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Agnes

“Nobody ever did that,” says Agnes. “It’s an urban legend.”

“Are you sure?” says Fantine. “If the ashes were fine enough–”

“You don’t snort something that smells wrong by accident! Because when you start to snort, you put your nose near it!

“Cocaine dulls your sense of smell,” says Diego. “Also how are you so knowledgeable about snorting?”

“I’m knowledgeable about basic critical thinking skills,” says Agnes, “but only in comparison to present company.”

“Look, there’s only one way to resolve this.”

So they break into the crematorium. It doesn’t resolve anything, but Fantine’s coat smells like fire for a year.

Milan

They crack the secret Derrida Vault and gape at the array within: devices quite unlike crowbars, yet dissimilar to lightsabers: plentiful and simple enough that everybody gets one. Or at least a pretty good facsimile.

Milan finds the one Laetitia brought home and opens some leftover moving boxes. “Best unpacker we’ve ever had!” he says, when he lets Fantine borrow it.

Fantine calls it a deboxer when she loans it to Diego; naturally, he takes it to the gym.

“That’s starting to cause some real pain now,” groans his boxing partner.

“It’s probably a good hurt!” grins Diego, winding up again.

Laetitia

“Well, Battlestar may not be real,” says Fantine sagely, “but it’s true.”

“It’s fiction, right?” says Laetitia.

“Only in the sense that–”

“Are you spiritual but not religious too?” Laetitia snaps. “What you’re parroting there is a cliché: conversational shorthand for fiction that resonates with your perception of current events. But fiction is by definition both imaginary and false. What are the opposites of those, Fantine?”

“Do real people make speeches like that, Laetitia?” says Fantine.

Laetitia bites her finger.

“Do real people care that much about clichés?”

Laetitia backspaces over the last couple paragraphs and goes looking for the Advil.

Chyler

“The central ethos of Harry Potter–” Fantine begins.

“I’m going to stop you right there,” Chyler says. “I’m doing you a favor. Please understand that, because I like the books, you know? I like them. But when you expound like that you are using a jeweler’s loupe to examine the product of a BeDazzler. Get it? You and Tarantino and fucking Derrida’s ghost–”

“Easy, Chyler,” says Caleb, wandering in and looking startled, so perfect. So Renee.

“You don’t get to talk,” she snaps, and thunders outside. She wants to smoke an angry cigarette, but, she’s disappointed to remember, she doesn’t smoke.

Chyler

Fantine’s holding forth again, just a bit off the point. Thirty degrees off, maybe. Still horribly wrong.

When she stops to breathe Caleb leaps in to grab the tiller, steering conversation back to saner waters: the weather. Chyler sighs with relief.

“Sure,” she says later, as Fantine pouts, “but I’d rather have snow anyway–”

“Because you can’t throw rain?” Caleb asks.

She looks to him; he looks up; their eyes catch. Flash. Freeze. Chyler swears there are words in his face and crooked smile: You understand, he says. We understand each other. In charm, in understanding, this is our conspiracy.

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