Glim And Chrys Vs. The QQB

This one takes a little explaining. In the course of discussing this post, I snarkily said something along the lines of 'as if there's a national standard for gayness!' Which of course led to thinking about what the government agency in charge of setting/enforcing that standard might involve, and from there, it just kind of snowballed.

Glim is Glimmelindsae Cadet-Maraís, an intrastellar cargo-ship captain; Chrys is a member of the crew and a cyborg to boot. No smut, a little swearing, and a lot of brattiness (some of which is explained afterward). It also ends somewhat abruptly, for which I am sorry. I'll probably finish it eventually.

* * * *

"Why are those people looking at us?" Chrys gestured across the table, toward a pair of people in long coats. One of them was big, with a bull-neck and little in the way of hair on his head. The other was lithe, hair falling over one eye in a dark cascade.

"Hm?" Glim looked up from his food and blinked at the pair. He swallowed what he was chewing, then sighed. "They'll let just anyone in here, that's why," he said.

"But that doesn't explain why they're looking at us." Chrys's eyebrows quirked and he frowned. "Or why they're dressed like that."

"That's because- Aw," Glim groaned as the pair left the line for the cashier and headed their way. The gored skirts of their jackets flowed out behind them as they walked, at least for a few steps. Once they'd gotten in among the tables, however, the effect was decidedly dampened. "Maybe they're here for someone else, or maybe they just forgot something."

Chrys cocked his head and watched the two. "That may be. And that man is wearing a lilac coat."

"Lavender," the thick one said, coming to a stop beside Chrys' chair. "It's lavender."

"Lilac," Chrys said, calmly, slipping a hand into the pocket of his own coat. He retrieved a display screen, which he unrolled and held up; a few seconds later and it lit, showing two swatches of purple. "Your coat is lilac, see?"

"Hello, Pavlova, Lamington." Glim crossed his arms and leaned back. "Is there something I can help you with? Perhaps directions to the exit?"

"It's Lambington, with a B," the slender one said. Up close, Chrys could see that his pants were so tight that everyone could tell that he dressed right. "And Pavlov."

Pavlov glowered at Chrys and his screen. "It is lavender. The Queerness Qualification Bureau would provide nothing less."

"The Queerness Qualification Bureau?" Chrys' head tilted to the left, a small smirk slipping across his mouth. "Perhaps you missed what wearing."

"My partner is wearing black, which is always in style," Pavlov said, his eyes narrowing as he spoke. "And who are you?"

"Chrys Cygeneers, first mechanical mate for Neptune's Mystery under Captain Cadet-Maraís. You, on the other hand, are Walter J. Pavlov, field agent for the QQB and current title-holder in several body-building contests, most notably and recently Mister Muscles for this planet."

"Chrys?" Pavlov pulled his datacard from his own pocket and took a picture of Chrys. A few moments later, he was staring at the man. "Your first name is Chrysler Building?"

"That is correct," Chrys said, primly. "Chrysler Building DeSoto Cygeneers."

Lambington, meanwhile, was regarding Glim with interest. "This your new squeeze?"

"Hardly," Glim said, rolling his eyes. "As Chrys said, he's my mechanic. He's not a big fan of sleeping with anyone at the moment, anyhow."

"Why? What's wrong with you?" Lambington shifted his weight, cocking his hip and taking a deep breath. A gap opened up between the hem of his shirt and the waistband of his jeans, revealing a strip of pale smooth skin. "Is this something that should be brought to our official attention?"

"It's nothing to do with me at all," Glim said, shrugging and pointedly ignoring the little display. "And no. In fact, I'd be perfectly happy if you were to forget that I exist, officially or otherwise."

"As that's not going to happen, sweetie, you might as well spill it." Lambington pulled out the chair to Glim's right and dropped into it, his coat falling open to frame the line of his body as he did. His backside was somewhat precariously perched on the edge of the seat, while his shoulders rested against the upper edge of the back. It appeared to be a distinctly uncomfortable position, though he made it look effortless. "You know perfectly well that you've got another eighteen months to go before you drop another couple of points."

"You know, it wasn't until I met the two of you that I really understood why my parents urged me to think long and hard about giving up my citizenship." Glim adjusted his position, deliberately kicking the sole of Lambington's left boot as he did. "To make a rather boring story even more dull, I ran into Chrys while at Man's Ruin. Needing a mechanic and suffering from some sort of neurological malfunction, I purchased him on the spot for a whopping twenty-five credits, took him home, and he's been my mechanic since."

Lambington not only refused to stop his slouchy sprawling, he settled his right ankle over his left and laced his hands together behind his head. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that a good six inches of his admittedly decent-looking abs were exposed to the gaze of all and sundry--and that in most government agencies his behaviour would be considered deeply unprofessional--he chuckled. "You bought Chrys from Man's Ruin? Maybe Pav and I should let Mummy know. That may even get you a couple more points shaved off."

"You do not seem to be the sort who would work for their mother," Chrys said, pocketing his display screen.

Pavlov shook his head. "Mummy is what we call our supervisor," he said. "She insists. That and she chucks a wobbly if you call her Hyacinth."

"I see," Chrys said, making a note to ask Glim about it later. "Why are you here?"

"We're hungry, same as you," Pavlov said, then made an amused sort of sound. "Well, maybe not you, precisely."

"I am able to derive nutrients from prepared foods, same as you," Chrys said, arching a brow as he echoed Pavlov's words. "I am told that doing so makes me less creepy."

"Huh," Pavlov said, a considering look on his face. "Well, then."

"So what were you doing at Man's Ruin, Glimmy? Business, pleasure, or either or neither or both?" Lambington watched as an older man nearly ran into a short woman with electric-blue hair, arching a little and smirking as the man blushed. "You can snap me, sweetpea, I don't mind."

The man shook his head, turned on his heel, and hurried away.

"I'd put him on a leash, but the incorrigible brat would like it," Pavlov sighed. "Sometimes, it's more difficult to do my job than you would expect."

Chrys nodded at him. "I have found that to be true in my job as well. For example, when I began the process of repairing Mystery's air scrubbers, I discovered that I had to make some adjustments to the HVAC systems. However, before I could make those adjustments, I needed to deal with some problems in the electrical system. It was far more irritating and complicated than it should have been."

"What is wrong with you?" Glim pulled a face at Lambington, reaching for his soda. "You already know the answer to the question, so I won't even bother."

"I'm young and pretty and if I don't have fun now I'll end up a sour old spinster," Lambington said, grinning at Glim. "Which means I'd probably have to stow away on your ship, and you wouldn't want that, would you?"

"Stop tormenting Mister Cadet-Maraís," Pavlov said, "before I come over there and flick your ear."

"You wouldn't enjoy being aboard, Lamington," Glim said, rolling his eyes again. "You'd be stuck with three men who'd all refuse your advances, providing you could find Radley in the first place."

"Lambington," he said, losing his insouciant tone and sitting up straight. Lambington pulled his shirt down, then gestured at himself. "Do I look like I'm covered in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut?"

"You look like an escaped theater major," Glim said, his face twisting a little as he struggled valiantly against a smile. "One that needs a haircut."

"Oh dear," Pavlov said, glancing at Glim. "Mister Cadet-Maraís-"

"What did you say?" Lambington's visible eye narrowed and he shot to his feet.

"A particularly unstylish theater major in need of a makeover," Glim said, blithely, then noisily slurped at the dregs of his soda. "Where'd you get those pants, from your little sister?"

"Outside," Lambington hissed, throwing his right arm out to point dramatically in the direction of the kitchen. "Now."

"No," Glim said, finally allowing himself a smile. Holding up his glass, he rattled the ice. "I'm still thirsty. Think I'll go get a refill, actually. You want anything while I'm up, Chrys?"

"I am replete, thank you," Chrys said. He gestured at Lambington. "I believe you may wish to apologize to Agent Lambington, however."

"No, I don't think I will," Glim said, getting up. "He's entirely too pissed off to listen, and he wouldn't believe me anyhow."

"You're going to go outside with me. Now. Or I will arrest you for refusing to cooperate with a government agent, right here, in front of all these people," Lambington said, with an odd little flourish that took in the whole of the restaurant. "It's up to you."

"All right," Glim said, setting his glass down and picking up his own jacket. All of his amusement had drained away, leaving irritation in its wake. "Chrys and Pavlova come, too. I want witnesses for whatever you're planning to do."

"Fine." The single sharp word is followed by an equally-sharp nod, Lambington turning away in a swirl of black fabric.

Chrys rose and gave Pavlov an apologetic look. "Excuse me," he said, and followed Glim and Lambington. Pavlov just shrugged, muttered something about idiot boys thinking with their dicks, and went along.

Lambington stood in the middle of the aisle of the parking lot immediately in front of the restaurant's doors, the skirt of his coat pushed back behind his hips, his feet set wide.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that I was facing a duel with pistols at ten paces," Glim said, pausing at the back of a blue sedan.

"I don't carry a service weapon," Lambington said, scowling at the man. "This isn't a duel, either. Come over here. Now."

Glim shook his head. "What for?"

"What- You said-" Lambington closed his eyes, put a hand over them, and took a deep breath. He let it out slowly, then advanced on Glim. "You insulted my sense of style," he snarled.

"Then you'd better go back inside and ask for everyone else who thinks you look silly to come get in line, because I'm not the only one." Glim jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Which isn't an insult to what passes for your sense of taste, it's merely a statement of opinion. Which means that you cannot legally do anything to me. As usual." He gave the agent a sweet smile.

"Pavlov!" Lambington stood up straight and removed his coat, folding it carefully. "Come hold my coat."

"Taking your coat off doesn't take you off the clock," Pavlov said, though he did take it from him. Then he reached up and flicked the back of Lambington's near ear, hard.

"Ow, fuck! That hurt, Pav, what the hell."

Glim pressed a fist to his mouth to stifle his laughter at the look of betrayal on Lambington's face.

"You're being an utter twat, Lambs," Pavlov said, "and I can't believe you get enough blood to your dick to think with it. I am hungry. We are going to leave Misters Cygeneers and Cadet-Maraís alone, go inside, pay, retrieve sustenence, and eat. And we will do it now. Or I will tie you up and leave you in the trunk of our car."

"Excuse me, Agent Pavlov?" Chrys held up a hand.

"Yes?" Pavlov's brows rose.

"I do not believe restraining your partner and securing him in the trunk of your vehicle would be wise. Based on the current ambient temperatures and the projected weather patterns for this afternoon, the interior of any given vehicle is likely to be ten to twenty-five degrees hotter than the ambient air temperature, and depending on the make and model of your vehicle, there may be little to no air-flow in the trunk space, which may lead to heat stroke, dehydration, and possibly even death." The corners of Chrys' eyes wrinkled a little as he inclined his head a few degrees to his right, as if listening to something. "I have a list of vehicles and their air-flow schematics, if you'd care to tell me what you're driving."

"It was an empty threat," Lambington said, carefully, forgetting most of his earlier anger. "Pav tells me he's going to tie me up and put me in the trunk, or leave me in an empty conference room, or a closet, or under a sink, or, in one particularly amusing instance, throw me naked into a women's locker room. He's never done any of it."

Chrys blinked and twitched his head minutely. "Oh. Forgive me, sometimes rhetoric is not immediately obvious to me."

"I see." Lambington waved the words away, then turned to Pavlov and took his coat back. "Thanks, Pav."

"It's been real and it's been fun, but I can't say it's been real fun," Glim said, grabbing Chrys' arm and pulling him toward the sidewalk. "Maybe we can do it again someday. Maybe to celebrate Lamington getting his first big-boy haircut."

"Come back here! You're going to- Ow, leggo- Pav!"

"I suppose you do have to antagonize him, don't you?" Chrys said, as Glim hurried them between two cars and over the strip of decorative vegetation that seperated the lot from the path. "Why?"

"Because it's kind of funny," Glim said, looking up and down the road for the bus stop. "It's not as if I don't make him crazy enough by simply existing, anyway."

"How does that happen?" Chrys followed him down the sidewalk.

"Well... It's a little bit complicated. The short version goes like this: my religious beliefs render me basically untouchable by the Cube." Glim pulled his datacard out and called up his bus pass. "The worst they can do is pile points onto my social profiles, which keeps me out of certain bars, clubs, stores, and even a few churches. It also keeps me from being able to affiliate myself with certain groups. It's not really a big deal, though, and that's one big part of what bothers them about me."

"That's... Strange. What's the rest of it?"

"Mm, the rest of it? Well, Lamby's never quite gotten over the fact that I refuse to assist him in behaving unethically, that's all," he said, checking the bus schedule. Discovering that the next bus was ten minutes out, he sat down on the bench and made himself as comfortable as he could.

Chrys seated himself beside Glim and glanced toward the restaurant. "Should you have mentioned his desire to behave unethically to Agent Pavlov or Mummy?"

Glim shrugged. "I could have, but if Pavlov hasn't done anything about it, yet, I don't see why I should. I don't mind teasing Lambington, but I wouldn't want him to actually get in trouble--hence turning him down when he suggested we sleep together."

"I see. This is one of those situations where humanity is simply beyond me, I'm afraid." Chrys tilted his head back and watched a gull fly over. "I can't decide if I wish I understood how you people work."

He nudged Chrys with an elbow and made an amused sound. "I know, it doesn't really make much sense. His job annoys me, but I'm not interested in causing him real problems, because it wouldn't be right. And one of the cornerstones of my life and faith, such as it is, is to do what is right."


- Awydd - fiction index -

Pavlova and lamington are desserts from Australia. I started with Buttercup and Lambington, but it wasn't quite right... After a minute or two of reflection, I hit upon pavlova and there we are.