by Iron Eater (mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/240882.html)
by Yuite Dio (神莠射手) (mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/241105.html)
The blood was splattered all over the floor, great gobs of it. It looked fresh, as if someone had been butchered but a few minutes ago and his or her poor carcass hauled into the lodgings, dripping fluids in a trail like grisly breadcrumbs. The red was still bright enough to affront the eyes of any civilized lady, which Mrs. Hazel Hill of 65 Guthers Road no longer considered herself to be, but it was the principle of the matter. No London woman should have to return home to find the remnants of a lurid massacre on her doorstep, not without giving her spirits bottle a very suspicious look.
“Mrs. Glaive!” she called out.
There was, as expected, no response. The eminent Glaive would hardly dignify her poor landlady with such a gift.
Nori Mendoza needed to pee. After having inhaled a Nutella latte, two crepes, and three pots of tea over the course of a four hour-long LSAT cram session, she finally left the Paris Creperie in search of a bathroom. This unfortunately led her straight into Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Too self-conscious to enter a shop only to use the restroom, Nori, much to her bladder’s dismay, first placed an order for a gingerbread chai latte.
After a guilt-free bathroom run, Nori was waiting for her fifth caffeinated beverage of the day when she noticed an exceedingly hot barista with frizzy curls and the reddest lips. She looked like River Song and Nori couldn’t help but sneak glances at the barista while pretending to read the menu.
“Nori, gingerbread latte!”
They say tea is good for the soul. Natalie hoped so, because she needed to save her soul from the Devil.
She was meeting the Devil for tea in an hour.
The morning sun streamed in through the windows of the place simply known as by Headquarters to those who worked there. A simple, non-descript building from the outside, inside it held much more than appearances would lead one to believe.
Yvette stood in the stainless steel kitchen with her arms crossed over her chest, glaring at the matching stainless kettle on the stove’s back right burner.
A watched pot never boils, Grandmama always said.
When the water closed over Delphine’s head, she felt not fear, but anger. The sea was dark and swirling around her, and she was dazed from the impact of her body on the waves and could not right herself to find the surface again, no matter how hard she kicked her legs. She kept the air in her lungs despite wanting nothing more to let it out in a torrent of curses. Damn the storm, damn her crew, and damn herself the most for being tossed out over the prow.
Tuesday was slow at the Epsilon 109 Portside Restaurant. Aside from the usual staff and a couple of engineers doing maintenance work, the docks had been empty all morning, and only a few people from the colony had been in. Shayla had spent lunchtime cleaning the undersides of tables and triple-checking the settings on the menu input screens. Kui had offered to let her leave early, but she didn’t have anywhere to be, and even the few extra bucks she’d make by staying could be added to her savings.
Shayla had just taken out her computer to read another chapter of her book when the doors slid open with a pneumatic woosh. Quickly putting it back in her pocket, she jumped up from her seat at the counter. “Welcome to 109 Portside! Feel free to sit anywhere you like and I’ll be right over–”
At the sound of the familiar voice, Shayla felt a rush of joy through her whole body. She looked over to see her girlfriend: her red hair tied back in a ponytail, her skin pale pink and dotted with a galaxy of freckles. “Gemma!” She ran to the door, wrapping her arms tightly around her.
“Missed you too,” said Gemma quietly, returning the embrace.
In Portland, after the rain, the air would become so transparent that Amy would stop being able to perceive distance. She would bike down Belmont from Mt. Tabor with the cold burning in her lungs, the wind tearing through her hair and whipping the ends to slap her cheeks, and she would look out over the city, green and water-sparkling, with her eyes scrunched halfway shut against the brightness. Her fingers would be numb when she tried to do up her bike lock, and when she finally tumbled through into the cafe the bells on the door would knock against her thigh. The air inside would feel like a sauna, the feeling returning to her fingers one stinging nerve ending at a time.
The bells on the door jingle, and Amy shifts and looks back down at her MacBook, mostly. Revised spec for Smith Cooper Enterprises, the subject line says. The email body is still empty. The redheaded barista is just coming in through door, her face flushed pink over her perpetual pair of scarves. Amy stirs her tea the other direction and watches the barista unwrap her overabundance of winter clothing, hanging each piece on the coat rack by the kitchen door. Nate, the owner—a grumpy middle-aged exile from yuppiedom who always looks resentful whenever Amy asks for the honey for her tea—is obviously lecturing her; Amy glances at the clock on her MacBook, which says that it is 1:03 P.M. The redheaded barista has rounded, soft-looking shoulders and impossibly elegant curves of arm; when she’s behind the bar, she ties her thick masses of hair back from her face with one of an apparently endless number of floral printed kerchiefs; and she works from 1 P.M. to the cafe’s 10 P.M close, every Tuesday through Friday, and sometimes picks up half-shifts on Saturday night when the huge barista with the brown-blond dreads gets a gig.
“Smith-Cooper Enterprises” is supposed to be hyphenated. Amy fixes it.
It was eight o’clock on a Wednesday night. Judging by all the work she still had left to do, it didn’t look like Alison was going to be leaving work any time soon. Her boss had made a vaguely negative comment about her floor plans, hours ago, and it was lingering in her mind as she dealt with the rest of the work that had been left for her to complete. She couldn’t stop bringing it up on her screen every now and then, tweaking it to see if she liked that better.
She needed it to be perfect; it was the standard she held herself to for all of her work, and anything less was unacceptable. She’d made a reputation for herself; everyone in the architecture firm knew that she was hardworking, that she never let the tiniest detail slip. The fact that anyone could find something negative to say about her work made her uncomfortable. It made her feel uncomfortable, and it made her want to prove herself even more.
So here she was, still at the office when anyone with a bit of sense had already packed up for the day and gone home. She was stressed, she was tired, she was about ready to kill for a cup of—
JULIA: It’s just a little– Oh, shit.
JULIA: And then you want to– Shit. Balls. Hold on.
JULIA: But always– [offscreen crash] Oh, sweet Jesus, fuck me sideways.
JULIA: Well, either these will be the best petit fours I’ve ever made, or I’m just going to have to kill everyone in the building to cover the evidence.
[musical cue, title card: “BLESS YOUR HEART”]
“Do you see that one in the black?” Simoen murmured in her ear, leaning past her to disguise his moving lips. “That’s Kes Kalumaria. Everybody says she killed her husband.”
The little cafe was about two hours out of town. It wasn’t the easiest place to get to, especially without a car; it took Crys three transfers to get to the nearest bus stop, and from there she still had to walk a good twenty minutes along dirt roads. She’d brought a book, though, and it was a beautiful day, so she didn’t really mind the journey.
There was only one problem. Crys had been sitting at the ornate, wrought-iron table for what must have been half an hour now and Tarah was nowhere in sight. While she waited, she was trying to keep boredom at bay by watching the other customers on the terrace.
The colourful sun dresses and elaborate hats fit in pretty well with the marigolds and morning glories that surrounded the little patio. An elegant, middle-aged women was staring at her from her table under a nearby trellis whenever she wasn’t staring back. This wasn’t the first person to do that, either. Crys’s outfit may have been comfortably inconspicuous in the city, but out here her dark jacket and acid-washed jeans made her feel like graffiti in Monet’s gardens.
“I’m telling you, it’s just because you’ve never had good coffee.”
“All right, all right, I said I’d try it…”
I pasted a smile on my face as the next two customers stepped up to the counter. One: white, taller, curvy, long red hair tied back in a ponytail, one eyebrow piercing and one lip piercing, leather jacket. The other: shorter, Asian, short hair, horn-rimmed glasses, plaid shirt.
Conclusion: lesbian couple, possibly hipsters. Not that I could really stereotype, being a pink-haired lady-who-likes-ladies myself. I used to have enough metal in my face to set off the airport alarms, but I got bored with those and went for tattoos instead. I kept the fleshies in my ears, though; can’t let all that stretching go to waste.
“What can I get you ladies?” I asked.
“I’ll have the El Paraiso,” said the redhead.