Archive | February 25, 2012

Wolf in the Circle

After Wolf at the Door (LJ)

Warning: contains violence.

“This is insanity, you know.” Tynan and Ellen followed Ciara from their suite to the gym, Tynan scolding her the entire way. “Key, if you lose this challenge, there’s not going to be anything we can do to help you.”

Ciara shook her head. “If he decided he was sick of waiting for me to give in and dragged me off into his room, what could you do?” she countered. “Ty, El, I have a plan.”

“Does it involve cookies?” Ellen asked, eying the platter Ciara was carrying.

“They’re the backup plan,” she admitted. “Stay away from the ones with the red sprinkles.”

“Right. Avoiding Ciara’s cookies.” Ellen rolled her eyes. “Tynan is right. This is crazy.”

“I know,” she agreed, keeping her voice quiet. “But so is he, so is this entire school. The only way to get through it is to be as crazy as everyone else.”

“Or, you know, just keep your head down and get through your first year. He’ll be gone and you won’t have to worry.”

“I’ve got this, guys. It’s too late to back out, anyway.” She set the cookies on the table at the side of the gym, and walked towards the circle Luke had drawn for them.

“Are you sure, Ciara?” the PE teacher asked quietly.

She wished everyone would stop asking her that, but totally understood why they were. “I’m sure,” she agreed. “Besides, here he comes.”

Amadeus looked a little bit lost. He came surrounded by his own friends, and yet, while they were talking to him, he wasn’t talking back. He barely seemed aware they were there. Ciara swallowed a smile. If she had knocked him off his game, even a little, she might stand a chance.

A tiny chance.

She stepped into the circle and bowed to her opponent.

“It’s not too late to concede, you know,” he grinned at her. “I’ll be gentle.”

“You could concede, too,” she reminded him. “I’d be gentle.”

That made him snarl. “You can’t win. Whatever trick you think you have, I’m still older and stronger than you are.”

“Then you have nothing to worry about, do you?” she smiled back at him. “Ready?”

“Ready,” he growled, dropping his Mask. “No Workings, first one to leave te circle loses.”

“Exactly. Luke?”

“Just remember everything you break Caitrin has to put back together,” he grumbled. “Begin.”

Amadeus’ eyes seemed to be flashing red flames. “You’re going to pay for this, little girl,” he snarled, and attacked.

She’d been expecting violence, and knew her own combat skills, while she’d been practicing, were probably not up to par with an upperclassmen. But getting hurt was part of her plan anyway, so all she had to do was dodge as much as she could without stepping out of the circle.

And he looked like he wanted to take his time. Break her down, break her… ow. Bones. She fell to a knee as he landed a sharp kick on her spine. He wanted to make her…ow. He kicked her in the shoulder, snapping something. He wanted to make her flee the circle, not to throw her out. That might mess with her plans a … ow. She managed to get back to her feet, just in time to catch his fist with her ribs.

“Think about it,” he hissed, “when you’re Mine…”

Oh, he was good and pissed now. She smiled through a cracked lip. “When you’re Mine,” she teased, and, finally, he rushed her.

He got her again, once in the face, once in the kidney, once in her ribs, snapping something inside of her, and then grabbed her, clearly intending to throw her out of the circle.

She was barely conscious. She hadn’t planned on that. Weakly, hurriedly, she pulled on her innate power – not a Working, not forbidden, any more than his
strength was – and sent most of the force he imparted in the throw back at himself, saving and redirecting just enough to send herself downwards, hard, still inside the circle.

“Done,” Luke shouted, as Amadeus landed against the gym wall. “Done, with Ciara the winner. Good job, girl.”

She looked up, weakly, as the promises they had made before the match made Amadeus say “Ciara – damn you, bitch – I Belong to you.”

“You do,” she agreed. “Grab my purse, don’t touch anything or anyone else, and…” that was all she had energy for. She let the pain take her away.

Ciara: Wolf in the Hand

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Meeting Mr. Ting

For @inventrix’s commissioned continuation of

We were still staring at the tentacled thing – it was just a prop, right? Just something from some sort of Lovecraftian movie or game or… something, right? – when the building shook again. I caught one of the adzes as it swung uncomfortably close to Jordan, and thus was turned in the right direction to see one of the shelves… swing. Rotate, really, like a Scooby-Doo secret door.

Nobody came out or anything, though; we just got another shelf. This one looked like it was in the end of the alphabet, or, at least, the end of our alphabet.

Xylophones, first. A whole shelf of the things, big ones with wooden bars, tiny ones, a few glockenspiels thrown in, the bright kids’ ones. Then a few model yachts, some small enough to fit in my hand, one fitting half a shelf on its own.

I don’t know what the #^^#(275)^ were, but they seemed to be shiny silver pointed tubes with a lot of fancy scrollwork.

I was staring at them and trying to ignore the fact that half the yardsticks were neither a yard long nor marked in anything I recognized as numbers when a Jordan hissed. “JJ….”

I turned around, half expecting to see something with tentacles. Instead, I saw…

“Ah, hello. My apologies, I came in through the back door. You must be the guests Mrs. Gent was telling me about.”

“I think they’re in the front, actually?” I said uncertainly. He looked entirely like my seventh-grade shop teacher, if Mr. Daniels had been sporting seven-inch ears and ten-inch eyebrows on a five-foot-nothing frame.

“Mrs. Gent can handle the Delorians just fine. But she said you two were an interesting pair.”

Jordan coughed. “We are?” We were used to hearing that, fair enough, but not in a place like that. “In this place, in this time,” the quote was rather inappropriate, but sometimes Jordan is like that, “we’re interesting? Mister, we just want…”

“I am not about what you want,” he interrupted. “I am about what you need, and that, dears, I already know. Didn’t you read the sign? Did I get the language wrong again?”

I winced, worried that we’d managed to tick him off already too. Not what we needed. Definitely not what we needed. “I’m sorry, sir…”

“Why are you sorry for your friend’s words? There is nothing to be sorry for, and you are not responsible for other people.”

“Jordan is my friend,” I flared, suddenly irritated myself. “We came here together, so I can be sorry if I want to.”

I immediately regretted it – we really needed that AC – but the little man was smiling. “Indeed. Jordan is your friend. It is such a lovely, concept, isn’t it?”

“Why did you say we were interesting?” Jordan cut in. “I mean.. this store, this is interesting. All this stuff you have…”

“Stuff, as you put it, is here because someone will need it some day,” he answered calmly. “You two are interesting because of yourselves”


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