Black Roses: Heatwave

[Reposting some older [as in, from 2013] content, because it’s sweltering over here and I don’t have the brain to finish up the 100themes piece I’m currently writing. Also it seemed apposite, given the current weather.
cw: emeto discussion]

It was hot.

No, more than hot. Sweltering. The kind of heat that stole the air from your lungs, stuck what clothing you could bear to wear to your skin with sweat, pressed down on your skull like you’d stuck your head in an oven, and near enough boiled you alive if you set foot out of doors between sunup and sundown.

At least, over on the lightside it was.

In Dusk it was, unsurprisingly, dusk. Permanently. Which meant for all the air was still too damn warm by about half a hundred degrees (an exaggeration, but it sure as hell didn’t feel like one), it was a damn sight better than it could’ve been. Some sort of a breeze, too, which meant the sweat at least did something to cool you down a little, and you actually felt like you could get a full breath every now and again.

Kay took another drag on her cigarette, blew a stream of smoke out the side of her mouth, and yanked her damp tanktop away from her skin, grimacing as the sweat-sodden fabric peeled away from her chest. “Y’think the Duke’d see his way to lettin’ us get a li’l more air in here?”

Ella, sprawled facedown on the bed (and looking fairly fine with it, given she’d given up on getting dressed not long after the bra-and-shorts stage), kicked one long pale leg back against the wall and muttered an incomprehensible objection into the rolled-up towel she was using as a pillow.

“Eh, you’re right. Probably best not t’ask.” She drew in a breath through her nose, concentrated for a few seconds, then blew a wobbly smoke-ring up towards the ceiling. Wasn’t a great attempt, but she’d not been able to do it for more’n a couple of weeks – couldn’t expect miracles in that amount of time. And it was something to do that wasn’t staring at the wall. “Think we’re like t’see action anytime soon?”

Another incomprehensible mutter, this time more firmly negative.

“Mhm. Hey, y’know what’s goin’ on better’n’ I do. I ain’t about to argue.” Pause. “Still got that headache?”


“Want me t’go get another icepack?”

The younger girl lifted her face off the towel, eyes shut tight against the light, and managed the barest of nods. “Please.” A slight pause. “I love you.”

“You’re only sayin’ that t’get me into bed with y’,” Kay grinned, crouching down to plant a smoke-laded kiss on her partner’s warm lips. “Which, incidentally, it is way too fuckin’ hot t’be considerin’, much as I’d like.”

“I’ve got a headache. I’d probably throw up on you.”

“What, like y’ain’t done that before?”

“Kay! It was once, and I was drunk. And you said we’d never speak of it again. You’re horrible.”

“Love you too. Want me t’grab a coupla cans o’ sommat while ‘m down there?”

“Mnh. Coke?”

“See what I can do.” Another kiss, this one more lingering than the last (because fuckit, if having your beautiful girlfriend right there wasn’t an excuse to steal kisses, what was?). “Really do love you, y’know that? Even if y’did throw up on my head.”

Horrible. I love you too.” She winced, dropping her head back onto the towel with a moan of discomfort. “Urgh. Can you hurry up with the icepack?”

“As my lady commands,” the older girl replied, grabbing her knife off the windowsill (because it was a fucking stupid idea not to be prepared, even if they weren’t technically action-stations right now) and heading for the doorway. “Want me t’leave this open, get some air in here?”


Well, it was near enough to ‘yes’ as made no difference. She kicked the heavy metal door, pushing it just shut enough that El wasn’t immediately visible to anyone who might happen past, blew a kiss through the sliding window, then turned on her heel and headed down the corridor.

Most all the other doors she passed were open – people trying to get some sort of throughflow of air into rooms that weren’t exactly designed to be comfortable at the best of times – and there were enough of the others lazing about indoors that it took her a whole lot longer than she’d meant to get down the length of the building (even without stopping for more than a couple of three-or-four-sentence chats along the way). But she made it to the stairs eventually and, to her delight, found the whole stairwell completely and utterly deserted.

Or, at least, apparently deserted. Though she didn’t quite work out the ‘apparently’ part until after she’d jumped down half the stairs, swung herself off the protruding ironwork onto the remains of the bannister and slid the rest of the way down on that before launching herself off into space at the bottom with a whoop of exhilaration which would probably have been classed as an offensive weapon in and of itself in terms of volume.

And then found her headlong flight fairly abruptly halted by something very solid and humanshaped and, when it’d got its breath back, fairly bloody loud in its turn (albeit less with the whooping and more with the long descriptions of exactly how many shades of idiot she was this time).

Letting the words wash over her (she’d heard ’em all before, and worse), she scrambled to her feet, dusted her hands, and tried to look like she’d not just been caught doing anything out of the ordinary whatsoever. Unsurprisingly, this completely failed to work.

“-for crying out loud, Baedecker, my four-year-old daughter is better behaved than you! And take that look off your face, you know exactly what I’m talking about.”

She swiped the palm of her hand over her face, miming wiping the expression away, and stuck her tongue out at him. “Look, Hawkeye, if it makes a difference I din’t expect you t’be standin’ there, okay? Din’t go cannonballin’ inter you on purpose or anythin’.”

“Yes, thank you, I’m very grateful. That’s beside the point. If you-”

“Ain’t y’got patients t’be seein’ to or sommat, anyroad? Always sayin’ you’re in such a hurry, don’t exactly follow you got time t’be standin’ here yellin’ at me.” She grinned, taking advantage of the momentary stunned silence to push past him and start away down the corridor. “Oh, an’ tell the kiddo hi from me an’ I’ll teach her t’do that when she’s older.”


“Sorry, can’t stay, gotta dash. Runnin’ errands an’ all.” Dropping into a sprinter’s crouch, she looked back over her shoulder at the Asylum’s chief (and only) surgeon and, after a moment’s thought, stuck her tongue out at him again. “Catch me if y’can, old man.”

As she sped off down the corridor, unsurprisingly unpursued, she thought she caught the tail end of some sort of muttered complaint. Something along the lines of ‘thirty-four is not bloody old’, perhaps?

He was right, it wasn’t. But it riled him up good and proper when she and Felix called him that, and Hawkeye riled up was funny as hell, so, really, who gave a damn?

Gods but running in this heat was tiring, though. She skidded to a halt round the next corner, breathing hard, and flopped down against the wall, peeling her tanktop off over her head and wringing the worst of the sweat out of it. This side of the Asylum was pretty much deserted most of the time, so she’d no real need to worry about being spied on (even if that did worry her, which…yeah, not so much), and it felt so sodding good not having that damn thing sticking to her.

Hell, if it was up to her she’d be walking around at the very least shirtless. Matter of fact, she couldn’t understand why Hawkeye wasn’t – wasn’t as if he’d not got the body for it, from what she’d seen of him, and that shirt he was wearing had to be hot as hell and twice as uncomfortable.

But hey, different strokes for different folks. He wanted to make himself uncomfortable, was none of her beeswax. And if-

“…Good afternoon, Miss Baedecker.”

Aw crap. Pirate. The one guy who’d be almost guaranteed to have an issue with her sitting there half in the altogether, and he had to turn up right this minute. Great.

She rolled her shoulders, getting to her feet and pointedly making no move to put the tanktop back on. “Hey, Pirate. An’ chuck the ‘Miss’ crap, okay? Just Baedecker or Kay suits me fine.”

The vampire nodded, looking distinctly uncomfortable (though whether that was at the lack of formality or the lack of shirt was anyone’s guess). “Kay, then. Have you seen Miss Carson around today?”

“El?” Wasn’t going to be anyone else, really, but she felt like being awkward. “Yeah. She’s up in our place havin’ a headache. Anythin’ specific you wanted from her?”

“Nothing that can’t wait.” He frowned. “Is there anything I can-”

“Nah, coupla painkillers’ll sort it. Offer’s appreciated, though.” She grinned. “An’ on a different note, you ain’t lookin’ nearly as shocked as I thought you’d be. Think I’m disappointed.”

That actually prompted a laugh, which she really hadn’t been expecting. “I was married, Kay. And I am several hundred years old. You really have nothing I haven’t see before.”

“Oh-ho. You’re full o’ surprises, ain’tcha?”

“More than you know.”

“‘cos that ain’t fuckin’ ominous or anythin'”

“Did I give any intimation it was not intended to be?”


“Sometimes, yes. And, unfortunately, running somewhat later than I intended for a meeting with our illustrious employer.” He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. “If you happen to come across Sabbat in your wanderings, could you tell him to hurry the hell up?”

Okay, that was out of character. She blinked. “Bad day?”

“You could say that, yes. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” And, just like that, he was off, and moving bloody fast for a guy who wasn’t actually flat out running. Well, didn’t do to keep the Duke waiting.

Talking of keeping people waiting, El’d probably be wandering where she’d got to with that icepack. She rolled her shoulders again, tucked the wadded-up tanktop into one of the pockets of her combats, and set off towards the kitchen.

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