A catch up post from June
Another Saturday Third Thursday Short! This is another one of my experiments from last year’s Nanowrimo Short Story challenge. The prompt was a fanfic meet cute AU idea, where character A’s cat is constantly escaping the apartment and running to character B. Of course, character A has a crush on character B.
So I made a Sex in the City style chick lit meet cute. With dragons. Because you always need dragons! I could probably get this down to 1000 words, but I love all the bits too much. So, gentle readers, you get a 2000 word short!
Dragons and the City
It isn’t the most awful day in existence, yet, but it is going above and beyond to compete. My coffee maker was broken when I got up this morning, but it still tried to make coffee, which meant that I had cold caffeinated slurry spreading in a sea down my counter and onto the floor. I had to clean that up, because otherwise Fandal would eat it, and no one wants an over-caffeinated, bored dragon in their tiny apartment all day. By the time I was done, I only had time to toss some dragon-proof puzzle toys on the floor.
The less said about work the better. I didn’t have time to get to the break room for coffee, much less anything so luxurious as lunch. I should have remembered about the taxi strike before I chose the spike heels.
In a rare bright spot to the day, the fairies in marketing downstairs were cleaning out last year’s items, and they actually had some flats in my size. I found out why they were giving them away as I shivered my way home.
“Stupid day. Stupid work.” I shove my keys into the lock, my feet a bare, sticky, slurry mess. “Stupid fairy fashion. Stupid fairy shoes made out of stupid spun sugar.”
“I’m sorry, that is not the correct pass ward.” The mechanical tones of my warden sound from inside the locking mechanism. “Please say the correct pass ward, or you will be frozen in place while the police are summoned.”
“I’m already frozen in goddamn place, you harpy.” I struggle to push my hair out of my face. One day. One mystical day, I will have the time to actually get it cut.
“I’m sorry, that is not the correct pass ward. Please say the correct-”
“Fine, you bitch,” I sigh, leaning against the frame of the door. “Fandalrox2345!, capitol F, 4 for the a, E for the 3, exclamation point.”
“Thank you, Mimanda, and welcome home. The Warden would like to remind you that using the name of a pet in your pass ward makes it not secure. You have thirteen and a half days to register a new pass ward with the Warden, before you will have to reregister this property with the police.”
“Yeah, I know. Any incidents today?” I haul myself up from the wall, dragging my bag back over my shoulder.
“System registers no incidents. Have a good evening.” The lock clicks and my door swings open.
Fandal doesn’t dive bomb me. It’s not everyday that the little scamp flies straight at me when I come home, but when he doesn’t, it’s always because he’s Done Something Wrong. I drop my bag by the door to dry out and close the door with one frozen foot. Right. Priorities. Dry off, get slippers and a robe, then find out what the dragon has done.
I glance at the kitchen on the way to the bathroom, but everything seems intact as I pass. Funny. That’s usually Fandal’s first port of destruction. I try not to think about it as I run a towel over my hair and body, stripping and pulling on the fuzziest pj bottoms I own. I don’t have the money yet for the charmed towels, so my hair doesn’t dry instantly, and I pull it up into a terry cloth turban. Unicorn slippers and a man’s oversized university hoodie complete my ensemble. The turban slips as I pull the hoodie over my head. Of course.
“Fandal? Where are you?” I call out from the middle of a mess of terry cloth.
Not even a peep. I duck down to check under the bed, but there’s no tiny gold dragon terrified of my wrath. I don’t even know what I should be wrathful about. I will find it, though. Not in the bedroom. Not in the bathroom. Huh. Of all the rooms, Fandal usually leaves the living room alone. He knows that the couch is Sacred Space, and besides the living room has all his perches. But the living room is still clean. Not a burn mark in place. The toys are still scattered on the floor.
Fandal isn’t in the apartment.
Before I can panic, there’s a knock on my door. I rush over, slippers skidding on the worn linoleum. I fling open the door before I can even think about how I look. One more mistake to add to my tally.
It’s Number 47c. The stunning redhead who’d held the elevator for me while I was moving in. She had legs that refused to go unnoticed. I’d know. Not that I don’t look for more in my romantic partners, but I tend to notice the upper half of a woman’s charms before wanting to watch her leave. Her skin is a smooth mahogany brown, all the more striking with her slitted blue cat eyes. She’s had some mixed ancestry in her past. On her, it looks fantastic. Mine gave a pale complexion that looks more ill than ethereal, and I sparkle like an idiot under the light of the moon.
I’m horribly aware of just how much this day is stamped over everything about me. The first time she saw me, I was bright silver and sweating, attempting to juggle three boxes and activate the elevator with my foot. Fandal had been screeching bloody murder in my ear, hungry and not caring if the whole world knew it.
I might have made a better impression then than now.
I’m so caught up in how frumpy I feel that I don’t notice Fandal until he launches himself at my face. Fortunately, I am used to this. I duck under red splotched wings and get a hand around his belly as he passes over my head.
“Where have you been, you absurd creature?” For a long moment, we are simply caught up in checking each other over. Well, Fandal may not be checking so much as searching for treats, but that’s fine. He’s a dragon, not much you can do there.
I’m busy trying to force his tail out of my face when I remember that 47c is still standing on the other side of my threshold. I turn a grateful look upon her. Which is, of course, when the ability to word packs up its bags and heads for greener shores. She’s so pretty.
She also takes pity on me. “He came over last night, really late. I thought it best not to bring him back right away, but then you left so early this morning. I asked my warden to let me know when you got home. When did you give me access to yours?”
God, but her voice is silk next to the skin. Then I actually hear what she is saying. I close my eyes, remembering that drunken night I decided she should know about me. I believe it was something like-
An electronic whir. “Access was granted to ‘that flame kissed chick dow’ th’ hall, you know, th’ one w’ the legs’ at three forty seven a.m. on April the 14th. Level one access, incident reporting, granted. Level two access, entry, still pending confirmation.” My warden is so helpful. She even got my drunken slur spot on.
I’m lighting up the whole hall silver with my blush. 47c stares at my warden with a smile playing around the corners of her lips. It’s a good look on her. Everything is, really, but I can’t tell if she’s laughing at me or the warden. Wait.
“You said there were no incidents!” My voice comes out choked and high, but the warden recognizes it.
“There have been no unauthorized entrances or exits.”
I can only squawk at the warden. 47c takes pity on me.
“But her dragon got out, warden. Please explain.”
“Authorized exit for one Fandal, dragon, granted at two seventeen on August 12th.”
Now both of us stare at the warden. Fandal squirms his way onto my shoulders and whistles at the warden, a series of notes rising and falling in a very specific pattern.
“Access granted, Fandal, dragon.”
“You little bastard.” I can hardly speak around my shock.
47c throws back her head and laughs, deep and full. “Sounds like you’ve got a smart little one there. It certainly explains why he’s been visiting so often.”
“Oh god. Sorry.”
“No worries. I enjoy his company.”
I duck my head, burying my burning face under the wing of my irrepressible scamp. The little dragon huffs and curls himself up in the hood, his favorite perch when I’m feeling like a slob.
Which leaves me staring at 47c. Great. At the same moment we realize that we are standing like lumps on either side of the threshold. Or, at least, I realized it, and she starts to shift away. It’s possibly the only thing that could open my throat and release my words.
“Coffee? Want? For thanks?” God, just kill me now.
“Yes.” The agreement comes almost before I finish tripping over my tongue.
It makes me smile. I turn slightly to let her in. She pauses right before stepping in.
“Are you sure?” For the first time, she looked unsure. “I thought, maybe, a shop?”
I curl my toes inside the slippers. There’s still a bit of sugar slurry stuck between my toes, and I can feel it sticking to the fuzz. It’ll take me at least an hour to make me feel enough of a person to leave my apartment. But coffee? Coffee I can do here.
“Then I thank you.”
I lead the way to the kitchen, gripping the neck of the hoodie when the movement causes Fandal to slip further down my back. The little dragon spots the puzzle toys I tossed out this morning and nearly takes my head off when he launches himself at them. Which is, of course, when I remember.
“No coffee.” I turn to 47c, glowing bright as the moon.
“My machine broke this morning. I’m so sorry. Maybe I can get a rain check?”
Fortunately, 47c seems to take it better than I can have possibly hoped for. “Very well. Next Friday, then?”
“It’s a date.”
I gather all the courage of a girl more prone to snuggling with her dragon than with her crush. “Or, you know, you could stay. Watch Fandal in his home environment?”
“Watch Fandal, huh? Would that be the only reason to stay?”
She’s looking at me out of the corner of her eye, and that’s a definite smile on her face. Flirting. This is definitely flirting.
I’m feeling smooth and confident, so of course, what comes out of my mouth is, “Well, Fandal probably at least knows your name. I don’t remember it, if you ever told me.”
47c turns to stare at me, and I want to bury my head under my pillow. This day. This horrible, awful, no good, very bad day. I want a reset button on my life. But then she throws back her head for another of those throat rumbling laughs.
“I’m pretty sure I don’t know yours either, come to think of it. I’ve been calling you ‘dragon lady’.”
“Hi, 47c. I’m dragon lady.” I grin, rubbing a hand over the back of my head. Too late, I remember the turban that is my hair. I manage to catch it before I am drowned in terry cloth tangles. Again.
“Perhaps we’d better go sit in the other room, before a true disaster strikes. I’m Ami. Nice to meet you.”