Funny Girl

Gentle conversation buzzed about the group as they strolled in the morning sun. It would have been quite pleasant but Alex was currently too tense to enjoy it, mortified as he was.
He quietly and obediently pushed Seymour's chair, as inconspicuously as possible, hoping the others had forgotten he existed, and repressing the urge to stuff his fist into his dumb mouth.

While he'd slumped on the hay sofa between Efof and Plisken, the effects of FeBuggure's unusual concoction had withdrawn in a sudden brain-wrenching hit of intense nausea and vertigo. It felt like five normal hangovers compressed into one Mega Hangover, the unpleasant symptoms of which had lasted for ten horrific room-whirling minutes – during which he'd thought he was probably going to die and had grasped tightly to Efof for dear life - before they'd thankfully evaporated entirely, leaving him feeling empty and, bewilderingly, sober.
Fortunate really, as he'd been mere moments away from chucking up in Plisken's lap.

The bad thing about being mountain-stream sober was that he had full recall of the stupid things he'd done during the journey to Jamie's house. It was quite awkward trying to stealthily push Seymour along, with a body thrumming with cringe.
There'd been the 'singing', the fondling and nuzzling of White Wolf's fur, trying to grab Jaxx's Speedos. What the smeg!? And...
“Tha'swhat I call my-”

His stomach lurched. Oh Gods, no! Why the hell had he decided to announce that?

He glanced quickly around at the others' faces, wondering if they were remembering it too. What if they could read his mind? He felt his cheeks burning, and it wasn't just the sun.
However, nobody laughed or pointed; perhaps, hope against hope, they somehow hadn't noticed his deviant behaviour. Fat chance.
Jaxx gave him a friendly thumbs up. Alex didn't respond, just snapped his eyes away and began studying the top of Seymour's head, as if it were the most interesting thing he'd ever seen.

Well, so much for his plan to seem like less of an idiot to Molly. He'd not even apologised yet. He sighed and sneaked a sideways glance at her, she was talking animatedly to Jade, the new doctor lady. If he'd not been feeling so stupid he'd have rather enjoyed the sight.

Solvay liked to keep himself to himself but the rude transplantation to this planet, while mopey and intoxicated - with nothing to his name but a pair of boxer shorts, a blanket and an empty bottle - had meant he'd found himself exposed, both literally and emotionally. He shuddered at the thought and felt grateful for his tied-at-the-waist jumpsuit which almost resembled normal trousers. Almost.
His attention was drawn by a gaggle of winged lizards emerging, chittering and sunkissed, from the sort-of-familiar-but-slightly-alien trees. He relaxed a little and considered that perhaps the luxury of clean air, wildlife, and real sun, might just be worth feeling stupid for.
He clicked some tiredness from his neck and tried to tune in to the conversation around him.

Plisken was chatting to Garth about old times.
Phil was larking about, teasing a semi smiling, semi concerned looking Jay about something.
Katrina was having a conversation with White Wolf about food, as the oversized hamster good naturedly walked on all fours, letting Max ride on his back - a far less troublesome passenger than he'd been, Alex suspected. Well, remembered.

Jacky was trailing a little way behind Jade and Molly, muttering about some film or other to the big-eared rodent while stroking its head - the sight of which almost made Alex smile.
Jaxx and Evelina were giggling. Alex heard the words 'model', 'gnarly', and 'size' and decided it was probably best not to listen any further to that conversation.
Phi and Efof were discussing how beautiful the trees looked. Phi pointed out that - monsters aside - the planet seemed lovely, but it could really do with a few more sinks and antibacterial wipes.
Davie seemed to be on full alert, scouting about like a restless guard dog, as the group ambled ever onwards.

What was Cass doing as they strolled, Alex wondered. He hoped she was okay, he'd been trying not to think about what might be happening to her. It was a shame she didn't have Unit One down here for protection - not that it would've worked in the EM field.
At the thought his mind glumly spooled back to Bedge, motionless at the side of base camp. Poor bugger.

“Push me faster!” Seymour demanded from a knackered-looking Alex, who was pushing his wheelchair...
Seymour pulled up alongside Jamie.
“So Mr Eastlick, tell us about the first time you encountered these 'Haruk'.”

As Jamie began telling Seymour about the tribe people... things... Harook and Ssarla or whatever... Alex felt himself zoning out again, recalling the reason he'd been so mopey and unfocused before the abrupt evacuation.
Bloody Jessica...

“I've been thinking. Maybe you're not like Uncle Derek after all.”
“Huh!?” He jumped at both Molly's proximity and the unexpected statement.
Seymour emitted an angry noise.
“Mr Solvay, do you have to jerk like that?”
“I should think so too.” The ambassador shook his head and carried on rambling at Jamie.

Molly gave Alex an unreadable look.
“Now you've... cut that thing off... I can see you're nothing like him, really.”
Was that a spark of mischief in her eye?
She knew he'd shaved because he was self-conscious.
How could she? What else did she know?
Why did women have to be psychic?
“Nah, nuthin' like him" she continued. "It was just 'cause you had a beard an' you're an alchy an' all that.”

Alex's eyebrows tried meeting, in distress.
“I'm not an-” He swallowed. “I'm not a... What you said.”
She took no notice.
“I remember Uncle Derek as being about his age, anyway, actually.”
She went to give Seymour a little pat on the head but Alex pushed her hand away just in time, causing the cobbled wheelchair to swerve a little and another vexed noise to float towards them.

“... He never had freckles, either.”
Alex was taken aback.
“Uh, I do not have freckles.”
Uh, I think you'll find you do. Right... there...” she demonstrated on her own face, running her fingers over the bridge of her nose and across her cheeks in an oddly delicate movement.
Maybe she was right. Who knew what effect the sun was having on his spaceship-pasty complexion? He'd sometimes had freckles in the summer as a kid...
He whipped a hand to his nose, curious, as if he'd be able to feel them, leaving only one hand on the rickety chair.
Seymour hit a stone and veered wildly off course, ramming into Jamie's leg.
“Shit. Sorry.”
He corrected the chair and gave Jamie an apologetic wince as the other man stopped to rub his bruise.
Seymour tutted angrily, still worried about making a bad impression.
“You will have to forgive Mr Solvay, Mr Eastlick... He's a moron.”

Alex ignored the insult and looked back at Molly, suspicious.
“There's no such person as Uncle Derek, is there?”
She smiled and said nothing.
“... You made him up.”
“That'd be telling.”
"You only said it to get back at me..."
She didn't shed any light on the matter, just grinned enigmatically and dropped back to talk with Jacky, and Big Ears the rodent.

Alex craned his neck around a couple of times to look back at her. She noticed and returned the glances, still unreadable, not pausing in her conversation for an instant.
Funny girl...
She had quite a talent, though. She'd somehow managed to engage him in conversation without him even noticing she was doing it.

He felt awkward again, and images of him lipping at White Wolf's fur and mouthing sweet nothings into the giant hamster's neck slapped him around the temporal lobes.
What he wouldn't give for an invisibility cloak...

Davie was perched on the crest of a dirt-ridge up ahead.
“Guys...” he hissed, beckoning them over and pointing behind a clump of trees
“... you've gotta see this!”

<i) How did the conversation go between Jamie and Seymour, about the tribes?
ii) What has Davie spotted? >

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