Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Variety Special || A Radiation Canary Christmas

 

Summary: The Canaries enjoy a Christmas break enjoying their various happy endings. (set after Radiation Canary: Greatest Hits, the second novel, so expect a few spoilers from that!)

The video opens with Lana Kent, dressed in jeans and a sweater, strumming a guitar in Pike Place Market. It’s a popular busking spot. She’s seated on a milk crate with a support beam at her back. Lana’s guitar case is open in front of her for donations. She plays her fingers over the strings for a moment before something catches her eye and makes her tense. The point-of-view shifts to reveal a blonde woman moving through the crowd. She pauses to examine the fish for sale before she continues to shop. The song begins, fading in as the focus shifts back to Lana.

“Here we go again,” she sings/lip syncs, “You pass me by again/I see you smile and then/You walk away and I’m lost.”

The blonde stops in front of Lana, smiles, and drops a dollar into the open case. Lana smiles and watches as the woman walks away.

“Am I speechless when you’re around/Or could I speak if the words were found/What would I say and how would I say it/And what magic spell will make you wait.”

The video jumps to another day, Lana in the same place wearing a different outfit. The blonde returns, and again approaches Lana’s busking spot. They make eye contact, the blonde smiles, and drops a dollar into the case before walking away again. Now it reveals Karen, Nessa, and Codie are positioned at other busking spots along the way, and their voices join Lana on the chorus.

“I’ll make your windmills mine/Together we’ll walk the line/Between madness and reality/We’ll conquer all the knights we see/We’ll never wake from this impossible dream/Take me with you when you go/I’ll call you Don; you call me Sancho.”

Lana, the real flesh and blood version of her, came into the room and passed by in front of Avery’s position on the couch. She was dressed in shorts and a hoodie, her hair pinned up in at least three different places by various clips and one pen. Avery glanced up and watched her. The video was at least ten years old, and Lana looked so young and innocent in it. Avery much preferred the older, wiser, much more mature version who currently smelled like the hand lotion she’d applied in the bathroom.

“What are you watching? Is it porn? You have to share if it’s good.”

“It’s not porn to you. Just me.” She lifted the computer to show Lana the screen.

Lana wrinkled her nose as she folded herself onto the banquette between the window and the Christmas tree. “Garbage.”

“But it’s very pretty garbage.”

Lana put her legs up on the arm of the banquette. Avery took a moment to appreciate the long line of Lana’s bare legs, from the top of her crossed wool socks to the bottom of her shorts. The hoodie had the Seattle PD logo on the chest and Avery chuckled.

“Nice shirt.”

“Thanks…” Lana looked up and saw Avery was wearing a Radiation Canary shirt. She laughed and gave a thumbs-up. “Nice. We’re twins.” She winked and unpaused the video.

A third day. Lana and the people around her are dressed for warmer weather, implying a season change. Again the blonde returns. Again Lana is transfixed as the woman approaches and drops a dollar into her case. She continues on. The camera remains on Lana, who closes her eyes and knocks her head against the pillar in frustration because she didn’t say anything. Behind her, the blonde can be seen looking back with a wry, hopeful smile, but she doesn’t stop.

“I built you up like a myth in my head/I wish I could swap it for the truth instead/But if I take that risk, and you must reject me/Please have a heart and let me down easy.”

Real-life Lana tapped one foot against the air, mouthing the lyrics as she read something on her tablet. Avery tried very hard to focus on the video and not the live show.

Another day, but this time the focus begins on the blonde. She makes her way through the market, smiling as she approaches the spot where Lana has always been before. But now the spot is empty. The blonde’s smile fades as she looks left, then right, finally accepting that the busker isn’t there. She folds the dollar bill in her hand, tucks it into her pocket, and walks out of the market. She turns left and stops in her tracks as the camera pans around her to reveal Lana and the rest of the band have joined forces to block the road. Lana is in a three-piece suit, the shirt open at the throat, looking as sexy as Avery has ever seen her.

“I’ll make your windmills mine/Together we’ll walk the line/Between madness and reality/We’ll conquer all the knights we see/We’ll never wake from this impossible dream/Take me with you when you go/I’ll call you Don; you call me Sancho.”

The blonde walks forward as the chorus is sung. Lana steps around her mic stand, moving the guitar to her back so there’s nothing between them. The blonde laughs. Lana smiles, her face hopeful.

“Take me with you when you go,” she sings  as the music fades, “I’ll call you Don… you can call me Sancho.”

The video fades out on a two-shot, Lana and the object of her affection smiling at one another.

“What did you think?” Lana asked, curling and uncurling her toes inside her socks.

“I don’t like the ones where you fall in love with someone else.”

“I keep saying if you want to appear in one of the videos…”

Avery laughed. “No. I like being anonymous.”

“That was a really early video, too. Way before I met you.”

“Oh, back when you were a horny rock star trying to bang every pretty girl who would let you in her pants.”

Lana said, “Pretty much.”

“Those were the days.”

“Hell no. Give me a sweet, loving woman wearing my T-shirt and watching old videos of me any day. Anyone can get laid. This intimate shit is tough to get.” She paused. “I still want to get laid later.”

“You will.”

“Good. I just wanted to make sure that was clear.”

Avery went back to the search bar and considered what to type next. She’d seen every Radiation Canary video multiple times. She’d seen bootlegs of concerts, interviews, talk show appearances. She’d watched a couple of them right after meeting Lana just to get an idea of who she was. The night they met, Avery hadn’t even known Lana was a celebrity. She was just some potential drunk out walking the streets in the middle of the night.

That prompted an idea, something she couldn’t believe she’d never thought of before. She looked up clips from the live episode of Settle In, Seattle! Radiation Canary had used to announce their return. It didn’t take long for her to find the performance; the amount of views and upvotes meant it was the first result.

Nick Young brought the show back from commercial and teased the fact their next guests wouldn’t be appearing live. The video began playing and, the moment Lana stepped into a darkened barn, she emerged at the back of the audience to sing the final verse. Avery’s intention was to watch the audience become frenzied when they realized she was really there. She couldn’t get enough of watching an entire crowd of people go wild for her girlfriend.

Instead she found herself watching Lana. It was a rare opportunity to see the woman she loved in the moments before they met. When the song ended, Lana bantered with the host, and Avery noticed something.

“You’re faking.”

“I never fake.”

Avery said, “This appearance. The one right before we met.”

Lana looked up. “I didn’t fake that at all. Sometimes we might lip sync on a show, but that time it was totally live.”

“I don’t mean your singing.” She turned the computer so Lana could see the paused screen. “You’re faking the happy. I can always tell when you’re forcing a smile, and you’re doing it here, darling.”

Lana leaned forward and squinted at the screen. “I think you’re wrong. I really was happy that night. Remember? We only met because I was acting so happy that you thought I was drunk.”

“I know you, Lana Kent. I know that look on your face. You may have fooled everyone else. Hell, you may have been fooling yourself. But you weren’t happy.”

Lana put down her tablet and walked over to sit next to Avery. “Are you implying I wasn’t happy until I met you?”

Avery put her arm around Lana’s neck and leaned in to nuzzle her. She grinned. “I’m implying that very thing.”

“Maybe you should be a detective.”

“I’m happy in my uniform.”

“Mm, I’m pretty fond of it, too. You wanna go put it on…”

Avery arched an eyebrow. “Would that make you happy?”

Lana whispered, “I’ll show you what will make me happy…”

She pulled Avery down, giving her just enough time to put aside her computer so it wouldn’t get dropped. Avery put her hand on the back of the couch and looked down to make sure she wasn’t resting her leg on any part of Lana’s body before she let herself settle. Lana put both arms around her, one hand venturing up under the hem of her T-shirt to stroke her back.

“So you prefer my face now, huh?” Lana asked.

“Mm-hmm. Well… if you’re talking about favorites, this is my second favorite version of your face.” She touched Lana’s cheek with two fingertips. “My absolute favorite is one I only get to see for about ten seconds at a time.”

Lana said, “Oh?”

“Your face when you’re about to come… and then right after.” She traced her finger along Lana’s bottom lip. “The whole world knows a version of this face. They’ve seen it smile and laugh and frown and being sad. Both real and fake. And after you were… after you were hurt, they even saw this face weak and in pain. But your orgasm face? Only twenty or thirty people have gotten to see that up close and personal.”

Lana tilted her head. “Did you just slut shame me in the middle of a compliment?”

Avery laughed, “No, baby, no.” She kissed the corners of Lana’s mouth. “You’re a tender person who enjoys sex and has a job where sex is being thrown at you on a daily basis. If you’ve really restricted yourself to only twenty or thirty partners, I’d be impressed at your restraint.”

“Well, I don’t think there have been thirty… we’re counting one-night stands, too?”

“Mm-hmm.” Avery begin nibbling her neck.

“Hm. Well… we’re still under a hundred, I’m pretty sure.”

Avery lifted her head. “So you’ve taken somewhere between thirty and a hundred beautiful women to bed. And you still decided to stop with me.” She kissed Lana. “So I don’t care what number I am. As long as I’m the last.”

“It’s looking more likely every day.”

“I’ll try to keep playing my cards right,” Avery whispered before placing a kiss on Lana’s lips. “Now let’s see if I can get a peek at my favorite face…”

 

 

Karen held her phone up and angled it so the glare off the window wouldn’t ruin the view. The streets looked empty, but lit up like arteries by the streetlights. “Can you see it?” she asked.

“Queen of the hill!” Vanessa said. “But I was expecting more… you know, Christmassy. Lights on the buildings, boats in the harbor.”

“Did you not see the Space Needle? It’s got a tree on top of it!”

Vanessa said, “Oh, there it is! Yes, very nice. But the rest of downtown… yeesh.”

“We save the really impressive stuff for you cool folks in the suburbs.” She turned the camera around so she could see her friend. “What have you got planned? Caroling and cocoa and waiting for Santa in feety pajamas?”

Vanessa laughed. “Trying to decide which present to open before bed. We always open one the night before so there’s room for Santa to leave something.”

“Ahh, smart. Well, tell Nathaniel that Aunt Laura and I are way up high, and if we see Santa heading your way, we’ll warn him so he can hop in bed.”

“He appreciates that. And the mama who has spent the last hour trying to get him to power down would really appreciate it if you see something in about fifteen minutes.”

Karen said, “I can’t promise that, Ness, I don’t know his schedule.”

Vanessa snickered. “Have you heard anything from Codie?”

“No. But she told us not to expect anything.”

“I know, but going off the grid is so weird these days. When we grew up, you were out of touch with people for a weekend and that was just the way things were. Your friends went skiing in Colorado for the holidays and you didn’t hear anything until January. But now? Now we can’t go a day without checking in.”

Karen said, “Case in point, we just saw each other two hours ago.”

“Right!” She sighed. “Anyway, whatever, I hope Codie is having a blast wherever the hell she is.”

Laura was seated at the laptop. She looked up and flicked two fingers in the air.

“Oops. I have to go. Our thing is about to start. Are you going to watch?”

“Absolutely. Merry Christmas, Everetts!”

Laura wished Vanessa the same as Karen sat next to her in front of the laptop. They had moved the bench so the city would be their backdrop once they went live. They were both wearing their ugliest Christmas sweaters, which meant Karen had a giant reindeer face stretching out from her collar and a pair of antlers as sleeves. Laura’s sweater had alternating Santa Claus and elf patterns with snowflakes between each row. Their son was spending Christmas Eve with Karen’s dads, who begged for the chance to play Santa again. Laura and Karen were making use of the time by doing a special live performance for their fans.

“We have about thirty seconds,” Laura said. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas.” She leaned in and kissed Laura. “Christmas always reminds me of that little charity show we did. And we all stayed overnight at that little cabin, and you came down after everyone else had gone to sleep so you could give me that little figurine.”

“That’s when you knew I liked you.”

“I’m still not convinced. This could all be an elaborate prank.”

Laura raised an eyebrow. “I married you. I have you a child. What will convince you?”

“Thirty more years, at least.”

“Oh, is that all.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Well, I was going to do that anyway.”

Karen straightened her sweater. “Yeah, well, we’ll see…”

Laura reached for the laptop and tapped the button to start the live Facebook video. “Is that it?”

“I don’t know, you’re the one who does this all the time. Yes, yeah. It’s live. Welcome, everyone! Wow, there are already a lot of people watching this. Hi. I’m Karen from Radiation Canary, and this is Laura from the Femme Reapers. We’re not going to keep you away from your families any longer than necessary, but we wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy season. Whatever you celebrate and whoever you’re celebrating with, I hope you’re happy and warm and all that fun stuff. So we’re going to sing a song or two.”

Laura picked up her acoustic guitar and settled it across her lap. “It’s not an original. Sorry. Karen doesn’t believe in writing Christmas songs.”

“I’m scared of the whole ‘band puts out a Christmas album’ stigma. So sue me.”

Laura winked at the screen. “So we’re just going to do a couple of old favorites and then we’ll let you get back to your families. And speaking of families… Ella, I hope you’re having a great time in Paris. I want a souvenir. A good one! Not some airport crap, I want a really cool knick-knack. If it doesn’t pass muster, we’ll have to send you back to get something else.”

Karen said, “I could just take you to Paris…”

“No, it’s the principle of the thing.” She patted the guitar and adjusted in her seat. “Okay, I’ve got my guitar and my lovely vocalist, we’ve got Seattle providing the backdrop… let’s get this show on the road.”

 

 

Codie crawled out of the tent and stretched her arms out, grunting as she rose onto her toes and arched her back. The shirt she wore was long enough to cover her underwear, but that didn’t help against the cold. The temperature was technically above freezing but she couldn’t tell the difference. She bounced from the ball of one foot to the other in an attempt to get warm, looking past the nose of her plane at the still waters. The next landmass straight ahead was Canada, which meant she was on the very edge of her country again. She loved that. And, as a life-long city girl, she was amazed at how much she loved being out in the wilderness. She’d sought out this little spit of land barely large enough for takeoffs and landings as her hideaway, and she visited as often as she could.

The tent fabric rustled behind her and she smiled as a pair of arms wrapped around her from behind. She tilted her head to the side and let her new beau kiss her neck.

“Mm, now you can’t get away from me.”

Codie closed her eyes. “Two things. One… I flew us here, so if you piss me off, I can abandon your ass in about three seconds.”

“Noted.”

“Second…” She turned around in his arms. “No jokes about that kind of shit. Not being able to get away from you, being trapped with you.”

His expression softened. “Sorry. I didn’t know it was a sore subject.”

“It’s not overly sore. I just don’t like it. Way too many people in that boat for real.”

“I understand.” He moved his hands to her arms. “I’d like to kiss you, if that’s okay.”

Codie grinned. “It’s fine. And you don’t have to go overboard on the consent, either. There’s a balance, okay?”

“I don’t know, I kind of like telegraphing everything and getting permission. I’d like to take you back inside the tent and take this shirt off of you.”

Codie said, “It’s pretty cold even with the shirt.”

He said, “I could probably find a way to warm you up, if it meets with your approval.”

“Well, if it’s anything like the thing you did when we first got up here, then consider it approved. What else are you going to do?”

“I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

Codie turned him around, smacked him on the rear end, and half-shoved him back into the tent. She paused before she joined him and looked back out over the water. She knew Vanessa was at home with her family, and Karen was probably doing the live thing with Laura before the big family get-together with her dads in the morning. Lana and Avery were… well, if she knew Lana, they were probably either naked or sleeping in the aftermath of being naked.

They all had their happy places. They all had their bliss. Codie wasn’t sure she would ever settle down for anything as domestic as what the Everetts had. She was positive she didn’t want the beautiful life Vanessa had made for herself. A husband and a son, a house in the suburbs, PTA meetings and a mortgage and lawn care… Codie couldn’t imagine it. Just as Vanessa probably couldn’t fathom being content with just an airplane and a flight plan.

Being in the band gave them each a chance to find their own happy endings. It was time to take a few days and enjoy the rewards.

“Merry Christmas, girls,” she whispered, then ducked back into the tent to see what her boyfriend had in store for her.

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