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White Noise

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Scott is having one of those Mondays. He doesn't consider himself the kind of person who dreads Mondays --and paying for med school is too expensive for him to allow himself to even complain about it-- but he is dreading this one. He's got four books under his left arm, two coffees on his other hand --one cup pressed between his chest and his wrist, the other firmly held between his fingers-- and his phone is vibrating in his pocket, completely out of reach. The only strap that holds his backpack on his shoulder is about to snap and his new tattoo is itching like a motherfucker. He's not even the kind of person who swears much, but he wouldn't be above yelling "¡mierda!" in the middle of the café right now. He contains himself, though, because it's way too early and he doesn't want to get scolded by Doña Consuelo, the elderly Colombian barista, at five in the morning.

He does let out a couple muttered curses, half in English and half in Spanish, when he steps outside and feels the coffee dripping down his fingers. Turns out the lid doesn't fit the cup properly and, when he pushed the café's door with his shoulder, the movement made the liquid swish. He can't actually wipe it off, so he just prays that it won't keep spilling and rushes towards the hospital.



The computer is throwing a hissy-fit again. It's like the millionth issue it's had in the past few weeks (Kira's sure the movers bumped it or something, because it didn't have this many problems back in Seoul), and she's starting to really lose her patience. She taps the camera repeatedly, and it almost falls out of its holder, but the computer still doesn't want to acknowledge it's plugged in. The stupid red light is on, but the dumb thing isn't recording. Kira huffs, stands up and, as she walks towards the kitchen, raises her middle finger in the computer's general direction. Her cat meows, and Kira chooses to take that as some kind of moral support --or as the cat version of a "yes! fuck you, computer!".

There is leftover pizza in the fridge --one, maybe two days old? three, tops, she's sure of that-- and still-warm coffee in the pot. She jumps to sit on the counter and proceeds to eat cold pizza and drink not-hot-enough coffee with too much sugar, trying not to think about what mom and dad might be having for dinner. She looks out the window. It's almost nine, and Tokyo is brighter at night than it was during the rainy afternoon. Kit jumps from the couch and climbs onto the counter next to her to try and steal the anchovies. 

Kira promises herself she'll Skype her parents tomorrow, if the webcam decides to work. She'll smile and tell them about the nice old lady at the supermarket down the street that has already "adopted" her as a new granddaughter, and that she sold like fifty shirts this week; and will make sure not to give them any reasons to worry about her.



Erica's hair is everywhere, and her soft snores echo through the quiet room. She's still got her earrings on, and they're tangled in her hair in a way that looks a little painful. Isaac has stolen all the blankets during the night and then pushed them aside, making them fall off the bed. He's functioning as a human blanket, though, spread over Boyd's chest and breathing heavily on his neck while his left arm is wound around Erica's waist on the other side of Boyd's body.

The room is way too hot --they probably forgot to turn the heater off-- and the grey-ish light of the early afternoon is shinning through the window. Boyd's head is pounding. For the tenth time in the last three months, he promises himself that he won't let Erica and Isaac drag him out for "just a pint!" ever again. Specially not when he has to explain Marx to a bunch of annoying first-years the next day.

Boyd tries to shift so that Isaac will move away, but only manages to make both him and Erica scoot even closer. He can't actually reach the nightstand to grab his phone without waking at least one of them, but he guesses it's still early enough that he can stay in bed a little longer.  



There's a splash of purple in the middle of the canvas and she's not sure she likes it. Most of it is fine --the branches, the light, she actually thinks she got the blues and greens just right-- but the purple just doesn't work. She's considering painting over it --but it might mess up the texture, she tells herself, and holds the brush in the air, just an inch away from the canvas. Yellow would look better here, she thinks, and chastises herself for not realizing it before. The acrylic has already dried up.

The alarm that signals she has to take her meds goes off, but she ignores it. The purple is too dark, that's the problem. The branches were supposed to have an ethereal feeling, like in the-

"Tracy! Your meds!" Caitlin calls from the bathroom. Tracy sighs. She puts the brush down, and moves to press the snooze button. She goes back to staring at the painting, frowning. She hasn't even registered the five minutes passing, too busy convincing herself to not just throw the canvas away, when the alarm starts blaring again. Caitlin calls her name once more. She huffs, but this time does go looking for her meds.

For her last birthday, her flatmate got her a cute, blue container with compartments for each day of the week and each time of the day. She takes the ones from the eight a.m. compartment, and smiles at the cat sticker on the lid. She decides that, even if the painting looks absolutely terrible, she doesn't want to let it ruin today's good mood. 

"Not trying to butt in or anything, but that would look really good with some pink added to the purple," Caitlin comments. Tracy finishes filling a glass of water and turns around; sees her standing, wrapped in a towel, in front of the painting.

"It would, wouldn't it?"



Danny's spent about forty straight hours without sleep. He knows this, because he's seeing the sunrise for what feels like the third time since he last closed his eyes for a reasonable amount of time. It's been three days since he accepted this "silly little job" for Google and by now he's running only on bitter coffee and even more bitter resentment. If he doesn't find a way to break through this stupid firewall in the next five minutes he's going to sell his entire equipment and go sell overpriced flowery necklaces to annoying white tourists back in Hawai'i. That's it. He's never touching another computer in his life.

Just as he's about to close the program and go the hell to sleep, a tiny pop-up announces that he's logged in. He doesn't have the energy to cheer or to rejoice in having beaten such a good security system. He saves a report almost on auto-pilot, closes the program and decides he'll email Google once he's fully functional again, because right now he doesn't think he can explain how to turn on the oven, much less where the weak spot in their new system is.

His last thought before falling asleep is that he had less trouble hacking into the FBI's database when he was fifteen than he did with this. He needs to complain to his best friend about it as soon as he wak...



Italian coffee is so good that it almost makes up for Italian traffic. It's hotter than the scalding asphalt of Rome's streets, thick like blood, dark and bitter in a way that no other coffee Allison's ever tried has been. It's almost thirty five Celsius, though it feels like fifty in this crowded little street, and the trees don't offer much shade. She doesn't come to Rome for the coffee or the nice weather, though. She comes for Violet, and Violet is late.

She looks at her phone --the cheap, disposable one she uses for meet-ups-- to check for texts or missed calls again. She sips her coffee, tries to not let the annoyance and anxiety sip into her posture or expression. Nobody will recognize her here, she knows, but she can't help the uneasy feeling. She feels like an easy target, can't help but look up to the colorful balconies and low roofs. Her eyes focus on a silhouette, up on a terrace near the corner. What if...?

"Fa caldo, ¿eh?" Violet's sweet voice interrupts. Allison can feel the tension seeping off her.



"D'ya know where I left my dark jeans?" Cora is yelling from her bedroom. She has a class at 10 a.m. and she's not even close to ready, but Derek has decided that he definitely won't tell her where all of her shit is. Maybe that way she'll learn to leave her clothes inside her room, where they belong. "Derek! Did you see them? ¡Por dios!"

He tries to focus on his book. He starts his shift at noon and he'll be standing around like an idiot until midnight, so he really wants to finish this chapter (or the next two or three) before leaving for work. The doctor is trying to decide if he kidnaps his own daughter, maybe losing everything he's ever had in a wild attempt to try an experimental cure for cancer, or if he...

"Derek! I'm going to be late! Didn't you see them? I had my bus pass in there!"

He sighs. Wonders if it would really be that much more expensive to pay for another apartment for Cora, so he wouldn't have to be this mixture of parent, big brother and best friend all the time. He's not cut for socializing too much, and Cora's been in a permanent state of Too Much ever since they moved down here and she finally started feeling comfortable in her skin again. 

"They're on the balcony, you left them there to dry two days ago," he calls. After a couple more seconds of trying to convince himself to be stern and not do everything for her, he sighs, looks for the traveling cup that Cora always takes to uni and starts brewing some coffee for her.



Braeden is thinking of giving up the straightener once and for all. Her hair is frizzy, matted and dirty; she knows it'll be a bitch to wash and brush. She remembers how easy it was to wash her braids after work, but she stopped wearing them years ago. She'd felt like they looked childish, and possible clients had respected her less for them. But who'd accuse her of being unprepared for the job with the scars she sports now? Yeah, she's definitely going back to the braids. As soon as she's done with this fucker. 

"Look, buddy, I don't give a damn about your wife or your kids. You tell me where Don Chávez Manrique is hiding, and I'll let you walk away. You don't tell me, and I'll kill you. It's not that hard a choice."

The man babbles and blubbers. He's got tears running down his face, dried up blood on his beard and the split lip makes him lisp; and the poor bastard keeps hurting himself with the constant straining against the ropes that tie him to the chair. Braeden hasn't even tried her hardest techniques on him, because she's sure that intimidation will be enough to get her what she needs. But, man, she's really starting to lose her patience.

"¡Vamos, hombre! I'm going to kill him anyways, you don't need to worry about what he'll do to you!" she says, almost cheekily. When he starts whimpering and reciting the names of his children again, she decides to give the poor devil a break and looks in her jacket's inner pocket for her phone. Maybe she'll play Candy Crush for a while.