Veronica Murther (vmurther) wrote,
Veronica Murther

Customs, pt 5

While I began the coffee machine ritual, Akiko was getting ready for work. Her professional wardrobe is very sharp, all somber business and careful lines, and she was buttoning up her shirt while her hair worked on getting tangles out, making it look like it was shivering in great waves.
There is some advantage to prehensile hair, though she told me that once, when she was a girl, her hair knotted itself so badly it couldn't get itself undone again, and she had to have help. Nowadays, her control is brilliant. If she typed any faster, she'd lock up a keyboard.
One tendril of hair reached out and tickled my ear. I absently swatted at it, and 'nee-chan chuckled at me.
"Coffee's not ready yet," I said.
"How has Colin been," asked Akiko, straightening her tie, her hair folding itself into the sort of low-hanging bun she usually had for work. "I haven't seen him... what, since that ridiculous Carpathian problem in San Jose."
"He's fine, still dating the Bavarian," I mentioned, eyeing some headlines in the paper. Supernatural quarantine breach, it said, but SFO wasn't talking, and the papers hadn't pried off the silence yet. However, the ridiculous Carpathian Akiko was mentioning had something to say about it; his name was Vincent Stanislaw, and he always had something to say to the media. This time it was all veiled hints about how few secrets escape him, and how the ancient Carpathian traditions ensured that he would be able to stop any particularly deadly supernatural creature from attacking his 'treasured mortal friends'.
Vampire marketers. I can't stand them.
Akiko looked at me sideways. "Still? She tried to set him on fire."
The perils of preternatural dating.
I made a non-committal noise, and handed a cup of coffee to Akiko, or rather, her body, because her head at this point was questing around the living room. When it settled back into normal human position, she arched her eyebrows and picked up her keys, tucking them into her pocket. "Right in front of me..." She sipped at the coffee with a pleased sound, and then looked at me. "Well?"
"Well what?"
She sipped at her coffee again. "Why is he still with her? I thought he'd have more sense."
I shrugged, brushing a tiny smudge of lint from her sleeve. "They're both magicians. Same focus, too. What do you expect? Trust is hard to find with the hermetics. Too much industrial espionage."
"Like loving a telepath," she said. 'nee-chan muttered something under the smooth fold of hair at Akiko's neck, but I couldn't hear it.
"I don't know," I replied. "The ones at the Foundation seem pretty well-adjusted, and they don't pry."
She looked quizzical, drinking some more coffee. "That's what they say... Reed, are you worried about this job?"
I paused, and looked back at her. Her face was neutral but her eyes were intent.
"No," I said. "I have this job for a reason. Don't worry about it."
She narrowed her eyes slightly, studying, and then turned away, draining her coffee cup. "I have to get going."
I nodded. Akiko works for the Department, just like I do, but she's in the International Relations Research Archive. They handle matters of supernatural trade, and study Cagliostro's first law ('That the supernatural takes different forms is notable, and it is defined then by the secret boundaries of power that line the earth itself; thus, a creature found in one place cannot be found in another, but some may cross these lines, and become weaker or stronger thereby.'). They were still trying to figure out why some Chinese hopping vampires spontaneously generated in Gilroy, because the hopping vampire is a geographically restricted species. There was a lot of pressure to find out what happened (and our friend Master Stanislaw wasn't helping).
"I'll be gone shortly, too," I said, setting down my coffee cup. "Good hunting."
There was a faint rush of air, and her neck wrapped around my torso twice like an albino python of silk.
She watched me for a second, with that strangely predatory look, and then gave me a gentle kiss before turning and lifting her hair so I could kiss 'nee-chan goodbye too... which I did, and she certainly kissed back ('nee-chan's cut my lip more than once). Fortunately, she'd just done her hair, so I didn't end up getting my head wrapped.
When she broke away, her head whipped back to 'resting position' again, her hair shifted slightly to perfect itself, and she grabbed her bag, heading for the door. "See you tonight."
"I hope so," I replied, and watched her shut the door before going to get my things together.
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