Categories > Movies > Monsters, Inc. > Homecoming


by Light-Rises 0 reviews

In the seventeen months following the film's main events, James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski have lived a dream life -- and the monster whom they exiled, Randall Boggs, has been struggling to surv...

Category: Monsters, Inc. - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Randall Boggs - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2005-05-19 - Updated: 2007-08-12 - 8762 words


Author's Note: This is a M.I. fanfiction I've been working on for awhile now -- quite lengthy, I'll admit, but if you'll bear with me, I think you might find something worthwhile. :) I'll try to post a chapter a week of those that I've already written, and then...well, update whenever I finish each subsequent chapter. Seems fair, me thinks. nods Constructive criticism in reviews is always -- and very much -- welcome.

Disclaimer: All characters, names, places, certain concepts, parallel universes, etc. used in this work are copyrighted to Disney/PIXAR. In other words, I own and lay claim to nothing, with the exception of these so far: Miss Rosemary Nash, the Chavezes, Mr. Davies, Shirley Klump, and Janis Lovey.

Time: This segment takes place on Tuesday, April 8, 2003 in the Monster World. And no, I'm not just being anal -- the dates DO matter. Really. awkward grin


Fortune may have yet a better success in reserve for you, and they who lose today may win tomorrow.
~ Cervantes


Prologue: Regarding the Winds of Change

The light hadn't been forced to glean (through a skylight or anything to that effect), so it flooded every visible nook and cranny in the room as far as its pool on the floor extended. It all came from a set of rectangular windows which took up an entire wall. The view they offered was pleasant -- at least that was how most would put it, since the viewer's opinion itself differed somewhat. From that huge office, with dust and hair particles dancing in the dullish radiance of a cloudy day before his nose, Sulley gazed past the vast company parking lot to downtown itself. In particular, his attention was drawn to the two distinctive domed towers of city hall, the gold leaf somehow managing to be dazzling in this kind of weather. The monster's blue eyes suddenly lit up, and his expression finally matched the feelings attached to it: nostalgic wonder.

"Wow," he breathed, raising a hand as if to scratch his chin, letting it halt in midair. He was openmouthed, almost smiling. Did I /really /used to think like that?

Looking up quickly, Sulley saw the clouds roiling and swirling about, the winds striking up their innards and ragged, scuttling edges. /The winds of change.../that made sense to him now, with old feelings rising up in him fuzzily, as if half-forgotten. Monstropolis City Hall was always his favorite building to look at -- an especially pretty, imposing site for any little monster, and an admirable hunk of Old World architecture for the grownups. But the weird part was how a mere building, stately and elegant as it was, had compelled him into something like /college/, of all things! For the longest time, he'd had the urge to work alongside those important monsters who were, apparently, doing BIG, important stuff in there, and he could never make heads or tails of /why/. Wasn't getting moldy bread on the table every day enough?

But, nowadays, even /that /didn't feel right.

Sulley stared back at his reflection in the glass, uneasiness creeping in. Yes; the winds of change /had /done a number since then, since before -- and after -- Monsters, Inc. became a part of his life. And that was as far as James P. Sullivan would go with that line of thinking. All he could do now was chuckle at the thought of almost shooting for a degree in Political Science. This felt good, comfortable, so he leaned back in his executive chair and placed his hands behind his head.

Unfortunately, the chair -- pneumatically adjustable as well as cushy -- didn't agree with this. It dipped back and, not unlike the magician and the tablecloth, slipped from underneath its shaggy occupant. Sulley hardly had time to yell in shock before his back hit the floor with a sharp smack! After sputtering a partially stifled "Uff!", he turned his head a little, just in time to see the chair skidding to a stop, on its side, near the wall of windows.

"Smooth. /Real /smooth." The words surfaced a chagrined mutter.

At that moment, the office's large rosewood doors reverberated with a single, lilting chime. Sulley twisted his neck the other way as one swung open, and he spotted a familiar, green shape making its way in, its round back turned as it finished speaking with the secretary in the adjacent room.

"...I wouldn't worry about it, Rosey -- if Sid has hard feelings about /that/, then let him talk with /me /over lunch. 'Kay, ciao!" With a quick, high wave and a fleeting smile, Mike let the door groan to a close behind him. His eye was closed as he strolled up to the desk, humming. "Hey there, big guy! I -- oh." He dipped his head (er, body) underneath, finding Sulley lying on the floor, staring back wide-eyed and now doubly chagrined.

After a moment's regard, Mike settled down on his right forearm, partially "lounging" there along with his friend in the space under the desktop. His single eyelid drooped as a wry smirk spread across his face. "So, let's see...Mikey gets two guesses as to what freakish mishap caused /this/."

Sulley moaned. Why did /he/, of all people, have to catch him like this? "Aw, come on, Mike. Nothing happened," he said, starting to hoist himself up. "I was just -- OW!" He brought a furry hand to his head, eyeing the table's underside with a look that bespoke violent thoughts.

Mike wasn't looking. He brought the curled fingers of his left hand to his eye, then extended the arm completely, studying his fingernails. "You're having trouble with the office again," he stated in a knowing, almost singsong tone.

"/No/." Sulley shook his head, sighing as he got up. "No...not really, at least. It's just getting adjusted to all this /stuff/."

A portion of Mike's head popped into view, trying to look over the top of the desk. Light suspicion tainted his words. "If you're implying that you can't get used to life on Easy Street, then I'd say you /are /in need of some therapy."

"Yeah, sure." It was the closest Sulley had come to real sarcasm for years. Being CEO of a major company constituted "Easy Street"? Ha! /That /was rich!

"No kidding, pal." Laying his arms on the desktop, Mike drew himself up to his tippy-toes to get a better look. He switched between glancing at his friend and surveying the various quasi-expensive office items and trinkets spread out before him. "It's just /soooo /like you to have problems with change," he went on, with a derisive, annoyed edge to his voice. "And it comes up /now/, of all times!"

Sulley, who was righting his executive chair, couldn't suppress a groan. " /Mikey/..."

"Hey! I tell it like it is," he countered, smiling. His hands had begun to wander toward the desk items. "Heck, I'm starting to think we'd be better off if I /was the CEO and /you /were the /comédien virtuose/." Mike removed a dark, marble-textured pen from its stand, scrutinizing its exterior between index finger and thumb before popping off the cap. His eye suddenly went wide. "Oooo -- /fountain, " he cooed, impressed.

Sulley settled back into his chair. He knew Mike was only giving him a hard time. So what could stop him from giving it back? "You're probably right," he said, affording a small smile.

This stunned Mike long enough to let him snatch back the fountain pen.

He placed it back in its stand before continuing. "And you wanna know what /I'm /starting to think?"

Mike drew away a little, still somewhat unnerved. "Um...if I know the Muffin Man?" he tried.

"/Nooo/..." Sulley's voice soon descended into light chuckles. "More like, what my Top Comedian's doing lying down on the job?"

"Oh." He'd finally caught on, and the effect was almost immediate. "Worry not, my bosom chum," Mike said in a highly genteel tone, as if it were rehearsed. "I will tell all in good time."

Sulley raised a furry brow in concern. For Mike, something like this usually translated to: "You're probably gonna /cream /me for this!" But what could he do, except wait until Mike was ready to cough up? It couldn't be that bad, anyway -- not after all they'd been through together. Right?

"Well," Sulley began, "then I think Mr. I-Can-Handle-Change will appreciate my effort to fix up this place."

Mike cocked an eye ridge skeptically. "'Fix up'?"

"Yeah...I mean, I've never had Waternoose's eclectic taste, and like you said -- times are changing."

"But your /office /needs to reflect that?" He couldn't help the disbelief that crept in.

"Hey, I'm stuck here most of the time, anyway," said Sulley, with a slight note of sadness. "And it's mine. Might as well make the big 'ol place comfy for two rednecks like us."

Mike smiled appreciatively, pulling up his cupped stool to Sulley's desk. It had been brought in from their apartment, since out of the several plush chairs set aside for visitors it was by far the most comfortable for him. "So then, buddy, what are we going for -- 'the sportsman's lodge'?"

Sulley shook his head. "Nah. I was thinking more like..." -- he drummed his claws on the desk pensively -- "'art deco'."

Mike's mouth hung open. " 'Art deco'? " he said, aghast.

"Yeah. Celia showed me some magazine clips from the Human World -- mosaics, statues, architecture; she told me it's been around for a while." He looked down at the desk to pick up the newspaper, which had been pushed aside earlier while he worked. "The stuff's actually pretty neat, Mikey," Sulley said, unfolding it. "I have to show you later."

"No thanks," his friend scoffed, crossing his arms. "And when did /she /start taking an interest in humans, anyway?"

Sulley's eyes briefly peeked at Mike over the top of the newspaper. "If you're thinking what I think you're thinking, don't," he replied firmly, almost nonchalantly. "Chalk it all up to Boo, if you like, but I can assure you that Miss Celia Mae is up to nothing you need to lose sleep over."

"'Thinking, think, thinking' -- phew, that's a mouthful..." Mike stopped muttering, pulling his hand away from his chin. He took a while in continuing. "Does...that mean she's helping you out?"

"Well, if she offers help, I'd be happy to take her up on it." He laid down the paper and indicated the office walls. "The first thing I want out is this wallpaper. Celia and I picked out a few samples, though I'm starting to think we're leaning towards just painting over it all."

Sulley stopped. He saw that Mike was on the verge of some huge emotion, silently quaking as he was. But he didn't have time to comment on this before the little monster let it seethe over, at first fumbling and then downright fuming.

"Well...well, then that's just fine and dandy! You two go ahead and play office makeover while I stand outside THOSE DOORS" -- he shot an arm toward said doors -- "with a price tag the size of Auscarlia on my head! "

"Wha -- ?" Sulley furrowed his brows, shook his head. "What in Monstropolis are you talking about?"

Now Mike stopped, caught short. Apparently, this wasn't part of his plan. "Uh..." Then he sighed, making a conspiratorial gesture. "Okay, I'll level with you," he said, voice lowered. "You remember when I took vacation time to visit Mom last month, right?"

"Of course. I gave you a week's worth of that."

"Yeah, well, here's the thing: I haven't seen her since the company play or called her up -- she nagged me for /hours /about that -- and you know how it's like with that. I kinda had a lot to talk about, and went on and on, and told her some good things and a couple bad things -- "

Sulley started. "Whoa, whoa. What do you mean by 'a couple /bad /things'?"

Mike shot him a ridiculous, pathetic smile. "Now, you see, /that's /the funny part, heh heh..." Clearing his throat, he composed himself for the next part. "What I mean by that is -- and I swear right now, Sulley, on my honor, that I had /no /clue what I was doing at the time -- I kinda started telling her the story of how we kicked Randall's tail and booted him out of the Monster World..."

"WHAT? " Sulley stood up, prompting Mike to grasp for a tuft of fur on his chin to pull his head back down.

"Shhh, shhh, I know, I know!" he muttered, glancing behind to make sure no one had heard and gotten curious. "It was a stupid, stupid flub and we're lucky it didn't happen in front of anyone else."

A little shamefaced, Sulley averted his eyes. He'd let his emotions get the best of him -- which, as he knew Mike would confirm, was a frequent problem. But he had no idea one subject could provoke such a strong reaction, and for reasons he was sure Mike could never guess at on his own.

After a moment, he looked back at his friend. "Okay," he managed. "So then what's the damage report?"

"Not as bad as it could've been, believe you me. Mom weren't too happy about what we did and I had to bargain myself out of homemade brownies for a year to keep her from telling the CDA or anyone like that. So I was fine, /we /were fine; everything was /cool/." His tone had switched to mellow mode, and he made a sweeping gesture with his arms to indicate the previous "coolness" of the situation. "Well, Celia came up to me a few minutes ago and /threw a fit/. Mom'd called her last night and told her what I'd said. Now she says she's leaving to stay with /her /mother -- indefinitely!"

Sulley worked his lower jaw, hesitating to ask for fear of the answer. "Is she going to tell anyone?"

"No." He said it softly, the word fraught with wondrous disbelief. "I dunno why, but she said she wouldn't be a party to this either way. And I don't think Mom told her you were involved. So we're in the clear, I guess."

"Yeah..." Sulley's mind was elsewhere, so that his voice had a similar dreamy quality to it. The reverie broke with a sudden thought. "Wait a minute. If we're fine, then why did you act like the sky was falling just a minute ago?"

Mike started wringing his hands. "Well, you know how Schmootsie-Poo's like when she's mad at me, and she isn't gonna be leaving till Friday night, so..."

Sulley the Bodyguard covers Little Guy Wazowski's hide once again. It was an old story. But even if it was likely, it didn't quite fit here, not in this case at least. And he couldn't shake the feeling that behind Mike's nervous laughter was something else -- as if there was something he wanted to tell Sulley, /very /badly, but couldn't for one reason or another. Would he dare to think Mike was in the same boat, starting to think the same thing after all this time?

No. The thought was decisive, a bit rueful. When it comes to Randall Boggs, he'd never --

The intercom on Sulley's desk fizzled to life. "Mr. Sullivan?" a female voice inquired.

Sulley reached over to press the intercom button, both relieved and inwardly shaken. "Yes, Rosemary?"

"There's a bit of a situation down at Laughfloor F," his secretary reported. "Several employees have observed Mr. Ward in particularly, uh, /severe /distress."

He glanced at Mike, who had suddenly looked up in interest. The green monster mouthed the name "Claws" with a suggestion of quizzicality, to which Sulley could only shrug; he was just as puzzled.

"You wouldn't be talking about /Pete /Ward," Sulley ventured, "would you?"

"That's the one, sir. And everyone down there refuses to work till something's done about it."

"Ah, great." As he reached across to reply again, Mike leapt on the desk next to his head and nudged him aside, sending several of the trinkets onto the floor as his feet kicked them away. He pressed the button in Sulley's stead. "Sorry, Rosey, but you can tell them that Mr. Sullivan has other matters to attend to at the moment."

"Mikey! What're you /doing/?" Sulley's expression reflected the plaintive, hushed cry, his teeth gritted and his face screwed up as he tried to get around Mike to the machine.

"Yeah, we've got some maaaajor stuff to discuss here. You know: tip-top, hush-hush, that type of thing -- "

"Get OFF!"

Sulley shoved him with enough force to launch him off with the rest of the desk items. The falling objects cascaded in /plinks/, /tinks/, and a dull /clump /when Mike's body struck the floor.

Slowing his breathing and drawing the intercom to himself, Sulley pressed the button. "Tell them I'm on my way down, Rosemary."

"Yes, Mr. Sullivan." She clicked off with finality.

Sulley straightened, looking over the desk to where Mike had landed. The green monster looked up at his friend with an injured, caustic air, rubbing his rump in utmost indignation.

He sighed. "I'm sorry about that, Mikey, but what was /that /all about, huh?" he queried, still a little breathless. "What the heck's gotten into you?"

Mike didn't answer. He simply looked to the floor and sucked in his bottom lip, sullen.

With another audible sigh, Sulley started off toward the other end of the office, not bothering to glance at Mike as he passed by. When he reached the doors, his hand griping one large, elaborate handle, he turned back for a look. A feeling akin to compunction rose up in him, so that his expression softened somewhat. "Look, we'll just talk about this after quitting time, okay? I've got some paperwork to finish up before leaving." Sulley tried a smile, then finished entreatingly, "Promise I'll buy you a latte."


"Fine." He pulled the door open and slid through, letting it close behind him just as his visitor had done a few minutes before. He can't go back to work, anyway/, Sulley thought sourly. /Not if his whole floor's out of commission over an assistant...

He halted. He wasn't able to notice the odd, vaguely concerned look Rosemary was giving him from behind her desk.

Sulley blinked back abstract sorrow. What used to be my floor, too...


Two elevators and several pesky waste management employees later, Sulley arrived on Laughfloor F's level. Elsewhere and as far as he could tell while striding down the hall, things were quiet, serene even; there was still ten minutes left in the morning laugh session. It wasn't until he was near Laughfloor F's entryway that he spotted the anomaly -- a healthy throng of monsters hovering in a tight circle around the object of interest. There were very few whom he didn't recognize, and the two canister-laden carts abandoned a little ways off suggested that even Smitty and Needleman were somewhere inside, elbowing their way through in hopes of seeing what the commotion was all about. All were murmuring amongst themselves as Sulley drew up to them; he made a motion to call attention to himself, but Thaddeus Bile noticed him first. He waved, as if to an old pal, and then began pushing his way towards the edge of the mob.

"Oh, Mr. Sullivan, you can't tell how glad I am to see you!" Bile panted gratefully, breaking through the rest of the crowd. He gripped Sulley's arm and guided him, tugging the CEO along like an excited child wanting to show a grownup something important. "It's pretty bad. I mean, I was minding my own business, sir, and he was sleeping at the desk -- like a baby, I swear! -- and all of a sudden, you know what he does? He /screams /and we run over -- you know, we had to see what was wrong -- and I asked him, 'What's the matter, Claws?' but he doesn't say anything -- he kinda fell off the chair then and, I swear, he went into a /fetal position/. That's a bad sign, a /real /bad sign." He paused for breath, pushing aside the last of the monsters congregated around the curiosity. "He's probably havin' a seizure or something," he finished, his tone thoroughly anxious.

Sulley found himself a few yards from Claws, who was seated at a bench near the wall, leaning forward with his face hidden beneath his machete-like claws (extended, which was unusual) and trembling while letting out strangled, wretched whimpers. For an instant, Sulley wasn't sure whether to feel sorry for him or be disgusted at the display. Claws had been part of the small phenomenon in which a number of Scare Teams flip-flopped in terms of position upon the switch to laugh power: hence, scare assistants became Comedians, and Scarers, laugh assistants. It was sad enough the former bully and self-proclaimed "tough guy" lost his edge after nearly being touched by a mere (though punk) six-year-old girl over a year ago. The poor guy had welcomed the change in the factory, and was quite merry although inexorably reduced to paperwork. But now this...this was downright /pathetic/.

Cautiously, Sulley came up to him. "Hey, Claws."

The blue monster peeked between two of his digits with circumspection.

"It's okay. It's just me," Sulley assured him.

Claws lifted his head some. "Oh. Hi, boss."

Sulley sighed. "Pardon me for being blunt, but what the heck's going on with you? Are you sick?"

"Oh, I'm sick all right," Claws said with a grim air. "Sick with fear!"

/Oh, boy. /Sulley resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he squatted down to get at eyelevel with him. "What's bothering you?" he asked evenly.

Claws laid his arms on his knees with a sigh of his own. "Well, you see, I saw that Sam was doing a real good job in there with the kids, so I said to myself, 'Get some rest, Claws. 'Member, you gotta do the paperwork later!' So I fell asleep -- I was up late last night, Shirley was chewin' my head off at the dispatch office -- and I started having this weird dream. I was down in the Refinery, and, well, it was kinda silly 'cause I have no /business /being there and I had no idea how I'd gotten there. Then I heard a grinding -- GRRRRR!, like a dentist's drill -- and I turned around asking, 'Who's there?' but I heard this real /evil /laugh. I kept turning around 'til I was dizzy, and then...I saw /him/..." He spoke the last part hoarsely.

"'Him' who? " Sulley insisted, shaking Claws' shoulders. "Who did you see?"

"I saw..." -- Claws lowered his voice, shifting his eyes left and right -- "I saw /Randall Boggs /."

Sulley looked over his shoulder, eyeing the others with slight bewilderment. They simply shrugged and shook their heads in reply.

He cracked an awkward smile at Claws. "Now, come on, Claws. That's kinda silly, don't you think?"

"Yeah," said Jerry, stepping into the inner circle. "I mean, it's not like he had a beef with you or anything."

"But you don't understand!" he wailed. "It was unexpected, when he pointed that Scream Exactor thingy at Mike. Only, he was doing it to me! "

"Actually," came Fungus' excited stutter, "it was a Scream Extractor/, NOT /'Exactor', and -- "

Sulley shot him a curt, admonishing look, at which Fungus immediately shrunk away, muttering, "Never mind." It was enough watching for trouble from him; now it looked like /Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me! /was leaving a knotty legacy of its own. Sulley was never totally won over by the idea of "fancifully dramatizing" the events of those fateful two days, especially if it only served to boost Mike's ego. And he knew Mike was walking a fine line by introducing so much truth into his little farce. Of course, the part about Randall's ultimate fate had been changed -- or, rather, "conveniently" cut out. But it all boiled down to the fact that right now, he'd have to do one of the things he hated most -- lie -- and keep a straight face. Then again, it wasn't as if he weren't practiced in doing so. At least not by now.

"Claws," Sulley said, as if speaking to a child, though not in the least unkindly, "that was a scene in the company play. It was all fiction -- make-believe."

"But Randall -- "

" -- And your Randall was Needleman wearing a latex glove on his head."

Claws followed Sulley's gaze toward Needleman, who stood (naturally) next to Smitty, both in plain view. Needleman waved, and Claws shrieked, hiding his face again, sniffling noisily.

George Sanderson rubbed his chin in a meditative air. "You know, I've read about this type of thing before. This looks like a case of PTSS."

" -- That's /posttraumatic stress syndrome/," put in Bile, elbowing the CEO gently.

"I know /that," said Sulley, rather indignant. /Why do people always assume I'm some kind of dim-witted oaf?

At length, Claws lifted his head from his hands again. "I know -- I know it never happened," he admitted, faintly shivering. "But think about it; he wasn't exactly a nice /guy to start out with. I mean, what if he comes back and finds out what we've done? He'd be pretty ticked off, far as I can tell. But then he might be -- " He suddenly gasped, his eyes wide and bright with horror. "Oh, no!" he cried, his hands at his temples. "I'm being haunted by Randall's /ghost!"

"Oh, cruel fate!" chimed in Needleman, a hand against his forehead. No one could quite tell if he was being sarcastic or not.

Sulley shook his head. He was about to tell Claws that he was being silly, that there were no such things as ghosts, but he was struck by a thought and remained silent. It was the buzz that had been bugging him since Mike broke the news about his Mom, and only now did he let the thought fully surface into awareness: What /had /happened to Randall? Sure, he had some ideas, but they weren't exactly...inclined to being brought up often. He knew where Randall ended up -- he'd checked up on the profile of the door he and Mike had destroyed after things at the factory cooled down some. The place, deep in the bayou-dappled portion of Louisiana, was known to be a total creep-out zone for even the best Scarers. Worse yet, and as was starting to dawn on Sulley, the Bayou was particularly notorious for its danger against /all /monsters -- even one as deviously clever and resourceful as Randall Boggs. Claws was right about one thing: if Randall ever managed to return to the Monster World, he would most certainly be "ticked off". And the alternate possibility, that he might already be...

"...They can't do that, you moron! Why do you think they call them the 'waking dead'?"

The shrill voice was Betty's.

Bile stared at the floor sheepishly. "But I always thought ghosts could tap into your brain while you sleep. You know, through your ears."

"Hey, then no problems for me!" Waxford shouted. "I've /got /no ears!"

"But isn't it the '/living /dead'?" George mused.

Betty came up to him. "Look, fur ball, I know what I'm talking about, and when I say they're the '/waking /dead' -- "

"Hey, hey! Cool it! Everyone!"

The arguing stopped at Sulley's order. He gave all standing an equal share of his stern look, at which quite a few visibly cringed, looking ashamed. Then, in a friendlier manner, he approached Claws. He clapped the monster on the back.

"You know what, Claws," he said, "I think it'll do you some good to take the rest of the day off."

Claws looked up. "Really?"

"Sure." Sulley helped him to his feet. "It's obvious you're having one of those days, and it behooves me to give you some time to get the jitters out of your system. Besides, you get to spend more time with Lydia and the kids, and family always helps with that kind of stuff. Believe me -- I know it from experience."

Claws allowed a smile, his face brightening. "You know, I think you're right," he said. He puffed out his chest a little, adding proudly, "I'm gonna go help my wife out with the chores and play with my kids."

"And there you go!" exclaimed Sulley, gesturing grandly. "Now go on and get out of here. Don't forget to let Celia know on your way out."

"Yes, sir!" said Claws. He saluted before jogging off.

As he watched after him, Sulley felt someone tug at the fur along the upper part of his left leg. He looked down to see Sam, who cleared his throat upon being noticed.

"Uh, sir," he asked in a timid but slightly annoyed voice, "don't take this the wrong way, but who's supposed to cover for him? We've still got an afternoon session to do, and now I've got no laugh assistant to, well, /assist /me."

Sulley looked around briefly, only seeing more shrugging shoulders and downcast eyes. Then his gaze rested on a thin, yellow monster. "Needleman?"

Needleman rushed out, panting a little as he stepped before Sulley. "Yes, Mr. Sullivan, sir?"

"I want you to cover for Claws today." He looked around at the others. "I'm sure a fellow laugh assistant will help you out with the paperwork."

Needleman's jaw dropped open. "Are you serious? " he wheezed.

"I certainly am. And I'm confident you'll do fine out there."

Sulley had barely finished when Needleman grabbed his right hand with both of his own, shaking it vigorously. "Oh, thank you, Mr. Sullivan! Thank you-thank you- thank you! I promise -- cross my heart and hope to grovel -- I promise you won't regret it!"

"I'm sure I won't," gasped Sulley, for now Needleman had a fast grip around his chest as he hugged him. /Geez, he's /strong /for a slim guy/.

The monster finally released him as Smitty approached them, brushing aside the dreadlock-bangs from his eyes. "Ah, man, I totally envy you!" he squealed.

Jerry began to wave his arms. "Okay, you guys, show's over! Move along -- morning session's almost over, so you all better get out of the hallway. Come on, move it!"

Reluctantly, the crowd dispersed, each monster going his or her own way, though now most were heading for the cafeteria.

Sulley came over to Jerry. "Thanks, Jerry."

"No prob', Sulley," he answered. "I figured someone had to save you from your fan club."

Sulley chuckled dully. "Yeah. And it keeps getting bigger every day," he said, without enthusiasm.

The two briefly turned their attentions to the threesome of Smitty, Needleman, and Sam. The nerds were jabbering excitedly while Sam trailed behind, as if he would rather have nothing to do with them.

"And don't you worry about Needleman," Jerry added, jabbing a thumb toward said monster. "I'll tell him about the paperwork. I've been around the floors long enough to pick up on it."

"Now, come on, it's not necessary -- "

"Oh, but I /insist/," he replied, giving the CEO something of an implicit, knowing glance before turning around to head for the cafeteria himself. Sulley understood what this meant, and simply waved back as Jerry did so in bidding goodbye.

The bell sounded, and workers began to funnel out from the various Laughfloors around him. He watched them chat and brush past him in silence. He felt numb, a little dazed; he couldn't put his claw on it, but something deep-set and serious was disquieting his innards now that all the excitement over Claws had worn off. The last thing he felt like doing was eating, much less walking back to the office. Nonetheless, he was beginning to have the feeling that if he didn't move in the next few seconds, he'd be stuck there in the hallway next to Laughfloor F until quitting time, at which time he would have no choice /but /to move out of obligation. /What gives today? /he asked himself, though it felt as if he were inquiring into an echoing void that simply recoiled the problem back into his face.

He made a resolution aloud. "I've gotta get some time alone."

He strode down the hall, his determination so set that he ignored the strange looks those monsters who had overheard his comment shot at him as he walked away. The lobby soon loomed before Sulley -- bright, airy, and echoing with the noises folks were making as they talked and moved about. He failed to hesitate as he often did upon entering here; the fact that he had the run of Monsters, Inc. still hadn't quite sunken in, and seeing the lobby usually inspired that feeling of utter disbelief and quiet awe. Instead, he pushed onward to the receptionist's desk, where Celia was, as always, taking and redirecting calls. Just as Roz had once been a fixture in the dispatch office, so Celia seemed very much in her niche here. To /not /see her there at any time during business hours didn't rub anyone the right way; the one time she'd called in sick had been terribly odd, even a bit unnerving, for most of the monsters working that day. Even Randall had seemed somewhat out of his "groove" for it...

Celia looked up as Sulley approached. "Please hold. I'll be just a minute," she spoke into her headset before pressing a button. She flashed a friendly smile at him. "Hi, Sulley-Wulley," she greeted.

"Hey, Celia." Absently, he began to rub the back of his neck. "Listen, I'm gonna go out for lunch today -- probably downtown. I just wanted to let you know so you can tell whoever asks for me to come another time or call back later. I've got my cell in case of an emergency."

"Okay," she replied. She had begun to turn back to her work when Sulley's words fully registered. "W-wait. You're going where?"

"Out. Though downtown sounds pretty good, now that I think about it." Sulley pondered on it for a moment, nodding to himself. "Yeah...yeah, that's it. I'll go downtown."

Celia blinked in disbelief. "But..." -- she bent over her desk, her eye searching the ground below and the rest of the lobby -- "but, Sulley, downtown's a long ways from here -- walking, that is -- and I presume you're not going in /his /car..."

Sulley noted Celia's use of the word "his" with amusement, and then a pang of guilt. It left no doubt she was really miffed with Mike, and that she now looked at himself with genuine concern didn't feel right. After all/, a little voice in his head intoned, /Mikey only /held /the door open. You --

"You presume right," he said quickly. "But I don't see why you find it so strange, Celia: I walked to work tons of times during the energy crisis, remember?"

"I guess so." She began stroking one of her snakes, which was visibly shivering and had an uneasy look about it. Then Celia suddenly brightened, and the snake, along with its drooping sisters, perked up. "Hey," she said, "I can tell you're not feeling well, and there's no use in trying to hide it from me." She leaned forward, lowering her voice to a whisper. "I'm thinking maybe you're in need of a visit with You-Know-Who."

Sulley, who had bent down to hear what she said, straightened suddenly. The look he gave her started off as one of surprise, only, after a moment's reflection, to become deeply appreciative. Celia had found out early on about Boo's reconstructed door. In fact, she had come across Mike's plans during one of his unwitting moments, and had been sworn to secrecy on pain of death. More pain, however, ended up directed to /him /rather than her, though the surprise was successful. Suffice it to say that Mike was lucky to have a girlfriend who remembered to bring a first aid kit every time he sorted through the door's many, splintered shards.

Sulley thought on the idea for several moments before shaking his head. "Nah. The truth is, I don't think it'll do me any good. Sure, I'll probably feel better, and it'll keep my mind off things for a while. But, well...I think /that's /the problem." He rubbed his right arm and looked distractedly off to the side, towards the floor. "There're some things I need to sort out, in here," he continued, pointing at his head. "That's why I gotta get out there walking -- thinking."

The way he looked occurred to Sulley, and he quickly dropped his arms to his side. For the second time today, his gestures had been more telling of his feelings than he felt comfortable with, and he was now only left to wonder -- quite sheepishly -- what else Celia might have discerned.

But she only gave him a small smile. "All right, then, sir," she said, turning to her switchboard. "I'll let the Chavezes and Mr. Davies know you're out."

Sulley almost let out a bewildered "Huh?" before realizing what she was talking about, and proceeded to mentally slap his forehead. Man, I forgot -- they're visiting the factory today! /You dolt./ The Chavezes and Mr. Davies were members of the Board of Directors with whom Sulley was well acquainted -- not to mention good friends. They had lent sympathetic ears towards Sulley's case at the hearing which had been arranged to determine whether or not it was "proper, prudent, and necessary" for Monsters, Inc. to switch to laugh power. In fact, they were probably the greatest reason why the Board had accepted Sulley's proposal. That, and the fact that the other members had become terrifically desperate for an end to the energy crisis, if only to save their hides.

Sulley hesitated, but decided against staying; he knew they were the laidback sort of monsters, anyway. They wouldn't mind if he went out, especially if it was insinuated that he had to.

"Okay, great!" he said at last. "Thanks, Celia."

Celia nodded, waving as he went out. What Sulley didn't see was the last wide-eyed look she gave him as she watched him go, nor did he hear the short, befuddled "Hmmph" she let out before turning back to her work.


I should've taken a jacket this morning.

A steady gust that harked back to midwinter pressed against Sulley's back as he walked, hunched down, along the sidewalk. Though everyone should have been on lunch break, the restaurants stood sullenly to the side, almost hollow in the sense of their virtual vacancy. The street itself was deserted, nary a car or anything else that usually confirmed the presence of folks in sight. Everyone, it seemed, had taken to the same idea he was just realizing: the weather was unseasonably cold for an April afternoon, even in a town that regularly saw some kind of snowfall from November to late March. Then again, Sulley hadn't anticipated leaving the factory until late that night -- and in Mike's car, at that. But the monster factor, or lack thereof, struck him as something of a positive: no bustle as folks tried to fit in a full meal with drinks in sixty minutes, no one to pester him (though usually meaning very well) since he was the new CEO of Monsters, Inc., an innovator, etc., etc., and had become a bit of an oddity because of it. Even when Sulley saw that his favorite restaurant, the Hidden City Caf´, was closing for the time due to the lack of customers, he wasn't bothered in the least. He hadn't been hungry, anyway; this whole walk was about the actual walking, and he knew the gears in his head worked best when he was actually /doing /something. Like his father, Sulley couldn't sit languidly at a restaurant table and mull over food. He always thought best while on his feet.

And by now, he had come to a vital conclusion: his problem was all Randall.

He stopped for a moment, looking across the street, then back the way he was heading. The two stout fruit stands at Tony's Grossery sat a short ways off, though they were presently devoid of fruit. In any case, Sulley only noted this vaguely. It was all very strange: except for the first few weeks after his disappearance, not one soul in or outside of the company had mentioned Randall Boggs -- neither past nor possible present. Almost /years /had gone by without any acknowledgement of his ever existing in the first place. Even Fungus had failed to bring up anything Randall-related until just a short while ago. And, of course, /that /was the thing: now, all of the sudden, Randall was a hot topic. /Twice /in one day he had come up, in one form or another, and with no discernable rhyme or reason to it. And the worst part, at least for Sulley, was that the day wasn't even halfway over. If Randall came up again -- if he had to be reminded about the lying and the terrible, acid feeling he couldn't quite explain -- he didn't know /what /he'd do...

A high-pitched scream sounded. Sulley shuddered and blinked, and his eyes shown clear with alarm. He looked about quickly for the scream's source, but could see nothing up or down the street. Then he heard the voices, not too far off; they were somewhat muffled, as if blocked out directly by a building or some other barrier. He stood deathly still, straining to hear what they were saying.

"...If you touch me, I swear I'll rip your head off, you slimy, seven-eyed creep!" The voice was hoarse, a bit savage in tone, but thoroughly female.

"I'll take you up on that, missy," replied a slick, impish voice, which proceeded to chuckle like a banshee.

Slowly, Sulley edged forward, trying to see if the voices grew any stronger. He then saw the block open up just ahead, a narrow but definite gap between the barbershop and a condemned apartment complex. An alley.

There was silence. He was beginning to wonder if he had been mistaken in hearing anything at all when the female voice spoke up again.

"Oh, dear, /my /mistake -- that was a compliment."

The other voice sniggered croakily, but it abruptly stopped itself on a note of uncertainty. Her tone had been coy and mild, and there was a sardonic air about it that gave him the willies.

The villain, however, was never given time to think twice about what he was planning to do.

There was a startled gasp. And then...


An "Uffff!" sounded, followed by a crazy tumult of various knocked-over objects and scuffling on the ground. Garbage critters yowled in surprise, and several dashed across the street into the trees or wherever they could find cover. A coffee can rolled onto the sidewalk in front of Sulley. He didn't dare to move, but his mouth hung wide open, immobile itself.

The commotion quieted down. He could hear the hard breathing of the thug and his shuffling footsteps as he spun about. There was a suggestion of dismay and anticipation, as if he were waiting for the next punches to be thrown but hadn't the slightest clue where they would come from...

The woman's voice returned, scathing and virulent:

" -- /This /is an insult!"

The thug let out a painful "YEEEEEEOOOOW!" and scuttled about again, knocking more things over (if that was possible) and "Ouch!"ing numerous times. Sulley imagined the guy running around in circles -- getting nowhere and unable to figure out how to remedy it.

After a final, loud " Yeowch!", the thug relented. "Le' me go, le' me go!" he roared. "Uncle! Uncle! I'm through! Just le' me GO!"

She must have obliged, for a squat, furry monster presently ran out of the alley, his back to Sulley. He was built like Ranft but had Waxford's multiple, stalked eyes -- all of which now looked a bit warped and crooked. The thug's arms were up and he was screaming shrilly, running down the street and only pausing between his screams to breath. At last, he vanished around the corner, his short legs a tiny blur.

Sulley fumbled for his cell, walking briskly towards the alley to check things out. He dialed Emergency and held the phone to his ear, listening impatiently to the rings on the other end.

"Hope that's not for me, furrie."

The last word struck with a cool, cutting sting. He turned around, and -- in the shock of seeing a lizard monster, and one resembling Randall closely enough -- Sulley let the cell drop from his palm.

The woman caught it deftly, and then slithered on all eights in an odd but graceful backwards motion till she was at a comfortable distance away from him. She lifted a mussed up, feathery head of hair to Sulley, its sheen coppery and made more intense by the salmon hue of her scales. Her gray eyes bore into him as she stood in a sort of sprinter's position, one arm up and holding the cell while the others were braced against the ground. Obviously, she was readying for attack.

Still taken aback but over it enough to react, Sulley put up his arms amicably. "Easy, miss, it's okay," he assured her. "I heard the whole thing and I just thought you might need some help -- "

The embittered gleam in her eyes cut him off before her words. "Help? What kind of help am I supposed to expect from you? Maybe an extra punch or two that thug hasn't already tried on me?"

"No, no, of course not!" he exclaimed, incredulous. "I was just worried and wanted to make sure you were all right. That's all."

The woman drew up to him and rose to eyelevel, in a manner very Randall-like and yet not Randall-like at all. She was studying him again, her gray eyes intent and focused, very much looking into him through his own blue ones. When she blinked at length, he expected her to slink down, pointedly satisfied or dissatisfied. But instead she seemed to...wilt? Fade? Whatever it was, her expression fell and she moved back slowly, as if sapped or injured.

"Oh." It came out muted, discomfited. "I'm sorry, sir. I...I didn't mean to act like that, to say those things..." She trailed off.

"It's okay, really," Sulley answered gently, and meaning it. "I've been called worse things before." It was then he noticed the woman really only had /two /arms, with an extra pair of legs making up the total of eight.

Not sure how to continue, he tried an obvious, generic question. "Are you all right, miss?"

"Yeah." She patted her hair down some and distractedly ran a hand over her fronds, which were tipped with scarlet. "Oh. Here's your cell back."

She tossed it, and Sulley faltered with the tiny thing as if it were a bar of soap before getting a handle on it. "Thank you." He put the cell away and looked again at the woman, who couldn't seem to bring herself to look back at him. They stood this way for several awkward moments before the woman let out a short gasp.

"My sweater," she muttered, faintly shivering. "It must've fallen off in the alley."

Sulley beamed involuntarily. "I'll get it for you, if you'd like -- "

"No." She stopped rubbing her arms, crouching. "No. I'll just do it myself."

On all eights again, she slipped past him and toward the alley, seeming to flow across the sidewalk more than anything. Sulley watched as she disappeared around the barbershop, and continued to stare for a good while at the spot where he'd last seen her tail. She emerged moments later, standing upright and tugging on a white fleece sweater, which was smudged with dirt and garbage gunk.

"There." The woman stood before him again now, tastefully picking away and peeling off whatever grime she could. "That disrespectful weasel..." She looked up suddenly, seeming to remember her shame, then cast her eyes downward.

More silence. "Well, it was nice meeting you," she said at length, turning to go.

At a loss, Sulley was about to return the goodbye when he spotted something that caught him short. "Wait!"

The woman stopped, turning her head a little. "What? Is something wrong?"

"No..." Sulley squinted, but saw that he wasn't mistaken: along her crimson-speckled back, peeking from underneath the sweater, stood out a pale, jagged line running mostly along her spine. It was a long, wicked looking thing, and as much as he didn't want to be reminded of Randall, it simply couldn't be helped. Not with this.

"That scar..." he began.

She cocked an eye ridge warily. "Yeah? What about it?"

"Nothing," Sulley said quickly. "It's just that I...once knew a guy with a scar like that one. With a bunch, actually."

Self-consciously, she reached a hand back to touch the white sliver. Her eyes were thoughtful. "These aren't easy scars to get. At least not for a lizard monster." She looked up at Sulley. "I'd imagine your friend went through a lot."

"Yeah." That she used the word "friend" sent an inner twinge through him, though not as much out of disgust as incredulity.

The woman drew closer, observing him with guarded marvel. "You're not like the others," she told him, shaking her head. "You don't strike me as someone who'd feel like he /has /to bully us around, who'd give us scars like these..." She caressed hers briefly. "I'd at least hope you've never done things like that." Her gaze became probing, but this time not so much suspicious as hopeful. "Honestly, sir, have you?"

Sulley tightened his lips, but the answer rushed out with little regard to thinking. "Never."

D'oh! NOW you've done it! There was no convincing himself this wasn't the most bold-faced lie --

There was pressure on his right forearm, near the elbow. He looked down to see she had her hand there and was squeezing gently. "You're a good man." Her face twisted in puzzlement. "Mr....?"

"Sullivan," he blurted. "James P. Sullivan. But I like Sulley best." He finished with a chuckle. /Boy, I'm glad I'm furry/, he thought, feeling the heat in his cheeks.

The woman's eyes narrowed, a smile playing on her lips. "Wait a minute..." she said, stooping and moving around him in a mischievous, characteristically serpentine way. "You aren't that new CEO of Monsters, Incorporated, are you?"

Sulley chuckled again. "Actually, yes. I am."

She stood up straight, placing her hands on her hips. "Ha! The CEO of the largest power company in Monstropolis is a nice guy. Now /that's /a breath of fresh air!"

Genuinely flattered (which was a first for these types of compliments), he grinned at the woman. "Well, I'm just...hey! I never caught /your /name."

She extended a hand to him. "I'm Janis Lovey," she said as he took it. "I just moved here from the west coast -- the Southern Howlifornia area, to be exact."

His eyes widened. "Hey! I've got some cousins there." Then his face fell. "Oh...I'm sorry if any of them have, well, you know..."

"It's okay," Janis said, in much the same way he had earlier. "They're not for you to worry about."

The scenery around the two brightened as the sun peeked through the clouds. Sulley looked about, thankful for the sudden warmth. "Say, do you think we could -- "

"Exchange phone numbers and e-mails?" she finished for him. Her expression had a sly, pleased leaning to it. "I don't see why not."

They did so, and with that they parted company. If nothing else, Sulley would come back to work with a bemused but cheery smile, and leave everyone wondering what the heck had gotten into him. Celia'll know something's up. But I can't /wait /to see the look on Mike's face when I come in and tell him what happened to me during lunch...

He laughed, sufficiently warm and content, and the Randall problem somehow miles away.


In the distance, outside of Monstropolis and of Sulley's awareness, a thin peak with the lingering traces of a snowcap began to glow. The light it emitted was so subtle, though, that only those who cared to study the mountain would notice it, which would've then led them to figure that something very weird was going on...


More set up than plot so far, but the latter is forthcoming, that much I can promise you. Till next week...^^
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