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The archeologists daughter

Chapter Text

Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp did some things her senior year of high school she never dreamed of doing
1. Run away to New York City
2. Tattoo a unicorn on a pop star
3. Fall in love with a Scottish graffiti artist

I was always homeschooled, sheltered from the outside world in my own little bubble in England.
That all changed when my parents died before my freshman year of high school. My uncle lamb became my guardian but he is an archeologist and travels the world and didn’t want that life for his favorite (only) niece. He promised to care for me and do what was best for me, which apparently included sending me to boarding school in Massachusetts since that’s what my father had planned.

So here I am at Treadwell Academy for spoiled poor little rich and famous girls. So maybe my dad was a well known preacher with his own tv Channel and podcast and maybe my uncle was technically famous in the academic world… I still felt like I didn’t belong.
It all started freshman year when everyone was obsessed with my accent. And I was cool and had my fifteen minutes of fame, until i didn’t party or drink and would rather grieve my parents then sneak off to smoke.

And so for the past four years, they called me Jesus freak. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t even sure I believed in God since my parents died in a car accident. It didn’t matter that my best friend Geillis was actually rumored to be a real sell your soul to the devil kind of witch. I was a freak, an outsider.

A month in and Senior year was off to a rough start. Of course I can't decide if i want to be an artist or a doctor so im in AP Art and AP Biology and the new course load is kicking my butt. My roommate and one of my only friends, Geillis, is acting weird. She is always really rude and snappy and just… off. This is supposed to be our year. We spent the past three years in this hellhole as underclassmen and we finally have a cool cottage apartment right off campus and finally have some cred. (Not that I care what these people think of me).

I come home from a rough bio lab involving some gross flies that have to reproduce to study their genetics, to find Geillis packing up all of her stuff.

“Going somewhere? Can I come?” I jokingly ask.
She stops rummaging through her drawers and looks at me.
“You’ll find out soon enough.”

She tried to move past me to the door but I stopped her because I am so confused.
“G talk to me, What the hell is going on?” I cringed internally. I didn’t like to curse or say words like that even if I am unsure in my faith but the situation called for it. She stopped dead in her tracks when the “witch” heard me, the Jesus freak, say hell.

“ C, my dad is in so much trouble. There’s some big financial scandal. Apparently he has been like, smuggling money. I don’t know what to do. But I can’t stay here. I don’t think we can afford to have me stay here.”

After calming Geillis down and making her a cup of tea, I look up articles about her father. And it seemed bad.
“So what are you going home to be with your family?”
She paused, “ I’m not sure if I can be with my dad right now, I have no idea who he is.”

But before I can even think of a reply, an article catches my eye because it mentions one Henry Beachump, my father.

“No, no, no”

“What, what is it Claire?”

She grabbed the laptop and read the article before I got a chance.

I know it’s weird that the Jesus freak and the witch were best friends, but really it goes way back. Our parents knew each other somehow and both involved with charities and stuff. Being into this witch stuff was Geillis being rebellious, I didn’t have that luxury since I didn’t exactly have parents to rebel against anymore.

Turns out our parents didn’t know each other through charities and good Christian acts, but through white collar crime.

“ Claire, turns out all those charities our dads worked with together…. weren’t really charities, they smuggled money or evaded taxes or stole money or something”

I felt numb.
Absolutely numb.
I didn’t know my parents at all. And I never will. The image I had of my perfect family, of my righteous father and loving mother shattered as I learned the truth about them a little too late. I wanted to hate them. How could they do stuff like this when they taught me otherwise. They taught me right and wrong, don’t sin and heaven and god loves you and all that crap. How could they be hypocrites? How could they do that? How could I still love them, remember them the same? But, could I really hate the dead, especially my parents? What could I do? My uncle was halfway around the world in some desert somewhere digging up dead things. Did he know? Was he in on it? What are we going to do?

“ we have to run away.” Geillis answered my unspoken question.

“Excuse me?”

“ I’m moving to New York. I was going to after high school anyway, might as well get a fresh start now. Join me. We are in this together.”

“G we can’t really just move to New York, can we?”

“ well we can't stay here. The other girls will eat us alive. They already call you Jesus Freak C, how much more are you willing to take?”

Somehow I ended up on a train out of Boston to New York with the money from my debit account and the clothes that fit in my carry on suitcase with my best friend, wondering where we were going to sleep that night, and every night to come.

Chapter Text

New York City is so intoxicating.
Leaving Penn station felt like entering a new world. It was the middle of the night and Times square is packed. The sights, smells, lights and noises were overwhelming in the best way. Me and Geillis linked arms like we always do so we don't get separated but this time feels different. It feels like I should be following a yellow brick road with scary corners at every turn and I will have an unexpected destination, even though I know it's not going to be the emerald city.
If only I had to look out for lions and bears; cat callers are so much worse.

Walking aimlessly around the city, we decided that we need to find an affordable hotel. Thank god Geilliis was 18. We talked about maybe getting fake IDs to change our names and so I could be 18 even with my birthday a few weeks away. Geills was having way too much fun choosing a new name. Not that I blame her, her name is Geilliis in 2020 for crying out loud. I mean, I like it, it fits her, or the persona of the witch at least. She listed every single name that starts with the letter G and I kind of tuned her out at some point.

“ GIGI.” she stopped walking, pulling my attention back to the apparently important task at hand.
“ call me Gillian Edgars, Gigi for short.” and she looked me in the eye, almost daring me to disagree with her.
“ it fits. I like it.” I paused, “ Gigi.”

Now, my name is a different matter. I happen to like my name. We argued my name as we walked towards the subway To get to a cheap hotel that we found by cheating. We really plan on throwing out our phones so we can't be tracked and so we can get a fresh start, we just haven't gotten around to it. So we looked up cheap hotels, we really need somewhere to sleep.
And apparently I need a new name.
Geillis, I mean Gigi decided that we can’t pass as sisters, and besties moving to the big city makes sense as a cover story, and well it's partly true. With her long, straight blonde hair and green eyes and small, straight figure, and my dark unruly brown hair, brown eyes, and curvy figure, we couldn't be any more different really.

G laughed, “I know, your last name can be randall after that student teacher you had a giant crush on last year.”

“excuse me G, he had a crush on me according to you, and yes we spent time together that summer because he was working with my uncle and okay maybe he was kind of attractive but…”

“Come on, Clara Randall as a nice ring to it.”

“Clara?” I repeat, raising just one eyebrow to give her my most judgemental stare, even though I probably looked ridiculous.

And yes, i learned that look from G herself because she just returned it, but looked so much better and more confident.

“Fine.” i submitted. “get me a fake ID that says Clara Randall but i will only answer to C or Claire.”

“Sure thing, miss randall.” she winked at me. “ now if i sold fake IDs where would I be…” she wondered out loud.

“Probably where kids that wanted fake IDs live.” I responded.

“GENIUS,” she yelled before running into a pizza shop full of teenagers hanging out.
G always had that confidence to just talk to strangers and be herself she never cared what other people think. She came back out after asking about where to get fake IDs with a location of a store in the same direction as the hotel, and some guys number. (Of course)

We continued walking in the direction of the subway to get to our hotel but made a pit stop for fake Ids.
We walked into a sketchy looking storefront and ended up taking turns getting our photo taken and filling out the information we wanted.
The guy made a bit of fuss over california licenses that say we were eighteen since most people want them to be twenty one but to be honest, i don't think either of us could pass for twenty one. Also G had to do most of the talking since I have a British accent and can barely speak convincingly in an American one even though I’ve been going to school in Boston for over three years.

After leaving that store a few hundred dollars poorer and officially eighteen as Gillian Edgars and Claara Randall, we entered the subway to get to our hotel.

I've been to new york before. But never on the subway. I don't know what i was expecting, but it was not this. It smells like urine. I've been to different countries in all different conditions over the summer with uncle lamb and I've been involved with charity work, but the homeless people on the subway still unnerved me. It never crossed my mind that poverty was just as common here and I could've done more to help yet it was terrifying in a new uncontrolled environment.

I stared at my new ID to keep from falling asleep, G was already sleeping leaning her head on my shoulder, someone had to stay awake.
I was never the biggest fan of my appearance. I could never control my hair. And it was curly and brown and boring. My eyes were pretty enough I guess but also brown and therefore boring. I was pale, not tan and cool. I have a photo of my mom and dad that showed her smiling, her bright blue eyes shining, her curly brown hair perfectly blowing in the wind. She was beautiful, I always hoped I could be pretty like her. My dad stood next to her, arms around her waist, and his light brown eyes looked alive and warm, instead of dull and boring. I often wanted to be like him when I grew up, so sure of myself and poised. But now i'm not so sure if i want to follow in their footsteps, even in looks.

Suddenly, I was fully alert when I felt someone staring at me.
Sitting across from me was a young man, around my age, staring right at me. We made eye contact, but he didn't look away embarrassed like I would've if I got caught staring at someone. His gorgeous red hair was curling around his ears, looking like he was growing it out after cutting it short. He pushed up his thick black glasses that were slipping down his nose with one finger. He had round black spacers in his ears, but they were small enough that they were cool and intriguing instead of gross. The spider web tattoos across the tops of his hands had the same effect of being interesting instead of weird. His backpack on the chair next to him had interesting doodles all over it, and I studied it instead of looking back at the guy, because I didn't want to be caught looking back at him.
He was totally not the kind of guy that I would meet at school.
He was also the kind of guy that I would never think of as cute.
But, he totally was so cute. I hope I'm not blushing.
I pretended not to notice when he stood to get off the train, but I couldn’t help but peak. But he smiled at me and gave me a little wave as he exited.
W H A T
Boys don't notice me. They notice geillis, i mean Gigi. they wave at her , not me. Yet he did.
Even though it should've been the last thing on my mind, I spent the rest of the train ride thinking about that and if I'd ever see him again. Now that would be a miracle.

Chapter Text

I rush on onto the subway just in time, as the doors close, and I find an empty seat. I set my bag down and take out my airpods, settling in for my commute to a late shift at the blue phoenix.
I love being a tattoo artist. I'm able to use my talent and creativity and bring joy ( and a little pain) to people's lives… and it doesn't hurt that it pays well so I'm able to care for my family.

I look up at the girls sitting across from me. One is asleep, and I try not to laugh as I see her mouth hang open and drool, her hair spread across her face, as she sways back and forth. Her head is leaning onto another girl's shoulder, and she seems to not mind.
The second girl’s attention was on something she was gripping tightly in her hands. It seemed all of her focus was on a card? An ID? I noticed that her hands and forearms were covered in doodles, she was an artist, maybe. There were sunflowers all over one hand and they were really good, they would have made a really cool tattoo because of the style, the flowers were all drawn with only one line.
She must've felt me looking at her, because suddenly she looked up and met my gaze. I should've looked away, I didn't mean to stare, I wasn't trying to be creepy. But I couldn't look away.

I’m paralyzed by her gaze.

Her eyes were an intense golden brown, they reminded me of the eyes of a leopard.
She blinked, and I remembered how to breathe.
I pushed my glasses back up my nose, annoyed that they slipped down and at myself for being awkward.
I tried to focus on something else, maybe look out the window, or pay attention to the song blasting in my airpods, but my gaze kept going back to the girl. She had a beautiful mess of brown curly hair that surrounded her like a mane of a lion. God, eyes like a leopard, a lion's mane of hair, this girl was fierce.
I realized my stop was coming up and I desperately was trying to memorize her. From an artistic angle of course. I wanted to remember the one line drawing of the sunflowers, the detail of the lips drawn on her wrist, the exact color of her eyes that I decided were the color of whisky, her hair since it was an array of different shades of brown and gold, changing like the water in a burn.
I got up and slowly made my way to the exit, I took one last glance at the girl. I realized she was again, looking back at me. She doesn’t look mad, or scared. She looks like she's taking me in, the same way I am of her. With the encouragement that she showed some interest in me, I gave her a small smile and a little wave.

As proud of myself as I was for waving at her, I berated myself as I walked to work.

God! If only I was more confident I would've gotten the courage to ask for her number… or at least her name. I should've talked to her.

No. she's a woman on the subway at night, basically alone. It would've been weird if I approached her.

But she didn't seem angry at me for basically staring at her.

She was looking at me too. Maybe she was just shy like me.

Or maybe she wasn't interested and I just freaked her out.

I sighed in relief as I made it to the blue phoenix, a world renown tattoo parlor. I could focus on work instead of mysterious girls on the subway.

I met her on the subway. It doesn't matter what she thinks anymore.
I'll probably never see her again.

I frowned. I don't know why the thought of never seeing some random girl again would affect me this much.
I walked through the shop, past the front counter where some random guy was flipping through a book of tattoos, and the rooms, where I could hear the buzzing of a tattoo gun. I entered the break room, thankful to see Murtargh leaning against the counter, drinking coffee.
My godfather Murtargh is a famous tattoo artist that has been around forever, and tattooed everyone and seen everything. He started out in Scotland but moved out to NYC to be near my family. He could work wherever he wanted since everyone wanted him. He was a legend. And I want to follow in his footsteps.
Hopefully he can distract me from my thoughts of the girl on the subway.

“Hey Jamie.” he grumbled, his face still in his coffee mug.

“Hey, any crazy customers lately?”i ask, knowing it’d set him off on a tangent about some drunk guy or a girl that wanted an infinity sign. I was not disappointed.

The night continued with a few appointments and walk-ins. With my spare time I couldn't help but draw and sketch leopards with golden eyes. When murtagh made a face at me drawing yet another leopard, I switched to lions with crazy manes, with piercing eyes, or mid roar.

“What's with the animals, Jamie? You don't have a custom piece like that.” Murtargh questioned me.

“Nothing, I’m just inspired I guess.'' I responded.

But I flipped the page over in my sketchbook and began to draw a fairy. Thinking back now, the girl could be one of the fae from the stories I was told as a child with her eyes and pale skin. She looked so out of place on the subway, like she belonged on a dun.

At three in the morning, back on the subway heading home, I pulled out my sketch book, and started drawing a sunflower on the page with the sketch of a fairy. A new idea for a mural that I could spray paint just formed in my head, and there was a plain brick wall near my apartment that has been calling my name.
I smiled as I continued to sketch, thinking about the blank canvas by the skate park, and coincidentally listening to twenty one pilots cover of I can't help falling in love.

Chapter Text

So the hotel that we found for cheap may be a hostel. A really gross hostel.
“ Thank god I never actually went backpacking through Europe like I wanted,hostels are gross.” G complained.
I just sighed in reply.
I was too tired to care where I slept as long as I could sleep. We put our bags in the lockers we were given. I put most of my money in my bra and socks to keep it from getting stolen even though it was kind of uncomfortable.
When we got to the room, it was full of bunk beds with other women sitting or sleeping. The beds were small and covered in hard plastic. I guess we were supposed to bring our own sheets.
As soon as I got semi comfortable and tried to fall asleep, I felt bugs jumping around my ankles and biting me.
“Bed bugs! I want my money back tomorrow morning, are you kidding me?” some other girls said before it went silent again.
So with the noises of twenty other women breathing and bugs biting at my ankles, on a plastic wrapped bed, I finally fell asleep after the longest day of my life… so far.

***
The next morning we left the hostel as soon as possible. We decided that the first thing we needed was an apartment.
We ended up at a coffee shop for breakfast. Before now i had never batted an eye at the price of a coffee and muffin, but now we had a limited amount of cash, and were looking for apartments and the idea of wasting even 6 dollars physically hurt.
G was scrolling through her phone looking for apartment leases while I was trying to figure out our budget. I admit we were really bad at running away. As far as we know the cops aren’t after us… yet. Gigi’s dad is the criminal, not us. We just don't want to deal with the consequence of our parents actions.
“Claire, my mom just texted me.”
I looked up, alarmed. This was the first time that Geillis, i mean Gigi’s mom had tried to contact her. The fact that i haven't heard from my uncle wasn't that surprising as he is currently on a dig in like Egypt or somewhere.
“She said that if I'm able to stay away and safe, then I should, and that she loves me…”
We both just sat there dumbfounded. This is less like running away and more like just moving to new york.
Screw it, I thought, if we still have our phones, if G’s mom approves, then why are we trying so hard to hide? Yes people might recognize us but we can deal with that later.
“I have a stupid idea,” i said.
I told G how my uncle has a small apartment in the city that he kept after teaching a few semesters at a college. I thought that if he isn't subletting it, we can just crash there.
We looked up the listing for my uncles apartment. It was on some website, where my uncle lamb was looking for subletters.
We couldve applied for the apartment. But i thought of something else.
I guessed my uncles username amd password to get onto the website. It was easy. His password was my initials and birthday.
I deleted the listing from the website. And then continued to make sure it wasnt liksted on other sites.
“ You smart ass bitch I love you.” G said when I was finished.

We then made our way to the apartment, which is in chinatown. Technically my uncle is kind of rich, but he loves a deal, and saves his money, so a penthouse in manhattan that he doesn't get to use didn't make sense. So paying for a small place in chinatown that he can sublet when he feels like it works just fine. I think I remember him saying something about how he pays for the apartment when it's not occupied and even if it is the money goes through him because he doesn't trust others with his finance and stuff, like landlords. hopefully I'm remembering correctly.

I struggled up the six flights of stairs with Gi trailing behind me. Eventually we made it to apartment 3C and I began the search for the spare key, which ended up being behind a loose board of the border around the door. Classic uncle lamb.

Inside the apartment were the bare necessities, but after the night in the hostel and living in dorm rooms for three years, this was all we needed. A small kitchen, that was basically the same room as the living room with three doors visible, leading to the bedroom, office, and bathroom.
Just like the kitchen, the bathroom was tiny, the bedroom fit a bed and a dresser, the office a desk and pullout love seat, it was perfect.
We both crashed on the red coach in the living room, facing an ancient tv. Of course, we argued over which room we each got. We both wanted the smaller one, the office.
G argued that technically it’s my place so I should get the bigger room with the real bed.
I said I don’t care and I rather have the desk to draw at. And she deserves a real bed too.
We compromised by moving the dresser into the office and the desk into the bedroom since it had a tiny closet. I got the bedroom, I didn’t mind but I still felt bad.
I was exhausted. I thought about the last 48 hours. How my life went from stressing out over an AP Bio lab to stressing out about where I’m going to live. I didn’t have time to process the fact that my dad was a criminal because we’ve been moving so fast.
Was everything fake? Was my childhood real? How could I have had everything I’d ever want, a big doll house, a horse, while all the people that needed more suffered because of my dad's actions? Seeing people all over the city asking for spare change broke my heart. The few times I went into Boston with friends from school, they’d make comments about how it was their fault because of drugs or something and wouldn’t give them change. But really paying attention this time, feeling the sense of not having a home myself, I noticed that a lot of them were young, like me, and we shouldn’t judge others like that, but help them. Now that we have this apartment for now, we can afford more, like being able to spare change at least.
The world I grew up in was a lie. The closest I got to anything real was traveling with my uncle over the summer, and even that was different, protected and from a distance, seeing the real world through tinted windows or through the finds of his digs. I found myself excited about being in the city, having no plans and no clue what will happen next. I was completely terrified, my stomach in knots, but I couldn’t stop smiling.
I settled down on my bed and looked out my window at the view of a brick wall. (Of course)
But something caught my eye, a familiar shade of red. I sat up on my bed to see the graffiti that was covering the wall just outside my window. It was an image of a man and a woman, the woman was in a white dress and they were holding hands but there was a cloth wrapped around their hands, and it was stained red. What? The man had dark hair and was looking at the woman like she was his whole world and the woman was smiling and laughing. She had bright red hair with golden and copper highlights. It felt oddly familiar.
Suddenly it hit me. It reminded me of the mysterious boy on the subway. I can still remember his piercing blue eyes looking at me with the depth of the ocean, maybe because of the color, or something else entirely.
He was so bold. Tall, bright red hair, and his tattoos. He was so noticeable, but he noticed me.
I fell asleep for a quick nap once again wondering if I’d ever see that cute smile again.
***
Gigi and I had a rude awakening after our very long naps.
We didn’t have tampons and now are out of toilet paper… and need to find a laundromat.
We made our way to a local store to get the basics. We filled up our cart with tampons and bread, toilet paper and toothpaste. The fact we only had a few thousand dollars in cash was still on my mind as I tried to do the math in my head about how much food and tampons cost. I think we need to get jobs.
I lost G down the beauty aisle. Damn.
I found her holding different boxes of hair dye in her hands.

“What do you think you’re doing,” I asked.

She whirled around and looked at me with wide eyes like she just got caught sneaking out of campus at school or passing me a note in French class.

“ just thinking about dying my hair… we might need disguises, you know, so it’s harder to recognize us. I don’t want to be seen as “Geillis Duncan - daddy’s girl’.”

As much as I wanted to tell her to put the 20 dollar hair dye back, she had a point. We don’t want to be questioned by reporters or something. She continued mumbling to herself about how blondes have more fun but redheads are fire. Then I heard her mention me and bleach.

“Woah, you go for it but I am not dying my hair!”

“Come on!! I’m going red, you can totally pull off blonde!” She pleaded.

Just then, a worker came up to us, he was a tall black guy that smiled and looked nice even though he was working at a store at 6 pm and wearing a gross orange vest as his uniform. His name tag said Joe.

“Need any help ladies?” He asked in a way that made it seem like he really was interested and wanted to help.
He noticed the boxes that G was holding and plucked them out of her hands.

“No, That is all wrong for your skin tone, try this red instead…” and then he turned to me, “was the blonde for you?”
I tried to tell him that I am NOT dying my hair blonde, because I don’t think my curls could take it, and I really don’t want to be blonde, but he interrupted me. He pulled down on a few strands of my hair.
“You have gorgeous curls, but GIRL What is with these dead ends?”

My brilliant response was an “uuhhmmmm.”

“Do you guys want to get paid for me to do your hair?” He asked suddenly.

I looked at G trying to convey my confusion with my eyes. What is this guy on?

“Look dude, whatever kink that is, we are not interested…” G began, but he started laughing, once again interrupting.

“No, no. I’m a hairstylist, well I’m trying to be. I’m showcasing how to cut a long bob and do a dye job for some new students and I need people to work on. I can dye your hair red, and cut hers. You each get fifty bucks.” He finished, still smiling at us.

G and I looked at each other and shrugged. Sure why not I thought. I get PAID to get my hair done.
We agreed to meet him tomorrow at the salon he is training at around 9 am and followed him up to the register to pay.
I noticed nail polish on display for 99 cents. I picked up a bottle of black polish. I would never in a million years wear black nail polish at school. I think I’ve only ever had my nails painted pink and yellow. But this is a new life, one where I can be anyone and do anything I want. I’m gonna have a freaking bob tomorrow. I just thought “freaking” and “damn” earlier. The old me might not have had short hair and black nails, but the new me will. I put down the polish next to the toothpaste, which earned a glance from Gigi, but she didn’t say anything about it on the walk home. (HOME)
***
The next morning, G and I trudged to the salon Joe worked at with three coffees. We left early, because I really wanted to make a good impression for some reason. At 8:45 we arrived to find Joe sitting outside on the steps. G handed him the coffee and we headed inside.

There was a bit of awkward silence before Gigi boldly asked Joe how old he was.

“Eighteen,” Joe said defensively, “I dropped out of high school last year and enrolled at the Beauty Academy in Queens. Luckily I got into the styling program here. That’s important. You gotta make connections with the right stylists to find a job.”
“ We are eighteen too. Oh I’m Gigi by the way and this is claire… a.” G said. She forgot the new name she picked out for me apparently. I kind of did too.
Gigi continued to ask him questions, maybe trying to flirt, or she was actually interested in becoming a stylist. If I had to guess, it’s a little bit of both.
“Dang, you ask a lot of questions,” Joe exclaimed, sounding humored and not annoyed. “If I tell you everything I got now, then what am I gonna put in my autobiography?”
I smiled thinking about Joe writing an autobiography,I think it’d be funny. Gigi tilted her head to the side, playing with a piece of her hair, obviously confused but also still flirty.
“I’m just messin’ with you,” Joe said, while slapping the air with his hand.
He suddenly became serious again by pointing us to sit in chairs as the class started to come in. He tried to be all professional in front of the students, a lot of them older than he is.

“The first thing we gotta do when cutting a fierce bob is find the natural jaw line,” Joe said as he began instructing the class, and cutting my hair.
G was spinning around on her chair, once again twisting her hair with her fingers. She noticed me looking at her and gave me two thumbs up and a small smile.
I was breathless. I had never imagined what I’d look like with short hair, but I looked completely unlike myself. I looked more mature, and somehow my eyes looked larger. Joe managed the impossible, he controlled my hair. With a deep conditioner and a diffuser, my curly hair framed my face perfectly and I think I could now manage it better at this length. I’ve never had hair this short, it’s always been longer than my shoulders. Short hair felt so freeing, the physical weight on my shoulders gone, matching what I felt about being in this city, starting a new life.

Next up was G. Joe repeated the process of explaining everything he was doing to the class as he dyed her hair. Gigi kept her eyes closed even when she wasn’t in front of a mirror, like she was afraid to look at her new reflection.
When Joe was done blow drying her hair, he made a big flourish of showing it to G.
Her hair was bright red. It looked like she could be Ariel, a more badass mermaid. It wasn’t a natural red at all, but it was Gigi.

“Now your hair matches your personality.” I said. And I meant it.

She looked at me beaming. “I know right!”

“Damn I outdid myself on you guys! Can I take pictures for my portfolio?” Joe added.

After taking our pictures, and then a selfie of the three of us, Joe handed us each fifty dollars and led us out of the salon.
He was basically the first person we met in the city and he was really cool. He was who we were trying to be, still technically teenagers but thriving as adults.
“Hey wanna get lunch with us? Our treat?” I asked, holding up the fifty dollar bill he just gave to me. I knew G would agree, seeing as she might have a little crush on him.
Joe looked up from his watch with a giant grin on his face like he was actually surprised and happy that we wanted to hang out with him.

“Sure thing lady Jane.” He said as he led us in the direction of a burger joint.
We settled in our booth, and ordered drinks.
Finally having a moment to breathe, I repeated, “lady Jane?”

“Oh! Your accent, it’s all posh and proper and fancy. You sound like the queen of England. It reminded me of this character fromaromancenovel so…”

Gigi looked at him skeptically, “you read romance novels?”

“Kind of, my girlfriend got me into them. It’s kinda like my guilty pleasure.”

I decided I liked lady Jane more than Clara, and Gigi decided she wanted a nickname.

We spent the rest of the afternoon getting to know Joe and it felt like we had known each other our whole lives. He told us about his relationship with Gayle but also the complications with some guy named John they were both involved with. I can barely wrap my head around it. Gigi also wants us to try calling her Red. I think it’s a little too on the nose but she seems to like it.

“ So Lady Jane, Red, you’re both new in town.” It wasn’t a question but a statement.
Joe inquired as he walked us back to our apartment. What a gentleman.

G huffed in response. “How did you know?”

“ because you’re still excited to be here… don’t worry you’ll get over it. And I get to watch as you become dead inside and see the light fade from your eyes as you become real New Yorkers!”

He walked us to our building and we exchanged numbers. We made our first real friend. Now all we need are jobs