01. voices.

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(cw: references to drug use and past trauma)

Thursday, June 17th, 1987.

London, England.

3:14 pm.

London wasn't as grey as the films made it out to be.

In fact, Valerie thought quite the opposite. To her, London was bustling with life, opportunity, and, most of all, color. There was vibrance everywhere, just of a different sort than the kind she saw back home.

There were no juniper palms nor yellow swirling bulbs, but there were cherry double-deckers and the orange glow radiating from the Big Ben. What lacked neon signs was accommodated by the illuminance of magnificent skyscrapers.

It was a city unlike one she'd ever been in, unlike one she'd ever known, and so very unlike the one characterizing home.

And that, she supposed, was the most interesting factor about being away. When she referred to 'home', it was no longer West Plains. LA, instead; perhaps one of the more jostling shifts.

West Plains was her home two homes ago and, therefore, no longer mattered in the question of where are you from?

Because she'd gotten a comment or two like that already, regardless of that they'd only been in town for twelve hours, the last nine or so spent sleeping off the jet lag. She didn't know if it was because she tagged along with the boys, or because she and Jill had something about them distinctly California—and, thus, distinctly not-London—but she didn't sweat it too hard.

Rather, Valerie found pleasure in giving affirmations quickly followed by a cheeky what gave it away?

If it wasn't the accent, it was usually sun-soaked freckles and Jill's overall tan, but one man told her it was the teeth too. An odd comment, certainly one entrenched in stereotypes, but also one she hadn't been too far put off by.

She'd been stuck with those horrendous braces throughout middle school; they may as well have paid off.

They'd touched down at Heathrow sometime around two in the morning, whenever the sun had yet to set in California, and despite the sleep she'd rapidly chased, Valerie still felt tired. It was the late afternoon now, she was awake once more, but not entirely by choice. The boys hadn't even had their first set yet; it was too early to be looming around the city at odd hours, and they had months of that to look forward to.

But she figured starting on the most well-adjusted schedule was the best bet. It was the only reason she could explain being awake at three in the afternoon with no strict plans.

Then again, 'awake' was a term heavily dipped in semantics. Really, she drifted in bed.

Across the way, an open window let in a gentle breeze, and the cotton, three-star hotel sheets laying soft over her chest crinkled beneath the slow caress of the gusts, cradling her. The air smelt of wet pavement.

It'd been raining when they got in too; another thing she wasn't used to.

Not anymore, at least.

Briefly, Valerie wondered if this was what her father felt like when he'd fled to upstate Maine. From all of the brochures, it'd always looked like a particularly squishy environment—certainly much greener than anything she'd ever known anywhere, in either of her two homes. But she also supposed he must've adjusted fine, considering she hadn't seen him in ten years. Surely, wherever he was, he couldn't be too uncomfortable.

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