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“LUCRETIA!”

Lucretia rolls her eyes as an ominous series of crashes and thuds echo down the hallway towards her door, punctured by an improbable amount of shrieking and giggling.

She hardly glances up from her notebooks as Magnus appears in her doorway, followed by Lup a half second later. Magnus immediately blocks the entrance, bracing both elbows against the doorframe. Lup, screaming in mock outrage, charges for the gap under Magnus’s elbow, but he traps her with his hip and grabs her in a headlock. Lup squirms unsuccessfully for a moment, and then changes tactics. Spitting hair out of her mouth, she reaches an arm back and tickles his side. Magnus yelps and shrinks away, and Lup wrestles free at last and bursts into the room.

Lucretia determinedly doesn’t look up as Lup drapes herself over Lucretia’s shoulders.

“Luuuuu,” Lup croons in her ear. “Luce, you know how I’m your favourite person in the planar system?”

“Hey!” Magnus puffs up in protest. “Obviously I’M her favourite, she’s MY little sister!”

“Magnus, I’m only two months younger than you, and it’s been 64 cycles – I’m not sure any of us really qualify as “little” anymore,” Lucretia interjects tiredly. “Now, please tell me what the two of you want so that you can leave, and I can have some peace and quiet again.”

“Ok, well Lup—” Magnus begins, just as Lup says, “So this asshole- “

Lucretia holds up a hand for silence, and then points at Magnus.

“You have five words,” she says severely.

Magnus and Lup both mouth silently to themselves, Magnus counting on his fingers.

“Help me prove Lup wrong,” Magnus says finally.

Lup grins and holds up five fingers. “Magnus has a shit memory,” she says, ticking off the fingers as she recites. Magnus beams and offers her a high five, which she instantly returns.

Lucretia might have guessed as much. When she first signed on with the IPRE, she had expected that as the chronicler, she might be called upon to recall facts, figures, and events for the sake of monitoring and evaluating their research and impact. However, she quickly discovered that recording their mission and discoveries also meant recording an endless number of bets, contests, and competitions between nearly all members of the crew. More often than not she and her notebooks were called upon, not for the sake of research, but for the sake of settling an argument.

Being the ship’s mediator doesn’t actually bother her as much as she pretends it does. Although she could do without Lup and Taako’s 3am disputes over the exact contents of Taako’s low-country boil in Cycle 21, or Merle’s less-than-subtle attempts to bribe her for blackmail material on various crew members, the constant bickering and squabbling are nevertheless comforting to her. She was never one for competitions, but she can’t help but smile whenever the inevitable aggravated knock sounds at her door.

But open affection isn’t her style, and so she covers her mouth to hide her smile and pretends to be exasperated as she says, “What was it this time? Is it the arm wrestling match again? If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times, Magnus, Lup won fair and square. That’s not going to change, no matter how many times you ask me.”

Magnus humphs grumpily and says, “I still want a re-match, I don’t know what was in that world’s cider, but—"

“ANYWAYS what Magnus is trying to say, is that we’ve gotten into just a wee disagreement about who won the pancake eating contest in cycle 47,” Lup interrupts.

“Yeah, because I TOTALLY WON,” Magnus spoke over Lup loudly. “I ate 54, you ate 48. End of story.”

“—because I definitely won with 58 pancakes, don’t you bullshit me, Magnus Burnsides,” Lup finishes, shoving him (or rather, attempting to shove him, and instead just ineffectively throwing her body against his unyielding bulk). Magnus responds with a one-armed shove, sending her halfway across the small room.

“Ok, enough,” Lucretia says, holding her hands up. “You know the drill – eyes closed, backs turned.”

Lup and Magnus obediently close their eyes and turn around. Tired of having to continuously track down records of all of their bets, contests, and competitions scattered across dozens of notebooks, Lucretia finally designated one notebook to keep track of all records; however, ever since Taako snuck into her room and modified it so that he became the winner of every contest (including those in which he did not participate), the location of the notebook had been kept a closely guarded secret, its location known only to Lucretia.

At least, that’s the story she told them. In reality, she just slapped a glyph of warding on the inside cover and cast alarm around her desk drawer and called it a day.

“Ok, you can look,” she says, sitting back down at her desk and flipping through the pages until she reaches a page with Lup’s name printed neatly across the top. “Cycle 47…” she hums, running her finger down the page and stopping at a line titled “The Great Pancake-Eating Contest of 47.”

“The Great Pancake-Eating Contest of 47,” she reads, “Actors: Lup and Magnus. Judges: Lucretia and Merle. Pancake Chef: Taako. In which Lup and Magnus disagreed over who was capable of consuming more pancakes, and agreed to compete for the title of Pancake Eating Champion. The rules: pancakes must be cooked at an even size and density, to be determined and divided by an impartial party. (Note: final pancake size amounted to an average 4 inches in diameter). The pancakes must be consumed in one sitting, with no more than 1 minute between the completion of any given pancake(s). Pancakes may be eaten with or without toppings, at the discretion of the consumer. The winner will be decided by an impartial judge or judges.

“The results-” (Lucretia notices Lup stand up a little straighter, and Magnus unconsciously takes a half step forward) “Magnus, 48 pancakes.”

Lup whoops and jumps into the air. “I fucking TOLD you—"

“Lup, 43 pancakes,” Lucretia finishes.

Lup deflates like a balloon as Magnus cackles and crows, “Magnus is the Pancake Eating Champion!”

“Wait, though,” Lup says slowly, peering at the book over Lucretia's shoulder, “if you ate 48, and I ate 43…did neither of us manage to break 50 pancakes?”

Magnus looks horrified. “You’re right! Shit, we can do better than that,” he says, rubbing his hands together, a competitive glint in his eye.

A grin was stealing across Lup’s face. She swoops in to give Lucretia a quick peck on the cheek, adding “Thanks babe, you’re the best!” before flying out the door, Magnus hot on her heels. From down the hallway, Lucretia hears Lup bellowing, “TAAKO! DEAREST BROTHER MINE, WE HAVE NEED OF PANCAKES THIS FINE AFTERNOON!”

“MAKE YOUR OWN GODDAMNED PANCAKES, I’M BUSY!” came a voice from across the ship.

“IT HAS TO BE YOU! FOR SCIENCE! BESIDES, YOURS ARE BETTER!”

“WILL EVERYONE PLEASE STOP SHOUTING AND TALK TO EACH OTHER LIKE CIVILISED BEINGS?” came an agonised yell from the other end of the ship.

Lucretia, wondering idly if she could persuade Taako to cook up a few extra pancakes for the judges, turns to a new page and, under Cycle 64, pens:

The Great Pancake-Eating Contest, Pt. II

Actors: Lup and Magnus

Judges: Lucretia and ??

Pancake Chef: Taako

In which Lup and Magnus disagreed about the results of the former Great Pancake-Eating Contest and subsequently declare a rematch...