2.16. Rude & Reckless





Karl’s home is nothing like Nikolas expected: it’s a large, meticulously kept house in the center of town. Prime real estate, really, something that doesn’t seem fitting for someone as crude as Karl. A messy apartment, a rundown rental house, or even a dilapidated trailer all seem more appropriate. Perhaps that would have been his digs, had Karl not inherited the house from his mother.



Since Lark dumped him, Nikolas has resided in the home’s stuffy  attic bedroom. It had once served as teenaged Karl’s room, but it’s been mildly neglected since then: the wood paneled walls are dusty and chipping, and it’s stuffy in the room despite the frozen wasteland outside. Hot air rises because of its low density, Nikolas thinks, recalling his high school chemistry class. Why does he remember that piece of knowledge and little else?

But to the point: Nikolas lays on a scratchy bed in a boiling room staring at his phone.

Hey, he reads to himself, wanna come over tomorrow? I have something to tell you. He hears it in Lark’s voice, although it is nothing more than a text sent suspiciously early at 5:29 am.

He reads it again. And again. And again. His heart beats faster and faster, and his palms grow sweaty.

He has tried to avoid contacting her. He’s been too eager; he can see that now. The passion he’s shown--that same passion that led to Lark’s hasty dismissal of their relationship--is the antithesis of everything his father taught him about relationships. “You have to be hard and callous,” his father would advise him, “because women will try to run you.”

So the message sits read but unanswered.

Hey wanna come over tomorrow? I have something to tell you. Hey wanna come over tomorrow? I have something to tell you? Hey wanna come over--


A knock at the door interrupts his obsession. The door swing open and Karl leans against the frame, his lips stretching into a cautious smile.

“Hey,” Karl says, “How’s it going?” It’s been a few nights since Nikolas has arrived at the Leifsson home, but the young family--Karl included--has given him a wide berth.

“Fine, I guess,” Nikolas sits up, “though I’m not really overjoyed about having to sleep in the bed my friend jacked off in as a teen.”

“Don’t be gross,” Karl laughs, “I spanked it in the shower like a gentleman.”

“Oh, of course,” Nikolas grimaces, “Wait, which shower?”

“All of them” Karl blinks, “So have you heard anything from Lark?”

Nikolas holds up the phone, showing Karl the text. He reads slowly, his brow furrowing as he silently mouths the words.

“Hmm,” he hums, “What do you think she’s gonna tell you?”


Nikolas shrugs.

“Something good, maybe? Maybe she wants to get back together?”

Nikolas shrugs again.

“That’s what you want, right?”

“Yeah,” Nikolas sighs, “but she’s been…”

“A real bitch?” Karl offers.

“Dude,” Nikolas scowls, “what the fuck?”


“Sorry. But she can be kinda bitchy. But she’s your bitch, I mean. She’s not anyone else’s. She can’t be anyone else’s. Because loyalty is important.” Karl ends lamely.

Nikolas’ scowl melts into slack jawed confusion as he tries to puzzle out his friend’s meaning.

“So you gonna go see what she wants?”

“I guess,” Nikolas says, “you want me out of the house, don’t you?”

“Kind of,” Karl admits, “Francisca’s parents are taking the girls for awhile and...you know.”


“Got it. I’ll be out in a few minutes,” Nikolas stands, then hesitates. He gestures to the poster hanging over the bed. “This--does it remind you of anyone?”

“Not really. Why?”

“Because it was written by Lark’s mom. What’s the comic about?”

“Aliens,” Karl says, but he doesn’t expand.

“I ask because she,” Nikolas points to blue woman on the poster, “looks kind of like Lark’s mom--same coloration and all.”

“Really?” Karl’s eyes flash, “I didn’t know that.”

“Does that mean something to you?”

“Have you ever noticed how,” Karl struggles with what he is saying, “different Lark and her siblings smell?”

“Different how?” he says slowly.

“Almost,” Karl pauses, “alien.”

The two stand in silence for a moment, the last word hanging in the air.

“I should go,” Nikolas finally says.

“Yeah,” Karl agrees. And as if on cue, a woman’s voice calls down from the living room below them

“Karll! Some help, please?”

Karl departs, mumbling something about needing to “get things done.” Nikolas dresses quickly then bounces downstairs. He stops at the bottom of the stairs.


It’s the perfect domestic scene: Karl plays with his oldest daughter, Jane, while Francisca, his girlfriend, holds the newborn Anne.

“Do you think my mom will notice if there’s some spit-up on Annie’s shirt?” Francisca asks.

“Who cares,” Karl laughs, “let’s just get these kids out of here so we can--” Jane interrupts with a shriek then a laugh.

For the past several days, a hollow void has gnawed at Nikolas’ stomach. It twists and turns capriciously with every passing thought, yet remains obstinately in place. It’s an empty, soundless, sensationless abyss and a screaming pain. It burns every nerve in his body, creating a boundless electrical surge that prickles up from his bones, motivating fits of rage and  then hours of lethargy. Whether it’s a symptom of something larger or just a byproduct of first-world trauma is up for debate. But Nikolas’ void grows in this moment, fed by an insipid image of familial bliss. He wants nothing more than this exact scenario: a growing family with a doting wife and healthy children.

Nikolas slams the door behind him as he leaves, hoping the noise upsets the children. That would show them. He slides on his motorcycle and revs the engine, forcing a few extra roars for good measure.


But the bitter cold interrupts his petty revenge. He isn’t properly outfitted for a freezing bike ride. Nikolas packed so few things when he left, and his leather gloves were amongst the items he forgot to pack. His knuckles redden and blister as he races through the empty streets of Aurora Skies.

His old house looms in front of him. Technically his is the sole name on the lease, but he hasn’t challenged Lark’s residence. Kicking her out of her home is no way to win her back. After all, his pettiness only extends so far.


So like a visitor, he rings the doorbell. Lark answers a moment later, her swollen belly preceding the rest of her.

The void drives further into his core, wrenching, biting, rending.

***


Lark silently makes him a cup of coffee and places it gently in front of him along with two packets of sugar--another sign he is a mere guest in his own home. She then clears her throat. “Thanks for coming.  I wasn’t sure--I mean, you never answered my text so…”

“I’ve been busy,” he frowns, “as have you, I guess.” His eyes fall to her stomach and she glares at him.

“It’s yours,” she snaps, “so don’t say stupid shit like that.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“You implied it.”

“Maybe you inferred it, but I didn’t imply it.”

“For fuck’s sake! Don’t make me regret texting you, Nik.”

Nikolas clenches his jaw. “When were you planning on telling me?”


“Today. That’s why I texted you. Duh.”

“And how long have you known?”

Lark’s bluster dissipates. She looks down at her hands. “A few weeks.”

Weeks?” his voice raises, “So before we broke up?”

She holds a finger up to her lips, “Bjorn is sleeping.”


“Answer me,” he growls.

“Possibly,” she rolls her eyes.

“Possibly?”  Then why the fuck didn’t you tell me?”

Her response is matter-of-fact: “because I had to make a choice.”

“Which was?”

“How I wanted to deal with you, Nikolas,” she holds her hand up when he tries to interrupt, “you’ve changed. And I know you’re going to feed me some BS line about how being a couple means accepting the other person, blah blah blah. But I think it’s reasonable for me to want to feel safe around my partner.”

“I would never hurt you.”

“Of course. Except all those times you did. Like when you lied to me and stole from me and distrusted me.”

Shame creeps in, subverting the void to a small degree. “So did you invite me over just to explain how much you hate me?”

She scowls at him. “I don’t hate you. And don’t pull that whiny act. I invited you because you deserve to know you’re going to be a father again.”

“Well thanks. I’m glad to know I’ll have another child you’ll keep from me.”

“Maker, you’re pissy today,” she sneers momentarily then shakes her head, breathing in deeply through her nose. “I just--I’m trying to do a nice thing. I really am. There’s some things that have happened, some stuff that’s changed my mind.”

“And?”

“I want to work something out with you. Like, just because we’re apart doesn’t mean you can’t be part of Bjorn’s life.”

He wants to shoot back with something catty, but his heart is soaring. “Really? That’s--Lark, you mean it?”

“Yeah,” she nods her head, “there’s just one thing I want you to understand.”

His heart plummets. “Which is?”

“You need to find a real job. I don’t want my son--sons, maybe? Children. That makes sense. I don’t want my children to grow up around a criminal.”


He shoots up from his chair. “You can’t be fucking serious, Lark. You’re going to attach terms to this?”

“Nikolas, I just think--”

“Because you’re the pinnacle of having your fucking life together, right? You, the bartender--you’re the perfect mother?”


“Nikolas--”

“I pay for this house, and  I bought all that shit you love, and I provide for you whether you appreciate it or not. And you can’t even find a real job, Lark. You just make crappy drinks at cheap bars and get big tips because you’re hot. That’s all you are--a pretty face, and nothing else.”

“You can’t talk to me like that,” she hisses, “I don’t care what you think you’ve done for me.”


“I’ve done everything for you,” he roars, “and you’re so dense you can’t see that everything you have is because of me. You’re so fucking stupid sometimes.”


Lark clenches her jaw and looks him straight in the eye. She still, back straight, chin upturned, eyes still but wet.“You wanna tell me again about how you’ve never hurt me?”

The air is silent save the whine of the refrigerator.

“Oh maker,” Nikolas deflates, “oh maker, I’ve turned into--I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, Lark.”

“Are you?”


He grabs her wrist. She doesn’t resist.

“I’m wrong. So often in so many ways. And I’m turning into my fucking dad, Lark. Maker, I might as well be put down at this point because I swore I’d never turn out like him.”

Against her better judgement, she laughs. “Can I do the honors?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he smiles awkwardly.

“I hate that it turned out this way,” she looks down at his scar, the two swollen crescent marks the mar his forearm.

“I do, too.”

“But it was a shit show,” she sniffles, “you know?”

“Yeah,” he says softly as his last hope dies.

“But we’ll work it out. For Bjorn--we won’t be, like, mortal enemies.”


“Not at all,” Nikolas agrees, pressing his forehead against hers. Her skin is warm, oily. That--as well as the bags under her eyes--confirm that she hasn’t slept well recently.

“And we’ll tell the truth, right? We’ll co-parent or whatever it’s called?”

“Of course.”

“Good,” she whispers, “‘cause you should know that I’ve always hated that beanie.”

“I know,” he whispers back.


Citing her obvious fatigue, Nikolas offers to stay over awhile and watch over Bjorn so Lark can take a nap. She happily accepts after he promises not to leave with Bjorn.

It never crosses his mind to break that promise. After all, Lark holds all the chips and he isn’t willing to bet his son to prove her wrong.

He’s happy when Bjorn wakes up from his nap only a few minutes into Lark’s.


They snuggle.


They play.

And after a few blissful hours, Lark wakes up. She stumbles downstairs, yawning and stomping as she goes.


Nikolas’ smile fades when he sees her. “Your phone has been going off like every five minutes.”

“Who is it?” Lark asks groggily.

“Dominic,” Nikolas spits out the name.


She picks up her phone from the end table and scans the messages.

“Uh oh,” her mouth opens wide as she yawns.

“Everything okay?”

“He’s having a bit of--he’s having some family problems. I’m going to take Bjorn over there. Maybe you can come back next weekend?”

“Fine,” Nikolas grumbles.

***

It’s a short walk to Dominic’s apartment building, but the freezing cold makes it drag on forever.

“Almost there, honey,” Lark reassures a shivering Bjorn as she trudges across the small parking lot to the building’s front doors.

Dominic’s apartment is the first door to the left of the entrance. As Lark approaches, she can hear shrieking.


She peers in the windows of the door. Dominic is standing near the door, holding a screaming Raven. He doesn’t notice her. She knocks.

“Come in,” he says absently.

She pushes the door open and peeks in. “Hey. Is, um, everything okay?”

Dominic stares off in a daze. “She hasn’t slept,” he murmurs, “and no one will take her.”

“Huh?”


“My family in Champs Les Sims--I thought they would take her because they foster orphaned mages. But they won’t. They wouldn’t say why but they won’t.” His eyes close then open--longer than a blink, but shorter than a catnap.

“Oh. Wow.”

“And I can’t find anyone else to take her. I can’t find anyone else. No one.”

Raven lets out a bloodcurdling wail. “I no leave!”

“This,” he levels his gaze at Lark, “now she’s doing this.”


“No,” Raven insists, “I no leave. I stay.”

And it’s obvious to all that Raven’s words are true.

***
Rude and Reckless” -- The Slackers

Author’s note: I wanna apologize. My goal going into this chapter was to 1) write some dick jokes, as I’m wont to do and 2) get Lark and Nikolas onto okay terms because I felt guilty leaving them on such a bad note. Instead I wrote a really intense and somewhat upsetting argument. I’m sorry! Sometimes the characters just take over, and they act in ways I would NEVER condone. I didn’t set out to document an abusive relationship or anything because this is supposed to be ~*FUN*~, yet it happened anyway. I just wanted to show why they would never work together: Nikolas doesn’t consider Lark an equal, and Lark isn’t interested in repairing the romantic component of their relationship.

Also, Lark's comment "it was a shit show" was a direct reference to this song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It's a spoiler for season two, though, so beware! The advice Nikolas received from his father was a quote from the song linked above.

Comments

  1. Yup, those two are definitely not working out. Great chapter though! I'm glad Lark is staying strong instead of caving to that kind of abuse. Nik needs to grow up. I hope the next kid isn't a daughter, because his attitudes about women are not super great.

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    1. Nope, not at all. Maybe if they were both more mature (especially Nik). And thank you! I was worried about it being too heavy. XD And yeah, I'm kinda hoping for a boy too, though for different reasons. >:)

      Thanks for reading!

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  2. She DID kick him out of his own house, I KNEW it! D:<

    Also Karls' family D'aww. They seem so cute. Oh and Karl's eyes are insane. Warm & weird at the same time.

    (How'd you get the supernova poster on the wall?) Great alien plug at the beginning.

    And I hope the kid IS a daughter, so she can change his mind about women. :3 But he's right about er job, she's being kind of hypocritical.

    And nobody is surprised the fairy girl stays with Dom. Except him. LOL
    Glad to see the update!

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    1. She did, but he was being a butt so I'll defend her. (:

      His family is seriously cute. He was initially supposed to be more of a creep but I couldn't do that when I saw him with his daughters. He had normal brown eyes when he was a human, but when I changed him into a werewolf they turned out like that! He has some interesting genetics.

      I used this tutorial to make a custom poster: http://www.digitalperversion.net/gardenofshadows/index.php?topic=25675.0 It looks hard but it's actually easy peasy

      Her job is impractical, but at least it's not a life of crime! It's a situation where no one is 100% right.

      Yeah, everyone knew she was going to be sticking around except him. XD Poor Dom.

      Thanks for reading!

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  3. I love how Karl's lips moved when he read the text. Little details like that make your characters seem so real. Eerily so, sometimes. Nice cross-promotion with the poster too. Very enjoyable update. Thank you!

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    1. Oh wow, thank you! I almost threw that detail out but one of my friends has been coaching me on "quality" details over "quantity" details. Also, that's such a compliment coming from you because I adore your characters for their realism.

      Thanks for reading!

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  4. OWLY IS BACK! :party:
    Man, I really missed the Bees! And I don't know if you saw it but I'm currently moving (only 3 more days!) and I've been really busy with that so I've been on a short hiatus too. So at least for the Koyangis there's not a whole lot of catching up needed! :P

    Please don't be mad at me but I kinda enjoyed seeing Lark and Nikolas together again.... And despite the arguement it's awesome that he can still be a dad to Bjorn (and Baby#2)! Karl's family is cute too.

    Poor Raven though, it's kinda heartbreaking to see she's old/intelligent enough to know what's happening and insist that she 'no leave' :'( Must be terrible for her to feel like nobody wants her and at that age! But I'm sure Dom will grow to love her ♥

    And now I'm wondering about your rolls here. Two babies from Nikolas, and maybe Dom moves in with Raven as kiddo #3 and maybemaybe there will be a bio child from Dom+Lark?? That would be a whole lot of children and also potentially a cool supernatural zoo!

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    1. Yesss party! I really missed you guys but I had so much work to focus on. ;_;

      I didn't see! Congratulations on your new home, and good luck with the move! I know how stressful they can be. I'm going to catch up with the Koyangis, and hopefully some other families, tomorrow morning. :)

      Aww, I can't be mad at you. They're so good looking together. If only they could be respectful to each other, too. I'm really hoping to include Nikolas, and Karl as well, in future chapters since he has an important connection to Bjorn and especially to Baby #2. ;)

      Yeah, I feel awful for her storyline because she's obviously had it rough. But her life is going to get better, I promise!

      (: Hopefully I'll finish revealing the rolls in the next couple of chapters.

      Thanks for reading!

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  5. Ha, the dick talk. xD And for someone who gives bad relationship advice, Karl somehow has the perfect family life.

    Wow, I didn't know the extent that Nikolas seems to resent Lark. I guess being kicked out of your own house will do that, but the things he said were still inexcusable! Saying that she's only a pretty face had me so disappointed in him. I felt so bad for Lark there; trying to deal with him. And, yeah, I agree that the clear difference between their jobs is that hers is legal and safe. (Well, until she has to deal with drunk patrons, I guess).

    Dom's going to have to learn to love being a parent. But I wonder what the reason is that no one else wanted to take her in?

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    1. I am as surprised by Karl's family life as everyone else, but SP shows him and his girlfriend lots of love! So he must be doing something right?? XD

      I was disappointed in him, too. They were such a pretty couple but obviously have irreconcible differences.

      That's a good question!:D

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  6. Nice to know that Karl's a masturbating- gentleman, probably why he has such a nice house and family.

    Yeah, nothing like a good old- fashioned break up to show your true colours there Nikolas. And now Lark has another dude that needs her help. Sheesh Dominic, the lady's pregnant. Why doesn't anyone want to take her in though? Kind of wonder if Nikolas of Karl could've sniffed something out about the kid?

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    1. It has to be that! He's very considerate.

      Nikolas and Karl probably could've figured out something about Raven, though it might have just been "she smells weird and doesn't belong here!" But I've kept them away from her for that reason. Plus Nikolas isn't used to his were-senses yet. But yeah, Lark is heavily pregnant and Dom is calling on her for help?? He's such a doofus.

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  7. I was going to comment on what a good guy Nikolas is, letting Lark stay in a house that was his from the beginning without even mentioning that fact once. But then the fight happened XD

    That's what felt so real about it though. The decision NOT to talk about the house was on Nikolas' mind just minutes before, so of course he brings it up during the argument. And of course he wishes he could take his words back immediately afterwards. Can't say I don't sympathize :(

    Even if you would have preferred to write something more civil, their argument served as a catharsis too and definitely felt more like -them- than a level-headed conversation would have.

    Karl's family is freaking adorable! Karl is a good doggo and deserves a happy pack.

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    1. Haha, Nikolas is probably incapable of doing something nice for someone for very long. XD

      Nikolas has the hothead trait, and I have a temper myself so that also contributed to that nasty fight. And you're right--a civil argument would have been totally out of character. But I was so worried that I was making a story about pixel people too "serious" with that fight. XD

      Karl's family is the best, AND both of his daughters are werewolves! I hope SP is kind to them.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  8. The argument between Lark and Nikolas was masterfully done. I'm feeling really sorry for Nikolas, both because he just wants the happy family life that he can't have with Lark, and because he's turning out into something (someone) he hates. He and Lark definitely wouldn't have worked out. But I'm glad Lark is willing to reconcile with him, for the sake of the children, if nothing else.

    As for Dominic and Raven...well, I guess that's the consequences of entering into a promise/contract-of-sorts without fulling understanding it. XD

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    1. Thanks! And turning into his dad is probably his worst nightmare but it's bound to happen when someone has, like, zero self-reflection.

      Exactly! He should have read the fine print. ;)

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  9. Yikes! Nik was awful this chapter. Hopefully now that they are strictly platonic co-parents he'll mellow out...??

    Also. Crazy Ex-Gf is so good x.x

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