Date: December 18th, 2009
Lena, Tiago, and Jade receive early presents from Santa Cain. Oddly, it's the one who receives the most who seems the most reluctant to accept her good fortune. Tiago and Jade go at it, and Lena is, once again, caught in the middle.
"Check's In The Mail"
At around two in the afternoon on a lovely winter afternoon, the doorbell rings. Because Tiago is probably playing video games in his underwear and Jade is probably singing "Like a Virgin" in front of her mirror, Lena is the one who answers the door. There, she finds a Sexy Elf. Or, more specifically, a shivering model who has been paid to dress up in a Sexy Elf costume in order to hand-deliver an envelope and more to Lena.
Needless to say, this causes some raised eyebrows for the brunette.
After the elf shivers off of their front stoop, Lena kicks the doot shut with her foot and proceeds to open the large envelope. A few narrow slips of paper flutter to the floor, but she ignores these in favor of reading the larger letter that's been enclosed. She reads it once, then reads it again with widening eyes and enough intensity that her gloved fingers crumple the edges of the letter.
The subsequent yell echoes through the townhouse. "Holy FUCKING CHRIST!"
She hadn't known her singing was that loud! Honestly, it was hard to hear over the hair-dryer that was blowing in her face as she did her best to de-dampanize her hair after her shower, so her lack-luster singing voice had to carry over the loud *WHIRRRRRRRRRR*. It was all she could do to hear herself, unbeknownst that others in the townhouse could hear her poor rendition of Madonna's Greatest Hits.
The shout from downstairs, however, causes her to startle, fumbling the dryer out of her hands, where it clatters to the floor and shuts off. She jumps up, the worst running through her mind, running to her closet, coming up with a curling iron, brandishing it overhead as she runs out of her room and towards the stairs, ready to beat someone senseless with her grooming implement, whether she was only clad in a long-sleeved flannel shirt and underwear or not. The pitter-patter of her bare feet can be heard on the stairs just before she comes into view, stopping three steps up, looking wide-eyed and alarmed.
"What is it!? What is it!? Uhhhhh, i-is it muggers!? Give them what they want!" After a few moments of staring around, brushing her hair out of her eyes, as the dryer had left it in a bit of stylish disarray that some women paid for, she lowers the curling iron with an almost-disappointed frown. "Well, what is it?"
And this yell provokes quite a reaction within the large household. Immediately, the sound of heavy thudding footsteps rings through the floors of the old building, and Tiago is leaping down the staircase, four to five steps at a time in large, bounding steps. True to form, he is clad in only his red and black striped boxers, grey ankle-socks clad snuggly on his feet. In his hand is the gleaming metal of his pistol - although his formidability is undermined by his general nakedness. Once he sees that Lena is not exactly being attacked by ninjas or anything, the firearm is lowered and confusion is written across his features.
"Y-you yelled? Wha's goin' on? Why'd you…fuckin' /hell/ Lena, don' do that! Y'almost gave me a damn heart attack!"
What, is everyone in the house a nudist except for Lena? She'd probably have snark for both of them if she weren't so busy waving the letter as if it were a flag. "Ten thousand dollars! Ten thousand dollars! Oh my fucking god, Jaden Cain sent us ten thousand fucking dollars each!" Then the drops to her knees and begins to scrabble at the papers that had fallen, which are indeed checks. "Jade, you got twenty thousand!"
It's a scream, but it is a gleeful scream, the likes of which Lena hasn't voiced since her seventh birthday when her parents got her the Barbie Princess dress-up set.
"Will you stop swining that thing around? AND PUT ON SOME PANTS!"
Nevermind that Jade herself wasn't wearing any, the shirt she was in was large enough to almost qualify as a small dress, she still leans over to smack at the back of Tiago's head with her curling iron in her best imitation of an irate housewife and/or mother. "You're not going to be happy until you shoot someone you like, then maybe all those lessons about 'guns are bad' that your elementary teachers tried to teach you might actually sink in! Jerk." But she can't keep up her tirade for long, for even as she's pulling down the front of her shirt to make sure it covered the tops of her thighs, Lena was screeching about money in a tone that was usually reserved for a being known as Hysterical Jade, not seen since The Arcade Incident.
Padding down the steps, she sets the curler under her arm, wedging it between body and armpit, to crinkle her brow at Lena as if suspecting that the older girl were on the verge of going into an epileptic seizure. "Huh? What are you talking about? I didn't enter a Publisher's Clearing House. Who's Jaden Cain?" After a moment of trying to grab the waving letter unsuccessfully, she holds out her hand demandingly. "Give it here! Let me see, you psycho."
"OW! Why do you always gotta DO that, Jade!" Tiago yells emphatically as he ducks away from the violent teenager. Tossing her a sullen look out of the very corners of his eyes, he turns to examine her critically once he realizes that she's in no position to be criticizing him. "Are you kiddin'! Like you can fuckin' talk, unless slutty is the new black! I'm jus' tryin' ta fuckin' protect us all, so why don' you take your little ass an'- …wait, what?"
Money? Did he just hear what he thought he did? "…Dollars? Like…like, American dollars? Not like…monopoly or…what's the catch! Lemme see - they can't be for real, no way!" Unlike Jade, he actually lunges forth towards his girlfriend, looking to position himself beside her in order to read over her shoulder curiously. "Y'serious?"
The letter is given over willingly enough, because now Lena has checks to wave around like flags. Which she does. Hysterically. "He's the rich guy! The rich one who said he'd be giving shit away and he wasn't fucking lying, these are real! I wrote him but I didn't think…oh my god. Oh my god. Jade…you gotta look outside at the curb, man! Look! Go look!"
Then she whirls and throws her arms around Tiago's neck; fortunately for both of them, she is fully clothed in a baggy sweatsuit, gloves, socks…the works. Still, it's a hug and she's bouncing on her toes as if they had springs in them.
"Ten thousand dollars each! We got money, Chi! We got…" Pause. "Wait. Fuck. How do we cash these?" Lena releases the man and sinks back onto her heels, frowning down at the slightly crumpled checks she's still holding. "Jade, you got a bank account?"
Jade tosses a look over her shoulder at the Brazilian that would make a viper turn green with envy. "Seeing you in pain, makes me happy! There, I said it. It's so liberating." Once the letter's in her hands, Jade begins reading it, but her eyes are distractingly drawn to the numbers several times, her expression becoming more and more incredulous by the moment. Her name was even mentioned in it!
"You wrote this guy asking for a handout? But… We can't just… How…?"
Words failed to form into coherent sentences as she read, and then re-read, the message that was being displayed before her eyes. After a moment, she eyes the check's suspiciously, and shies away from the door when Lena points her towards it. "I can't go out there! I'm, like, naked!" Partially-crouching down at the knees, she tugs the hem of her shirt even lower, before finally peeking out with her body safely behind the wall. "Oh my god… You weren't kidding! It's so… IT'S PINK!" Slapping a hand over her mouth, Jade backs up from the door and leans against the wall, eyes wide, giddiness building up in her head, enough to make her vision swim.
"Yeah, I have a bank account. I mean, that's how I cash Randy's checks. But guys… We can't just take this. Can we? This is too much money. Isn't it? No, no, we have to give it back. …Don't we?"
Tiago doesn't get much of a chance to look over the physical evidence of the matter, but honestly, he doesn't need to. He has Lena's enthusiasm to drive him. And as she launches herself to him, throwing her arms around his neck, he steps back at the sudden force of it. Then, there is a high, almost incredulous laugh, followed by the sudden wrapping of his arms around the girl in a formidable bear hug. She is even lifted off of the floor with the intensity of it. "Ha! Are you - you serious, Lena? We're - we're rich! We've got fuckin' money! Jesus Christ, thank you, so much! Thank you, God! Thank yo-"
Of course, leave it to Jade to ruin his euphoria. She can break him down like no one else, really. Reluctantly placing Lena back onto the floor, the man proceeds to furrow his brows deeply, frowning in Jade's general direction all the while keeping his arms wrapped tightly around the brunette. "Are you - what? Serious? No! No, we can't, it's a Christmas gift, an' he said he was gunna give it, an' he did! Jade, he can afford it, he's doin' charity. Don't turn down charity Jade, /please/!" He groans, looking longingly to the cheeks. "That's more money than I've ever had in my hands…ever…"
Tiago's not the only one to give Jade a look of sheer incredulity. Lena too is squinting at the other girl as if she's just grown another head. "No, we don't! It's…yeah! What Chi said, it's a Christmas gift! He's like a billionaire, he can afford a few thousand! This is for our education, Jade. So we can get our GEDs and…and…" And eventually figure out what they want to do with their lives. But that's a detail, and details are unimportant! Right now, there is celebrating to do!
Lena returns to bouncing, peering greedily at the checks in her hot little hands. "Oh my god. So much fucking money! Okay, so what we do is get Jade to deposit this all in her account and we wait for it to clear and then we go on a goddamn spending spree! I can get another guitar! A good one! You can get that bike, Chi! We can throw a party!"
Okay, so maybe the education can wait. Jaden himself said he wasn't into the whole concept, so he'd likely approve of the change of plans.
"I'm not a charity case!" The statement would probably be a lot more effective if the girl weren't half-dressed and had hair that looked like she had just rolled out of bed five minutes ago. She makes up for it with the earnestness of her face. "Twenty thousand dollars from a guy I don't even know? How can I just take that! It's too much. It's way too much. I've always worked hard to get by!"
But oh no, Miss Voice of Reason, the proverbial wet blanket on Lego's bedspread, the dark cloud that accompanied their silver lining, isn't one to be blown away that easily. Holding the letter out, the dark-haired girl punches at it a few times with her finger, emphasizing the words written on there. "Even if you don't give your checks back, you can't just go spend it on whatever! It was given to you for a reason. Lena, c'mon." Oh yes, she's turning on the serious, let's-be-reasonable look, the one designed from the ground up to incite guilt. "If you don't use this money for what it's supposed to be used for, you might as well have stolen it. You asked for a goddamned Christmas miracle, not a shopping spree! Karma will bite you in the ass."
With a huff, Jade goes for the discarded envelope, squatting down to pick it up off the floor. "Is there a return address? You guys can at least write thank-you notes."
"Well - well - then I'll take your money! I /am/ a fuckin' charity case, I aint too proud ta admit it!" Tiago breaths out quickly, releasing the woman within his arms to cross them defensively over his own chest, eyes wide and jaw set in an expression of stubbornness. "You're not goin' ta do this, Jade - we deserve the money, man. We need it - we /deserve/ it! So yo-…wait, whatsat 'bout education?" Narrowing his eyes, he turns to peer at Lena.
The solemn, argumentative mood does not last for very long, though, because soon enough he uncrosses his arms to tentatively approach the letter. "Thank you letter? Fuck, I wanna meet tha dude personally jus' ta shake his hand! Get him a fuckin' fruit basket or somethin', he's like me new best friend! An' we /will/ use it for whatever, but there's goin' ta be money left over an'…holy /fuck/ Jade. You /jus'/ got twenty thousand dollars and the moped o' your dreams, an' you're /still/ bitching? You need ta get fuckin' laid or somethin' - you're never goin' ta be happy! Ever!"
"We're living in someone else's house! How are we not charity cases? Jesus!" Way to dash cold water on her dreams, Jade! Lena sighs, the look she gives the checks rather more mournful as guilt sets in. But…but…Jaden invited requests. Didn't he? "It's not like he's expecting you to fuck him or anything because he sent all of this," she adds, trying to sound just as reasonable as the other brunette. "I mean, sure, we can write back. Hell…like Chi says, we oughta get him something. He's a huge geek, and you're a huge nerd, so maybe you can figure something out. But no way in hell I'm giving this money back."
"And I am so buying a better guitar."
"Shut up, you stupid jerk, you don't know anything about it! I just can't take twenty-thousand dollars and leave it at that! And the check's in my name, so you can't take my part anyway!"
Despite the scowl on her face, she hands the letter over to the third party, resisting the urge to make a comment about being surprised he was literate. Resisting… Critical failure. "Don't know why you want to see it, it doesn't have any pictures on it." She chucks the curling iron at the couch, where it bounces twice, then rolls to the floor with a hollow, plastic clatter, to free up her hands so she could hug the envelope to her chest with both arms. "At least if I put out I'd feel like I'd given something back. This just feels… Y'know, icky. It just so much, a-and for what?"
"…Hey, I'm not a nerd!"
The shocked indignation on her face matches her voice, which rises several octaves with the denial. "You're the closet bo-… Yeah, you know. Look, guy a guitar if you want. What are those, five hundred bucks? But please?" The sad kitten eyes make a miraculous return as she takes a step towards Lena and Tiago, crowding towards them with her aura of guilt. "At least promise you'll use most of it for what it's for."
"No - Jade, you shut up. For /once/, just shut up an' listen to yourself? Why're you always so negative? Why're you always so mean, an' bitchy, an' everythin'? You've /got/ to appreciate the good things that come inta your life, 'cause they don't fuckin' come often. Stop bein' so…so…ungrateful an' fuckin' /negative/, we got 'nough bad shit ta deal with every damn fuckin' day!" Oh yeah, Tiago has snapped, and the recipient is the dark-haired teenager at the end of his mild glare. He ends up swiping the letter from her with a grunt, looking it over slightly. "I don' think I've heard you say one nice thing 'bout anything. /Ever/. An' you makin' fun of me, it's gettin' real fuckin' old."
Because he hurts. He is a fragile creature behind all the bluster and nakedness - really he is. "Don' worry. We'll be good - we /are/ good. Will you jus' chill out an' relax for like, five minutes? Fuck, I can't even be fuckin' happy - an' that's so ridicuous. It's the best Christmas ever, an' I can't even be happy about it now!"
"Cmon, Jade," Lena wheedles in a far less condemning tone than Tiago. "You read the letter, you know he wanted us to have this. He put up those videos asking folks to take shit from him. Tell you what, Monday we can go get him flowers and a card, maybe even see if he'll let us take him out to a movie or something…" Wait, that's sounding a little too much like a date. Lena reconsiders. "Or invite him to our party. I bet he'd like that, rich people throw shitty parties, ours are better."
But she is not entirely immune to sad kitten eyes, either. The peer pressure to wisely invest the funds receives a surrendering hand-flap. "And yeah, we can use it to get our GEDs too. But we gotta cash these first…"
She looks from Tiago, to Jade, to Tiago again. Willing them to calm down, to discuss this like practical adult human beings. "So, like…we use Jade's account, right?"
"I'm not being negative! I'm sorry I can't just take more money than I've ever made in a year from a stranger and not feel bad about it! I'm just not built that way! I know you've been having a rough time with your parents lately, but that doesn't mean you can just…!"
Of course, expecting positive things to come out of Jade's mouth was like expecting to squeeze honey out of a hornet's nest. So she stomps her foot and jabs at the male with the corner of the envelope, scowling at him as if she wanted to hit him. She probably did, and the fact that she was restraining for once spoke volumes. "I just… uhnnnnnnnn!" It's a squealy, whiny, distressed sort of moan of discontent that elicits from the younger girl, looking for all the world like she didn't know whether to pout or cry.
After a moment she slaps the envelope at the Brazilian, and leaves it with him, or to fall through the floor if he refused to take it, stalking towards the bottom of the stairs. "I'm going to get dressed. Look, it doesn't take nearly ten grand to get a GED, but if you just spend it, it's gonna dry up and we'll be right back to square one. So you can't waste it." And then she's padding up the stairs, at a much more subdued pace than she'd come down them at. If one looked carefully, was that… A PANDA BEAR stitched onto the rear of her underwear?
"No? What d'you call this, then! What do you call this fuckin' conversation, an' every conversation we ever fuckin' have! Y'cant do this Chi, y'cant do that, I'd never do this or this or this or…GOD, what the fuck /do/ you do! I'm /so/ fuckin' sick of it - I don't need ta get shit from you too! No matter what I do I'm wrong, I'm bad, an' I can't ever win!" Rant rant rant. This is the result of weeks of being subjected to the ray of sunshine's particular brand of acid. The soul-deteriorating kind. In fact, when he is slapped, he doesn't take the envelope and allows it to flutter to the ground, so that he can glower in Jade's direction as she trots off. As he glares after her retreating back, he notices something out of the ordinary. "Nice undies, Ling Ling!" Ah. Nothing like good old fashioned racism to take the edge off of it.
After that parting shot has been fired, he hazards a glance Lena wards, brows furrowed heavily. "…Don' look at me like that. It aint my fault. Y'know I'm right. /Someone/ needs ta fuckin' set her straight or…somethin'." Beat. "So…so tell me more 'bout where this came from. Y'seriously jus' wrote a letter an' y'got all this here? Who's this Cain dude exactly an'…"
"Are you guys like five or something? Jesus, I feel like I'm back on the playground." You know it's a bad situation when Lena is the mature party. Her frown includes both of them. "She's right, we shouldn't spend all of it. We leave what we need for school in the account and we have the Christmas this dude wants us to have with the rest, got it? Got it. Yay, Lena, you're so smart! What would we do without you around to tell us what's what?"
That conversation with herself is conducted while she squats to pick up the envelope. The checks are all slipped inside, the enveloped folded and the entire thing stuffed into her back pocket. If she gets to be the mature one, she gets to hold onto the money. At least until she can hide it inside of her guitar.
"I told you who he was at dinner last night, remember? He's the Evosoft dude. The billionaire. I wrote him the letter and like…damn. He must've sent this right away after he got it."
There's a certain finger that is shot Tiago's way with one hand, while the other jerks down the back hem of her shirt to cover her rear, a narrow-eyed glare shot over her shoulder. And yes, her tongue is poking out in an immature display of antagonism to go along with the finger. The Tongue is then turned on Lena, right before she disappears around the bend at the top of the stairs, where the door to her room can be heard slamming.
She's gone for a number of minutes, though at least half of those are spent at the window staring down at the moped parked out front, being all there, and beautiful, and… pink! After a moment, she changed into a pair of jeans and a mahogany sweater, putting on thick wool socks, cotton gloves, and a pair of black boots. The noise of her footsteps can soon be heard on the stairs again.
"Okay! I've decided… I'll keep the scooter. But I'm still on the fence about the money. And I don't want to hear about it!" This is said over the sound of her bootsteps on the stairs, but when she reaches the bottom, she doesn't bother to pause as she finishes tying her hair behind her in a ponytail. "Lee, let's go look at my new scooter. Cheech, go put on some clothes and then show me how to ride it!"
She doesn't even wait on an answer as she claps her hands together and positively skips out the front door with an ear-to-ear grin.
Tiago glares back at Lena, growing increasingly sullen. This is /not/ the way he should be celebrating their sudden wealth. he should be rolling around in thousands of ones, or at least getting Omg-We're-Rich! nookie. Instead, he's being reprimanded, for something he shouldn't be, in his personal estimation. "Stop. You always do that - act like I'm so immature'n shit. I'm not." He declares, tone thick and petulant as his eyes lower to the floor with a rather melancholy air. It would be tragic…except for the fact that he's still standing in his underwear. "I /wasn't/ sayin' ta waste it all, Jesus fuckin' Christ. I was sayin' that she needs ta start 'ppreciating everythin we do for her…everythin' I do for her…"
When Jade makes her dramatic entrance, barking out demands, Tiago can't help it. Feeling hurt, he shoots her a rather bitter glance, before rolling his eyes at her demands. "Yeah, whatever." He calls out, trekking in a defeated manner towards the staircase with every intention to return to his videogames.
Greeeeeat. So Lena has a happy BFF and a pink moped to her left, and a petulant boyfriend in his underoos to the right. What's a girl to do?
"Screw you guys, I'm going to the library," she grumbles. Her jacket and her boots are right there, so the brunette proceeds to pull them on and depart. But hey, she closes the door behind herself. Surely Eric will thank her for that.