It occurred to Penelope a little while after Jude left that it was very dark and she was...kind of short any clothing. Which meant that Ade walking in would be the most awkward thing possible. She started to dig through Jude's discarded shirt for her clothing and became a small lump moving around in amongst mountains of wrinkled fabric.
Adrian didn't regret the choice to take a night out with Devon. It was nearly eleven at night when he started to head back towards the human tourist sector, to drop Devon back off at his room.
"I can't believe that guy actually asked if we were brothers!" He still wasn't over it after almost an hour after the occurrence. "Man..." He sighed, then took a more serious expression. He veered over to look a particular building. It was a library. Immediately thoughts of poetry and the impressive verses contained within crossed his mind. He pulled on the handle on the giant entrance, but it was locked.
"The library opens at eight tomorrow, by the way." A male voice spoke from below. A man wearing a simple tweed blazer with short tousled salt and pepper hair smiled up toward the giant, his tone pleasant. "You seem awfully keen on taking a look through the books, sir."
Adrian looked down, startled by the foreign voice.
"I, uh... Thanks." He gave up trying to object. Apparently he was more transparent than he liked to think. "Knowledge is power, and all…"
"Good show, son! I hope to see you bright an early." The man had just finished locking up the human side of the library. The man in tweed walked off whistling a pleasant, refined tune. Devon was writing away this time in his journal "I liked him."
"Friendly bloke." Adrian agreed, watching the man turn a corner before leaving the library himself. A thoughtful look overtook his face as he pieced together what in his mind was a seamless plan. "I'm craving a good book... Dev, how are you even writing in this light?" He chuckled. There were few streetlights fitting the road.
"Human mechanics possess the profoundly unique ability of nocturnal vision." Devon responded sardonically, his tone entirely dry as he flipped to a fresh page and started writing more down, presumably a continuation of the previous passage he'd begun. "I have glasses and I've had practice."
"I'll have to try that trick."
Adrian had avoided the subject of Kanna all night; successfully distracted by their mutual love of steam-powered machinery and tasteful architecture. But as the hotel came into view, his heart suddenly picked up its tempo. Was Kanna still awake? Would she want to see him? Could she hear him coming?
"Hey..." Adrian cleared his throat before raising Devon to his face. "Did Kanna, um... Talk about me? At all... By chance?"
"I brought your name up and she essentially turned into a tomato." Devon replied casually, waving the giant's comment off as if it were nothing.
Within the hotel room, Kanna indeed could hear his footsteps. Adrian was coming. He was going to be right there and her face was already heating. She loathed to admit that she was acting like a school girl even if she blatantly was.
A toothy grin lit up Ade's face.
"You are fantastic, d'you know that?" He ruffled Dev's mop of curls, much to the smaller engineers chagrin as he stepped over the fence to the side lawn of The Callebra.
"...231...232.. ah-hah." He closed his hand briefly around his friend so he could lower him to the correct balcony. "...See you tomorrow." He gave the mechanic a brotherly smile and struggled not to glance in at the woman inside. He wouldn't give Devon that satisfaction. Though he suddenly had the urge to tell her how beautiful the night sky was, with the map of stars unfurled overhead. He bet she would like it...
Kanna briefly glanced out the window toward the retreating giant as Devon stepped inside but quickly averted her eyes back toward the clothes she was superfluously folding on top of one of two single beds. Devon moved toward his own claimed bed and sank down into the matress.
"You are both potentially the most obvious beings to live and breathe."
"Go to sleep already."
Jude walked with no particular destination in mind. Luckily the streets were almost completely clear so he didn't have worry quite as fervently about where he stepped. Apparently he let his emotions get the better of him; he heard a faint scraping of a window opening, then a voice bellowed,
"Hey bozo, would you quit stomping around!? Some of us are trying to sleep!" Jude offered him a muttered apology and continued on, slower, keeping his head down.
Penelope... I hurt her. His brow furrowed in dismay. "I never should have opened my stupid mouth." He muttered angrily to himself.
He gave a start when a gravelly voice directly by his feet cut through the night air. Stepping back, he saw an older woman standing under the sole streetlight on the road. White hair peeked out under an iridescent shawl that had seen several years too many. She reminded him of a gypsy.
"Uh... Yeah." Jude glanced around, but the rest of the street was empty. What was she doing, just standing there?
She peered up at him calmly.
"Go back to her, tell her she's right, and kiss her passionately. Some flowers couldn't hurt." She waved it off with words of wisdom.
He chuckled and glanced around briefly again, feeling peculiar. "It's more complicated than that."
Jude frowned in mild alarm as the old woman hobbled out of the light, practically leaning against his boot.
"I went up to my chamber, all for to take a slumber." Adrian mumbled an old drinking song as he unlocked the door to the room. He frowned at the consuming emptiness of i and continued the tune a bit more cautiously. "I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure ‘twas no wonder. But Jenny drew me charges and-"
"Pen?" He turned around, failing to see her at first. Then he noticed movement amongst the folds of Jude's discarded shirt. He went over to the bed and knelt down. All playful greetings dried up in his throat when he saw the tell-tale signs of puffy redness and splotchy cheeks. She had been crying.
"What happened? Where's Jude?"
Penelope sniffled. "I-I don't know. We had a fight. He..he said he wasn't sure how much longer he could do this…Just said he was going for a walk. Didn't tell me where."
She looked so utterly destroyed by this knowledge. Adrian picked her up and brought her over to his bed.
"I know this can't be easy for either of you." he said eventually. "But I've never seen him care about someone like he does you." He stroked her hair as gingerly as possible. "He'll be back soon. Probably just needs to cool off is all. We'll wait right here for him. You and me. I'll stay up with you until he gets back."
"Thank you." Her whimpered gratitude was muffled as he tucked her against his chest. Although he wasn't Jude, it was comforting all the same, and she clung to him, embracing the surrounding presence of her friend.
"You don't need to worry. I know Jude, and the last thing he'd do is do something drastic."
Jude ducked inside the metal warehouse by the docks, the dull, far off bell of a late night vessel approaching sounding. Despite being such a large facility, no one appeared to give it a second glance.
"Watch your head." the warning came too late and he bonked his head on the slanted ceiling trying to stand up straight, coaxing out a teeth-gritted grunt.
"You should probably take a seat, dewdrop." The ancient woman waltzed right beneath him, as she had refused to be carried the entire way. Surprisingly, this seemed to bother Jude far more than the little old lady. Across the concrete floor there was a enormous shelf with hundred of slots and bottles. He frowned at a jar of what looked like human fingernail clippings sitting on the counter. The shawl the old lady wore was removed and tossed across the wooden counter-top, revealing quite an unruly head of patchy white hair. She sank into a high-backed purple armchair against the far wall and fixed her eyes on the giant.
"Let me get this straight..." She squawked. "You're pissy because your girlfriend's human, hmm?"
"That's not what I-"
"Whichever way you want to spin it, son, this argument basically comes down to size."
Jude's eyes darted toward the door, severely tempted to just walk out.
"What would you pay to have one day human-sized?"
He slowly turned back to face her.
"Almost anything. But it's not possible, I've asked around."
She gave a short, harsh laugh. "Ah, but you didn't check the black market, did you? Nothing fun is ever legal…"
He hesitated. "How much?"
"mm.. Depends. How much you got?"
Jude set down a stack of six gold duprats and twelve silver onto the cold floor. The coins were the size of dinner plates to her, and her beady little eyes glistened.
"I'll take the top three, the rest is yours to keep." said the old woman. She hefted three gold coins from the top onto her countertop.
Jude scooped the remainder back into his pocket, watching as she carried hers to a door. When she eventually reappeared, she was wearing a tatty apron and carrying a steaming cauldron filled to the brim.
"Pleasure doing business with you. Now sit tight, love… this is going to be a long night for you."
Jude frowned as he accepted the pot between a finger and thumb. Although steam was billowing from its contents, it was freezing cold to the touch. He stared at it for a moment, deliberating its origins. He didn't know this gypsy hag. For all he knew, she could be poisoning him but it wasn't very much, compared to his body size… He thought of Penelope, tears streaming down her face.
Jude tilted his head back and downed it like a shot. He grimaced.
"Tastes like ass!"
"I didn't say it would taste like blubbery cobbler, now did I?"
Jude went to rebuke, but he could already feel the potion settling in his stomach. Suddenly, a shooting pain crippled him from the inside out. The old woman dodged the metal pot that dropped from the giant's fingers. He crumpled inward over his midsection as another white-hot surge ensued. He let out a noise of pain and laid on his side.
He realized what she meant now by 'a long night'.