Tales From The Shoebox

Set in the Ducks senior year, Luis and Averman are sharing a room the size of a Shoebox, this leads to an unexpected friendship, and maybe more

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Chapter 4: Assassination of Herbage and other stories

“Where have you been?” Luis asked as Averman wandered into their room.

“I have been attempting the assassination of the herbage residing in the Bashes’ domicile with the aid of several poorly written hardbacks,” Averman replied with a grin.

“You what?” Luis asked.

“I’ve been throwing books at a plant with the Bash Brothers.”

If this surprised Luis, he didn’t show it. “Right. There’s a weird smell in here, kinda like when the cheerleaders invade Annie’s dorm and start painting their nails in school colours, so I left the door open to air it out.”

“Ah, that would be the lovely smell of whatever it was that Taz gave me to patch up the wall with,” Averman said, taking a seat on his bed.

“You spoke to Taz?” Luis looked surprised. “Was there bloodshed?”

“No. Oh, by the way, go out with Aisha, she’s a great girl, really smart, really pretty, very athletic… um, she has nice hair… you know, all that blah.”

Luis again looked surprised. “Are you high on the fumes?”

“No, I told Taz I’d casually mention Aisha’s fine attributes if she went and stole something we could use to plug up the wall, which I have now done and I am no longer in Taz’s debt.” He grinned at Luis. “Of course, you’re now in my debt, because you didn’t show up to help me.”

“I was in detention,” Luis replied. “Apparently I have no concept of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Like I didn’t already know that.”

“Can’t help you there,” Averman said. “I don’t get that one in the slightest. One of the drama group suggested doing a production of that play last year, I had to bribe Mr Redfern to veto it. We did Hamlet instead.” He glanced at the door and realised that it was opened to its fullest. “Mendoza, is the door pushed against the wall?”

“Yep,” Luis nodded. “It wouldn’t stay open so I used your English folder to prop it open.”

“So essentially…” Averman got off the bed and moved to the door for closer inspection. “What you’re saying is that the doorknob is embedded in the plaster once more?”

Luis joined him beside the door and noted that that Averman was right. “Essentially, yes.”

Averman tugged on the door. It didn’t move. He kicked his English folder out of the way and tried again. To no avail. “The plaster must have set with the doorknob in it.”

“Let me try,” Luis offered. He stepped in front of Averman and started pulling on the door, he was no more successful than his roommate.

“This is great!” Averman said cheerfully. “Not only do we have the worst room on campus, but now we no longer have privacy.”

“We’ll try pulling on it together, and if that doesn’t work, you can go fetch the Bashes, since you’ve now officially bonded with them,” Luis suggested. He moved his hands to the edge of the door, giving Averman enough room to grasp the doorknob firmly. “On three?”

“One… Two… Three.”

They pulled with all their might, the door wobbled, but did not come unstuck. Luis just opened his mouth to suggest they give up when it suddenly popped free, springing open and clouting Luis in the face with such force that he fell backwards into Averman. They both toppled back into the desk behind them, nearly knocking the TV and VCR flying.

“Ouch,” Luis said weakly, his hands moving to his face to check it was still attached.

“Double ouch,” Averman replied, shifting uncomfortably, Luis’ hip bone was digging painfully into a place that should only be treated with love.

“You’re double ouch? I got hit in the face with a door,” Luis pointed out. He stopped feeling his face, and his hands came away bloody. “And I’ve got a nosebleed!” he added triumphantly.

“Luis, man, move!” Averman said weakly, putting his hands on Luis’ lower back to shove him away.

“What… oh!” Luis realised exactly what part of Averman’s anatomy he was squashing and jumped up quickly. “Sorry.”

“It’s ok, it’s not like I ever want kids…” Averman said weakly. “Wow, you’re really bleeding.” His tone was tinged with respect.

Luis looked down at his shirt and realised that he looked like an extra in Scream. He then checked the state of the wall. “Nobody got off without injury.”

Averman couldn’t fight the smile creeping across his face, not only was the hole bigger than ever, but now there was a large crack about 18 inches long stretching upwards from it. “Screw it,” he said finally. “We tried, we failed. I say we buy a nice big poster.”

Luis snorted with laughter, spraying the wall and floor with blood from his nose.

“Oh man, that’s gross.” Averman winced. “Go bleed on your own part of the room, I’ll go get some cloths or something so you can get cleaned up.”

Luis obligingly did so, and when Averman returned with a couple of cloths and a bowl of water, he found Luis sitting on his own bed, his head thrown back, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You’re still bleeding,” Averman reported taking a seat opposite.

“Am I?” Luis asked in tones of great sarcasm. “I really hadn’t noticed.” He took a cloth from Averman and held it beneath his nose.

“I can tell you’re not the martyr type when injured. Banksie wouldn’t be so grumpy about it. Banksie wouldn’t mention it if he broke his leg for fear of inconveniencing anyone,” Averman commented as he dipped the cloth in the bowl of water and began cleaning the blood off Luis’ throat.

Luis stuck his tongue out in response and Averman winced. Luis’ tongue had blood on it. “You’re disgusting.”

“I resent that. It’s your fault I’m bleeding,” Luis replied, his voice muffled from the cloth, but Averman could tell he was smiling as he said it.

“You’re the one who glued our door to the wall.”

“Well, if you’d have left a note explaining what the smell was, I wouldn’t have opened the door so far.” Luis retorted.

“Time for a subject change,” Averman decided. “Apparently blood bounces on ice, why don’t we go down to the rink and test that theory?”

Luis removed his hand from the bridge of his nose long enough to shoot Averman the finger.

Averman sighed melodramatically. “See, Banksie would never do that either. He would cheerfully oblige because he’s been brought up with manners.”

“Was Adam your bitch throughout the entire year you roomed together?” Luis asked with a grin.

“Well, he was very grateful that I wasn’t Charlie,” he replied, dropping the cloth back in the water (which was now a pinkish colour). “Done. You no longer look like an Ed Gein dinner guest.” He considered this for a moment. “Although if I were you, I’d change my shirt.”

Averman curled up in bed later that night. Luis was already asleep, he seemed the type that could fall asleep easily. Averman envied him for it, his sleep was often patchy and always difficult in coming. He yawned and rolled over onto his other side, trying to get more comfortable, praying for easy sleep before his brain started picking on him.

Naturally, his prayer wasn’t answered, and his mind had fixated on several things to taunt him with. The first was, naturally, his lack of direction in life. He told his mind to back the hell off, and try something more original, he’d been listening to that particular taunt for years. During this, he idly wondered if arguing with his own mind made him a lunatic.

“I’m going crazy,” Averman murmured.

“What do you mean, going?” Luis responded dozily, shocking him. He hadn’t realised that his roommate was still awake.

“Well, crazier then,” Averman amended. Then before Luis could enquire as to what prompted this new and crazier Averman, he changed the subject. “How’s your nose?”

“Hurts. I’ve taken a couple of pain killers,” Luis replied, turning over to face him.

“You’re such a drama queen. I lost the ability to have children today and you’re going on about your nose!” Averman replied, glad to take his aggressive mind away from his life-situation.

“I’m not ‘going on’ about it, you asked, I answered.” Luis replied in mock huffiness. “I bet you’re going to tell me that Banksie would have just said ‘fine’ and changed the subject.”

Averman laughed. “Well, he would have.”

“Am I your rebound roommate? Are you using me to heal your broken heart after Adam went back to Charlie?” Luis propped himself up on his elbow and rested his head in his upturned palm and fixed Averman with a mocking grin.

“Nothing can heal my broken heart.” Averman pretended to wipe away a tear.

Luis sighed melodramatically. “And all this time I thought you liked me for me! Now I find that you want Adam! I feel so cheap and used.”

“Well, you’ve got Aisha to help you pick up the pieces.”

“Nope, won’t work. I’ll never trust anyone ever again. You’ve emotionally scarred me for life.”

They continued in this vein for quite some time until Luis fell asleep mid-sentence.

“Mendoza! What the hell happened to your face?” Charlie asked in amusement as Luis and Averman joined the rest of the Ducks at the table for breakfast. “Has Averman been slapping you around?”

Luis nodded and slung an arm around his roommate. “Yes, but we kissed and made up. He promised never to hit me again. We’re going to work through it.”

“I blame myself,” Fulton said gravely. “We should never have let Averman join in our Plant Deathmatch game, it’s obviously brought out his aggressive nature.”

“See, I’m just a victim of peer pressure, honey,” Averman said with a sugary grin as he sat down. “I’ll never hurt you again.”

Luis took a seat beside Averman, and when the general Ducks-chat resumed, he jabbed him lightly in the ribs. “Are you ok?” he asked.

Averman had been slightly hyper all morning—ok, so they had only been awake approximately forty minutes, but his behaviour had been notably different to usual. Maybe he was just being hyper-sensitive, he and Averman had only been rooming together for just over a week, so he didn’t know him that well.

“I’m fine,” Averman replied cheerfully. “I did warn you last night that I was getting crazier. I’m afraid it’s advancing rather faster than anticipated.”

Luis sighed. That was exactly it, an Averman response. Then he remembered, Averman was always hyper on Thursdays—he had been last year and had mentioned that it was drama that made him a little crazy. He reached over and took Averman’s knife away. “No more pointy objects for you then.”

Averman gave him a look. “You know, the forks are sharper than the knives in this place.”

Luis took his fork too.

“And let’s not forget that marvellous Alan Rickman quote about gouging out a heart with a spoon.” Averman added cheerfully.

“Fine.” Luis took the spoon too. “Eat with your fingers.”

“I could smash a chair over your head,” Averman suggested. “Are you going to hoard all of the furniture too?”

Luis considered this then gave the cutlery back. “No. I’m going to talk you into finding another target.”

“Hey stranger, where have you been recently?” Annie asked, as Luis came to a stop beside his locker where she was waiting for him. “And what happened to your face?”

“I got bitch-slapped by a door,” Luis replied shortly, he was getting very sick of having to explain his bruised face to everyone. He opened his locker and swapped his chemistry book for math. “Averman said you had some juicy gossip for me.”

“I’ve met someone!” Annie said excitedly. “She’s very cool, very pretty, into the same kind of things as me.”

Luis stared at her in amazement. “Don’t tell me she buys into the ESP thing?”

Annie slapped him lightly around the head. “ESP exists, as do ghosts and every other supernatural phenomena. And yes, she does, she’s really into ghosts, she has this whole theory of why some people get to move on and some stay here as ghosts. It’s long and involved, so I won’t go into it.”

Luis smiled. “So, who is this wonder-girl?”

“I don’t want to say yet, I might jinx it. I don’t even know if she likes girls, let alone if she likes me.” Annie said with a smile.

“So when do we get to meet her?” Luis asked, slamming his locker door shut and watching in dismay as it popped open again, spilling pens and folders onto the floor. He made a mental note to never have doors of any kind in his own house when he finally got one, they seemed more trouble than they were worth.

“Not yet.” Annie said, helping to pick up the spilled items. “I kinda want her to myself at the moment. But I’ll keep you posted. Why don’t you come by my room after classes, I’ll bore you silly with every single detail about her?”

“Can’t do, I’m afraid,” Luis replied. “I’m going to watch Averman’s drama practice. But I’ll come see you after.”

“Great.” She chucked him under the chin lightly. “Prepare to be bored to death, I really like this girl.”

Notes: (you knew there would be notes!) I know this is slow going, and thanks to the people who have said that they don’t mind this—especially the people who are enjoying how slow it’s going. I nearly botched this fic by putting in some slashy seeds in the above chapter (which was actually 2 chapters), but instead, I took it out and kept it going at the same slow and steady pace. So yes, this will be a slow fic, but the chapters will now be getting longer to compensate. Actually, does that make it better or worse? *grins*

Q—Taz will be round at 6pm sharp. She will have drunk 3 cans of soda. Have fun! (though not too much, I can’t afford bail)

Terra—Argh! No writers block for me please. I’ll keep writing, I promise.

Gabby—Glad you’re enjoying, since this was your idea

adoptedsin—Again, glad you’re enjoying. Annie will be around, I’m trying to keep her out of the way as much as possible though, this fic is all about Luis and Averman!

meme—Yay! You’re here and reading. For some reason Averman strikes me as a complete drama nerd. He works in a cinema, and in every B-movie around he plays ‘Video Store Clerk #2’, so this leads me to believe he knows a fair amount of movie trivia. I just see drama suiting his flamboyant personality.

Charisma—Be shushed and check your inbox. This is my new plan.

xoe—Glad you like, this fic is fun to write, and you’re right, I’m enjoying playing with words, with Averman in the lead, I can be as weird as I want and somehow I’m lucky enough for it to come out as funny

Gila Draper—Thanks for saying I’ve kept them in character, that was my big worry, I’ve never written Averman as the lead before, but I’m really enjoying it.

lycanthrope—You are my star. Thanks for the private feedback, and I will reply to your enormous email very shortly. Well, tomorrow at least. I’m falling asleep at my desk right now. Ummmm… Kris Lemche… very sexy man.


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