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The Many Tales of Blackjack: Triumvirate

   
The Many Tales of Blackjack: Triumvirate

December 31st, 2006
Mid Day


"I've got to say, the paperwork isn't so bad once you get used to it." Whim was saying, as the red Volkswagon bug clattered along the roads of the UK, somewhere just south of York, to judge from the signs whizzing by at entirely too unhealthy a speed. "I mean, dry as dust, most of it, but every so often you get a report about an infestation of transdimensional chickens at a farm in the Midlands, and then it's all made worth while."

It was a very good thing that Erin was a small person, because Whim's was not a large car. It was further cramped by the fact that Whim was bringing several boxes, a change of clothing, and a terrarium for DC (presently snoozing and completely oblivious to the terrifying speeds at which Whim drove). Erin's wings would just have to cope.

The occasion, it was obvious, was New Year's Eve. It had been Whim's idea originally, to drive up and visit Cuchulainn for the New Year's, driving up on the 31st, sleeping it off on the 1st, and then driving back to London on the 2nd. Cuchulainn had been glad to accept them and put them up in a guest room, which left only the question of transportation. Whim had offered to drive, and Erin, in a fit of insanity, had accepted. Seventeen had taken one look at Whim's car and opted to take the train instead, for reasons of safety and peace of mind.

"I think there might be an assistant Epopt position opening up in the next couple of years, we've had some growth." Whim continued. An Epopt, Erin knew from prior conversations, was the GotV official in charge of maintaining minor cults into which curious mortals were shunted off to. "I wonder if I've got a chance..."

Erin, having been a slave most of her life, was currently in the throes of a particular brand of suffering - well known to many an aggravated family member and loved one - the kind that stubbornly refuses to acknowledge it exists. The "I don't need eyeglasses, my vision is fine", or the "my old shoes are still good, I don't need new ones", or perhaps the more worrying "I don't need to see a doctor, it's just a little twinge." It is only when the issue is finally fixed that it becomes apparent how incredibly awful things were before.

So it was with Erin, who was cheerfully ignoring how incredibly awful an experience this was. She'd suggested her fiance (she was still getting used to this designation) take the train, or drive up on his own later, rather than waiting up on him. So she must have, on some level, realized how incredibly awful an experience this was. But it didn't seem to be consciously registering in her mind right now. Oh, sure, she was a bit cramped, and her muscles might have frozen into place - but thanks to a certain enthusiastic someone, she'd been rather stiff and sore lately, and wasn't really noticing the additional pain. She probably never would, unless someone kidnapped her and took her home in a less objectionable vehicle.

"Are transdimensional chickens very troublesome?" Erin asked, fiddling with the buttons on her new-fangled e-book reader. She loved the gizmo in principle, but it just wasn't the same as a real book. The smell of parchment beneath your fingers, the sound of the spine opening... the e-reader did, however, take up a lot less space, which was invaluable when one was crammed into a car and covered in boxes. Erin had a few of her own, too - food for the Taits, in the ongoing campaign to ruin Cu's health with decadence. Given he was a Thyrsus, this was proving difficult. Christmas parcels had, fortunately, been already sent by mail, or the two girls would have been buried.

At the mention of Epopt, Erin glanced up curiously. She didn't ask what was actually on her mind, which was whether Whim wass out of the doghouse enough to have a shot at it, but instead, "Is the position appointed or is there some kind of application to fill out?"

"They're only a problem to one's sanity. Literally actually, this farmer apparently built on land that was a bit... weird... and the chickens were laying eggs contaminated with some kind of weird Abyssal stuff and people were getting funny depressions and megalomanias from the omelets." Whim said, swerving around another car, causing the little Volkswagon to shudder nervously. "The hardest part there was tracking down every single egg, kept the Guardians busy for weeks tracing sympathies and browsing through records."

"Epopt positions are by appointment." Whim said. "I think Civitas is warming up after the you-know-what disaster, he's even mentioned having me put some extra wards up around Highgate, which I think means he likes my magical talents."

"You couldn't issue a mass recall?" Erin asked, setting the e-reader down to talk. Deprived of something to hold, she started to fiddle with her ring. Erin was not used to wearing rings. "Salmonella or something? Fake government agents seem to be big with some groups." Not to mention some really annoying real government agents, though she didn't mention that one to Whim. She still held fantasies of turning the dual-eyed Spaniard into a blob with cake.

"I hope so," Erin murmured, biting her lip. She still felt guilty about that little incident. "It's been a year now."

"Don't ask me, this was before I was even born. Generally not a good idea to do something like that in case you get caught out as not being actual government agents." Whim said, glancing over at the ring. It was fortunate for Erin that the jeweled butterfly did not necessarily look like an engagement ring. "Ooh, that looks awesome. Can I ask where you got it?"

"Wait." Whim said suddenly. "Is that what I think it is?"

"Maybe you should get your own actual government agents? Everyone on TV seems to," Erin mused. "Mr. Clements has a nice detective ladyfriend, who was talking to Mr. Seventeen." It wasn't quite the same as a mass government conspiracy, but it was a start.

"Well-" Erin replied to the question, not displeased, but definitely a little flustered. Given she'd hidden her relationship for almost a year, wearing an engagement ring publicly was a big step. Erin was definitely not the kind of girl who flashed her it for all to fawn over and admire. She had to swallow down obtuse comments about not knowing what Whim thought. "Could be? Probably?"

"If I wasn't driving, I would hug you. He finally asked?" Whim said, grinning from ear to ear. Perhaps fortunately, her driving slowed down now, but Whim kept glancing towards Erin. "That's absolutely wonderful. When/where/how/what did he say?" The words flowed from Whim's lips in a torrent of curiosity. "Come on, spill!"

"Yes, eyes on the road, Miss, please," Erin protested. She did, however, close her eyes and draw herself up in a very smug manner, a self-satisfied little smile on her face.

"Not tooo long ago," was all she said, being coy on the details. It had been a private, perfect evening between just the two of them, and even if Erin wanted to spill, she didn't think she knew the words.

"I ask four questions, and get four words of answer. Erin, I love you, but I might just throttle you some day." Whim said with a fond smile, keeping her eyes on the road at Erin's protest. She sighed. "Let me try that again. Did he wine and dine you? Flowers? Scenic locations? I'm going to burst with curiosity here, and it will be your fault."

"It would be telling," Erin said, rather primly, still looking very pleased and self-satisfied.

Then she melted, curling her fingers around her cheeks. "It was lovely," she sighed, looking completely starry eyed. "But really, it was a bit impromptu. I was just going over to cook him dinner."




 

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