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29 June 2011 @ 10:07 pm
Fic: All the lonely people (OC's)  
Title: All the lonely people
Rating: PG
Word count: 1500
Prompt: Written for still_grrr, challenge "Original Characters", prompt: The skeptic
Characters/pairing: Laura, Benjamin, others (all OC’s)
A/N: based on the notion that "Monroe brought back dozens of new followers." (8.27)



Nothing much had been registering in Laura’s brain for the past while—except maybe for ‘cold’ and ‘my feet hurt’ and ‘are we there yet?’—until the greenish brown soil in front of her that she kept her eyes trained on turned white in a matter of steps. The sound the thick soles of her boots made on it changed from muffled to a distinct crunching just as she whipped her head up.

“Ugh—snow. Seriously? We’ve got to do snow now?”

“Well, it was to be expected,” came a reply left of her. She scowled in the general direction of the red hair that it came from, but resumed staring straight ahead as the guy continued, “This part of the world? Besides, isn’t there snow where you, er, hail from? I assume you’re familiar with it.”

“That’s not the point.” Laura tightened the grip on the copper pipe of the floor lamp she had been carrying with her, and wished that it at some point would pick up some of her body heat, instead of continuing to take on the temperature of the environment and deducting a few degrees from it for good measure. The thought of smacking someone with it fleetingly made its way into her mind, too.

“Back home, we, uh... we do get snow occasionally,” Mr Guy continued. “Not too much, though; Wales is all about rain, you know. But there is this park called Snowdonia up in the north.” He chuckled at that, though Laura wasn’t sure if it even was supposed to be a joke or not. If it was, even his sense of humor had run from him. She couldn't exactly blame it.

Continuing through the snow that now started to float down on them as well, the guy—what was his name?—caught up beside her. (No, she did not slow down; he caught up with her, thankyouverymuch.) Figuring the whole ignoring thing wouldn’t work in this situation, nor would running, she graced him with a couple of glances. Sort of a lanky dude, with brown eyes and red, semi-long hair that clashed kind of oddly with the whole ‘starting to go bald’ look. Saving up for a comb over, probably. He was carrying an old television set in front of him, quite heavy by the looks of it – definitely got the short end of the stick on that one. There was snow collecting on the dark wooden top of it. His hands had started to turn blue.

“Look, uh... Benjamin,” yes, that was it, “I’m just saying. My feet are cold. My hands are cold. And that was without the snow. I don’t even know where the hell I am or where the hell we’re going. I’m tired. This is stupid.” The shred of fake politeness she started out with was beginning to disintegrate. “And. While we’re on the subject. What the hell is up with this—” she shook the tall floor lamp, “—anyway? Who comes up with that?”

“There was an explanation on that this morning,” Benjamin answered calmly, though not looking at her directly. “I’m sure you’ve heard it. All to do with the physical exertion part of it.”

Laura glanced over her shoulder to look at a tall black guy and a middle aged man of what she assumed to be some kind of Indian descent carrying a large, beige-colored two-seater couch between them. She frowned. “Yeah, well, there are other ways of achieving physical exertion besides dragging the interior of grandma's living room up a mountain, you know. Seriously. I’ll show that guy there are. I’m twice the size he is. I could take him; his face is in perfect punching height.” She freed one hand from the copper and threw a few air punches in order to make good on her threat. She glanced up at Ben; judging by his knitted eyebrows it didn’t amount to much. His mouth hung half-open as if he had wanted to respond but midway through breathing in had become unsure if it would be wise to do so.

“Madame, vous voulez bien arrêter de pleurnicher?!” yelled the fifth and final member of their party (carrying an old, spotty coffee table) from ahead of them before Benjamin could properly make up his mind.

“Ben franchement, a fait ça toute la journée!” came the reply from behind them in a heavy voice. The words were unknown to Laura for the most part, but the tone made up more than enough for that. Adding insult to injury. Thanks, guys.

Benjamin readjusted his grip on the television. “Well, you made it this far,” he said finally. There was a shine in his eyes that went with that sentence that she couldn’t quite place.

The rest of the trip upwards continued in relative silence. The combination of snow and mountains seemed to work as a sound dampener, with only the crunching of snow beneath their feet and the sound of people grunting while changing their grip on equipment occasionally filtering through. The mountain path ended in what appeared to be some kind of small plateau, announcing the end of their journey.

“There we are,” Benjamin said. It sounded like a sigh, holding the middle ground somewhere between breathless and relieved. Laura planted the lamp into the snow with what was probably more force than necessary; Ben set down the television on top of the coffee table and stumbled for a couple of steps, refinding his balance with the sudden lack of weight.

Setting down the sofa finished the makeshift, outdoors living room-on-top-of-a-mountain. Laura made thankful use of the fact and holed up on the cushions, while Benjamin wobbled away to look at the view, his back turned on her. The other three followed his suit, taking in their surroundings and quietly conversing.

The heavy jacket that hung on Laura’s shoulders was too big on her: with the collar propped up it would come close to swallowing her, which, quite frankly, sounded like a plan. She played with the pull tap between her lips; it tasted metallic and not necessarily bad. When she stuffed her hands into the pockets to reheat them, it yielded a half-empty pack of cigarettes. There was a lighter in her jeans pocket that she had thankfully remembered to stuff there this morning. It had been poking her in the hip the entire way up.

Lighting one up, she fingered the black-bordered relief of 吸烟有害健康 on the crumbled packet. Most likely a foreign variation on the theme of Smoking causes aging of the skin or Smoking severely harms you and the people around you. Been there, done that. Smoking may reduce the blood flow and cause impotence, she thought as she heard Benjamin speak up.

“It’s quite beautiful, isn’t it,” he said to apparently no one in particular.

“Yeah, can you see your house from here?” Laura scoffingly responded, half to him and half to herself, though she doubted he had actually caught it, being wooed with beauty and all.

There were mountains, it was cold and there was snow. Also, they were in the middle of frickin’ nowhere. That was more than she needed to know. Mentally escaping this place would work if she could just imagine this living room being a real one, with a fireplace crackling and the television tuned in to something good. Laura flicked her eyes back to the screen when she saw herself reflected upon it. The whole jacket-eating-her thing had worked: she looked like a rolled-up hedgehog that had lost its spines. And her hair... She twisted the tip of a stray dreadlock between two fingers; with the lack of maintenance it had received lately the color had started to fade and the roots had started to grow out. Even for dreadlocks the whole thing looked distinctly messy. She was a mess. There was no way she could ever accomplish this thing.

“D’you think any of this stuff still works?” she asked, steering herself away from the subject.

“Well, we’d have to try it out. Maybe take a car battery up tomorrow.” She scowled as Benjamin, apparently satisfied with his share of sightseeing, made his way toward the couch and sat down at the opposite end from her. He looked at her, but didn’t elaborate further.

She gestured with the cigarette, a small flick of her hand. “What? You’re going to tell me smoking at this altitude is bad for my health?”

“Clearly, you already know this yourself.”

“Yep.”

“So there really would be no use in me telling you what you already know.”

“Nope.”

He gave her an amused look, but again kept quiet.

What?” Uncle Fester.

“We’ve come a long way, you know.”

“Yeah, and by the looks of it we get to do it all over again tomorrow.”

“We’ll get there. Eventually.”

Cigarette ash was swept up by a gust of icy wind. Laura's eyes followed it flit over the Tibetan valley.

“Yeah. I guess.”


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A/N: "Madame, vous voulez bien arrêter de pleurnicher?!" = "Lady, would you stop whining?!" in European French (thanks shono_hime).
"Ben franchement, a fait ça toute la journée!" = "Really, she has been doing that all day!" in colloquial Quebec French (thanks eyeballmassage).
吸烟有害健康 = "Smoking is hasardous to you health", the standard warning on cigarette packs in China.