"I'm putting you in fanfic."
Tamsin's jaw dropped at the statement, so casually delivered by his boss. He had known when she'd informed him of their appointment that some big shakeup was in the works - especially since his last Writer had retired to a life of leisure, and he'd been taking it easy for nearly a month. But this--
"Fanfic? But why? I mean, I've always worked with--"
"Professionals, yes, I know." Calliope's voice dripped with rich amusement. Tamsin fought back a quiver of fear, determined to keep his outbursts under control. It was well known what happened to those who drew her wrath upon themselves. "And that's exactly why I'm assigning you to this Writer. She's also an artist, and she's got herself spread so thin that she'll need your expert assistance to stay focused."
Tamsin did not miss the implied threat. With the tiniest of sighs, he drew himself up and nodded, reaching across the desk for the manila folder she held out to him. It only took a few moments more for him to make the appropriate noises and effect his escape.
Fanfic, he grumbled to himself as he strode slowly down the broad, tree-lined avenue that led away from the main complex of buildings where the Muses lived and worked. It's not fair! How could she... All at once, he realized how pompous his internal voice was sounding, and his laughter startled a cloud of pixies out of the surrounding trees. They chittered at him, tiny voices sparkling light into the air, as he kept on walking.
How very human of him, to protest the fairness of an assignment. He'd been working in one area for too long, and Calliope was, in her way, right, to reassign him like this. It'd give both his new Writer and himself room for growth.
Tamsin didn't even glance up when the sibilant hiss of a small, fire-colored dragon sounded out of nowhere. The tiny creature appeared before him, hissing and scolding in a manner no doubt intended to be intimidating.
"All right, Sable," he sighed finally, offering an arm for the dragonet to land on. "I'm sorry I just left you like that, but I was almost late for my appointment, and you know perfectly well how it would have looked if I hadn't shown up on time. Besides, you made out all right, didn't you?"
Sable preened, settling down on one of Tamsin's shoulders so that her tiny head was draped over Tamsin's collarbone; the rest of her was almost completely hidden beneath the Muse's long, knifeblade-straight black hair. As per usual, Sable's tail had looped into a loose necklet around Tamsin's neck. Tamsin smiled fondly as he scritched the small creature behind her ears.
"Well, you sleep," he said softly. "I have reading to do."
He wandered off the road, already having picked a tree to rest against. Once he'd settled into a comfortable position - and after waking Sable, who chittered at him annoyedly before falling asleep again - he opened the dossier and began to read.
It wasn't much longer after that, with a clear impression of her in his head from the information the dossier provided, that he decided to act.
Inspiration first. Then, in a week or so, he'd pop by and see how she was doing.
* * *
At first she thought the disturbance was just the cats chasing each other.
It happened a lot, after all, especially since Imp and Pounce, the incumbents, had yet to warm up to the new cat, Alistaire. Even after six months of the felines' continued cohabitation, Pam was quite used to mediating fights and shoving them apart on a regular basis.
Although she had to admit, the growls coming from beneath the couch had a more fervent sound than usual. It was rather odd. Maybe another bat had gotten into the apartment when she wasn't looking...
Ah, well. It wouldn't matter for much longer. She grinned to herself, thinking of that.
"Two more weeks," she muttered to herself. "Two more weeks."
"Two more weeks until what?" Tamsin inquired politely.
"'Til my roommate moves out." She didn't even turn around before answering, but then she did. Tamsin had to admit that her double-take was quite amusing.
"Who the hell are you?!"
He decided to try the straightforward route. "I'm your Muse."
Her reaction was a blinking stare. Her mouth closed, then opened again.
"Oh. So it's your fault."
"What?" He couldn't keep from blurting out his first thought.
"That my production is down at work." She swiveled in her chair to face him. "That I'm writing Star Wars: The Phantom Menace slashfic. Slashfic, for gods' sake! That I've got all these characters starting new stories and not finishing any of the old ones."
His brow wrinkled in consternation. He'd never heard of a Muse's inspiration referred to as 'your fault' before.
"I thought you wanted inspiration."
She made a conciliatory gesture. "Well - yeah, yeah, I do. You're correct there. But why the hell couldn't you at least inspire me to finish up one of my old stories before I start a new one?"
Tamsin struggled against the sudden, absurd desire to say, "It's not my fault!", even as he wondered where that desire came from. "Now, be fair," was what he said instead. "I just started as your Muse. I'm not up to date on the incomplete stories." Which was true, from a certain point of view.
"All right. Here." She turned, picked up a sheaf of papers, and thrust them at him. "Catch up on this one. I really want to get it done."
He glanced down at the papers, read the first line ("She didn't like the Jedi"), and nodded. Star Wars fic. That was fine; he'd been giving her the ideas for slashfic already, so he could work with this. (Even if he'd rather have seen Obi-Wan with Qui-Gon than with a Mary Sue character.)
The scent of burning paper filled his nostrils even as Sable began to coo triumphantly, in her "I-got-to-set-something-on-fire" tone. Tamsin gasped and dashed for the sink, which was fortunately only a few steps away, and turned on the water.
"My - my fic," Pam gasped.
"You little pyromaniac," Tamsin muttered to a contentedly warbling Sable. Then, to the author, "You do have a copy of this on disk, right?"
The author reached for a ball of rubberbands sitting on her desk, hefted it suggestively. It was about the size of a softball and looked quite lethal. Tamsin cleared his throat.
"Ah, we'll just be taking our leave, then."
Taking the disk she offered to him, he gathered the tattered shreds of his composure about him, closed his eyes, and teleported.
* * *
Once in the safe haven of his rooms, he dropped the disk on a desk and turned to Sable, who had fluttered off his shoulder to settle on her favorite windowsill. "That was a very poor choice of times to show off your abilities, little dragon," he muttered.
Sable sleepily chirpled, pulled a curtain of sunlight over herself, and curled up to sleep.
"Pest." Tamsin sat down at the desk, popped the disk into his laptop, and began to read.
Hmm. Mary Sue. Well, it is and it isn't. But she's trying. It's a good start.
"This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Sable," he said after some time. There was no answer, but he hadn't expected one. It would take some time, some fine-tuning, but perhaps this line of work wouldn't be so bad after all.
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this page last updated on 18 january 2003