First off I'd like to apologize for leaving this for so long without updating; those of you familiar with a Discworld roleplay forum called "Orderly Chaos" will know that it's been devouring my creative processes like Rincewind on a potato — and now, I suppose, the rest of you will know that too.
Second off (?), I know this is awfully short, but let me assure you that more will be coming. Soon. I hope. Because I'd almost given up on fanfic for a while, but this is one of my favorite stories, and I don't know about you, but I'm not ready for Gawain and Twyla's adventure to be over yet...
. : Ch. VII : .
Despite Twyla's dirty looks, Gawain had invited his new friend to their "proper lunch". He seemed to feel that despite all evidence to the contrary the young man must be wasting away from living in Dimwell and needed feeding up. Andy Shank hadn't complained. Neither had Twyla, because a lady never displays discomfort. She often felt guttersnipes were to be greatly envied.
But she wasn't a guttersnipe and couldn't afford to act like one, and truth be told didn't think she could bring herself to in any case. Too much damn self-respect. So Twyla sat primly carving up her beefsteak and watching their guest inhale his meal as if he wanted to get it all down before the coppers showed up.
"So you just — splurk?" Andy made a stabbing motion. "With a poker? A bloody poker?"
"It wasn't until I put the eye out with it!'' said Gawain, gleeful at his own wit. The two roared. Twyla took a bite so pointed she expected it to cut her tongue.
"You know what you got there, kid? You could do sod-near anything with that eye. You could put Unseen University outta business."
Gawain shrugged with genuine modesty. "I don't know about that. I don't even know how to use it, really. But I can... sense the marks the previous owner left on it, I s'pose, and it tells me what to do, sort of."
You're telling him too much, Twyla growled mentally.
"No kidding." Andy downed a gulp of ginger beer (Gawain hadn't allowed him to buy the real stuff; he'd agreed as mild as a mouse, and Twyla's eyes had automatically narrowed). "So, like— it's got a built-in manual? Like one of them fancy magic planners?"
"A bit like that, yes."
Andy whistled. "Where'd you get the little bugger, anyway?"
Gawain hesitated. It wasn't that he didn't trust the man, but—well, he didn't entirely. He would have liked to. His mother had raised him— no, that wasn't right, was it? His mother had told him that trust was a wonderful and precious thing, but Susan had raised him, and Susan raised smart people. Not necessarily trusting people. "I found it," he said airily. "In a grate." Partly true.
"Damn lucky find." Andy toasted him. "Wish I could get my hands on somethin' like that. What you done with it so far?"
"Oh, not much," said Gawain airily. "A few tricks like what I showed you earlier. I can see quite far with it, too."
"Yeah? Can I have a look?"
The eye crackled in consternation, attempting to skitter further back into its socket, and Andy actually jumped as Gawain bit his lip. "I don't think that's a very good idea, Andy. It might not work the same for you as it does for me." And I don't want to lose it. Ever. Ever. "Besides, I'm not sure I could get it out."
"I could try," Andy offered a little too quickly. Gawain shook his head. "Maybe... maybe later. Anyway," he added, "you haven't told me anything about yourself yet. D'you live in Dimwell, then?"
Andy seemed willing enough to brag about himself. The conversation quickly turned uninteresting to Twyla, and she leaned back, absently chewing on her fork and staring at rather than through the windowpane.
There they were, reflected. Herself with her sharp face and wavy dark hair just like Father's— not pretty, but not exactly unattractive either—; Andy Shank, big and bold and a bit brutish with his scars and his jagged flashing grin; and—
The strangest thing. Gawain was there in the reflection all right, next to her and across from Shank, but someone else seemed to be in his place as well. Slightly taller, paler-haired, all in black and weirdly incorporeal— as she stared bits and pieces of the figure who wasn't there seemed to flicker out of sight, decaying in warped patches that melted and reappeared. Like a shadow-puppet in front of a moving lantern, or a reflection in disturbed water.
As she squinted, frowning, the figure rippled and turned. To her. A flash of white teeth, and a flicker of gold as one eye winked—
She jerked back, gasping. The fork fell from her mouth with a clatter.
The reflection was gone. So was Shank. Gawain had his hand on her shoulder. "I've paid. Let's go."
"What? Oh..." Past the glass, a green coat disappeared round the corner. "Yes, all right. We had better get back before Mother notices we've gone. If she hasn't already."
Gawain's face fell at this. He struggled into his coat and began hunting for the hat. Twyla watched him, unmoving.
He looked up, nearly thumping his head on the table. "Whoops! I think Andy's still got the hat. He must have put it on again when he left by mistake. I'll ask next time I see— what's the matter?"
"Only you're looking at me a bit funny—"
"It's nothing," she lied. "I just... it's nothing."
Gawain chattered all the way home about the things he was going to do and the plans he and Andy had been dreaming up. Twyla tried to listen. She didn't do very well. Her mind was filled with transparent smiles and ghostly eyes: one glittery, one gold.