“We’ve got a problem.”
Lavinia started talking as soon as she pushed open the doors to the guildpact’s chambers. The less time she gave Jace to make excuses the greater chance of him actually solving the problem and not disappearing to another world for several months.
Jace, predictably, didn’t even turn around from his desk. He often acted as if he thought Lavinia wouldn’t see him if he just didn’t move.
“One of our arresters in the undercity has gotten wind of a Rakdos performance planned for tonight. ‘The Amusing Misadventures of Buffoons without Bodies.’ It’s a…not wholly inaccurate biopic of some of the more prominent members of the Obzedat. Isperia wants us to find some decree we can use to ban the show in any public places where the ghost council might send thrulls or hire the Dimir to thwart the performance.” Lavinia strode to the bookshelf-lined wall, and began pulling down volumes relevant to the case. “The more productions we can keep in the undercity, the fewer civilian casualties we’ll have when the Orzhov and the Rakdos go at each other’s throats.”
Jace muttered something under his breath, and Lavinia paused, a book half-withdrawn from its place on the shelves. It sounded like he had said ‘faucets…’
“What was that, guildpact?”
Lavinia raised an eyebrow. Jace’s voice sounded higher-pitched than usual.
“Are you alright?”
“Fine. Sick.” He coughed, about convincingly enough for Lavinia to know he was trying to avoid work. He always put his hood up when he didn’t want to talk to anyone.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Lavinia continued do gather books. “We need an official edict by sundown, to give our sky-scribes and arresters time to have the performances moved. Here.” Lavinia dropped a pile of books by his side “If you need me to fetch any other tomes or by-laws to reference, I can-”
“Coffee…maybe something for my throat?”
Lavinia pinched her nose between her forefinger and thumb. “Fine.” He really did sound terrible. “Look these over. I’ll be back to take down the official edict.”
“Right on it! I love rules and making decisions about rules!”
Lavinia narrowed her eyes, but didn’t comment on the guildpact’s sarcasm. If he was going to be petulant, he didn’t need her help.
“I’ll be back in ten minutes. Read.” She turned and marched out of the chamber.
Jace peeked around the corner of a bookcase, scanning the room. “Ral, she’s gone!”
Ral Zarek stood up from the desk and pulled back the hood of Jace’s cloak. He was blushing furiously.
“Why didn’t you just come out and talk to her yourself?”
“I was barely dressed! You were already using my cloak as a blanket! We had about four seconds to figure out a plan! I panicked!” Jace stepped out from behind the shelves and Ral had to suppress a laugh. Jace was wearing Ral’s Izzet magewright garb, struggling under the weight of the gauntlets and the storage battery strapped across the back.
“Is that…is that my equipment?”
“It’s sewn into the clothing! Who sews lightning blasters into their clothing??”
“They’re conduits. Why did you even need to put my clothes on…?”
“I didn’t have anything else!” Jace’s face was a deep pink. “It was this or get caught in my underwear if Lavinia thought to check back here!”
Ral rolled his eyes, then rolled them again, this time taking Jace in top-to-bottom. The clothes were way too baggy on Jace, and he had done a sloppy job of doing up the front, so that his chest peeked out between the blue and red stripes. He looked like a clown.
A very cute clown, Ral mentally conceded, broadcasting the thought as loud as he could, so Jace could hardly fail to detect it.
Sure enough the telepath’s face started to redden. “Let’s…let’s go back to my chambers. We can sort this out and get into our proper clothes.” He started to peel off the sleeve.
“Well now, as long as you’ve got it on, might as well let me enjoy the view.”
Jace stuck his tongue out. “Lavinia’ll be back any minute. You need to go.”
“Kicking me out? Just like that?”
“Uh, yeah. Just like that. Unless you’d like to explain to an Azorius court why we were both in my personal chambers wearing each other’s clothes.”
“Fine. You owe me a date later, then.” Ral followed Jace behind the bookshelf. “Let me help you out of that.”
“I’m…mmph…I think I’ve got it.”
Jace did not, in fact have it. Ral’s shirt was pulled over his face, and one of the gauntlets was dangling dangerously close to the stone floor. He nearly stumbled into the frame of his bedroom door before Ral caught ahold of him.
“Hold still, or I’m taking your cloak back to Nivix with me.” He pulled Jace’s arms gently through the sleeves, careful not to be too rough with the mechanical components or with his partner.
“I’ve…I’ve got others!” Jace stumbled the rest of the way out of the magewright garb and ducked into his bedroom. “Go ahead and take them! See if I care!”
“Wait.” Ral stopped in the doorway. “Couldn’t you have just cast an illusion on Lavinia? Why did I have to skulk around like some Dimir sneak?”
“I panicked! Plus, Lavinia’s gotten pretty good at figuring out when I’m trying to fool her.” Jace avoided Ral’s eye, looking determinedly out the window as he fixed the piles of paper on his desk. “And anyways, I thought…I thought you’d look cute if you put it on.”
Ral raised an eyebrow, and let a smirk crawl over his features.
“Well? Do I?” He spread his arms and posed. The cloak was just a bit tight, but that just meant it showed off his chest and arms all the better.
“Hmmm? What’s that? I can’t read your mind, you know.”
Ral smirked, and took a mental note of Jace’s face. That would get him through the next couple meetings with the Firemind this week.
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