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Challenge: Stairwell
Title: Cold Pizza
Rating: PG/FRA
Dolls: Wren Llawcae [Tohya/DT 15Girl], Ming Jian Yuan [Seimei]
Author's Notes: Any and all criticism and comments welcomed, as always.

Cold Pizza

They live in the apartment for nearly two months before they finally buy a bed.

It is a strange time for them. They spend their days, from before the sun rises until late in the evenings, training at WUNPO headquarters. Both of them fill out a bit, the regular meals in the mess hall and the twice-daily workout and sparring sessions in the gym showing in an eventual padding of limbs with thicker muscles and a thin layer of fat. Wren gains three pants sizes – Jian gains two – as the muscles in their thighs swell. Both remain hard, solid, but they lose the desperate stringiness that followed them from Szechuan.

They stay with Rupali for several weeks, accumulating a few paychecks between them, and Wren uses the opportunity to reestablish contact with Darryl and Talon. When they have enough money set aside, they spend two days visiting a dozen apartment buildings, and finally find one that meets their qualifications. The superintendent tries to set them up in a two-bedroom unit by the elevators on the fourth floor, but without even needing to discuss it they turn him down and cough up the extra money for a three-bedroom, with a small balcony, on the floor below. They don’t need the extra space, but the larger unit is right next to the stairwell, rather than being down a hallway and around a corner from it. This is something they both require.

Moving is a simple process. They throw the few new pieces of clothing they’ve acquired – SIU uniforms – into their bags, grab their toothbrushes from Rupali’s bathroom, and get in the back of her car. She drives them across town to their new residence, and refuses when they try to give her a bit of money in return for allowing them to stay in her spare room, unannounced, for so long. It’s all rather anticlimactic.

That first night, Jian walks up the block to a little pizza shop to get dinner while Wren unzips both their sleeping bags and lays them out on the living room floor, one on top of the other, the soft fleece linings together. They have no garbage can, so they stuff their napkins into the empty soda bottles and set them by the door to be taken care of in the morning. The unit does come with a refrigerator – along with a washer, dryer, oven, and dishwasher – so they put the half-empty pizza box in the fridge and curl up together in the makeshift bed. The apartment is bare, their bags abandoned on the kitchen counter, and seems bigger than it is as they huddle there in the middle of the otherwise empty room, stranded.

There will be cold pizza for breakfast when the sun rises.


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