VANESSA'S CHALLENGE:
Fan Fic Challenge: October 9, 2000 (Dedicated to my friend Mike who's b-day is today) Ok, the challenge is this: It has to involve Friday the 13th (Rather than Halloween)
It has to be 500+ words.
It has to involve Jonny, Jessie, Hadji, Race, Dr. Quest, AND AN ALTERNATIVE CHARACTER, and some weird guy named Mike walking in somewhere...
It has to have the line "Koalas are Cuddly!"
And try to make it SERIOUS or Angst, although that's not mandatory...

Random guys AND serious/angst? Quite a challenge. [grin] Sounds like just the thing to do when I should be doing homework! [rubs hands together evilly] I think we all know what alternative character I'll be using...
Sean: Dude, does this mean I have to dress up all scary-Marilyn-Manson-y?
PsychoKat: I don't think she meant you. And I don't think you have to dress "alternative."
Sean: Aw... And I'm already wearing the fishnets!
Peggy: You can come too, Sean.
Sean: WOOHOO! [pause] Dude, these dumb things *chafe*!

NOTE: My apoplogies to your Mike. This is based on one I know--and all I can say is I hope he's unlike yours, Vanessa. Tell him happy birthday, though. ^_^

NOTE: Oh, my alternate charater is Jer Surd. Anyone who's unfamiliar, I'd be happy to point you at the right fic to get acquainted or just sent you a short synopsis.

The 13th

by Peggy

"...Tell me this is not for real
Please, tell me this is not for real..."
~The Cure, "The 13th"

Thursday the 12th dawned gray and chilly. As the day went on, dark clouds settled silently on the horizon, hanging low over Rockport and hemming in the short, sharp breaths of wind that carried the scent of winter. One such gust blew Jessie Bannon's long red hair into her face as she stepped out of the kitchen door onto the hard ground outside.

Glancing down at the door, her eyes were drawn to the small bump where a bullet had buried itself almost a year ago. God, why hadn't they had that fixed yet? She blinked back the tears that foolishly insisted on trying to fall, telling herself it was only the wind that made her eyes water that way.

Jessie stuffed her hands into the pockets of her windbreaker and walked slowly towards the cliff behind the house. Kicking small tufts of near-frozen grass, she finally sat down near the edge, hugging her knees to her against the salty sea breeze. Rocking slightly back and forth, she felt her melancholy settle like a blanket over her. Certainly she should be over him by now; at the very least, she shouldn't miss him like this, like the bullet was fresh in the door and her heart was still freshly broken.

Maybe time didn't really help at all. It had been almost a year... And the dull gray-green waves flung themselves against the rocks, smashing and spraying a cold, fine, watery mist. Salt stung Jessie's eyes. Thank God the waves were a wintry, pale semblance of their summer selves. Had they been as blue as she knew they could be, dark indescribable blue, she might have been tempted to do something stupid. To throw herself over to meet them.

As it was, they weren't a deep, bottomless blue like his eyes. They were dull. Faded. She sighed and sat and watched the waves, waiting for the sadness to pass.

____________________

 

Hadji looked out his window and saw Jessie crouched by the cliff, watching the sea. The occasional wind would pull at her hair and her jacket, but she didn't seem to notice. He dropped the book of poems he had been reading and remarked to the small white dog in his lap, "This October has been very melancholy for all of us."

Bandit looked up at him with typical canine incomprehension and wagged his tail slightly. Hadji smiled and scratched the bulldog's ears. "Soon, my friend, Jonny will be home."

Bandit's ears perked up at a sound Hadji couldn't hear, and the dog jumped down and ran out of Hadji's room.

"Speak of the devil," Hadji mused, returning to his poetry.

_____________

 

Race stared frustratedly at the spreadsheet in front of him. Why, oh why had he offered to balance the checkbook for last month? It was already the 12th and he still wasn't caught up. With a slight curse, he shut down the program and glared sullenly at the blank screen. No. He wouldn't go running to Benton. The Doc was already far too busy; he didn't need this too. Race had said he'd balance the checkbook, and balance it he would. Reopening the program, he frowned at the latest entry. $600 for a new bay window? Race suspected Jonny knew something he hadn't told his father. At least, Race certainly couldn't remember any broken window...

_________

 

Benton sunk down into the bubble bath with a beatific look on his face. Letting out a sigh, he closed his eyes and basked in the warm water. He reveled in the feeling of the steam against his whiskered face, the hot water on his skin, and most of all, the soft pink bubbles. Raising a handful, he blew on them and scattered them across the tub.

"It's so nice to be able to relax once in a while," he said contentedly to himself.

____________

 

Jonny flung the kitchen door open with his usual carelessness, and with the help of a blast of wind, it hit the wall with a loud crack. Bandit, who had come to meet him, yelped and ducked behind the kitchen counter. Jonny cringed slightly. "Whoops," he muttered.

A boy named Mike followed him into the kitchen. "You sure like to make an entrance, huh?" he asked Jonny. "Always goin' for the theatrical appearance, right Quest?"

Jonny glanced over his shoulder with slight irritation. They had been assigned to work together on a project for school. Jonny was not exactly pleased.

Mike stepped closer to Jonny and asked in a hushed voice, "Say, what's up with Jessie these days?"

Jonny shrugged.

"I mean," Mike went on, "it's like she's spaced out all the time. Really depressed. Maybe she should see a shrink or something."

Jonny looked away evasively. "She's just--" He paused. "October's not going to be a good month for her, I think. It's--Well, it was his birthday."

"Huh?" Mike looked at him blankly. "His birthday? His, who?"

Jonny stared back. "You don't remember? The kid who got shot last year?"

"Oh, that kid. What was his name? Jack? Jeremy?"

"Jeremy. Jer."

Mike had a vague memory of a tall kid, with dark hair. Italian-looking. "So what? So she's sad about the fate of mankind 'cause kids get shot?"

Jonny shot him a withering look. "He was her boyfriend, Mike! He got shot right outside our kitchen door! He--" Jonny quickly bit his lip. "His birthday was October 25th. And he got shot November 9th. I think the time of year's why Jessie's been a little depressed lately."

"Oh." Mike paused. "So what she really needs is some other guy to take her mind off it, right?"

"I--" Jonny started to say, but was cut off.

"Well, I'll do her a favor. I'm having a small exclusive party at my house tomorrow night--Friday the 13th, you know--and maybe you two could come. And Hadji, bring that kid too."

Jonny tried not to scowl. Do Jessie a favor? He'd do more of a favor by getting lost. Jonny kept this sentiment to himself, however; it probably would be good for Jessie to get out, after all, and meet new people...

"Let's go do this project, huh?" Mike said, rubbing his hands together with an eager grin on his face. "Wait 'till the rest of the class sees what we come up with! They'll never believe it!"

_________________

 

Jessie looked up at the sound of a car motor. She saw Jonny coming towards her, blond hair snatched and flung about madly by the wind. Sitting down next to her, Jonny said, "Hey, you got plans for tomorrow night, Jess?"

Jessie looked out at the ocean. "No."

"Well, we just got invited to a party."

Still watching the waves, she asked listlessly, "Oh?"

"Mike, you know, from my economics class? He's having people over tomorrow. Wanted us to come."

Jessie shut her eyes. "Big party?"

"Little party," Jonny told her. "He said just a few people." Catching her eye, he said solemnly, "Might be good for you to get out. You've seemed a bit down lately."

Jessie shook her head. "It's just--It's just winter, that's all. I always get a little sad around wintertime."

Liar, Jonny thought. "Well, come to the party, will you? Hadji and I are going."

"Okay," Jessie said, standing and brushing herself off. "Tomorrow night, at Mike's, then."

___________

 

Twenty-four hours later, the clouds had blown away. The night was crisp and clear as only rural autumns can be; the full moon peeking over the horizon cast silver beams onto the treetops. It was a perfect night for magick, Angeline thought to herself.

Tugging her black shawl tighter against the cool night air, she hurried through Mike's backyard, long black skirt swishing around her combat boots. She came in unnoticed through the back patio door and blinked against the bright lights and pop music. With a sigh, she mentally tried to tune out the sugary beats and simpering lyrics. Angeline dropped her black messenger bag just inside the door and made a beeline for the hot pizzas stacked against the table.

Chewing thoughtfully, Angeline surveyed the party. Mike's basement was large and brightly lit. Rick Jones was playing the pinball machine with a look of determination as Lyddie Driver laughed at him. Angeline grinned. Lyddie was notoriously good at pinball, whereas Rick was notorious for his inability to turn down a challenge. Angeline's gaze passed to the boys at the pool table, the girls clutching diet sodas near the stereo, and the four kids playing foosball. She spotted their host walking back and forth, nervously rubbing his hands together as he kept an eye out for misbehavior.

Angeline looked up as three new guests arrived. Jonny Quest came down the stairs first, tousled blonde hair over sky-blue eyes. She noted with amusement his typical bluejeans and black t-shirt. That kid will never change, she thought. Behind him were his best friends, Jessie Bannon and Hadji Singh. Jessie seemed to want to hang back, but Hadji's hand on her shoulder urged her to join the party. She looked as though she didn't really want to be there, with her red hair pulled back carelessly into a messy bun and no makeup. She too wore bluejeans, and a grey hooded sweatshirt. Hadji looked composed as usual, Angeline noted, in dark pants and what was in her opinion a very flattering white sweater.

Angeline's appreciation for Hadji's fashion sense was soon diverted by her arch-nemesis, Britney Spears, crooning something sultrily from the boombox. "This must be stopped," she muttered, snapping up her messenger bag and fishing around inside for her CDs.

_________

 

Mike flung his arms open and called out, "Jonny! Hadji! Jessie!"

Jonny frowned at Mike's emphasis on the last name; his frown deepened as Mike scooted between him and Jessie and placed a hand on her back.

"I'm glad you could come," Mike told her.

She tried to force a smile and looked away. Just then, Mike looked up. Descending the stairs was a girl with short blonde hair, dressed in bright pink patterned pants and a white sweater set.

Mike sighed and let his arm fall from Jessie's back. Jessie took this opportunity to escape to the refreshment table. With a forced smile of his own, Mike said, "Hi, Abby."

"Hi, Mike," she said, looking a little unsure of herself. Her brown eyes flickered from Mike to the pool players. After a somewhat uncomfortable pause, she turned and headed for the overstuffed couch behind the pool table.

Almost immediately, Jonny noticed, two of the boys playing foosball and one of the pool players managed to be near the couch as well.

"Hi, Abby," said one of them. "Do you want a drink or something?"

"Um, sure," Abby said, a bit surprised.

Jonny's attention was diverted as Mike sighed and turned to him conspiratorially. "It's really too bad she's here," he said, sounding very put-upon. "That means I guess I can't try to flirt with Jessie as much as I'd like to." Mike glanced over his shoulder at the redhead, who was disinterestedly helping herself to the pizza. Hadji handed her a paper plate. "Abby and I broke up about two weeks ago," Mike continued, "and it would break her heart to see me with somebody else."

Jonny raised an eyebrow at this and glanced over at Abby, who seemed perfectly comfortable being waited on by the other three boys, but didn't respond to Mike's bizarre comment. It was just as well this guy would be leaving Jessie alone, Jonny thought. The last thing she needed was this guy hanging around.

__________

 

After a few more guests had arrived, for a total of fourteen, Mike sauntered over to Angeline and placed an arm around her shoulders. Glancing at it with mild distaste, she pushed it off and turned to face him.

"Get tired of watching Abby get the princess treatment?" she asked sarcastically.

Mike looked confused. "What?"

"Nevermind," Angeline said with a snicker. "What do you want?"

"It's time for the magic tricks, Angie!" he said with an eager grin.

She narrowed her eyes. "It's Angeline," she said with a trace of annoyance. "And if you're just going to make fun of magick--"

"Nonono!" Mike said hurriedly. Normally he would have laughed and made some derisive comment, but he wanted his Friday the 13th party to be a hit--and that required a good show. Angie's fake magic was kinda creepy; in fact, Angie herself was kind of creepy. He looked her up and down, mentally shuddering at her short-cropped black hair, severe makeup, excessive silver jewelry, and exclusively black wardrobe. Combat boots with a long skirt? He did have to admit, however, that her little black tank top wasn't half bad...

Shaking his head, he derailed that train of though. "Did you bring, um... the stuff you need?"

With a deadpan face, she said, "Well, I was hoping I could borrow some chicken's blood." She burst out laughing at his horrified look.

"Just get it started, okay?" he hissed, annoyed once he realized she was only toying with him.

__________

 

Angeline set things out on the porch. It was a nice night to be outside, she thought. A silver bowl, a pocketknife, a little crystal. A bag of runestones. A pack of tarot cards she'd bought in Salem, Massechusetts last Halloween. Candles of all shapes and sizes. Glancing up at the white moon caught in the skeletal tree branches, she smiled.

"I hope this is interesting, at least," she said as much to the moon as to herself. "I've never tried a seance before."



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