Chapter 5: On the Road Again
It was just after sundown when I woke up. Orwell was standing at the window. He was dressed nicely in a black suit. He turned.
"You feel okay," he asked.
"Yeah," I answered while brushing my hair out of my face. He stepped forward and picked something up off the bed.
"I got this for you, to wear." That's when Orwell held up the most repulsively tacky bright purple dress in the whole world.
"You want me to wear this," I asked while taking it from him. He nodded with a grin.
"Of course. I want my sister to look nice."
"You bastard," I muttered and went into the bathroom to change. The dress fit alright but it had ruffles and fluffy stuff all over it. I walked out with a grim expression. He laughed, so hard he had to sit down.
"If I could move in this I'd kill you," I muttered. He walked up.
"Now you have to take the eye patch off and put your hair down," he said while trying to take the eye patch off for me.
I slapped his hand away and did it myself. Then he threw a pair of equally ugly purple sparkly shoes. I put them on and looked down at myself.
"Payback is a bitch Orwell, that's all I'm saying." He chuckled a bit and walked forward once more.
"One more thing," he said while holding out the necklace. I went to grab It but he kept it away from me. "I got it," he said. I rolled my eyes as he stepped behind me to connect the necklace. Then he came back around front.
" He started laughing and couldn't get the rest out.
"Let's go," I grumbled. We walked along the sidewalk and people stared at me.
"It's like I'm wearing a neon sign," I grumbled.
"It brings out your eyes," he said.
"Don't try to be helpful. You picked out this dress to make me look like an idiot. So people could laugh at me." He stopped me.
"Actually I put you in this so that I'd look at you and laugh. If I put you in something prettier I was afraid I'd look at you wrong. We're supposed to be brother and sister. It'd look funny."
"Look at me wrong?!" He shrugged a bit as if nothing was amiss.
"I never said you weren't pretty." I glowered at him.
"Don't say stuff like that," I muttered. He looked confused.
"That was a compliment you know right? It's the first one I've given you."
"Stop talking. Let's just get this stupid dinner over with. We're wasting time," I said. He let out a breath and started forward again. I followed and we soon stepped into a expensive restaurant.
"You could've picked something cheaper," I muttered.
"Compared to the price of the gustav we're saving a lot of money," he said.
I quieted as a waiter led us to the reserved table. I sat down beside him and acted like he wasn't there. Soon he elbowed me.
"What would you like to drink?"
"Water," I muttered. After he'd told the waiter what we wanted to drink he turned to me.
"Me? Is it because I gave you a compliment? People normally like compliments Ava." I didn't look at him as he talked.
"Not me." He made an irritated noise.
for irritating me when I was in a halfway good mood," he grumbled.
I didn't answer him. I didn't want to be here. He just wanted to make a fool of me. Soon though the woman showed up and like I expected she was beautiful. Flowing blonde hair. She had on a bright red dress that looked so much better than mine did. She glanced at me.
"Who's this Orwell," she asked.
"This is my sister. She can't be left alone because of her disorder" he said while helping her sit down. She laughed a little.
"Her dress is an eyesore."
"She picked it out herself."
I stared at the table, not daring to lift my eyes because she'd figure out I didn't have a disorder soon enough. But I was also feeling angry with Orwell and slightly jealous of the woman. She probably got every mans attention by being beautiful. Men saw me first as Dark Fox, then they asked me favors I didn't do. They didn't think I was actually beautiful, just easy. I took a sip of my water. Orwell and this woman were laughing and having a good time. I tuned their conversation out and looked at the menu. When it came time to order I just pointed to what I wanted for Orwell to see. I didn't dare open my mouth because I was afraid I'd start yelling profanities at him. The woman laughed at me.
"Can she speak?"
"Yes," I answered, now looking at her. Orwell glanced at me.
"Is your brother always this sweet," she asked while batting her eyelashes at Orwell.
"Only in public. When we're home he beats me." Orwell laughed.
"She's kidding. Aren't you Ava?" I sat back with a smile.
"That's part of her disorder. She's an obsessive liar," he said. The woman laughed once more and I glared at her.
"Excuse us for a second. I'm going to have a talk with my sister and then we'll be right back," Orwell said. He stood and roughly grabbed my arm. We went into the small hallway that led to the bathroom. There was no one there.
"What are you doing? I 'm trying to get us a deal and you're going to ruin it."
"It's not like I matter though. I'm the one who has to be retarded while you get to have all the fun. I'm getting laughed at and you just let it happen."
"It's just an act Ava. Just an act." He looked me in the eyes then.
"Why did you even bother bringing me along. She's beautiful. You would've had a better time without me." His smile was warm.
"I have more important things to worry about." I scowled a bit.
"Are you meaning me?" He looked like I'd caught him off guard.
"You're my friend and we're on a mission to find the others like us. All I'm trying to do is get the Gustav." I looked off to the side.
"Can you at least defend me a little. If I was really your mentally handicapped sister, I'd like to think that you'd defend me. Not let some stuck up woman laugh at me."
"I don't see why you're offended by it."
"I don't care what the circumstances are, I hate it when people laugh at me like that. To be spiteful and mean." He nodded.
"I'll see if I can get her to stop. Just play along and no more of that stuff about me beating you."
I nodded only slightly and walked out. I was partly mad because of this dress. I didn't like the attention I was getting because of it. I hated the feeling of the eyes on me. Orwell just didn't understand that. We sat back down at the table again.
"Why didn't you just leave her there," the woman asked.
"Janet, my sister is beginning to feel uncomfortable. If you could please stop being horrible to her and quit laughing then it'd be nice. She's the only family I have left and I can't have her hating me." Janet seemed slightly taken aback.
"Forgive me then. I'm sorry," she said to me, but it was anything but genuine.
The food came soon and I stayed quiet. It started to piss me off when they started to feed each other though. It was more annoying then anything because she used this stupid baby voice. When dinner was done she sat back with a smile.
"I had an amazing time Orwell and before I forget, here's the owner registration card for the Gustav."
He took it with a smile. Then we got up to leave. She was about to get in her cab but pulled Orwell off to the side. That's when she gave him a sloppy kiss. I didn't like the sight of them kissing, but he didn't look like he was enjoying it at all though. He stepped away red faced and had red lipstick on his mouth.
"I'm sorry about that," he said when he was closer to me.
"Actually I think you deserved it." He smiled a bit and wiped his mouth.
We made it back to the hotel room where I kicked off the shoes and ran to the bathroom to get out of the stupid dress. When I was dressed in my normal clothes I stepped out and laid down in my bed. He went into the bathroom next and changed quickly before coming back out. We were quiet as we laid there with the lights off. I knew he was still awake and he probably knew that I wasn't asleep either.
"Yes?" He was quiet for several more minutes.
"I don't want you to hate me forever because of tonight. Next time I'll have a disorder and you can negotiate."
"I'm over it Orwell."
I just want to forget about it."
"I still feel bad." I let out breath.
"You don't have to. Just get some sleep," I told him and rolled over.
"Goodnight Ava," he murmured. I fell asleep, just trying to forget that this night had ever happened.
I woke first the next morning and shook Orwell awake. I'd had weird dreams last night. Of dark rooms and needles. As we were about to leave the room he stopped me.
"You look tired." I shook my head.
"I'm fine Orwell
really. I just had weird nightmares last night."
"So you're really over last night?"
"I am. You're the one who's making a bigger fuss about it than I am." He smiled a bit and looked down at the floor.
"You're right. Let's go."
We walked to the Gustav garage and he showed them the card Janet had given him and the Gustav was driven out. He had really gotten this one custom. The panels were black, except for the middle one which was gray. The canopy was purple. And there baby blue accents also.
"I think our colors work pretty good together, don't you?" I nodded.
He'd bothered to make the Gustav look like both of our zoids, not just his. We hopped in and drove out of the main city and to the garage our zoids were at. I was just glad to be finally getting out of this place. I loaded my fox first and then Orwell loaded his Saix. Then we were on our way. We were quiet for the day, it actually felt nice. We weren't arguing and getting on each others nerves constantly. Plus I liked silence in general.
So I sat back with my feet up. I got a little sleep but it was still uneasy because of the constant images of needles. But I was awake when we stopped for the evening at a small town. Food was cheaper here so we stocked up and went back out to the Gustav. As I put the food away he got the cockpit ready. I kept out some fresh bread and butter for us to eat. We sat on the cool ground and ate in silence.
"You're probably going to get annoyed from me asking, but are you alright?"
"I'm fine Orwell. I'm used to being on my own so I don't care to talk much. You were quiet too you know."
"Because you looked like you were deep in thought and if I bugged you you'd snap at me." I nodded.
"Well, I wasn't in deep thought at all."
"I can't win," he muttered while finishing his meal and standing.
I sat there as he opened the canopy and got in. I stood and went to my fox. She growled in a welcoming manner. Smiling I patted her leg.
"Goodnight girl," I said and entered the cockpit.
Orwell was curled up one side. I sat down on the right and slipped off my boots and eye patch before joining him in the bed. He then pulled himself up and turned toward me. For a while he just gazed at me, his eyes sticking out of the darkness.
"You do realize that I can't sleep with you staring at me."
"I wasn't staring," he said.
"You were. I didn't see you blink." He grinned a little.
"At least things are back to normal," he stated and flipped back over.
"Yeah," I murmured. I fell into a light sleep and tossed and turned. Finally Orwell woke me up.
"I can' t sleep with out moving around," he muttered. His hair was sticking up at odd angles.
"Sorry," I said quietly. The nightmares had gotten worse. He looked concerned.
"Is there anything I can do?" I shook my head.
"Probably not." To my slight discomfort he moved closer.
"You're not alone Ava."
"Well obviously," I muttered while turning away from him. He pulled himself up onto his elbow so he could see my face better.
"I just want to help you and sometimes when you can count on someone you sleep better." I understood what he said and turned around, but found him closer than I wanted him to be.
"I can't count on anyone," I said. He made face.
"What about me?"
"We haven't know each other for that long Orwell. I can consider us friends, but I can't really trust you still," I told him. He scowled a bit.
I don't see how you can't trust me. I
" he seemed to be at a loss for words. He was looking down at the bed. I watched as several different emotions crossed his face. Then his eyes flicked to me. "I don't understand."
"I'm sorry, I just don't know how to trust anyone or get close for that fact. I've never had a friend. The only thing I love is my fox."
"I'm not asking you to love me, I'm asking you to trust me." I looked down at the bed.
I don't know." I hated talking like this. There was something that happened to me when people started acting like they cared and they were talking like Orwell was. All I wanted to do was run in the other direction.
"Do you consider us friends," he asked.
"Then why don't you trust me?" He voice was almost distressed.
"Because I've never had anybody to trust and I'm not exactly sure if I can," I shouted before sitting up and opening up the canopy and the Gustav and hopping out.
Ava get back here
" I heard his footsteps running after me.
"Leave me alone Orwell," I shouted. I was so frustrated I was on the verge of tears. Finally he just stopped walking.
I'll leave you be," he murmured.
I stopped once I was far enough away and sunk down to my knees. This is why I stayed on my own. This is why having personal relationships with people sucked. You actually had to care about how they felt. For a while I just sat there and looked at the stars. When you've been alone for so long it was hard to let go of who you were. I hadn't expected to have someone as close as Orwell was. He wasn't really close at all, so that was saying something. I'd expected to be alone forever and personally hadn't minded that thought at all. I sat there for a while before getting up and going to my fox. I slept in the cockpit that night.
" It was Orwell calling my name that woke me up. I opened up the canopy on my fox.
"Where the hell did you think I went? There are tracks leading back to the trailer." He scowled a bit.
"Well I can see you're in a fine mood already
get down here we need to get going."
"We can split up you know. I'll take my fox and you can do whatever you want." He put his hands on his hips.
"This is just as much my mission as it is yours. You're not alone Ava
there are five other out there like us. I want to find them too."
"Then you can do it on your own."
"Stop talking like that. You know we need to stick together." I frowned a bit and sat up more so I could look directly down at him as he stepped closer.
"Not necessarily," I said as he hopped up onto the trailer and began to climb the back of the Gustav. Once on top he turned to look at me.
"You're being difficult. Let's get some breakfast and start off."
I had really decided that I needed to be alone. That we needed to split up. But there was something that told me to stay. I could change and have a friend that wasn't a machine. Orwell's eyes were daring me to refuse and I almost did. But then I stood and stretched. Irvine had said to stick together. So I was going to stick with Orwell.
"As long as you fix breakfast," I stated.
He grinned a bit and let out a breath. He hopped down and I followed soon after. We ate breakfast before getting into the Gustav. Today I drove so that I'd have something to do other than sit there. Orwell had the map.
"We're staying off the roads," he said. I nodded. "There's a gorge thirty miles from here. We'll have to find some way to cross it."
"We'll worry about that then."
"Then we'll have to stop for supplies in about eight days. There should be a town around there some time. If I'm guessing right," he said while running his finger along the map and making a face of concentration.
"That's the thing about a guess Orwell, it's not always right," I told him.
"Thank you for that wonderful bit of knowledge. I feel so enlightened."
"Asshole" I grumbled.
"Oh and you're not."
"That's because you're a bitch and you could care less about anything. I'm afraid I'm just going to end up being some sort of pawn to you."
"Let's not get into this now."
"No, I'm serious. Do you want me here or are you using me," he asked.
"I'm not using you and why does it matter?!"
"Why does it matter?!! I want to be your friend Ava. I generally like you as a person when you're not snapping at me and acting like an ice queen."
"That's all the time Orwell. I don't know what you see in me," I grumbled.
I'm wondering too," he muttered while sitting back and looking out the canopy.
We went silent after that. The region was starting to turn from desert to scrubland as we went on. We stopped that night among larger bushes and he fixed dinner. After we ate he glanced at me.
"Are you going to sleep in the Gustav tonight?"
"Good," he snapped, "More room for me."
He picked up everything as I locked myself in the cockpit of my fox. All I could think of was how stupid he was. All he had to do was keep quiet and he wouldn't piss me off. But he couldn't keep his mouth shut so I was in a horribly bad mood all the time. I didn't think I was that hard to be around all the time. But after a while of lying in the cockpit my back started to hurt and I realized that I was bringing it on myself by staying here. So I got up and quietly slipped into the Gustav. Orwell rolled over and glanced at me.
"Great," he muttered unenthusiastically and moved to the left side again.
Ignoring him I slipped under the covers and curled into a ball before falling asleep. That's when the same dark nightmares began. This time it was my fox being torn apart. I shot up with a yell. That also made Orwell jump out of sleep. But by then I was balling.
Ava." He moved closer.
just stay there." He looked kind of worried and almost upset.
"Are you alright," he asked.
"Shut up Orwell."
He laid back without a word. I wiped the tears from my eyes and took several deeps breaths. I was fine and my fox wasn't being torn apart. These nightmares were taking their toll. I felt like I was going to break apart into a million pieces. Slowly my eyes closed and I took a deep breath, relaxing as I did. The dreams started out horrible. Then slowly they got better. Turning into light happy dreams. There was a flower filled meadow and another little girl. She looked like me, well I thought it was me. Same hair color same eyes. We danced and played and I couldn't feel anything but happiness. Warm and loving happiness.
My eyes opened and I didn't want them too. The images of the dreams still drifted through my head. That's when I realized the Orwell's arm was across my middle and he was on his stomach. His face was turned towards me. I was warm, it was the same happy-warm from the dream. Maybe it was still the dream making me feel this way. His shirt was off too. He moved and I quickly closed my eyes and feigned sleep. All he did was roll over and face the other direction. It was still dim in the cockpit, as the sun slowly rose. I knew we needed to get going again. Sitting up, I reached over and woke him. When he looked at me his eyes were soft, almost vulnerable. Then they iced over as he pulled on his shirt and got ready.
The morning was silent as was the rest of the day. He didn't want to talk to me and I didn't want to talk to him. I was actually still thinking about this morning. The happy dream. That's when he spoke up.
"You know you whimpered and tossed and turned in your sleep until I got close to you. You actually moved into me." He was driving so I was on the left side of the cockpit and looking out the window. Orwell was looking straight ahead.
"So, I was asleep," I muttered. He slammed on the brakes so suddenly that I was jerked forward.
"Why don't you wake up Ava! Stop acting like you're alone! You were scared and I helped you. I hugged you and you stopped having nightmares. You subconsciously knew that you were safe in my arms."
"Don't make this about you," I said through my teeth. He seemed shocked.
"I'm not making this about me! You need to stop thinking that you need to be alone. That you're a 'loner'. No one likes to be alone
"I do. I think you're the one that's having a complex right now. You're the only one that seems affected by it." His eyes were blazing with anger and his hands were gripping the controls. Then he seemed to loose all fight.
"Fine. You want to go
.get the hell out of my sight." I sat there.
"No. I can see that you want to be alone. You don't care for me or have a need to stick around. Take your fox and go."
"I like to be alone yes, but Irvine
" He cut me off.
"GO AVA!!" He shouted, then added quietly, "Just get out of my sight." I scowled, angry and surprisingly hurt.
"I will then" I snapped and he let me out of the Gustav.
I got into my fox and ran. I didn't need him and he evidently didn't need me. I was fine, I wanted to be alone. It was him that needed friendship. But evidently he was annoyed and angry with me too. So I went, not caring what Orwell did.
Of course, we're going to have to get back to the Benny Hill-esque chain of pursuers. They've got the local mob-equivalent after them, Ava's original crazed boss, the folks trying to bring Orwell in, a jilted Janet, and possibly the hotel's bill collectors. (Well, maybe not those last two, unless the Silliness Switch ends up in the "On" position.)