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Vertex - Chapter VIII, Getting Your Priorities Straight

Alpanon Feb 18th, 2015 (edited) 1,703 Never
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  1.                 Chapter VIII, Getting Your Priorities Straight
  3. It had been a very strange week for her. Asking for Craig's help with the math had been a really spur-of-the-moment kind of decision and she hadn't really thought it through. Things worked out in that regard though, he was a nice guy. But then...
  4. Mom had called her, and yak-yak-yak, nag-nag-nag, your sister just got a new job and she makes ever so much money, her family is so idyllic.
  5. Eugh.
  6. Farai had left out for a walk to just clear her head and hope that she might find an outlet. Oh, she had found one alright. Or more like he had found her. And then she made an ass of herself, blurting out the S&M bit like she had.
  7. It had been a stroke of good luck they ran into Raquel. No, that's awful, she couldn't think like that. It was an awful thing. Homeless, alone... that was the worst. No way was that "good luck". It had saved her face though. And that made it even worse.
  8. She had felt like she might be able to help out, and even managed to get Craig and how she'd embarrassed herself before him out of her head. And then she had turned out to be completely useless.
  9. Nothing like Craig. He was dependable. A little distant, but dependable. His heart definitely was in the right place. But... that heart didn't have a place for her, did it? No way. She was just being clingy, sticking to him every morning and going to school with him like some childhood friend. He must've thought badly of her.
  10. And the way she had made an ass of herself again when she brought them sandwiches! What the hell woman?! Of course Raquel needed a warm meal. She had always been so privileged, it didn't even occur to her.
  11. Aaaand then finally came the chance to spend time working on Raquel's house alone with Craig. He would've probably been happier doing it without her. And still she felt a sense of pride and accomplishment, looking at what they had done. THEY? She had no right to say she had done anything. Oh, she'd put some cardboard together with duct tape, did that suddenly make her a great charity worker? Had she actually ever done anything to help those less fortunate than herself? No. Had she ever given money to charity? No. Had she even known someone like Raquel lived so close by to her? No. Could she say she was "helping" her out of the kindness of her heart? No. Just to quell her own guilt. She was the worst. Just the other day, what was the only thing in her head? Doing S&M with someone. While Raquel had been living in a storage locker, SHE had been in her heated apartment, eating sweets and pastries and sticking a vibrator in her cunt while thinking about bondage and tight leather and... EUGH!
  13. It all came to a head when she tried to crack a joke at Craig.
  14. "Well! I guess we're done for today, eh?" she had said.
  15. "I guess so..." he had responded, absentmindedly, looking at his watch. Why had he done that? Well duh, because they'd been at it for much less time than previously!
  16. "Disappointed?" she had asked, feeling already like an idiot, but some small part of her wanted so badly to make Craig smile she'd crack the worst jokes to do it.
  17. "Huh?"
  18. "You know. That our little date wasn't any longer" she uttered, and the butterflies in her stomach exploded.
  19. Why? Why had she said THAT?
  21. Craig just stared at her. His broad shoulders slumped, his face pale... paler than usual? His eyes looked a little feverish too... and why wasn't he saying anything? W-was it that bad? Or... it could be that... could it?
  22. "Hey... you look a little..." she mumbled, pulling off one glove and touching her hand to his forehead. He DID have fever!
  23. "You're hot..." she said. Freudian slip.
  24. "I mean... you've got a fever!"
  25. Craig kept looking at her, dumbstruck.
  26. "Whah?"
  27. Come on girl, you can still save this!
  28. "I- uhh, I thought so! You've been a little off today, after all! You missed my joke just now, too!"
  29. Go on Farai, you fucking bitch. Lie to the guy you like. Lie to him to save yourself from accidentally telling him you have feelings for him. And then go to your warm apartment and soft bed and drink hot cocoa and watch porn while Raquel is shivering in the cold. Cunt.
  30. "I'm fine..." he said, taking her hand in his and lifting it off. Even through his glove, she could feel the warmth of his hand... oh, she needed to put her own back on.
  31. But he wasn't letting go of her hand.
  32. "Hey..."
  33. W-what's happening now? Farai's ears twitched under her earmuffs.
  34. "Did... I mean..."
  35. Ooh, please don't tell me you're getting delirious with the fever!
  36. "Was it... really just, I mean, does it HAVE to be a joke?"
  37. Farai's mind went blank. Surely he wasn't saying what she thought he was saying.
  38. "I mean... maybe the part about, y'know, all this" he gestured with his hand, "but, I mean, not about... you and me?"
  39. He was. He really was.
  40. Farai took hold of his hand with her other one as well, and he returned the gesture. His hands ended up around hers.
  41. "I mean... if that's okay? With you?"
  42. The look on his face was practically a frown. His brow was furrowed, his eyes almost weepy... but that was probably just the fever, or the cold air, or Farai's wishful thinking.
  43. "I..." she muttered, unable to get anything out. She couldn't believe he was being serious. But he had to be! Unless it was just the fever...
  44. "That's... fine... I mean, you don't need to push yourself to, to agree if you don't want to..." he managed, not looking her in the eyes anymore.
  46. "No, ah, that's, I..."
  47. Craig let go of her hands and let his arms fall to his sides limply. Was that a tear running down his cheek? Yes, but it couldn't be for her...
  48. "Craig! I, uhh, I'd love to, to uhh, talk about this, but, you know..." she racked her brain frantically. There had to be something, some excuse she could use!
  50. "Uhh, I mean, with us working on Raquel's house and all... maybe we should, umm, finish it up first and, and then think about, about... us?"
  52. "Oh, uh... okay..."
  53. A smile. There was a smile. An actual smile. On him. And it was beautiful. And she didn't deserve it.
  55. Getting Craig back home took priority. Farai grabbed the toolbox - it was heavy, no way was she letting him carry it - and told him to lead the way. Craig trudged on like a sleepwalker, shoulders all stiff and hands in his pockets. His shoulders were actually pretty broad... she hadn't noticed that before...
  56. How did he end up catching a cold, anyway? It was uncomfortably cold for her, sure, but she couldn't stand cold anyway. She wore wool stockings nine months out of the year.
  57. After telling him to take a warm bath and drink tea and go to bed early, Farai returned home, heart fluttering.
  58. They were going out now. Well, they were going to go out. After helping out Raquel. So next week. They were going out.
  59. Her and him.
  60. And he knew about...
  61. Oh.
  62. And he still wanted to...
  63. Ooh.
  64. That meant that he might want to...
  65. Oooh.
  67. Back home, Farai undressed to her underwear as quickly as she could, threw the thermos onto the first surface she came across and rushed to her stash.
  68. In the desk drawer nearest her bed, she kept a locked box. Opening it up, she found her special lollipops. Orange wrappings, orange candy, orange flavour.
  69. Farai tossed her bra and panties in opposite direction while unwrapping the candy with her teeth. A quick lick to get it moistened up and to get a taste, and then...
  70. "Ahehihe" she giggled, feeling the stickiness of the sugary syrup mixed with her saliva touch her slit. Good thing she shaved yesterday, that stuff matted hair something fierce.
  71. Her left hand was having trouble touching her body everywhere she wanted to be touched, but the lollipop was doing its job.
  72. "Ahehahih, ooh, no way is he going to...!" Farai pinched her nipples to convince herself she hadn't dreamed the whole thing. Yes. That's why she did it.
  73. "Gyahahaha... no way!"  
  74. She couldn't help herself and stuck the lollipop in her mouth. Oranges really are the best.
  75. Barely resisting the temptation to just bite on it, she pulled it out and inserted the well lubricated candy into her other mouth. That stickiness was the dirtiest physical feeling she knew, and it went well together with the dirty state her mind was in.
  76. What exactly did she want to do? For the longest time she'd been thinking she wanted to try doing S&M with someone, and for the past week she had thought that someone might as well be Craig, and now it seemed like he really would be that someone.
  77. "Aaahnhahaha!"
  78. All that time spent agonizing over it, and what had she even planned out? Nothing. She didn't really have that many toys, either. And none of his furniture was designed for that kind of thing. She could call Mom about it, but... nope. Mom would get all up in her business about it. Oh, little miss, you can't date a boy and not have a cage to keep him in! Oh no, you can't possibly let him walk around without a collar on! What do you mean you don't want him to wear a chastity belt? Your father did and when he was dating me!
  79. Eugh.
  80. The orange was accompanied by a salty taste now.
  81. "Tsisihihi"
  82. It was downright naughty to do this, she thought, pinching herself again. She managed to stop herself from biting again and put the candy back inside her other mouth. It was difficult to decide which one wanted it more. This was a predicament.
  83. Predicament... that might be fun. Would Craig like that? A little bondage and shifting from one state of discomfort to another, and maybe a feather to attack him when he was helpless...
  84. "Aahhnn~"
  85. She was getting ahead of herself. She'd have to go buy rope for any kind of bondage and then boil it and everything. She was thinking with her cunt again.
  86. Craig was every bit the newbie she was. No way in hell had he ever done it with anyone. She couldn't just start fulfilling her fantasies like the Dark Elves in all those Space Empress movies. They needed to build a bond that wasn't a physical one. Ehehe. Trust and stuff.
  87. "Ghngh!"
  88. The handle came off in her hand and the candy stayed inside.
  89. "Bugger"
  90. She squeezed as tightly as she could.
  91. "Kyahahahahnhhng~"
  92. She came as she loosened up and let the damn thing plop out.
  93. "Heehee, I gave birth..."
  94. She snatched the thing up and chewed it without hesitation. Her own taste was overwhelmed by the orange, and her taste buds came as well.
  96. Lying on the bed, she noticed she had failed to undress completely. Sure her socks were still on, but that was just normal. It was the earmuffs that she had forgotten.
  97. "Ahahahaha! I can't believe I... AHAHAHAH!"
  98. Farai buried her blushing face in her pillow. She'd just used a lollipop to masturbate while wearing earmuffs. This is the kind of thing that went viral if uploaded on the net.
  99. For a good five minutes she had a hysterical giggling fit, making her cheeks and stomach hurt.
  100. After calming down, she finally took off the damn earmuffs. The relief her ears felt was amazing, and she proceeded to massage them. She hadn't even noticed how suffocated they had been.
  101. Hmm....
  102. Craig had round ears. All humans did. That was such a silly feature. They couldn't even move their ears at all. But they were still sensitive, right? Not just to sounds, but to touch...
  103. "Hmmmmhhhh~" she sighed, grabbing her ears by the tips and yanking them a little as a stretching exercise. How would a human feel if this was done to them... oh!
  104. It hit her like lightning from a clear sky. Of course! She didn't need fancy toys to play with Craig, oh no. She could dominate him juuuuust fiiiineeee without freaking him out with all that stuff. Ooh, next week, next week! Come already!
  105. Oh.
  106. In her frenzy, Farai had forgotten about Raquel. She should really just concentrate on her for now. Just... just help her out, finish the house. Tomorrow. We'll work on it all day tomorrow! And then you've earned yourself that playtime. Yeah. Yeah!
  108.                         ***
  110. It was a quarter past eight on a Saturday morning, and Craig was up, awake and all bundled up. He'd put on more layers than yesterday. He'd been ordered to.
  111. Craig picked up the toolbox and walked slowly to Slender Woods. He still couldn't believe it had been Farai who woke him up. With a text.
  113. "Meet me @ Raquel's, 8:30. Bundle up!"
  115. Wow. This meant she had gone through the trouble of getting his phone number from somewhere. And now HE had hers as well. That was a step ahead in their relationship. Ehehe. Relationship. They had one. She'd been the one to... and then he actually managed to ask... ooh. His stomach had been upset yesterday. Really badly, too. It was a little better in the morning.
  117. It was 8:21 when Craig arrived. There was nobody there. Everything looked to be as they'd left it yesterday.
  118. He dropped the toolbox on the ground, shrugged his shoulders and turned around to walk back home. He couldn't carry the box and the stove at the same time, after all.
  119. Finding the thing had been a little difficult, since it was deep within the confines of the storage room. The chimney, consisting of several separate pieces, was inside the stove. The thing didn't feel all that heavy, but it was difficult to move and Craig found his arms getting rather tired before he even made it to the construction site. By the time he showed up again, it was 8:32 and both Farai and Raquel were there already.
  121. "Hey you!" Farai said, giving an awkward smile and a wave. Raquel nodded.
  122. They had removed the tarp and revealed the floor of the house. Walking lazily around it Raquel checked it and nodded several times with approval.
  123. "It's fine" she said.
  124. Apparently, Farai had gone to pick Raquel up from the storage locker and they had carried more newspapers and cardboard here for materials. Not only that, but the number of support poles had increased as well. When Craig inquired about them, Raquel said she'd asked to borrow his knife for that purpose. There was now a large bundle of them.
  125. "S-so how are we going to do this?" Farai asked. She had brought a whole duffel bag with her, no doubt with their meals for the day.
  126. "Hmm. We'll put up the poles, then attach the beams for the roof. That's gonna take some of these planks, yeah? And... what's that then?"
  127. She noticed the stove for the first time now.
  128. "Oh. Uhh, a stove. For keeping the place warm?" Craig answered.
  129. Raquel stared at him.
  130. "That burns wood"
  131. "Yeah?"
  132. "In a house made out of cardboard?"
  133. Damn. Come to think of it, that was a pretty stupid idea, wasn't it?"
  134. "I could make a ward to keep sparks from flying" Farai said suddenly.
  135. "A ward?" Craig asked, confused.
  136. "Yeah. A little magic spell, you know? I learned it in girl scouts"
  137. Magic. Craig didn't know any. He hadn't bothered learning any since it took so long to master anything if you didn't have the good fortune of being born a sorcerer. But Farai was an Elf. Elves had it easier.
  138. "Guess that settles that?" Craig asked the tiger, who nodded again. She wasn't the loquacious sort.
  140. The first thing they did was grab the support poles and stuck their sharpened ends into the ground the same way the previous ones had been, so that there were six of them, one for every corner and
  141. one between each in the corner on three sides, leaving seven of them in the ground. The ground wasn't entirely frozen yet, but it took a forceful stab and a lot of wiggling to get them properly planted in. They were also stabbed through the trashbag-coating on the ground, so as to leave a hem of it for the oncoming walls.
  142. "The entrance is kind of tricky" Raquel said once this was done, standing before the one side of the house that didn't have a support pole between the corners.
  143. "I have no real idea on what to do with it. Hmm"
  144. She shook her head.
  145. "Whatever. You make some of those bits we talked about before, you know, for the tops of the poles, so we can attach the beams for the roof?"
  146. Craig did remember. He grabbed a saw and began to cut up small pieces from the excess planks they had, while Raquel and Farai used the diminishing supply of duct tape to turn more of the cardboard into larger elements.
  147. The frame they made out of those poles ended up making the whole thing resemble a house already. Craig was too short to nail the pieces he made to the poles that had been struck to the ground - in retrospect, it probably would have been better to do that afterwards - and he certainly wasn't tall enough to attach the beams that ran from the four corner and three middle pieces to the middle of the house to come together. The beams ran upwards to give the house a pointy roof, so water and snow would slide down instead of piling up on it.
  148. At first, the individual poles weren't were stable, but by the time they were all connected at the top and nailed together, they supported one another.
  149. Finding this still to be unsatisfactory, Raquel decided to make more poles, to connect the vertical ones horizontally at the middle, so they would be better supported.
  150. While she looked for more appropriate trees, Craig and Farai fought with the chimney, trying to make the bent and battered pieces fit together. The chimney ended up rising above the height of the highest point of the roof with all the pieces in place.
  151. Craig attached the horizontal support poles while Raquel and Farai kept working on the wall elements.
  153. At 9:30 the frame was finished and they had their first break, drinking tea and eating pea soup Farai had prepared and put in a big thermos. This was what they called a "brunch" Craig supposed.
  154. "It's kind of amazing" Farai said, shifting her position on the familiar quilt.
  155. "We spent so much time during the week on making the floor and such, and it felt like we weren't getting anywhere, and now, in such a short time, we've made... this!"
  156. With the frame built, the house did bear a much greater resemblance to an actual house.
  157. "That won't matter if we can't make it waterproof by tomorrow" Raquel pointed out, staring at the top of the chimney with her mismatched eyes.
  158. "Like that" she said, pointing at it. "Any water or snow will fall right in on the fire"
  159. That was true. They'd need to figure out something for that, too.
  160. "Hmm" Raquel hummed, then picked out a can of Pepsi from her pocket. It was empty.
  161. She showed her index finger's claw into the hole, then twisted off the top lid of the can. Then she squeezed it a little to alter the can's shape, and tore more holes into it. With that, she went to the chimney, removed the top and showed the can into it. The former bottom of the can was still intact, and wider than the part she had contracted, so now the aluminium can covered the chimney from rain and snow without keeping the smoke in, thanks to the holes in the sides. Raquel returned the chimney in its place.
  162. "Let's get back to work, 'kay?" she said, and there was a hint of a smile on her face.
  164. The process of putting together the walls and the roof was surprisingly intimidating now that it was right before them.
  165. "So what I'm thinking is we put up a layer on both sides of the poles, you know? And put the newspapers between them, as insulation, yeah? And then the trashbag coating, of course"
  166. This must've been the longest sentence she'd ever said.
  167. Around then, the clouds dissipated and the Sun managed to shine its rays upon them. Raquel squinted her eyes and produced a pair of sunglasses from her pocket. She was wearing shades because of this? Really?
  168. Raquel noticed the other two were looking at her funny.
  169. "By other eye is kinda sensitive to light. Cats with blue eyes have some condition or something. I dunno" she said, shrugging.
  170. She was being really open now, for some reason.
  172. They started with the inside walls. The first wall had been fully put together, and it fit surprisingly well in the space allocated to it. Raquel has a knack for this kind of thing. They nailed the wall into place and taped the bottom to the floor to prevent drafts.
  173. Three walls went into place without a hitch.
  174. "So..." Craig asked, looking at the missing part, the entrance.
  175. "We'll figure it out. Let's do the roof now" Raquel said.
  176. "We're going to need a ladder" Farai said.
  177. "Hmm?"
  178. "Well look. Even if you're really tall, you won't be able to reach the roof to work on it"
  179. "Hmm..."
  180. "I'll go get a ladder" Craig said, and rushed off without waiting for a reply.
  182. It had been a weird day so far. Not that they'd been doing weird stuff, just that... Raquel was acting less restrained, somehow, while Farai was being so reserved... not like he'd been trying to, to get anything out of her, just that... he'd expected something to be different. After yesterday. Well, maybe not. They'd agreed to... after. After the house was finished. Craig wanted to finish the house. He wanted to finish it as quickly as possible. That was awfully selfish, wasn't it? Of course he should have wanted to finish the house as soon as possible. But not so he could go on a date with Farai. It was Raquel's place. She's the one who needed it. She's the one he was supposed to be doing it for.
  183. And yet, his enthusiasm came from just the wrong place. Did it really matter, though? He was doing a lot to help someone, who cares WHY he did it?
  184. Craig chuckled to himself. Hadn't Farai had similar concerns before? They really were on the same wavelength.
  186. When Craig got back with the stepladder, the girls were gone. Huh.
  187. With nothing else to do, he walked around the house, poking and prodding at the walls to see how sturdy they were. It was surprising, really, how well the whole thing was holding. No storm wind would topple it. But how much weight could it handle? Sure the snow would slide off for a time, but it would build up. Of course Raquel could easily clean it. It would be fine. Except for that entrance. What were they supposed to do about it?
  188. He understood the problem just fine. The walls and corners and all their seams would need to be made water- and airtight, to keep the elements out and to prevent drafts. But that would mean there'd be no ventilation. There would have to be a way to go in and out, of course, for both the inhabitant and the air, without letting the heat escape.
  189. He sighed. It could wait for now. But it would have to be solved. No way was he going to just walk away and let Raquel fend for herself with this thing. But what would they do? How would this be made to work?
  191. "Yo-hoo!" Farai cried out. The girls returned, carrying more of the familiar building materials.
  192. "This is the last of it" Raquel said to Craig, as if he had asked something.
  193. "So if this ain't enough..."
  194. Craig understood that.
  195. "Ooh, a stepladder? There's only three steps on it though..." Farai said, noticing the needed tool.
  196. "Four. The one at the top can be stood on too, you know?"
  197. "Ah, well, I guess, but, well..." she glanced at Raquel's feet, "...all of us can't"
  198. There was an awkward silence during which the tiger lit a cigarette.
  199. "Nevermind that. We need to make triangles out of these"
  201. The roof, indeed, needed the cardboard to be put together into the shape of triangles, due to the shape. Six of them, in total, and they were nailed to the bottom of the roof frame. A hole was cut into them to make space for the chimney to go through.
  202. "It occurs to me" Craig pointed out, "that if it's cardboard and newspapers there, aren't they going to, you know, heat up and maybe catch fire? I don't mean from sparks, I mean when the hot smoke goes up, the metal is like, conductive, so it gets hot too..."
  203. Farai gasped. Clearly, it had not occurred to her at all.
  204. "Hmm. Is there, I dunno, a ward for that kind of thing?" Raquel asked from the Elf.
  205. "Well... I guess? I can't think of one off the top of my head, but... I think so, yes"
  206. "Then that's good enough for me"
  207. The three of them then all split up, each to one of the walls with all the newspapers they could carry. They tried to put the insulation layer in place, but it turned out the newspapers wouldn't stay in place on their own. Duh.
  208. The three then worked together on one wall at a time, two holding the papers in place while the third added them in. The layer they made was as thick as the support poles were. The wall was then shoved in to hold the papers in place and nailed in. The last part of this process was using the duct tape to close the gap between the bottom of the wall and the trashbag tarp's hem, which was just the right length. Raquel had planned this out well.
  209. The amount of newspapers required had been much larger than Craig had expected, though. It looked like they might have to go look for more at some point. Maybe. And did they have enough cardboard for the outer layers?
  210. The next two walls were filled in just fine, even if they had to take some time to finish putting together the walls themselves. They used the tape to shut the gaps in the corners, both inside and out. Then came the time for the layer of newspapers for the roof, which required the stepladder.
  211. "Umm, Craigie, sweetheart, could you...?" Farai asked.
  212. "Huh?" He felt his heart skip a beat. Did she just call him sweetie?
  213. "I'm not good with heights, okay?" she snapped.
  214. "Okay..."
  215. The ladder didn't go very high, but he wasn't going to argue.
  216. The layer used for the roof was much thinner than for the walls, and since Craig was already up there, the girls handed him the upper layers of the roof to put into place. Though he had to move the ladder a couple of times to reach everywhere.
  217. With that done, it was an actual house. It wouldn't survive rain, and there was a wall missing, but damn it if didn't look like a house from three angles.
  218. "Right... what are we going to do about the entrance?" Craig asked.
  220. Everyone went quiet after that.
  221. "Let's eat!" Farai broke the silence. It was a little after eleven o'clock. They finished the pea soup while sitting on the quilt, admiring their accomplishments. Craig knew he should've been racking his brain for ideas, but he didn't.
  222. Raquel lit up another cigarette after finishing her share. She smoked a lot. Considering the size of her body, it probably wasn't as troublesome as it would've been for a person, but it still couldn't have been healthy.
  223. "I've got it" she said.
  224. "Huh?" Farai seemed confused. The thought "dumb blonde" came into the forefront of Craig's mind, but he resisted the urge to call her that.
  225. "The entrance. We'll make, like, a lobby? No, not a lobby, I mean, a, a... oooh, it starts with a v, I know this one..."
  226. "A vestibule?" Farai offered.
  227. "YES! Thank you!"
  228. Maybe she wasn't a dumb blonde then.
  229. "So how are we going to make a vestibule?" Craig asked, ever the pragmatist.
  230. "Hmm. We're gonna, hmm. Yeah. I've got it. Let's put on the raincoat for what's there first"
  231. And so they did.
  232. The raincoat, as Raquel had called it, consisted of five pieces, one for each wall and one for the roof. The pieces were all bigger than the parts they were meant to cover, that is, when the first was nailed to the wall with the bottom reaching the ground, it reached a good ten centimetres to the roof. The piece meant for the roof reached down even further. They had to cut a hole for the chimney again, but Farai assured them that the ward she intended to make would keep water out just as well as it would keep the heat from setting the place on fire.
  233. All the spots where nails had been driven into were covered with tape, and so were all the seams, until the coat was water and air proof, excluding the spot with the chimney and, naturally, the missing wall.
  234. "It'll be easier to just get all my stuff moved in here now. So let's do that" Raquel said.
  235. And so they did.
  236. The storage locker was stock full of... stuff. And junk. Craig and Farai were downright overwhelmed by it when they grabbed some boxes and containers, filled to the brim with miscellanea and... ehh, there was no reason to go through them. Needless to say, carrying all of it inside the house and stacking it so it wasn't all over the place - which it still ended up being - took them a good hour.
  237. In the end, the insides of the house had very little room left to move around in. Craig pointed this out to Raquel.
  238. "It's fine. Less empty space to warm up" she said, dismissing it.
  239. "So about that vestibule..."
  240. "Hmm. Fine, fine. I'll go get some more poles, hang on..."
  242. She left for the woods with a spring in her step. Raquel seemed to be getting in a better and better mood now.
  243. "This is kinda unreal, don't you think?" Farai asked him.
  244. "Whaddya mean?"
  245. "I mean, look at it! A person can actually live in that! And WE made it!" she spoke with enthusiasm, her face radiating an aura of excitement.
  246. "Well, like my grandpa said, it's a man's lot to build a house" Craig said, with a shrug, acting cool as a contrast to Farai's excitement.
  247. "Oh, so you did all on your own, did you, Mr. Wilderness-survival-expert?"
  248. Farai was getting back to her usual self, it seemed.
  249. "It's just a figure of speech, but considering that I'm the only one here representing a species known for building houses..."
  250. "What is that supposed to mean?"
  251. "Well, you know. Jinkos live in the jungle, Elves frolic in the woods. Humans build cities because WE invented agriculture"
  252. "Oh! OOOH! You damn racist! I'll have you know that while humans were still running away from lion  MY people constructed feats of masonry the likes of which even the Pharaoh's and their Anubi never rivaled!"
  253. "And yet your people never invented gunpowder"
  254. "Neither did yours!"
  255. "True... but at least we saw how useful it was, and that's why we took over a third of the world!"
  256. "You two need to get a room"
  257. Farai let out a little yelp. Raquel had come back a lot faster than they had expected.
  258. "What we're gonna do now" she began to explain without waiting for a reply, "is that we'll put up two poles here..."
  259. She stuck two poles into the ground.
  260. "And another two here"
  261. She stuck two more in. These two were only two thirds of the length of the previous ones.
  262. "We'll finish the wall around and above these, then attach the actual tarp over the entryway, and I'll put up a sheet or something on the inside of it. Then the vestibule will be a space through which air will go, but it'll get warmed up as it does, so it'll be fine. Yeah?"
  263. That explanation made sense to Craig. Farai didn't quite get it, but that didn't matter, she was all over it anyway.
  265. The first thing to do was building a new sort of frame for the entrance, attaching beams to the tops of the new poles to connect them to each other, and then to the middle of the roof, as with the rest. This done, they began to put together the first layer of the wall. It turned out they didn't have nearly enough newspapers to make proper insulation for the entryway, so they made that much thinner and concentrated mostly on the wall itself. The vestibule's floor was given a simple layer of the trashbags and cardboard, and nothing else. It wouldn't need all that much insulation anyway since Raquel didn't intend to actually sleep there.
  266. Attaching the actual tarp was the hardest part, since they had trouble driving the nails through it, but once it was put in place, it covered the vestibule entirely. For all intents and purposes, the house was now finished.
  267. The trio stared at it now, not knowing what to say.
  268. Farai broke the silence first.
  269. "I'll go get the stuff for making the wards, and then we'll eat some cakes!"
  270. With that, she rushed off.
  271. Craig suddenly had an idea himself.
  272. "I'll uhh, go get, get a housewarming present. And, uhh..." he picked up his toolbox. "You keep the knife and the saw. You'll, uhh, need it. For firewood"
  273. "Thanks"
  274. Craig nodded and returned the toolbox home, then snuck inside to his room without taking his shoes off. There was something in one of his closets that he felt would put in the finishing touch for that house.
  275. He found what he'd been looking for and grinned. Oh this was perfect.
  277. Farai had gotten back first, as she lived closer.
  278. "This is going around the chimney" she said, holding up a strip of paper with writing all over it. "It's got glue here, so it'll stick together. The radius of effect isn't very big, but it's practically eternal if you don't damage it. And then this..."
  279. She held up an origami bird with writing all over it.
  280. "This is the one for the sparks. It has an effective radius of six meters, so it'll be plenty enough. Just hang it off from somewhere"
  281. "Uh-huh. Thanks Farai"
  282. "What the heck is that?"
  283. Farai was staring at the object Craig was carrying. When Raquel turned her head to see it, she even took off her shades in disbelief.
  284. "What, this? This is my old childhood companion" Craig said, holding up a plushie the size of a child.
  285. "Raquel, meet Tigger from Winnie the Pooh"
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