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Funerary Rites 43: Stupid Lessons

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Chitter squealed as she was dragged into the back seat, but the moment Erramun was cradling her, she stopped complaining.  “I’m—” She smushed her face into Erramun’s chest.

“Easy, my young friend, easy.  There’s always going to be more that you can learn.  There’s always going to be more that you can do. But you can only grow so fast, and you can only do so much.  It’s a hard lesson to learn, I know—”

“It’s a stupid lesson,” Chitter muttered.  Ezer kept his face forward and drove, but Senga could see him peering in the rear-view at them.

“It is,” he agreed, “but we all have to learn it at some point.  So. I’ll help you get the education you need, but you have to accept that it’s okay.  You made a mistake, yes, but nobody got hurt-”

“You got shot!” Continue reading

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Funerary Rites 42: Eat a Candy Bar

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The tension in the van was slowly receding.  Ezer looked pleased with himself.

“Chitter, good job as always on getting into their systems, and your little bugs are the shit,” he kept on.   “Love ‘em. Allayne – you patched Erramun up so fast, I didn’t even get a chance to see the hole. Thanks. And Senga and Erramun, you guys definitely held their attention and kept to your roles the whole time.” He looked back in the mirror at them.  “Try not to get so bloody next time, all right? It makes me techy.”

Without a word, Chitter passed him a candy bar.  Ezer snorted. “Fine, fine, it makes me bitchy.  I don’t know, Chitter, anything out of that security guard?”

“Allayne triggered something, not an alarm, some sort of tertiary back-up.  Yes, I know I should have caught it, yes, I feel like an idiot for not catching it, but it was really well hidden.  It was – look, here, see?”

“You know it doesn’t mean anything to me,” Ezer complained. Continue reading

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Funerary Rites 41

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The ride back was tense.  Nobody spoke a whole lot, except Allayne, murmuring quietly over the wound in Erramun’s back, pulling out the bullet and healing the muscle and sinew and skin.  Ezer muttered at traffic, Chitter muttered at her cameras – including the tiny button camera and mic Senga had planted in the desk, including the one Erramun had planted on a pillar, including the clever little skimmer they’d managed to get on the guards’ computer.  Erramun was silent as his name.

Senga was steaming with anger and twitching with worry and said nothing at all.  She held Erramun’s hand, even though he obviously didn’t need it, and the way that his fingers traced over the back of hers told her that he knew, too, that she needed it.

“There,” Allayne breathed.  They were nearly to the garage.  “All better. Damn, are you telling me you don’t have a Man of Steel Working in your repertoire?” Continue reading

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Funerary Rites 40: Laying Blame

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“Something went wrong.”  The street was abandoned.  Senga still kept her voice low, conversational, looking over at Erramun to direct the sound.  “I don’t think it was us.”

“Was it one of the team?”  Erramun’s tone was as light, maybe lighter, than hers.

“Hey!”  Chitter complained over the comm link.  “We’re better than that.”

“Something went wrong,” Erramun countered.   “That means someone messed up. It wasn’t me.  It wasn’t her.” Continue reading

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Funerary Rites 39: Trouble

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“Sir.  Put the girl down.”

“I don’t like people getting in my business.  I don’t people assuming things that aren’t true,” Erramun-as-Eddy snarled.  Senga sort of wanted to be down, because the tension in the guards’ voices sounded like it was ratcheting up and she couldn’t see their faces.  

“We’re not getting in your business.  We’re just gonna call a taxi for the girl, okay?”

Continue reading

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Funerary Rites 38: A Cold Day in Clubbing

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“I like this dress.”  Senga ran her hands over the fabric and tested the range of movement.  “I want to go clubbing in it sometime.”

“Good.  Try to keep it in one piece, then.”

Ezer’s voice was clear in her mind, which meant their “comm” system was working.  Good. Erramun was next to her, dressed in – well dressed like he’d escorted his girlfriend to clubs against his will and now was trying to handle her when she was a little too drunk and very belligerent.

Continue reading
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Funerary Rites 37: Throw in (a) Towel

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Senga was sitting between her friends, eating the same pizza they ater every week, soaking up the warmth of people who understood her – at least, who understood everything she had been that didn’t involve this house and –

and

“Chitter?”

“Yeah, Sang?”

“… Did Erramun go to talk to the cook in a towel?”

“Yes, yes he did.”

“Well.  Do you think I should rescue him?”

“Senga, he’s an assassin, he’s older than you, and he’s a tough man.  I’m sure he can take care of-”

“This is the Monmartin family staff, though,” Ezer cut in.

“-you should go rescue him.” Continue reading

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Funerary Rites 36: Stages of Grief

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“Will it help?”  That was sigh-worthy, so she did sigh.  “I don’t know, not about the long run,” Senga admitted.  “In the short run, what it’s done is, uh. You saw.”

“Mistress everything,” Chitter agreed. “He’s like — he’s like some sort of puppet or something.  Like he’s pulling his own strings.” Chitter wrinkled her nose. “I don’t like it.”

“I don’t either.”  Senga took her friend’s arm and led her down the stairs, whispering softly. “I don’t want to talk about it where he might overhear, okay? Because it might make it worse.  And I don’t want to talk about it where anyone else can overhear, because it might give them something-”

“Geeze, what, do you think I’m an amateur? I’m offended, Senga.” Chitter wrinkled her nose up at Senga. “Come on, ‘no eavesdroppers’ was like the first Working I learned. Did you really think I wasn’t going to use it everywhere around this place, with the creepy butler and — hey, why didn’t you quiz the maids?”

“They’re…” Senga stumbled. “Shit.  I should have quizzed the maids. It’s just, uh.”

“They helped raise you, when you were a baby, didn’t they?  But it’s not like uh. It’s not like the butler guy didn’t do the same thing, and you—”  Chitter looked at her wide-eyed. “Oh. You didn’t. So why didn’t Erramun quiz the maids?”

“That’s a very good question.  Maybe he is waiting to sneak up on them unawares.  I mean — did I just say ‘unawares?’”

“Are you reading mystery novels again? Because you know that makes you see crazy men in rubber masks everywhere we go.”

“No, Chit, that was you.”  Nobody else could get away with calling Chitter Chit.  Ezer had almost lost his nose to it once.  But Senga and Chitter went way back, more than the rest of the crew did.  “Remember, after that cartoon marathon…?”

“Yeah, well, you read all those mysteries, and you remember what happened then.”

“We actually found out who was behind…. Chitter.”  She stopped on the bottom step of the grand staircase.  “Someone murdered my great-aunt.”

“Well, yeah?  She was dead, right?  Fae don’t just uh, fall over. And you checked to be sure she was really dead, right?  That’s just Cartoon HIjinx 101.”

“I checked.  I did check. And so did Erramun and — you knew my aunt was murdered?”

“Well, I figured, yeah.  I mean, like I said. We’re fae.  We don’t really drop dead from old age; okay, I’ve heard of three cases of that, but that means that that’s the exception that proves the rule,” she flapped her hands.  “So the point is, I figured you were processing. I mean, she was — is, let’s be honest,” she thumped the railing “– she’s a huge part of your life. I mean. She killed your parents.  She kept you safe. We know all this. So I figured you just needed some time to chew on it before you really accepted it. Grieving and all.”

“…Oh.”  Senga tried to work her mind around that.  Had she been – had she been even thinking about the whole thing?  People trying to kill her, yest, but that was nearly comforting and familiar in her line of work.  Generally, it meant they were getting close to something interesting. “I… guess I was having trouble processing it.”

“Well, to be fair, you also moved back into your childhood home and… got a boyfriend?  A new pet? What is even the way to say that? I mean…” Chitter shook her head so much her whole body shook.  “A new guy, either way. So there has to be uh, a little bit of a distraction going on. Anyway. Someone murdered your great-aunt.”

“They did.  They killed her.  And they very well might have uh.  They might have gotten something in her will.”

“Considering it really looks like she likes attaching strings to everything, I kinda hope they did.  Something with a caveat like ‘if you killed me, this will blow up horribly and you will never know why.'”

“Chitter, have I told you recently that you are a dangerous woman?”

“Not in at least the last week.  So, come on.” Chitter took Senga’s hand.  “Pizza. Come on. It’s in a not-entirely-fancy dining room and everything and Ezer already has paper spread out all over the place.  It’ll be just like home.”

“Ha.”  Senga shook her head.  “All right. Here we go.  ‘Just Like Home.'”

She remembered the informal dining room, or, at least, her feet did, although it took far fewer steps than the last time she’d been here.  She remembered the table, and the place where she had accidentally broken a table leg while riding on her tricycle around the downstairs.

She remembered the way her father had spoken to her, calm and soft, and shown her the magic that mended the table leg.

She remembered him showing her a Working that would make her tricycle have a “bumper” of air in front of it so that she wouldn’t break any more legs, table or family or anyone else.

She blinked her eyes, pushing away tears that she did not want to deal with, not now.  Not in front of everyone, not-

The smell of pizza and wings assaulted her nose.  Senga caught her breath and straightened herself up.

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Funerary Rites 35: Pizza?

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A short nap and a long shower in – in her  new shower – found Senga unwilling to stop cuddling Erramun.  

Which was, she supposed, kind of ridiculous.  She had things to do. She had places to be.

She had a man who was amazing in bed, who could handle what she did, who had a mind.

Maybe that’s why Great-Aunt Mirabella had done this.

And maybe pigs flew. Continue reading

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Funerary Rites 34: Teeth, Hands, Hips

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Senga balanced on her toes, kissing Erramun.  There was a split second where she thought he wouldn’t respond before he kissed back, pressing his throat against her hands.  As she drew on the kiss, letting her thumbs brush against the tattoos she’d inked into his skin, he put first one hand and then the other on her waist to brace her.

She snaked one hand around to the back of his neck and drew out the kiss; he pressed his hand against the small of her back, holding her to him.  She caught a breath and stole a glance at him; he had closed his eyes.  He leaned in towards her; she kissed him again, her fingers all pressing into his neck.

At the moment when she thought that her toes might give out, he lifted her up.  She wrapped her legs around his waist and kept hissing him, pressing her whole body against his.  They were still wearing quite inconvenient clothing; she wanted to do something about that, but that would require either that she stop kissing him or stop touching him.  Possibly both. Neither were acceptable.

He turned slowly around, so slowly she almost didn’t notice what he was doing, and set her on the bed.  A moment later, he set her on the bed and, very slowly, disengaged.

Senga opened her eyes and made a soft noise, not quite a complaint.  He froze.

“I think,” he murmured, “that Mistress-” Continue reading

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