“This is weird...” Parker starts to say, staring at something on her phone that Lairre can’t see from this angle, across the cafe’s small table. For a witch who routinely changes her entire personality to be saying something is ‘weird’ to the very-corporeal ghost of a 400-year-old nun, Lairre gets the feeling whatever it is, it’s going to be a bit stranger than their everyday fare. Parker glances up from the screen. At least, Lairre thinks she does – it’s hard to tell, with those sunglasses she insists on wearing everywhere, as part of the latest persona. “Do you moonlight as a folklore professor?”
“No?” It’s Lairre’s turn to look puzzled. “I mean, I could, if I wanted to – if this whole ‘saving the world’ thing goes under, and I had to get a real job. I imagine I’d know more than enough... but no, I don’t. Why?”
“Well, you know that podcast I’m looking into? The reason for this whole ‘woman of mystery’ construct?” Parker begins.
“Is that mystery ‘how much did she have to drink, last night’?” Lairre can’t help say, thinking that the dark, round shades make Parker look more perpetually-hungover, than anything else. That, or like some kind of eccentric poet-type; too cool to be bothered.
“You just miss the leather,” Paker teases, and it’s entirely too true how distracting Parker was in all that tight, clinging black. And the way the smooth chill of the leather felt against Lairre’s bare skin – especially when Parker was beneath her, or straddled on top of her. "Anyway, there’s this folklore expert they interview sometimes, on the podcast. At first, I thought it was just the voice – but I looked her up, and she’s a complete ringer for you.”
Parker shows her the image; a picture attached to a staff biography, on a university’s webpage. A Dr. Eleanor Peck, who really does look strikingly similar what Lairre sees when she looks in a mirror (or, into Parker’s sunglasses, right at this moment.) The hair’s a bit different – slightly longer, and little darker in shade – but that’s all.
“Oh,” Lairre realizes, with a touch less surprise than Parker had probably been expecting. “So, that’s why you get to attempt to divert an apocalyptic summoning ritual, and I have to go deal with something that’s ‘maybe a pixie’ in a Cornish bakery. That won’t even matter, if the entire world as we know it ends, and I’m not bitter about being sidelined like this at all...”
She was, of course. Had been, since hearing their assignments. Hadn’t been quiet about it, either, but... to no avail. At least it made a shade of sense now, though. Why it would probably just complicate things a lot more than they needed to be, if she’d been seen by that podcaster Parker was supposed to meet tomorrow.
“So, you already know about her? What is she, a distant relative? Are you her great-great-great cousin, forty-times removed?” Parker wonders, studying the picture on her phone for another long moment.
“Something like that,” Lairre says, between sips of coffee. “She’s new news to me, but it's happened before, a few times."
“What, multiple women who look like you? Well, that's all a bit Orphan Black."
"I know - that's what I thought." But, it isn't any kind of big conspiracy. As far as she knows. This sort of thing just sometimes happens. She imagines, four-hundred years ago, there may have been some random woman who looked a bit like Parker, too. Probably.
“Interesting family connection, though – she studies ghosts. You are a ghost.”
“I’ll be sure to mention that to her, if we ever meet. I can see that going down well. ‘Hi, we look exactly alike – only, I’m sometimes sort-of dead’.”
After a moment's preoccupation with finishing the last of a square of some kind of clingfilm-wrapped pastry, Parker asks, curious, "Have you met any of the others?"
"I never got the chance. The two I know about - there's no trace of them, anymore," Lairre muses. One was connected to Pleasant Green. She knows that much. But, as no one she's ever spoken to in the Department knows exactly what happened to that place, other than 'strange numbers station' and 'spontaneously non-existant town', well...
It’s just then, that Lairre’s mobile buzzes in her pocket. She answers without thinking, because of course it’s someone at the Department, wondering why she hasn’t arrived in Cornwall yet.
“I am on my way to Cornwall, I’m just – at a petrol station,” she lies. It’s close enough to true. The truth being - Near a petrol station. At a coffee shop. Having a drink and a chat with the woman I’m dating, who I’m not on the same case as, and I’m more than a bit annoyed about that, because, really, any new recruit could handle a single pixie making trouble in a local bakery... that, might turn out to just be rats and the baker’s active imagination, anyway.
With some resigned promise of hurrying up, she hangs up the call and moves to leave –gathering the to-go-cup of coffee from the table. It’s about the type of coffee you’d expect to find in a small cafe with a view of gas pumps and lorries beyond its windows, but it’s worth finishing – considering the long drive ahead.
“Enjoy your pixie.” Parker stands, as well – drawing close. Fingers brushing over Lairre’s hip.
“If it even is,” Lairre says, admittedly doubtful. Half the reported ‘pixie activity’ in Cornwall or Devon was just some excitable and/or intoxicated person’s wishful thinking. There were, of course, real pixies in the south. Most of them just had better things to do, than flit about in the night and poke holes in someone’s flour bags. Still, if it really is a pixie, she supposes she may as well go deal with it - since she's about one of the only competent people at the Department not currently dealing with the Henry Akeley thing. Her free hand rises, to pass though Parker’s long dark hair. “Try not to let the world end, without me.”
She steals in for a kiss, before leaving. She’s found, over the past while, that it’s a slightly different experience, with each new persona. Hermione Parker was a slow, dreamy exploration. Taking her time of it. The Modesty Blaise one had a certain assertion to it all – moving with claim and skill. A little rough, in a good way. This one, whatever Parker’s calling it, feels like a promise of hidden things to come. Of new heights she could take Lairre to – right here and now – if only there were time. Time to do more than deepen what starts as a brief parting brush of lips and unlocks into so much else, as Parker’s tongue sweeps against her own.
And, if that’s how this Parker kisses – Lairre thinks, as they regretfully break – then she's in for something else, whenever they next meet up.