Fear of the Wet Tee-Shirt

By Surrarin

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I've never actually bought a present for a girl by myself.

I haven't ever bought Murphy a gift, despite all we've been through. We're friends, but the present thing is just something we've never attempted to cross. On my part it was usually because I rarely had enough money to buy something which could be considered 'birthday' material. The closest I've ever came to buying a gift for a girl has probably been with Elaine, and even then, I never actually bought her a gift, I usually just got the pieces for it and made it myself.

One of the best presents I had ever gotten her, in my opinion was a charm bracelet, not literally charmed. It was a novelty one, nothing special about it. But the way it had made her eyes light up had been beyond special. What she gave me afterwards had been quite special in itself. But let's not stray onto that thought, I don't want to connect Elaine with this more than I have to.

What do you get a girl who you have an unstable relationship with? Material gifts by themselves would probably just be laughed at, and treated with suspicion. So nothing simple as some lingerie- Not that I'd get this particular girl that, it'd be too weird.

Ideally, I know for a fact she'd jump head over heels for a human child, maybe a few weeks old. She asked me for one as payment before. Not just any child, but my own. But I haven't sunken so far that I'm going go and buy a life, or create it and give it to her, not yet anyway. Because I'm not sure what she'd do with it. Probably sacrifice it or something.

Flower's are out of the question; they'd die within getting a foot near her. Ornamental flowers might work. Like one made of ice, although that might be just a bit too cheesy and romantic. It's supposed to be a peace offering of sorts, rather then an affectionate gesture. Although, leaving the gesture open ended might be the way to go, cover a few of my bases, so to speak.

Maybe if I got her a big ass sword with an engraving it'd work.

But where would I get a big ass sword, and more importantly, who would engrave it? I don't think I have enough time to take up sword forging as a hobby, or rather that would have been the case had I not taken Mab up on her offer, as it was, I had all eternity to learn whatever It was I desired. But the present couldn't wait for eternity.

I wish It was Mab that I was giving the present to, it'd be so much easier. As ironic as it sounded, it was true. With Mab I didn't have any specific reservations of what to convey to her. Considering her station there were even less material things I could give her that would be appreciated. A gesture of good faith would be all the present she would probably see fit to accept. A rose would fit perfectly. Not a normal rose, no.

Something morbidly beautiful and sentimental, like arose made out my blood. She'd love that, for the symbolism, and for what she could do with it. Which amounted to few good things on my end. On second thoughts, I'm glad it isn't Mab that the gift I'm getting is going to go to, Maeve could be almost seen as a blessing to get a gift for. Almost.

Something Material, something sentimental in some sense, something she'd like. Whenever I've seen Maeve on a formal occasion, she's always worn the same kind of clothing. There have only been a few variables, one of the more noticeable ones being her shirt, or rather, what is on it. The first time I had ever met Maeve, her shirt had read 'Off with his head.' One of the last times I had seen her she had a cute little one with 'Heartless Bitch' in pink letters and an emblazoned heart. She always seemed to take a detached satisfaction in watching me read the logos.

I had the 'what' of the gift now. Now I just needed the specifications. While I could always just guess her measurements, I doubt she'd find the gift pleasing in any sense if I got the measurements wrong. If it was too big she'd take it as a slight against her figure, it would be good as calling her fat. And if It was too small then she'd take offence that I hadn't put enough thought into it. The later was more unlikely, but still possible.

Which means there was only one thing left that I needed to do before I set out for the gift.

Harry 'Bedroom Raider' Dresden.

Technically, what I was going to be raiding wasn't a bedroom. It was a cross between a Tomb and a hotel. But I didn't feel like breaking any copyrights.

Despite the amount of times I had been to the underground establishment, I had never actually tried to learn it's proper name. I have never seen a reason to. I came, I saw, I talked, I left. That was my relationship with the place. Outside the entrance to the old building a crusted plaque was soldered to the building. In faded plain letters a name stood out in the dim light.

Ne'er Winter.

Was it the original name? Or had, at some point, someone decided to rename it?

I dismissed the thought from my head. I wasn't here to take in historical details. Unless you could count Maeve's three sizes as historical facts.

Maeve's room in Ne'er Winter was quite close to mine, across the hall and down a few meters to be a bit more exact. I've never been in there, I've caught a few glimpses, one of the most prominent being when Maeve had decided to use Trista for some personal relief.

My lips thinned out slightly.

I ignored the path the thoughts were going down and grasped the door handle on Maeve's door. I twisted it, and, to my surprise, found it open. Maeve probably didn't have any need to lock her door. Only an idiot would break into her room, or have malicious intentions. An Idiot, or exceptionally powerful person. Coincidentally, I'm still not sure which I am right now.

Maeve's room is surprisingly easy to describe. It's relatively empty, more or less the same as mine. Not surprising considering it's only a home away from home. For the Sidhe it was probably not even that. Maybe a change room, or a place between the Nevernever and Our world that they could travel through at ease. Now that I thought more about it, It was unlikely that what I was looking for would be here. The most she'd probably have in the drawers was some dead person's underwear. I slid my fingers under the ridge in front of the second draw from the top. It slid out easily.

My eyes widened in mild surprise.

I had known that Maeve had had an extensive collection of shirts. But the sight of the draw literally laden with the shirt imprinted shirts was impressive. She even had shirts in different languages by the looks of it. I recognizes some Latin words, Japanese characters, Chinese ones, there were too many to take in all at once.
"Hell's Bells," I murmured softly as I shook myself out of my stupor. I picked out a simple one, one I doubt Maeve would miss. Apparently simply getting her a shirt from a retail outlet wouldn't be enough. Anything I could buy would probably be already in her collection. I licked my lips lightly, wondering if they still had Shirt presses in the city.

As it turned out there was a shirt press still in Chicago. And my luck held out for once. It wasn't shutting down, or broken, hell, it even had a complete staff. But that brought up another problem. One which couldn't be avoided; What did I want to have imprinted on the T-shirt? My eyes roamed around the displays. I wasn't really surprised that the majority of the shirts had been visible in the neat pile in Maeve's drawer. A fair few weren't, but they were not the kind of logo's I could see her displaying.

I honestly couldn't see Maeve wearing a shirt saying 'I'm cleverly disguised as an adult'. 'I'm cleverly disguised as a human' maybe. But the girl had fixation on the later teens. I used to assume it was because of her station under Mab that she chose to look like that. But I'm not so sure anymore. She might just do it to cause people around her grief.

My eyes lingered on a three different designs.

"Can I help you, Sir?" A polite voice asked from behind me. I turned around to face it's owner.

The girl looked to be in her early teens. I doubted she was more than fifteen years old. She had multicolored hair. Purple streaks were mixed in with dirty blond. Her hazel eyes stared up at me uncertainly, the way she held herself suggested nervousness. I frowned lightly, and she tensed. I'm not that intimidating am I?

I smiled down at the girl, "Do you do Custom designs?" I gestured towards the three shirts I liked, "I want to make a few small changes to the designs," The girl nodded.

"It costs extra for custom designs, and you'll have to wait for them to be finished," she glanced back to the counter, "If you pick out the designs you want and tell me what you want changed on them I can sketch the designs, and if you like them than I can create a stencil and print them."

"Sounds good," I nodded to the girl, wondering how much it would end up costing me.

A few hours later we were finished. The girl had some real talent with her hands. The designs were done, remarkably well. She made a few deviations from my suggestions, when I pointed it out at the beginning she reacted in an odd way, glaring at me, but she stopped her changes. The next time it happened I simply remained quiet. Her changes worked well. She was clearly the more artistic out of the both of us.

By the end she had created three design, which were perfect. She asked me who they were for, after I explained the designs to her. I told her they were for my…younger sister. She seemed to understand well enough, before she began to ask me questions.

How old was she? Older than me. "Turning eighteen in a week."

What were her hobbies? Enslaving Mortals and Bargaining with peoples souls. " Socializing and Ice Skating."

Favorite Season? It was a relief to get a question I could answer honestly, "Winter."

She had further personalized the shirts. The extra changes were mostly to do with colors, no extra figures in the design, or pieces, just colors.

In the end the total came to seventy dollars, plus a sixty dollar tip. From the looks of it, the girl hadn't expected a tip almost as big as the commission. I briefly wondered what her wages were, but quickly put it out of my mind.

A week passed, during which, I went to the shop to pick up the shirts, and using my prowess in stealth, managed to replace Maeve's shirt without anyone being the wiser.

At the end of the week, I found myself in an unknown part of the Nevernever. While it would have been only too easy to simply call Maeve up, It wouldn't be the smart thing to do. Of course, asking Mab to help me find Maeve wasn't exactly as smart, but it ranked fairly close. Mab had given me the use of a carriage. It was driven by a pair of Wintermares, and was unmanned, but not before commenting on the package I had been holding. She seemed pleased, though, I couldn't help but feel that she found the gesture lacking in regards to how she would have preferred I went about it.

A light shiver ran down me. There was no wind in this part of the Nevernever, only ice. As far as I could see, there was only ice. The majority of which was in the form of trees, bushes. The 'grass' itself was made of ice. It looked dangerously sharp. The carriage was a dozen or so meters behind me, near the edge of Ice field, I suppose you could call it. The ice wasn't clear. It was woefully clouded. The visibility was further spoiled by a lingering mist, hovering between the towering sculptures of ice.

Maybe if I waited Maeve would come out on her own, after she finished whatever she was doing? I doubted it.

I lifted my foot up and gently nudged the blades of grass. I let out an unintended laugh. They really were blades of grass. Solid as steal, they looked like they'd be a bitch to stand on, I really didn't want to get the bottom of my feet cut up. Destroying them was an option, but not a good one. I wasn't really sure if anything made it there home. While I usually am up for needlessly destroying things, I felt the need to hold myself back, just this once.

I glanced around the field.

This wasn't exactly going the way I had planned. It was supposed to be as simple as Show up. Give the present, apologize for letting my anger get the best of me, accept any taunts she saw fit to throw, and then leave. It wasn't supposed to involve razor sharp fields of grass made out of ice.

My eyes raked up and down over the field in front of me. There were slight discrepancies in the grass, where it seemed to have been melted down. It trailed back to the edge of the field, just before one of the first trees. I exhaled in an abject relief. There was a path. I tried to ignore the ice crystals forming in my mouth, and moved towards it.

My foot pressed down against the globs of ice. It was surprisingly solid, and firm. I toyed with the idea of seeing if my feet would slip if I shifted my weight enough. It was easily dismissed with a glance to the glittering ice-composed grass. I didn't feel like being cut into ribbons. I walked onwards, into the garden that seemed to have come out of a fairy tale.

The crystalline trees loomed over head. Light was reflected throughout the misted ice. Even I was humbled by the sheer tranquility and beauty of it. The soft bite of cold against my skin was all too real for me to be swept up in the surreal landscape. I hesitantly reached out and trailed my fingertips against the bark of the closest tree. It was fine to touch, I could feel the crystals of ice crush under my fingertips. I withdrew my hand as quickly as I had placed it. I felt slightly guilty as my eyes focused on the imprint I had accidentally created. The single blemish on the enhancing tree all but destroyed its luminosity. It seemed to die before my very eyes, becoming little more than a chunk of ice. A extremely detailed and well crafted piece of ice, but a piece of ice no less. It looked so forsaken when compared to the majesty surrounding it. I forced myself to look away. I didn't want to look at the thing I had despoiled.

No fairy tale is complete without a fair maiden.

This fairytale's maiden was kneeling by herself in front of a bed of flowers. Maeve looked almost innocent in the way she held herself. Her back was facing me. I couldn't see her face. Instead of her usual attire, she was dressed in little more than a thin gown made of mist, it clung to her body loosely, I could only see the vaguest of hints to her figure. I swallowed. I had once seen Maeve naked completely. I hadn't really been able to appreciate her body at the time, at the time I had all but desecrated it with my magic, befouled it by wishing harm upon her. From what I could see, she was moving her hands, I was the barest wisps of cold encircle her hands, all the while pouring out of my sight, and into her hands. I debated briefly with approaching her, or simply waiting.

My feet began to move without my final choice, which had apparently already been made.

"You have taken my pride from me; do you endeavor to take my joy as well?" Maeve's voice was soft. It held no real emotion. No anger, nor hate. Simple resignation, it was unsettling. I likened it to staring down the barrel of an empty gun. The most dangerous element was gone, but it still held the apprehension.

"I'm sorry?" I was mildly started despite the tranquility she retained.

Without looking back she gestured behind me, where I had come into the clearing from. In the direction of the tree I had….killed? It looked dead compared to everything else around it. "I'm sorry," I repeated it as a statement, not a question. Maeve became still in mid movement, she slowly turned her head and glanced over her shoulder towards me. Her eyes seemed alien, cold, and inhumanely intense.

"You will be."

Maeve's words hit me like a cold bucket of ice water. And considering the world around me was probably minus a few dozen degrees.. It didn't bode well. Mab's words echoed in my ears.

"I brought you a present," I offered and pulled the black wrapped gift from out of the inside of my jacket.

Maeve's eyes focused on it and narrowed. Was there something I had missed?

"You would give me a gift, and hide it's contents?" her voice remained soft, but there was an indescribable edge to it, "Do you take me for a fool, Knight?"

I didn't know what to say at first. But my mind moved into overdrive. I saw the problem, one which I should have taken into account, but hadn't.

"I don't expect anything in return," I explained, "It's a gesture…of good faith." I held out the package.

Maeve's disposition was unnerving. I had come to expect certain things from her. I expected her to act haughtily superior to me. I expected her to take satisfaction in the fact I had come to apologize to her. I expected her to all but try and kill me. But she didn't. I could tell she wanted to do something. It was in her eyes. No matter that she had nothing I could recognize as a soul. Her eyes still held vaguer recollections of how she felt.

"The traditions of the Sidhe prevent such exchanges," her voice had a slightly condescending tone to it, "To go against it is to insult our highest traditions, would you so blatantly disgrace winter?" her eyes sharpened ever so slightly, "Would you have me disgrace myself?"

"Answer me, Knight," her voice had a warning tone to it.

I was shocked, flabbergasted even. I really had overlooked such an important thing to them- Probably to me now. The situation was escalating away from what I had intended it to be.

"How about you just look at it, and if you decide you like it than you can give me back something of equal worth?" My voice sounded hollow to my ears.

But the look on Maeve's face told me she was contemplating it.

"Give it to me."

My feet shuffled forwards of their own volition. The black wrapped package was snatched from my hands. Maeve tumbled the package in her hands, looking at every single side of it. Her fingers tightened on the paper for a moment, looking as if they were about to rip it, before holding off, hesitating only just. She found the edge of the wrapping paper and tediously unfolded it. I had expected her to simply tear it to shreds.

The wrapping fell away to reveal three shirts neatly stacked on top of each other. Along with a simple white card. Maeve picked the card up off the clothes with an unreadable look on her face. She frowned lightly, and the card seemed to flash freeze. The next second it shattered as she snapped it between her fingertips. Her attention returns to the shirts. All three of them were white, the only difference between them was the imprints they had on them.

" Five, fifty three, forty three, one," she murmured curiously, her finger tips running over the details, "Boron, Iodine, Technetium and Hydrogen." Her eyes flickered up to mine, mirth barely hidden in them, before they switched back to the shirts. As her eyes passed over the second logo, a ghost of a smile appeared on her lips.

As her eyes met the last shirt, the smile disappeared.

"I don't like this one," her voice was as cold as the landscape. My eyes managed to catch the logo, before, as she had done with the card, she flash froze the article of clothing, and threw it to the ground, destroying it.

This shirt wet – Priceless

That had been the logo on it.

Maeve didn't look like she was going to elaborate.

"Why not?" I finally asked.

The look in her eyes told me that I had asked a stupid question.

I suppose it had been slightly tacky, but I had assumed she'd take offence at the shirt that had been sneakily labeled 'BITCH'.

"Do you trust me?" her voice was curious, if not a bit taunting.

"No." I answered immediately, "Why?"

A slightly sour looked passed over her face, but it was gone the next moment.

"Remain as you are and I shall show you why such a T-shirt displeases me," she glided forwards. Literally, glided. Her feet weren't touching the ground as mine were. It was unnerving to be honest. She stopped in front of me, within arms reach. I felt a tug in the air around me. A farmiliar one, one which I had felt at Ne'er Winter, the last time I had seen Trista. Instinctively I reached for my own magic, but I let it go before I even pulled any up. There wasn't even enough power to freeze my finger.

I stared at Maeve bemusedly, unsure of what she was doing. The air around her shimmered like a mirage, before it slowly bled down her arm. She raised her hand and held it palm up. The air above it shimmered like a miniature aurora. The color slowly drained away, revealing a slowly expanding globe of water. I watched fascinated.

At one point, not so long ago, I had assumed that Maeve was only capable of brute force using her Sidhe powers. But this showed a different side, the sheer control she must have had to keep the water from freezing was far beyond me. If I tried the same thing with minters power I wouldn't have been able to get a drop of water. She was pulling moisture out of the air. No, not moisture, she was working with the base elements. She was combining Hydrogen and oxygen.

I wanted to touch it. I raised my hand up towards it, only to stop at her warning gaze.

"Now, watch," she commanded as she brought the floating sphere of water up to her lips.

A gleam of amusement shone in her eyes for a moment, before she blew onto the globe. It happened soquickly that I couldn't react in time. The sphere exploded towards me. It was over before I could even blink my eyes, although it took me a few seconds for the water to sink into my clothing. The bitter cold bit at my skin. I moved to grip my shirt and pull it off my skin, but Maeve's soft chilly fingers gripped my hands before I could.

"I told you to watch," she snapped, a glimmer of the personality I was used to returned.

She idly lifted her hand from mine and held out a single finger. She gently pressed it against the wet patch. I inhaled sharply as the damp biting feeling of my shirt turned into a sharp icy sting. I held myself back from reacting. The slight pain didn't hold up long. I suppose I had the power of winter to thank for that. I doubt I would have been able to be within a kilometer of where I was without it. My eyes fell down to my shirt, where Maeve's finger was still pressed against idly. From where her finger had touched, the water had turned to ice. Even now the tendrils of cold were branching out.

"As you can see," she paused for a moment and trailed her finger down my chest, "and feel," she added, " such an event would occur had a shirt I wore become wet." Her voice was lecturing, but it held an enticing tone.

I swallowed.

"Must be a pain during sex then," I almost winced once I said it. The cold wasn't doing my wit any favors.

Maeve quirked her head slightly, before smiling in a pleasant fashion, "It has yet to be a problem," her look became coy. The Sidhe's finger was tracing a vague pattern on my chest, her finger was moving ever lower. I swallowed again.

"You, my dear Knight, walk a very fine line," her voice was loftily, airy, "To blatantly call me such a name, and mock my very nature," her other hand held the give, along with the wrapping to her side. The mist that made up her dress was flowing around it. It gave me a very clear view of her leg. The dress did little to hide her form, and it was doing even less right now. It was only the cold that kept my reaction from showing.

"I could get you a different kind," I offered, my voice slightly weak.

Maeve noticed, her eyes had taken on a calculating, if not still curious gleam. I moved to step back, but my feet wouldn't lift off the ground. I panicked for a split second, before I looked down and saw that the bottom of my boots had ice encircling the rim. Maeve noticed again, there was no way she couldn't have.

"You seem skittish, my Knight." I ignored her and tried to dislodge my feet. A sharp stab of cold ran through my chest. A pair of emerald eyes glared at me, "Do not do that," Maeve's voice was forceful. I bit back a retort.

Maeve smiled again.

"If you had continued to try and break the ice you would have ruined my garden even more," She removed her finger from my chest and lowered herself to the ground. The pain in my chest vanished, leaving only a dull aching. My eyes followed Maeve on her descent, and I watched fascinated as her hand brushed over my feet. The ice that had begun to ensnare my boots slowly sunk back into the ground. I easily lifted my foot off the ground, and mumbled a quick thank you.

"I do believe it is time for you to receive your gift," the High Sidhe stood up in front of me and met my gaze directly.

"I don't need a gift," I began to say, only to falter as Maeve's gaze turned cold and alien.

"You would disregard the traditions of the Sidhe, that which you have chosen to uphold?" her voice was little more than a hiss, it was as biting as the air itself, cold, harsh, warning.

I felt the stirrings of power within Maeve. It wasn't lashing out, it was… the closest description I could come to, was that it was like a coiled cobra, preparing to lash out. I didn't reach for my power, I didn't want to get into another fight with Maeve.

"I wouldn't," I tried to keep my voice placating, but not condescending.

The build up of power subsided.

"Then accept my gift," Maeve's voice had become slightly husky, she closed the gap between us in a split second. As I opened my mouth to speak, I was silenced. Maeve's lips pressed against mine, and a pleasant chill spread forth from my lips. Her vibrant eyes stared into mine. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't blink, or tear my eyes away. I vaguely felt her arms slip around my neck. Maeve had a cute nose, I absently noted as it pressed lightly against mine. Amusement flashed through Maeve's eyes.

I attempted to tear pull away, remove her lips from mine, but she wouldn't let me, her arms tightened around my neck ever so slightly and she pressed her front against me. Even through the crystallized front of my shirt, I could feel her ample breasts press against me. The mist of her dress did nothing at all to shield her, it was probably why she wore it. Ever so slowly, Maeve pulled her lips away from mine. I only just managed to hold myself back from following her lips. I hadn't noticed how intoxicating they had been until they were gone.

Maeve smiled across at me, her eyes heavy lidded as she pressed her forehead against mine. "You said you were sorry before," she murmured, her voice husky. My brow furrowed in confusion.

Her words drifted through my mind.

You will be.

Maeve's eyes took on the intense, alien look I had always associated with the Sidhe.

"Yes," she hissed out as her lips brushed over my cheek and found their way to my ear, her freezing breath flowed over my ear, "You will be very sorry," a spasm of pain and pleasure tore through my body as she bit down on my ear. My body wouldn't listen to me, it wouldn't move. All I could do was feel the aching pleasure and pain drift through me as Maeve began her revenge.

'Next time I'll get her the god damn chocolates.' Was the only thing that ran through my mind as I felt myself falling.