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MSPA Fic Pile

30 Jan 2011, 11:56

There's a girl called emesis who does this amazing Spades Slick/Problem Sleuth art. It's pretty much my favourite thing. Ever. So... PS/SS fic.

= = =

Hate You Too

= = =

I hate this guy.

I hate this guy with the black-churning vacuum of a thousand snuffed-out stars.

But then, that's the same courtesy I extend to the rest of the world. This guy's just no exception.

He doesn't seem to get that, is all.

"Slick," he says to me, pushing up his hat. If it were black, I guess it'd be an okay hat. He's got the idea, anyhow. "Slick," he says, sort of mild and confused, "I thought we were pals."

I glare up at him and try to express just what I think about that statement in a clever line I can relate to the guys later. I end up just baring my teeth and snarling at him, and telling him that the last way I'd describe us two would be as stupid friendship buddies. I'll come up with a better one when I tell it to Droog.

He clutches his stomach and I generously remove the blade I've got shoved in there to make it easier for him. I wipe it off on his trenchcoat and stick it back in my jacket. Then I turn my back, tug my jacket straight, and walk out. His keys fall from his hand, and then he falls too, whispering his last words. I can't think of good ones.

In reality, of course, I only get to the door. Then something hits me square in the back. For a second, I think maybe he's wised up at last, finally stuck it to me when my back was turned. But no, whatever it is just bounces off. When I turn around, he's holding his side in pain with one arm, the other still extended from the throw. On the floor, a piece of crumpled paper rolls to a stop.

I bend to pick it up. How many times have I stuck this guy? How is he still here, still looking at me with tired puppy-dog eyes, no matter what I do to him? He cracks half a smile when I bend to pick up the paper. I glare at him. I'm told the effect is heightened with only the one eye. Then I open the paper ball up.

There's a picture inside, and a pretty crappy picture at that. What did he scrawl this with, a ballpoint pen? There's a sort of green scribble, and then a black scribble inside it with a big "8" plastered on it. His writing is terrible and I really never thought I'd see worse than Boxcars'. When I can decipher it, it points out the silly hat the figure is wearing, her skanky dress, and her name. I already know her name. Kindergarten crayon doodle or no, I'd recognize her anywhere.

I grab him by the tie and shove the picture in his face. "This some sort of joke, funny guy?" I ask him.

He coughs in pain and tightens his arm against his side. The red smear I'd left on his coat is starting to join up with the blood leaking from the knife wound. "Slick," he says, "do I look like the kind of guy who'd crack wise at a time like this?"

Really, there's no doubt about that. This guy is a total fucking joke. I tighten my hold on his ugly tie; tweed? Pretty much the ugliest thing you could possibly imagine. "Listen, bud," I demand, "You're gonna tell me where you saw Snowman and you're gonna tell me now."

"Gee," he says. "I dunno, Slick. Everything's kind of blurring together. Maybe I could remember better if I weren't dying like this."

"Godfuckingdammit," I tell him, "I will rip your eyes out if you don't tell me where you saw S-"

He holds his hands up in surrender, smiling weakly. One of his cuffs is wet and dark. Fills my heart with joy to see him like this. It does. "Easy, Slick," he says. "I'll tell you everything. Just got to... get things clear..."

I grit my teeth together and they grind like sandpaper. Fine. It's just going to be this way. Again.

I get his tie off and his shirt open, revealing a dozen other old scars- happy memories, all. I get the tie bunched up and pressed to the wound and my arm under his shoulders. Then I'm helping him out the door and down the hall. Why's it turn out this way, everytime? I hate this guy.

I hate this guy.

"I fucking hate you, Sleuth," I mutter.

"Hate you too, Slick," he says faintly. But his heart's not really in it.

And I'm worried mine isn't either.

= = =
Last edited by Path on 10 Feb 2011, 11:18, edited 1 time in total.
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

01 Feb 2011, 06:52

And with internet encouragement, I've kept going. Apparently nobody else is really writing these two. Slick/Sleuth 4ev, man.

= = =

Answers

= = =

Spades Slick is a nasty customer, alright, but you've never seen him this angry before, which is pretty inconceivable given how angry he usually is.

He stalks on into the casino like he owns the place (which, admittedly, he does), and just stops stock-still like he can't believe his eye when he sees the whole scene here. You can see it- one white eye like a searchlight travelling over the whole room, taking in Diamonds Droog with the pool cue, Clubs Deuce helpfully holding a replacement for when that one breaks, and Hearts Boxcars holding you. He's got a hell of a grip there, and you admire that, even when it means you've had to stand (hang) there and take a hell of a pool cue-drubbing to the chest and face.

That white beacon travels over the place, the torn-up carpet and the turned-over chairs, the interrupted billiards game (because nobody here actually plays pool, of course), and you can see the snarl develop all slow, like he's trying to hold it in. That'd be a first- you've never seen Slick hold back a real good rage.

But you're the best Problem Sleuth in the city and his own... well, not best friend exactly. Slick'd claim you're nothing to him, but when push comes to shove, you know he'd do something. And it sure feels like you've been shoved around an awful lot tonight. Even all this doesn't seem to bring out a real Spades Slick fury, though, until he sees your hat.

To be fair, it's making you pretty damn outraged too. You just couldn't do anything about it, given Boxcars and his mean grip. And Droog and his drubbings. And the overall dizziness the two combined to produce.

But Slick breaks himself out of the solid glare when he sees your hat. It's crumpled a few feet away with at least one of Boxcars' footprints on it, and your candy corn is just lying on the floor there. You made a hell of a break for it when they took that off you; even the three third-best mobsters in town combined almost couldn't keep you back. But it just ended up with you getting pretty heavily beaten with a pool cue, and your hat getting trampled in the mess.

Your hat.

Slick stalks over to it in a jerking halting motion that half points to mechanical shock and half to outrage. Droog seems to wisen up to his mood right away. He gives you an appraising look, a thin stiletto smile, and slinks a little behind Deuce and Boxcars. Smart guy to put some ground between himself and Slick in a mood. Slick seizes your hat (corn and all) off the ground in a swipe like a stooping hawk, and turns on his crew with the same motion. His voice is quiet, but nobody's fooled (except maybe Deuce, and he'll smarten up quickly).

"So I leave for one measly hour and I come back to this. Just what the fuck do you smartasses think you're doing?" Somehow, he doesn't make it a question. Droog is already behind the others, Deuce is starting to sidestep over to him nervously, and Boxcars drops you like a hot potato. You fall to the floor on your face in a completely hardboiled way.

There's a general chorus of "Nothing, boss," in half-apologetic tones. Slick pops your hat back out, slams the candy corn back into it, and looks back up at his lackeys. His mouth is starting to quiver, and when there's nothing further, he breaks into a full snarl, sharp teeth bared, screaming "Then what are you still doing here?" at them. Droog's the first out of the room, but then, he was always the smart one.

They're already gone, the back room door closed, by the time Slick crosses over to you. He tosses you your hat and gives you a grudging hand up; he's still wearing his full snarl. "Godfuckingdammit, how many times I gotta tell you to stay the fuck away from this place?" he says, and then he looks suddenly tired. The snarl dims into his usual grimace, and he turns away before you even get your footing.

You brush yourself off, get your hat back on. You feel more like yourself already. "Just following a lead, Slick," you say. "You know how it is. I'm like the post office- neither demons, dames, Felt or flames will stay me in an investigation-"

"You are so full of bullshit," he says, but he tosses you a towel from his desk. You get yourself mostly cleaned up, though you're still a bit worried about your hat. When you look back, Slick's got his feet up on his desk, and is glaring at you over them through his one eye. "Well?" he says.

Well. Well? You're not really sure where to go from here. Everything you were after got pretty ruined in the hat-scuffle. "Well?" you reply, playing it cool.

"You gonna let me stay you from this investigation shit?" he asks. "Or are you just gonna head back out there and let some petty crook off you while you're off your game?"

You pause. Spades Slick isn't the king of all crook-kind, but he's up there- second in the city, last time you checked. And as much as you hate to admit it, you're safer off here than out on the streets. You meet his eye. "Alright," you say, putting your hands down on his desk, "but I'm going to have to ask you some questions, see?"

His expression changes to something not-rage for the second time this night (and ever), and the smirk almost makes you lose your hardboiled act. He puts his arm up behind his head like a pillow, and you know that whatever you get out of Spades Slick tonight, it's not going to be answers.

= = =
Last edited by Path on 10 Feb 2011, 11:20, edited 1 time in total.
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

02 Feb 2011, 09:14

This one was a dream I had last night and was too entertained by not to write out.

= = =

Getting a Green Butler

= = =

>Be Lord English.
You are now LORD ENGLISH, richest gentleman this side of the Neversphere. Which is to say, the opposite side of the Neversphere from everyone else.

>Retrieve arms from Incipisphere.
Your arms are already comfortably ensconced in the sleeves of your Cairo housecoat, and you don't plan on removing them any time soon.

>Open browser and go to mspaintadventures.com.
You pull up your Minnesota Fatstop and type in the address of your favourite website. It takes a while to load; wireless can get pretty slow out in the Neversphere.

==>
EB: ok, good.
EB: all i am saying is, why can't i have a dave butler too?

GG: well, maybe you can.....
GG: i will try to put in a good word for you B)


Looks like everybody is getting a Dave butler. You're a little jealous. You own everything in the Neversphere, but you certainly don't have a Dave butler. These kids are starting trends you didn't even know existed.
You must have one.

>Skip to end of universe.
You step ahead into a time when you're just about to be born. You'll go back and orchestrate getting a Dave butler so you will have had one all along in this world. Easy enough, really. Ah- there's the crackling ripple of the end of existence now.

==>

= = =

Dave sits on his green bed in his green room with a green cast to his face. He puts his head in his hands and closes his eyes to block it all out. He is so sick of green. He finds it really horribly ironic that when this colour gets to him too much, he also pukes green. He used to think this suit was pretty cool in a totally serious way, but now he's outgrown it and just thinks it's stupid (as is the case with most of his interests), and wearing it now just feels like a sort of extra punishment for nothing at all.

And now it's got a pair of hideous green gloves to go with it. And a green tray, and oh god he hates this colour so much. He holds up the tray and looks at himself, reflecting green skin, green hair, and brown muddy eyes, and thinks about chucking the thing across the room.

It only took one bad jump, one mistake to ruin all his carefully crafted timelines. Dave had gotten sort of used to Terezi helping him with the calculations. He didn't need her to, but half the work is half the work, and when he woke up to see Jack coming and no answer from Terezi, he just jumped as far ahead as he figured he could. He realized something was wrong pretty much instantly when his screens came up blank and the world just had... nothing. He was just rewinding a bit when there was a sort of rippling crack through the nothingness, and the vacuum was just immense, and his timetables were ripped away from him before he could coordinate a jump out. Then he was sort of ripped away, sucked through the crack in what should be the sky.

Then he woke up here, in his green room with his green gloves and a green feeling, chained in green with a sealed sylladex and a summons. He could feel it pulling at him. And it's not like there was anything else to do. So he followed the tugging sick feeling and met the big guy, though after the first time he was careful not to look at his face, thick ironic shades or no. He was violently and greenly sick the first time he met Lord English, and he thinks the god or demon or whatever's opinion of him lowered a bit for it, since he treats Dave with a sort of distant distaste occasionally still.

Dave can't even think about the meeting too clearly. The rippling and the twisting and the weird feel of the floor falling out beneath him like those paintings with the stairs, it still just gets to him and makes him crouch down and hug his knees, closing his green-light muddy brown eyes to drive off the nausea.

Now he just brings the guy tea and sometimes something to read. Sometimes the guy asks him rhetorical questions that he's learned to just nod through. He's not sure what the deal is really, but the guy just sort of treats him like Jeeves and Dave goes along with it. He's felt too sick and dizzy since he got here to argue.

He misses everything in the world that wasn't green. He even misses Jade a bit and she was green, but a sort of healthy green and not this sick radioactive emerald stuff.

He feels the pulling again, and pulls himself and his suit and his tray off to get tea.

= = =

>Check on the latest update.
Hmm, looks like nobody has a Dave butler now. All the Daves in their universe are dead. Flying cars are the new rage. You can't be the last person with a Dave butler, it'd wreak havoc on your carefully-cultivated image. If anybody was here to see it. Still, got to hop on the new trends as they come, and drop them more quickly next time.

= = =

He steps up to Lord English's side, looking carefully away from the green sleeve with the racing rave stripes as it takes the cup and retreats again into the enormous arm chair. Dave's just leaving when the voice that shakes Dave's blood speaks, and he has to stop- not just to get his breath, but in half-conscious fear of what the demon thing will do if he doesn't just humour him.

The words seem to burn themselves into Dave's brain. David, what does a man need in life?

Other colours, he thinks immediately. And then, sound that doesn't break your mind to hear. Friends. He gets a sharp wash of entirely unironic homesickness. Egbert- John. Jade. Terezi, weird demands and freakish behaviour and all. Rose. Belatedly- Bro. Another wave of embarrassing homesickness, and a bit of shame that he didn't think of him earlier. Red. He just misses red.

And being Dave. He can't tell how long he's been here in this place with indestructible green walls and sickening light, but he's never felt less like himself. Staring at nothing but green has melted his brain. He'd like to be him again.

Hm, says English. I suppose we all need something.

= = =

>Dismiss Dave butler.
You skip to the end of the universe again and wait for everything to end. Dave has been a good butler to you (if not as proactive as you'd prefer) and you hope he'll serve his next master well. New trends beckon.

= = =

Dave falls out of the crack in the sky just in time to see his past self swept into it. He catches his timetables as they get pulled in, and sets them up quickly- things seem to be kind of going to hell here. Time to move back.

He jumps back, just using his second-to-last coordinates, and grins at the unlocked sylladex, flipping between a few shirts and just revelling in the colours. Then- oh shit, Jack. That was why he made the stupid jump in the first place. But he already feels more aware and solid than he did then, everything heightened by the rush of untainted air, of colour and comfort and blissful reds, and he does the math without even thinking, diving backwards just as the blade comes in for his neck.

Far back in the timeline, he changes into a red and white shirt and some jeans and tosses his green suit into the lava. Suits are pretty much the last thing he wants, and he knows for a fact he'll never wear green again.

He can sort of see Terezi's weird red thing now.

= = =

==>
Now how are you supposed to get yourself a flying car?

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

03 Feb 2011, 18:01

More Slickfic, this time from Sleuth's perspective. I find him hard to write and have come to the conclusion that it is difficult to be funny.

= = =

On Slick's Taste In Cars

= = =

Spades Slick has so many cars, you find it kind of hard to believe.

This one is black (they're all black) with a little spade hood ornament (most of them have that too), and these amazing leather seats, it's just the best car ever. You'd love a car like this, though you'd like it to be white and with a little flag on the front and maybe custom plates with your phone number (HOT STUD) on them. Yeah. Hopefully everybody would be able to figure out it's a 1-800 number.

Of course it's probably bought with the labour of starving children and suffering dames, so you are never going to get a car like this (not that you could ever make enough money anyhow), let alone six or ten or however many cars he's got with shiny black paint and silver spades on the hood.

All the same, if you have to be locked up somewhere with the most dangerous criminal since Mobster Kingpin, you might as well choose a swanky automobile like this one. For all he's a dirty rotten crook, Slick's got good taste.

It extends to everything. His casinos are all done up in brass and red velvet. His apartments (all of them- oh god so many, all across town in various penthouse suites) are all huge, with black and white tiles or plush carpets and dark walls. Looking down on the city from one is a contrast as sharp as one of Slick's many (many) knives. Each one's twice the size of your place and your office combined, and somehow entirely empty by comparison (whoever does Slick's laundry knows what they're doing). You're sure you haven't tracked all his places down just yet, but you will.

His suits are pretty much the best of everything too, silk shirts and ties and black rabbitskin hats. He complains viciously at you for what you wear whenever you talk over dinner or meet up in public (not so rare, given how little you trust each other). You'll never tell him you show up in your best; guy's got too big of an ego as is. Plus you really don't need him ragging on you any more than he already does.

It was supposed to be a stakeout, the two of you on the rare occasions your interests overlap, keeping an eye out on a mutual enemy. The Felt's getting worse all the time; none of Slick's eye for the public, just rampant destruction. For all Slick's a gangster, he's a Kingpin gangster who stands to lose if the city does. The Felt... they're a different story altogether.

Maybe you let your guard down, or maybe you were just focused on the wrong enemy, because you really didn't expect to end up back here pushed into leather seats with Slick in his silk suit up on your lap like some dame. No, that's not right- Slick's nothing like that and feels nothing like it. No soft curves or soft laugh, Slick's all sharp edges and teeth and elbows, cool and knowing and as smug a bastard as ever.

He's skinny, though. Somehow it's still a surprise. You know he'll make use of the card up his sleeve if you ever mention how little he seems though. He's all the more dangerous for it. There was a misstep once in the early days with him, and you've never seen somebody move quicker, this black-lightning-leap across the room for the card in his vest, left carelessly tossed on the floor like you leave all your laundry. He's got somebody to pick it up though, you guess, which is really the difference.

So you've got both hands around him, he's savaging your neck (God, man, the teeth) and stripping your tie off (complaining in your ear the whole time about what a terrible tie it is). Of course that's when you catch a glimpse of one of the targets, peering in the front and just looking more confused than malicious really. You go for your keys but Slick reacts just so goddamn fast, a card out his sleeve and (no lie) straight out the windshield into the green guy's head, dead between the eyes. Just dead, really.

His windshield has a hole in it the size of your fist, and you can see a second Felt goon coming out to investigate. Time to be moving on, you agree, and without another thought Slick leaps over into his seat and slams into reverse. He speeds up quickly and runs the car straight into the dead Felt (Trace, maybe? There's too many of these guys to keep track), nearly slams you through the windshield too, before you're gone and rocketing down streets and leaving a cloud of black smoke coming out the hood in the glow of the streetlights.

He parks it in front of the casino and just throws the keys over his shoulder; you really doubt he'll even get the thing fixed, just have it towed away and trashed. It's still better than any car you'll ever own (not that you even own a car, or will anytime soon), but for Slick, it's already done its job, and he'll never use it again.

He'll just get a new one anyhow.

"Godfuckingdammit," he says, stalking into the casino like a panther with a grudge. "I was starting to like that car."

"It was a good car," you offer. "But there's probably a better car out there."

Slick looks back over his shoulder, gives you that appraising look, same one he'll give his new car. "...s'long as the back's big," he mutters, and disappears into the casino.

= = =
Last edited by Path on 10 Feb 2011, 11:22, edited 1 time in total.
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

04 Feb 2011, 14:27

Gave up on comedy for this one. Have more Midnight Crew angst.

= = =

Stupid Dreams That'll Never Come True

= = =

You've worked out a bit of a balance between the two of you these days, so you don't get his law-abiding buddies coming down on your case and the boys won't beat the snot out of him. Not often, anyhow.

His pals, just like yours, are a bit of a toss-up, as always. Ace's got potential- a brawler, like Boxcars stuck in Deuce's body. You can always use a brawler. But he's stubborn, loyal as hell, and thinks you're the worst kind of scum. You could lure him over- you could get anybody on your side if you applied the right pressure. Everybody's got a breaking point.

But it's your personal gift to Sleuth that you don't weigh his buddies' mental breaking points too thoroughly. It matches his present to you, every time you have a guest or one of the boys comes by, and he takes himself out to the curb to light up a smoke under the streetlight.

He doesn't like your crew members and you don't talk to them about him. He just steers clear whenever they're around and he's not on the case, and steer them subtly clear of his turf when it's not business. Droog knows. Out of the boys, Droog knows you best. He doesn't say a thing, of course; he knows what's good for him. But you know there's not much he misses.

These days, Sleuth's not afraid of you. He's wary (and rightly so) but he's not afraid and probably never was. He knows you're not going to shiv him in his sleep (even if you've got plenty of opportunity). Droog, though, he's got no such security with.

Sometimes you wonder if Droog is jealous. And how much. And of what. Droog's pretty much a poker face, even to you. Even you can't read his expression most of the time, and you can't quite tell whether he's concealing emotions that burn like yours behind his calm front or if it's just that nothing means anything to Droog. But when they're both around, Droog watches him with hooded, lazy eyes and you know that whatever else he feels, he definitely wants to hurt Problem Sleuth about as badly as he's ever hurt something.

You're just not sure if it's a personal grudge or a brotherly thing or if Droog just likes to hurt people.

At any rate, the two of you work to keep your groups apart whenever you can, because there's a difference in interest there that'd get a man killed, and whatever the two of you have now couldn't stand up to something like that. That's business.

You're still a little baffled by his other teammate. You figured the Inspector would take Ace's side (like the Crew takes Droog's against vigilante do-gooders), and then you ran into him on the street, sending his armful of files flying. You were just pulling your suit back in order and listening to him rambling a wobbly apology when he froze, really noticing belatedly who he'd nearly knocked over. You're getting your snarl in place, expecting another Ace Dick, but Pickle Inspector just gives you a wide-eyed stare and shakily raises his bowler to you. He keeps it up until you leave.

So maybe he's not so bad after all. Just weird.

At any rate, you're still not going to invite him over for blackjack. Or Problem Sleuth, for that matter. You've shown him places you've never shown the boys and shared things you'll never tell them. But that doesn't make him one of them, and it never will.

Lying back in bed at night, in a cloud of cigarette smoke and heady energy, you toss a card in the air and think about carving a spade into Sleuth's shoulder. You let yourself think for a minute of a black trenchcoat and white tie, of a low-pulled hat and his mouth twisting into a bitter smile. Of him losing every night at blackjack, and Droog blandly accepting him as one of you and not watching him with cold murderous eyes every time they share space.

You know it'd work. You could order it while he lies here sleeping- pull his boys into a fight on the Felt's turf, take them both out without him there to coordinate. Burn his office to the ground and his apartment too. Give him the score card, see what happens. You tighten your grip on the king of spades and put your hand down on his shoulder blade. He's snoring; his back moves a little under your hand. Then you take it back and tuck the king of spades under your pillow, and dismiss stupid dreams that'll never come true.

It's your gift to Sleuth.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

04 Feb 2011, 22:21

I find my headcanon Diamonds Droog extremely frightening and a little Defiler-y.

= = =

Waiting

= = =

You watch Problem Sleuth without a word, without tiring, without losing patience. You look exactly as you always do: exquisitely dressed and completely cold. You don't feel the need for Slick's threats and posturing. You are the most dangerous person in the city, and the perceptive will know it when they see you without you telling them what you'll do to them when they step the wrong way.

You make up your mind what you will do to everyone the first moment you meet them. You have excellent judgement and a superb understanding of pain tolerance, with an instinctive knowledge of whose is where. So stepping the wrong way is truly just an excuse for you to mete out their inevitable fate. Some avoid it, it's true. They are extremely lucky.

You've seen the way he handles himself. He is wary, but not paranoid, and too caught up in his own grandeur to be truly aware. You do not rely on this, but you factor it into your considerations. He will not take you seriously at first- or rather, he will pretend to take you seriously. You will make him stop, and quickly. You have infinite patience but little tolerance.

Fingers, one by one. Tape his mouth... no, gag him. Horrible things, gags. You will wear gloves. There is no way you will touch him. If you could get Boxcars to... but no. This will be just between you and Problem Sleuth, as things used to be just you and Slick, and now are just Slick and Problem Sleuth. You find appealing symmetry in it.

You watch him passively. Unlike many people, you have the ability to hold utterly still when you wish, which is frequently. You find excessive movement a sign of weakness.

Your phone rings. It's Slick. He reminds you of your job, of the plan. You find it painful to listen to, the way he dances around where you are and what you're doing. You are here to ensure Problem Sleuth does not leave his apartment, and thus misses the extremely important business transaction going on just down the street.

Slick was so much better once. Like you. Well, not perfectly, but more so. Callous and cruel and insular, though still raving and forceful and emotional. He was an excellent foil. He was more than that, certainly. He clearly did not ascribe the same importance to your relationship as you did. No, you refuse to believe that. It cannot be correct. You and Slick were brothers, and he drew you out just as you balanced him. It was ideal.

You cannot believe it has fallen apart as it has. It is not permanent; once he's over his infatuation with Problem Sleuth (you can barely bring yourself to say that), things will return to the way they were meant to be. You cannot imagine how it got this way to begin with.

You cannot believe that Problem Sleuth, of all people, has come to replace you. He's weak. He is fragile. You can ruin him so simply. You slipped into Slick's apartment last night and stood over him while he slept, holding a dozen varieties of cards. Your heart was seizing with bitter freezing hatred, cold and silent and waiting, and you stood over him as he snored there, arm thrown over Slick's shoulder. Slick mutters something in his sleep, like he always has, and your hatred pulses slightly, your grip tightening on the queen of diamonds. Fingers, one by one...

But no.

This is Slick's decision. Slick was always the boss. You always obey. That's just how it is, and you're going to show Slick that if he wants to throw away what you had, well, you will wait. At the end of the day, you will be there waiting.

And as soon as he's finished with Problem Sleuth, you will be there waiting for him, too.
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

05 Feb 2011, 16:14

= = =
A Talk With Dick
= = =


Your office door busts open and you just know this is going to spell trouble. To your surprise, it's not goons of any of the many varieties of gang in this city, all obviously trying to kill each other and you at every opportunity. Instead, it's just Ace Dick, your friend and sort-of still rival, as well as your totally annoying next-door neighbour.

You ask him where the fire is.

Ace misses an opportunity for a clever comeback. He wants to know what the deal is with the big gay thing you've got going on with Spades Slick- who, in case you've forgotten, he points out, is the biggest threat to the city since Mobster Kingpin.

To be fair, you say, Mobster Kingpin turned into a giant demon thing (you're still not really sure how that worked).

Ace isn't buying it. He says he wouldn't be surprised one bit if tomorrow you called him in to deal with giant monster demon Spades Slick, with... tentacles. And spikes. Ace is making this all up, and poorly. Obviously not working on training up that low Imagination.

You tell him that you've got three times his Imagination on bad days, and even you can't imagine Spades Slick sprouting tentacles. How stupid would that be. Just really unbelievable.

In a surprising fit of memory, Ace remembers what he came in for. He's back on your case again about you and Slick.

Not that it's any of his beeswax, you tell him, but it's just a pair of gents having a drink and a talk every once in awhile. You don't see what he's getting his tie in a twist about. Besides, Spades Slick's a dangerous customer, alright, but if the two of you can work out a way to tone down the gang wars, you'll hop on that train. Too many dames and kids getting drawn into this business as is.

Ace holds his ground. If it was just drinks and a talk, that'd be one thing. He's staked your apartment out, and he knows how many nights you don't come back to it.

Business, you say.

Dirty business, Ace says.

It feels like your collar's tightening up, and you begin to wish you'd hidden under your desk when he came in. You'd really hoped to have thrown him off the trail, but it looks like his detective skills aren't as garbage as you'd figured. You take a new tack.

That's right, you say. Can't a guy spend a night with another guy without it being some big gay thing with him? You shake your head sadly. What's this world coming to? But yes, for his information, Slick did take you back to one of his apartments, one with a great rug and a swanky balcony, and kept you up all hours of the night with some activities you trust Ace has enough Imagination to get the idea of. Yes, you say, putting your feet up on the desk, you and Spades Slick had a nice evening together. No, you've got no extra stab wounds. And no, no tentacles or horns or extra limbs that you noticed, and yes, you got enough of a look at him to notice if they'd been there.

And, you finish, you're planning on it again sometime this week. Maybe Wednesday. No wait, that's poker night. Thursday. And if Ace has got a problem with you and Spades Slick and what you do together, then he'll just have to bite his tongue and keep it to himself.

Ace says it's not that. You take your feet off the desk, and hope you didn't just spill that all for no good reason.

He says, if you were so interested in all this gay stuff, why didn't you come to him first.

Forget the desk. You should have jumped out the window.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

06 Feb 2011, 10:52

= = =

Just Like Next Time

= = =

The club's dark, as always. Dim light pours smoky through the windows, caught in the cigarettes of your patrons. You're not in the back, as usual, tonight, but seated up on the small stage you had built discreetly off to one side. Also unlike most nights, your eyes are closed and your teeth not bared. You're not even wearing your hat.

'Cause tonight, you saw her, and you've got some grief to get off your chest. It's this or slice somebody up 'til they bleed out, and you're lamentably short of dumbass trespassing assholes on this evening.

It was just in passing, or would be with anybody else. Just a moment, a glance across the room, but in the second or ten or eternity in which you met each others' eyes, your heart seized up with bitter fury and envy and a dozen other emotions defying description and there was nothing else in the world. Nothing but jealousy and outrage and overwhelming desire for her, and you hate it just like you hate her, with a singular focus that sinks the rest of the world in black.

You met her eyes like a punch to the chest, cracking ribs and driving the breath from your gut. She blinked once, slowly, meeting your eye surely with no searching, and then just held you forever in the morass of bitter fury. Just like last time, and like the time before, and just like next time.

You can't lose yourself entirely in the feeling of smooth keys under your fingertips, in harmonic minor melodies seeping out into the world from somewhere beyond your conscious memory. They're songs you must have devoted yourself to learning, once. Now you just play. The right stuff comes.

The room is uneasy, patrons mingling and pausing conversation as you play. They can feel the emotion draining from you, sifting into the air with their cigarette smoke and the notes. They'll all go home unsettled, disturbed, and lie in bed awake. That's what you want. In that, at least, you won't be alone.

Somebody stupid once asked you what it was about her, and you probably took off their arm or head as an answer. Nobody talks to you about Snowman. That's not a thing that happens.

For the record, though, you pour out into the room, it's the way she sets herself against you. The way she denies you everything you make up your mind to want. It's the coat pulled snug against her curves and her hat's shade over her eyes. The notes meld into frantic minor arpeggios and your patrons stop everything, watching you bang at the keys and make them, at least, do what you want.

It's the way she moves, black silk on a bare arm and then a scorpion's strike. It's her voice, molasses soft and dark, smooth and lazy and completely untouched. All you can do is bare your teeth and snarl at her, but she's always got words. Distant words, easy words. She says your name.

She gave you your name.

And despite it, she's not yours. She's still his. For all her coy looks and burning eyes and slow laugh, she's still English's, and no matter what's happened between you, she'll only ever play at being yours. You torture the keys, slim fingers hitting, slipping without thought into melodic and driving the song even a little further away from a complete sound. You know, more than see, Droog appear at the door to the back. He stands silently and still and watches you calmly as you rage at the baby grand and at her.

Your hands gripping her hips, her hair, her wrists, and her laughing softly in your ear and taunting you, always taunting you. Her lips on yours, urgent and immediate and drowning the rest of the world in nothingness. There's nothing but you two. There's nothing but her. Droog is walking slowly over to the stage.

The rest of the world blanks out blissfully at last as you reach a variation that finally expresses it. Notes clear and urgent and drawing you. You haven't played this one before. Variation for Snowman. The only thing in your mind, the only thing in the world. Droog stands at the front of the stage and watches you, but you filter him out without effort, the world spinning in around you as you mangle the melody with accidentals.

Because you hate her, you fume impotently at her for the way she treats you, the way she toys with you, the way she acts like it's you that belongs to her, and not the other way around. It's not the other way around. And you still want her. You wanted her before, now. Forever.

You crash to a finale in a flurry of intentional aharmonics and broken chords, standing and shoving the piano stool back and over on one side, storming down the stairs through silent ranks of shocked customers. Droog waits for you to pass, and follows you. He'll come to the back and stand outside your door when you slam it in his face, and when you emerge in the morning, growling and stubborn, he'll make sure you've got breakfast and a car ready.

Just like last time. And like the time before. And just like next time.
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

10 Feb 2011, 11:29

I'm not so proud of this one. Feels too weighty and awkward. Must keep myself to a three-page minimum.

= = =

The Blind Spot and the Missing Piece

= = =

Spades Slick is not a man who easily trusts others. However, he is also not a patient man, nor a man very in control of his desires. This has led to no few whimsical heat-of-the-moment seductions for him; his tendency to see what he wants and immediately grab for it is both his greatest strength and weakness. On the whole, he doesn't think much of them. He can pretty much size up the potential threat of most people he meets within a few minutes, and can catch a plant rapidly. He has no patience for delicate social interactions, but he can tell when somebody lies to him.

Not that there's many dames planted to kill him anymore. That was more a Kingpin thing; with his lackeys scrabbling at the leftover pieces of pie, there's really only the Felt and the cops to worry about. Of those, the cops are mostly in his pocket, and the Felt wage war in their own haphazard way. Really it's only Problem Sleuth who poses the, well, problem, and while that makes things unpredictable and unbelievably frustrating, at least Slick doesn't have to worry about his latest girlfriend gearing up to shiv him in the back.

None of them ever meant much to him. Well, not after the first, but Slick doesn't think of her ever. Ever. And the fact that she's spinning most of the gears behind his greatest enemies doesn't mean anything. It doesn't. He flat outright refuses to consider her.

So none of his other girlfriends meant anything. Just distraction, enjoyment, some time away from managing his many enterprises, orchestrating his many payoffs, and having midnight knife fights through time with an infinite number of green assholes. And his recent disaster with Problem Sleuth. But he doesn't want to consider that either. So all in all, he could use a good distraction.

But he's honestly a little surprised at what a distraction this dame is turning out to be. There's something about her. She's not as drop-dead gorgeous as some of his other flings, true, but she's clever and observant and a whole lot smarter than most of the women who pass his way. She's spunky; he didn't think he'd like that but he does. She doesn't put up with any crap from him. She's proving to be a challenge, which is not a thing he usually wants in a relationship, no matter how fleeting. He's got enough to deal with in the rest of his life to want to puzzle out some hysterical dame.

But this one, he's having to make an exception for.

She reminds him of someone. He can't think of who, though. None of his past girlfriends were this smart. Most of them he just liked having drape off his arm and be sparkling and stunning, somebody to parade around and look at- another big gem to add to the pile in the safe. This dame isn't like that. No sparkling dresses, for one, just practical, with a nice hat, and funny as hell (though, she has a penchant for corsets he likes, and she sure wears one well). He can't treat her like the rest, and doesn't. She's something else- but what, he just can't figure out.

So he takes her out to dinner. She talks, smiles, bats challenges and insults at him, and he finds himself grinning and laughing and genuinely enjoying himself with a lady in a way he never really has. (Knowing she's enjoying herself as much as he is is just... nice, for a change. He can tell, of course. He always knows when someone's lying to him.) He throws around insults with the boys, of course, and with Problem Sleuth (but he's not going to think about that particular disaster just now); however, a lady willing to step up and play dirty is new. And Spades Slick likes novelty.

He wish he could figure out who she reminded him of, though. It keeps bugging him.

It annoys him through dinner, just a little, a nagging certainty that this hysterical dame is somebody he knew once, or related to someone he knew once, or he's seen her before somewhere. It doesn't stop him from busting a gut laughing at her ridiculous stories- one about a pair of her girlfriends accidentally inheriting a brothel or something strikes him as particularly hilarious. She's clearly told it a dozen times, but it's just allowed her to refine it. She's a good storyteller when she gets going. He likes that. It reminds him of someone.

Of course, all good things must end. This particular good thing ends just before dessert, as Slick is reclining with a glass of something strong and dark and very red, and his lady is contemplating a variety of chocolate cakes that pretty much all look the same to him. He's watching her, still just racking his brain for the missing piece. That's when this good thing ends for Spades Slick.

There's a crash of shattering glass, and Slick is already on his feet, a flush of spades in his hand and his teeth bared in his fighting snarl. A man follows the bullets through the window, thrown straight through. He hits the ground and slides, firing back through the broken window the whole way, coming to a stop at Slick's feet. One of his shots must have connected; there's a grunt outside the window and the delayed sound of a body hitting pavement.

Spades Slick looks down into a face he'd been hoping to go a long time before seeing again. It's roughed up and blossoming into bruises, and sporting what looks like somebody's footprint. His duster is scuffed. He's got a key in each hand and has them pointed straight up at Slick's face. And the last time Slick saw him, the two of them were screaming bloody murder while trying to enact just that.

Problem Sleuth glares up at him as Slick automatically brings a pair of cards out to match the keys. Then he gets a forced light-hearted expression on, and half-smiles around all the weapons. "Hey there Slick," he says, his tone forced too. "Long time no see."

Spades Slick made a promise, not so long ago. "The next time I see that bastard," he said, "I'm gonna shove a knife down his throat before he can speak." Slick's a little sad (but mostly, just unbelievably furious) that his promise got broken already. That's what a few weeks of soft living can do to you. Makes you slow to react. Well, he'll at least get a few stabs in before Sleuth gets a chance to talk more.

Sleuth fires too late, missing as Slick twirls and comes in on a diagonal with a pair of extremely sharp cards. He doesn't get them into Problem Sleuth, though, because just as he's about to, he hears a screaming "Nooooooooo!" and his girlfriend leaps between him and prone Sleuth. He almost puts a carving knife and a switchblade through her stomach, actually, but gets back in time.

She's got tears in her eyes, her hands clasped in front of her. "Please, don't," she says.

"Lady," Spades Slick says, "I don't think you know what you're getting into."

But she seems to. She looks at him seriously and tearfully and asks him to stop again. Then she looks down, behind her, to key-toting Sleuth, and repeats herself to him.

Sleuth says nothing for a moment, and Slick is still trying to figure out how to salvage this whole mess. But then Sleuth responds. "If that's what you want, lady," he says, and his voice is full of regret and misery and some other emotions Slick already saw too much of much too recently. And his girlfriend is looking at Problem Sleuth with tears in her eyes and something that looks like the way she'd just started to look at Slick himself, and Slick realizes a few things all of a sudden.

The first is that his girlfriend used to be some sort of item with Problem Sleuth. He knows he's never met her before recently, but looking at them now, he just knows. Just like he knows she's still at least a little in love with him.

The second is his missing piece. Looking at her, his girlfriend reminds him so much of Sleuth that he can barely believe he didn't see it before. He must have been blocking out all of Sleuth's influence so much that he kept himself willingly blind to it. She must have gone steady with him a long time; their mannerisms are all the same. He'd figure them to be siblings if there wasn't that something in the way they looked at each other.

The third is that she's just not as great of a Problem Sleuth as Problem Sleuth is. He didn't know that's what he was after, at the time, but it was, and Spades Slick won't lie to himself. He still likes her. But all those things he liked- the silly stories, the stupid insults, the feeling of just being a break from the real world- that's all Sleuth stuff. That's what he got with him.

The fourth thing he realizes is that he doesn't want to kill Problem Sleuth. Oh, he wants to stab him, alright, but he no longer wants to see Sleuth's cold corpse laid out in front of him. Things have faded enough. He'd like to beat the crap out of him. He'd like to throttle him and smack him around and generally make the bastard wish he'd never crossed Slick, but he doesn't want him dead for the first time in two months.

The fifth thought, and least important, is somehow the most disorienting; simply the sudden realization that everybody in this room has slept with each other, and he's the last one to know.

So Spades Slick looks at them, looking at each other. Sleuth turns back, meets Slick's eyes around the curve of Slick's girlfriend's hip. And Slick, for the first time in his life, slowly takes his cards and holds them up, then shoves them in his jacket. Sleuth's eyes (and keys) are following him. After a minute of tense nothing, Sleuth pockets his keys. Everybody looks like they're about to talk.

Spades Slick walks out of the room. That's the only way he can deal with this. He's not used to mercy, or even pity, and he's no happier feeling the emotions than having them directed at him. So he leaves. They'll put the bill for the meals on his tab, and he'll deal with it later. He feels oddly numb.

He sits in his car for a few minutes before he does anything with it, just sitting and absorbing everything and trying to justify it with the things he thought were true ten minutes ago. It doesn't really jive. Not with him, not with the person he thought he was, not with the person he thought Sleuth was. He's been waiting for her, he realizes belatedly. Waiting for her to choose him over Problem Sleuth. He grimaces. His scar pulls at his cheek. He turns the keys and pulls out into the street.

He's just making the turn off the street, past the goon on the pavement with the loaded pencil and the bullet through the forehead, and the crowd of onlookers, and he can't even see her. He's not sure if he wants to, anymore.

There's a banging on his passenger-side window as he goes to turn, though, and he looks back in a sort of stupid hope. He hates stuff on the passenger side; he's got to turn his head so damn far to see it. That's why he likes having Droog or Deuce on that side, covering his blind spot.

But it's not her.

It's his missing piece.

He's beat-up and scruffy and still has that footprint on his face, and he looks tired and frustrated and grim as he looks in the window.

He doesn't say anything, and for a moment, Slick doesn't either. He takes a breath, glaring at Sleuth out his passenger-side window. Then, scowling, he throws the door open and growls "Get in the fucking car," and Sleuth slides in with a look of half awkward worry and half embarrassed relief.

Spades Slick starts driving. It'd be a lot easier if he'd just left Sleuth on the curb. He's got no guarantee that anything's going to change. No promise that they'll work things out, and no real hope that the things they said to each other are forgettable.

But he can always tell when somebody's lying. And he'd be lying if he told himself he wasn't glad Problem Sleuth, and not their mutual ex-girlfriend, was the one to come after him.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

10 Feb 2011, 11:32

Having written Spades Slick/Hysterical Dame, I had to try out the complementary pairing.

= = =

Hunting

= = =

The dame slides into my office and for the first minute I'm just trying pay attention to what she's saying. That's a little tricky given I'm preoccupied trying to figure out on my own what her deal is, and that's not even to mention trying to coolly avoid looking at her. It's not just a hardboiled detective move. I also just know if I look at her, my jaw'll be too firmly on the floor for me to catch what she's actually here for.

She's tall- maybe not Pickle Inspector tall, but taller than me. She's wearing a hat with a wide brim, and her hair loose and long beneath it, falling down her back and past the curve of her hip. It's evening, and my office is thrown into chiaroscuran relief, all sharp blacks and whites and angles. Chiaroscuran. Big word, but a good one.

She doesn't wear any jewellery, but it's easy to see she's used to it- the way she holds her wrists, her long fingers, her shoulders back and her head posed, all imply she's dripping with wealth, though she's not demonstrating it. She wears a long dress, slinky, and a clinging coat. There's some sort of shiny weave to it; in my little world of all black and white and sharp points, the dame's curves seem to stand out green.

It's sort of hard not to notice. She's only the most gorgeous set of legs ever to walk into my office, and I'm just damn glad I cleaned earlier.

She's spinning me her story. It's mundane and entirely believeable. Her eyes are big and her lips part a little as she earnestly tells me her history. I wait until she finishes, and then wait a bit more.

"So, Mister Sleuth," she says, her voice still ringing with that utterly believable honesty, "do you think you could possibly help me?"

I tip my hat back and look up at her, standing in front of my desk. Her hands are clasped together, holding her purse in front of her. I know she's not a kid, but in that moment, she looks like one; some filly right out of boarding school and into a marriage her parents orchestrated and on her own for the first time.

"Lady," I say, "maybe if you want my help, you should try not telling me a pack of lies."

There's a pause, as she decides whether to be offended. In the end, she smiles. Then she sits down on my desk, right in front of me. "Well, then, Detective. Maybe you can tell me what you'd like to know." Her lips are Cupid's-bow curved.

I lean back. Her perfume is starting to make my head spin. It's not strong. It's just good. "Alright, then," I say. "I'd like to know what makes you think I'd buy that in the first place."

She laughs softly. "I've never met you. I like to test rumours for myself."

"Alright. I'd like to think I passed your little test." I reach into my pocket and pull out a book of matches and a case of cigarettes. She mimics my gesture, pulling a long cigarette holder out of her purse. I fit it in for her and give it back, and she leans in close as I light the match. Her eyes are on mine the whole time. They're deep, dark, and full of stars.

"Perhaps," she replies after a long drag, breathing a plume of smoke from her perfect lips. "I understand in colleges, professors don't release your marks until midterms. Are you a well-schooled man, Mister Sleuth?"

"Men like me never have time for extra studies," I say. "Don't need a degree to do what I do."

She smiles. "No, perhaps not." Her whole attitude has changed now. She's all sensual curves, secrets and smiles, and I can tell this is already a lot closer to her real self. Not all the way, though. She already said she was testing me.

"Alright, lady," I say abruptly, cutting the banter short. "Let's get going. I'm not known for my patience, which I'm sure your word on the street informed you. How about you cut the act and tell me what you really need?"

She raises an eyebrow delicately, and seems to shift slightly, retreating a little as she drops her second act. The first, mild rich housewife. The second, seductive and strong. And this one already seems to suit her better. I don't think she'll try the trick a third time.

"Alright, slick," she says, and her voice has lowered, quiet and slow like syrup, "if you're so eager to get around to business, let's talk."

I kick back in my seat, satisfied. "Sounding better already. And don't call me "slick". I'm not your boyfriend."

Her head tilts down a little, so she's looking up at me. "Not now," she says quietly.

"Not ever," I say with force.

"Alright, then," she accepts. "Maybe I was a fool to come here expecting anonymity. You and Slick, you're so close. Of course you'd know who I am."

"Not so close as all that, Snowman," I say. "But yeah, I know who you are. And I knew the second you walked in that door. And I know why you're here."

She smiles again. When she got here, she smiled timidly. When I called her on it, she smiled sensually. Now, she smiles like a tiger, slow and sharp and overwhelmingly in charge. "You do, do you, slick?"

"I told you not to call me that," I say. "You can't just give everybody that nickname. And yeah. I know why you're here. But I want you to spell it out for me."

Again, the predator smile. "I think you and Spades Slick are closer than you say," she muses. "You know him so well. That's why I came to you."

I know what the answer is. And I knew I'd say yes. But I want her to say it. I want her to prove she's willing to meet me on this smallest thing. My voice seems lost in the room as I ask her. "And what do you want me to do, being close as I am with Spades Slick?"

She smiles again, and I feel more than ever that though I had to hunt out her secrets in this whole conversation, that she's the one hunting me. Her words are simple and her voice is soft, but the words she says just turn my world around.

"I want you to find him," she says.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

13 Feb 2011, 13:48

Somebody on the MSPA boards keeps requesting jealous Droog.

= = =

Ambush, Part I

= = =

Diamonds Droog woke up in the morning and thought, "Today is the day I kill Problem Sleuth."

Laying in bed as he regained his consciousness, he had regarded his ceiling. A foreign feeling crept over him. After a moment, he identified it as optimism. It was not common for him, but it was not unpleasant. He allowed himself to enjoy it for a handful of seconds before getting up.

It only strengthened as he began his day. He hung his best suit over the end rail of his cast iron bedframe and smiled thinly at it. He brushed his teeth and combed his hair back. As he shaved, the distraction of positive emotion led to a miniscule slice on his jaw. He cleaned the straight razor meticulously, washed the ribbons of red water out of his sink, and sternly clamped down on the enjoyment his first thought still stirred in him.

But the feeling of hope and anticipation simply wouldn't be quenched. He paused before the mirror in the hallway to adjust his tie. It was already perfectly straight, but not wanting to waste the gesture, he set it off, and straightened it a second time. Droog was of course incredibly vain, but he prided himself on being distanced from it, as he did with all things. He did not so much care about what others saw in him. He knew that if he satisfied his own strict judgement, no-one could ever find fault in him. In a way, it was both enormously restricting and enormously liberating; so long as he obeyed his own instructions without fail, he was free to never worry about the opinions of others.

He placed his hat on his head, his pack of cards in his shoulder holster, and his hand on the doorknob. He left for the day.

Clubs Deuce was waiting outside in the car. Droog slid into the passenger seat and reached over, turning on the windshield wiper. A dead fly, caught in the edge of the wiper, left a long streak across the glass before being flung off the other side of the car. As they pulled out, the wipers slowly erased the sign of it. Droog found it a pleasant omen for his plans, and smiled for the second time that day. "Good morning," he said to Deuce.

Deuce looked up at him with an expression of wide-eyed surprise.

In the club, he fixed coffee for everyone. Slick, all black. Himself, one cream, one sugar. Boxcars, a double-sized mug and two sugar, and Deuce, so much cream and sugar as to not count as coffee anymore.

Slick came in with Boxcars, ten minutes after his usual time. Droog had already thrown out his coffee and made another; Slick liked it scalding hot and Droog wasn't going to give someone coffee that wasn't to their tastes. He was never wrong. And he never let Slick down.

Slick was wearing an expression that blatantly told of a good night. It was Slick's habit to keep up a continual growl if he felt particularly good; he didn't like anyone to know he could feel happiness. It was unlike his usual continual growl in a few ways. Droog knew them well and could identify them instantly. It was the first thing in the day that crushed his optimism. Slick only wore that expression for two people.

Droog handed the coffee over. Slick didn't thank him, of course, but shot him a glare that mostly meant the same thing. It ambushed Droog, having the full force of Slick's attention for even a moment. It always reminded him.

Droog had been categorizing the contents of Slick's apartment, working through his never-used kitchen to understand where everything was.

"It's fucking seven am, you asshole," came a bellow from elsewhere in the apartment. After a moment, Slick appeared in the door in his dragon housecoat. "What the fuck are you doing up and moving?"

Droog had smiled faintly and offered him a coffee wordlessly.

"I have a coffee machine?" Slick had asked. Then he drank it down and showered and reappeared with his shirt loose at the neck and that same expression, the protestation that he wasn't weak for enjoying himself, for letting another person into his life.
It made Droog sick to think of someone else receiving it.

And it made his heart freeze over to think of it being Problem Sleuth.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

11 Mar 2011, 18:22

Slick and Snowman, this time.

= = =

If You Love Somebody

= = =

She never loved her husband.

She respected him to a certain extent. He was a useful man, a rich man, a smart man. He was just not smart enough. Smart enough to amass a fortune. Smart enough to keep many business partners and few friends. Smart enough to keep an eye on his lovely wife. And smart enough to watch Jack Noir. He was smart enough to think that his trusted lackey, his own apprentice, was his biggest threat.

But though he was smart, he was wrong, and he was not smart enough to live.

= = =

She didn't do it for Jack, though she told him she did. He didn't believe her, because he was always smarter than her husband. He was very stupid in his way, headstrong and stubborn and full of loathing. But he never trusted her, and in that, he was smarter than her husband, because she was the biggest threat he had ever encountered.

She attended her husband's funeral in a black coat and a hat with a veil, and watched Jack on the other side of the grave. He stared at her, glaring, never taking his eyes from her. He was starving and possessive and couldn't tell where she was looking because of the veil, and she knew at the time that he would never trust her now.

Perhaps once he harboured thoughts of an empire greater than her husband's; making something truly worthwhile. He may have dreamed of making this hole of a town into something special. Of being the big cat at last and not some fat man's minion, of people knowing his name and fearing it even as they craved what he could give. And beside him, her. And before him, her husband.

She knew what he wanted. He'd told her before, the words ripped from him on dark nights when her husband would be out, on smoky afternoons in his flat, on a thousand thousand occasions before she freed herself. He wanted her, and he wanted him to know. He was so insecure; she prized it and took advantage of it and used it whenever she could. He wanted her to leave her husband, to choose him, to show to the world that Jack Noir was better than any man.

= = =

She did it for herself, of course, and when her husband lay dead and Jack washed the blood off his hands, her only thought was for herself.

Jack should not have been surprised.

= = =

For awhile, he still thought to claim her. He watched her intently with hungry eyes over her husband's grave as somebody faceless shovelled dirt into it and the few friends and dozens of business partners slowly made their way elsewhere. She imagined the sound of his teeth grinding together, his breath on her throat and his choked mutter. It was always the same sound. "You're mine, mine, mine, mine-"

It was not enough.

= = =

"Slick," she said one night, the streetlamp light drifting in the window of his flat and bathing grey-black in sharp relief, "where now?"

He had plans. He relayed them frenetically, throwing on a house coat and pacing as she lounged in his bed and watched him. He couldn't stay still, too caught up in the hundreds of things to do; connections to make, deals to force, a friend to bring in here and a minion there. He was all potential.

She watched his eyes flash with fierce desire, and she listened and took note of all his plans, and stored them away for later. And when he stopped, alight with glazed eyes and a sharp, wonderous grin into the future at things only he could see, she called his name again and pulled him back to the ground.

= = =

She always called him Slick. It was something for just them. Later, as he went out and made his city and owned the world and took almost everything he ever wanted, she made sure it wasn't Jack Noir they knew, but Spades Slick. He hated that, as she'd always known it would, the name stuck.

Because he was hers, but she wasn't his. It was the best thing she could ever give him. He was a thousand times better than her husband.

= = =

She'd never loved her husband. She'd thought for the longest time that the only person she could ever love was herself. But she loved Spades Slick, the first thing to belong only to her. So of course, she had to let him go.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

11 Mar 2011, 18:25

Trying for humour again. Arrrrrrrgh so difficult. Anyhow, figured I'd get back to my roots, so to speak, and wrote some silly Slick/Sleuth.

= = =

Deduction

= = =

Problem Sleuth wakes up with his face smushed against floorboards. Again, he thinks.

He tries to express this verbally. "Hrrrrrgggnnnnn," he says. And then, "vvnnmph". His mouth is full of cotton balls. No wait, it just feels like it's full of cotton balls. He blinks a few times, and can't quite clear all the fuzz from his mind. All the same, he attempts to take account of things.

First, he notes, he is on the floor. He is not sure where the floor is or whose floor it is, but he is certainly on it, and since he woke up there he can deduce that he either slept there or was thrown there. The latter is certainly more common, even for the top problem sleuth in the city.

Second, he feels like shit. His head is throbbing, his mouth disgusting, and his entire body aching. He's cold. He attempts to check his skull for goose eggs left by the butt of somebody's revolver or a bottle or something, the usual cause of his experience waking up on the floor. His attempt is an exceptional failure, from which he learns that thirdly, his hands are tied up somehow. He wriggles around a little, cursing under his breath the entire way. However, he has found his hands, which expands point three to include the fact that he is tied, specifically, to a wrought-iron grate framing a fireplace.

He considers for a moment, and adds on point four, which is that he cannot remember getting here; he mentally jots it down as amnesia. Too many blows to the head? Food or drink laced? He keeps them in mind.

He decides to investigate the room. He considers doing this from a standing position, but points two and three gang up and beat the suggestion down, and he takes this as a warning to stay on the floor for now. He does not often listen to warnings, but coming as it is from his own thoughts, he allows that perhaps he has a point.

Problem Sleuth looks around. The floor is hardwood, dark and polished and real swanky. Nearby is a large green bottle, and he files it under Possible Weapons in his Brainvestigation. Just because he can't feel a bump on his head doesn't mean he wasn't clocked by that bottle. He gives it an intense glare, but the bottle remains quiet. It'll take more than that to convince it to cough up its alibi.

Right beside the bottle is a rug, tossed in a heap. It looks like white tiger skin or something equally endangered and expensive. It looks surprisingly soft, and Sleuth wonders if somebody is raising white tigers and shampooing them every day. This pings at the back of his mind. He thinks he's heard something like that before.

He files that under Clues.

The wood below him is slightly darker than the rest of the floor. Sleuth suspects the rug was moved either before he was tossed there or after, pulled out from under him. Maybe he was bleeding, and they didn't want to have to skin another Pantene Tiger. He can't feel any of the sharp pulls to his movement that would register as a cut, or the red-hot-poker sensation of a bullet wound, though, so he discounts that for the moment. It is beginning to look, to his chagrin, like he went down without much of a fight.

Beside him is a bedframe. It's also dark wood, with a few bits of dark steel laced into the design. It's modern and weird-looking and seems really expensive. He's right at the foot, and can't see any more of it than the tall flat design at the end, so he's not really sure what the rest of the bed looks like.

Craning his head backwards and gritting his teeth through the twinge of neck muscles and the screaming of his aching head, he can see long curtains and the edge of a door. He files it under Escape Routes, and notes amusedly that he's already organized his thoughts more than he ever does his office.

He looks down and adds a second door to his new folder. He also adds another point (five) to his Brainvestigation- he is entirely naked. No pants, shirt, tie, watch, hat, nothing. He holds up his feet. Even his socks are gone. On the plus side, he mentally checks off the symptom "cold" from his earlier list, noting "naked" beside it.

So he's woken up somewhere unfamiliar, feeling like hell, tied to a grate, naked. And he doesn't know how he got here. Problem Sleuth begins to feel something like worry. It's not the first time any of these things have happened, but usually it's not all at once. Somebody really pulled the big guns out to make sure he wouldn't be going anywhere. Naturally, he reacts as he frequently does when confronted with dangerous and delicate situations and immediately begins yelling.

"HEY, WHOEVER, RISE AND SHINE," he bellows. Oh God, his brain. It threatens to jump ship along with anything he ate last night if he continues to make noises a billion decibels higher than anyone should ever have to listen to. There is a strangled sound nearby and somebody moving. Whoops, thinks Problem Sleuth. Turns out there was somebody else here all along. Well, maybe whoever it is has some more information.

To his surprise, a figure pokes its head over the foot of the bed. He'd figured anyone in here would have been tied-up or drugged too. The man does look incredibly groggy, which almost eclipses his gritted teeth, lips curled in a snarl. His shiny black hair is wild, and he sports a handful of really impressive bite-marks all along his shoulders.

"What," he says flatly, "the fuck," he adds, "do you want," he closes his single eye as if in pain, "you asshole?"

It's Spades Slick. In retrospect, this really does look like one of his places. Problem Sleuth shoves him bodily into his Suspects folder. "Slick, if you don't get me untied from here-" he begins, but Spades Slick cuts him off.

"It's nine o'clock," Spades Slick says, in the closest thing to patience he's ever displayed. Patience, for Spades Slick, involves him clenching his sharp teeth together with his eye closed.

"Is it?" Sleuth says with fake cheer. "Let me just check my watch." He makes a show of craning his head back to his hands. There's nothing around his wrist but rope. Spades Slick makes a gagging sound. "Nope, had no idea," Sleuth continues. "Look, Slick, I don't know what you want, but I know we can work something out. So just untie me, and we'll talk."

"You don't know," Spades Slick says, his attempted patience showing a crack or two, "what I want."

Sleuth smiles at him to hide how completely thrown off he is by all this.

"I want you to shut up and let me sleep, you complete fucking moron." Slick's hand goes to his forehead, which he holds, wincing, for a moment before running it through his wild hair. He makes a half-hearted impression of Sleuth's voice. "'Just leave me here, Slick,'" he mocks. "'Too tired to move.'" Slick snarls at him, "patience" shattering entirely. "If I'd known you'd wake up ungodly early and start howling at me through this fucking hangover to let you back out, I'd never have tied you up in the first place."

"You tied me-"

"YES, I FUCKING TIED YOU UP THERE. And if I recall correctly, you seemed to enjoy it for awhile. So fuck you, shut up, and next time you're drunk out of your skull I'm not going to listen to a fucking word you say." Spades Slick wraps himself in a blanket, grabs a pillow, and stalks out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

Hm.

Sleuth peers up at his hands.

Yes, he thinks through his hangover, he does vaguely remember going out on the town with Slick the night before. It's fuzzy. He squints his eyes closed and tries to think. Yes, they went out to somewhere Slick didn't own. Slick was feeling generous and was buying drinks right, left, and center, for anybody in the room who caught his interest, so he figures he must have drank about three times what he's usually used to on a real bender.

He is unsure if the club was still standing when they left.

Then the two of them, straggling through the streets to whatever apartment was closest, alternately supporting each other and degenerating into drunken off-balance beatings. Somehow Slick got his apartment unlocked (Sleuth remembers some kerfuffle over the keys), and then very fuzzy and separate memories of travelling through his hall, kitchen, and collapsing on the sofa, Slick pulling a bottle of something from... somewhere, Slick straddling his lap, and then... pretty much nothing.

He has no idea how Spades Slick does it. The guy is three-quarters his size and skinny, but he can hold his liquor like nobody's business. And he sure ties a good knot.

Problem Sleuth takes the bottle out of the Possible Weapons file and puts it in Suspects with Spades Slick, then mentally stamps "CASE CLOSED" on it. Just another job well-done for the town's best problem sleuth. No clue unfound, no situation too embarrassing.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

11 Mar 2011, 18:29

Needed to do something with the good doctor in it given all the recent updates. This was before we realized he was half Cal or I would have made him more of a smug asshole.

= = =

Tools

= = =

Doc Scratch has one of those faces you just can't hate.

Snowman has never seen him without a look of mild tolerance on his mug. That's it, she thinks. It's the look your father or older brother wears when they explain to you patiently how stupid you've been, but how they're about to give you a chance to correct yourself. It's not the sort of thing you can hate, even if it comes from a complete stranger.

And sadly, Scratch is nowhere near a complete stranger to Snowman.

As she leaves English's study, letting the door click shut behind her, he's waiting there, that same look on his face. She is extremely adept at hating. She practically taught it to Spades Slick, correctly hailed as the angriest man in Midnight City. He's incorrectly hailed as the most dangerous. Snowman fears only one person in the world, and so naturally, she spends her nights in his arms.

So she certainly doesn't fear Doc Scratch. She finds it curious, however, what a difficult time she has hating him. It's just not worth it. Her hate slides off him without impacting. She's long since adopted a similar tactic to his- smug superiority, a hint of pity at the other's youthful foolishness. She can only pretend it's changed anything. The only effects it's had are a few less wasted barbs.

Hating Doc Scratch feels simply... ineffective. One hates disaster, not the winds blowing before it. One hates a tornado, not the butterfly weeks ago, a million miles away, fluttering its wings. No, that holds too much blame. Doc Scratch is not a cause. He doesn't do anything. Snowman is infuriated by him for the simple reason that he wants nothing.

He just is, and serves, and announces. They are nominally on the same side, she knows, but he is so busy being nothing to everyone that there can never be a connection between them, although they are the only two in English's entire organization who could be said to be of similar rank. This is because they are not truly within the organization itself.

Snowman lights her cigarette. Anyone else would have done it for her, but Scratch views her not as a lady, she knows, not as something to want or dislike or anything. To him, she supposes, she is of similar importance to that lamp, a cat on the street, a doorknob.

But she knows one thing, and she clings to that in the face of Scratch's passive disinterest in her.

"He says he's not going to see you today," she tells him without emotion.

"Yes, he did say that," says Scratch. He's leaning on the wall opposite, hands casually in the pockets of his immaculate suit jacket.

She inhales, enjoys, exhales, and smoke drifts into the room. She cannot tell for sure, but she suspects he dislikes it, given his usual obsession with cleanliness.

"Well, if he's not going to see me, perhaps I should be going," he says, and turns to leave.

She cuts him off before he can, a careless barb tossed to him. "It's been awhile, hasn't it?"

"Yes," he answers. "Sixteen days."

"I don't suppose he could be tiring of you."

"No, I don't suppose that."

"It's just that he's never gone without giving you orders for so long, has he?"

"No," says Scratch, his back still turned.

"Hm," she says, and filters her derision, her scorn, her superiority into the syllable. Spades Slick would have tried to kill her four sentences ago. Scratch is simply unmoved. "Well. I suppose we aren't so similar after all."

"I don't believe we ever were," Scratch answers. Getting information from him is excruciating unless he's actively trying to give it to you. But Snowman has learned; she no longer searches. She plants ideas, and she waits.

"I'll let you know if he wants you back," she says.

"I'll already know."

He's not leaving, and Snowman takes a chance. "Do you know what the difference between us is, Scratch?" she asks.

"Yes," he answers.

"It's that you are used. And I am wanted."

"Is that what you think?"

"Yes. He courts me. And you, he just uses. One doesn't need to make sure a hammer enjoys itself, just that it hits nails. Isn't that right?"

Scratch turns around. Snowman is actually surprised. She's never gotten even that much of a reaction out of him before. He walks over to her, casually, comfortably; Doc Scratch only ever strolls. He takes off one of his white gloves.

"I don't think you know very much about him," he says to her. "You're quite new at this, after all, so that's understandable." He reaches up, still smiling his meaningless half-smile, and pinches out the tip of her cigarette with his bare fingers. His expression falters not at all; he shakes the ash off his hand with one economical motion. "I understand the difference between requiring and desiring, my dear. I suggest you take a closer look so as not to miss any pertinent information." He slips his glove back on and buttons it.

Snowman's lips part as her jaw hangs open for a brief second. She recovers almost immediately. "You think you can talk down to me, you arrogant little terrier, you mean nothing to-"

The study door opens.

The two of them freeze.

"Darling," comes his voice. Snowman is by his side in a second. His hand is on her cheek. He smiles at her. "Would you mind keeping it down, please? I've got some important business to attend to."

She can never speak under his full attention. Snowman nods mutely.

"Scratch," he continues. "Good. Just the man I wanted to see." His hand leaves Snowman's face.

Scratch brushes by her as he follows English into his study. She can make out no trace of superiority, no hint of his ego. He is unflappable and passive as ever, wearing his face that no-one can hate.

And yet, as the door closes her out, Snowman begins to feel that she might be able to hate him all the same.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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Re: MSPA Fic Pile

18 Mar 2011, 13:22

= = =

Perfected Empty Equality

= = =

They never knew each other personally. They were only enemies of friends, with no personal grudge. They were not the type to maintain a grudge, exactly. They hated, easily enough, but it was a mature, strong hatred untainted by anger or bias. They are comfortable in their enmities.

He emerges from his dressing room mostly ready. Pinstriped pants are carefully pressed, black shirt tucked in, vest loose and still undone; collar flipped up and buttons up to his throat. His jacket is laid over his arm, and he holds it close to his side.

She holds a tie to his shirt, then a second. They scrutinize it in silence.

"The second, I think."

He agrees, and threads it around his collar, tying it meticulously, yet without visible effort. He cinches the knot to his throat, fixes his collar and vest, and turns to be critiqued. She simply smiles; no-one she's ever met is as precise, as calculating, or as well-dressed. She has never needed to fix him in any way.

She appreciates it on a level she doesn't get to indulge often. After a few talks with him, they have reached a comfortable presence, and she readily acknowledges that he, unlike practically everyone she's ever met, is her equal. No more than that, but certainly no less.

He slips his jacket on, hands her her fur. He holds the door open, but only because he has to lock it. She gets her own door when they get into his car, and lights her own cigarette. At home, she takes faint joy in forcing Crowbar to strike a match and hold it for her. But he's weak, and the strength he thinks he has just makes him weaker. She does it because she's above him, to remind him of it. She could never do the same to Diamonds Droog. He is too much like her.

He doesn't take her arm when they walk into the opera, but the crowds part around them all the same. They sit in their booth in plush red velvet seats and take turns pouring cabernet, and Snowman reflects that he is perhaps her first and only friend. She simply never expected to have one. But he is completely and utterly disinterested in her as a woman, and perfectly equal with her as an appreciator of beauty, the arts, and, perhaps, as one of Slick's lovers. It makes for an odd friendship, cool and distant, but there is a vein through it, an underground river flowing dark and unseen between them. They are alike, more than she ever thought she could find.

As the curtains rise, she turns her head and raises her glass. He does the same, and the stage lights glint in the same colour off his wine and the diamond pin at his lapel, and as they meet eyes, nothing at all happens. The glasses chime together as if to mark it, and they both turn away, satisfied that their relationship remains the perfected empty equality it has always been.

= = =
"Well, we can't piss off the Unconquered Sun a second time. If he turns his back on us again he'll be facing us this time."

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