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Five Cups of Tea

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.01 somewhere near Gibraltar

"Come now, Mr. Selim." Delilah scowled at him. "You've already travelled in a flying ship. What's the big deal? You can swim, can't you?"

Selim considered how best to phrase his objection to descending towards a ship wreck on the bottom of the sea in an (admittedly quite sturdy looking) diving bell. "It's true that I can swim, Miss Dirk, and it's also true that the prospect of travelling underwater should logically be less terrifying than that of travelling through the air, at great height. And yet - "

"Yes?" Delilah rapped her knuckles on the diving bell.

"I would have to say - "

Delilah turned and frowned at him.

"The stories about there being a giant octopus down there cause me some concern," Selim confessed.

"They're probably just stories," Delilah said. "And I'll have my swords with me. And if we stand around talking all day, you're never going to smell that two-hundred year old tea that's down there."

"It's probably gone bad by now, anyway. And tea has come a long way since then."

"Well, you know a lot more about tea than I do, so I guess you may be right about that, but don't you want to find out if there really is a giant octopus?"


.02 London

"This tea is - " Selim stared, momentarily at a loss for words. "That dress is - "

"I like the color," Delilah said. "It goes well with my eyes, don't you think? How is the tea, by the way, Mr. Selim?"

"Rather bland." Selim sighed and put down his cup. "I confess I'm a bit disappointed. But - "

"Well, I wasn't going to be wearing my swords anyway. So if we get into any trouble, I'm afraid you're going to have to deal with it on your own, Mr. Selim. I'll be just another helpless female."

Selim considered pointing out that the idea of Delilah Dirk as a 'helpless female' was utterly ridiculous, but settled for asking: "Is it likely we'll get into trouble?"

Delilah grinned at him. "One can always hope. Now, finish your tea, Mr. Selim and let's go steal back some crown jewels."


.03 an undisclosed location in Mongolia

"Are you sure this is tea?" Selim stared down into his cup suspiciously. He smelled butter, salt, more butter - a hint of plain black tea, maybe, but it was fleeting.

"I'm sure it's hot," Delilah said, shivering. "Does it really matter what it's called?"

Selim did some shivering of his own while he considered the question. "Well, we're here because a friend of yours wanted to find out if there's such a thing as a yeti. So far, we've seen bears, empty caves, people dressed like bears, snowstorms, avalanches and some animal I have no name for."

"I'm not sure if that was an answer to my question, Mr. Selim."

Selim took a wary sip. "It matters what we call things, Miss Dirk."

"Fair enough."

"I'll grant you it's pleasantly hot, though."

"Isn't it?"


.04 Boston

"A tea party?"

"There'll probably be fighting, afterwards," Delilah said. "Just wait for a bit."


.05 China

Selim sighed wistfully as the guards started in on their dinner - accompanied by a cup of tea, of course. Prisoners were not provided with tea, although they had been given some edible food, at least.

"Honestly, Mr. Selim," Delilah said, "you can't blame me for thinking that roof would hold us both."

"I don't. I'm sure you know a lot more about roofs and their weight-bearing capacity than I ever will."

"You're probably right. In Greece, or Turkey, or Paris or any other place you'd care to name, we'd be sitting down for a good meal right about now."

Selim forced himself to look away. "What do you think they plan on doing with us?"

"I'm sure I have no idea," Delilah said cheerfully.

"We did break into one of their warehouses." It had seemed a good idea at the time. "We almost got our hands on a top-secret blend." That hadn't seemed a particularly good idea at the time, but as so often happened, he'd gotten caught up in the rush of the moment.

Besides, what tea-loving person wouldn't want to uncover the secrets of Chinese tea-blending?

"They might be a bit miffed about that, yes."

"Execution, do you think?"

Delilah glanced at the guards and twisted her arms just so. "Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of us making a grand escape right now. But I suppose we could stick around if you're that curious."

"Not at all, Miss Dirk. Please, go right ahead."