy was dubious, it seemed too perfect. "So, you're British – are you over here on holiday?"
Martha sat on the sofa and crossed her legs. "Wait a moment, did you say Thornfield? Any relation to Doctor Barbara Thornfield, MD, PhD?"
Lacey sighed, and opened the door again.
4: Jo Harvelle
"Looks like you've got some solid wood behind this dry wall." Jo thumped the walls with her fists in a brisk tattoo. Standing beside her, Lacey jumped at the sound.
"Uh, could be." From over beside the door, Wendy surreptitiously teased open the zipper on the dusty black duffel. "Why? You planning a little construction work?"
"I'll need to build a rack." Jo clambered up on the back of the sofa, balancing like a surfer while she examined the ceiling. At ground level, Lacey's eyes were round.
Wendy peered into the bag, which contained a private arsenal. "Oh, hell, no!"
She swept aside her yellow trenchcoat, perched on the sofa and gave them a measuring gaze. Wendy realised they were under scrutiny themselves.
Jubilee snapped her gum. "You don't actually want a roomie."
Lacey winced. "That obvious, huh?"
"Our landlord's assy son jacked up the rent." Wendy was blunt; it seemed fair.
Jubilee cracked her knuckles. "Let's go negotiate with him. I might not get a room, but I'll settle for a rumble." She loped outside. Shortly, a yowl drifted back.
Noser wandered in. "Is that the sweet sound of falling rent? That girl sure has some sway with Pip."