"Hey Eve." Sixteen-year-old James Carter walked shyly up to the bar where Eve was working.

"Hi Jimmy. Been to school this week kiddo?" Jimmy was a regular. Although he was under the legal drinking age, and wasn't legally allowed on the premises, Eve knew his story, and had made it clear that as long as he didn't drink, he was welcome.

"Tuesday. I called in sick for the rest of the week. You mind if I grab a spot and catch-up on homework?" He grinned, and despite the bruises marring his cheek, and his face lit up. "Just 'cause I missed school, Eve doesn't mean I'm gonna fall behind. I'm gonna get out of here one day – you'll see!"

"Your usual place is empty Kid. How long can you stay tonight?" He would always be a kid to her, even if he was a full foot taller, and she looked like his twelve year old sister.

"I've got a coupla' hours before he notices I'm not there." There was no need to mention who he was. Or what would happen to James if he missed his curfew.

Eve quashed the desire to grind Jimmy's father into a bloody pulp. At least she knew that Jimmy never felt any pain during the beatings. As his guardian she bore the pain instead of him, though she couldn't remove the bruises, for fear of what his father would do if he found his son healed instantly. "I go for my break in twenty. I think I might have found you a job."


"Yep. It's perfect for you. I'll explain later. Now scoot, those English essays aren't gonna write themselves"

"Yessir!" He saluted sharply, and laughed as she stuck out her tongue.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jimmy checked the piece of paper in his hand. Yep, this was definitely the right address. He knocked.

The door opened, and a colourfully dressed individual with red and pink hair opened the door. "Hey…" He swallowed nervously. "Is this where Eve lives?"

The rainbow man (Jimmy decided that was the most apt description), smiled and stuck out a pale hand. "Yep. Nice to meet you…?"

"Oh." Jimmy found his tongue. "Jimmy – James – Carter".

The rainbow man grinned, showing off a perfectly white teeth. "Vladimir Von Draco Diva Mortis. Call me Vlad. Come on in, I'll show you the rooms she wants done."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A mural, Eve had said. Something to remind her of the heavens in one room, and she was giving him free reign in another. His fingers had begun itching the second he'd walked in and seen the stark, white walls. He couldn't believe he was getting paid to do this. His father didn't approve of 'pointless activities' such as drawing or painting, and it had taken a long time before he trusted Eve enough to confess his love of art.

She hadn't laughed. To this day that still filled him with wonder. Instead of making fun of him she'd nurtured his ambitions, and bought him paints for his birthday. And now she was giving him this. He picked up a brush almost reverently, and began to paint.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Hey Vlad, did you know that there's a kid that looks like he was dipped upside down in a rainbow sitting on the couch?"







"Hey calm down. What's with all the shouting?"

"Full moon tomorrow."



"I found your squeaky toy."

"What?! Where!?"

"In the fruit bowl"

Dane collapsed into a chair and looked up at Vlad "How the hell did it get in there? And when did we get a fruit bowl? Why do we even have a fruit bowl?"

"We need one"

"You don't eat, and I don't eat fruit, hence negating the need for a fruit bowl."

"It makes us look normal. Normal people have a fruit bowl."

"But we're not normal"

"You might not be, but I however, am a well adjusted individual who is perfectly normal."

"Because you've got a fruit bowl."

Vlad flashed sharp white teeth. "Exactly." He turned his attention back to spinning pizza bases in the air.

Dane cleared his throat. "Could you let Eve know that you're minding a friend's dog for the next few days for me?"

"I am? But I don't know anyone with a dog. I don't know anyone with a pet. Except for Janine from work who's got a pet armadillo called Alphonso, but he's invisible, so I don't think that counts."

"I'm the dog stupid."

"Oh. Ooh. You don't need to do that. She already knows."