Register Register

Author Topic: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter  (Read 3639 times)

Mercy Merchant

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 6430
Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« on: (12:01:01/01-10-17) »
It has been three days since everyone returned to the Overworld.  Things had been a bit.................unsettled............what with the authorities looking for some of them and questions had to be answered.  Robyn really does know a lot of people from her charitable works, her medicine, and other things and she calls in some favors and soon the questions just go away and records are sealed and she is told to never get involved with this sort of thing again.  The return to her normal life is not without issues, but she is able to deal with all of them.

It has been three days since everyone returned to the Overworld.  The hospital has called to schedule her for a few procedures.  She has been busy looking for a cello to replace the one destroyed in the explosion and has an appointment this afternoon to go see one that is for sale.  The book shop has flourished; after all, her presence there is not a requirement for bools to be sold and it seems that more and more people are actually getting back to holding a real book in their hands.

It has been three days since everyone returned to the Overworld.  Al2 has mostly recovered from his ordeal and is back to his normal self.  He spends his days close to Robyn.

It has been three days since everyone returned to the Overworld.  And he has not called her yet.  She has his com code and has been tempted almost beyond reason to call him or send him a message or track him down and go see him.  But he said he would call and she has to trust him.  He seems a different man from the one she had met in Cambodia, but she knows, she fragging KNOWS, that he is still so deep in her heart that she will never be rid of him, even if he does not call.  She reaches up to her neck to touch the wooden idol on its chain, grasping it as she sends a prayer to the voodoo spirit attached to it to let Al look into his heart and if see if she is still there.
"Speech"  *Thought*  <Matrix>

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #1 on: (18:28:26/01-10-17) »
Tuesday, July 14th, 2076

Al was tired. He sat in his jeans and wifebeater on the sticky linoleum floor of his ill-lit Caravaner, grease-covered hands in his lap, and smoldering Lucky Strike between the fingers of one, a huge black mutt curled at his feet. He'd been up for three days.

He'd been damned glad to get back into the real world. Said a few quiet words to his shell-shocked co-workers, shook hands with the other three. Could tell she'd wanted something else - a word or a touch or something. But he needed to get back in the world first. At least. So he'd played dumb, pretended not to notice, taken his leave.

Back up top he'd stopped to pick up two steaks and two cases of whatever was cheap and gone home. Little place carved out of the weeds on the bank of the Thames nowhere between London and Oxford. Invisible from the road, just a dilapidated boathouse and the Caravaner on a rocky, off-the-grid plot. Quiet.

He'd tossed both steaks at Spike, cursed at the animal for a few moments in greeting, and gone to bed.

And they'd had words. Or looks. Or thoughts. Didn't matter because it probably wasn't real anyhow, and if it was it was from the devil.

No, not from the devil. I like what you did. Right up my alley.

Din't do it fer you.

No, you did it for you. But the fact that that was what you wanted to do proves you're mine.

Don't belong ta no one. And gon' keep it that way.

Good luck with that. By the way, enjoying the sleep?

What?

Just saying, no good deed goes unpunished....


Then it had come to him - half remembered from the Portal, the stuff his conscious mind had chosen to forget, in all its awful abomination...

No sleep since. Tried drinking himself unconscious, but just ended up in a terrified stupor, the merest blink bringing unwelcome flashes of horror.

He'd kept busy with his rides. First day he'd installed manual overrides on all the controls. The next day he wasn't too tired - he'd never really slept well since...since his first time across the Pacific...and he fitted the Bulldog's engine with a turbocharger. Tried to sleep again but just ended up in a cold sweat. This time, though, he couldn't remember whatever he'd started to see, which he'd figured must be a good sign. It pissed him off that the sight of some filthy demon whose ass he'd kicked was troubling him so, but he'd known then just like he knew now that it was more than a memory of the sight - that thing had exuded something that was like anti-matter to the real world's matter - he'd felt it there on Mystery Island, and that feeling had let him know it had to be stopped. If it had sullied his soul somewhere in the process, well, he'd get over it.

Spent the third day replacing the Bulldog's ring and pinion gears. That and the turbo charger and she'd be fast off the mark like a damned Formula One. Took him twice as long as it should - kept dropping the tools, slipping on grease slicks on the floor of the SOTA shop he had in the boathouse.

And now he'd had a frozen soyrito (habanero cheese flavor) and wanted to sleep. It was still there, though, when he closed his eyes. He knew the trick. You can't try not to think of pink elephants. So you have to think about something else.

But there was only one something else that distracted him enough to do the job. Thing was, it was complicated. And as was his policy with all complicated things, he'd decided not to think about it. But he was sleepy now, though, so his defenses were down. And besides, he'd said he would.

He reached up onto the counter, pushed his hand blindly through assorted dirty dishes and food wrappers, and found his 'link. That old number was around somewhere. And in his head. But that was just too much trouble. He hit the key he'd coded with her work number, the one they'd used for comms on the job. Put the thing on speaker and laid it on the floor.

Listened to the intermittent purring it made to let him know it was ringing somewhere, waiting for a connection.

Mercy Merchant

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 6430
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #2 on: (21:24:55/01-10-17) »
Tuesday, July 14th, 2076


She has had to lay in an order of those damned blood fags.  Over the past two days, she has gone through six packs of the things, chain smoking at least two of them, and now she is out.  Lucky Strikes are a colonial brand and an uncommon one at that and she has to order them special because only certain shops will even carry them.  Over the years she has cultivated three dealers that will order them for her and she calls one to order several cases by delivery.  Her hands are shaking as she cuts the connection and sits down in the office of the book shop that bears her name.  She is having trouble sleeping, waking in a cold sweat several times a night., and has taken to wandering the aisles between the bookshelves.  She has her favorite chair in the grouping farthest away from the door and it has long been like a second bed for her.  It is not uncommon for her maid to find her missing from her bed only to find her in The Chair, as she and the shop staff have come to refer to it.  There is a large pedestal in front of the chair with an enormous edition of Robyn's favorite book, Pride and Prejudice.  The leaves are made of silver plate and the words are all in Braille and it was a gift from one of her friends, who had it made for her several years ago.   A special bed of blankets lies on the floor to the side for Al to sleep on and they are often found there of an early morning.

Robyn's is a fixture in this part of The City; a place where people can come to put their hands on real books.  Kids come in to sit in chairs around tables because this is a safe place to chat while waiting for their mums or dads to finish work in one of the tall office buildings near by and swing by in one fancy limousine or another to pick them up.  Young couples stop in because the tall shelves give them a bit of privacy from peering eyes as they fumble through the early stages of adolescence, hormones raging as hands fondle various bits and pieces of each other's anatomy.  Older people come in to actually read the books.  Heavy and comfortable chairs are grouped in three sets about oak tables.  The scent of old leather wafts from the chairs and the bindings of the books on the shelves.  A faint aroma of a blended pipe tobacco drifts through the air, a comfortable scent for a comfortable place.  Some of the older patrons have been coming here since Robyn bought the shop and gave it her name and she knows most of them by name and occupation, counting them among her closest friends. 

Only new visitors are put off any longer by the presence of the huge Hell Hound that always seems to be at his mistress' side.  It is an odd sort of service animal, but she has a license and the thing rarely causes any trouble.  Many of the regular customers are even apt to leave a treat in his bowl near the blankets, as if he were more or less a fixture in the shop, which of course he is.  But even old customers are seeing a change in their favorite shop keeper.  The number of fags she goes through in a day is just one symptom that all is not well and Robyn has to cope with all of these people wishing her good fortune.  It is all too easy to see that something is bothering her.

Music helps.  Mostly.  Today, she has gone across the street with her old wooden cello in her hand and given an impromptu concert for three hours and a half.  It had taken her two days to compose the music and lyrics of this, her opus.  She has managed to lose herself in the flow of the chords and has worked in the horror of the thing and the abyss and the loss of people she had known for years to the whatever it was and its minions.  She has poured her heart and soul into the playing and singing and let her tears flow in memory of the fallen....of those she would never see again.  She is torn between two worlds that are so close and yet so far apart and she is having trouble living her life like this.  As she plays her Requiem for Below, she can feel the ink on her body move, the hydras responding to the music.  Around her stand others that walk the streets of the Overworld in silence, hidden in the anonymity of Greater London.  Word had spread and scores of people from Below that live and work in the Overworld have come to listen..........to listen and to cry with her.  The millions of people living up here will never know what transpired in a near-mythical realm not so far away from where they are standing, but many of the very people that exist in a despised state have given their lives to defend....well...everything.  Every Great House had lost sons and daughters in an unseen and unknown war and Robyn plays for all of them.  Her music has always been able to bring emotions to the fore in her audience and this is certainly no exception.  Even those who do not know of what she sings are touched by the haunting and yet stirring tune and lyrics.  Those that do know are brought low, made humble by her deft touch and voice.  Three and a half hours.  Without a break.  Someone must have thought she doing it for charity and puts a hat on the ground, but it proves too small a hat and another is donated, and another as people, touched by the music, toss in spare change and scrip.  Several people toss in cred sticks as they walk by.  The police have to cordon off the streets near the park as the crowd grows larger than it can hold.  Local shops close and work in high rise office buildings adjacent to the park is temporarily halted as workers stream to open windows to listen.  Most of those listening cannot understand her words because they are in the tongue of Below, but the tone is unmistakable and resonates with everyone present.  The effect is such that no official or shop owner or business makes more than a passing complaint, all of which are ignored.

The concert is heard far beyond the boundary of the park when the first newsies showed up and drones begin feeding it throughout the matrix.  Somewhere, a man older than time nods his head, his dreadlocks moving in time to the music.  The Old One smiles and considers what the handful of Overworlders, along with some from Below, have done and how their efforts will be felt throughout the Pattern that is emerging in his third eye.  A small group of witches whose machinations were all about the Pattern smile and nod at each other.  Dragons and drakes also hear the music as they grimly prepare for the next step of what has been long coming.  But to most of the people of Greater London, the Requiem is just very, very good music as it stirs and lifts, encouraging the soul to be better and stronger than it is.  Finally, Robyn pulls her bow across the strings of the very old cello for the last time.  Her sightless face is streaked with the tears that have flowed unchecked.  Her heart is heavy, but she feels fulfilled and a bit more complete than she has in a long time.  The hundreds, no, thousands that have been listening to her play and sing erupt into a frenzy of applause, their souls grateful for the music even if most of the people have had no idea what she has been singing.  Her sensors have been telling her of the crowds gathering, but she has ignored all but the music and is actually surprised by the number of people in and near the park that have been listening to her.  The Requiem for Below was originally for her own soul but she can tell that she has touched far more than hers alone.  A old man comes hobbling forward form where he has been standing rapt and shakes her hand, thanking her.  He is followed by another then another and soon a flood of people are in a queue, waiting to shake her hand.  It takes three hours for the crowd to pass her by, one person at a time, and she does not leave until the last person goes past her.  Many people just thank her and ask if she has any recordings they can buy, others just thank her, and some cannot get any words out as they grasp her hands, still too involved in the music to be able to speak.  Through it all, the huge hound has stood by her side but no one seems particularly afraid to come up to Robyn, and the hound makes no attempt to discourage them.  The last people in the queue are several City policemen and women.  They have made sure that everyone leaves in an orderly fashion and now it is their turn to thank Robyn for the music they have been listening to.  She thanks them in turn and motions to the hats on the ground near her.  The number has grown to nearly thirty and most are full of coins and scrip.  She asks the policemen to collect the hats and donate them to charities that provide food for those who need it.  She and Al remain standing near the bench she has sat at for so long today and take in the quiet.

She takes her old cello and walks slowly out of the park and across the street to the restaurant next door to her shop, where she is met by the young assistant manager, a man by the name of Joseph, who personally escorts to her reserved booth.  She orders from the Braille menu provided and pats Al's head as she waits for the food.  Halfway through the meal there is a slight commotion near her table as Joseph intercepts several people who seem determined to see Robyn.  It is her normal custom to ask to not be disturbed while eating, but she calls out to Joseph that it is alright, this time.  The young man steps aside as a group of people come up to the table in a line.  Robyn feels her hydras react to these people and she knows that she is in the presence of all thirteen of the Lords of the Great Houses of Below, even those that are normally never seen.  She starts to stand but the first in line, the Earl, hisses and she remains where she is.  None of them speaks a word, but each places a silver coin on the table in front of her then walks off.  Her tears are flowing fresh by the time the last person walks up to her booth.  He does not have a coin to give her, instead leaning forward and whispering so only she can hear the man she knows as The Old One.  "You have done well, daughter.  You and your companions have helped heal a long-standing rift.  More is needed and you and they will be called on again to serve the Pattern.  Rest and be calmed." He passes a hand over Robyn's eyes and the pain and horror of the past days goes away., flowing back into the recesses it had been spawned from. "It is not meant for you to forget because you are meant to not forget, but neither is it meant that you should suffer for the memories and so it is.  Have peace, daughter, and wait until summoned."

The old man straightens up and leaves the restaurant, vanishing into the fog just as have the heads of the Houses.  They belong to Below, not the Overworld, and their visit here has been painful for several of them.  Painful but necessary and none hold a grudge for being summoned for this duty.  Robyn runs her hands across each coin in front of her, aware of the stares and wondering questions directed in her direction by the other patrons of the restaurant..  The assistant manager, somewhat used to the notoriety his rather well known customer sometimes brings, is quick to act and sends his staff out to the tables and booths, offering free drinks, which brings peace to Robyn.  Grateful, she leaves a very large tip when she is finished and picks up her cello and the coins, calling Al to her as she leaves the booth and walks to the door the exits form the restaurant to the book shop next door.  Her maid is waiting for her and takes the cello upstairs as Robyn goes off to sit at her chair and read.

Robyn takes a cigarette from a pack she keeps at the chair and lights it with her old, clunky Zippo lighter.  Her fingers move across the raised characters of the book and she is at peace for the first time in days.  No unbidden horrors reach from the dark areas of her mind to eat at her.  Oh, she knows that they are still there; after all, she cannot, no, is not allowed to forget anything, not even THAT.  But she can now live with it.  She is brought from her pages by the most unlikely of things........a ping on her 'link.  It is not a special 'link, but it is a special tone, one reserved for only one person.  Even though the 'link and the call are internal, her hands tremble on the page of her book as she answers the call. "Hello Al."
"Speech"  *Thought*  <Matrix>

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #3 on: (07:46:03/01-11-17) »
Tuesday, July 14th, 2076

No declarations of her truest feelings in the first five seconds - off to a good start. He wondered how long he could keep up his winning streak.

"Yeah, hello. Listen..." and he had no idea what to say. He figured the best thing was to keep her talking (easy enough that) long enough to fall asleep. But then he'd fall asleep, and that would be unmannerly at best. There were a lot of things he'd like her to know, but none of them was he likely to talk about out loud this side of an arctic hell.

His feelings for her were...strong. That was about all he could say about them. Like if you touched really cold metal, and at first the feeling was so intense it felt hot. He was past good or bad with it. He could quantify it but not qualify it. And of course it was obvious why - he'd known her briefly eight years ago. He didn't know her now. He felt her, but didn't know her. He'd realized that right away a couple weeks ago when their paths had first crossed again, and the solution had been obvious, only forgotten now by a brain addled with cheap beer, nightmarish visions, and sleep deprivation.

"...we should catch up some. Like ta call on ya. Yer up for it, flash me a twenny, I'll come by tomorrow night sometime after work."

Mercy Merchant

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 6430
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #4 on: (09:45:12/01-11-17) »
Tuesday, July 14th, 2076


Robyn's heart is begging for her to say everything she feels but she has already tried that and doing so again risks losing this man.  It is like her brain goes into lockdown mode and only gibberish comes out of her mouth.  No, she will try to avoid that sort of disaster this time..................at least for now.  "Yes, Al, I would like that very much.  There is a lot to catch up on.  There is a restaurant just next door to my book shop if you care to eat there, or you can take me somewhere, if you like."
"Speech"  *Thought*  <Matrix>

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #5 on: (10:43:12/01-11-17) »
Tuesday, July 14th, 2076

"Heh. Ya got a bookshop, huh? Maybe ya said somethin' about that..." His voice trailed off as his eyelids drooped. "Alrighty, I can track it - matrix'll be my friend. Play the food by ear. Ya like the restaurant, sure, whatever. See ya tomorrow night."

And he kept his wits long enough to thumb the connection off before falling asleep there on the floor.

Mercy Merchant

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 6430
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #6 on: (02:01:23/01-12-17) »
Tuesday, July 14th, 2076


Robyn sits in her chair and replays the conversation about a million times.  OK, somewhat fewer than that, but still a lot.  She takes a drag on her fag and notices that her hand is not shaking.  She stubs the thing out without finishing it off and rises, clucking at Al, who stand and follows her as she makes her way back to the door separating the shop from the restaurant.  There she finds her personal assistant, Stephanie, talking to Joseph and smiles at the affianced couple. "Joseph, I am expecting a guest for dinner sometime tomorrow evening."

Joseph nods.  "Of course, Miss Lysander.  Your table is always open for you."

"Thank you, Joseph.  I have a very specific meal in mind and am sending it to you now.  Please see that you have everything available, but I am not yet certain when we will come in,"

"This will not be a problem, Miss Lysander."

Robyn nods and turns to her maid.  "You are not going to take this nice man away from the restaurant after you are married, are you?"

Stephanie shakes her head and smiles.  "No, Miss Lysander, this place is very important to him.  But he will have a much shorter walk to work.  We have decided to accept your offer to help us purchase the flat above yours here."

Robyn smiles broadly.  "I am so glad.  I would have been very sad to lose you to that place in Surrey.  I am retiring, Stephanie.  Good evening to you, and to you, Joseph.  Ciao."

Stephanie bids her fiance goodnight and walks up to take care of her mistress.

Wednesday comes with promise and Robyn greets it as a friend.  The weather prognosticators have predicted no rain, and have said that the morning fog will burn off by 1000.  The day itself is mostly a blur, except for the cross-town appointment she has made to look at a cello she might buy to replace the one she had left behind.  Unfortunately, she had known straight away that the instrument, while a fine one, was not the one for her and she had walked away form the sale, disappointed but certain that there is a cello out there just for her.  Robyn and Stephanie spend an hour getting her ready and she decides to sit in her chair, reading from her book and waiting.
"Speech"  *Thought*  <Matrix>

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #7 on: (08:10:28/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Al woke up sober and refreshed. He quickly opened up a beer to set about rectifying the first problem.

Drank and smoked and watched Spike give his balls their morning lick. Damned dog needed some discipline. He decided to address that issue sooner than later. Seemed he was busy tonight, though. Planning to begin his courtship of Alyce. Put that way, it didn't seem quite so bad. No question he was interested. No question she was hot. And capable. Hell, he was pretty sure she was rich, too, for what that was worth.

A few seconds of her voice had chased the demons clear away last night.

She was also - or at least had been - a whole grab-bag of problems, issues, concerns, and warning signs. Some might be in the past, but in Al's experience, such things tended to get worse, not better. And he'd added plenty of new ones to the list since crossing paths with her again.

But he'd always known she was a handful. And he'd decided back then, eight years ago, admittedly way short on necessary data, that none of that mattered to him.

No, he had to admit, the problem wasn't her. It was him. It had been him from the start. And the past eight years hadn't helped any.

But like he'd told her in Isaint's workshop, hopeless though it may be, he'd give it a shot.

His brain started to hurt, so he decided to get to work. Spent the day beefing up his rides' immunization to the unnatural horror known to modern man as GridGuide. Went out to a local scrapyard to scavenge parts for his next project. Ordered some crap that might be helpful with Spike.

Next thing he knew it was after six. Damned England in July - sun didn't even think of going down 'till after eight. Where was he going, anyway? That turned out to be the least of his problems, since it turned out her shop was named 'Robyn's.' Next to a restaurant, check. Hoitie toitie neighborhood, check. Oh, and there was a little profile of her and the shop in some artsy fartsy chat-sheet. There, dusted.

He took a quick shower, reminding himself he needed to get soap at some point, and used a wet paper towel to wipe the mud off his Docs. Put on clean boxers and opened a new white T-shirt he'd picked up on a supply run to Kong Wal-mart last month in case some special occasion came up. Dipped his jeans in the river for a minute, tossed them over his stolen picnic table to dry, and took a nap.

When he woke up it was almost dark. The jeans were still wet, but he put them on. Shooed Spike away from the car and headed off for London.

At about ten he pulled up to the address. There was a no-parking zone out front, which was conveniently empty for him. He wondered suddenly if he should have brought flowers or something, but then realized he'd brought himself.

Walked up to the shop and it was closed. There was a light on way in the back, though. He was reaching for his lock picks and scanning for alarm contacts when he remembered this was a social call.

It had been a while.

So he rang her work number again.

Mercy Merchant

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 6430
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #8 on: (10:17:09/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076


Alyce had and reread the same page several times and decided to stretch her legs a bit by wandering about the shop.  She stopped at the windowed room that help the more valuable of her first editions, where her image was reflected back at her.  Even though she could not see, she smoothed the fabric of her frock, enjoying how it felt next to her skin.  Alyce is certainly not the prettiest woman in London, or even in her neighborhood, but she has a certain presence about her that gets others to notice her for more that being blind.  Her figure has very nice curves in the right places and her skill is flawless, if you don't count the tattoos arrayed across it, which seem to only add a bit of mystery to her.  She has lost a bit of weight in the past eight years and could be called slightly athletic rather than a bit pudgy, as she had been in Cambodia.  That trip had leaned her up a bit and she had tried hard to maintain the figure she had developed there. 

The frock is a new one and she likes it.  The light green color is good for her skin tone and it is tight in the right places without constricting her.  The hem sits just above the knee in the modern style for this sort of frock, allowing her to show off a nice expanse of leg without appearing tarty.  The top of the frock is modestly cut, with a slight frill at the bosom designed to draw the viewer's attention there, where the fabric clings to her otherwise unencumbered breasts.  She is not overly large in that department, but they go perfectly with her size and weight and it is rare indeed that she does not get second looks from men passing her in the street.  She is wearing her hair down and loose and it hangs to just above her breasts, framing her face.  Her shoes have been chosen to set of the frock and are sensible ones with barely any heel.  As is her normal style, she is wearing only her crucifix and a small, hand carved wooden idol at her neck, the cross on a silver chain and the idol on a leather thong.  The idol is well worn from her hand grasping it while she prays for the safety of the man she loves.  The only other jewelry she is wearing is a bracelet in the form of a serpent eating itself.

Eventually, her shop assistant comes up to tell her that all of the customers have left the shop and that she is getting ready to lock up and leave.  Alyce nods and thanks her, but the woman does not leave right away, instead putting a friendly hand on Alyce's arm. "If you don't mind my saying, Miss Lysander, you look better tonight.  I hope that you have managed to get some sleep.  We were that worried about you down here."

Alyce turns to the woman.  If Alyce is the soul of the shop, Elaine Waters has been the heart for as long as the place has been Robyn's.  "Thank you, Elaine.  I am sorry to have been difficult lately."

Elaine smiles and waves her hands about at the shelves behind her. "You have had something on your mind, Miss Lysander, and it was easy to see it bothering you.  I am glad that is seems to have worked itself out."

Alyce nods. "That it has, Elaine.  Thank you and have a good evening."

Elaine leaves the shop, locking the outer door on her way out, leaving Alyce alone with Al.  The room behind Alyce is hers and she knows where every shelf and chair is, and every book.  She walks back to her chair to wait for Al to arrive and to see if she can now get past that bloody page of her book..  She is involved in her reading to the point that she loses track of time and is a bit startled when her internal 'link lets her know that Al is calling her.  She gathers her breath and settles her pulse before answering.  "Hello, Al.  Are you nearly here?"

"Speech"  *Thought*  <Matrix>

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #9 on: (10:34:58/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

"Yeah, nearly. If right outside yer door counts."

A moment later he saw her though the windows, which was good because it gave him a moment to collect his wits. No matter how hard he tried to be dispassionate, the sight or smell of her always set things off inside him.

When the door opened she saw him with his hand in his jeans, a Lucky Strike hanging from the corner of his mouth, and his ass on the hood of a low-slung sports car. It was cherry red and waxed to perfection, with shiny silver mags and a heart-shaped sunroof.

"Well," he said, looking her up and down appreciatively but making no move to approach, "I'll allow you look a vision." He dropped the spent cigarette into the gutter and nodded to the right. "This the place ya wanted ta eat?"

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #10 on: (13:57:02/01-12-17) »
Alyce turns and makes her way to the door, her sensors tied in with the security system allowing her to see the auto he had arrived in, but more importantly, they let her see him and her heart skips a beat.  Pressing a hand against a plate unlocks the door and Alyce opens it to go out to the sidewalk.  She resists the sudden urge to just throw herself into his arms, knowing that he would not like that, but the urge is very strong.  No one has ever affected Alyce like this man has.  As unlikely as a match between them might be, her heart is long lost to him.

Alyce nods, trying very hard to not talk too much, as that usually ends up with one foot or both deep inside her mouth.  “Good evening to you, too, Al.  I am glad that you were able to come over.  Bloody nice ride you have there; does it go as fast as it looks like it ought to?”  She points at a parking spot just ahead of where Al had parked.  “I do think that you should pull it up to the next parking slot though as the bobbies around here are pretty much sticklers about towing cars illegally parked.  And, yes, this is the restaurant I recommended.  We have a table waiting, so I can give you the five nuyen tour of the shop first, if you like, or just head on in to eat dinner.  Your choice.”

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #11 on: (14:02:49/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

"Considerable faster," he answered about the car.

He thumbed the ‘link in his pocket and it crept forward into the newly vacated space in front of it.

He looked closer at her green dress. Couldn't fault it.

After the get-up she'd worn to the meet a couple of weeks ago, the first time he'd seen her in anything but jungle kit, he'd half expected to find her tonight in another death-hippy number. Funny thing was, great as she looked, part of him was disappointed.

And she was showing a lot less skin than she had that night. Which had been the Alyce he'd known. He was glad she'd shown some sense this evening. And again, the other half of him was deeply disappointed.

That was the problem with her - she brought out both the best and the worst in him.

"Sure, reckon I'd like ta see yer shop. Ya live 'round here, too?"
« Last Edit: (14:06:33/01-12-17) by adamu »

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #12 on: (16:41:50/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

Alyce nods as she holds the door open for Al to enter.  “Yes. I live just upstairs here.  I pretty much have the entire floor of the hotel to myself, well plus my personal assistant and my maid with her kids and her mother.  It can get pretty lively sometimes, especially when my daughter is home from school.”  After she enters the shop, she shuts the door and places her palm against the plate again, setting the alarms except for the motion detectors.  Taking Al’s arm she walks a bit into the shop, where both are greeted by the massive Hell Hound, who comes up to sniff at Al.  “Welcome to my little bit of paradise, Al.  It seems he remembers you.”  Alyce stoops a bit to rub the head of the hound then clucks at it and Al2 wanders back off into the shop.
The entrance foyer has an information and sales desk set back from and facing the front windows, with a comfortable couch for waiting customers.  Even here, a fine aroma of leather can be detected from farther inside the building.  Just off to the right is a largish room brightly painted with scenes from various children’s books and the shelves here contain books in a mish mash of authors suitable for children.  Two boxes of small toys sit against one wall.
Further in, past the customer service desk, are the shelves for general reading.  Beyond these are the shelves dedicated to the serious reader, along with three small groupings of leather chairs about oak coffee tables.  There are also two small reading rooms and a larger special reading room, where Alyce keeps most of the first editions she has collected over the years.  The aroma of fine cigars hangs in the air from years of people using the nooks and reading rooms, competing with the smell of fine leather.  A large leather chair sits off by itself in front of an oak pedestal that holds a large book made of silver plates for its pages and engraved with Braille symbols instead of words.  Alyce rubs a hand on the open page and sighs.  “Still my favorite, Al, no matter how many times I have read it.”
She reaches a place where a wide stairway leads up and a glass door looks out into the restaurant next door.  Pointing up, she says, “This goes to my flat.  There is also an lift just around the corner there that I can use if necessary.  The way past the lift leads to a small warehouse area and loading dock where I take deliveries.  Dinner is through here.  I would have cooked you a dinner upstairs, and would very much like to do that sometime, but I thought that the restaurant would be better for our first date.”  She softly clicks her tongue and the Hell Hound shows up, almost as if by magic.  She pats its head then turns to Al.  “Ready to eat?”

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #13 on: (16:54:36/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

"Born ready, toots." Eating gave you something to do with your mouth. Less talking.

During the tour he'd been going over some the things she'd let drop when they'd first met the team. Lesbian lover, missing. Tortured near to death. 'Ware ripped out and replaced. Lingering physical pain. He filed them away as light conversation starters if there were any uncomfortable silences. And there was the daughter thing she'd laid on him in the metaplane. And just mentioned again. Bet your last nickel he'd be steering clear of that one.

The shop had been nice enough. Al had liked the smell of leather. Cigars were okay, too. If you couldn't get cigs. Decent place. As they were seated, he told her so, adding, "Few too many books, though. Reckon ol' Al's more of a trid person. Don't hafta think so much." He looked around for a menu, but the waiter, guy Alyce called Joseph, he said the lady'd already ordered.

"That's real nice. Reminds me I got another apology I gotta run by ya now. Recollectin' back on things today, recalled I told ya I wanted this here courtship ta start the first night off'n the job. An' that I'd take ya out proper, with a show. Like ta think o' myself as a man o' my word. Reckon all I can say is - an' this ain't somethin' I'd own to lightly - reckon after some o' that otherworldly stuff we saw my head just warn't right fer a couple days. Bit discombobulated, ta use the technical term. Make 'er up to ya next week, if'n yer still innerested after tonight."

Having said his piece, he looked around instinctively for the beer.

adamu

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
Re: Al and Alyce - Second Chapter
« Reply #14 on: (18:09:44/01-12-17) »
Wednesday, July 15th, 2076

At Al’s thought, two beers appear on the table, cold and frothy.  Alyce tastes hers and smiles.  “Mmmm.  Bloody nice, this.”  She puts the chilled mug on the table, resisting the temptation to reach across and take Al’s hand in hers.  “I guess we have both had things on our minds for the past couple of days.  Thank you for giving me some time to work through some things.  I would enjoy going to see a show with you; you just pick the date and time.”

Alyce sips again and wipes some foam from her lip.  “You have said that we should use these dates to catch up.  Which of us should start first?”