“Alright, what’s the itinerary?” Victor asked as they walked down the plane embarkation ramp.
“Well, plane ride is over,” Elizabeth began, digging the list out of her pocket. “The organizer should be sending someone to take us to the hotel. We have time to settle in before we head to the arena for sound checks… starting at three. They promised us a dinner of our choice to be served at the arena. Then Yvette Frasier plays the opening set at seven and you go on at eight. They will probably be a few party offers if your father was correct. Either way, we are free until three tomorrow for the sound check for the next concert.”
“Shall we hit the museums in the morning?” he offered, taking her hand with a shy smile.
“In DC? Sounds perfect,” she said, grinning back at him.
“There, that must be our ride,” Victor said, pointing at the sign bearing his name in the hands of a twenty something young man. Unfortunately, there was also a large crowd of young women surrounding him, attracted to the name of the handsome and famous musician. And when the spotted his approach, they all started screaming.
Guards of some kind quickly surrounded Victor, cutting him off from Elizabeth even as the sign wielder dropped his sign and started towards the exit.
“Victor!” she called reaching out to him even as he was turning back to her. Before she could reach him or try to explain, one of the guards jumped between them and pushed her away. Right at the staircase to the luggage carousels.
Debonair, Frail, Muddled, Craven, Gaudy
A rather debonair gentleman was coming up the stairs as Elizabeth was falling down them. One hand on the rail, he extended the other and caught her as she tumbled passed, saving her several more bruises even as he almost dislocated her shoulder.
He took in her seemingly frail appearance and didn’t even ask before carefully lifting her in his arms and carrying her to the top of the stairs, yelling loudly for a guard or medical person. Even in her muddled state of shock, Elizabeth knew she needed more than just an airport guard. Victor had vanished from the building during her fall.
A craven looking man in a uniform slunk up to them to say he would call for an ambulance, but Elizabeth interrupted him.
“Call the cops first. Victor has just been kidnapped,” she snapped, taking advantage of the gasps of shock and panic from the gaudy groupies that still circled the area.
Prompt: Guilty Pleasures
As a child, Elizabeth had always wanted to be free to make a ruckus in public, just once. But she was the daughter of an up and coming politician, so she could not. Just how much she could not had been pounded into her head from day one.
So one of her guilty pleasures had been day dreaming of the mess she could make of those family outings she had always been dragged to, the chance to show of what wonderful parents the Congressman and his wife were. Oh how she’d love to tell those circling reporters just what kind of parents they were.
And while she wouldn’t actually do so, she was going to make it clear she wasn’t going to take that shit from anyone but her parents. Victor’s father had put him in her hands when he made her his new manager, and she was going to take care of him. Even if she had to tell every reporter in DC that he’d been kidnapped and she’d be assaulted by the very people who’d set up his concert here.
A vicious grin crossed her bruised face. This was what she’d gone into law for.
Elizabeth’s announcement was received by questions and confusion, but no progress. The guard was gibbering uselessly. However, someone else must have made a cell call for her (her phone was in her carryon bag, which Victor had been so politely carrying, or she would have done it herself) because several long minutes later a cop car pulled up outside the terminal.
As soon as she spotted it, Elizabeth headed straight out, her debonair savior on her tail, the ineffective guard left behind.
“Victor Moldova has been kidnapped,” she announced as soon as she was within hearing of the emerging cops.
“And who are you to make such a pronouncement?” the driver asked condescendingly.
“I’m his manager,” she snapped, looking as stern as she could while cradling her strained arm.
“Any proof?” the passenger asked in a disbelieving tone.
“It’s in the bag that Victor was carrying when they took him,” she snarled, narrowing her eyes. “Would it help at all if I said I want to add charges of assault for pushing me down a staircase?”
“I caught her falling down the staircase,” her rescuer chimed in.
“Now that I might believe,” the driver said amusedly. “I’ll call it in.”
“You will regret this,” Victor snarled at the men who had forced him into a limo.
“I don’t know what your problem is, Mr. Moldova. We just wanted to keep you safe from the groupies who had gathered,” said one man calmly.
“By pushing my manager down the stairs?” he asked, appalled at their idea of protection.
“Nonsense,” the man said. “Your father is safe back in Bulgaria. He asked us to take care of you in his absence.”
“He’s in Bulgaria because I have a new manager, and your idiot guards just shoved her down the stairs. If you start groveling now I might not sue you for every penny you own.”
The expression on the man’s face made it clear he thought this just some strange ploy by a high-strung musician. Victor wouldn’t let him think that much longer.
As soon as they reached the hotel, the guards formed a phalanx around him again, leading him straight through the lobby. Victor bolted through the crowd for the check-in desk. “Dial 911, right now. Tell them to get an ambulance to Regan for Elizabeth Mason, and I want to press assault charges on her behalf. Now woman!”
“What is that?” Elizabeth asked, shocked by Victor’s surprise.
“A motorcycle,” he replied, his pride evident in his voice.
“I didn’t know you were a biker, Victor,” she said, half teasing, half bemused.
“Not a biker, not in the sense you mean. Back home, most of us have a motorcycle. Very efficient for getting to and from the fields and takes less gas than a truck.”
“So why do you have one now?”
“They are fun to ride … and I thought you might enjoy coming with me.” The offer was made in a decidedly uncertain tone.
She thought for a moment, circling the motorcycle and imagining herself riding such a contraption. Her father would have a fit.
“Sounds lovely,” she said with a grin.
“I just know I’m gonna slip up, mangle a word, something, and your family is going to hate me,” Elizabeth whimpered as Victor dragged her to the magic circle.
The magics wrapped around them and in an instant they were standing in the town hall, two doors down from his family home.
“You are going to do fine, love,” Victor assured her. “Your Bulgarian is coming along well, and everyone’s English is excellent. Father thinks you are wonderful, Mother is going to love you, and my siblings are going to be a royal pain while whispering asides to me about how much better my taste has gotten since I left the country.”
She whimpered again as he led her down the street. They didn’t even make the walkway before his father was calling from the door and several faces were pressed against the windows. The defining moment came when Elizabeth stepped on the porch, and almost went over backwards when her foot slipped on the ice.
“There you go, love. Your slip up for the evening,” Victor teased, and Elizabeth could not help but laugh.
To Yearn, To Stalk, To Dream
She dreamed of him. Oh, she wouldn’t admit it to anyone, and barely to herself, but he fascinated her. Since he’d moved in down the hall, or rather since he had run her over while moving in, he’d intrigued her. She yearned to get to know him better, so she offered dinner while he and his father were stuck in the pits of unpacking. She didn’t know then.
Now she knew he was a famous musician, more up and coming every day, here to work on his new CD. So she dreamed of him but said nothing. If he was the one inviting her over, no one could say she was stalking him. So she came to dinner when he invited, and they talked of politics and music and law, but she never mentioned how she wished to know the feel of his hands on her cheek, or how his accented voice would purr three little words.
“You spoil her rotten, you know,” Yvette said as she walked up to Jack, who was, as always, carrying Robyn.
“I don’t know what you mean,” he insisted. “While toddlers are eminently spoilable, I make her eat her veggies, read her books, and don’t give her too many sweets.”
“She’s a toddler,” Yvette said flatly. “She should toddle once in a while. She’s spoiled rotten because you carry her everywhere.”
Jack’s face picked up a suspicious smirk as he turned to the child in his arms. “Shall we show her our secret?” he asked Robyn, who nodded, a matching grin on her face. His free hand was quickly engulfed by both of hers and with a lift and a twist she was free of the crook of his arm before being slowly lowered until her feet just touched the ground. Still lightly gripping her father’s hand, Robyn then slowly moved forward to her mother, walking on her own.
“You’re thinking about doing what?” Jack asked, bemused.
“Dying my hair blue. Or at least a stripe or two,” Yvette replied plainly, most of her attention on the library book she is flipping through.
“Because it might look good,” she replied as if she were explaining something to a two year old. “Scruff has several stripes, and I think the effect is neat.”
“Teenagers,” Jack mutters under his breath.
“You’re just jealous,” Yvette counters with a sly smile.
“You’re just jealous because it’s so hard to dye black hair. Don’t tell me you didn’t consider it once or twice when you were younger.”
He snorted. “Thus my earlier comment. Teenagers.”
The funeral was both well attended and completely empty. A small cluster of students and teachers from Idyllwild hid in a corner while faux mourners collected from all corners just to see and be seen at the social event of the season. It made Yvette sick.
Only those from Idyllwild and Belle’s brothers remained at the grave when the service was over, and only a select few of those understood the extent of Yvette’s sobs.
She huddled on one of the chairs at the gravesite, Robyn wrapping a death grip about her neck, sobbing into her daughter’s hair. Jack stood behind them, glaring at anyone who dared come near enough to hear Yvette’s whispers. “I’m sorry, so sorry. We weren’t fast enough. Oh, Belle, forgive us.”
“Why do you do it? Why, Jonathan?” Bradford demanded after forcing his way into Jack’s hotel room.
“Why do I do what, Brad?” Jack countered, his tone resigned.
“The women, the sports, the booze. You are the heir to the Brand fortune, the Brand name, the Brand traditions. Oh, that’s right, you managed to avoid that one.”
“Oh don’t go blaming me for that one,” Jack snapped at his brother. “Mother is the one who insisted.”
“That’s right. You’re Momma’s little angel, the one who gets everything and can do no wrong, and it’s made you the biggest fucking jerk.”
“Don’t blame me for your insecurities. How I chose to live my life is nobody’s business but my own, and if you just came here to yell at me, you can just leave.”
“You know, I worshiped you as a child. What a fool I was,” Brad snapped as he stomped out the door.
Jack leaned in the doorway and watched his brother stalk down the hall. “And you were the sweetest little boy who ever lived. Where did we go wrong?”
Player's Choice: Right, Prompt: Careful, Character: Lady, Action: Own
“How many of those do you own?” the bellboy asked as he stared at the terrarium in awe.
“Hmm? Probably a couple thousand all told,” Ree admitted as she removed the last butterfly from its traveling case and released it into the terrarium.
That response took him aback. “Forgive me, my Lady, but how can you afford so many? I’ve been saving over a year for one for my girlfriend.”
Ree smiled. “We invented them, so we have a bit of an advantage on cost since we only need pay for the initial supplies.”
She slipped her hand back into the terrarium and coaxed over her favorite. The crystal butterfly had wings of a deep blue sapphire with veining in platinum that formed the shape of the De Julie crest. “My husband made this one for me when we were just students.” She held it out to the boy. “Would you like to hold it?”
“I wouldn’t dare, my Lady,” he replied, gripping his hands together behind his back, his eyes wide with both amazement and fear.
“Just be careful,” she replied, coaxing one hand out in front of him and setting the butterfly lightly on his palm.
“You like my son.”
Elizabeth looked sharply at Mr. Moldova. “Yes. He’s a wonderful young man. You and his mother did an incredible job raising him.”
“Excellent lawyer double talk, however, not what I meant, and you know it,” he teased. “You like my son, maybe even love him.”
Her face heated with a red flush. “Yes, I suppose I do.”
“Then why will you not go out with him, or join us on the tour? I know you will miss him.”
“And if it doesn’t work out then I’m just another bloody groupie trailing him around the world. I prefer to earn my place, thank you.” She was a bit snappish, but it was becoming a sore spot for her, one she worried over far too often.
He laughed. “And that is part of why you have earned my trust, child. I have a proposal for you. Are you still planning to switch from criminal law to contract law?”
“Yes,” she said, her brow furrowed.
“Why don’t you try applying it for a bit. Be Victor’s manager, earn a place at his side, and see if the relationship has possibilities. I trust you with him.”
Player's Choice, Down, Prompt: Awesome, Character: Cook, Action: Gain
“So, what are you up to this evening?” Elizabeth asked as Victor invited her into his apartment.
“Cooking,” he said, leading the way to the kitchen. The rich scent of baking fills the air, sauces bubble atop the stove, and mysterious odds and ends cover the cutting board.
“So you’re a world famous musician and you can cook?” she teased. “You are going to make some girl very happy some day.”
“I find it a refreshing counter point to composition,” he said, his pale skin taking on a slight flush. “Here, tell me what you think of this broth.” A spoon scooped out some of the content of one pot and is presented before her mouth. Elizabeth gingerly opened her mough, flushing a little herself at the intimate moment. Then the tastes hit her tongue.
She moaned lightly, her eyes shutting so she could focus on the flavors in her mouth. “That is … awesome,” she said after a moment. “That’s it. You’re cooking from here on out. No more takeout.”
“You really like it?” he asked shyly.
“Victor, you just gained yourself a cooking groupie. Screw the music industry, let’s go open a restaurant.”
Allison’s favorite color was blue. It showed in her taste in men. Her first boyfriend had blue dyed hair, the second had hair so black it had blue highlights. Now she was dating an air force pilot. Gotta love those dress blues.
So here she was at a funeral for a man she barely knew, all because he was her boyfriend’s second cousin or something and Richard couldn’t make it himself since he was on a mission out of the country. At least the eye candy was good. The deceased’s daughter was a real cutie. And her uncle was stunning. This had to be the Chester that Richard was always babbling about. And didn’t he cut a fine figure in his blue suit?
Player's Choice: Left, Prompt: Dragon, Character: Depressed, Action: Soar
“What’s with the long face?” Richard asked Caroline. Chester said she’d been hiding in her room for days. She always was a bit tetchy around the anniversary of her parents’ death.
Yep, tis the season, he thought as she glared at him.
“The world is getting you down, eh?” he said lightly. “What you need is a chance to make like a dragon.”
“What are you babbling about,” she snapped at him.
“When the world is getting you down, soar above it,” he said, picking her up and swinging her onto his shoulder. “You ever flown VOTL before?”
“No,” she said, her hands gripping his head and her eyes finally lighting up.
“Under … under … under.”
Chester had pulled a lot of strings to get Principle Saunders into the mountain and down to his level so they could have the meeting that he insisted had to occur right now despite the fact that Chester couldn’t risk being far from the tests he was running. He’d bribed the General, organized the airmen to escort him, and now the principle was simply gibbering in the conference room Chester had carefully cleared of sensitive material.
“Under … under … under.”
“Yes, we are under the mountain. Or perhaps you mean underground. It’s an old missile silo. You get used to it,” Chester assured him. Principle Saunders only shuddered.
“How long has he been like this?” Chester asked the airmen who had accompanied the Principle from the surface.
“He was a little pale in the elevator, but the gibbering only started once we got here,” one replied quickly.
Chester sighed. “Call the infirmary. Have them send someone down to sedate him or something. This can’t be healthy. Stick with him until he leaves the base or the General will have your heads. And call me if he regains coherency.”
He had better things to do.
Pale Blue Point: Picture Prompt: Pill
“They want to what?” Chester shouted.
“Some idiot teacher decided I must be manic or ADHD,” Caroline explained. “So she sent me to the school councilor, who agrees and wants you to send me to a shrink so I can get medicated to balance my screwy brain chemistry.”
“No way in hell,” he assured her.
“Principle Saunders is behind it too,” she added.
Chester groaned. “And I’ll be happy to tell him where to shove it. Do we still have the number for that shrink the court ordered you to visit? I hate to do it to you, but the easiest out is probably to get someone with a degree to disagree.”
“A degree in something other than busy body 101, you mean,” Caroline said sourly.
“Exactly. Idiots. We will get this sorted out. Without pills.” He kissed her on the forehead. “I promise.”
Richard came into Chester’s lab, and was not surprised to find both his cousin and young Caroline buried in sheets of calculations.
“You two need to get out of here more often,” Richard said, causing both to jump in surprise.
“Sorry, Richard, didn’t notice you there,” Chester said, his attention returning to the notebook before him.
“Chester Fields, you live in a lovely mountain town and you spend all your time under the mountain. You and Caroline need to get out and enjoy the view once in awhile.”
“Richard, it’s a nice thought, but we are in the middle of an important set of tests and if we can’t make sense of the results soon …”
“They aren’t going to cut your funding,” Richard interrupted. “If that were likely, they would have canceled the project when James died. Now children need fresh air, so lets all to take a hike. We can stay in the base grounds and you can come back to work after sunset. What do you say?”
Chester looked at Caroline, and had to admit she looked a little intrigued by the idea. “Alright then,” he said, standing. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Picture Prompt: Candy
Caroline loved Halloween these days. Oh, maybe she was getting a little old for trick-or-treating, but with company like hers, how could she resist?
One year they’d done the Wizard of Oz, with Richard as the Tin Man, Chester as the Cowardly Lion, Allison as the Scarecrow, and Caroline as Dorothy. Last year they had tried for the Fellowship of the Ring, but no one wanted to join them so they’d settled for Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, and Frodo. Caroline had loved the excuse to go barefoot all night, though she’d gotten a bit cold by the end.
This year was going to be great. Chester and Richard had worked together to create a dragon costume to share. Allison was going to be the princess and Caroline had a lovely selection of armor for her knight costume. They were going to dazzle. The candy take was going to excellent.
Picture Prompt: Candy Cane
Halloween was fun, but Christmas was Caroline’s favorite holiday. Oh, the presents were nice, but the traditions were better.
Chester would show his unusual talent for cooking, whipping up a feast that would continue to feed them for the next three days. Richard and Allison would always come over, even if they were on the outs again, for Christmas Eve, Day, and Boxing Day.
They’d hunt for the tree for the month before, but decorating always took place Christmas Eve. The lights were colorful, the ornaments were varied, and Richard always lifted her up to add the star to the top.
Chester believed in keeping the tree up until twelfth night. All the ornaments were then put away except the candy canes. Caroline was allowed to nibble on them at will for as long as the tree was up, and whatever was left got left in the commissary at the base after the tree came down. Candy canes could be seen everywhere on the base that day, usually sticking out of someone’s mouth. General Westford put his foot down about airmen on guard, so they could be seen with one hanging from their shirtfront until they were off duty.
Kaylee in the Underground
Picture Prompt: Butterfly
Kaylee loved the Labyrinth, its mystery, its twists and turns, its beauty, and its inhabitants. She enjoyed her wanders through it once she mastered the magics that kept her safe from its traps. It took some effort, but she even managed to befriend the Fireys without losing her head. The fact that she could fly over their heads probably intrigued them no end.
But her favorite place was the outskirts of the Labyrinth. There, the magics that made the sentient edifice overlapped with the magics that made up the Underground, making fascinating eddies and flows that attracted many unique creatures.
One she could never understand were the little fairies who nested in the vines that grow only on the Labyrinth’s outer walls. Hoggle liked to attack them with sprays and called them a nuisance, and Sarah told her how one had bitten her when she tried to help. But they liked Kaylee, always flying to meet her when she came around. Maybe it was that her wings shimmered in much the same way theirs’ did for all that they work differently. Perhaps they thought her a giant version of themselves. An interesting idea.
“So, where’s your family?” Kaylee asked, looking around the throne room full of little goblins.
Jareth’s first response was a supercilious glare. “I thought you said you now know what I know,” he said flatly.
“It’s in there somewhere,” she replied with a shrug. “But it takes time and help to sort out. I have the complete knowledge of a potions master up there, but it took six years of work to even come close to sorting it all and understanding it. You’re what? Four hundred years old? That’s a lot to sort through.”
“I have no family,” he final said.
“None?” she squeaked.
“My parent’s are dead and there has been only one child in the royal line for three generations. All other branches of the line are dead. I am the last.” He said that staring at the ceiling with feigned nonchalance.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly.
“Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to,” he sneered.
“I don’t know why you keep pushing this,” Sarah said. “We’re nothing alike. Is it such a surprise we don’t get along?”
“At least you aren’t saying you hate him for the incident with Toby anymore,” Kaylee commented. Sarah just growled. “Of course, he’s stubborn, opinionated, demanding, nothing like you at all.”
“Hey!” Sarah snapped.
“Be honest with yourself, Sarah,” Kaylee countered. “You dislike him because he represents everything you hate in yourself, the very things that caused you to wish Toby away. Until you face that it is just going to continue to drive you nuts.”
“And if I don’t want to face this?”
“You are going to end up driving your friends away, and you know it. Hoggle adores you, but winces every time you rag on Jareth. Even Ludo finds it uncomfortable. He’s their king.”
“But he’s not mine.”
“What are you, really?” Sarah asked, glaring at Kaylee.
“I am your friend, Sarah, please don’t think otherwise,” Kaylee said, trying to will her longtime friend not to let new revelations disrupt old bonds. “But I suppose you could say I’m a professional fixer. I am sent to other worlds to help people. I’ll aid in a battle, encourage people to look at one of their allies in a different light, catch a murderer, help rebuild an order, watch someone’s back.”
“So you’re a professional busybody?” Sarah summarized with a grin.
“I suppose you could put it that way,” Kaylee agreed with a laugh.
“Interesting line of work.”
“It has its moments. Great training for a future in politics.”
Both girls laughed.
“I don’t believe I’ve seen you around court before,” said a dapper looking courtier as he sidled up to her.
“Probably because this is my first visit,” Kaylee replied politely
“Then this is your presentation? How delightful,” he oozed. “Please, you must permit me a dance while you are waiting.”
“I fear I would trample all over your feet,” she said honestly. “And his majesty will be looking for me here soon enough.”
“Surely you have time for one dance. I would bring you right back to this very spot.”
“You are too kind, sir, but I could not imagine disobeying my king for the sake of a dance.”
“Come now,” he said and grasped her hand to drag her onto the dance floor. She dug in her heels and refused to move.
“You would not be trying to steal the first dance from your father, my Prince?” Jareth asked, having slunk up behind the scum bag.
“Just trying to keep a lovely lady company while my father is busy,” the High King’s heir purred.
“Thank you for your concern,” Jareth countered, slipping Kaylee’s hand free. “Come, Sesquelearus, you will be called for your dance with the High King soon.”
“So, Jareth, they tell me you have someone to present,” said Darian, High King of the Underground, smirking down at Jareth and Kaylee.
“Your Majesty, may I present my heir, High Princess Sesquelearus, chosen Lady of the Labyrinth.” At Jareth’s words, Kaylee dropped the illusion that had hidden both her wings and the labyrinthine coloration of her face and hair. The High King’s grimace upon seeing the streaks of green and blue was rather disturbing if short lived. Jareth was certain he wanted to slip on of his daughters in as Queen or Heir.
“Sesquelearus, it is a pleasure to meet you at last. I’m glad to see Jareth has finally taken my advice,” Darian said with a smarmy smile. “Come, you must grant me the honor of this dance.” He stood from his throne as he offered her his hand.
Ah, dealing with slimy political types, not a new experience. “The honor is mine, your Majesty,” she said with appropriate humility and let him drag her to the dance floor.
Player's Choice: Down, Prompt: Alcohol, Character: Wallflower, Action: Show
Kaylee leaned against a column in the High King’s Palace, sipping her wine and avoiding the dancing. The wine was excellent, one of the better Labyrinthian vintages, which she could easily identify after Jareth’s training. It pleased her to know that for all the trouble the High King caused them, he still insisted on buying the finest wines. Her’s.
She was a wallflower by choice tonight. Any number of fae would have been happy to dance with her, but tonight she wasn’t interested in politicking, just watching the show.
And what a show it was. The High King’s Heir was sniffing around the throne again, hitting on his father’s mistresses just to piss his father off. His main flunkies in the court were singling out all the major females, herself included, trying to make a statement of the Heir’s power.
Kaylee wasn’t buying it. She might have thought the High King had no chance of living out the century when she was first introduced at court, but now she had more respect for the old King’s mind. He’d have a good ploy for putting the puppy in his place tonight, and she was looking forward to watching the humiliation.
Picture Prompt: Diamond
“That’s a hell of a rock,” Kaylee commented, staring at Sarah’s hand.
“Tell me about it,” Sarah replied, still sounding overwhelmed.
“What did you do for that?”
“Told him he must do things in the proper way and stop assuming that I’m just like him.”
“Down on bended knee and everything?”
Sarah nodded, still staring at her new ring.
“You really must impress him,” Hoggle chimed in, still all but drooling over Sarah’s new ornament. “He actually ordered that special from the Mountain King. And fairy diamonds don’t come cheap, specially not that size.”
“What’s the difference from a regular diamond?” Sarah asked.
“Can’t see it in this light. But if’n you turn the lights off, it’ll still be sparklin’. That’s a fairy diamond.”
Sarah turned to Kaylee, her eyes wide. “Does he think he can buy me?” she snapped.
“Or maybe he’s trying to say how precious and rare he thinks you,” Kaylee pointed out.
Picture Prompt: Coin
“One part of my life is over, and now I realize I haven’t a clue what to do with myself,” Kaylee said, sprawled across one of the comfortable chairs in Jareth’s office.
“Something different, clearly,” Jareth commented from a matching chair by the fire.
“I don’t even know how to support myself. It’s hard to get a job when you are the princess of the realm.”
“Why would you need a job?” Jareth was decidedly confused.
“How else am I going to pay for things?”
“You’re share of the kingdom’s profits.”
“How else have you been paying for those dresses for court?”
“I never really thought about it.”
“The kingdom makes profits from the farms and wineries, and a share is set out for every member of the royal family. Surely we’ve discussed this before.” Kaylee shook her head. “Well, the dress makers have known where to send the bills. I’ll have my finance goblin come by and show you the book later.”
“Huh, well now I just need to figure out what to do with all that free time you just handed me. For the next several centuries.”
“Excuse me?” Kaylee asked, staring at Xander in shock.
“Marry me. I’ll show you the seas of the Underground,” Xander said, lightly gripping her hand.
“You’d better not be saying that just because I’m a rich princess,” she snarled at him.
“I’m asking that because I think you are beautiful, fascinating, and a fine sailor,” he said earnestly. “I am asking that because I am falling in love with you and want to keep you by my side.”
“I’ll continue investing in your business whether or not you butter me up,” she said dismissively.
“I’ll take that as a no,” he said with a light laugh, releasing her hand. “Very well, then. You are welcome aboard my ship any time. And maybe in time I will convince you of my sincerity.”
Kaylee in the Caribbean
Prompt: Paper, Character: Daredevil, Action: Bore
She would never be able to record this in her journal. One minute she’d been boring holes in planks to tie them into the deck. The next she was watching the most amazing example of walking the wind she’s ever seen.
Looked like Cat O’Nine Tails had left the captain another present by his bed, a habit she’d thought they’d finally broken the cat of. Either way, Jack was furious enough to follow Cat into the rigging. He seemed to almost be clinging to the lines with nothing but his stomach muscles and his eyelashes as his hands reached out to grasp the cat. It was a stunning image, especially since all he was wearing was a pair of foreshortened breeches.
Picture Prompt: Button
Kaylee sighed. She was settled on a coil of rope on the deck, a basket of clothing at her side. The crew was mostly ignoring her, but a few were quietly sniggering. For good reason. Every repair she was making to her clothes was due to Captain Jack Sparrow. The shirt had a sleeve ripped at the shoulder seam. The trousers had every means of securing them ripped off. The worst was her vest. No matter how tightly she sewed them on, he ripped the buttons right off. She’d tried vests with ties, but he kept ripping the holes up, even through leather. At this rate, her entire share of plunder for this voyage was going to be spent on new clothes.
“Bloody pirates,” she muttered as she sewed yet another button in place.
Prompt: Careful, Character: Lady, Action: Own
“That’s it, Jack. You are going to have to start being more gentle on my cloths,” Kaylee snapped, picking up yet another shredded shirt. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you have some demon blood to shred my things so completely.”
“Come now, my lady,” he said in a placating tone.
“Don’t try that with me, Captain,” she said with a pointed glare. “You’ve destroyed almost every stitch of clothing I own.”
“Nonsense, you still have loads of things in that trunk of yours,” he countered lightly.
“And none of what is left is acceptable wear for aboard ship.” A realization hit as she took in the delighted look in his eyes. “You aren’t doing this just to force me to wear that Tok’ra bodice?”
“Of course not, love,” he lied smoothly.
Kaylee shook her head in disgust. “I’d slap you, except in my current mood I’d probably do permanent damage. If I promise to wear that bodice for you in private, will you stop wrecking the rest of my cloths?”
Jack just grinned.
Picture Prompt: Blue Cube
Jack found her in the great cabin, drooling over the captain’s personal sea chest. She didn’t know how such a piddling merchant man could afford such a fine piece of workmanship. The carvings were well done, the joinings flawless, and the wood must have been some kind of silvery ash or something to get that kind of glow out of a blue stain.
“If you like it so, take it back to the Pearl and drool there,” Jack said, laughing at her predicament.
“I have a trunk,” she replied, turning sharply away from the chest as if it no longer mattered. “What do I need another one for? Even worse, one that isn’t spelled?”
“You want it, take it,” he said, reaching out to grab the leather handle at one end and gesturing for her to take the other. “Pirate, remember? Besides, you could always leave it at home, or figure out the spells to add. Might make a nice gift for the sprog when she gets your job.”
“That just might work,” she agreed, picking up the free end, and together they absconded with the chest.
Prompt: Loop, Character: Unfair, Action: Dance
Somewhere along the line, the crew had decided dancing with a fae was good luck. So whenever Duncan pulled out his fiddle, Kaylee got stuck making the rounds of the crew, often repeatedly. All except for their captain, the bloody bastard, the one she really wanted a dance with.
So she’d never get a dance with him at the High Court, and wouldn’t that be an interesting sight. But the least he could do was lead her in one of the wild pirate dances the crew preferred, far more enjoyable than the court’s staid steps. And he did dance, his skin flashing in the lantern light, his leaps higher than any other member of the crew. But always alone.
She’d confronted him a few times, and always he replied, “Not tonight, love,” and Gibbs would lead her off in another whirl.
“I’m not gonna forgive you for this,” Jack said to Kaylee where she was huddled by the rail.
“Why should you,” she whispered. “He’s dead.”
“He was dead the minute the sword hit him.”
The image is still locked in her mind. Michael, sweet Michael, his blood pooling about him along with his intestines. The man who sliced him was dead seconds after the deed, the crew enraged. The Captain barely managed to restrain a bloodbath. As everyone else went for the goods, Kaylee went for Michael, poring blood replenishers and healing potions down his throat, spelling the wound clean and holding things in place to aid the potions. For a moment it seemed to work, color returned to his cheeks and the wound was knitting. Then came the convulsions, the vomiting, and the bleeding out that led to death.
Kaylee shuddered as Jack’s hand rested on her shoulder. “It should have worked,” she whimpered. “I’ve used those together so many times.”
“And that’s why there’s not to forgive,” he replied. “I’d expect you to do the same t’were it me lying there.”
Prompt: Heart, Character: Pale, Action: Write
Kaylee always wrote in her journal in her native tongue, a language no one else would be able to read when she was Walking the Lady’s Path. It had it’s advantages and disadvantages.
It ensured she could write out her love for Jack in its entirety without risk of his looking over her shoulder and understanding the words. Oh, she could imagine how his sun bronzed face would pale with shock if he knew how many of the choices she’d made of late were connected to her feelings for him.
It also meant she couldn’t trust his nosy nature to lead him to the knowledge that she was pregnant with his child. It meant she was going to have to tell him herself. And that made her pale with fear.
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