Archive | March 26, 2012

Ciara: Pet Wolf

After Wolf in Hand (LJ)

Ciara had been asleep in the infirmary for a few hours when a noise
woke her. The doctor had been able to put her back together “good as
new,” but suggested firmly that an overnight stay would be good for
her, “just in case.” Ciara had agreed – there was really no point in
trying to argue with Dr. Caitrin anyway, certainly not with Luke
hovering over her – and had succumbed, once again, to unconsciousness.

“You shouldn’t be here.” Luke’s voice was quiet in the dark of the
mid-night clinic.

“She told me I could.” Amadeus was trying to keep his voice down, but
he had less practice than Luke. “Here, on page two.”

“She did,” Luke confirmed, a moment later. “But that doesn’t explain
why you’re here.”

There was a moment of silence, and then she heard her new Kept say, rather unwillingly, “I want to see if she’s okay.”

“You broke her leg, her wrist, and at least five of her ribs, as well as puncturing a couple of her internal organs. I wouldn’t say she’s okay.”

“She challenged me!” he flared, and then, quieter, “Dr. Caitrin fixed her, right?”

“She did,” Luke murmured. “Amadeus…” his voice dropped down lower than Ciara could hear.

“You wouldn’t!”

“Try me.” From the sounds of it, Luke was pleased with himself. “You can see her now.”

Ciara kept her eyes closed and her breathing even as Amadeus walked in, although she couldn’t keep her heart from pounding a bit. What had her orders said about this? Shit, did she want him this close to her?

Little late for that, she told herself sternly, as his hand rested on her arm. “Ciara?” he whispered loudly. Then, when she “didn’t wake,” “Damnit, Ciara.”

She opened her eyes, glad it didn’t hurt to so, and stared at him. He stared back at her, angry. “You’re fine, right?”

She couldn’t help a little smile. “You’re all packed up?”

“Couldn’t be here if I wasn’t. Damnit, those orders…!”

Her smile was growing a bit. Irritating him didn’t seem wise, but, then again, he was hers now. “I didn’t expect you to be happy if I won. It seemed safer to be thorough.”

“If.” He was only getting angrier. “Are you telling me you weren’t sure? Why would you risk everything like that?”

“Why did you?”

He grumbled incoherently for a moment. “I didn’t think I could lose.”

“I was betting on that,” she admitted. Quieter, she added, “I’m told that Kept are happier if there’s physical contact.”

He leered, but his heart wasn’t in it. “This is what it takes to get into your bed?”

“Yes.” The bed was narrow, but wide enough. She scooted to one side, and patted the space next to her. “I didn’t want to be your pet, Amadeus.”

“So you arranged things so I’d be yours.” He sat down on the bed gingerly.

“Well.” She took his hand in her own. “From what I’m told, there’s some negotiation as to the exact role a Kept plays.”

“Meaning what?” He didn’t snatch his hand away, but his shoulders were still stiff and angry.

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Red Covers, (A story of Dragons Next Door) (@rix_Scaedu)

After this story, this story, this story, and this story (LJ), part four of three as part of a fixtion exchange with Rix_Scaedu

Thanks to Kiss of Judas for the names!

“Shit.” They’d been just about ready to grab the kid when all their equipment died. For the third day in a row. “Shit, shit, shit.” Ryan pulled out his earbud and threw it to the ground. “If I didn’t know better, I…”

“Don’t,” Chelsea cut him off. The rookie glared at her.

“Come on, Taylor, we’re hunting a fracking baby singularity! You can’t tell me not to be superstitious at a time like this!”

“Exactly.” She pulled out her own earpiece. “Come on, we’re walking back to base. Look, Moore. We’re hunting a baby singularity. That means that we’re out of the main guide book and into the red cover.”


“Meaning don’t know better. If your gut or your superstition tells you it’s probably a flying tribble, then look for flying tribbles. The target has harpies providing air support, Moore. Harpies. Anything. Is. Possible.”

“Is that the first page in the red-cover guidebook?”

“Rookie, that’s the only page in the red cover.” She grinned at him and got out of the car. “Anything can happen. Your granny was right. Watch out for flying tribbles and talking moose.”

“And wear comfortable shoes,” Ryan added, looking down at his very-practical black boots. “Is there any proof against… whatever keeps happening?”

“Depends on what it is that’s happening. If it’s a conventional EMP, turning everything off or using old-style tech would do it, although we’d stand out like a sore thumb in a steam-powered car. But what were you saying, before I cut you off?”

He shot her a look. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was gremlins. My grandfather was a World War fighter pilot,” he added, his hackles visibly rising. “He talked about gremlins all the time.”

“Gremlins.” Chelsea flipped back in her mental creature list. Goblins, greymalkin… gremlins. “You know, that would make sense. I wonder how they got them to work for them?”

“Sheer charisma?” Ryan glared sourly at the ground. “You’ve met the pair. They don’t seem all that charming, but they’ve got all the aberrant races eating out of their hands – in some cases, I’d be willing to bet it’s literal.”

“Well, they’re singularities. You can’t expect a singularity to act by normal human rules.” As nice as it would be, since most singularities looked and acted like humans on the surface.

“Man, she really looks like a kid.” He frowned, suddenly worried. “You’re sure she’s really an anomalous individual?”

This happened to all rookies at least once. Some of them got over it. Others washed out. “Ryan, look. You gotta just put on your green lenses and look at the flows. Don’t look at the kid-shape in front of you. That way lies madness.”

“Right.” The rookie’s shoulders slumped. “It’s just…”

“Yeah, I know, kid. They look so cute. It’s like a baby harpy, though: it looks cute, right up until it’s ripping your intestines out. Stay strong, man.” She patted his shoulder. “You’ll see, once we get this one contained. Then her true colors will come out.”


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Setting the Table

For Friendly Anon’s commissioned continuation of Tasting (LJ)

Liza’s restaurant opened on the shore of Cayuga Lake, in a prime spot she’d gotten by luck and networking.

She opened on the first day of Spring, an unseasonably warm day with the sun shining brightly off the deep blue water and a few daffodils already in bloom. Her tables were dressed with crocuses and spring greens, and she garnished her plates with little bouquets of the first chives of spring.

And with every dinner that first day came a free glass of her prize wine, served by a sommelier who was grinning from ear to ear, pouring with perfect grace and managing to chat up the diners through that face-stretching smile.

The restaurant’s first night was a smashing success for both of them. Lindon went home pleased. If he could manage to keep the Downside Up Vineyard at the forefront of people’s attentions, all of the money they’d begged, borrowed, or flat-out stolen could be repaid with interest, and their father’s dream would finally be realized.

If he could make the Sunny Side Restaurant succeed, he could keep Downside Up in people’s view long enough to reach their goals. So Sunny Side – and Liza – had to succeed. He could do that.

He made some phone calls. He didn’t really have any favors left to call in, but he could probably borrow from the interest a bit…

Sunny Side’s first week was amazingly successful, almost too much so. Liza found herself running constantly, on the phone constantly, in the kitchen constantly. “I need a clone,” she complained, three hours after closing Friday night, flopped against the deck railing. “Or an extra set of hands. I never imagined that it would be this busy our first week.”

The sommelier winced. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“You’re doing a great job with the wine. I don’t suppose you know a back-up sous-chef, do you? Or someone who could clone me? Or another greens vendor?”


“God, if you know someone who can clone me, I’ll kiss you.”

The sommelier froze. He hadn’t thought about it before, but the idea of a kiss from Liza suddenly seemed like a very nice idea. “Unfortunately, that’s the one I don’t know. But I can get you a back-up greens vendor, and, if you’ll trust me in your kitchen, I’m a pretty good sous-chef myself. I’ll call my brother in to pour wine for you.”

She blinked at him. “You’d do that for me?”

“I would do more than that for you, Liza. I want Sunny Side to succeed as much as you do.” Maybe more. They were already beginning to get the orders they needed to pay back their debts. If this kept up, they’d actually get what they wanted.

And if Liza was happy… The sommelier blinked at the idea. Liza was blinking at him, too.

“You know,” she murmured, her words a little slurred from wine and exhaustion, “you have beautiful eyes.”

Now was not the time. He picked her up, lifting her easily. “You need some sleep… boss. We can talk about when I start cooking for you tomorrow.”

“And maybe that kiss.”

“And maybe that kiss.” And maybe something, one thing in his life not about their father’s dreams.

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Bus Stop

The first day of school, Jack always stopped the bus by the cemetery, put out the stop sign and opened the door, like he did for every kid.

The younger kids who’d seen this before giggled nervously. The older kids rolled their eyes. The new kids – someone always asked.

“What are you doing, Mr. Bus Driver?”

“Picking up John Karpen.”

“But nobody got on.”

“Just because you can’t see him, doesn’t mean he’s not here. John Karpen died twenty years ago, on his way to school. He’s buried here. His ghost sits right there.” The front left seat was always empty.

This year, a smartass popped up. There was always one, one of the older kids. “There’s no John Karpen on any headstone in that cemetery. I went looking over the summer.”

Jack turned to look at the smartass, and all the other kids on his bus. “Just because there’s no headstone, doesn’t mean nobody was buried there.”

Every kid on that bus stayed quiet, the rest of the way to school. Even John Karpen, the little brat.

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