greenling ([personal profile] greenling) wrote in [community profile] rainbowfic2014-08-06 11:59 pm

Blue Opal #20

Name: Greenling
Story: Asking for Roses
Colors: Blue Opal #20 (The best laid plans of mice and men)
Supplies and Styles: Paint by Number ((Possibly) future fic. When they were young and full of ambition, they never would have imagined themselves here.), Graffiti (Lilith Fair 2)
Word Count: 1,113
Rating: PG
Warnings: Sadness. Lots of sadness.
Summary: Alex considers his options, and where Celeste went.

Comments, criticism, and questions are all appreciated.


By the time Celeste got to the fence gate, she was shaking.

Her car was parked against the curb; she didn't dare try the driveway. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference, but her mind was on autopilot as she locked the doors and walked up the stone pathway. Her hand went to the latch and hesitated.

Even in the middle of winter, the house was nearly impossible to see through the garden. The vines normally covering the porch were gone and dormant, but holly was in full bloom, and cacti dotted the lawn between the bare trees. It was bright, inviting, and forbidding at the same time.

There was a new little statue in the garden as well. Celeste grimaced, took a deep breath, opened the latch, and stepped briskly down the path before she changed her mind.

*

Alex lay on his stomach on his hotel room bed, prodding at his laptop. It had been a very, very long day, and the part of him that needed to find some hook or pattern in the puzzle he'd been given was slowly losing out to the part of him that wanted to order Chinese and watch stupid YouTube videos until he fell asleep. He'd woken up having strung a lucky lead into a solid one at the gallery, and now the latter was missing, contacting the former would be a major social faux pas, and the one thing he had learned- that there was in fact an Outsider tracking down (some of?) the fey- had resulted in him nearly tipping his hand to the man from the gallery who he'd-

Well, now that he was alone and it no longer mattered much, Alex admitted to himself that he'd been an ass. Probably, in fact, an utter dick.

The thought was not helping him fight the part of his brain that was rooting for unhealthy food and internet, so he stuffed it into a little box in the back of his mind labeled "Guilt- Justified" and sat it on top of the others for the time being.

And so he was browsing the work database looking for evidence of sorcerors and information on pretty, jeweled lizard-person things.

It wasn't easy. Even after the multiple forms of security logging in, most of the information was indirect and not very well-organized. Some of it was familiar to him from the training he'd had and cataloguing he'd done, but he'd spent most of the few hours before his early dinner trying to figure out their system of abbreviations. He had found a few possible sorcerors who he'd cross-referenced as still living within the city, but no information about lizard-people.

His stomach growled when he thought again of dinner. Ms. Hancock had invited him to a nice Italian place and promptly spent most of the evening flirting with him. Normally he wouldn't mind, but he had come into the meeting with the intent of convincing her to somehow keep tabs on-slash-bury a news story, and while she'd (probably) agreed, her utter lack of concern had thrown him off. It was like preparing for a gunfight and walking into a pleasant stroll in the park. The chicken had been delicious, but he'd barely eaten any of it.

A wave of depression hit him then; Alex sighed and folded his arms under his head.

*

Celeste found herself sitting in a plush, beige armchair with a shawl around her bare shoulders and a cup of tea. She wasn't really interested in the tea, but it was polite. It was best to be polite.

The house smelled like flowers and patchouli, and reminded her of one of her aunts. She realized, distantly, that she was in shock.

It was still out there, she knew. Tasha had... appeared as soon as she'd walked in, shut the gate behind her, and taken her in. In retrospect, she had been wearing gardening gloves, so perhaps she hadn't just appeared from nowhere. You never could tell with sorcerors. You never could tell. She was staring out the window with a glare that could melt steel, and what else could she be staring at?

"You are a guest in my home," she said suddenly, her broad Northern accent making the formal language sound stilted, "but I hope you have an explanation for that thing, Ms. Whitaker."

Celeste opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. She tried- she sat the tea down on the end table with a clatter, splashing several drops onto the table and shawl. She stared at them with a look of horror, gripping the shawl; then the tears came like a storm.

She sat sobbing into her hands, unable to do anything else. It seemed several minutes, perhaps days later, but then she had a box of Kleenex in her lap and a hand on her shoulder.

"Celeste?" Tasha asked more softly. "What happened?"

She burbled something incoherent from behind the Kleenex, trying to- Celeste had no idea what she was trying to do. Clean off her running makeup and make this day not happen. Tasha looked down at her face, and too quickly, she knew.

Celeste had thought- rationally- she'd thought she had come for protection.

The two spent some time sitting there, holding each other and crying.

*

He probably should have taken the Chinese and YouTube. That was what he was thinking when he woke up an hour later, curled up in a ball with the blankets on the floor and his computer on standby.

Dinner had reminded him of just how precarious his situation was. That had reminded him of how many people he'd had to lie to to go on this trip, much less once he'd gotten there. That reminded him...

His phone buzzed on the floor. Alex opened his eyes stickily; he'd fallen asleep in his contacts, and it took him another ring to be able to see again. Thankfully it was still in his pants pocket, so it was easy enough to find.

He didn't recognize the number. "Hello?"

"Hi there!" Alex sat up straight in surprise at the smooth voice. "I hate to interrupt you on your no-doubt super-busy business trip, but, well, something came up... and I find myself without a bed to sleep in tonight. I was wondering if I could borrow yours?"

Carlos. He'd met Carlos earlier that week, at a coffeeshop; he'd been Alex's invite to the gallery. Carlos, from what he could tell- well, it was a mutual rebound. From the thing Alex had spent the last month trying to forget.

"I think we agreed on one night..." Alex said, in a voice that asked to be convinced.

kay_brooke: A field of sunflowers against a blue sky (summer)

[personal profile] kay_brooke 2014-08-07 04:45 pm (UTC)(link)
They both seem so lost, and I feel bad for them.

I really like the description of the garden in the first section.
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)

[personal profile] bookblather 2014-08-10 10:45 pm (UTC)(link)
I like the juxtaposition between Celeste's utter fear and shock and Alex's sort of calm sadness that things didn't work out the way he wanted.