Step Six: Uhh ...

Red Rock 

 It was really only over the course of the past week or so that she started to realize that, ultimately, she was sort of like a mom who was throwing an elaborate party with zero understanding of what the kids had chosen as a theme. She wouldn't mention this comparison to any of the others, because out loud it sounded more than just a little condescending at face value. But really, gun to her head, if someone had said: Alex, fix this motor by listening to the clunk clunk sound it's making. She'd have to hope she could spring back from a bullet to the head, probably.

 And there were some things that she could do without needing the professionals involved there to correct any glaring errors. She knew they needed a shop the size (if not bigger) than Shift Happens. She knew they needed cement and not some nice tile flooring. She knew they needed fucking bathrooms, all the little fine details that would make the business functional.

 But when it came to like ... ordering car stuff? Sure, they had most of it on hand - a simple transfer of location. But giving Kai a nice box and then failing to put even a little present inside felt ... unappreciative. So she'd asked the mechanic to meet her at the skeleton of a shop that late afternoon. And no they didn't have a lot (or basically anything, really), but she had impulsively purchased a fifty-cent toy vending machine and had it sealed in place just to the side of the entrance, so ... they had bouncy balls. One of which she was slamming down as hard as she could against the cement, watching it rocket to the ceiling and back as she sat on the hard floor and listening to the sound of tires rolling up outside.

outfit except fuck malibu the shirt probably says Vegas

 More and more, Kai had been building up a fresh batch of commitment issues, growing calcified layers of insecurity and an ever-present, ever-stifled fear of the future. This was more than she'd had to lose in years. Join another band? Sure, whatever. Give up her shop? Er.

 That being said, it was, of course, something she had yet to say to Alex, because she was willing to bet money it was going to start a fire. It burdened her with a sense of guilt, which was an alien feeling to begin with, adding on to the feeling of... what, obligation? Yeah. Alex was graduating from something of a tumor, into her fucking Queen, and if nothing else, she deserved the truth.

 She put the car in park and gave herself one last look in the rear-view mirror, and very mindfully relaxed every muscle in her face to leave her with her usual pleasant (read: not) expression. Let's get this fucking bread, or whatever the kids said these days. The obnoxious grumble of the engine died off as she jerked the key out, rolling to stand and shutting the door behind her with a clap that betrayed its heavy metal makeup.

 The pinging reached her just after the scent of the woman, and her eyes would find the sharp motion of the little ball as she stepped inside. Her gaze fell to the machine, then, and she chuckled mirthlessly. "Fancy."

 She spun around on her ass, using her heels to move and probably dusting the back of her pants white in the process. Kai was .. Kai - just as infused with sunshine as she always was. Still, her beast went to great the other with a nudge, she kept herself rooted and shot the ball bouncing toward Kai to see if she'd even try to catch it.

 "I figured, I always wanted one of those shits in my house but there's zero point to that so - next best bet." She had brought her laptop, prepared to hotspot her phone so she could bookmark shit that was probably absurdly expensive. "You alright?"

 Her beast was as opposed to her as always, eager to greet Alex's in that funky brainspace with a wagging tail and stupid lolling tongue. Kai snatched the ball out of the air and looked down at it, smoothing her finger across the grit that had been punched into its rubbery surface. Having one of those machines in the house would definitely be stupid. At the welfare check, Kai looked up, poker face at the ready, her stupid fucking conscious bearing down on her.

 "I'm not getting rid of Shift Happens," she blurted. She'd never been great at working angles, and she was acutely aware of this now. "So, uh." She launched the ball against a far wall and held her hand out to catch its return. "Guess I'm gonna help you buy brand new shit." And if that wasn't a good compromise, she'd sniff her own ass.

 Things that she wanted to do but wouldn't: Yell. Instead, she wished like all hell she had her ball back, didn't ask for it all the same as she glanced to the far wall and imagined throttling the damn thing. This was fine, they were fucking fine - don't panic, dog leader, dog leader did not panic in the face of giant catastrophic potholes in the road to success.

 "Can you clarify what you mean by that? I just want to make sure we're all, you know, on the same page. You're ... not going to hang out here, or? Because I thought you were just moving up here - I didn't think ...?"

 Yikes. Even that little bit of silence was kind of fucking intimidating. Kai launched the ball again, snatched it up as Alex spoke, and it was no smooth sailing, for all it was not exactly venomous. She took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and began to speak, but not without picking up a rhythm of throwing and catching the ball, watching it rather than Alex.

 "Nah, I'm here, I just." Bounce. "The idea of not having my own space." Bounce. "My own shit. Kinda." Bounce. "Freaks me the fuck out." Bounce. "I don't wanna give it up."

 Okay ... okay, she could work with this. She watched the ball bounce, wished that Kai would just fucking chuck it back but didn't say as much as she settled with just kind of keeping her hands in her lap. "I think I'm confused." Which felt stupid to even admit, but ... here they were. "I thought, hear me out here and this isn't me trying to convince you of anything. I thought you were going to take over at least partial ownership in this bitch?" There was still Hendrix at least, fall back professional - she just had to hope a car part didn't fall on his toe and send him into a full-on coyote frenzy.

 There was some mental exhaustion that came in the wake of spilling a pot of beans that had been so near boiling over to begin with. Kai sighed, a bit dramatically, for Alex's words, catching the ball one last time and just holding it in her hand at her side. "I mean, yeah, that's the plan for me if it's the plan for you," she said with a shrug. "Nothing different, I just... will be an entrepreneur and a half." She looked at the other woman now, steadily, not anticipating the worst so much anymore, but feeling far from home base.

 "Look, I see how you're looking at me and I'm not about to suplex you so if you could just chill out - I'd appreciate that immensely." A little short but not outright angry, at least she didn't feel that way. "You just showed up and blew chunks on the carpet so you'll have to deal with me having a couple of questions, okay?" More rhetorical than anything else. "In this split endeavor of yours, where are you physically working?"

 Effectively called out, Kai worked to smooth her facial expression into that stony delight once more, but also fell back into throwing the ball and catching it as Alex spoke. "Wherever your majesty prefers," she responded, and now it was not without a sly sort of grin. "Got some dudes who've put up with me long enough over there they could probably be managers."

 The answer made her relax a bit, nodded as she held up her hand and wiggled her fingers to try to convince Kai to throw the ball back her way. "Okay ... we'll make it work. But damn right you're helping to pay for all this bullshit, I tried googling like - a baseline list and ..." She grimaced but left it ultimately at that.

"I just ... I understand wanting a safety net, but ... don't isolate yourself because shit is frightening, alright? Because that would suck."

 Kai sort of wanted to pelt Alex with the little rubber ball, but tossed it to her in a gentle underhand swing instead. It left her with nothing to do with her hands, so she shoved them into the pockets of her sweatpants instead, looking around the still largely-empty space. She laughed a little, picturing Alex doing her half-assed research on what to fill a mechanics garage with, and shook her head.

 "I won't," she countered quickly, then huffed a sigh. Alex was being good, and nice, like - seeming to want her company. Which was still a weird fucking thing to get used to, given how frequently her brain looped back over the muck that stretched behind them. "But I'll get a list of shit together for this place... I can do that right now, actually. Got a computer in this dump yet?"

 "First of all, this is a very nice box so please show some respect for your future home. Second of all," She got up, dusted off her ass and grabbed her laptop from her bag. "I can hotspot my phone, just ... help me. I could get Hen to do it but, push come to shove I can only listen to one of you about this ... I'm picking you."

 Kai was happy to fall into something a little easier than laying her own proverbial organs on the table in front of this woman she had turned for spite. She scoffed, but grinned all the same, looking around their revered box yet again, as if she might now find some holy shimmer to it. Alex pulled her computer out, and Kai readied to commandeer it, shaking her head. "Let Meemaw take care of it," she muttered, very specifically using the name Hendrix had so lovingly bestowed on her.

 The name stuck out so much that for a second her brows lifted, stunned into quiet like a deer staring down a set of high beams. At last, she moved to settle off to Kai's side, smirked and watched the screen. "Please don't fucking tell me Hendrix called you that ..." A shot in the day but one she felt comfortable enough to take just the same. "Hey, let me clear my browser history first ..."

 "Mmmhm." Delivered with a pinch of salt. Hendrix certainly had. She swatted at the other woman's hand with a grin while also pulling up the browser. "Don't worry, we're probably not into the same porn." The mechanic had no real interest in Alex's browsing history anyway - she'd go straight for the website that she knew best for this kind of thing, and would lead the charge in spending a fuckton of money on everything needed to fire this sacred box up.

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