|You Make Me Happy (whether you know it)
Author: beaner.weener PM
You've heard the story of Mister Jonathan Teatime, Assassin. You've probably seen some fanfictions pairing him with Susan Sto Helit. This is one of them. But I'll bet you haven't heard of Audrey Sto-Helit (but call her Teatime), a time traveler with an interesting background. Have a little faith, and happy reading! Rated T for Teatime. Not kidding.Rated: Fiction T - English - Jonathan T. & Susan Sto Helit - Chapters: 4 - Words: 10,700 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 02-10-13 - Published: 12-01-12 - id: 8754412
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Susan Sto-Helit rather disliked bars. She had enough dignity not to get drunk, and the typical Ankh-Morporkean bar fights were sparked by the strangest little things. Almost everyone Susan knew agreed that she was strung too tightly to become a bar regular. This one, however, served the best comfort food on this hemi-circle of Discworld. She gloomily picked at her chicken curry, normally her favourite. She had inherited that trait from Death. The bartender dished out both food and drink alike over the course of the hour, and Susan half-listened for people whose names she recognized. One name, however, captured her sub-consciousness so strongly that her mind buzzed. Especially since it was pronounced wrong.
"Miss Teatime, your order."
Susan's head shot up.
"It's Teh-ah-tim-eh, sir. Everyone gets it wrong, sir," a female voice snapped as money exited a pale hand and a soup-to-go from the much tanner one of the bartender.
"Ah," the bartender cleared his throat. "Yes, I apologize, Miss Teh. Ah. Tim. Eh." He made a straining effort to pronounce every syllable of the name correctly. At this point, Susan's entire body was rigid. Her sense of hearing picked up barely audible footsteps leading to the door.
"Miss Teatime?" Susan called experimentally.
Miss Teatime was directly behind her. "Pardon?" asked the same sharp voice. It didn't have quite as much an effect on Susan, considering she was acquainted with Jonathan Teatime's high sociopath voice, but the female version didn't seem to care.
Susan did her best not to turn around and face Miss Teatime directly. "Um, do you have any…erm…I mean, are you related in any way to…um…Mister…Jonathan Teatime?" She whispered this last part. Honestly, she was quite frightened that at the mention of his name, he would return, dagger poised in hand, boyishly handsome curls framing his face. Susan caught herself in the middle of that thought.
Don't get afraid, she reminded herself. Get angry.
"Why yes," said the voice, now more surprised than hostile, but regaining that edge in the next sentence. "How do you know of him?"
"I…uh…I spent a Hogswatch with him, about a year ago." Stuttering was very unlike Susan indeed, and she mentally chastised herself for being so openly nervous, clearing her throat. She lifted her head a little bit higher in mid-sentence.
"I spent a Hogswatch with him, about a year ago," she said, in that over-confident way people are when they're not confident at all.
"So. Susan Sto-Helit, I presume?"
At this, Susan turned to face Miss Teatime. She was pretty much Jonathan in female, except more intelligent-scary than sociopathic-scary. Of course, she had that, too. Miss Teatime had two blue eyes, unlike Jonathan, but her hair was the same perfect buttery yellow. Even her face structure was the same. They were both, for lack of a better term, beautiful. The thing that threw Susan off, for a split second, was the fact that she had a single dark streak in her hair, starting near her temple.
Miss Teatime's blue pinpoint-pupil eyes bored straight through you with an air of extreme knowledge. And on the Disc, knowledge equaled power. Her blond hair was pulled back into an immaculate tight bun, but one could assume that her hair was just as curly as the former Assassin's. Her posture was as ramrod straight as Susan's. Perhaps she also shared the notion that in order to keep your position of power, you had to be stiff enough not to let nonsense in. She was definitely no-nonsense. Susan chose to answer her carefully.
"Yes. Who are you?"
"I'm just another creepy Teatime," she said in a low voice, then added briskly, "Unfortunately, you have done nothing to kill Jonathan. Some people just won't take a poker to the abdominal cavity as an answer, and Jonathan Teatime is one of those people. He summoned himself through his own scrying eye, the one that you have taken, Susan. I'll bet you didn't notice that it went missing almost immediately after Hogswatch. Some poor Necromancer believes it was himself that summoned Teatime. Actually, Jonathan is waiting in my flat right now. He insisted that if I were to run across you, I bring you there."
"Oh my indeed, Susan. Come along."
Susan really felt reluctant to follow Miss Teatime (I mean, it's like: Hi, my brother tried to kill you, follow me! ). But there was something about Miss Teatime that made Susan trust her. Perhaps the absence of her brother. Or perhaps it was that purple-green glow that came from her blue eyes when she studied you. Susan had the oddest feeling she knew Miss Teatime.
Therefore, after a brief mental battle, Susan decided to proceed with caution (and proper weaponry, of course: she took one of those little ice pitchforks from the bartender). The flat wasn't too far down the street, only a few blocks, and only a few more blocks away from Susan's flat. It was a small building, and her flat was on the first floor.
The flat smelled of potpourri, a quite refreshing smell after the odour of the Pearl of All Cities. "I wonder what he could want with you," Miss Teatime mused.
"Well," began Susan. "Other than the fact that he's probably harbouring a very particular grudge against me for killing him, I don't really know."
"Oh, no, that couldn't be it," Miss Teatime dismissed. "He respects people with enough backbone to try at killing him. He finds them… fascinating."
"Trying and doing are two different things, Miss Tea-" Susan was cut short. A pair of slender, cold fingers were tracing their way down the base of Susan's jaw.
"Hello, Susan," whispered The Voice, mere inches away from her ear. The Voice as in, Teatime's voice, as in the Ultimate Assassin's voice, as in, That Random Sociopath Dude That Tried To Kill The Hogfather's voice. "Have you missed me?"
Now, the thing to understand: Susan had amazing self-control. Near nothing could make her breath catch, nothing could make her scream or gasp or cry out in fear.
Except Teatime. Susan was not pleased with herself, but she choked on the bit of air coming in, along with the bit of air going out. It was barely there, but it was enough. Teatime chuckled, and Susan's vision went purely red, but she focused on keeping her breathing regular from now on.
"How kind of you," he whispered, tracing his finger down the line of her neck and resting his hand on her shoulder. "To keep my eye in such perfect condition. It allowed me back into this world. However," Susan felt the prick of a dagger at the back hinge of her skull. "A poker to the abdominal wasn't quite as kind."
Well, it's not my fault you decided to mess with the wrong Duchess.
He spun her around, quicker than her own blink. Breathingbreathingbreathing-
"I think we get along quite well, wouldn't you say, Susan?"
"I suppose, especially when there's a knife of some sort involved, yes."
Teatime smiled, then turned to face Miss Teatime. "Audrey, how in the world did you come across her?"
Miss Teatime arched an eyebrow and raised the plastic baggie. "Your soup," she said drily.
"Ah." He swooshed over to her, picked the bag out of her hand, and cut the hair tie of her bun in one swift motion. Miss Teatime's butter-blond hair fell down her shoulders, every bit as curly as her brother's, who grinned.
"Loosen up a bit, dear, and you may go."
"I will stay." The glare between them was burning. Absolutely burning. But Miss Teatime turned away and began to put the kettle on, leaving Susan the only other point of Teatime's focus.
Indeed, he took advantage of that.
Susan's breathing had regulated, thankfully, but her heart was still racing. Teatime dropped the soup.
"So why," he circled her, his high voice still resonating in the air, "do you believe that we are not…friends?"
Susan remained silent.
"Susan, I would quite like an answer today."
"Well," she began. "For one, I killed you. Twice."
"Oh, but I admire that." Teatime traced a finger down the back of her neck, and Susan strained to make her hair stay in place. "It takes a certain genius to be an Assassin, especially the type with a capital A, but it takes the same amount, if not more, brilliance to kill one." He gripped her shoulders. If he was trying to be comforting, it wasn't working, and Susan told him so. The sharpness of something cold and metallic pressed against her back, and she did not intend to find out what held it in place, considering both of Teatime's hands were on her shoulders. The fact that he was in front of her certainly wasn't helping. She could feel his breath, dangerously close to her, and then…the clock dinked.
Teatime dropped both Susan and the ever-mystical dagger. "Oh, my, look at the time. I have business to take care of." In a swift swoosh, he was at the door. "But don't fret, Susan. I'll be back soon."
Susan held very still and listened to Miss Teatime clatter things around on the other half of the kitchen until she was certain Teatime was out of sight (and running distance), and then clack-creaked into stovetop half of the kitchen.
Miss Teatime's kitchen was quite bland, a factor Susan hadn't been able to register with Mister Teatime poking and prodding and stroking her (gah, Susan shivered at that thought. How queer). It was an off-white, almost a pale yellow colour, and it consisted of a gas burner/oven, a sink, a cherry wood table and four chairs, and a quite out of place chrome plated toaster oven. The burner was on, a teapot whistling lightly on top of it, along with three cups next to it with an equal amount of black tea leaves inside each. The kitchen smelled slightly of potpourri, just like the rest of the flat, but it smelled like burnt-chicken potpourri. Susan managed to walk right up behind Miss Teatime, who was doing the dishes, until she spoke.
"Miss Sto-Helit," Miss Teatime began. "I need your help. Jonathan said that it takes brilliance to be an Assassin. This is correct, and he is really quite brilliant. A waste of such a perfect mind, because he's brilliant like-" she searched for the correct word, "-like a clock with no arms. The gears are still turning and doing their job, but you can't tell the time. Do you follow?"
"I believe so," said Susan slowly. "What you're saying, Miss Teatime, is that he's got a spectacular mind, but it's shattered, broken beyond repair."
"Call me Audrey, please." Another strange pronunciation to remember. Oww-dree. Oww-dree. "And here's the part about beyond repair: he's not. Nobody is ever, and I say ever beyond repair. I want you to help me. Help me…pick up the pieces, if that makes any sense. Get me the handles; I'll put them on the clock. I ran away from home because of what they did to Jonathan. I'm younger than him, quite a bit younger. I want to know what, precisely broke him. I want to know…I want to know how to fix it. He's quite probably one of the Disc's greatest minds, trapped within the outer layer of a child. "
The teapot ffffwwwwweeeee!d, leaving Susan for a split second of pondering before she answered. Her story had gaps, indeed. Her voice shook with uncertainty when she said "ran away from home". Not emotional attachment, but uncertainty, and Susan knew the two back and forth.
"Why do you trust that I am fit to do this?"
"Because," Audrey turned around. Her hair had miraculously been placed back into its impeccable bun, and her eyes were smoldering. Susan caught sight of her strange black streak curling on its own accord, but she dismissed that as an optical illusion. After all, her hair was in a bun. How can something twirl in a bun? "Because…you wouldn't understand. You don't see the way he looks at you, the way he thinks. The only way to survive around him is to keep yourself interesting: interesting, but not a challenge. Interesting…interesting enough to make looking at you and talking to you more fun than killing you. Either that, or be a Teatime, and that never protected our-our parents. No, Susan, you must keep interesting, and you-" she circled Susan in much the same way as her brother, "-you are very interesting indeed."
Susan observed that her voice shook again at the word 'parents'. Hmm. Pieces began putting themselves together in Susan's mind, but it was remembering the future again. The pieces were irritatingly blank, with the ghosts of information and pictures swirling within them. "Alright…I'm not totally stupid. You mean to tell me that...that I'm more interesting than the rest? That I'm the only one that can be around him and stay alive?"
"Well," she pivoted sharply in front of Susan. "That, and the fact that you killed him. Are you in?"
Susan pushed her chin up a little bit higher. "Yes, I am."
"Very well. You may go, Susan, and remember: stay interesting."
Susan departed Audrey Teatime with a dazed mind. Going through the motions of life are different, much different than actually living, and going through the motions was all Susan was doing at the moment. That was, until she closed the door.
"Why, hello, Susan. Come hither, if you would."
Susan was fun. Mister Teatime (Jonathan, if you would) loved to watch her tense at his touch, his gaze, or even his voice. The best part was: he really had to look. She never openly displayed it, and it was always plenty of joy to strain his ears for that little gasp or sharp intake of breath. She was fun to watch, in general. He'd often watch her; just going through her everyday life with those two children. He had also observed her very carefully, and within that observation, there was a certain tactic to her normal motions: she always kept some sort of weapon handy: poker or otherwise (she had been harbouring an ice pitchfork in Audrey's flat, he noticed). She thought it completely through before even making a single step. Her speech was calculated beyond belief.
Of course, Teatime had prepared for this encounter. After a quick stop with one of the Assassins (capital A), he decided to surprise Susan at her home. Oh, what fun.
He had made sure that the pokers were out of the way: hidden from their usual spot in the umbrella-rack. Hidden very well in outdoor shrubbery, in fact, where the gardener tomorrow would have a very pleasant surprise.
He had, however, forgotten about the mallets, one of which Susan grabbed at the sound of his voice. Teatime mentally cursed: it was so unlike him to forget anything, even anything he'd never known about in the first place. Especially anything he'd never known about in the first place. But he supposed it was worth it, Susan was practically trembling.
HOW THE HELL, Susan said in the VOICE, DO YOU KEEP FINDING YOUR WAY INTO MY FLAT? Thunder rattled at the windows, and half of her face shook with the Face of Death.
"My, my, we're certainly emotional today." He traced her jawline with the tip of a finger. Teatime observed that she had a very strong jaw, and decided that he rather liked her jaw, especially when it was being held with so much force and…backbone, if that's not a horrible pun. Oh, yes, Susan did have a nice jaw. It was the type that made her face look angular without being lanky, and it sat regally atop her long neck. Susan was really very pretty.
GET OUT. NOW.
"So soon? How about we play a game, Susan? I've been simply dying to play a game."
"Like what, checkers?" Susan snorted. Ah, well. At least he had gotten her back to her normal voice.
"No, no, checkers is boring, and I'm simply no good at Chess."
"Well, if you played it more often, you might be," she snapped.
"It's no fun when I'm losing, Susan, and-" he registered a small noise from behind Susan's back, "-and I swear, if you try to hit me with that mallet, I'll nail you with a poker."
"Oh, but that would be quite difficult, seeing that they're-" IN THE BUSHES.
"Susan, you must learn to control that temper of yours, before you break a-" Teatime was stopped, once more, by Susan's hair, which was flowing upon its own accord, like a flower in the wind. Susan had pretty hair, too. "Your hair is moving."
YES, IT DOES THAT, she said. Her voice, even as The VOICE, was tinged in impatience, and she probably wanted desperately to use the mallet. "Now, if we could get back on topic, I'd greatly– oh!"
Teatime had reached out and touched a curling tendril of her hair, which was now wrapping its way around his slender fingers. In fact, her entire head of hair was gravitating towards him. Susan looked mortified.
"I think your hair likes me." Teatime's vision sharpened (with no consent from him, of course) so that he could capture every bit of her waving hair through his one good eye. Every single aspect of Susan was simply fascinating, he decided, and he might get to like her, perhaps even be friends with her.
That would be fun.
"Susan," he whispered, her hair still coiling delicately around his fingers, "perhaps we can play a game such as Two Truths and A Lie."
"You're so…intriguing. I would love to know more about you."
Susan narrowed her eyes. "Well, I suppose, as long as you're not trying to kill me, that might be alright…" Her hair reached out towards his other hand as it firmly fastened his right one to her skull. He could feel her shiver as it pulled his fingers towards her. Personally, Teatime was still watching the hair, and had to have great faith that Susan would not use the mallet. The part that wasn't holding his hands to her head was clasped in a prim bun, which he thought Susan might approve of.
"Susan…do you have any control over this marvellous hair of yours?"
Susan glared at him.
"If I did, it wouldn't be touching you, now would it?"
Teatime tsked. "That wasn't very nice, now was it?"
"I'm not generally a very nice person."
"Oh, that's too bad. If you were, we could have so much fun." He used some of the remaining control of his hand to thumb out a small knife from his sleeve.
Susan took a breath. "Two Truths and a Lie, then? How about I make some cocoa?" The hair let go of him at the mention of cocoa, and flew around her head, quickly arranging itself into a tidy little twist. Susan's face (if you looked really closely) looked relieved.
Over cups of steaming cocoa, they played Two Truths and a Lie, which eventually morphed into Two Lies and a Truth (don't ask. It involved a spatula). Teatime noticed that Susan was really very good at making cocoa, with just the right amount of milky creaminess to aid the rich chocolate.
The clock continued ticking. Teatime wondered why Susan hadn't shut off the time. Later, he realized, it was because she didn't want to be with him all that much.
"Your turn," he chirped.
"Mister Teatime, it's three in the morning."
Teatime studied Susan. Her eyelids were only half-open, she barely held her cocoa, and her quite nice jaw was drooped in a near-comatose state. Of course, he knew, she would never admit to being tired. She was more stubborn than a donkey. In about an eighth of a second, Teatime made up his mind.
"I'll be back," he whispered. "Tomorrow."
Susan gave him an attempt at a cheerful smile. "Until then, Teatime."
"Teh-ah-tim-eh," he corrected, then jumped out the window. And into the pokered shrubbery, mind you, but that was a problem none.
Audrey Teatime was a particularly strong-willed person, if you could consider her a person yet at all. She had to be, to maintain her position as an Assassin. The Guild required that their Special Interests Teams meet tonight, four in the morning. Er. This morning, four o'clock, if you please. The Special Interests Teams were the Teams consisting of Special Inhumations, Tactics, and Stealth Team (yes, all one team, there were only three Assassins in this Team); The Wizard Inhumation Group (oh, the joy); Elegance Undetermined-Infinite (which simply refused to accept her); and the Anthropomorphic Personifications group (consisting of two Assassins). Many of the Assassins were in more than one group, if they were in one at all. Her and Jonathan were in Special Inhumations, Tactics, and Stealth and Anthropomorphic Personifications. In fact, they were the only two assassins who applied themselves into ways to kill Death. Everyone has their weak points. Non Timetis Messor.
However, most Assassins don't know that.
Audrey Teatime arrived to the meeting about a fifth of a second late, and slipped into her seat quite easily.
The thing about Audrey: she was living, but she had not been alive. She was not dead, but she had died (quite a few times, I may add). She and Jonathan were relatives, but not siblings. In fact, Audrey was directly related to both Jonathan Teatime and Susan Sto-Helit, but they didn't have to know that. She was not really an Assassin, but she had been Inducted. She also quite liked pepper spray, a bottle of which was put away in her black cloak (with the emblem of the Guild on it, of course).
Audrey had a brain, and she certainly knew how to use it, just as Susan did. Using that brain, she concluded that this meeting was about whether or not to eject (just a fancy word for kick out, Assassins quite enjoy fancy words) Jonathan from the Guild.
The Guild considered Audrey and Jonathan quite highly, even if one half of which hadn't happened yet. Inhuming the Inhumer was quite a challenge, and there was a certain logic to it. As long as Audrey kept that logic to herself, and made sure Jonathan never kept anything to himself, Death would be perfectly fine. Really, there was no need to kill Death. Because, then, the Assassins would be out of business.
There's quite a big difference between Assassins (capital A), assassins (lowercase a), and murderers. The difference between Assassins (capital A) and murderers and assassins (lowercase a) was mainly the large sum of cash that Assassins (capital A) were paid. Assassins (lowercase and capital A) were both different from murderers in the fact that an assassination, or inhumation, if you would, was a whole lot less messy than a murder.
The meeting went really pretty quickly, because Lord Downey was quite tired, even if he would never admit to it.
Ah, Downey. The look on his face when she had shown up in his office about two days ago and demanded to be let in.
"You're not part of the Guild."
"I am. But not yet."
What a crack up.
Jonathan was to stay. Mainly because he and Audrey argued nonstop with Downey and the others, partially because Downey was still terrified of Audrey. Jonathan didn't know how to argue, really. He had this high voice that nobody really took seriously, and his mind was so screwed that most didn't even consider listening. Which is a shame, because then, with very considerable regret, he'd have to kill you.
Audrey disappeared, and appeared later in her flat. It was four thirty, even, in the morning. Teatime, for Assassins.