From the author: How does Dan react to Myrtle's trouble at school? Will she ever be able to fight her evil ex boyfriend? How's the once-a-week format?
“We’ll see,” Ms. Stacey said. She left Myrtle alone for a few minutes, then came back and held the door open.
Dan was waiting in the outer office with the vice principal. Dan's face was unreadable. Myrtle wished harder than she ever had that vampires and werewolves could talk telepathically.
"We've cleared everything up," the vice principal said, "And there will be no further punishment at this time, but your daughter has to make up the classwork she missed while in counselling."
He looked at her while talking to Dan, like a salesman explaining the features on an appliance. With the same forced cheer and tension, like Dan might interrupt and object that her price was too high. Please, continue to be a patron of our public school, potentially angry parent, we are doing what we can to turn your troubled child into a good one.
Myrtle was sure when she was a kid they were more direct and shouty about these things. Of course, that had been years ago, and no one got called to the principal's office for an email back then!
Dan shook the principal's hand and they were free: Dan to get the car, Myrtle to the side entrance to wait for him. Her stomach clenched, almost as if he really were her father. She didn’t want to fight, damn it.
He still looked stony pulling up.
What a piece of theatre that had been, she wanted to say, but Dan didn't look in the mood.
She saw the dash clock as she got into the car. "Shit! I'm late for my first shift."
"It's Burger King, they understand."
She was glad the silence was broken. And Dan sounded normal. "You did good in there. Even I believed you were my dad."
He gasped, exaggeratedly. "You are so grounded. What were you thinking?"
"I was thinking that the American education system had a modicum of decency in respecting the privacy of students!"
"You're not a student to them; you're a potential gunman. A minor they are responsible for."
That was stupid, but Myrtle said, "I didn't think of it that way."
"You didn't think,” Dan snapped.
It wasn't far to Burger King, exactly long enough for a very uncomfortable silence. Not long enough to get over it.
Myrtle twisted her hands. "Are you feeling better today?"
"You know how I'm feeling. Full moon tomorrow. My teeth itch."
There was the friendly BK logo. "Do you want me to bring you home a burger?"
"I can't stomach fast food when I'm wolfy. I'm not a damn were-racoon."
"I didn't know, okay? I'm trying to figure this out on my own, like you said I should."
He sighed. "Look… I… we'll talk about this better on Monday, right?" They were pulling into the parking lot. "I'll pick you up at eight." He pulled close to the overhang by the door. She unbuckled and started to get out. Dan, staring straight forward, said, "I think we should chain me up tonight, just in case it's early."
"Okay. See you at eight. I'll call if…"
Dan pulled her door shut and drove off. Patience was another thing he lacked when the moon was near full.
The Burger King manager was, in fact, unmoved by a teen being late to her first shift. Myrtle offered to work an hour later to make up for it, and for spending her first hour learning how to use the register and stock paper products.
When she called Dan to tell him she was staying late, she offered to take the bus home instead of having him pick her up. He sounded relieved. However, taking bus took longer than Myrtle could have imagined. She had to wait twenty minutes for the first bus, then it creeped along, stopping every block, and she had to wait to transfer to another bus to get her within a mile of their apartment.
She spent most of the ride home wondering how Raiden commuted. Surely, he didn't have a driver's license. The licensing places all were open only during the day. There were always fake licenses, but Myrtle was terrified of being pulled over, of being arrested, of jail cells with windows.
The lunch table kids claimed he had a motorcycle, but no way was he using that during daylight hours. Cars were much safer for the light-avoiding. You could wrap yourself in head-to-toe leather or something, but who would want to trust that? Tears happen! No, he had to use a car. She didn't imagine Raiden had a friend to drive him. Raiden sucked at being a friend. Oh, sorry, he called it "being a lone wolf."
"I'm never happy," he'd told her, in her arms, the lying jerk. "I'm only ever less unhappy."
She wondered if his lines had gotten any better. He probably cribbed them off romance novels.
It wasn't fair that such a melodramatic sap had an easier time getting to and from school than she did.
Dan was still up when she got home, sitting on the living room sofa. He stood when she entered. He had the box in his hands. The chain box. Right.
"It's really hitting you hard this time."
"I'm sorry," he said. "I… I had to stop taking my meds this month. I think I'm coming down hard off them."
"Dan! You shouldn't do that!"
"Well, tell me how we're going to afford it and I won't."
He looked so tired. Myrtle felt so tired. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him.
"I gotta find a better job," he said. "Ahmed's killing me."
"You could try telling him you're a werewolf."
"There's no condition like porphyria for werewolves. I tell people I gotta take a few days off every month for medical reasons, they assume it's goddamn menstrual cramps and tell me to grow a pair." Dan rolled his eyes.
Myrtle took the box. "I'll get paid starting next week."
"Lucky next-month us."
As carefully as she could, Myrtle chained Dan to the extra-durable iron bedframe he slept in and kissed his forehead goodnight.
Myrtle lay awake. She could never get used to sleeping at night, and Dan was moaning and thrashing on the other side of the thin wall. Maybe he would transform early this month. Or else it was the medication. What kind of idiot plays around with their medication!
Myrtle chastised herself as soon as she formed the thought: the kind of idiot who can't make rent and the pharmacy bill in the same month. The kind of idiot all of us were, from time to time. These were the impossible choices you had to make as an adult.
Myrtle sat up. She turned on her bedside light. On her bookshelf next to the bed were a dozen novels about high school, gathered for "research." There was the one where the girl and boy don't get together because they never tell each other how they feel, and the one where the best friends end up enemies because they keep secrets. The one where the town is eaten by aliens because the kids never tell any adults what's going on.
Dan made a piteous whine. Myrtle got up and stood at the door. Dan hated it when she came in to check on him in the night. It was humiliating, he said, bondage was never his kink. But he sounded heartbreakingly miserable.
There was a squeal of metal, a sharp clang, and a fwump. Dan had rolled over. He was quieter then. Myrtle went back to bed, more ready to sleep, now.
She had her answer. She would be the adult in the room: she would talk to Raiden directly. They could work something out. Even a serial killer rapist jerk should be willing to give up serial killing and raping for the school year, in the name of peaceful co-existence. Right? And if she were a good friend to Raiden, just maybe, she'd show him the light. Or at the very least he'd be weened off jailbait blood for nine months.