Characters: Gert and Molly
Notes: For June fic-a-day. Set in the gap between the first and second series.
Requested by w175n57 here (previously filled)
Thrift stores had become a way of life for them in the months since they'd run away from home, the only places where they had a chance to find things they needed that were cheap enough for them to buy with the small amount of money they had between them instead of having to risk taking a five-finger discount. They didn't go that often, only when they really needed something, so when they did they always spent some time hanging around checking out all the weird and wonky things people got rid of there.
They weren't supposed to leave Molly on her own, at least they told each other that they weren't supposed to although none of them really worried if she wandered off somewhere in the store while whoever was with her wasn't watching, but when Gert messing around with something on one of the tables Chase, whose turn it was to walk around with her, was no where to be seen. Since they were all supposed to be meeting up at the checkout counter soon she figured that she'd better join her. At least she wasn't hanging around the stuffed animals.
As Gert got closer she could hear tinkling strains of music coming out of the object in Molly's hands and realized just what it was. "Okay, who makes a The Who music box?" she said over her shoulder, making Molly jump.
"I dunno," Molly said, looking strangely guilty, "but I kinda want it. Even if it's weird."
"Why would you ever want something like that?" Gert asked, but she pulled it out of Molly's hand and turned it over to find the price tag. Molly hardly ever wanted anything, aside from cereal and the occasional newspaper or magazine featuring a story about one of her favorite heroes, at least that she would admit. She was a good kid, one who tried not to be a burden on them.
"I don't think you wanna know," Molly said, looking even more guilty. Gert had to wonder just why a twelve-year-old would get so twitchy over a music box, unless she'd suddenly forgotten Wolverine and developed a crush of Pete Townshend, but she wouldn't push her about it. Adults were the ones who always tried to force their kids to tell them anything they were being secretive about. They wouldn't do that to each other.
"Okay, five bucks," was all she said, and put the music box in the basket she was carrying along with the raincoat which was her actual purpose there. "I know we skipped your birthday this year, so I think we can stretch the budget enough to cover it."
"Thanks, Gert!" Molly said, beaming at her, and practically skipped down the aisle as they walked away from the table. Then she glanced down at the music box in the basket again and stumbled to a halt. "Um... it's 'cause of Alex. 'Cause he liked them," she admitted quietly. "I told you you wouldn't wanna know, but if you're gonna get it for me it probably wouldn't be right not to tell you that when maybe it would make you wanna save your money, huh?"
Gert looked at Molly, who was carefully looking away from her, then rubbed her forehead. This was the type of thing Karolina was good for, not her, but she was off looking at shoes or giving Nico opinions on outfits she was trying on as an excuse to moon over her, or something like that. "Listen, Mol, it's... understandable that you'd miss him sometimes. All of them even. It's not like you can just forget about being friends with him for eleven years after one night of finding out he was a complete whack-job."
"It's not like I don't know that, y'know." Molly told her. "I totally know that he was a total jerk really. But then sometimes I think about how he'd play games with me sometimes like he didn't think I was just a little kid, or how he was the only person I could talk to about superheroes an' feel like he really got it even if it turned out that he was completely opposite from a real hero. An', I dunno... I wanted something so I could remember about that Alex instead of the bad one."
"Really, you don't need to explain it, Mol. I'm not going to put it back."
"Thanks, Gert," Molly said again, though her smile was a little less wide this time. "Don't tell any of the others, okay? Well, maybe Karolina, but I know it'd just make Nico sad an' Chase mad."
"Don't worry about it, kid. Your secret's safe with me."