Olive often spent the night at Alex's warzone of a flat. It was a place she felt safe, especially after Percival primed their relationship for Armageddon over and over again.
Olive hated fighting with Percy. As for Percival, she loved proving everyone around her wasn't up to snuff. Even Olive. Inevitably, this would lead to heartbreak for the two lovers.
But for now, it was merely a spat. A spat that required a certain flavor of irreverence to cure the heartache of.
An irreverence Alexei was very good at.
Staring down at her cheerful mug of hot chocolate, Olive waited for Alex to return with her laundered sweatshirt; something old, worn, but deeply loved. She'd accidentally dipped it in pizza grease by carelessly dropping it on his sofa.
As his home was as much of a disaster as he was, it had suffered the consequences.
Sadly for Olive, Alex was really only good at a total of three things, and none of them included cleaning.
The front-door opened, and in stepped the disaster of the hour. Olive parted her lips to chirp out a greeting, but he cut her off.
"Liv, now...before you bite my fucking head off," Alex stammered, clasping her sweatshirt to his chest, one hand raised out in front of him, "know that...her death won't be in vain."
Olive raised a brow, looked over the sweatshirt momentarily, scanned his face, then pressed the mug of cocoa to her mouth. She swallowed her words in sweets, yet felt her face grow hotter than her drink.
"I...I'll make it up to you, I promise. I swear to fucking God—do you want money?" Alex dropped the sweatshirt on his coffee table and dug his hand into his pocket and ripped out a wad of cash.
"W-what...didja' do to it?" Olive asked, hopping off of her chair to stalk forward and pull the sweatshirt into her hands. It had a searing hole in the center of it; a chemical burn.
"I cleaned it," Alex stuttered, flipping through the bills in his hand, "I swear to fuck I tried my best, but—"
"I don't want yer money. I want my damn sweatshirt."
Alex stood perfectly still as Olive folded the sweatshirt neatly and placed it on the only piece of furniture not covered in shit; the kitchen table she'd been sipping cocoa at.
"Right! Shit. Fuck, sorry...alright, alright...how about this," Alex jammed his wad of cash back into his pocket and raised up both his hands, "How about...we go shopping?"
Olive raised a thin brow, "...go on."
"My treat. Anywhere you want. Anywhere you fucking want, I'm so fucking sorry—"
"Ok," Olive said with a conflicted smile, "yeah, sure...we can go downtown. Ya' know? Go a lil' nuts, or somethin'...take my mind off this stuff."
Alex nodded enthusiastically, until his face fell. He caught Olive's expression and his mouth drew into a flat line.
"She's got you this fucked up, huh?"
"Yeah. Ran with scissors and poked my damn eye out," Olive said, shaking her head, her bright pink curls jostling.
Alex rounded his short friend and placed a hand on her shoulder. His smile was positively criminal.
"I know exactly where to go. C'mon princess."
With that, they left.
Lights bled in a million colors as the pair whipped though Queens on Alex's motorcycle. The wind sounded like the wings of a thousand little birds. The sky was dark and full of navy blue. The stars freckled the sky above the lemon-yellow sun as it sunk below the horizon.
Orange light bathed Olive's face as she stepped off the parked motorcycle. Alex stepped off as well, face bathed in the blue of a shadow from an indigo tarp.
The pair removed their helmets. Olive instinctively held out her hand, and Alex grasped it without a second thought.
The sounds of people speaking barraged them as they walked. Olive nestled to Alex's side. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder. She hid in the warm leather of his jacket.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Mm." Olive was anything but okay. When Percy lashed out at her for things she didn't understand, Olive took to panic. But her form of panic wasn't Alex's short-lived silence and subsequent long-form rage against all available inanimate (and sometimes very animate) objects.
Her panic never became violence.
It merely twisted and curdled inside her guts and bled the glitter from her eyes. Everything was loud. Everything hurt. Everything was too much.
Alex shifted and pulled Olive through a doorway; unassuming black, with a barely legible sign above its frame.
"Hey Penny," Alex said to a blond woman at the counter.
"Hey, yourself!" she replied, leaning forward. Olive looked up from her self-cloistering and saw the woman at the counter spilling out of her dress.
"Uh," Olive mumbled, wrinkling her nose, "didja'...bring me to a sex shop?"
Alex chuckled. She could feel his laughter reverberate through his ribcage, until it was a hysterical bleat, bordering on maliciousness.
Alex pulled away from Olive and gestured at Penny, who was leaning with her head on her palm.
"Pennysworth; we need a sweatshirt fit for a warrior." Olive twisted up her brows and glimmered over the side of Alex's face.
"I've got just the thing," Penny chuckled, pushing away to round the front desk. She held out her hand for Olive.
Olive looked at her hand, covered in tattoos of circuits up her arms, and then down her torso to a pair of very small shorts, and the tallest high heels she'd ever seen in her life.
Olive took Penny's hand, who gently ushered her past rows and rows of assorted items for recreational entertainment purposes.
Alex was staring at a display item with his head tilted.
"Do you have this in blue?" he asked, marveling at something Olive didn't even have a name for. It looked like an alien communication device.
"What kind of blue?" Penny replied. Alex twisted around and caught her glance. Penny shook her head. "Not your color, no."
"Too bad," Alex replied, then trailed after the pair of women.
"Where are ya' takin' me?" Olive asked as Penny drew her onwards, like ushering a reluctant mule over a muddy threshold.
"You'll see. It's something awesome," Alex said from behind her.
Now at a red door, Penny unlocked it, swung it open, and pushed the slight, pink-haired woman inside before stepping through. Alex followed after.
"What do you think?" Alex asked, a hand on his hip.
Before Olive's eyes were rows and rows of multicolor garments, each one special and bright. Sequence and embroidery, lace and satin, small details and eclectic patterns. All different types of fabrics, all sorts of shapes and colors, and all of them were absolutely lovely.
It was a forest of garment-flowers, stretching out as far as the eye could see.
"...wicked..." breathed out Olive, who instantly dove towards a rack with neon-colored sweatshirts made of dreamy, impossible fabric.
"You'd think she'd never seen a thrift store before," Penny said with a warm smile, leaning against the far wall with her arms crossed.
"You and I both know it's so much more than that," Alex said, tossing Penny a cat-like grin.
"How'd ya' ever find a place like this?!" Olive shouted, having wandered too far away to hear clearly.
Alex cupped his hands to reply, "Perks of the job," he shouted.
"What job'd get ya' swag like this?!" Olive shouted back.
"An old one. I'll tell you about it sometime."
Penny chuckled at their banter and pushed off from the wall, taking Alex by the shoulder to lead him towards a row of shoes. Swaths of bright colors deckled the shelving: magenta, indigo, pink, celeste, yellow-yarrow, and more.
"I've got a great pair set aside for hunting parties," Penny said, "flashy but svelte. Just your style, and a great lure..." Alex stopped in place, causing Penny to jerk forward, "what? You've stopped?"
"Yeah—yes. I've moved on."
"Aw, why didn't you tell me? Happy for you. Didn't quite sign up for the scene, right? Must have been heck," Penny said, a hesitant smile on her face, "...do you still want to see them?"
Elsewhere in the cacophony of clothes, reams of embroidered jewels, and bolts of fluorescent fabrics, Olive had found a simple t-shirt with a daisy on it. It was possibly the simplest garment in the whole lot, but the cyan of it all was bright enough to blind. A crop-top, just her size, and less than five dollars; the least expensive item in the warehouse.
The fabric was cloud-soft and gentle.
"Oh..." Olive said, turning it over in her hands. It was worn cotton, something that'd been lived in but laundered to new again. It smelled like lavender. She held it up in her hands, and then unceremoniously peeled off her coat and black shirt to slip it onto her body.
Pattering to a mirror, Olive stood in front of it and admired what would be her new favorite garment. The garment she'd be known for. The garment she'd be recognized by.
The garment this disaster she was shopping with would someday include in the future, in a space where it should not exist, but would.
Because it was her favorite.
Back at the shoes, Penny brought out a tall box and looked up at Alex's face.
"You'll love these, I know you will..." she said, then opened the box to reveal a pair of thigh-high, fluorescent peach-pink, slick and shiny metallic boots with a devilish heel, "ta-da!"
"Oh, holy shit..."
"You'll never be able to walk in them," Penny said with a snort.
"Nope," he lied.
"Want to try them on?"
With that, Alex sat himself down on a small stool, pulled off his jeans and sneakers, and slipped on the pair of heels that he could very much walk in.
Now standing, he twisted and turned. The light cascading off the vinyl was spiraled in opalescent fractals.
"Penny, these are fucking..." Alex strut away from his confidant, twisting to look in a mirror, "rad as all hell."
"Wow," Penny whistled, walking after him, "You're pretty good in those."
"Yeah. My version of a hunting party is a bit more literal; sure-footed or bust."
"Oh, that's right...always a solo-operation, though, huh?" Penny asked, Alex stopped posing in the mirror and looked over his shoulder as she spoke, "must have been dangerous...and lonely. Is that how you moved—"
"Yes. Stop poking the nest, Penny."
"Aww, why?" she pouted.
"You only get," he began, turning around again to inspect the shoes further, "what I'm comfortable givin'."
"But you never talk about it," Penny said, "and wouldn't it be good? To talk to somebody?"
"Yeah, but you can't be that somebody."
"Because I can't take the risk."
"What risk? I'm not Diana, Alex. You can talk to me—" Penny protested.
"...the risk you'd misunderstand. It's too easy to," he said, clicking his teeth.
"You think me, of all people," Penny gestured at her somewhat-clothing, "wouldn't understand? Bull poop."
"You have a different understanding of the scene. I can't afford to talk about it unless I know my story won't get read in the wrong language. I have to make sure I won't get hurt."
"Well, there's always a chance someone will hurt you, Al..."
"I'm—Penny...I'm involved in something now that's—it's a massive hunting party. I can't take the risk, it's too important. I just can't." Alex's voice had gone from bulleted to glass-like in mere moments.
"I thought you said you'd stopped?" Penny frowned, looking over the man who now seemed so small. He hadn't even given her a chance and he was already wilting from the prospect of trying.
"Alex, how long have we known eachother for—"
With that, Alex parted from mirror-gazing and took to a rack with assorted jumpers, and things most people wouldn't be caught dead wearing.
"This one too," he said, holding up a matte black jumper.
"You don't have anything to hold it up wi—"
"Got any tape?"
Penny nodded, and as she did, Olive pattered behind Alex and snatched the edge of his leather jacket.
Alex turned around and looked down at his short friend, now much shorter as he was wearing the equivalent of stilts. Her hazel eyes were full of warmth, her dog-bit lower lip pulled along into a toothy smile.
"I like this one...can I get it?"
"Anything you want."
"What about these?" Olive asked, unearthing a pair of neon green hi-top sneakers.
"Like I said, anything you want, princess. We could buy the whole store, if you want."
Olive paused for a moment, then looked around the store.
"...ya' got enough cash for tha' whole store?" she marveled.
"Yeah—yes. Do you want it?"
Penny hesitated and held out her hand, "Alex, that's—"
"Liv. Do you want it?"
"Yeah. Well, I wanna be able to come here when I wanna'...just...get some stuff, ya' know? Are...ya' sure you can do that? I mean, is it okay?"
"No, it's not ok—" Penny started up. Alex stalked back to his pants, pulled out a debit card, and walked back to hold it in front of Penny's face.
"She wants the store. Give it to her."
Penny worried her lower lip, eying the blond in front of her, who was somehow more threatening in heels than he ever could've been in sneakers.
"I'm...going to have to get a whole new catalogue..." she hesitated.
"She wants the store."
"...how about we make a compromise?" Penny asked, gingerly taking the card from his outstretched hand, "I'll ring up something between three and six, and when she comes in, I'll make sure to deduct it."
"Did I stutter?"
"Alex, this isn't a hecking 'work transaction'. Throwing your weight around isn't going to get me to do what you want, you know that, don't you?" Penny sighed, "It's a give and take, give, and, take—"
"Sorry. I'm sorry, Penny. I just..." Alex looked back at Olive, who was distracted, thumbing through a bunch of floral go-go dresses.
"Oh, Percy'd think this was wicked!" blurted out the pink-haired woman behind a row of dresses.
"...whatever I do, I gotta' do right by her. You know?"
Penny let her hand drop to her side, the card between her fingers, and looked over the blond's face, "...you're in love with her, aren't you?"
She flicked the card.
"Stop poking the nest, Penny." Penny let out a short giggle at his response.
"Penny, I mean it." Her giggling continued.
"Penelope, I'm serious!"
Penny hadn't stopped giggling for quite some time, but she did ring them up, write down how she'd handle Olive's purchases, and saw the two out with a gentle smile.
Finally swathed in new and old, lovely and dangerous things, the pair walked from the shop with Alex carrying every bag.
Olive looked over Alex's getup and squinted.
"It's a bajillion degrees below zero out. Ya' sure ya' wanna run around in that jumper thingy? And tha' shoes, what if ya' slip on tha' ice, like a big—"
"Stupid idiot?" he finished her sentence for her, "I promise I won't fall. In fact—hop on."
"Huh?" Olive asked. Alex knelt a bit, placed the bags on the ground, and held his arms at his sides.
"Okayyyy," Olive snorted, but borderline launched herself at the blond's back none-the-less. He caught her legs and hoisted her up as she swung her arms around his neck.
Alex collected the bags in his arms and stood upright, Olive jostling a bit until she found better footing. She squeezed her thighs around his waist.
"Ready fer what?"
"You ready...to run?"
Olive screamed as Alex bolted over the ice and snow, a whirlwind of perfect irreverence.
Not slipping, not stopping, not halted by any passerby, lamppost, or otherwise. He was chaos on two feet, and Olive, well....
She was having the absolute time of her life, screeching at the top of her lungs as this hellion in pink heels carted her around on his back, through the city they both loved.
A city they both loved that held so many difficult memories and complicated emotions, many around love. He would outrun them for the both of them; he promised. He was fast. The colors whipped around their heads at the speed of sound.
He tore around a corner, cackling. Olive was laughing so hard tears were streaming down her face. The air kissed them from her cheeks. Alex let out a roar; Olive did too and laughed herself mute.
Alex was really only good at three things:
One of these things involved killing people.
Another of these things involved detailed plans and coercion.
The last—and best thing—he was good at?
Making Olive happy.
No matter how stupid he had to look to do it, it would be his goal. No matter the risk; ice, or annihilation. No matter the distance; miles or thousands of years.
No matter the price; his mind, a ship, a society, a new-beginning, a begin-again, another them, another story, another life.
He would fuck this up many times over the course of his now and future-life. Yet, it would always be his goal.
He had to do right by her, even if it killed him.