We were all standing on the pavement outside Longbranch Station, waiting for the next bus. This junction connected Toronto's transit system with Mississauga's. Urban sprawl.
She was with us now.
"Hi, I'm Nadine. I'm V's older sister," she smiled. There were bags under her eyes and eyeliner over them. Her lips were a glossy purple, and her hair was gelled in a windswept fashion. Apart from those qualities, she was the proverbial spitting image of her sister - though I can't picture her having a reason to spit.
"V doesn't have a...," muttered Kyle, his voice trailing off.
I frowned. Viola doesn't have a sister?
Spencer shook her hand. He didn't seem to have heard Kyle. He smiled, "Pleased to meet you."
Kyle extended his hand and looked away, "I believe we've met before."
"Oh, it's you," said Nadine, before turning to me. "You didn't tell me he was coming." There was a thin line between amity and enmity. Nadine crossed it shamelessly.
I cocked my head ever so slightly to the side with great emphasis, "I shouldn't have to tell you. He cares about her as much as you do. Probably more. Far more than you know."
"Hmmph," she grimaced gauntly. "Well, it's nice to see you again, hun."
I nodded, "And you, my dear."
We didn't shake. We hugged.
And she whispered in my ear, "Is the hottie always in your entourage?"
"Both," came my reply. Clearly, she preferred her men to have less muscle on them.
"GO Train is faster," Nadine told us, loosening her arms from around me.
"Not cheaper. And we have transfers," pointed out Kyle.
"Very well," she said with disdain as she bent over to pick up a recent transfer slip someone had discarded on the ground.
I tried to pretend she wasn't checking out Spencer's derrière in the process. "I can't wait until the whole Greater Toronto Area is under one transit system."
The bus pulled up, ready to take us further east.
She snickered, "GTA, what an oxymoron that is."
Kyle tried not to, as he followed Spencer onto the bus. "How did you find this... Holly Place, is it?"
"We followed the paper trail," I told him as I took a seat next to Spencer.
"Don't be so pretentious, Luce," kidded Nadine. "We're not CSIs."
"Lieutenant Fellatio Cane," said Spencer. It was a reference to a fictitious officer in the TV show CSI: Miami, whose real name was Horatio.
"Even anonymous love letters have a return address," I pointed out. "We'll talk some sense into her."
Kyle had looked away as soon as I said 'love'.
"I suppose it's not love, though, if he expects her to abandon such a great deal of what makes her who she is," I put in.
"Aye," said Nadine. "Something's not right. I can feel it."
I leaned over and whispered into her ear, "Spence is gay."
She smiled, holding eye contact as if waiting for me to return the smile and acknowledge that I was joking. Her legs were crossed one over the other, showing off dark and lacy pantyhose. Then she leaned into my ear, and her voice dropped. It was a man's voice: "So am I, darling."
I burst out laughing rather hysterically.
"What's up?" said Spencer.
"Just girl stuff," said Nadine. Her... err.. his? Her voice had returned to its falsetto. "Nothing to worry about."
"In other words, boy stuff?" said Kyle.
She smirked and nodded at once.
"You're going about it the wrong way," I hissed, for her ears alone. The bus was crowded. I barely heard it myself.
"He doesn't have to know until the spooning becomes sporking," Nadine told us, the others unable to make sense of the provocative sentence.
"Guhh, hetero wuv," Spencer said dismissively.
"Guhhh... wuv," echoed Kyle.
We were silent for quite a while after that. Of course, I knew Spencer wasn't really so disgusted and immature when it came to how we 'breeders' do it. It was his way of being playful.
Kyle broke the silence four stops later. I had almost forgotten what we had been talking about.
"The more spooning without sporking, the better the actual forking. Right Spence?"
Spence nodded, "I suppose."
I tentatively agreed, from my own limited experiences. "I will never look at a cutlery drawer the same way ever again."
Nadine giggled, "Is it terrible that this conversation is making me hungry?"
"Yes!" exclaimed Kyle. "That's obscene."
She smiled. "I thought so."
"Oh, brother..." I groaned.
Nadine elbowed me. So she was V's brother. And we all knew except Spence. Well, that would keep things amusing. For a while.
One bus and quite a walk later, we were at Holly Place. It was a large chunk of wood, dry wall, metal and glass that towered into the sky with all the other buildings around it.
It looked downright festive with the giant glass sprig of holly. The pointy leaves were caressing a chess piece, a white rook. And beside that logo, there were red letters that matched the holly berries: HOLLYinc.
"Never heard of it," said Kyle.
There were holly plants growing in the planters beside us.
Spencer and I exchanged glances.
Nadine pushed open the front door.
It was a lobby like any other, except that it was entirely empty. Where there should have been someone at the desk, there was an empty chair. The computers ran a screen-saver of a 3D sprig of holly floating around on a black screen.
There were empty arm chairs and couches. Even a television, that someone could walk right in and steal. It was eerie. Who left a place like this unlocked and unguarded at this time of day?
We approached the elevators. There were two. The first was marked OUT OF ORDER. The second was waiting for us when we pressed the arrow to go up.
Seventy-five floors to the top, and ten basement floors.
Every button shone like it was fresh from the factory, never pushed before. They seemed brighter than the dim lights above.
I shrugged and hit 60 once we were all inside.
And the elevator started to go down. Not up. Down.
A chill ran down my spine as I felt that sinking feeling. We all exchanged nervous glances.
I pressed 60 again. We didn't change course.
And then the elevator came to a halt. Above the door, B5 was highlighted. The door opened with a hiss, and my ears popped.