There was, as there always is, a boy. His name was Michel Valentine, and imagine for a moment if you will a tall, lanky figure with messy brown hair, a wide mouth with smiles tucked into its corners, and blue eyes that look far older and wiser than his nineteen years. He was on his way to Bytherand to look for work, as many do; he had apprenticed with the physician in his town for three years, and Doctor Louis had declared Michel ready for bigger things. Of course, he had only said so after walking in on Michel sealing a gash on an unconscious farmhand’s leg with nothing but his thoughts.

It hadn’t been easy parting with his mother, but Michel had carefully packed the reference papers from Doctor Louis, shouldered his bag and hefted his case, and walked bravely out into the world.


Recipe from Warmth

Fish Head Curry



Ben wasn’t sure when the last time he spent new year’s with a family – a proper Chinese New Year with a proper family unit – was. He’d been alone since he was sixteen; quasi-adoption into Dhuan’s rowdy loving family was amazing but it wasn’t the same as having uncles telling corny jokes over pork jerky and black melon seeds; nosy aunts asking about girlfriends, wives, children; a pair of mandarin oranges fresh from the refrigerator, perspiring in your hand as you hand them to grandparents who receive them with trembling fingers and a bright red envelope.

Ming asked the question over a dinner of beef and kimchi and metal chopsticks. Ben could only stare as Ming smiled, then yelped as the meat began to sit too long on the charcoal grill. He flicked slices of beef onto Ben’s rice, and Ben swallowed hard. “Why?”


Come In From The Cold

“Hello, this is Ken-ken. I can’t answer the phone right now so leave a message and your number after the tone. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!”

“Ken? You’re there, aren’t you? Please pick up. Just… I’m sorry I said all that. I’m outside, I’ll be here for the next ten min—”


“Ten minutes,” Shion said, his voice frostier than the weather. Snow was falling now, onto his hair and face and jacket. A branded one, of course; he needed to keep up his image. “You’ve got ten minutes to talk before I go home and burn paper effigies of you.”



by Hana Chikai (羽名血海) illustrated by tashigi (mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/118505.html) “Weigh anchor!” The familiar call rings out across the scuffed wood and billows the sails as they unfurl from the mast. Well-worn boot soles pound the deck as all hands are put to the myriad tasks involved in leaving port. The captain stands, feet firm, by […]



by Hana Chikai (羽名血海) illustrated by tashigi (mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/54743.html) Benjamin Ong should be the model instead of the one behind the scenes. Clad in a pair of Levis 501s, a lavender Calvin Klein shirt and a black jacket of his own design, the twenty-four year old designer is every inch the epitome of a pretty […]