scifantasy: Me. With an owl. (Default)
scifantasy ([personal profile] scifantasy) wrote on March 4th, 2008 at 05:45 pm
Flaring Up, or The Value Of Outsiders
Short one this time, reflecting the abbreviated writing time. The latest Mina story was up sooner than I'd expected...

The fallout from the exhibitionism had, predictably, fallen and gone out.
The work that Lillian, JC and Xany had put in was stellar, if you liked
that sort of thing, but as was typical of fandom, outrage and amusement
burned hot and fast and then settled down, I hoped the Council was still
watching, though; for all we knew, one day this would pop up again.

Still, I reflected, sitting down to my computer with my morning tea, at
least things were quiet.

A message popped up from Jamie. "Hey, how's things?"

"Pretty good," I shot back. "What about you? Still rebelling?"

"Always," and I could see the smirking, "but...wanted to keep you in the
loop about something." He flipped me a link, and I opened it rather idly.

"Note for future," I typed a few minutes later. "Hot tea plus computer
plus spit-take is a dangerous equation. Let me go change my shirt."

Back at the computer, freshly attired, I saw that he'd had a good laugh at
my expense. "Sorry," he said, "I should have warned you."

"Yeah, well. So what's this about?"

"You can't tell?"

In fact, I could tell. I recognized the person wrapped around Mina. But it
was the name that concerned me. Besides, Jamie wasn't cleared for some of
this, so it was best to find out what he knew and go from there. "Humor
me."

"Well," he said, "Razzberry Martini's making a triumphant return." I could
hear the sarcasm, which was a relief. "She used to be involved in fandom,
and then she gafiated for a while."

"Nice use of language," I interrupted. "Reading some of what I sent you?"

"Oh yeah. It's fantastic. Anyway. Razz is coming back, and it looks like
she got Mina on board. Which is interesting, because Mina and she were old
enemies."

"You don't think the pictures are legit, do you? I mean, everybody has
Photoshop nowadays."

"If they're fakes, they're good ones, and that's enough for the rumor
mills."

I looked at the pictures again. He was right about that. I had my doubts
about a couple of shots of the two of them tangled together, but I'd bet
money that Mina was real--this wasn't a case of pasting on a head (or is
that hed? I can never be sure). So, how exactly had Josh, or Jen, or Razz,
or whoever she, or he, wanted to be this week, gotten Mina to pose for
her?

Some questions, I reasoned, aren't necessarily worth exploring at this
juncture. Judy probably felt like she was spinning plates in the circus,
trying to handle all the craziness with Mina and company. And every time
she had it all spinning smoothly, someone came along and threw a monkey
wrench.

Maybe it was a good idea to stop in on her, see if I couldn't help her
balance it all. If nothing else, she could probably use some company.

------

I got to the library just in time for an exodus of graduate students. I
recognized the one male, Seldom, from previous stops. He seemed relieved
to see me, which I have to admit worried me more than a bit. "Sir!" he
called out--I'd never given him a name--and the gaggle of grads came to a
non-unison halt.

"Oh, it's the Silver Squad," I said, with a smirk. "What's going on?"

"Thank God you're here," he said, having apparently been declared
spokesman for the group, given how the rest were nodding and trying to put
in asides, instead of taking the thread of the narrative. "First, Ms.
Silverman's pirate friend, Nancy is it? She showed up, and then Mina came
in--did you know Mina de Malfois was a student here? Wait, maybe you don't
know who she is. She's...forget it, it's not important. Anyway--Mina came
in, and then she left, and Nancy and Silverman were giving each other
looks that could melt steel..."

I sighed and held up a hand. "Smart of you to get out of there."

"We know a good exit when we see one." Nods all around.

"I tell you what," I said, pulling out a card and scribbling on the back.
"Why don't you head on over to the Cath. You all look like you could use a
drink or five, and maybe some greasy pub food to boot."

Seldom's eyes brightened, and the rest of them started murmuring, but he
shook his head. "We're all poor graduate students, remember?"

I rolled my eyes. "I remember. Here." I handed him the card. "Give that to
the bartender, and get as smashed as you like." The murmuring reached a
fever pitch.

Seldom clutched the card like it was more valuable than money--which,
after a fashion, it was--and the gaggle started moving again, making
noises of profuse thanks.

"You're welcome. Oh, one thing?" I called back. They held up and waited
expectantly. I gestured toward the offices on the second floor. "What
happens in the library...?"

"Stays in the library," Seldom said, and they all nodded.

"Good. Off with you, then." They made tracks.

I slipped inside the library and got up to Judy's office. Even through the
door I could hear Nancy's muffled shouting, and some quiet answering from
Judy. It wasn't until I heard Valerie's name that things began to snap
into focus. Oh, for crying out loud, was that what this was about? They'd
both take it as a blessing if I interrupted, and it would probably be a
public service and on my permanent record for good karma.

"And they say people like us get involved in fantasy lives because our
real lives are boring," I said. Both of them turned to me, angry and
relieved at the same time. Nancy reacted first, pulling me into a hug. I
returned it and gave one to Judy, as well.

"How much did you hear?" Judy asked. She was settling down, getting her
masks and faces back in place. Nancy was doing the same.

"That's not what you want to know," I said. "You don't care how much I
heard--you want to know how much your pride of researchers heard."

"Pride?" said Nancy, pushing the light banter a bit too far, but who
cared. "Nah. Maybe a destruction."

"At least a shrewdness," Judy said, getting into the game.

"Long as it's not a murder," I said, "and speaking of that, I don't think
they heard anything too bad. And I sent them off to the Cath to run up my
tab, on the promise that they don't spread stories, so I'll be billing you
for emergency repairs to the Masquerade."

They both breathed a sigh of relief at that. "Thanks," said Nancy. She
turned to Judy. "Are we good?"

Judy nodded shortly. I saw Nancy wince, and I didn't blame her--Judy had
pulled the same thing on me when we were together. It meant "yes, for now,
but we will be returning to this topic later." Judy can compartmentalize
like nobody's business.

Time to change the topic, fast. "I originally came by because of those
pictures of Mina. Jamie linked me to them."

They both rolled their eyes. "I don't know what she was thinking," Nancy
said.

"I have an idea," Judy replied, but refused to speculate further.
"Besides, she's onto something new."

"Another one?" I asked. "This girl goes through more crises of public
image in a week than some people in their entire lives."

"Yeah, well," said Nancy, "she's got one of those personalities. Plus, she
has a reputation to maintain...whatever has the Internet in a whirl this
week, she feels obligated to weigh in on. This one might get her burned,
though..."

Not my best, I'm afraid, but I want to keep it current. And I like some of it.
 
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