"Don't you have some other business to attend to?" Keats asked, never looking up from his typewriter. He knew the machine so well in fact that he really needn't look at what keys he pressed. But it helped in feigning disinterest.
"The denizens of Warcadia have settled, for now. There is not much for me to do but wait until another problem arises." Ellen called from the kitchen. She stood next to the stove, waiting for the kettle to boil. Unlike the last time he saw her, Ellen was dressed in her Cloak of the Midnight Sun, all white and pristine. The sentimental feelings towards her old black jacket and red skirt outfit was expertly pushed away from the mind of the writer.
"And so you've decided to distract me from my work, eh?" Her company was a distraction as much as Belgae's whenever the invisible Half Life graced the office with his presence. At least the latter proved to be interesting company.
"I wanted to talk. At least I bought tea," she answered with a smile. His brash attempts of disinterest never seemed to sway the messenger.
"It would've been better if you had bought me a story. That way I'd at least gain something from this."
"Would you like me to tell you about the Warcadia denizens and their troubles?" For a moment, Keats hesitated in his writing.
"Fine," he sighed. "It might prove to be useful."
Ellen smiled warmly before she began. As she talked, accentuating her story with fluttery hand gestures and dramatic pauses, Keats typed. Not a word of his notes incorrectly spelled. She spoke of harsh troubles and small victories that were had. By the time the story was done, Keats' fingers were stiff and Ellen's voice felt weak.
"So, is that a good enough story?" The journalist bit back a smirk at the hopefulness of her tone.
"It should be alright, nothing front page worthy. But it'll print. Thank you." Again, the young woman smiled as if his thanks was a significant achievement.
"That's great!" Her smile was so warm, in fact, that it melted any snarky reply that Keats could have possibly voiced. His lips twitch in an almost grin.
"Well," he began, once again hiding behind his disinterested facade and looked back to his typewriter. "If that's all you've got then I'll get back to work. I'm sure that I don't need to show you where the door is."
"Of course not," Ellen agreed and Keats could hear the smile in her voice. "I'll see you later."
The office was eerily quiet after the door closed behind her. For a while, his typing continued without incident. But when he reached for his tea and found it cold, he was stopped by a small pang of guilt for forgetting the tea she had made him. But only for a moment. It was Ellen's fault for distracting him with her tale in the first place.
Three weeks passed and Keats had finished the story Ellen had given him. As well as Fir Darrig's story on the fight between himself and a Faery. It turned out to be a humorous piece at least.
But now he was working on what he thought of as his personal piece. The story of a young woman looking for her mother, looking for her lost memories. He had wanted to publish it sooner but he never felt like it was ready. Like it was right. Also, he still hadn't even finished it yet. He was only up to the court of the Hellrealm where he had saved her. The memory of that spider-judge put Keats off. But Keats was a professional.
He was about to continue writing about his fight when a knock at his door came. He heaved a sigh. Distractions were not what he needed right then.
"Come in," he called despite his internal objections. The door opened but Keats still didn't look away from his typewriter. It could've only been one of two people. He didn't have to wait long for an answer.
"Hello Keats!" Ellen said. "Still writing I see."
"It's my job to write so it shouldn't come as a surprise, Ellen."
"Heh, I know." She took at seat in front of his desk and crossed one leg over the other. She was wearing her Cloak of Sidhe this time. "How have things been with you?"
"Quiet." He said. "Quieter than things with you, it would seem. What new story have you bought me?"
"Well I've been in the Faery Realm. They're looking for a new leader."
"About time, the Faery King has been dead long enough. So who is up for the position?" He looked up to see Ellen smiling softly, her eyes slightly lost in thought.
"Hm?" She startled once she realized that he had looked up at her. "Oh... well many think that Bogle should be king, seeing as though he is their strongest. But not necessarily their wisest."
"I see." The journalist commented before typing once more on a new piece of paper. "Anyone else?"
"Some have suggested me."
"Do you want to be Queen?" Ellen shook her head.
"I already have a job to do. And besides, if I was Queen, I wouldn't be able to visit." That last part stopped Keats in his typing. The underlying meaning to it was not lost on him. Therefor, he chose his next words carefully.
"I guess if you were Queen, you could do what you wanted. But you don't want to be Queen, do you?"
"No, I guess not."
"Then there's no need for concern."
For a moment they said nothing as Keats began typing once more. He was just starting to forget her presence when Ellen stood up and moved towards the kitchen. He listened to her shifting things around and he knew what is was that she was doing.
"Tea?" She asked.
"Well, since you're already up and making some." He heard her laugh as she filled the kettle.
"A few even suggested that you become King."
"What a horrible prospect. The faeries would be doomed."
"Don't you have anything better to do?" Keats asked as Ellen, once again, sat in his office. "Aren't there spirits who need your help?"
"Even messengers need a break," came her reply with a slight lilt of amusement. She had the latest edition of Unknown Realms in her hands. "Besides, Scarecrow will tell me if something comes up."
"He's back, is he?"
"Mhm. I wished for a companion to come with me on my travels and one day, he appeared. So as long as I am travelling, he will exist."
"Better than your last wish, I believe."
"Heh, yes." Things became quiet as they went back to what they were doing. "Keats, can I ask you something?"
"Besides that?" He replied, sarcasm coming to him easily.
"What are you doing tomorrow night?" That was an... odd question.
"Depends. If you want me to go help spirits with you, then I am sadly busy with work. Otherwise, I am open for suggestions."
"Oh, no. It's nothing like that. I promise!"
"Fine," he sighed, leaning back in his chair. "What is it?"
"D-do you want to go to the pub in Doolin? The Bridge House Pub. We could catch up with the others, maybe get a few drinks?" For a moment, Keats just looked at her. She was nervous if her fidgeting and slight blush were any indication. But the idea wasn't bad, actually. Not bad at all. True, it had been a while since he'd seen them. And he was a Halflife like them.
"I'll see. I've got this new story I need to finalize first so I'm making no promises." The smile which Ellen gave him was too wide and cheerful to be misleading.
"Great!" Ellen gasped as she jumped out of her seat. "I"ll see you there," she called as she left.
"I didn't say that I would!" He called after her even though he knew she wouldn't be listening. With a sigh, he began working. "Looks like we'll just have to see what tomorrow brings," said the writer to no one but himself.
The pub hadn't changed a bit. Ganconer stood behind the bar with his hat and pipe while Gam and Gee sat in the corner, bickering with each other. Frizzie stood next to the fireplace, her head turned to the deer head with a smile. Keats spotted Jimmy sitting with Charlie and Fir Darrig. But there was no Ellen. Well, it was only seven and they hadn't set a specific time.
Keats adjusted his glasses before walking over to the bar.
"Well, fancy seein' you here," Ganconer greeted in what could be passed as a friendly tone. "Haven't seen ya around these here parts for a while now."
"I've been busy," was Keats' reply.
"So has young Ellen. Folks here have been missing her and you."
"Is that so?"
"Anyways, what can I get ye?"
"A bottle of your most digestible wine, please."
"Sure thing, comin' right up."
Keats mingled with other half-lives at the bar, played several rounds on the dart board with Charlie and was onto his fourth glass of wine. And still no Ellen. It was nearing an hour past the time he had arrived and Keats' patience had worn out. He bade his farewells and left the pub.
The sky was a dark blue, not yet nighttime but dark enough for the stars. He was barely a few steps out when he heard his name being called.
And of course it was Ellen. She ran down the road, dressed in her red skirt and black jacket combo that the journalist quietly favored
"You're late," he stated crassly.
"I know. I'm so, so sorry!" She was out of breath by the time she stood in front of him with her cheeks redder than he'd ever seen them. "I got held up by three Fomoire; I wasn't expecting them to show up." Again, I'm so sorry. Were you heading home?"
"Oh... I see." Some small part of Keats twinged at the sight of Ellen's defeated look and tone. He didn't know where the idea came from; he voiced it was it was forming in his own head.
"Well, seeing as I'm already out, I guess I can stay a few hours. But let's go somewhere else, hm? I've spent more than enough time in there," he said, pointing at the bar behind him. The same small part that had twinged now brightened in victory at Ellen's smile.
"Really?! Of course! Where are we going though?" She asked as she followed Keats down the road.
"Just follow me, would you. And keep up!"
Ellen followed after Keats all the way down to the beach. At random, he picked a spot and sat down; facing the ocean. It shimmered under the moonlight and any normal person would've been awed at the sight but Keats had seen plenty enough already. But that didn't stop Ellen from gazing out, starstruck. She sat next to him, her shoulder lightly pressed against his own. He didn't mind it.
"So," Keats began, leaning back on his hands. "You gonna tell me about your skirmish with the Fomoire? Might prove to be useful."
"If you say so," she replied with a slight smile that he didn't see. But he heard it.
Maybe it was minutes, maybe hours, that passed but Keats had been lulled somewhat by Ellen's story telling. She had a knack for it, if Keats did say so himself. Not as well as him, but still a knack. The thing is, that he didn't even noticed that she had stopped talking. Nor the fact that she was leaning heavily against him. He came out of his reverie by himself, slowly. When he did notice, Keats couldn't wake the poor young woman up.
"Dammit," he sighed without malice. The wind started to pick up with a cold undertone. Typical weather. After a moment of thought, Keats maneuvered himself in order to scoop Ellen up in his arms. "Let's go then," he said as he began to walk back along the beach. He wasn't entirely sure where Ellen was staying therefore Keats headed to the hut she had stayed in. Thankfully it was unlocked and that Ellen wasn't heavy at all.
Gently, Keats laid the young woman on the bed as comfortably as he could before pulling the blanket over her.
"Silly girl," he murmured, running his knuckles softly over her cheek. It was soft and warm against his own skin. Pushing his luck, and purely on a whim, Keats leaned down and pressed a kiss on her temple. "Goodnight."
It had been two months since their night on the beach and Keats had published her two stories already. He had had time to finish up the story that started it all. From the phone call to her final words.
"Oh." Belgae said, sitting in the chair Ellen usually did with the manuscript in his invisible hand.
"What's 'oh'?" Keats asked.
"This story is very telling, I must say."
"That's what stories do." Keats had a feeling that he wasn't going to like where this was going.
"But this tells me a great deal more about you than it does the actual adventure."
"Meaning?" Belgae chuckled at Keats' annoying expression.
"That you care for Ellen far more than you let on."
"And what about this story gives you that idea?"
"The way in which you write her."
"Deny it all you like," Belgae stated as he stood. He placed the manuscript right in front of Keats before tipping his hat. "But I have, as humans say, read between the lines. And the proof is in the fine print."
"Bastard," Keats called but Belgae had already left, chuckling as he did so.