This isn’t what you all were expecting, but I came up with this short story quite suddenly and thought it’d be fun to post in the mean time. It isn’t a bonus update, nor is it even canon, but hopefully you guys will enjoy it!
Elmiryn had her arm around the girl’s shoulders as Nyx settled between her legs, and the woman rested her head back on the arm rest with a satisfied sigh. The microfiber couch was a shitty dark navy one that sank in toward the back, but the warrior decided that if she were to be sucked into a furniture’s vortex, it was pleasurable to do so whilst so entangled in one so soft and warm. She closed her eyes to the fluorescent lighting, the attenuated office ceiling, and the fan blades that blurred in and out of view at the edge of her vision.
She heard the fridge shut with a loud bang.
“What the FUCK!” Quincy shouted. Elmiryn couldn’t help it. The corners of her mouth went up. “Who ate my sandwich!?” the wizard snarled next.
“I didn’t!” Nyx was quick to say. Quincy must’ve set her sights on her to become so defensive. Elmiryn could feel the girl’s back stiffen before she even sat up.
The wizard’s voice was snide. “Oh, you didn’t? You eat like a horse! Who eats five triple-patty burgers in a row?”
“Apparently I do. But I didn’t eat your sandwich.” There was a growl in Nyx’s voice now, but the warrior could feel her trembling.
She scratched the girl’s back, still content with keeping her eyes shut. “Just ignore her, kitten. Riding on a dragon’s back makes her cranky.”
“Cranky? I’m pissed! Why am I the one stuck on Praxidice’s back?” the wizard complained.
The redhead shrugged. She started to focus on the hypnotic shup-shup-shup of the ceiling fan. “Because you’re oh-so-lovable?” she said sleepily.
Quincy seemed to ignore her. “And on TOP of things, there’s a cliffhanger. A missed update, and a FUCKING cliffhanger.”
“Isn’t there always a cliffhanger?” Nyx said with a shrug.
“…Or MAYbe the author is just waiting to kill you off with a herd of disgruntled midgets?” Elmiryn muttered. Nyx snickered as she settled back against the woman.
The redhead imagined Quincy giving her the finger. “Very funny.”
Finally, Elmiryn opened her eyes. They were in a gray break room. There was a sofa chair adjacent to the couch, and a table in the center of the room. The room was equipped with a microwave, a sink, a water cooler, a vending machine filled with junk food, and a low-end refrigerator with magnets on it. The room held little color and personality save for the magnets, and the others took advantage of this liberty with:
Make-your-own-poetry magnets (“How Now Brown Cow”), Farside magnets, intellectually subversive magnets (“Prose before hos.”), singing Coke Cola magnets, feminist magnets (“I can’t believe I forgot to have children!”), fantasy magnets with half-naked fairies, and finally, a single gay porn magnet featuring a well-hung body builder. The last one was Elmiryn’s contribution. She loved the irony. The first time Paulo saw it, he’d been so distracted, he’d turned and bumped into Quincy, sending his open sandwich slavered in mayo all over the brunette’s chest. Elmiryn couldn’t stop laughing. The others tried to throw the magnet away, but she fished it out of the trash every time, and now it sat on the side of the fridge under the cabinet, where it would be least seen.
The redhead started to comb her fingers through Nyx’s hair and was met with a pleased sigh in response. “Will you relax for a second?” she said to Quincy. “We’re being given a break here.”
Quincy unbuckled her sword belt and slammed it onto the table. In the break room, they were freed from their in-story injuries, and the wizard seemed to want to take advantage of her healed shoulder by gesticulating as much as possible. “This isn’t a gods damned break for me. I’m hungry, and my sandwich is gone. That was my one comfort in this god forsaken limbo! All I can think about is what happens next in the story–!”
“If you don’t like it so much, then take it up with the author!” Nyx snapped. “For heavens sake, the way you’re acting it’s as if you got torn apart by monsters…oh wait. You didn’t.”
“Oooh,” Elmiryn giggled.
Quincy kicked a chair. “Illise couldn’t write her way out of a paper bag. Why couldn’t I come out of Robert Frost’s head!?”
“Maybe because he was a poet?” Nyx muttered.
“That’s beside the point.”
“Why don’t you go find Hakeem or something?” Elmiryn offered impatiently.
“He’s prepping for his return.” Quincy sat heavily in the sofa chair and groaned at the ceiling. “I want my reuben…”
“Well get over here, and I’ll give you a ‘reuben’ you won’t forget!” Elmiryn sent the wizard a leer over her shoulder, but this look quickly was swallowed up with a look of surprise as the redhead felt a sharp nip on her thigh. She gave Nyx a small shove and a glare. “Nyx, for gods sakes, why do you have to bite me!?” The girl glowered over her shoulder before she struggled up from the couch. The cold feeling between Elmiryn’s legs felt unpleasant, and she tried to pull the girl back. “Halward, you’ve got to be kidding me… Hey, come on. I was joking!”
Nyx pointed at Elmiryn. “Quincy, maybe you should be asking THIS woman what happened to your reuben sandwich?”
Elmiryn could practically feel the brunette’s eyes rest on her. She looked back at the wizard and said with a wagging finger that punctuated every word, “I did not have gustational relations with that reuben!”
Quincy squinted her eyes at her, her head shaking back and forth like she were trying to shake the woman’s sense of humor off. “Okay. Elmiryn? Your puns? They’re horrible. Stop. Now did you eat my sandwich?”
“You’re a real fucking detective, did you know that? Why would I have been the one to have eaten your sandwich? Because Nyx pointed a finger at me?”
“She’s pretty convincing.”
“I’m pretty convincing,” Nyx asserted with a smirk.
Elmiryn wagged a finger at the Ailuran. “Watch. You just watch. Next scene? No kiss.”
The girl’s broad face tinged pink. She ‘hmphed’ and looked away. “That’s not much of a punishment. Seems more harmful to YOU if anyone.”
“Won’t you be dying for my touch soon? I can live without your affection kitten, just as I lived without ever touching Quincy’s stupid sandwich.”
Quincy snorted and scooted to the edge of her seat. She was rubbing her chin and had a predatory look in her eye. “IS that the truth? You eat as much as Nyx does. My sandwich was the very image of beauty. How could you–an aesthetically driven creature–possibly deny something so sumptuous?”
“The same way someone ELSE has been denying me every single night,” Elmiryn grumbled. Nyx started moving toward the door, but the warrior leapt up and blocked her way. “Joking! That was a joke!”
The girl’s mouth was pinched white and her eyes were a little misty. “No, it wasn’t. Your thinly veiled metaphors are ribald, and I do not have to suffer them during my break. Move.”
“That sandwich was nothing to me!” Elmiryn said. She pressed her wrists together and fixed her expression to resemble that of a kicked puppy’s. She prayed it worked. “C’mon, really, don’t leave me in here with this harridan witch. She wouldn’t know beauty if it bit her on the nose–!”
“My sandwich was beautiful!” Quincy snapped. “It was a perfect blend of sauerkraut and gooey Swiss, with Russian dressing and corned beef grilled on homemade rye bread–”
“I wouldn’t give two shits if your sandwich could do backflips and play the ukele without hands. I didn’t want your food, Quincy. Not the corned beef or the gooey Swiss or the fucking homemade rye bread. Okay? I pack a box lunch! A BOX LUNCH.” Elmiryn looked back at the girl with a wince. “Really. Nothing. It meant nothing to me.”
“Then why do you keep dancing around about it with her?” Nyx jerked her head, her tawny eyes like a turned knife.
“Because she’s guilty! She’s been stealing glances at my food all week,” Quincy cried.
Elmiryn rolled her eyes. “In your dreams. Nyx, don’t listen to her. She’s paranoid and has deep seated emotional problems.”
The wizard snorted. “You’re one to talk.”
“I am one to talk. At least I don’t stuff my face when I’m troubled.”
“No. You just stuff your face every other day.”
“And hey, who has the ass to show for it?”
An ominous pause. “…You’re trying to say something aren’t you?”
“Just that beauty eludes you like the enormity of your own ass.”
Nyx stared back and forth between them. “The wizard’s right. This isn’t a break. This is a circus! What’s the matter with you two? Why can’t you just stop talking in circles?”
Elmiryn scrunched her face up like that answer was obvious. “Quincy’s questioning my integrity and is diminishing my excellent tastes with her CRUDE wantings!”
“Crude. That’s rich, Elmiryn.” Quincy stood to her feet. She jabbed a finger at the refrigerator. “During my last scene, you vanished off-story, and the only one that wasn’t accounted for was you and–”
“Tristi and Farrel,” Elmiryn and Nyx said in unison.
The wizard faltered. “Oh.”
“So it could’ve been one of them,” Nyx said, rubbing her temples as if to stave off a headache.
“Told you it wasn’t me,” Elmiryn sneered.
Quincy shook a finger. “No. You’re not off the hook. What did you bring for lunch?”
Elmiryn grinned. “A rubyfruit.”
“…You are unbelievable.”
Nyx frowned. “A rubyfruit?”
“NO!” Quincy blanched and made a negative motion with her arms. “Don’t ask for clarification–!”
“A rubyfruit, my dear Nyx,” Elmiryn started as she threw an arm over the girl’s shoulders and guided her back to the couch. “Is the most BEAUTIFUL thing in the world.”
“It is not,” The wizard snapped. She pinched her brow and closed her eyes. “Elmiryn–”
“It comes in the most DELECTABLE shades of pinks and reds you could ever imagine–”
“Gods why don’t I just leave–?”
“It smells like beauty–”
“I could just walk out the door and buy a ham sandwich–”
“It tastes like beauty–”
“Why do I insist on suffering such company–?”
“And the juices are the richest thing that will ever grace your tongue.”
Nyx’s pretty face scrunched up, and she looked between the two women again. “There’s just no end to it with you two, is there?” she despaired.
Elmiryn chuckled and patted her knee. “Don’t worry. I’ll let you try mine one day.” The Ailuran turned bright red.
Quincy placed her hands on her hips and said seriously. “Nyx, I know you don’t like me–”
The girl winced. “That’s just what I need to top this moment. Advice from you.”
“–But listen to me when I say that you should not take a thing this woman offers you. She knows nothing of beauty because she has no love. None. I think she’s incapable of it.”
Elmiryn tongued her cheek and stood. “That’s a quite a thing to say, given the source.”
Quincy glared. “It’s the damn truth!”
The warrior clenched her fists. “What the fuck do you know about me?”
“I know your idea of beauty is skewed by your perversity. Its all sensory and no emotion, just detachment and little else.”
“Speaking of detachment–when was the last time you FUCKED your husband?”
The wizard closed her eyes and smiled, but it was tight and her face was turning pink at the cheeks and nose. “I think I might’ve heard you wrong, because no one would dare say something like that to my face.”
Elmiryn nodded as she crossed her arms. “Just as I thought. Why don’t you go make a new SANDWICH Quincy?”
The wizard made a menacing move and the warrior held up her fist in preparation for a block, but a loud cough interrupted them. Both women turned and saw Nyx on her feet with a couch pillow nearly three times the size of her torso. She held it before her like a shield. Her tawny eyes peeked timidly over the fabric as she spoke. “You both keep going back and forth about what constitutes beauty, and yet neither of you really seem to want to define what your personal requirements are. You just keep hiding behind these metaphors for preferences. Why is that?”
Elmiryn glanced at Quincy and found the brunette glancing back. The warrior shrugged. “You want me to start? Fine. I’ll start. I think beauty is color–”
“Gods you really ARE a racist,” the wizard interjected.
Nyx pointed a finger at her around the couch pillow. “Let her finish!”
Elmiryn glared at Quincy before resuming. “Yeah. Beauty. Um…I think it’s color and shape. Especially different from my own.” She nodded as if to affirm her own thoughts. She went on slowly, carefully, feeling the words in her mouth before letting them loose. “I like variety, not mirror images. I don’t really care for symmetry either. I’d prefer things a bit chaotic to something neat and orderly.” She rubbed the back of her neck and looked up at the ceiling fan. “I also think it has to do with sound. Certain things can bring a lot of comfort, and a voice can encompass many things.” She took a breath and sighed. “That’s it. I think. Happy?”
The warrior looked at Quincy and Nyx both. The wizard had taken to sitting in one of the plastic chairs at the table, and the Ailuran had lowered her pillow shield and held a smile on her face.
Nyx looked at Quincy next. “What about you?”
Quincy pointed at herself. “Me?” She gave a snort of a laugh. “Oh come off it, after Elmiryn you’ll just call me shallow.”
“Eye of the beholder and all of that. Go on, wizard. Speak.” Elmiryn threw herself onto the couch and giggled.
Quincy rolled her eyes at her. “Alright. Here. My idea of beauty? Is capability and all the things that would show it.” She ticked off her fingers. “Intelligence, wisdom, strength, tenacity–They’re ideal to me.”
“And Hakeem is all of those things?” Nyx asked. The girl took a seat next to Elmiryn, and the woman was quick to pull her close.
The wizard smiled proudly. “Yes.”
“Awww…he’s your utilitarian DREAM,” Elmiryn drawled.
Nyx pinched her ear, and the warrior let out a hiss of a cry. “She let you speak, now you let her!” the girl scolded.
“Nyx what happened to you!? You’ve gotten so mean!” Elmiryn whined as she rubbed her ear.
The girl ignored her. “Quincy?”
The wizard was snapped out of a reverie and started up like a machine unpaused. “I’m just trying to say that for me, beauty isn’t a physical thing, but a virtue. A personal sense of fulfillment. Hakeem is attractive, and yes, in a symmetric way if you must draw lines, but there’s a great many things about his personality that draw me to him. He is caring, honest, brave, stalwart, and passionate. He’s also stubborn, overly serious, fusses over money, and snores. But all of these things makes him the person I love.” She shrugged.
Now both women turned to Nyx. The girl quailed. “What?”
“You started this, kitten. You finish.” Elmiryn gave her a small nudge. “What do you think beauty is?”
The girl bit her lip and fidgeted next to Elmiryn. The warrior stifled a smirk. Quincy raised an eyebrow as she fisted her cheek.
Finally Nyx gave a nod. “Well, you two know we aren’t allowed to resolve anything outside of the story, and I know what I’d say would break status quo…soooo…” she grinned. “I say my idea of beauty is five triple-patty burgers lined up in a row!”
Elmiryn palmed her face and Quincy quickly set into objections:
“Nyx, that isn’t FAIR!”
The door opened, and all three looked up.
Tristi was wiping at his mouth with what looked like a giant red and white checkered tablecloth. “Hello ladies. Just got the word from high up. We’re due back to our illustrious roles in very short time.” He burped. “Ooh! Pardon me!” He wadded the cloth and tossed it onto the table before closing the door with a smart snap.
Quincy squinted at the fabric, then snatched at it with her hands. She jumped to her feet and shoved it into Nyx and Elmiryn’s faces. “What does that look like to you!?”
There was a ruddy orange stain on it from when Tristi had wiped his mouth. The couple exchanged looks.
Elmiryn smiled broadly. “THAT, dear Quincy, looks like Russian salad dressing.”
The wizard’s face looked fit to burst with blood. She threw the cloth to the floor and grabbed her sword belt. “Damn him, DAMN HIM. I’m going to kill that bastard!” She ran out the door, slamming it behind her.
The room was quiet, and all that could be heard was the low hum of the refrigerator, and the shup-shup-shup of the ceiling fan. Elmiryn nestled her face into Nyx’s neck and smiled. “So, beautiful…has the status quo been maintained?”
“Depends. Are you really going to keep from kissing me once we go back?”
“I couldn’t if I tried…and I don’t want to try.”
Nyx kissed the warrior’s temple and wedged her leg between Elmiryn’s. A coy smile was on her lips. “Then maybe it has, Elle…” she whispered.