Atalanta Pendragonne

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Chapter 1 of my new WTNV fic! It'll probably be about 3 chapters. Carlos babysits Janice!


Cecil hadn't told Carlos about Janice until she'd asked him to help her sell all those Girl Scout cookies. It had been a bit of a shock, but ultimately Carlos was relieved to know that keeping quiet about some things on the air was something Cecil was used to. It was a good precedent for every detail of their domestic life not being broadcast to the town once they finally got their place together.

And he'd made up for it in the meantime with an avalanche of anecdotes and photographs. Carlos wasn't sure how much of Cecil's praise was the doting hyperbole he tended towards, but the pictures showed a pretty child with a strong family resemblance to her uncle, with tidy cornrows and rich brown skin a few shades darker than Cecil's. She looked a bit wary in most group pictures but had a wide and lively grin in the solo pictures. Star of the collection was a professional portrait of Janice in her Girl Scout uniform, apparently trying her best to look dignified and grown-up.


Cecil's sense of timing could be a bit unfair. Downright diabolical, really. It was at the end of an extremely pleasant evening, when Carlos felt good all over and relaxed to the edge of sleepiness, that he chose to ask for a favor.

"I hate to ask," he said in his smoothest tones, "I especially hate to ask you. Normally I'd have asked Dana, or Old Woman Josie..."

Carlos flinched. This was already sounding bad. And probably hard to refuse.

"I'm taking care of Janice this weekend, but I have a meeting at the station when I need to pick her up, and I'm afraid it's likely to run late." A growl lurked under Cecil's calm voice as he mentioned the meeting, and Carlos suspected it would be an unpleasant one. "Would... my Carlos, my dearest Carlos, would you look after her for a few hours? I'll bring home dinner for the three of us after the meeting."

It was as bad as he feared, and he couldn't really refuse. Well, Janice was important to Cecil, which meant she was going to be in Carlos' life too. Looks like it was time to start. "Yes, but I don't know how good of a babysitter I'll be. When and where do I need to pick her up?"

Cecil's glowing smile almost blotted out Carlos' misgivings.



Friday afternoon saw Carlos in front of Night Vale Middle School, trying to spot the girl he'd only seen in pictures. He scanned the crowd of children anxiously, not seeing the face he was looking for until almost all the young citizens of Night Vale had dispersed. That was when he spotted her, lingering anxiously, and felt a sudden rush of sympathy. Of course she's nervous, probably much more nervous than you are. He waved and smiled, a smile he hoped would be friendly and reassuring. She looked just like her photos, although he hadn't expected quite so much pink - her sneakers, polo shirt, and backpack were all almost-matching shades of it. She took a hesitant step toward him.

"Janice?" he said, hoping he sounded welcoming. "We haven't met yet, but I know Cecil told you I'd be picking you up today. I'm Carlos, and I'm glad to meet you." He held out a hand to shake.

She approached him with a determined stride and looked at him a bit warily, but shook the offered hand. "Uncle Cecil talks about you all the time. I'm glad I can find out about you directly." When he didn't seem fazed by that, she smiled.

Well, that was encouraging. "We have a few hours to fill, would you like a snack? We could go to the Pinkberry-"

"No!" Janice said fiercely, then looked a bit embarrassed at the outburst. "I'm sorry, I... I used to go to White Sand every Friday. That was the day they made my favorite flavor and now it's gone and I'm not going to Pinkberry ever."

Shit. The outburst had startled him but it made perfect sense. And there was something he'd been planning to surprise Cecil with that might be an even better treat for Janice. "What flavor do you like? I can make ice cream."

"They used to make durian ice cream on Fridays," she said sadly. "There's a place in town that sells whole durian but Steve doesn't let me eat durian in the house, and I can't buy anything there anyway because I get my allowance in Strex scrip now and they still just take cash."

Carlos wasn't quite sure what durian was - it was a fruit, wasn't it? - but this was a problem he could solve. "I still get paid in cash," he told her gently. "I can buy durian to make ice cream with. Can you show me how to get to the store?"

The store, once they reached it, turned out to be a tiny Asian market. Janice ran straight to the produce section and came back cradling what looked like a spiked wooden football.

"That looks like it would make a good siege weapon," Carlos said, but her wide grin was infectious. "You'll have to show me how to open it."

The durian sat in the car as they strolled through Ralph's to get the rest of the ingredients. At the register, Janice pulled a handful of Strex scrip - clearly her allowance, and said, "Because you bought the durian," firmly, as if expecting an argument.

And it was Carlos' first instinct to argue, but her determined expression was so like Cecil's, and she was right, he had bought the durian. So he smiled, and nodded. "That's fair enough."


"The stuff I need to make ice cream is in the lab, so we'll be going there," Carlos said as they got back into the car. "You don't mind that, do you?"

"I get to see the lab?" Janice was grinning unguardedly now. "That's so cool! Do you have microscopes and Bunsen burners and safety goggles and... and everything?"

"Not everything," Carlos said, unable to hold back a pleased chuckle, "But we have a lot of neat stuff, and I'll show you how some of it works if you like."
  • yay!^^

    Durian may be an acquired taste, but I *do* agree about the lab equipment--whoo!^^
    • Re: yay!^^

      Oh, chapter two will have Carlos' reaction to durian once they cut it open, and I will be writing from experience! I tried and failed to acquire a taste for the stuff.

      And science-loving Janice just had to be. The world needs girly-girl pink-loving science fans.

      Thanks so much for the feedback! *hug*
  • Love it! Looking forward to reading the rest :)
    • Thank you so much! Rebecca from "Comfort Food" will be in chapter 2, and Khoshekh will be putting in an appearance in this fic as well :)
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