Log:As I Lay Me Down
It's finals week. The last finals week, thus the most important of them all, in some respects, even if most decisions have already been made, acceptance letters sent out with provisional terms. Mona has never really struggled with any of her classwork, even if the majority of it is dry as the Sahara so far as she's concerned. Other than the trinity of requirements -- English, Math, Science -- she's been in Drama, European History, and Art throughout senior year. It's a fairly light schedule, all told; odds are high she deliberately chose to arrange it that way to stave off any potential threats to the future plans.
For a girl not many people take seriously, she seems to take some care with whatever plans she makes. As she's caught up on cramming, she's at the mannequins, throwing a drape over Felicity's dress, now complete. There's another that's been shrouded in 'secrecy' for a few days with a simple post-it slapped to the sheet that simply reads 'Jade'. A garment bag has a similar tag with 'Spear'. The mannequin with 'Thea' scrawled on the fabric of its muslin neck directly is draped with a few prospective base shapes, but is still in the early stages. Its only ornamentation is a slew of post-its with question marks on them.
"One more down." His leather jacket and the associated pieces have their own garment bag. She's either hiding her own very well, or hasn't started on it yet. As she sets her hands to her hips, she glares at the Thea mannequin. "Go retail. As if."
Zane's acceptance is at least less provisional than many. Juilliard's already decided the things he's got less talent in than what he'll be studying are at least acceptable enough to suggest he'll manage to hack it. But he still has to graduate, and even if he's managed not to entirely bomb a semester yet, this can't be the first one! So he's sprawled out on Mona's bed, Prince Prance curled comfortably in the small of his back and holding him in place, his mathbook open in front of him and failing to be the slightest bit moved by his woeful look.
"Why would she do that?" he asks, happy for the excuse to move his attention over to Mona and the dress-to-be instead. "And did you even start on yours yet? 'cause--" He breaks off, considering. "Okay I guess if you ended up having to go in your underwear you'd still look pretty amazing, but. Plans and all." Also she might not make it there.
Standard Mona practice is to save her bits for last, not that she's ever really explained why. There are theories, of course -- best for last, wanting to be sure whatever it is she has is truly unique, making sure no one can peek -- that are all plausible, but no one's ever managed to hit on the real reason behind it. It isn't even the more open fact that she wants to be sure that everyone else is set and ready to go before herself.
"She wants to save me some time, but... " Mona says as she turns, snatching a sketchbook off the work table as she starts ambling toward the bed. "It's going to be a special night, you know? Special and retail just don't mix." At least not in this house. "I mean, I'm sure Mom would get her a Dior or even a Vera Wang on zero notice without skipping a beat, but still, they're things someone else may some day have, not something truly hers in the same way." She drops down to a seat beside him, then sprawls out, opposite Prance. Ducking her chin under Zane's, she trades a look with the flummoxed feline and makes kissy noises.
"To be fair, LeSage still has to send back the bustier panels and jacket insets, but the package should be here before we're back from school tomorrow." She takes in a breath, and says, "Had an idea, by the way. Found my old metallic fabric markers. How'd you feel about having people sign the jackets at prom? I had thought about doing graffiti designs on them, like in the sketch? But somehow, having other people 'tag' them like that feels more... right?"
Only then does she glance down at the math text, her nose wrinkling. "I promise to wear something that may or may not be underwear on the outside after you kick this math final's ass." Helping!
Has he straight-up asked, before? It's not exactly unlikely. Is this going to stop him asking again? Apparently not, since Zane asks, "How come you always do yours last, anyway? And how do you never, ever run out of time?" Admiration in it, and the smile spreads wide and warm as she flops down next to him, and he turns his had to try to steal a kiss when she makes the kissy noises. Even if they were meant for the cat on his back. He stays sprawled on his stomach, unwilling to dump Prance off his claimed spot even if there is this Mona right here now. How long that restraint will last, who knows, but for now, he's being Good. Just not Good enough to try this math problem again. Judging by the paper, he's done it at least four times, with four different answers, none of them right.
"You're really good to us. I mean, all the making us stuff just so it'll be special," he says, thoughtfully. "And I like that, I think. Like yearbook jackets almost. Would we tell people to write their names or like draw things or write other stuff or? Do you think we'd get them all filled up before it was time to do photos?" His head turns to run a look down along the whole length of her and back, "...and how much math final ass do I gotta kick? 'cause right now I'm kinda just hoping I can slap it and run away, and even so that's like... days from now." Ish. Not that many days. Maybe two. Definitely helping him focus, yes.
She returns the kiss, warm and lingering, before she gets to the question. Maybe she doesn't intend to actually answer the question. When she finally does come up for air, she nestles in beside him, and the arm that would normally wind over his back instead nests on Prance's fuzzy head to rumple his ears in slow motion. Mona observes the paper, pursing her lips thoughtfully. Yeah, four deserves a break, or at least maybe the actual answer.
"Yeah, yeah," she says, chuckling quietly as she shakes her head. "I just like it, I guess. When people feel good. When they see how really fucking amazing they actually are, which more or less nobody does, because everybody has this messed up idea that we're supposed to look like people in the magazines and anything that isn't printed in Seventeen is dead wrong." Her nose wrinkles visibly. "Jade and I don't look like that. We never did and never will. Spear, either. Or Star. Even Arthur." Every last one of them gorgeous and unique. "I guess, it's... " Her brow furrows as she tries to find the right words. Her chin tilts down, and her tone softens. "It's all costumes, really. In some ways."
"Because clothes are like armor, sometimes. But other times?" This part is quiet enough to barely pass as a whisper. "People don't see what's really there until it's dialed up to eleven and staring back at them in a mirror. It's like that more than ever, now, and-" Her expression softens toward a tiny smile. "-it's better for someone to get that clue that it's so much more amazing and brave to be who they are rather than what some dumbass magazine selling curling irons and cheap makeup says they are supposed to be."
"I mean, you get it. I know you get it." She nudges him lightly with an elbow, and leans in with a roll of hips to the side before she levels out again. "How putting on a costume is transformative. It's just... someone's own skin they don't see themselves yet." There's something a little choked up in her voice, just then, but she swallows it back.
"I see it, though."
"Kills me sometimes when they don't?" Her head shakes away the remainder of what might have been a case of the sniffles, "But people aren't really very good at seeing what's right in front of them, sometimes. I mean-" There, a tiny snort. "-case in point." She nudges him with her hip this time.
"Pretty sure you're the only one who sees that, about me, though." The answer is long in coming, but in the end it's simpler than might be expected. "And the reason mine is always last is because there's always a mad scramble at the end, and sometimes that means cutting some corners. Like, 'this looks perfectly fine, but you dare not ever sit down' or 'this is totally fine so long as you don't jump' and other stuff I wouldn't wish on anybody else."
Prance is not being petted at the moment, and this rouses a plaintive noise of abandonment at last. "Cat." Gets more scritching. "And yeah, kinda like yearbook jackets. Or like... I know some people get a shirt to have everybody sign with a sharpie? But I think I like this better." Dropping her head to rest at his shoulder, she turns it just enough to whisper, "Slapping it and running away is more than good enough. Just don't challenge it to a duel and we're in business."
"I think it challenged me to a duel," Zane says woefully, and tips his head to rest it against hers for a moment. "Yours has to be all sittable and jumpable this time though, or how're we gonna dance? 'cause I think the answer oughta be 'awesomely' and that means what if I wanna lift you or something? Like all end of Dirty Dancing." That thought has him grinning again, at least, even if he might not really do it. Then again, he might...
"...I do, though. Get it. Like, when you put on the costumes, and the make-up and all, even if you could feel it before, it's... different when you can see it too. When it's not you looking back anymore. So it's kinda different again when it... is. Just not the one you're used to seeing?" Slightly tentative, that part. He's usually pretty okay with what he sees, except in the handful of times he's really wanted a part he's been deemed too 'something' for, over the years. But then, he doesn't generally read Seventeen. Not that he hasn't seen it enough to have an opinion: "You're prettier than the people in the magazines, though." Never mind how long it took him to properly notice that! Seeing what's right in front of them, indeed. He did have the grace to look a little sheepish about it when she nudged him, at least.
"Oh, that design will make sitting and twirling and jumping totally aces," Mona replies immediately as her smile starts to return in full. "I would... " The tip of her tongue taps against her upper teeth, and some of the pink returns to her cheeks. She glances at him sidelong, thoughtful for a moment of just looking at him with that increasingly crooked grin. "...really, really like that."
"But... yeah? That's it, really. I mean. We're so used to looking at ourselves and knowing where all the parts we hate are that they're like... camouflage?" She's looking for the right words, even now. "They get in our way so we don't see the good parts so easily. Or sometimes they're not even there any more, but we still see them and don't see what's different just because we're so used to seeing them or expecting to see them."
"So it's kinda like a shock to the system, I guess?"
The blush floods in fully at the comparison, and there's a tiny little groan rattling around her ribs as she ducks her head again and bonks right into him as though she's gone full cat. "I am so not. But... I guess I'm not what I thought I was, either?"
"And, if we're being brutally honest, you are... pretty much the absolute perfect 'boy next door' that every girl in the world dreams about." She's not kidding. Not even a little. "You're sweet, you're charming, you're thoughtful, you're drop dead gorgeous, you're funny, you're always there any time a friend needs you, you've got a heart even bigger than the whole town." She peers up at him, then nudges again lightly with her elbow. "So, yeah. Pretty much the guy every girl dreams of, but you're next door to me, so they can all go jump in the lake." Next door being somewhat relative, but that damned estate borders every other property in the area, so... it counts?
"Good, 'cause I don't wanna, like... break anything," Zane says, grinning back when she gives him that particular one. "If you want, we could, like... practice something? I mean, I guess we don't know what songs they'll play or anything, but... still." It's not like he wouldn't probably enjoy the dancing with her anyway, up to the point where they inevitably get entirely distracted. Again. Eventually maybe it'll get old, but not yet.
"Are," he retorts cleverly to her claim that she is not prettier, and really, who could debate against that sort of argumentation? It comes with a little lean to bump against her, and he turns his head to try to kiss hers while it's bonking him. What she has to say about him in turn makes him blush, unsurprisingly, and laugh, shaking his head. "I dunno about all that. Except the last part, 'cause, yeah, yours. ...next door or not, though, kinda?" His glance flickers toward the balcony, like he's trying to map it all in his head and possibly whether he could just... climb over something to get here? Huh.
"Oh, there are a few things I hope you don't mind breaking... " Mona teases back with a playful leap of her brows. "...records, furniture, bedsprings... " She knows she's awful and cheerfully runs with it, catching the kiss even whilst she grins. "We could. I would love to, actually. Sometimes I think people forget I went to all the same classes everyone else did, I just... don't perform? Granted, I suppose that's how they'd know... " so she can't really fault them, either.
Her cheeks remain a deeper shade of pink than normal as she grins back to him. "Next door... in a way? And soon, next door over literally -- down the hall in New York. And even then, I kinnnnnnnnnnnnnda think it's going to be more 'your door or mine'. Or-" She puts on a good look of feigned innocence, reaching up a hand to rumple Prance's ears again, earning a merry purrrrowly chirp with some real volume. "-I hope it will be. Until we pick one and somebody just starts calling it 'their door' and then... "
It doesn't take much to follow his train of thought toward the balcony, and she remembers that with a sudden chuckle that evolves into a dreamy sort of sigh. "You do make a delicious Romeo, you know. Next time I will just throw all of my clothes over the railing and see how long it takes you to get up there."
Mona is about to continue on when she's cut off by a small white puff of a creature hopping up onto the bed to approach the pair cautiously. Spook peers at Zane with her enormous blue eyes, looking startled as ever, before stepping up toward the open textbook, then planting herself on it and curling up there. There's a bonk to his chin with the top of her head, and she begins purring noisily, having conquered her fear of everything and completed an Important Feline Goal of Preventing People From Working On Something.
Definitely awful! Okay, it's a nice kind of awful, but it's the kind that makes Zane turn fairly decidedly pink again as well, and glance at the bed they're sprawled on. "We haven't actually... uh, they're all still working, right?" He looks at the math again without actually seeing it, and shakes his head a tiny bit. "But yeah, we should... practice some stuff, then. See what's fun." ANY of it will be more fun than the math.
"We gotta have two rooms 'cause otherwise there won't be enough room for the costumes and stuff." There may not be even if they invade his, depending just what sort of place they're able to get their hands on. Marchant money is one thing, but NYC square footage is still another. "...but I kinda figure most of the time we might just share?" It's not an intentionally feigned innocence in the sidelong look he gives her, though most of what's there is hope and anticipation. "Anyway if you did that I could probably break that record for you!" He looks pleased with himself for tying that back. Of course, he's only done it once and that involved figuring out how, so the actual record breaking is probably not that impressive.
He might have had more to say, but: Spook. Zane blinks, going silent as the cat peers at him, and peering back though trying to do it indirectly. And then: bonk. He beams brilliantly, and nuzzles against her head, seeming not to even notice yet that she's thwarted his work! This is a *very* important feline goal.
"This bed is amazingly solid," Mona confirms with a slow and deliberate nod. "It'll take some effort." That is not the kind of tone that suggests it's anything but a challenge worthy of them. There is, however, a part of her that is serious enough to be considering the math cram session, and the answer sheet nags at the back of her mind as important.
Clearly, Spook is aware of this, too. Cat timing. The cat always knows when it's time for a break to shake the fog out of mind. The petite, skittish fluffball continues to purr noisily, tipping up her chin to sniff at his nose. "I see you have been formally adopted as Daddy," Mona notes, observing the cat, then looking back to him. She's still petting Prance, who, behind Zane's head, is peering over his shoulder at Spook like she's really slow on the uptake to only just now figured this out.
"I think I like the idea of 'our room'," she murmurs, teeth catching at her lower lip. "I mean. It's a brownstone. Two rooms, half a floor? I think we can make that work. Store all our theater stuff in one room, stay in the other? I think we were going to clean up the attic to make it into a space where we could practice dance and everything, instead of just storage." It's a diversion, no matter how brief, before she glances back to him, quietly hopeful. "I'll still get to sneak into your room, and you'll be able to scale the balcony, when we come home for things, though, yeah?" The gleam in her eyes is pure mischief. "Something about that is... pretty fun, can't lie there. I mean. We're 18, it's not like we're just kids-" Yes, they are! "-or anything, and we're, you know, allowed, but." It's still fun to think they're getting away with something, even if it, like so much else, is obvious to everyone but them.