Archive | August 2, 2011

Winter: The Way Things Flow (FULLY Sponsored)

Last week, I opened up this story for sponsorship.

Rix_Scadeau has sponsored part of the story (Approximately 46%), and so I will post the sponsored part here.

Yes, even though that ends in the middle of a sentence.

The remaining story can be sponsored for $5.45 until Saturday, at which point it rises to normal price. 🙂

There were times when Winter thought his mother had chosen to have him first, to be there for the girls when their father was gone.

It wasn’t a possibility he ever talked about; Mom, who would know, he’d never ask. Other people would either think he was crazy for at least three facets of that thought, and the ones who wouldn’t, well, were either just as close to the situation as he was, or would have reactions to it he wouldn’t find comfortable.

Pre-planned or not, he had been the father figure to his sisters since he was seven years old and now, as an adult with his “daughters” grown up and out of the house, he found the habits hard to put aside. His nature, the way the strands of the world reacted to him, was either created by that situation or exacerbated it, and either way seemed to solidify it.

He walked down the street, using one hand as he went to slowly comb smooth some small tangles in the strands of the world. The traffic unsnarled. The panicked stockbroker calmed. The off-tune singer found the proper notes. Order, in Winter’s world, wasn’t something to be shunned. It was the way things went, the way things ought to be.

He stroked the strands a little more intently as he passed a young mother with two crying children, and then had to shift his focus more clearly into the solid as the older child darted out towards traffic. Handling other people’s children as always a risk, but in this case, there was no choice. He crouched and caught the kid with one arm across the chest, lifting – him? Her? – her up and depositing her facing her nervous mother.

“Woah,” he said, in that jovial tone that seemed to work with girls that size. “Careful, there.” He nodded at the mother cautiously. She was a tangle of stress and emotions, a chaotic stew over-flavored with distress.

She nodded back, an exhausted gesture that barely took him in. “Thank you, sir.” No wedding band on the hand reaching for the child, but a vanishing callus where one had sat. Bags under her eyes. He took a chance, spurred on by the knots twisting in her.

“Winter.” He offered her his hand. “Winter Roundtree.”

He saw the moment she actually noticed him, the raised eyebrow as she took in his appearance: the tailored suit, the hair that might as well be white, the manicured hands. He smiled and gave his pat response. “One-eighth Cherokee on my father’s side.” Which, while it had nothing to do with the name, was both true and gave the appearance of an explanation.

“Aah. Well, thank you, Mr. Roundtree, for grabbing Mila here for me. She knows better than to run out into traffic; I don’t know what got into her.” That last bit was for the child as much as it was for him.

If offering…


…a name was taking a chance, pulling out his card was tantamount to jumping off a cliff to try to catch a passing boat. But he did it anyway, pulled by a need to not let this boat get away. “One of my co-workers has kids about the same age as yours. She tells me the Ice Capades going on right now is quite good; they have a show Friday and another one Saturday..?” He left the absence of an invitation hanging in the air with the card.

She took the card, glancing curiously at his job title. “Law clerk. Hunh. I’ll give you a call Thursday either way.”

“Pleasure to meet you.” He nodded politely, smiled at the children, and combed a little extra calm into their strands once his back was turned.

He liked the law library. His sisters liked to twit him about it sometimes, and his mother despaired, her oldest child, a law clerk (normal parents might complain about jobs like itinerant painter, but hippies and women like Ernesta Roundtree worried their sons would grow up to be clerks and lawyers), but law was, at its purest, about humanity instilling order upon itself. And at its purest was how Winter worked hard to keep it.

In the library, too, his affinity for order (some said obsession, but those were people who didn’t understand him) fit right in. It was meditative, relaxing, to live in a place where everything was supposed to be smooth, perfect, and level. Whatever his mother might say, Winter found work restful.

He re-shelved another book, leveling its spine with the rest of the row, and was checking his list for his next task when his cell phone chimed softly. The number came up with an unfamiliar name, Marina Kuziemska. He stared at it for a moment; people he didn’t know didn’t often call him. Marina?

The woman with the two children had said she’d call on Thursday. That had been Tuesday, and this was only noon on Wednesday. Living with his sisters, two of whom tangled the universe by their very nature, had taught Winter how to deal with chaos, but his lip still curled a little in frustration before he answered the call.

“This is Winter RoundTree.” It could still be a wrong number.

“Winter? This is Marina Kuziemska. The, ah, the mother of the girl who ran into traffic?” She sounded rushed and nervous, so he took care to make his voice warm as he replied.

“I remember you, Marina.” Although he hadn’t been expecting her call until tomorrow, he had been thinking of her, pondering the tangles around her and how they could be smoothed out.

“Oh, good. I was worried! Well, ah, Henry and Mila and I discussed it, and if the offer’s still open, we’d love your company for the Ice Capades this Friday. The kids could use some fun.”

So could she, from the sounds of it. “Wonderful.” She probably wouldn’t take well to him offering to pick her up. “We could meet at the Metro stop right across the street from the Arena? I can be there at seven oh five.”

“Great! We’ll see you then. And, ah, Mr. Roundtree?” She was back to sounding nervous again; had he distressed her inadvertently?

“Yes?”

“Thank you for saving my daughter’s life.”

Oh. Well. That sort of statement required a considered response. He nodded to the phone, knowing she couldn’t see it. “Think nothing of it.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/96275.html. You can comment here or there.

Prevention v Cure, Year 9 Penstemon

This is a short story in response to rix_scadeau‘s commission: Penstemon giving birth, after this story(LJ) and this one (LJ Link)

Penstemon is Rix’s character; for more on her read her fanfic adventures, starting here.

Icon by djinni on Rix’s request, duplicated here for LJ users (sooo many less icon slots than DW…

Luke hated having pregnant students in his class.

He hated having girls in his class – he wasn’t his son, to collect the young woman warriors – but there was nothing to be done for it and, besides, some of the young amazons were far stronger than their male counterparts.

But the pregnant girls were harder to work around, harder to include, and everything in his being wanted to protect them and wrap them in blankets and padding (four children of his own by three mothers had not come close to breaking him of this habit, anymore than eight years as a teacher at Addergoole). Just as bad were the badly-Kept ones; no matter how much rot they cleaned out of the school, there always seemed to be some new monster popping up to torment their Kept. Luke was almost glad for the stupid ones, the overboard ones; those they could catch and stop before their victims were too broken.

He had one in his class he thought likely to turn into that sort of moron, two he wasn’t sure where they were going, and one pregnant girl. Penstemon. His wings flared just thinking about her; heavily pregnant, carrying twins from the Nedetakaei rapist she’d killed, and still every bit as fierce (and, his tapes told him, as protective and hearth-mother) as she had been in her first year here.

He had her walking laps, and had herded the possibly-a-moron to keep an eye on her. This close to term, she could pop at any minute; he just hoped she decided to do it in Shira’s class or Laurel’s, not his.

“Uh. Sir?” That was the maybe-moron. Basalt. What were these people thinking, naming their sons “rock?” Especially “airy rock.” Currently, the rock in question was panicking. “Sir, she says…”

“It’s time.” Penny’s voice was far louder and far firmer than her cy’ree-mate’s voice; she was clenching the boy’s bicep hard enough to leave marks. Her feet were skidding a bit on the floor…

“Shit,” Luke muttered. He looked around his classroom, suddenly missing the Thorne Girls, and took assessment. “Willow, you’re in charge. If anyone acts out, you have my permission to do your worst short of killing them.” That ought to give them pause, at least. “Basalt, time to show you have as much muscle as you think you do. Pick her up and come this way.”

“But sir…!” the boy complained.

Penny seconded him. “Sir, that’s really not necessary.”

“Penstemon,” he grumbled, “there are times in your life where you really should shut up and let the menfolk be protective.” He ignored the momentary twinge; he’d said much the same thing to Will, once. And the girl deserved her own man, some day. “Basalt, if your objection is ‘she’s wet,’ suck it up and pick her up.”

“Sir, why can’t you?” He was, it turned out, not without practice at picking girls up, or at least he made it look rehearsed; Luke had a suspicion Penny was helping him out, maybe with a Working.

“Because I told you to. Brace yourself, kid, she’s going to have a…”

Uuuuuunh!

“…contraction.” Penny had gripped down on Basalt’s arm and shoulder with a hold that should have broken the kid’s bones.

Must have been more than lack of creativity to that name; he barely flinched. “Damn,” did escape his lips, though it was quiet, and followed quickly with “beg your pardon, ma’am. Miss. Ow.”

“Get moving then,” Luke snapped, to avoid laughing. He wasn’t sure which was more amusing, the look of outrage on Penny’s face or the nerves on the much-bigger Basalt’s.

They got her to Caitrin’s quickly – good planning more than good speed, as the doctor’s office was right next to the gym – and settled just as quickly into the maternity suite. “You stay with her,” Luke said firmly. “It’ll be good for you.”

“I… Aistrigh Tlacatl agkale…into… petros Eperu,” he gasped out. “Damn, woman, here, it’s okay.” He shifted, facing her, his face softening. “That’s got to hurt like hell.”

Satisfied, Luke nodded at the two of them and left. He hated dealing with pregnancy.

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This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/96234.html. You can comment here or there.

30 Days Second Semester: 8, Going In, Misc Apoc

For the 30 Days Meme Second Semester, for the prompt “8) write a scene in the middle of a novel called ‘The Long, Dirty Afterwards.'”

Actually random apoc. In re. wordcount, the actual “excerpt” is 250 words. 😉
.


They had defeated the alien invasion and won back their planet.

…Now all they had to do is clean up the mess.

The All-Counter* read clean on all immediate threats to life and mostly clean on the long-term threats. Becker’s ears and nose told him the ship was most likely empty of slightly-less immediate threats as well, but he still moved in like clearing a building, shooter at the ready and taking one room at a time, his team behind him guarding his flank.

The Rat† ships stank; you never got over the smell, the way you could acclimate to horse shit or even things like capsaicin. It set your teeth on edge and made some people’s extremities go numb; Hazmat gear dulled the effects, but blocked line of sight. A lot of otherwise brave contractors wouldn’t go near the Ratties, so that left the salvage to people like Becker’s team, who used masks and gloves and a lot of scented soap.

The corridors gleamed dully under his headlamp; to the left, a couple of their triangular status lights shone in its eerie purple black-light. “There’s still trickle power,” he called. “Watch for traps.” It had surprised no one that the Rats boobie-trapped their ships, but almost every cleanup team he knew had either lost a man or a limb to one of the nasty contraptions. Realizing these things were always on, you could almost feel sorry for the Rats. Almost‡‡.

“Bee, I’ve got something over here!” Thijs’ voice was thin and high and worried-sounding.

“Shit!” Ny’s voice followed fast on Thijs.’ “Bee, you’ve got to see this. I think it’s alive.”

* The All-Counter had begun life as a Geiger counter, but by the time the scavenge teams were done modifying it, it counted just about everything, including some things new to the planet since the invasion.

† The creatures only bore a superficial resemblance to rats, really. But the nickname had stuck.

‡‡ There was, after all, what remained of Dallas and Zurich, among other places, to remember.

The List:
1a) the story starts with the words “It’s going down.” (LJ Link)
1b) the story starts with the words “It’s going down.” (LJ Link)
2) write a scene that takes place in a train station.
3) the story must involve a goblet and a set of three [somethings]
4) prompt: one for the road
5) write a story using an imaginary color
6) write the pitch for a new Final Fantasy styled RPG (LJ Link)
7) prompt: frigid (LJ Link
8) write a scene in the middle of a novel called “The Long, Dirty Afterwards”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/95238.html. You can comment here or there.