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Make A Little Birdhouse In Your Soul (IC)

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When Danica had first come to Claremont as a freshman, her parents hadn't been thrilled to see that her dorm room assignment was on the third floor. Given the length of time it took their daughter to climb a flight of stairs, it seemed likely she'd spend most of her first year of high school just trying to get in and out of her building. They were quickly reassured that Danica's room was right next to the elevator, which was more than big enough to accommodate her and her Segway in shelled or unshelled form. In the unlikely event of an emergency that shut down the elevator, she would be teleported to safely by campus security. Danica herself loved living on the third floor, it was just high enough to give her a good view of the campus and just low enough that she really could take the stairs if she needed to. This was her third year in this same dorm room and she was very used to it by now. 

 

Disembarking from the elevator, she parked her Segway next to the door of her room and walked in. As she'd kind of expected, her new roommate was already there, poring over the contents of her moving boxes. Danica's side of the room was completely empty except for the school-issued dresser, desk and bed, bare mattress and all. "Hi!" she told her roommate,  walking very slowly into the room and sitting down on the edge of her mattress. "You're Selena, right? It was kind of crazy busy down there earlier." 

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Selena had said her goodbyes when the gathering of new and returning students began breaking apart to put their bags away.  Rather than piling onto an already crowded elevator she slipped back into the room the same way she had left.

 

She was still looking at her stuff, trying to picture placements when Danica walked in.  "Indeed it was," she said with a smile, "Welcome back."

 

Grabbing the box with her bedding she tossed it onto her own bed, just to get it out of the way.  "You mentioned downstairs this has been your room the last few years, anything I should be aware of?"

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"Um, not really, I mean I hope you're okay with heat because I have to have it warm in the room all the time," Danica ventured. Indeed, it was already noticeably warmer in the room than the hallway. "Lisa was fine with it because she was really sensitive to cold too, so in the winter sometimes we'd have it at ninety in here and the windows would get all foggy, but really eighty is okay." Danica did something with the posts on her bed, fiddling until each one made a clicking noise, then pushing the bedframe up a few inches so that the entire mattress was a bit higher off the floor. "You can adjust your bed to whatever height you want, down low or lofted so you can put all your stuff under it or whatever. Oh, and I'd like to have the left hand closet if that's okay because I stuck a bunch of stickyback hooks in there last year and never took them down."  

 

With her bed raised to about four feet in the air, Danica proceeded, extremely slowly, to begin shoving her dresser underneath it. She didn't seem to have anything to put in it, or indeed any luggage at all, but she obviously had a furniture plan in mind. "So where are you from?" 

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"Oh, 80 should be fine, especially in winter.  And I'm from Puerto Rico, not far from San Juan, so I've been through hotter," she chuckled.

 

Watching Danica slowly raise her bed, the magnetokinetic slapped her forehead, "I've been living in these rooms for three years and I had no idea these beds could do that."  In short order, thanks to her power to manipulate magnetic fields she had her bed raised as well, her desk tucked under and dresser at the foot.

 

"You aren't super light sensitive are you?  I'm a bit of a gaming nerd and I've burned entire weekends on marathoning quality games.  I can get a curtain to hang around the desk alcove if you think it'll be a bother," she asked, grabbing her computer from a rather large box.

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"Oh no, don't even worry about that!" Danica assured her, finally managing to wedge the dresser where she wanted it. With the desk chair for an assist, she cliimbed ever so slowly onto the bed, laying down flat on her stomach on the bare mattress. Nothing happened for a moment, then suddenly a huge shell materialized around her. It was mostly black, but shot through with starburst patterns of brilliant yellow, with a high, nearly semi-circular dome. It started the size of a large camping backpack, but grew bigger and bigger, till it was the size of a large pup tent and Danica was completely invisible inside of it. Then, improbably, she wriggled out of the back end  and down onto the floor again, a box of schoolbooks suddenly clutched in her arms. "I usually go in my shell to sleep, so i won't notice a thing."

 

She began to pack the books into the drawers of her desk. "I've never been to Puerto Rico,  but I'd love to go someday. I hear it's really ecologically interesting! Have you ever seen the Yellow-footed Tortoise there? They are gorgeous!" 

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Selena was at a loss for words for a minute as the shell formed around her new roommate.  More so as she came back out with school books she had not been holding going in.  "I'm going to assume it's bigger on the inside.  You have a shell made with Time Lord technology."

 

"I think those are more of a Brazilian thing, though I did see some sea turtles every so often when surfing," she said, hooking a pair of monitors to her tower.

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"It's magic!" Danica informed her happily, climbing back onto the bed. Everything she did was at about half what might be considered a normal pace, but that did make some sense given the whole shell thing. "I'm the living avatar of a tortoise deity so old it doesn't have a name, so I have tortoise powers! You can come in, if you want." She crawled back into the shell and disappeared once more. If Selina looked into the opening in the shell, it did indeed seem big enough for a grown person to climb through, though there seemed to only be darkness underneath the shell's overhang. 

 

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"I've seen this movie before, Vansquez always dies," she muttered before floating over.  After a minute of trying to look inside her roommate's shell and finding only darkness she shrugged and crawled in herself, the underworld theme from classic Mario games coming to her mind unbidden.

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The feeling was very much like crawling into a small tent, except that when the darkness lifted, Selena found herself in a little round room, perhaps fifteen feet in diameter, with a rounded eight-foot ceiling. There was a twin bed with a cozy-looking green duvet, a well-filled bookcase with an overstuffed beanbag next to it, a small dresser with a television on top, and a pile of moving boxes, garment bags and rolled-up posters. The whole thing was lit a soft gold by a three-stem floor lamp next to the bed. Danica, sitting on the bed and thumbing through her phone, looked up and grinned at Selena. "See, this is my sleeping room! It's always nice and quiet and dark when I need it to be. Can you teach me how to play video games?" 

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Looking around, Selena had to admit this was not exactly what she had expected when she crawled into a magical tortoise shell her roommate had conjured.  Then again, she wasn't sure what she had been expecting.

 

"I can indeed, later you can look through my Steam library, see if there's anything that strikes your fancy.  Personally I'm partial to post-apocalyptic things but I have some other genres laying about," she said, easing onto the beanbag chair.

 

"So, you pick up the campus' wifi in here?"

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"No, Mr. Eldritch said this is a dimensional pocket world, that when I come in here I'm not actually on Earth Prime anymore, just very close to it," Danica explained. "But look, I have four kinds of solitaire and Snake on my phone, plus downloaded books on my Kindle so I won't get bored. Do you have Mario on your computer?" she asked. "Mom and Dad had a Nintendo when I was little and then I got a Nintendo 64, but when I asked for a Gamecube my mom told me I was playing too many video games and I should go outside." She sighed. "But some of my friends at Nicholson had Playstation 3 or 4 and they were so amazing! But I like Sim City and The Sims, and Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego, and Pokemon, and Little Big Planet, all kinds of games," she added earnestly.

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"Dimensional pocket huh?  Next you're going to tell me when we step outside we might be in a different time or place.  Or maybe I've watched too much Doctor Who in my formative years," she said with a chuckle.

 

Nodding with her roomie's list of gaming experience she chuckled, "Yeah, I think I can find something you'll enjoy.  Portal is a classic and if you focus on the settlement system in Fallout 4 you have post-nuclear apocalypse SimCity.  But I'm a bit short on Mario, Nintendo does screw around with people who have ROMs of their games.  More so since they've been releasing those 'classic' systems."

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"That sounds fun!" Danica agreed, scooping up a box of clothes and shoving it into the shadowed part of the room that was the doorway. It disappeared, and a distant thudding sound indicated that it had probably fallen off the bed in the dorm room. "This is not a very exciting dimensional pocket," she admitted, "it only goes to the time and place where my shell is, but it's useful and cozy! And people can only come in when I let them, so it's safe, too." She picked up a stuffed rabbit and gave it an absentminded hug, then threw it out the door as well. "Puerto Rico is really far away," she observed. "Did your family move up here with you?" 

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"Not living up to the standards of British Sci-Fi aside," Selena replied with a grin, "This is still an incredibly useful trick."

 

"Yeah, home's a good fifteen-hundred miles away.  My father's still at the consulate in San Juan, he's tried getting Seoul to move him to one of the ones up here, New York being preferred but we'd accept Chicago or Washington.  Mom, well, she's applied for a few jobs up here but nothing's panned out yet.  Overall result is I haven't seen them or my sibs much in the last couple years.  We do try and hit up a video call once or twice a week though," she explained, trying to not sound too depressed about the situation.

Edited by Azuth65

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Danica's eyes went huge and sad at the idea of being so far away from one's family for too long. "That's terrible!" she said with great feeling, "I'm so sorry! You should find, like, a teleporter or somebody who can send you home for weekends so you can see your family! There's got to be somebody!" She picked up another stuffed animal, a teddy bear the vivid green of electrolyte sports drink, and visibly considered giving it to Selena before deciding that the gesture probably wouldn't be appreciated by a near-adult. It went out the door as well. "I'll ask my mom," she decided. "She hasn't got any powers, but she knows all the teachers here and at Nicholson, and lots of the parents too. At the very least your parents need to be here for Parents Weekend!"

 

She nodded firmly at her own resolution, then jotted it down as a note on the very pink, very glittery notebook on the bedside table. There was an image on the cover of three unicorns with big eyes and sparkling manes running across a rainbow over a multicolored lake. It was very... bright. "How old are your siblings?" 

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"I did shoot down for a couple weeks this summer," Selena said, "I'd have liked to have made the trip under my own power but I can barely outpace most cars on the highway.  Even if I took off from Miami it'd still take ten hours.  I'm trying to cut that down, doing to flying equivalent of jogging and sprinting for a few hours a day.  I made it to Philly in under half an hour a couple times, Nicole told me to bring back cheese steaks to prove it."

 

"My brother Christian is twenty and my little sister Sofia is seventeen, I love them to death but sometimes I think it's best we're a good bit apart.  Mostly for Sofia's dates' sake," she sighed, "She has terrible taste in boys.  And girls for that matter.  Then again, I'm sure she's said the same about my handful of dates."

 

Pulling herself out of her own head she took note of the notebook her roommate held.  It kind of reminded her of a notebook Sofia had when she was in grade school though she kept her comment to herself, instead feeling grateful to the younger girl for trying to make seeing her family in non-digital form more viable.  "Don't go too out of your way, I wouldn't want to impose on anyone's time."

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"Pfft," Danica said, dismissing the possibility out of hand. "Everybody should get a chance to see their family more than once a year," she insisted. "And I'm sure the PTA metahuman parents will agree. Besides, for teleporters it hardly takes any time at all to get anywhere!" she added. "Maybe if we can find a student teleporter, they'll get extra credit!" She went to one section of the wall and opened a closet that may or may not have been there a moment ago, then pulled out a box filled with knit scarves and hats. It went out the door too, though with a little more care. She headed for a box of books next, but it was obviously a little above her weight class, to judge by the way she was trying in vain to budge it. 

 

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"Maybe," Selena said trying not to get her hopes up too high.

 

Before Danica could try and budge the box overflowing with books she stopped her, "You grab this end, I'll grab the other."  In just a few moments the pair had the books back in the real world.  "Have anything else super heavy that won't get messed up from being by a strong magnetic field?  Because if so, maybe I should grab a sheet of steel from the metal shop."

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"No, that was the heaviest I've got, but thanks!" Danica looked around the cozy little interdimensional room and obviously decided she had everything she needed for the moment. "I keep a lot of my stuff in this room instead of the dorm room because it's just easier when I go home to have most of my clothes with me. My parents moved to town when I started at Nicholson," she explained, sounding as though she hoped she wasn't poking any painful areas. "I go home a lot of weekends unless I have too much homework." She cocked her head thoughtfully. "I wonder if we could find somebody tall in our hallway to hang up posters for us. Do you know anybody tall?" 

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Rather than answer her new friend about finding anyone tall to help with poster hanging, Selena just rose from the floor a full foot.  "I mean, we could but I can fly.  Besides, the various 'talls' are probably being shanghaied as we speak," she said.  After a minute of digging around her desk she pulled out a roll of tape and some thumbtacks for her own wallscrolls.

 

"After we get these hung up, want to grab that pizza?"

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"Oh yeah," Danica agreed, grinning as she spread some of her own posters out on her desk. They looked to be mostly nature photograpy, except for one of Harry Potter's golden trio and another for an old cartoon called CatDog.  "I guess if you can fly you don't have to be tall! Here, you can use some of my tickytack if you want, so you don't get yelled at for damaging the walls," she offered, and produced an egg-sized lump of grayish-white mounting putty. "And pizza sounds good, so long as you didn't suggest it just so you can make ninja turtle jokes."  From the aggrieved tone in her voice, it would not be the first time, nor maybe even the tenth. 

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Pulling a wallscroll from her corner she unfurled it o reveal a girl with turqoise hair and boy with a scar on one cheek standing with a giant robot behind them in the background.  After hanging it and Danica's posters up she turned back around and shook her head.  "Nah, too easy.  Also, I'm aware there is a differenc between tortoises and turtles.  I couldn't name it off the top of my head but I am aware," she said with an easy smile.

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"Okay, good," Danica said with a grin. "In that case, I love pizza! And we should drop by the cafeteria just to see all the people we didn't see all summer! I remember last year they had the make your own banana split station too, that was great." While her roommate hung the posters, Danica had busied herself putting away her books, very slowly and deliberately, onto the shelf of her new desk. "There are a lot of differences between tortoises and turtles, but the main one is that tortoises don't go in the water much. Feet instead of flippers, you know?" She grinned, wiggling her own sneakered feet. "But you can fly and you're nice and you know that tortoises and turtles are different. I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship!" 

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Selena floated back to the ground, the glow from her eye fading as she ceased making a mockery of the law of gravity, only to plop into her desk chair.  "A solid foundation," she agreed, bumping knuckles with her roommate.

 

Moments later as the pair floated and rolled respectively towards the cafeteria, "So, circling back to the Ninja Turtles, you ever play the arcade game?  It was the first game I can remember beating in the arcade.  That and, once with a few rolls of quarters, I managed to beat House of the Dead 3."

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"I'm not very good at arcade games," Danica admitted, lifting one hand from the handlebar to flex stubby fingers. "I'm just not very fast! I'm better at strategy and worldbuilding stuff. But I can win crane games," she confided. "I spent like four whole years figuring out how to do it. Some of the games are just rigged and nobody can win, but I win a lot! Have you heard the story about how there's supposed to be an old Street Fighter machine down in the basement of the library behind the periodicals stacks?" she asked, switching gears without a pause. "I hate going down there because it's really spooky and the aisles are so narrow so I never checked it out, but I heard some seniors talking about it last year." 

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