One of the drawbacks to doing a project like this, where you've got a rough idea of where you're going but are racing the clock to produce something on a daily basis? Sometimes, you come up with a better idea… too late. Considering this is web-published fanfic, though, rather than a real book? There's nothing to stop me from taking two chapters, pushing them apart, and shoving something in there between them.
When Dawn woke up the next morning, she was more than a little surprised to find herself laying on her back with a pair of dark green eyes staring down at her. "…hi?"
Her dark-haired bedmate studied her in silence for a few seconds before lowering her head to rest on Dawn's chest. "Did you know that you sleepwalk?" Huh? Dawn looked around as best she could with someone pinning her down, taking in a bedroom that… was most definitely not the comfortable but bland guest room she'd fallen asleep in. Well shit. So much for being able to complain about taking liberties, since she was the one who'd climbed into this strange girl's bed. "It's 7:35. You should probably get up and take a shower; the only thing my father hates more than late people are smelly people. It's an enhanced senses thing. I'm usually not too fond of them either… but you're really comfortable."
"Well thanks. I think." Dawn furrowed her brow; was that a compliment or an insult? On one hand, the girl had called her comfortable but on the other, she'd also implied Dawn smelled bad. Although was it an insult to point out the obvious? People generally had a bit of an odor to them in the morning. That was why they showered. Ugh. She was a nice long shower and a coffee or four away from wanting to think deep thoughts. Wiggling out from under the girl, Dawn slid out of bed… and then realized that she couldn't even make a graceful exit because she had no idea who this girl was. "By the way, I'm Dawn."
The girl rolled over onto her back before sitting up, sending the sheet sliding down to pool around her waist and holy God, how had Dawn not noticed that her bedmate was buck naked?! The blonde let out a squeak and covered her eyes as the girl began to stretch without a hint of modesty. "I know."
After waiting in near-silence for several seconds, Dawn peeked between her fingers. Well… it wasn't like she was spying through a hole in the wall or something. The girl knew she was here. If she wanted to be an exhibitionist, was Dawn really doing anything wrong by appreciating the show? "…and you are?"
Pausing, the girl turned to look at Dawn, the corner of her mouth quirking up. "Not Dawn."
"Really? I've never been told that before."
"No. Not really." Turning away, Dawn stalked toward the door. As the still-nameless girl had pointed out, Dawn didn't really have time for games. So she'd just do her Walk of Shame back to her room - hopefully she could find it without stopping to ask for directions, because that would just make the awkward even more so - and shower and be on her merry way. Depending on how things went today, she realized, she might not ever return. So did it really matter if some girl she might never see again wanted to play stupid games? "Hmmph. Bet she'll wish she was nicer to me when the Frosts take me in and I end up all rich and stuff…"
As Dawn yanked the door open roughly, the girl's voice stopped her in her tracks. "Laura. And I'd be more impressed if you were related to the Links." Looking back over her shoulder, Dawn raised an eyebrow. "Jack Link and his sons Troy and Jay?" Dawn's other eyebrow slowly rose and Laura sighed before opening the drawer of her nightstand and pulling out a large, black and red plastic bag. "You know, the people who own Jack Link's?"
Dawn slowly turned around to properly face Laura, buying her a few seconds as she tried - and failed - to comprehend that one. "So wait. You'd be more impressed by me being related to some guys who make snack food than me being a member of one of the richest families in America?"
"Well yeah. I love beef jerky. All the Frosts own are some big houses, and a fleet of boats and airplanes."
"…and the worst part is, I understand that logic perfectly."
"You reek of Sriracha."
Scrunching up her nose in disgust, Dawn brought her hands up and shoved Mister Howlett hard, sending the short and scruffy man stumbling back a step. "First of all, I just showered and so no I don't. Second of all… I haven't had that stuff since they switched from serrano chilis to jalapeños. I'm more of a Cholula girl these days."
Howlett snorted, eyeing her suspiciously. "I never said you were eating it. Just that you smelled like it. And it takes more than a shower and some of Red's body wash to fool my nose." Closing back in on her, he grabbed Dawn's left wrist and raised her hand to his nose so he could sniff at her fingers. Shaking his head, he muttered something under his breath as he repeated the process with her other hand. "No, definitely not eating it." He leaned in further, sniffing at her mouth and then… her chest. "Ah. So it's like that, then."
More than a little fed up, Dawn put as much strength as she could behind a second shove, this time earning her a whopping three step backward stumble. "Okay, I don't know what the fuck your problem is, but there's this thing called personal space. Learn it. Obey it. Love it. Now, if you want to talk about… whatever your problem is like a normal human being, I'll-"
"I stopped buying rooster sauce after the kids gave themselves nasty indigestion for the fiftieth time. The only Sriracha in this entire mansion is in my daughter's room: she had me buy her a damn pallet of some weird special edition beef jerky made with that shit as her birthday present this year. She won't share it with anybody - not even me - which means that you've got secondhand smell on you. I can only think of a few ways it could have gotten there…" Making a fist, Howlett ejected the three gleaming metal claws that he'd tried to shove into Dawn a few times the previous afternoon. "…and none of them are things I want to think about my daughter doing. Ever. Especially with a Frost. So if I ever catch that smell on you again?" Retracting the two outer claws, Howlett slowly drew the center claw across his neck. "I'm the best there is at what I do… but what I do best isn't very nice. I'd hate to have to show you firsthand."
Dawn stared at Howlett with wide eyes, peripherally aware of the telltale tactile deprivation that accompanied her skin shifting into diamond in response to a perceived threat. "…all I did was sleepwalk into her room last night. She's the one who turned me into a pillow instead of waking me up and sending me back to my room. I probably smell like it because she was like, breathing beef jerky breath on me for a few hours."
Chuckling, Howlett retracted the last claw before patting Dawn roughly on the head. "Uh huh. Sure, kid. And your new daddy's got some oceanfront property in Arizona he can sell me." He turned away, still chuckling lowly as he made his way down the front steps of the mansion and headed for the van parked in the driveway. "Seriously? Sleepwalking? How stupid do the kids think I am? Fuck, if I had a dollar for every time one of the kids here 'sleepwalked' into someone else's room, I'd be Chuck by now."
Well. Fuck you very much, rest of the Institute's occupants, for ruining her ability to get out of trouble by telling the truth…