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07 October 2013 @ 06:16 am
FIC: Crown and Lance, 1/1  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: Crown and Lance
Part: 1/1
Rating: R
Configuration: /
Warnings: /
Word Count: 2900
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index and the Phoenicipedia
Characters: Bobby Dover, Mother G'dina
Summary: Finally having found a proper little job that does not involve sexual intercourse, Bobby is visited by an unlikely acquaintance from the ghetto...
Feedback: Yes, please!





Laughing, Bobby winked at the elderly woman he had just helped into her massive fur coat. In return, she gave him a slightly reproachful but glowing smile and waddled out of the cafe.

He turned back to her table and started gathering up the dishes, only to find a 20-credit note neatly tucked underneath the gold-rimmed saucer. Apparently, this was going to be one hell of a profitable day.

With a contend smile, Bobby continued cleaning up her table, returned the dishes to the kitchen and laid out a new set of starched linens for the next customer.

He had only started working here at the 'Crown and Lance' three weeks ago, but he was already wondering why in all the Empire he hadn't thought of this years ago.

The 'Crown and Lance' was a glorified pastry shop and coffee house, and while the baked goods were barely better than average, it had one thing that set the shop apart from all other competition - class. Located just a little down the road from the palace in Bellingham, it managed to look like a place where nobles would want to shop. Brightly lit, impeccably clean, with gilded scrollwork and wine-red lacquer, the shop looked pretty much like a jewel box, and the pastries were presented with such pomp and reverence that they might just be jewels after all. The waiters and staff all wore elaborate red-and-gold liveries, and of course the 'Crown and Lance' was the appointed purveyor for all things pastry for all relevant local nobles.

For most of his life, Bobby had ignored the shop. But after his talk with Vian a few weeks ago, he had started thinking. The shop was already half a step closer to nobles than he would have liked. But the prices were ridiculously high, and that meant the tips would be, too.

So he had started talking with some of the staff of the shop, and before long he had the first job interview in his life. At least, the first job interview where he got to keep his clothes on.

Not having any clue about waiting had been much less of a problem than Bobby had feared. He was nimble enough so he didn't fall over his feet, and whenever he flunked something, he knew how to be charming enough so it didn't matter. A little miffed at his 'luck' with his customers, his colleagues had started giving him the difficult ones, only to find out that he could wrap them around his little finger in no time, too.

If there was one thing Bobby was good at, it was being charming.

Of course, it helped that the red of the liveries didn't clash with the red of his hair, and that Mandy had proven amazingly skilled at 'correcting' the cut of Bobby's standard livery until it fit like a glove. Even though the other girls and boys serving at the 'Crown and Lance' were anything but ugly, compared to Bobby, they looked like daisies next to a rose.

This shop was full of elderly people with too much money and not enough fun, and Bobby had all intention of relieving them of as much money as possible, even if that meant smiling until his face hurt. It still beat most other options by a mile.

And on some days, the pay was almost as good as the one he could get when while working on his back for Julio Mostarda.

"Bobby?" One of the girls working in the kitchen stopped him when he returned to the station for some more cutlery. "There's some Youh'Kai hobo in the backyard, insisting to talk to you."

"And?"

"Well, she's making quite a fuss, and I think if you know anything about that, you should go down and sort it out before they call the police."

Bobby really wasn't in the mood to give up a single minute of his shift for some Youh'Kai throwing a tantrum between the garbage containers. Time was money, literally. But on the other hand, a Youh'Kai 'hobo' could be anyone not dressed like a rich commoner, so there was a good chance it actually might be someone he knew.

"Did she give a name?"

"Yeah, but it was just some alien stammering, not a proper name." The girl tried to remember for a moment, but then shrugged. "Really no idea. But she does seem to know you."

"How so?"

"I..." The girl blushed and looked away. "She was using words I really shouldn't repeat. She was getting quite abusive."

Bobby wasn't quite sure if he ought to feel insulted or amused. People who knew him used words that weren't suitable for polite company. My, who would have thought? In the end, he decided not to care, and just shrugged.

"Please tell Minka to cover my tables for a moment," he told the girl. "I'll be right back."

She nodded and slipped away to talk to another waitress currently on shift, one that surely wouldn't mind helping him out for a while.

Swiftly, Bobby used the maze of narrow corridors to get to the rear of the building and into the backyard. Even in the hallway that led to the back door, he could already hear an elderly woman kick up a racket, her raspy voice hurling insults so creative they made even Bobby blush.

Stepping out into the courtyard, he found the scene almost exactly as he had expected.

Mother G'dina was standing right in the middle of everything, surrounded by two burly coachmen and one of the bakers, trying to get her off grounds. On the sidelines, a gaggle of waitresses and kitchen staff were looking on, fascinated and appalled in equal measure. It was hilarious to see how that frail, tiny woman was able to cow all these people into cautious reluctance by using nothing but her barbed tongue. They treated her like a rabid dog.

"Hey guys, cut it!" Bobby yelled, waiting until he had everyone's attention. "I'd be careful around her, her curses might actually work. I'll handle this."

The coachmen stepped aside with a mocking gesture, apparently looking forward to see that posh boy in his livery getting ripped apart by the smelly alien hobo crone. But nothing of that sort happened.

"Mother G'dina," Bobby greeted the priestess of Khastai with a respectful bow. "We are honored by your visit."

The old Youh'Kai let out a cackling laughter. "Well, obviously not all of you."

"It's still an honor, if they see it or not."

Again, she laughed, this time sounding a little surprised.

"You little silver-tongued devil. You are getting really good at this." Giving a wry glance at the men standing next to her, she added: "Can we talk?"

"Yes, but not here." Nodding politely at all the other folks in the courtyard, Bobby walked over to her. Pointing at the filthy-looking bundle on the ground next to her, he asked: "Can I help you with that?"

"Nah. Would only get your fine clothes dirty."

With a wiry strength that seemed incongruous with her crooked bearing, she hauled the bundle up onto her shoulders and started walking towards the gate that let out onto the back alley. Everyone in the courtyard gave her a wide berth, relieved at not having to touch her.

Bobby followed, using the moment to take a renewed look at his companion. The last time he had seen Mother G'dina had been at last year's Nach'Tarr's Night celebrations, where she had been offering ba'ata to the Youh'Kai in the ghetto. In the murky dark, she had looked like a mutilated creature right out of some horror movie, and the bright daylight didn't do anything to dispell that impression. If possible, it even enhanced the deep unease her looks evoked.

Mother G'dina wore a dirty blouse over an ancient wraparound skirt that had lost any color it might have possessed a long time ago. Her feet were bare, dirty and calloused, her skin pale blue all over. Her white hair was bound into thick dreadlocks except for her shaved forehead, faintly yellow from age.

But the really unsettling details only appeared the longer Bobby watched her. Her fingers and toes were missing several digits, her bone ridges were not carved but jagged and mutilated, almost butchered. Scars were covering almost every bit of her skin, some decorative, other not, scraggly tattoos scrawling across them in places. Her nostrils were perforated, her teeth filed down to different shapes or even drilled in patterns.

Bobby had to turn his head away to stop staring.

No wonder the folks at the 'Crown and Lance' had called her a hobo. Hell, for all he knew, Mother G'dina could be sleeping on the street for real. At least, she did smell like it.

They were barely out of earshot when she remarked:

"Those people you are working with are idiots."

"So." Bobby shrugged. "Does that make them better or worse than the rest?"

"Just the same." Her small eyes sparkling, Mother G'dina grinned. "You are not really planning on working here for the rest of your life, are you?"

"Oh, good lord, no! It's just a way to earn money now that I am out of school." The thought was so absurd Bobby had to laugh out loud. Feeling G'dina's questioning look, he added: "I plan on moving to P2. I have met someone living there, and we... I think he is the dragon. You know, the one Nach'Tarr was talking about."

"No, I don't know," she replied acerbically. "You didn't tell me what he told you, because I asked you not to."

"Oh, right."

For a moment, Bobby was unsure what to say. He really wanted to talk to G'dina about what happened with Vian. After all, she would be the only one not thinking him crazy for assuming that there was any shred of truth in that prophecy, or whatever it had been.

"Now come on, tell me about him," G'dina finally egged him on. "I can stand it."

"He said my life would depend on my answer to the dragon's question," Bobby told her. "And I think I have met that dragon."

"So what did you answer?"

"I said yes," Bobby replied, grinning. "I agreed to date him. Twice, by now."

"But you have no idea if that was THE question."

"Not even remotely."

Mother G'dina didn't answer, at least, not in words. But her look was sympathetic, understanding, and mildly amused at the absurdity of it all. She understood him. She didn't ask if he finally believed that it had been Nach'Tarr who had sent him a prophecy that night. Not that Bobby could have answered that particular question anyway. She didn't caution him, didn't have any smart-assed advice like any other grown-up would have had. She just looked at him, smiling faintly.

"You like him?"

"Yeah." Feeling an uncharacteristic blush welling up, Bobby instinctively looked at his feet. Thinking of Vian touched him more than he would have thought possible. It had made the decision to move to P2 really easy. Even if things didn't work out between them, P2 would be much more a place for him than Espen. They had already made plans on where to look for a place for Bobby when they had their second date a week ago, sharing the promised shrimp sandwich on the pier together. And besides, Bobby silently hoped things would work out between them, after all. At least once, he really wanted to see what that boy was able to do with his tongue.

"I really like him," Bobby concluded his silent reminiscence.

"That's good." Again, she nodded encouragingly. "Just make sure he treats you right."

"Oh, I am sure he will." There it was again, that odd, nervous feeling in his chest when he thought of Vian's ears, twitching insecurely. "He'll be a Phoenix Knight, one day."

Mother G'dina just stared at him, her face frozen halfway between gently mocking disbelief and genuine surprise. After a long moment, she asked in barely more than a whisper:

"We are talking about Vian, son of Colin, here, aren't we?"

Bobby nodded, not even bothering to wonder how she knew. Probably, he wouldn't have wanted to hear that answer, anyway.

Mother G'dina in return gave a snorting chuckle, a sound both surprisingly ugly and genuine.

"And here I stand like a doddering old woman, telling you to be careful. I really should have known better." Setting her bag down with a sigh, she stopped walking and straightened her skirt in a futile gesture of grooming. "The gods have plans with you, Bobby Dover, and I really should stop presuming I could help or hinder in any way."

"Would you believe me if I told you that you do help?" Bobby asked instantly. "You're weird and ugly, but you're also the only grown up I think I can talk to. I like you. I trust you."

Visibly touched, G'dina harrumphed something unintelligible. Then, giving Bobby a sidelong glance, she added: "Humans. There really is no end to the ways you can surprise."

Bobby just shrugged.

"Did you just come over to say hello or was there anything special?"

"Right!" Diving into a sidepocket of her bag, she rummaged around for a moment and came back with a small vial of a startlingly green liquid. "I got tired of waiting for you. I am good enough now, and I am not getting any younger."

"Good enough at what?"

"Tattooing." Grinning widely and exposing much more of her mutilated teeth than Bobby had ever wanted to see, G'dina positively beamed at him. "We talked about that last Nach'Tarr's Night. You said whenever I got good enough, you would let me tattoo you."

"I don't think I recall the same conversation as you do..." Bobby started politely, but already after a few seconds of hard staring, G'dina started paddling backwards.

"Right, not exactly that way. But I AM good, now. Good enough to do you justice. And I'd really love to work on you. I even found the right color!" Shaking the little vial again, she volunteered: "I tested it on a few other humans, and the color turns just like your eyes once inside the skin, and there were basically no side effects."

In a way, Bobby was completely charmed by Mother G'dina's blunt attempt of selling him her plans. Not that he needed any sort of convincing. He had seen enough Youh'Kai body art to know that if nothing else, it looked dastardly striking. And if there was a genuine priestess of Khastai telling him she was good enough for the job, how much better could it possibly get?

Still, for the sake of the moment, he just had to leave her dangling a moment longer.

"Side effects?" he asked, cocking an eyebrow, knowing perfectly well she wouldn't want to lie to him.

"Yeah, well, you know, nothing serious." Squirming a little, she finally admitted: "I should take some extra precautions when I work on you. You know, clean tools, disinfectants. A shower, maybe. You humans are so sensitive."

"That would be most kind of you, mother," he replied, only partially mocking.

"So you agree?"

"You had me the moment you asked."

"Want to see my designs?" The look on her face was half insecure, half testing.

"I said I trust you." Bobby replied honestly. "And I mean it."

Mother G'dina nodded, apparently deeply satisfied. "It'll take quite a while."

"I have the mornings off. So as long as we can work in short sessions, we should be fine."

"It'll hurt."

Bobby only cast her a wry glance.

"It'll hurt more than a normal tattoo. A lot more."

"Will it be worth the pain?"

Mother G'dina's face split in a beaming grin as if he had just called her the most beautiful woman in the Empire.

"Yes, every bit." Bowing her head deeply in an oddly humble gesture, she added: "I swear by my honor."

"Then it will be a fair price to pay." Nodding to each other in a way Youh'Kai sealed agreements, much like humans would shake hands, Bobby felt his heart pound in his chest. "But talking about payment - I can't give you much."

This time, G'dina snorted derisively. "As if I cared about money."

"It's not about money," Bobby replied. "It's about gratitude and respect for your work."

"I am not a craftsman. I am a priestess." Painting wild, mystical gestured into the air, G'dina chuckled at her own joke. "Well, and maybe a little bit of an artist."

She returned the vial to it's corner of her bag, then she returned her attention to Bobby.

"You will wear my work on your body, probably long after I have passed away. My work will accompany you on your travels, and everyone who looks at you can respect my good work. Taking money is for tattooing butterflies or soccer club crests. I fully intend on making a work of art out of you." With a dirty little chuckle, she added: "At least, a little more of an artwork than mother nature has made you."

"Oh."

Knowing that there was neither flattery nor bragging in her little speech, Bobby was at a complete lack of words. Well, maybe he could say one thing.

"Thank you, Mother G'dina."

"Nah, thank me when it's finished." With a conspiring smile, she shouldered her bag again. "I'll let you know when I found a room close by that's clean enough for this kind of work, and discrete enough for the two of us."

"I'll be ready."

"Good." Nodding goodbye, she started to walk away, but then turned around and grinned at him over her shoulder. "We're going to have so much fun!"



 
 
 
Charischarisstoma on October 7th, 2013 05:04 am (UTC)
This is one of one. We don't know where on his body she's going to tattoo or if it turns out okay. You can't leave us like this. *Wailing*
If his face is tattooed then it might affect if he can work where he is now or on P2.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on October 7th, 2013 06:48 am (UTC)
We will learn how his tattoo worked out in the next installment of Bobby's stories, 'Wheels', when he is already on P2.

All I can tell you now is that it's not disfiguring, though it WILL have consequences for his future jobs. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just saying... ^^
Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainenmissingkeys on October 7th, 2013 09:44 am (UTC)
Ooer, that's intriguing. I can't wait to find out where he gets tattooed!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on October 7th, 2013 04:21 pm (UTC)
I think the dirty details will have to wait until Vian unwraps him for the first time... ^^

But you can bet it's intriguing!
Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainenmissingkeys on October 7th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
Hehehehe. Well, I wouldn't miss that for the world. :)
Meridaemeridae on October 8th, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)
Oooh, we get to see that bit, right? Vian unwrapping him?? YAY! Bet Vian's a virgin. MUWAHAHAHAH.
Beryllrynthjan on October 8th, 2013 05:23 am (UTC)
Considering that Wayne is Vian's pet and that Vian has been fucking him silly... not very likely :p
Meridaemeridae on October 8th, 2013 05:27 am (UTC)
You know that's kinda like EWWWW. Wayne is Bobby's BROTHER!! EWWWWWWW! And it makes it weird that he's so shy and naïve around Bobby - he could just buy Bobby and skip the whole dating thing.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on October 8th, 2013 11:30 am (UTC)
Well, Vian IS a Dracon, so he doesn't care about them being brothers. If at all, that's a definite plus in his eyes. Bobby wouldn't mind a threesome either, little slut that he is, but Wayne wouldn't EVER. ^^

Vian being so shy and naive around Bobby has a very simple reason - he has honorable intentions. Literally.
So even while he knows quite a lot about anything concerning physical love including several things even he didn't want to know, being in love is a completely different beast in his eyes. :)
Meridaemeridae on October 8th, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)
YAY! Bobby has a job where he can use his talents without degrading himself (unless he wants to hehehe) and can be just for Vian and now he's going to move to P2 and he and Vian will get MARRIED and have happy little foxy-dragon-dracon babies!!

Hey, wasn't Yaden heir to the Dukedom of Pandora? Who gets to be Duke now? Shouldn't he get money from that?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on October 8th, 2013 11:32 am (UTC)
Yeah well, their happily ever after will still take quite a while, but we're getting there. Promised.

And about Yaden - he's the fourth son of the Duchess of Pandora, so unless something really tragic happens to his siblings and their children, there's no title for Yaden in the future and no cash coming from that direction.
Milady OMlady_om on October 11th, 2013 03:04 am (UTC)
Ha, you really like prophesies, don't you? And some weird old lady delivering cryptic non-clues... :)

I'll be a voice of reason here and I'll say that blindly accepting a (permanent) body modification from an alien who might as well be (a little) insane is, well, unadviseable. Yeah, I guess I am old :(
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on October 11th, 2013 07:23 am (UTC)
Well, if being cautious makes you old, then we're both old together. ^^

Yes, Bobby is quite reckless in accepting her offer, but on the other hand, he doesn't have the highest opinion of himself and doesn't think he has any chances to blow. So wrong, he is. :)

And yes, knowing what's in store for Bobby makes me giggle every time I read / write about his weird prophesy and how it ties in with everything else. And for me, that's most of the fun I have in writing this whole series.

I just re-read 'The Kebab Killer' the other day, and now with so many more stories posted and so many cross-connections 'visible', it was a whole different read even to me and so much fun. I am really looking forward to reading this again in a few years from now and laughing and pointing at other stories. :D

BerthaBlueberthablue on February 10th, 2014 11:13 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, mysterious alien tattoos! Sign me up!

I like the way that Bobby is able to charm people. He's so sweet and respectful... it will make him a very nice husband for a Phoenix Knight one day :)
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 5th, 2014 07:47 am (UTC)
Hmm... somehow I lost the notification of you commenting... sry for the laaaate reply.

None the less: YES! And you know what Vian is going to love especially about his husband? He's going to be even more famous than Vian. :)