Jane sat on the grass outside the Haas business library, her customary place at the customary time. She was feeling perky from a few hits off the glass pipe in the women's room, and was scanning through the Wall Street Journal for anything tech-related. She took a drag off her Newport and sipped some Mountain Dew. Another twenty minutes until class, then the weekend would start. She had a busy evening ahead: bring Nadir back to her place and fuck him, shower, then meet Riley, Hunchback, and Harpo from Oakland HA at Blake's for a beer or five. From there, the Angels would head back to the clubhouse and Jane would take a cab to 924 Gilman. If Nadir didn't take care of her itch, she'd try to lasso a punk rock boy into the sack, get a room at one of the shitty motels on San Pablo Ave. and exploit the poor kid until daybreak.
"Hey, Naughty Girl!" came a call.
She looked up and saw two jocks she'd interacted with once before. She didn't know their names, she called them Biff and Tank. They were juniors, and also Haas students. By their current direction of travel, she assumed they were headed into the main building, so she gave them a half-smile and a vague wave in greetings, then went back to the Journal.
Fifteen seconds later her mental radar told her someone was walking directly towards her. No, two someones, Biff and Tank. Biff again called, "Hey, Naughty Girl!"
Jane nodded in greeting and replied, "Good afternoon, Boring Boy. What's up?"
Tank snorted in laughter at Jane's little zing, Biff whacked him in the arm. Then he said, "So, you wanna make some money?"
She aimed a curious frown at Biff and responded, "How much money? For doing what? Where? Will I be violating state or federal crimes? Do I need my gun? Will I have backup? What time frame? What organization? Who will be my capo?"
Both bros lost their smiles as Jane machine gunned the questions. Tank regained his first and said, "No, remember what we were talking about last time? You making porn with us? We're still interested."
"I'm sure you are," Jane said levelly. "But interest does not equate to ability. Please, don't waste my time or your breath by laying the same deal on me again. You don't have a studio, you don't have a business plan, you don't have equipment, you don't have money --- that's a biggie --- you don't even have fucking blood tests. You're just two frat boys with hard-ons and a camcorder. Say goodnight, Gracie."
"No, we've got our shit together now," exclaimed Biff. "There was a spare room in the house, and we converted it into a sound stage. We've got lights, and a second camera. And we can pay you more, too."
Her forehead crinkled, Jane asked, "Um.... How big is this new sound stage? General dimensions?"
"Oh, you know, just, like, normal bedroom size."
"The ceilings are about normal height?"
Jane suppressed a giggle. "And you put in a light rack, suitable for shooting video. Full color spectrum, plus floods."
The jocks glanced at each other, then nodded. "Oh, of course."
Now Jane couldn't hold back a snicker. "So, have you been in this room with all those lights on?"
"For how long?"
Tank frowned and said, "Um, I dunno, maybe a couple hours...."
Jane gave up manners and began laughing out loud. "You're either lying to me, or you're both giant lizards. With a full rack of stage lights, plus a 5K flood light or two, the temperature in that room would quickly rise to what is considered perfect for baking corn bread. You would be soaked in sweat in five minutes, miserable in ten minutes, and suffering heat stroke in twenty minutes.
"I don't think you caught on the last time we spoke. I've been around the production of adult video since I was sixteen. Just through osmosis, I have a very good grasp of both the business and technical ends of the industry. You can't snow me, you can't fool me, and you can't bullshit me. I refuse to believe you have a full light rack anywhere in your fucking frat house, much less installed in a spare bedroom. Boys, you are now officially wasting my time. Goodbye."
Biff started, "Hey, we're gonna---"
Tank snapped, "Bitch, we'll give you $400 to fuck us both, okay? And we get to video it, we'll be able to prove we fucked some slut from the porn industry."
Jane lit a fresh Newport and studied the two. Then she said, "Tell me, boys, how old were you when your parents just started giving you cash instead of presents on your birthdays and Christmas?"
Biff replied, "I was fourt--- Hey! How'd you know that?"
"Because both of you are under the impression that you can get yourself into, or out of, any situation, so long as you throw enough money at it. You had to have learned that lesson somewhere, and from your parents is an obvious guess.
"It's a little sad, really. Both of you have decided --- for some reason --- you want to fuck me. No man has ever had to pay me for sex in my life. If a man displays style, and charm, and class, I'm actually really damn easy to get in the sack, and I take pride in rocking the world of any man I sleep with. And I've had two men at once, and loved it. They both had charm and style and class.
"You two.... Jesus. You're still laboring under the misapprehension that money will get me to drop my drawers, and I've corrected you on that once." Jane looked at the sky and rubbed her chin. "All right, I do have my price. Five grand will get you one hour with me, both of you at the same time. I will promise you it will be an experience that you'll never forget. But $400 to pretend we're making a video is still far, far under industry standard. My suggestion is that the next girl you both become fixated upon should be treated with some decency. Stop dressing like the terminal preppies you are and turn on the charm. Show respect, but keep your hustle up. You may get further.
"With me, you've reached the end of the line. All passengers off, no transfers will be honored. Go away now, stop wasting my time. Goodbye."
Tank spat, "Why shouldn't we just pay to fuck a slut like you, we're offering $400 for your pussy. You think you're worth more? You're just some slut who makes porn."
Jane stood up. leaving her book bag on the ground but keeping her purse over her shoulder. "The last time we spoke, I warned you about applying the words 'slut' or 'whore' to me. I made it very clear how I felt. Yet here you are, calling me a slut." She stared into Tank's eyes until he looked away, then continued. "I am not going to contend with either of you, for any reason, ever again. I am not joking. You both need to turn around and walk away, with your mouths shut. You do not acknowledge my existence, you pretend I don't exist. Go. The fuck. Away. Now."
Jane's voice was totally controlled, even. Her facial expression was as blank as a sheet of drywall. She wasn't yelling, she was perfectly calm. This unnerved the jocks far more than if she had screamed or yelled. They gave each other nervous glances. Then Biff scraped up a smile from somewhere and said, "What if we don't?"
In the smooth tone, Jane said, "My right hand is currently inside my purse. If I'm forced to take my hand out of my purse, within fifteen minutes both of you will be headed to the hospital, and I will be headed to jail. All three of our lives will become much more difficult, in many ways. Do you want that to happen? I don't. And you don't, either. I will not say it again. Go. Away. Now."
Biff and Tank looked at each other again. Biff gestured with his head. They both turned and walked towards the main hall of Haas. Jane could just barely hear one of them mutter, "Fuckin' psycho slut." Tank was wearing sweatpants, which had three Greek letters across the ass: Delta Epsilon Theta. She'd have to remember that, she could pick Kaitlyn's brain for intel on that house.
After class got out, Jane hiked across campus to Bancroft and College Ave., jumping on a 51 bus, which would drop her off at Clark Kerr Campus Housing. Home of Nadir, her kama sutra plaything. She had befriended him at the beginning of the year, and ended up stealing his virginity. They'd gotten together a few more times since, and every time Jane was impressed by the shy East Indian comp. sci. major: He wasn't hung huge, but well, and he had incredible stamina and self-control, as good as Lenny or Roach. He would also suggest positions which sounded odd when described, but would turn out to be very, very enjoyable. Jane had asked him, straight up, if he was using moves listed in the kama sutra. Nadir had rolled his eyes and said no in a tone that told Jane to drop the subject.
Jane's nipples were getting hard just dialing Nadir's room from the office at Clark Kerr. Her lover Kristen was wonderful, but dammit, Jane wanted cock. Period. A real one. Nadir answered the phone, and Jane said, "Hey stud! You ready to swing, baby?"
Nadir paused briefly, then said in a slightly mechanical voice, "Hello, Jane. Ah, I'm afraid I won't be able to join you this evening. My parents have come to visit."
A ringing started in Jane's ears. Nadir had not mentioned their impending arrival. Great, his H-1B Visa-holding parental units were here, and cock-blocking her. (Cunt-blocking her?) In a voice tinny with annoyance, Jane said, "You didn't mention they would be here this weekend. You're making my pussy very angry."
Still holding the same robotic voice, Nadir replied, "I wasn't aware they were visiting, they arrived about ten minutes ago, telling me they wanted to surprise me."
"Oh, happy fucking day," Jane growled. "Yes, this is quite a surprise. Um, I"m gonna guess they're in the room with you, so you can't talk freely. Am I correct? Yes or no."
"I remember at the beginning of the year, you said you'd love it if you parents had a chance to meet me. Well, here's the opportunity. Don't worry, I will tamp down my sexual frustration and be polite and diplomatic. Bring 'em down, I"ll be at the top of the driveway smoking five cigarettes at once."
Nadir paused again, but when he spoke this time his voice was far more natural. "Yes, that's a good idea. We'll see you there." Click.
Jane went out front to wait. And wait. She was stomping out her second cigarette and getting ready to call Nadir back when he arrived with two older Hindi in tow. The man was dressed like a preppy, except for the sandals. The woman was in a Sari. Nadir's face held the tension of a thousand active bomb squad techs. It was obvious he was trying to communicate with his eyes, trying to beam a message into Jane's head. He said, "Hi, Jane. This is my father, Ishaan Reddy, and my mother Anaya."
It was evident Nadir's parents had not expected to have to interact with this.... person.... even as they approached. Yet their son had stopped here, and indicated that this was his friend Jane. Both parents seemed to be frozen, not even breathing, and staring at Jane. She put a demure smile on her lips and extended a hand. "Good afternoon, lovely to meet you. How was the trip up? Did you drive, or fly?"
Ishaan stepped forward and briefly rattled Jane's hand, saying in a thick accent, "Hello. We drive, we leave this morning early." He seemed to take in all five foot five of Jane: cherry red ten-hole Docs, skintight black leather pants, a red bustier (displaying plenty of decolletage), six spike bracelets down one arm, her bondage collar, and her necklace of frat boy teeth. Her blue mohawk was about four inches long, and she'd bothered to fan it up that morning. As usual, she'd tried to emulate the Becky Page makeup as closely as possible. To round it all off, her book bag (a strapped canvas bag from the USMC surplus store in Oceanside) had a small pin on the front, which read "I'd Rather Be Eating Pussy."
"How.... did you come to know my son?" asked Ishaan. He sounded like he was having to force his voice to remain calm.
Jane smiled and said, "Well! At the beginning of the year, he was sitting next to me in Comp. Sci. 101. It was obvious Nadir didn't belong in that class, he was way ahead of what would be taught. Only thing was, UCB had no facility to determine what class he should be in. Nadir pointed out to our instructor that being in the class was a waste of everyone's time, and the instructor basically said, 'Well, sucks to be you.'
"I thought that was total bullshit and called the instructor out on it. Okay, so Nadir may not have formal education in computers, but he knows his shit up and down.... I guess you started teaching him computer science straight out of the womb. So I told the instructor that if UCB didn't have any way to analyze where in the Comp. Sci curriculum Nadir belonged, then it was time to think one up. I told the instructor, 'Fuck it, let Nadir take last spring's final exam. If he blows it, you'll know where he really stands, and if he aces it, then you goddamn better kick him upstairs, you know?' Me and the instructor went back and forth a little, and he finally agreed he'd let Nadir take the final that afternoon. If Nadir was as smart as he looked, he'd crush it, and the instructor would help figure out what courses Nadir needed."
Nadir explained, "Jane is the one who made the instructor blink, as it were. It felt very strange. Here I am, in my first class on my first day of college, and a girl I've never met is advocating for me with the instructor, in a very aggressive manner. We had barely spoken, but Jane pushed my case like I was family.""
"Why did you challenge the instructor, on behalf of my son?" asked an open-mouthed Ishaan.
With eyes and smile both very wide, Jane gleefully asserted, "Well sir, I did it because it was the right fucking thing to do."
Looking quite peeved, Mr. Reddy asserted, "How was this correct? You demanded special exceptions be made for Nadir, the harmony of the university's---"
"HAH!" Jane erupted. "I remember Nadir telling me about this the next day. He told me you were angry with him, you said he should have stayed in the class and not disrupted things. You said something about Nadir being 'disharmonious' with the structure of the curriculum." She eye-locked with Nadir's dad in silence. Once Ishaan looked away, Jane continued, "Mr. Reddy, I'm not trying to be offensive, but.... That is total fucking bullshit, what you laid on your son. Disharmony, in a college curriculum? This is advanced education, not a fucking coral reef.
"Even looking at the situation totally objectively, getting Nadir into the right courses for his knowledge was the right thing to do. I know you're probably very aware what tuition is here at UCB. Jesus Henry Christ, for what this school costs, you're goddamn right they'd better be willing to get flexible. Nadir staying in Comp. Sci. 101 would have been a waste of his time, the instructor's time, the resources of the course.... and the money YOU paid for tuition. Nadir would have literally wasted hundreds of hours of schooling, going over shit he's probably known since before his balls dropped. No, you don't always play by the fucking rules, okay? Sometimes you gotta stomp on some toes and kick some asses to get things done, especially when it really is in the best interests of everyone concerned, not just yourself.
"Fuck harmony. We're at UC Berkeley to get an education, a good one, not play along with bureaucratic bullshit. This isn't the balancing point of the universe, this is college. I advocated for your son to try and make sure every goddamn minute he's in a classroom at Berkeley is useful, and valid, not a waste of his time. And hey! It worked! So go Nadir, and what the fuck, go me. Okay?"
Ishaan looked at Jane, literally in a state of shock and awe. He finally stated, "Ms. Osborne.... You are a very unusual young lady."
Both Jane and Nadir started laughing. Jane managed to say, "Yes, it's been noted on several occasions."
His laughter dying down, Nadir told his father, "I cannot lie. When Jane sat down at the desk next to mine in the computer lab, I was terrified. As you can tell, Jane has a very unique sense of style, to me, she looked like a morally ambiguous female superhero. Then she turns to me and tries to start a conversation! From the first moment, anyone meeting Jane will know she will never be a soothing influence on the world around her...."
Jane snickered and said, "Oh.... I wouldn't say that. I know how to do some very soothing things. You know that, Nadir baby. Like when I use my fingertips and tongue, and uh...."
Nadir quickly stated, "Anyway, I sat in my first class, on my first day, and listened while this girl I didn't know browbeat and out-argue our instructor into giving me a chance to prove my knowledge, so my placement in the Computer Science curriculum would be of benefit to me. And that day, she bought me lunch! We talked as we ate. I asked Jane if she was worried about the instructor putting a target on her back for the rest of the year. In so many words, father, Jane made it clear that she was not worried at all. If the instructor tried to make her life difficult, she would do the same to him.... and persevere. Jane Osborne is not a college freshman. She is a force of nature. If anything in this world frightens her, I don't know what it is."
"Mimes," Jane asserted.
"Mimes. Street mimes. Creepy, silent, gesturing motherfuckers, I hate 'em. Okay, maybe it's more loathing than fear. But I will go out of my way to avoid them."
For the first time, Nadir's mom spoke. With a quavering voice, she asked, "May I ask if you have chosen a major in your studies yet, Miss Osborne?"
"I'm a business major," replied Jane. "I got into Haas School of Business, and I'll be leaving Berkeley with an MBA. That's the goal, anyway."
"And.... how do you spend your free time? Do you have a hobby?"
"Hmmm.... Playing electric bass counts, I guess. Oh, I'm learning conversational Tibetan, I get tutored four evenings a week."
Having a good grasp of Asian geography, Ishaan wondered about this declaration. He asked, "What will you do with this skill? Will it aid you in business, somehow?"
"Oh, hell no," Jane cheerfully replied. "I have zero intentions of finding a practical use for semi-literacy in a language spoken by the most repressed people on earth. But learning Tibetan will satisfy my Foreign Language requisite for my Bachelor's degree. Thanks to the Chinese occupation, not a lot of Tibetan natives emigrate, so running across native Tibetan speakers is very rare. The couple who tutor me are a youngish couple from the Nagqu prefecture. They walked --- freakin' walked --- from Nagqu, through Nepal, and then into India, finally landing in New Delhi. From there, the Red Cross hooked them up with the US Consulate, who gave them refugee status and moved them here to the Bay Area.
"What they did took major balls. They estimate the walk was about 900 miles. They were able to hitchhike once they were in India, at least. A lot of the time, until they got out of Nepal, they would hide during the day and walk at night. They would literally eat grass and bark, they nearly starved to death. The Thokmays, Ngawang and Pema, told me that after they got into India, they were walking along the road to New Delhi. They were someplace, uh.... Campirganj? Am I saying that right?"
Nadir's dad said, "Yes. Campirganj, a town in Uttar Pradesh province. Near the Nepal border."
Jane smiled and said, "Okay. Ngawang and Pema said they were both just skeletons at that point, people would avoid them because they looked like they were dead. They'd crossed the border two days before, but were still leery of interacting with people. Pema said they were walking that third night through that town, and a woman came out of a market and saw them. They didn't speak Hindi, the woman didn't speak Tibetan, but they each knew a few words in Nepalese, and were able to communicate who they were and where they'd come from. The woman told them to wait and went back in the store. They were both scared, they thought the woman was going to call the cops on them. But she came out and gave them a liter container of badam milk, a package of chapati bread.... and two bottles of Coca Cola. It was literally the first 'real' food they'd eaten in over three weeks. Their stomachs were so shrunken, it took them three days to eat it. But it was the first act of kindness they'd had since leaving home, and they'll always be grateful to that woman."
"Jane is also a refugee," smiled Nadir. "She's originally from Florida, her parents threw her out when she was sixteen."
"Oh? And why is this?" asked Anaya.
"They caught me in bed with a boy," Jane stated with a smile. "The thing is, it wasn't my regular boyfriend, it was just a guy I thought was hot. That made them really mad. So, they threw me out. I stuffed a day pack with what I could, and got on Greyhound headed for San Diego. I knew I wanted to be in California, but I only knew two people out here, Lenny and Bekka Schneider. You'd probably know Bekka as Becky Page, her screen name...."
"You know Rebecca Page?" asked Ishaan.
Jane was unable to stifle a laugh. "Um, it's Becky Page, not Rebecca. It's a screen name. Yeah, we met when I was fourteen. They were on their honeymoon in Florida, we just happened to bump into each other on a dinner cruise. We started writing, keeping in touch, so when I decided to head out here, I wanted to see them, at least for a couple days.
"To be honest? I'd pretty much resigned myself to working the stroll in Hollywood, just another fucking runaway teenage whore. Lenny and Bekka made me an offer: if I went to school, got good grades, and helped around the house some, they'd take care of me. They helped me get legally emancipated and enrolled in high school, and ta da, I was sort of their adoptive teenage daughter.
"Living with them was wonderful. Sometimes it could be really wild, but it was wonderful. Crazy shit seems to happen around those two, and I'd be a part of it. But they loved me and took care of me. They must have not fucked up too bad, I made it into UC Berkeley, right?"
"Jane has led quite a life," Nadir opined. "She drives an American hot rod and rides a Harley-Davidson, she lived with Becky Page and her husband in a house on the beach, she's toured Europe, she's made a few porno vid---" He cut himself off, looking chagrined.
In a polite but prying voice, Ishaan asked, "Excuse me, you have.... engaged in pornography?"
"Yep, sure have," Jane smiled. "I made four half hour loops over the summer, and I'm going to have a semi-regular role in a video series Inana Productions is releasing. It's fun, it's easy work --- to me it is, anyway --- and the pay is great. The people I work with, on both sides of the camera, are wonderful. Basically, every stereotype you hear about adult video was disproved by my experiences at the Inana studios."
"Had Ms. Page coerced you into engaging in this activity?" asked Anaya.
"Quite the opposite! Her and Lenny had both tried to discourage me from even trying it. I'd wanted to try performing since I was sixteen, way too young. They finally told me they'd let me make a loop after I turned eighteen, just so I'd stop bugging them. Even then, they kept hammering on about what a drag it was going to be. Okay, what shows up on video and what happens on the sound stage are two different things, but I still had fun.... And it was the performance that was fun, not the acts. Well, those were fun too, but...."
"None of this bothered you?"
Jane fixed Anaya with a stare while she lit a Newport. "No. After living with Bekka and Lenny for two years, and being around people from Inana, I had a pretty good grasp of how things worked. It's not sex, it's performance. What is on the screen doesn't reflect what happened in real life." She paused, then said, "Okay. You two have seen 'Star Wars,' right? How much of what was on the screen in 'Star Wars' actually happened in real life? Did George Lucas actually build a Death Star in space, then blow it up? Are there space ships in real life? The closest thing I can think of that compares to the storm-troopers would be the LAPD Tac Squad, and they only wish they had laser guns.
"Making professional-quality adult video is serious business. Not just anyone can do it. You're not just getting laid in front of a camera. If you have any grasp as to how movies are made, the same processes go into making adult films. What works out to a half hour of video takes about two and a half hours to produce.... And that's just the sex. Think about the movies Inana makes. They're full movies, right? There is a hell of a lot of work involved in making an Inana feature. I'm proud to say I have the talent to appear in Inana's videos, both as an actress and a performer."
Nadir added, "Mama, Papa, I'm sure you've read the articles about Inana Productions and Becky Page and Lenny Schneider in Time and Newsweek. They are the ones who created the 'Smart Porn' genre of films, adult movies with intelligence. They are the reason it is no longer a shameful thing for anyone, men or women, to say they watch pornography. I'm sure you've read the interviews with some of the other Inana Girls. They are intelligent, happy women with unusual acting careers. Jane has the same career, sort of. She is a student full-time, but also performs part-time. Given what she's paid, I don't blame her a bit."
Jane stepped closer to Nadir's parents and said gently, "Look, don't worry. I'm not corrupting your son in some way. Yes, I've talked about working with him, but the talk the talk is actually kinda dull. I mean.... Hey Nadir, remember me talking about Bubba the gaffer?"
Nadir started laughing. "Oh yeah!" To his parents, he said, "The last time Jane worked, they were having terrible luck with the lights on the sound stage. They kept blowing bulbs, or something. The upshot was their gaffer --- the light tech --- spent the last forty minutes of shooting hanging from a light rack fifteen feet above the stage. He was just dangling there, waiting for the next damn light to blow, so he could crawl over and replace it immediately! The director finally calls 'Cut and wrap,' and three seconds later Bubba loses his grip and falls onto the stage! Thankfully, he wasn't hurt."
"He missed landing on Sally, our camera operator, by about six inches," giggled Jane. Then she got a bit serious and said, "But see, when I talk about work with Nadir, that's the stuff I talk about. I'm not giving him a blow-by-blow recounting of the action, I tell him about stuff that's actually interesting, you know?" Glancing at her watch, Jane said, "Hey Nadir, looks like time for dinner to me. Can I take you and your parents out to eat? We can hit that vegetarian place in Rockridge you like."
"It's a bit expensive...." Nadir started.
"And you've seen my bank balance," Jane shot back with a smile. "Come on, I'll call Green Cab, we'll roll down and get some dinner. Come with me."
Nadir said to his parents, "Will you allow Jane to treat you to dinner tonight? There is a restaurant in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, just south of here, that has wonderful vegetarian food." Looking at Jane, he said, "It's a twenty minute walk, to hell with the cab. We can just hoof it."
"Okay, point taken," Jane replied.
Ishaan frowned (again) and asked, "Wait, we will be walking.... through Oakland?"
Firmly affixing a smirk on Ishaan, Jane said, "Yes, we will. This may surprise you, but not all of Oakland is a slum, there are some very nice neighborhoods. We'll be walking through one of them, straight down College Avenue. Now, if we were going to get good barbecue, that would be another matter. The best barbecue places in Oakland are in 'hoods where being armed is just common sense, not a pose. Especially for blue-haired white girls."
Nadir announced he wanted to call his roommate to let him know he'd be gone for a while. Jane followed him into the Clark Kerr office. Nadir spoke with his roommate and headed back towards the front door, Jane behind him. Before he got there, Jane grabbed his arm and swung him to the right, pushing him into the alcove for the restrooms. She forced him against the wall and got her tongue in his mouth. He reciprocated. After several seconds, they broke off.;
With her manic grin on, Jane told Nadir, "At midnight there will be a Green Cab sitting at the top of the driveway, waiting for you. I'll be in the back, also waiting for you. You will get in the cab, which will transport us to the Marina Marriott. Once there, we're getting a room. And once inside the room, you'd better have your fucking clothes off within thirty seconds. Do you understand?"
Jane had noticed that, when she "bullied" Nadir like this, his smile had been getting a little more confident with time. The smile he had now was rather reassuring to her: she was no longer scaring the shit out of him. He said, "I'll be waiting.... Although I may be leaving early in the morning, depending on what plans my parents have. You probably think I"m being a big wuss, trying to keep up appearances with my parents, but...."
With a quick smooch, Jane said, "Don't be a chicken butt. You're an eighteen year old freshman, and your parents' only son." Her smile receded a bit. "I'm kind of jealous. Your parents like clinging to the illusion their son will always be this ray of purity or something. At least until graduating college. No one has ever held that illusion of me. Sometimes that makes me a little sad." She shook her head and rebuilt the smile. "Come on, we have to go convince your parents that the bullets don't start flying as soon as we cross Woolsey Street."