Previous Next


Posted on Mon Jul 8th, 2024 @ 16:57 by Sarah Bright & Deidre "Dee" Fraser

Chapter: Besieged
Location: Avalon & New Cresthill
Timeline: Friday, January 22, 1993
5466 words - 10.9 OF Standard Post Measure

It had been over a month since Sarah had seen or heard from Deidre. She wouldn't say that she'd spent every waking hour of that time thinking about the reporter, and when they would next cross paths, but she had to admit that since their last meeting her thoughts had become increasingly errant, and focused around her. And they weren't pleasant or constructive thoughts either, more a series of self-pitying inner monologues about the reasons for that silence. She's not even thinking about you at all. Was the most frequent of them all.

Maybe that voice was right. Maybe Dee hadn't been thinking about her, but why would she? It wasn't like Sarah had really given her anything to think about. The most memorable she'd been was when she'd been covered in cafeteria food. So maybe the reporter wasn't going to come calling with a bouquet of flowers. But that didn't mean Sarah stood no chance. So finally, after days, weeks of pointless hesitation, Sarah resolved herself to doing something about it. She had, after, made it her New Year's Resolution, even above finding the elusive Avalon Codex.

The plan was simple. Call Dee, and tell her she wanted to see her. Getting her number had been the easy part. 'I found this, it could be Miss Fraser's. Do you have a number I can reach her at?' Sarah had asked Jhanvi, flourishing a lone amethyst stud earring. Technically what Sarah had said was true. She had found the earring, but in a shop, where she'd bought it and its twin. And they could be Miss Fraser's if she accepted them. Thankfully Avalon's secretary had not offered to be place the call herself. She would've found herself right back at square one,

The phone in the teacher's lounge was thankfully unattended. She dared not pull up a chair before picking up the handset, lest she become complacent. She tapped her foot nervously as she dialed the number Jhanvi had supplied. Was it a work number? Sarah didn't know. She didn't even know if Dee was employed, or simply freelance. What Sarah did know was she wished she was wearing her heels for this endeavor. Aside from being physically taller, they made her feel more confident, and of course sexier. But alas, they were still missing.

The line rang once... twice...

The whirl of an answering machine's attempt to kick in produced several garbled syllables of indecipherable intent before the crackle of a badly-recorded message announced, "...of Dee Fraser." Another patch of static interrupted before the short request concluded with, ..."after the beep, or whatever sound you hear, if there is a sound. Maybe just count to three, but do leave a message and some way of...

Abruptly, the message ended, disconnected by the snatched desperation of a hand plucking up the phone receiver before adequate balance had been assured. As a result, there was almost immediately a loud clatter and the amplified thunk of impact right into the earpiece as the dropped receiver made connection with the leg of the wooden stand the phone rested on. In the distance, the clumsy instigator could just be heard fussing. "Sorry! Sorry, hang on, I'm just..." Several more knocks and the sound of plastic rubbing against couch fabric later, the breathless voice became suddenly much clearer. "Oh gosh, I'm so sorry. I dropped the phone. Hello, yes, you called me. I mean, this is Deidre, the person you called."

The woman's wince was so profound as to be almost audible.

Sarah had begun to panic with each passing ring, and her face scrunched in consternation as soon as she heard the tell-tale signs of an improperly set up answering machine. Was this even Dee's number? She considered as she struggled to decipher the initial static, but it was a short lived consideration. Oh my god, Dee, what are we going to do about you... Sarah struggled to keep the thought from being uttered aloud as she bit her lip so hard, she thought it might actually bleed.

The librarian genuinely tried to maintain a laissez-faire attitude toward her potential girlfriends and their sometimes less-than-flattering quirks, but it rarely ever happened, and she was on the verge of accepting that that was just who she was--the kind of girlfriend who approached a relationship like she was the star of a dramatized home improvement show. She rarely ever got anything done, of course. Except for that one time she'd gotten her last girlfriend, the vampire, to wear red lipstick instead of black.

Sarah envisioned her future with Dee as the message continued to play out with a tragic wanderlust, soon to be guillotined by the answering machine's imminent beep. Of course the first place her mind drifted towards were inevitable introductions. 'This is my girlfriend, Sarah. I mean, no, not that kind of girlfriend. The girl who is a friend kind. Yes, that's it. Definitely not the other one, the sleeping with kind...

Nearly lost in a destructive loop of anxiety over what sort of message to leave if and when the machine ever did beep, Sarah couldn't help but squeak, and nearly jumped out of her sneakers when the line suddenly crackled to life, thudding with a soundwave so sharp, it almost felt like a finger flick to the ear. Sarah wished she had a paper bag to hyperventilate into as she heard someone on the other end struggle with the phone, the amplified, disembodied sounds fueling her tortured imagination with visions of Dee, a full-blown hoarder, tripping over stacks of old newspapers as she tried to wrangle the phone away from one her many cats.

"Yes, hi!" Sarah began, wading right into the newest episode of her improv sitcom, Sarah Destroys It All. "This is Sarah, the person... who is calling you..." Sarah winced, barely able to see past her shattered thought process to consider that her words might be seen as teasing, and not a sincere attempt at coherent thought.

"Is this a good time?" Sarah continued after a brief moments pause, part of her secretly hoping that it was not so she could abort mission before this turned into a complete disaster.

"Oh, Sarah. Yes."

Never had three words been uttered with quite so much unintentional sultriness. Between being out of breath and some strange assemblance of happenstance that trapped her voice in her throat at just the right resonance to sound husky, Dee's instant recognition translated as a purr of approval when, in reality, the ginger-haired manifestation of chaos on the other end of the line was trying to figure out how to untangle her foot from the excessively-long phone cord without yanking the connection clean out of the wall socket.

"Of course it's a good time," Dee continued in a far more expected tone, which was to say she sounded flustered and just a little embarrassed. "I've just got in, I was having trouble with the door sticking like it always does. I'm glad I was able to pick up in time, it's lovely to hear from you. How are things in that castle of yours?"

She remembers me! Sarah thought with an equal mixture of surprise and delight. But Dee had remembered her the last the they'd met too, so maybe she ought to give the reporter some more credit. She certainly wasn't going to give herself any. The surprise intensified after Dee's initial reply, and the delight morphed into something just skirting the edge of arousal, and she felt that if her eyebrows could arch any higher, they might brush into her scalp. That voice... If she wasn't so anxious about not screwing things up, she probably would've been genuinely turned on.

Sarah hadn't actually planned for this; not that there was really ever a plan for anything she did, but still. The biting her lip to keep herself from laughing out loud bit gentled into more of a captivated nibbling, She felt herself idly winding the phone cord around a finger as she listened to see what Dee would say next.

Oh my god, normal people small talk... yes please. Sarah breathed an audible sigh of relief, not even thinking of hoping that it wasn't interpreted as boredom. Her knees gave way, and she slid down the wall into a relaxed, but unladylike squat as the grip on her sneaker soles refused to give way.

"It's lovely to hear from you too, Deidre." Sarah said as she hugged one knee to release her shoe's grip so she could settle down int o a more comfortable position. She used the reporters full name. It was new and exotic sounding, and she liked the way it rolled off of her tongue. Hopefully there would be plenty of time for nicknames later... which was an alien concept of sorts for Sarah anyway. She couldn't recollect anyone ever giving her a nickname.

"Castle's old... and a bit cold. But otherwise its a nice enough place to be." Sarah winced at the unintentional (and unimaginative) rhyme. Sometimes she felt a bit isolated and lonely, and she'd forgotten how boarding schools could be. It was nice not having to worry about things like commutes, shopping, and meal prep, but she missed living in the middle of a town or a city. The teachers were nice and the students weren't all brats, but there was no real separation of work and personal life to be found within the castle walls, and getting out into town wasn't always convenient... certainly not with her car still in the shop for repairs.

"Some of the kids have been asking about you... the theater kids mainly. They'd like you to come and critique one of their next performances. They're just looking for professional feedback... you wouldn't have to publish it or anything. Still, they came to me, like I'm your agent or something." Sarah laughed easily. "At first they actually thought you were some big-shot Broadway costume designer, come to whip them into shape. I mean, they aren't convinced you're not, but they know you contribute to the local papers, at least."

Some distance away, along a pot-holed road that twisted through a forest and opened to a small village currently besieged by civil unrest, Dee had picked up the phone in her efforts to restore order and found herself walking towards the main window in her front sitting room to gaze out at the weather as she listened to Sarah's request. The castle and its inhabitants had been on her mind, especially as an untimely bout of seasonal flu had kept her from the festival and news of continued tension had filtered back to her as second-hand information, which she disliked relying on. Orchestrating a way to seek her own reassurance had escaped all creative attempts so far and thus it provoked no small amount of surprise to hear she'd been specifically requested. It wasn't that Dee was strictly inexperienced with drawing attention to herself, it just didn't always resemble something immediately positive and the impression Sarah was suggesting she'd had on Avalon's students was quite touching. Smiling to herself, she gazed at the rather plainly-presented reflection in the window, clad in jeans and a green sweatshirt and looking about as far removed from any sort of professional fashion designer as one could get, and slowly eased herself to perch on the arm of the sofa.

"I'd love to help." Deidre's response was frank and honest. "I've been meaning to check on you, with everything that's happened since my last visit." Whilst it seemed likely she meant the collective, there was still room for the faint possibility that you had a more personal intent. "I was sorry to miss the festival too, I'd love to hear how it went."

Sarah paused for a moment, perhaps long enough for it to be noticeable. The conversation appeared to be going smoothly, certainly a lot smoother than it had started out, but it wasn't quite going in the direction she wanted. They were all set to make plans for getting together and Sarah was very tempted to settle for that, but that hadn't been the plan. The plan had been to let Dee know how she felt about her, and this was the right time to do it, before they came up with some other excuse for getting together. Dee deserved to know what she was getting into, and to have the opportunity to prepare for it. There was nothing worse than ambushing a girl in her living room with professions of unexpected love after she'd dressed for a platonic girls night in in her sweatpants. Sarah had been there, and done that. She didn't want to do it again.

"Hey... umm...." Sarah seemed on the verge of floundering. Unlike Dee, she did not have a sultry voice that she could just whip out anytime she needed it. "I didn't really mean to call to say that the kids wanted to see you. I mean, they do, but..." Another pause, followed by an audible breath. "I called because I want to see you."

In keeping with all current evidence, it wouldn't have been an unfair assumption to believe Dee wholly inept at reading romantic cues. There might also have been grounds for worrying that her preferences didn't swing in any particular way, let alone the controversially-charged direction Sarah was hoping for, given that any public appearance she made provided virtually no indication that she noticed other people as more than piece of a puzzle. Such opinions failed to take into account her absolute addiction to literature, from classics to contemporary and all the trash in between, and made no effort to include her capacity for whimsical daydream. Both might have qualified her as more of a scholar of unrealistic love and all the torment that went with it but there was a heart beating in her chest that was just as prone to the occasional flutter as any other person. The true deficiency came in knowing how to do anything about it; the rehearsal space of teenage years hadn't been that forgiving and a sense of hesitancy had seen the years tick over without really a lot of forward momentum in the relationship department. She certainly had no where near Sarah's experience, but she wasn't so dense as to mistake the other woman's wording for a professional plea.

An index finger twirled around the coiled telephone cord.

"To see me?" Repeating the words didn't shine a lot of extra clarity on their intent. Dee might have picked up on the general gist but there were a lot of variations on a theme that could have applied, at least several of which could only be described as wanton.

Sarah closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the wall. Of course nothing good was ever easy. Even though miles of highland separated them, she could tell that Dee wasn't seeing the picture she was trying to paint. It wasn't humor, and it didn't seem like incredulity. What was it then?

Oh mu God. Please not denial. Please. Sarah plead silently.

This was why she didn't do this. It was too risky. Normally if she saw a women she felt chemistry with, she observed from a distance, then got closer and used her powers to gauge the other woman's chemistry with the people around her. By the time Sarah started flirting, she already knew whether or not she stood a better than average chance of getting a date. Her powers might not be so good at keeping her in relationships, but they were good at helping her find them. But there was always going to be that one woman out there to screw her whole plan up. Like the woman in the bowling alley with the half dozen rings who liked to flirt with chicks but wouldn't cheat on her man. How was Sarah supposed to know that one of the rings slicing open her cheek after a hard slap had been a wedding band? Who even bowled wearing that many rings?

Then there was the girl in the library, undressing her with her eyes for five minutes straight, instead of reading her pile of books like everyone else. The moment Sarah had stood up though, she looked ready to bolt towards the nearest fire alarm and treat the whole library to a cold shower. And last but not least was the lady in the lesbian bar... who apparently hadn't realized she was in a lesbian bar. She'd without-a-doubt been pranked into going there, as she kept telling every woman who approached her that she was waiting for her friends. Sarah knew from reading her body chemistry that she was one hundred percent gay, but her mental programming wouldn't allow her to accept that the concept of homosexuality was actually a thing... even with it literally going on all around her. Even after everything she'd witnessed working at Avalon, that was easily the most fucked up thing Sarah had ever seen.

Dee couldn't be like that, right? Sarah reassured herself that that wasn't going to be the case. She had this.

"For starters, yes." Sarah said playfully, eyeing the teacher's lounge for silent occupants. She was still alone, but she'd have to be very careful about what she said, as there were individuals with supernatural hearing, among other things. "Tell you what, I'll cook for you, if you dance to 94.9 with me." Sarah offered, as if that was the best deal in town. In fact, well... Sarah might be the world's okayest cook, but 94.9 played only gems from the 60's they could barely remember hearing as kids. Even only one slow dance with Dee would still see Sarah getting the better half of the deal.

On the other end of the line, the slow opening and closing of a mouth produced no sound and that silence lead to an unintentionally awkward delay that Dee was barely aware of, let alone in possession of the wits to avoid. If there was one thing she could thank her mother's unorthodox lifestyle for, it was allowing her to grow up ahead-of-the-game, so to speak, when it came to embracing humanity in all its many shapes, sizes, creeds and predispositions. Hers had been a childhood far more open to taboo subjects and, just as there had been the subtle yet pervasively lingering scent of various 'herbal relaxants' across all her mother's social interactions, equally as prevalent had been the concept of 'free love' and its general disinterest in discriminating against inclusion based on a person's genitals. Her mother hand never had a relationship that had lasted very long, they'd never stayed anywhere long enough to cultivate that kind of thing, but she'd gone 'out' often enough with such a diverse range of people that Deidre had taken a while to realise that wasn't considered normal. She had a better understanding these days of the power of conservative viewpoints and knew to be cautious with her own opinions but nothing could change the fact that her foundation had been built on the expectation that all combinations were natural.

When it came to her own sexuality, a similar fluidity had always been present without really being explored. Dee found herself drawn to personalities first but had no label for what that might mean in regards to her preferences. Attraction was more an abstract concept than something she experienced on a frequent basis, which was also possibly telling but had never been something she'd had to confront. Sarah's particular brand of direct pursuit was alien amidst a national edict of reservation and propriety and, as such, had stunned the reporter not so much because it was a woman asking than it was anyone being so blatant in regards to spending time with her. With her. To the best of her knowledge, Dee had never been desirable enough for someone to actively pursue. It was flattering as hell but also utterly overwhelming.

"Um. Food sounds nice," she heard herself saying, immediately aware that it was completely inadequate but failing to draw any appropriate reference from literature to assist in a better substitute. "I'm not sure that I can dance." Dee winced as she realised that sounded like an excuse. "Do you offer lessons?" It was an attempt at humour, a softening of her tone to avoid sending mixed signals, but it was clear Deidre had never had to accept a date proposal in her life.

Sarah had been waiting with bated breath for some kind of response that would hopefully fall into the desired category of acceptance. Dee's reply was... sort of that, maybe? Feeling optimistic, she heard what she wanted to hear, and thumped her sneakered heel against the lounge's hardwood floor in a gesture of triumph. She pumped her arms in front of her in an equally victorious flex, and almost fumbled the phone onto the floor. She quickly recovered, but only in time to hear Dee say 'I can dance' in a manner that gave Sarah immediate reservations about the veracity of the claim. Dee's follow-up question only added to her confusion.

"You're asking the girl you took that picture of at the fall festival if she offers dance lessons?" Sarah said with an easy laugh, referring to the infamous photo of her mid-fall, arms cartwheeling, about to land on her butt, and then suffer the indignity of having another girl fall into a pile right on top of her. Several gooey pastries dangling from strings completed the shot, taunting from above. "Well I did. But that picture ran me right out business. So now I work here." She said jokingly, not fearing for a moment that there was any possibility of Dee taking her seriously.

"Would it be easier to do it here?," Dee found herself wondering out loud, almost regretfully as she recognised a split second too late how presumptuous the invitation might have seemed. The meandering of her logic had sought only to address the potential for further incidents with the students, since Sarah had brought up the last debacle, but Dee realised as soon as the words had left her mouth that part of the point of the intended hospitality had been to offer the students themselves some feedback. That was hardly going to be possible inside her small cottage, which suddenly seemed like a terrible place to attempt any sort of social activity. The period features were quite charming but, overall, even with her sense of historical appreciation, Dee found the overall effect of the rental property to be a tad too floral for her tastes. The finger twisting itself around the phone cord coiled it tighter still, enough that the tip was at risk of turning slightly blue from lack of circulation, as she sought a way to claw back some semblance of manners. "That is to say, perhaps lunch somewhere, or..."

The reporter's voice trailed off as she realised New Cresthill might not exactly be somewhere Sarah was comfortable spending any time in, and once again her intent spiraled back towards the inevitable.

" could always come to my place."

Deidre was suddenly very grateful that she was alone. The flush of heat that rose up her neck took only seconds to render her cheeks almost the same colour as her hair.

"Ok." Sarah said without much hesitation. She was kind of hoping that Dee would invite her over. She hadn't known whether Dee would be willing to meet her in public, and in truth Sarah wasn't keen on the idea. Same sex first dates in public were awkward, unpredictable and sometimes risky, depending on the time and place. Plus Sarah wasn't ready to be outed anywhere, much less a small town like New Cresthill. Sometimes her date was either too careful for a connection to be made, or not careful enough, and well... it wasn't hard to imagine what could happen in that scenario.

Sarah's room at Avalon wasn't a much better option, really. There would be many witnesses to Dee's unofficial visit, and Sarah wouldn't have access to a private kitchen with which to uphold her end of the bargain by cooking them dinner. And even though Head Teacher Cavendish seemed like a tolerant and understanding woman, she wasn't about to test her boss' boundaries by bringing home women to entertain. No one else seemed to be doing that sort of thing, as far as she knew.

"Any requests for dinner?" Sarah asked, kind of hoping that Dee was the easy to please sort. She would try her best with a new recipe, but Sarah was not a skilled improvisational cook. The chances for a culinary mishap were high once she started to venture out of the realm of comfort foods.

"Oh, I'm fairly easy to please," Dee replied in a tone that floated whimsically past the unintended double-meaning. "Nothing fancy required, I was raised on beans on toast, after all." It was an unnecessary divulgence but in her efforts to stay ahead of the flow of things, which was doomed from the start because Deidre was having difficulty assigning her expectations a category, the reporter was fast discovering that her mouth set a much faster pace than her mind wanted to.

Sarah blinked, wondering if Dee was a secret mind reader, as her initial reply had mirrored her own thoughts perfectly. The casual, lighthearted manner with which the reporter made her reply did little to dissuade her from the notion; it sounded as if toying through her mind was a newfound pastime.

You fool. The grounded realist in Sarah reared its invisible head again. She just really enjoys talking to you. Before she knew it, she'd let out a comfortable sigh at the thought, and it took her a moment to realize how it might be seen, if interpreted as a response to their conversation instead of her own thoughts. She had been paying attention though, so Sarah quickly realized it wasn't entirely alien to their exchange.

"Who wasn't raised on beans on toast." Sarah said, borrowing some of Dee's whimsical flair as she crafted the reply to complement her sigh. She had vague memories of her English-born mother making it during her early childhood, and then of course it had been a regular breakfast option during her years at boarding school in the UK. In fact, it wasn't until she returned to her home in Boston as a teenager and started attending public school there that she realized Americans did not really eat it.

"A wise choice," Sarah replied, attempting to lend her rediscovered accent a bit of snooty flair. "setting the bar nice and low for me. I'd like to think I can manage something a bit fancier than beans on toast for you, though. A Sarah Surprise it is, then."

Just as Sarah finished her sentence she heard the tell-tale click of the lounge's door handle, followed by a soft creak as it swung open. She looked over her shoulder and saw the momentarily disappointed look of a fellow faculty member, who'd clearly been hoping to find the phone unattended and available for use. If they were otherwise surprised to see another faculty member seated on the floor in a somewhat juvenile pose, they gave no indication. It was, Sarah had to admit, a rather unladylike pose, with one leg sprawled out and the other bent and hugged to her body. At least she sat with her back to the doorway beside her, rendering any worries of proper skirt coverage moot. Sarah offered a sympathetic smile and held up three fingers, and the flash of disappointment disappeared as quickly as it came. They backed out of the room and closed the door to give her privacy.

"Hey Deidre, I've got to go in a few, Not right this instant, but someone else would like to use the phone. What evening would work best for you?"" Sarah tried not to blurt out in a rush. Part of her secretly hoped that Dee would immediately suggest tonight. so that she didn't have to linger in anticipation and could fully capitalize on her temporarily-found bravery. That would, however, give her zero time with which to prepare a perfectly adequate outfit to pair with a perfectly adequate meal.

"Is tomorrow too soon?"

Even as the words left her mouth, Deidre felt herself wince at the implied desperation. The truth was, quite aside from whatever unfamiliar ulterior motives Sarah might have had, (which Dee was already fretful that she'd misinterpreted), the reporter had been quite sincere in saying that she'd been meaning to touch base with the castle and its inhabitants regarding recent events. It was not even a stretch to say that Sarah specifically had been on her mind, ever since Dee had caught wind of the issue with the woman's car and the fact that she'd been singled-out and targeted in such a violent and intrusive way. Had she known that the librarian was eager enough for an immediate arrangement, Dee might have considered rushing to make the house presentable within a couple of hours but it seemed already a little on the overly-eager side to confine it to a 24-hour turnaround.

"Anywhere after 5pm is fine," she continued, spring-boarding immediately into a rushed reassurance. "Or any night this week would work just as well, the same time."

"Tomorrow sounds great... It's a date." Sarah said, immediately regretting the unintentional rhyme as she suppressed a groan. She'd seen way too many RomComs where the leads dithered about in a series of cringe-worthy interpersonal gaffes before finally coming to their senses in the closing act. She'd be the first to admit that many of them were actually a thing, as a transcription of their present conversation would no doubt attest to, but some were just so cliche. Out of all them, the awkwardly misused 'its a date' was probably her least favorite. It was such a deliberate phrase, and who even used it in any other context? No one. So when Sarah said those three words, it was because she meant them. If Dee still had any uncertainties, hopefully she'd just set them straight. Hah!

"It was nice talking with you." Sarah said, her tone both gentle and pleased. She allowed herself another comfortable sigh. She could picture the younger version of herself getting lost in not wanting to say goodbye, and losing track of time just enjoying the sound of another girl's voice, until her mom yelled fir the third and final time that she was expecting a call, or that it was time for dinner, or that it was late and she needed to get ready for bed. Now it was other colleagues needing to use the phone. It was crazy how much things could change, yet somehow still feel the same.

"I'm so glad you called," Dee agreed earnestly, grasping tightly to her preexisting concerns as a better excuse than her current mess of freshly-acquired distractions. "Let me know if I can get anything prepared, don't feel like you need to haul a heap of groceries here." Finally releasing her now-purple finger, the ginger-haired woman exhaled softly and picked her way around several piles of books to retrace her steps back to where the telephone normally rested. "I'd better let you go." There was a slight hesitation. "Good night, Sarah, see you tomorrow."

"Good night, Deidre." Sarah replied, finding herself still using the reporters full given name. She heard ambient noise from the other end of the line, likely Dee moving back towards where she kept her phone. Sarah looked up, realizing she was going to have to stand to place the phone handset back into its cradle... which was going to be awkward. Of course Dee was probably going to be the sort who always waiting for the other party to hang up first. "Oooff." Was her final utterance as she struggled to her feet, one leg feeling lazy and the other quite stiff.

Of course as soon as Sarah set the phone down the thoughts flooded into her mind... what too cook, what to wear, what else to bring. Her eyes widened as one other realization bullied all of those other considerations aside. "Oh fuck me." She whispered aloud a moment before the door to the teacher's lounge began to creak open again. Her mind was too preoccupied to even worry whether anyone had heard her.

Sarah had no idea where Dee even lived.


Previous Next

RSS Feed