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Ink

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Ink
Title Ink
Fandom: Ghost World/Dodgeball
Pairing: well... Enid and Steve the Pirate
Rating: G
Notes: written for [info]ithurtsmybrain and has been sitting unfinished on my harddrive forEVER.

Please beta if you like,I will be posting this to the comm. later this weekend.


Enid is sitting with her arms crossed at the very back of the bus. It's old, ratty and the lights are flickering on and off because it's exactly perfect. There's hard chewing gum stuck under her seat. Beside her is Rebecca with her arms crossed. They are bored, mirrorfaced-blank and the only two people on the bus except for:

"That guy," Enid's looking at the guy standing waiting for the doors to open.... for the bus to stop, which it hasn't, "what's his deal? Does he think he looks like a pirate or something?"

The bus scrapes to a stop at the curb... it's a print shop, flyspecked window and an avalanche of papers inside, big old iron death machine printing press. The hydraulics on the bus step fizzle, sputter. The door clicks shut and the pirate guy is still trapped on the bus. The vehicle lurches forward.

"Garrrr! You be stopping the bus so Steve can exit!" yells the guy, banging at the door with his fist.

"Is that a dagger?" Enid giggles. Rebecca hides her face behind her hand and pretends the wadded-up transfer in the sill of the bus window is the world to her. Enid is relentless. "We have to get off! SIR!? Can you stop the bus?"

The cracked-out bus driver screeches to a stop, cursing blue. The pirate, red-faced by now, forces the reluctant doors open and squeezes through the gap.

"Come on, we have to follow him!"

"Oh my god, no!" Rebecca's upped her disguise: she's hiding behind the mane of honey-blonde hair, the waterfall she hides behind like Batman's cave... far from the evil clutches of super-uncool Enid and her obsessions. "I can't follow that guy, he's probably a nutbar! And he'll skin you alive with that knife of his!"

"Fine," Enid pries herself off the chewing gum seat and squeezes out the hissing doors before the bus driver has time to rocket off again. And then the bus pulls out, the last thing she sees in the dust cloud is Rebecca's face, pressed in horror against the rear window of the bus, white circles on her cheek and forehead.

And Steve is standing on the sidewalk in knee-high black leather kink boots with the strangest expression on his face.

"Sir?" Enid starts after him, but he's turning away from the street, digging in his pirate pockets for keys or something. Turning towards the door of the print shop, fighting with the lock. The key ring slips through his fingers and spatters against the pavement, ringing bell tones all the way to the gutter. The ring tips over the curb and....

STAMP. Enid's got her foot on it, one big black-booted shitkicker foot, and hands on hips and half a grin, and she knows the pirate's looking up her leg to the short skirt and she grins the rest of the way.

"Ahoy, matey," she says, making a hook with one finger and scooping up the key ring. "You looking for this?"

"Garrr." The pirate squints: he certainly is dedicated. "Better hand them over, young lass, or Steve will have to slit yer throat!"

Enid lets her eyes go as wide and innocent as possible, holds out the keys. Steve snatches them quickly as though he's afraid they might burn his hand. Their eyes lock a second, her gaze is unwavering, and he... he flinches away.

"Th-thanks," he stammers, turns back to the door and unlocks it. He's halfway to solace when Enid sticks her foot in the door.

"Hey. Remember me? I was on your bus?" She tries an easy grin. That's right, don't scare him. Not too much.

"Uhm."

"Sure, I can't be the only person ever to talk to you. Hi. My name's Enid."

"Enid." He says it like he doesn't know what to do with the name. "Hi."

"And your name's Steve." Enid slithers inside, lets the door bang back against her calves. The print shop is musty and comfortable, with the dry scent of dust and cracking paper. "Are you really a pirate?"

Steve shrugs, sidles behind the monster printing press to get distance. His whole demeanor changes. Now he doesn't look like a pirate, even though the boots, the bandana and the dagger seem to indicate he is. For instance, he stutters:

"I like d- dressing like this." He shrugs, looking down at his clothes for a minute. "And n- no one really asked th- that before."

"I've seen you around." She mirrors his scuttle around the print shop, and they circle and weave around the meagre furnishings. He pauses behind a stack of band leaflets featuring a girl in a bikini, shimmying on a Bible. "You work here?"

"I lease this place. Th- there's an apartment upstairs." She can almost see the expression of panic crossing his face: why, WHY did he tell her that? He's slowly going mad before her eyes. "I do... you know. Flyers and p-p- " deep breath "Posters."

"Show me."

He's almost proud for a moment, a brief shining ray of sunshine tickles the back of his neck and flares his red hair into fire. The portfolio is really more of a shuffled deck, two flattened cardboard boxes held together with string and duct tape, a skull and crossbones adorning one cover, heavily inked in permanent marker.

And it's GOOD. The artwork is delicate, lineart twisting razor thin across white paper, all sinuous curves and deadly angles. Enid has to admit, the pirate is good at what he does. She's seen these around town, some of these posters may even be wadded up under her bed for future use. Yeah, this one particularly reminds her; it's a young boy in overalls, standing with a knife behind his back and devil's horns sprouting from his forehead. (If she hadn't met the artist she might have been a little worried about being alone with him….)

"That's really something," she says, sliding the homicidal boy out of the stack. He drags out some mermaids alongside, and a few art deco renderings of spaceships. "These are good. How come you don't have a show or something?"

"Ah, well," and it's Steve's turn to leaf through the shifting sands, "They aren't exactly… uh, art, are they?"

"Screw art," Enid says, "I know what I like." She scoops up a marker from the clutter and offers it to Steve. "I'll give you ten bucks if you draw me, right now."

He blushes. "Uhm…"

"Ten bucks!" She stamps her foot impatiently, "Right here right now!"

He turns away to look for his sketchpad, and she can barely hear him mumble "I'd do it for free, even…" and they're sunk.

He poses her atop ten cubed boxes of paper, a miniature pyramid behind the landing strip of countertop. She scales it like Everest, like Tenochtitlan, like the Great Wall of China, glory on her face and fierce bravery in her heart. It takes all his nerve to draw that spark he sees flashing from her eyes, to capture her in slight and shade, in two tones of mystery and wonder. She is rendered both in his heart and in his hand.

Afterwards he nervously shows her the drawings, electric line drawings of her journey to the summit. That's Enid all over, she knows, ever-climbing… is that someone's back she's standing on, or a rock solid boulder? Are those fingers grasping at her ankle, or Alpine greenery? Fierce dedication in her expression, or inestimable sadness?

He gives her the drawings, all raggedly torn from the spiral spine of his sketchbook. "You should take them with you," he says, "When you go."

It's almost a question. Enid takes them from his shaking hands and puts them aside… takes his hands in hers. He's almost afraid at what might happen.

"Who says I'm going anywhere just yet?"

**

It's hard to miss the posters when they come out for a garage band, nine days later, and there's a mountain-climbing Enid bearing a pirate flag. He's drawn her well (at least that's a consolation) but when Rebecca sees them she just sighs and huffs, crosses her arm and blows her hair out of her eyes.

"Guy was creepy," she says, "I don't know what you saw in him."

And Enid doesn't tell her about the drawing in her pocket, crumpled and sweatstained and smelling faintly of printer's ink and dust. She hasn't seen Steve since that day… and knowing her, probably never will again.

END.

Questions? Comments? Feedback always appreciated.