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The New Recruit


Re: The New Recruit

Post by Metarie on

Azuel shifted and moved until he was in front of her. He still held her hand. When he bumped their foreheads, she couldn't help but smile. Mire's smile faltered only slightly when he said he wanted to be 'just friends.'

Mire gave a little, soft laugh and shook her head. When she looked at him, the pride in him and care she felt shone through. What a silly, foolish man. How could he not see that everything he said only solidified the way she viewed him?

"I ... " Mire paused. She didn't know how to explain it.

"The Azuel I have met has had constraints put on him that the Azu then, didn't. I don't know how they happened and I hope you will tell me one day." Mire lifted her free hand and placed it over his heart. "But, I can see Azu, now, too." Mire didn't say why she would be willing to do all that. She suspected he knew it was because, like him, she had conflicting views of herself and her role in society.

"And, I want to be friends with you." She nodded before looking down in embarrassment.

"Azu, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have coerced you." Never mind that he had kissed her first. She had misinterpreted the kiss for something other than it was. Mire wanted to change the subject, but felt that since he was being honest she should be, too. "I think you forgive me for that since you say you think we should be friends?" For whatever reason, she missed the bit where he said 'friends, first.' .

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Azuel Vyaduka on

A relieved smile worked its way onto his lips. She agreed with him. He would have been horrifically conflicted had she not, but she had. Even though it was apparent she remained conflicted, his confidence in his choice was boosted dramatically. It felt somehow reassuring to know that he wasn’t the only one who felt a little clueless.

“Yes, I-” He stopped. Had she coerced him? He hadn’t even considered that possibility, so quick had he been to blame his own lust for her. His heart skipped a beat at the thought and he swallowed. She was partially at fault then. His expression did not change, but his head dropped slightly. It was another small testament to the lack of control he had around Mire— who else could do what she did to him?

He leaned forwards once again, but this time his head also moved sideways so that he didn’t bump into her. His smile gradually morphed into a more bemused, apologetic expression, though his white teeth remained visible and his mouth still held the shape of his grin. “I hadn’t even considered it from that angle. I had only been thinking about it from the view of... of self blame.”

He sighed, reevaluating everything once again and standing up. He put his arm on her shoulder and pulled her up too, whereupon he finally let go of her hand. “Of course I forgive you. I’m as much to blame as you are, Mire. I made my own choices... even if you, uh,” his voice grew wobbly, embarrassed and unstable, “...had a strong influence on them.”

He was unable to contain his snicker at the statement though it was plain he was still uncomfortable. If had been perfectly frank with her, he might have told her that he wasn’t completely certain how he felt about this. But he needed to laugh a little to shave off some of his unease, and he did so softly until he controlled himself shortly. He took a deep, stabilizing breath. He collapsed into the chair and looked up at her. This hadn’t gone too poorly.

“So... what now?”

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Metarie on

“I hadn’t even considered it from that angle. I had only been thinking about it from the view of... of self blame.” Mire looked owlishly at him, eyes wide. She nodded. It hadn't been all her, then. It hadn't been just a natural physical reaction, he'd at least been partially invested. Relief flooded her.

Azuel snickered, which made her giggle. She looked up at him as he lifted and plopped back down into the chair. He was attractive, especially when he smiled. Mire quelled that thought quickly, particularly at his next words.

“So... what now?”

With his laugh, the world turned to rights and Mire felt like herself again.

"Uhm... dinner?" She was smiling. Mire lifted to a stand position effortlessly, a testament to her athleticism and fitness and moved to pull what she'd ordered from the bag.

"I've got a few bottles of ale here and a... hmm.. chicken pot pie. Plus, hm..." Mire moved to the kitchen, carrying the pot pie with her. Using a match, she lit the pot-bellied stove. Which, in retrospect was good, because Azuel was soaked through. The stove would warm the apartment and take the chill out of the air. Mire usually just bundled up in layers when it wasn't horribly cold. Mire opened the cold pantry and peered inside. "I've also got some winter apples. OH!"

Mire turned around suddenly and looked at Azuel.

"You're soaked through!" Mire smacked her hand to her forehead. "Come on, you can borrow something of mine and we'll hang your things in the kitchen. The heat from the stove will dry them quickly. Promise. You'll catch cold if you stay in those things." With quick efficiency, two apples were pulled out of the storage, the potpie placed in the oven to reheat, and Mire was suddenly in her closet.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Azuel Vyaduka on

Azuel nodded at the notion of dinner, finding it agreeable. He hadn’t thought to eat anything upon awakening and talking to Latifa. Oh, that’s right. He had talked to Latifa. He would probably have to warn Mire about her at some point. It wouldn’t make the best dinner conversation, but Azuel supposed it would have to do.

He was glad to see she was using a stove, reaching the same conclusions about warmth as she was. When she suddenly spoke up about the state of his clothing, Azuel started to reassure her “Oh, it doesn’t really matter all that-”

Wait, wear her clothes? Azuel’s face became all screwed up as he immediately imagined himself in some sort of feminine dress. He chastised himself for the thought immediately, realizing that she probably didn’t have that in mind. He stood, wandering over to her, trying not to let his apprehension show on his face. He was wet, and while he could deal with it he had little reason to refuse her offer, besides the fact that wearing her clothes might be incredibly awkward.

He didn’t let his discomfort show. He was regaining his self control around her, bit by bit. Of course, he suspected that if she started acting like she had last night that would all go right out the window. But Azuel felt safe around her now; she seemed genuine in her guilt over what had been her part in their mistakes. He was over thinking this. It was best to just go along with it as if everything was normal.

“Alright.” He said simply, "Although I'm not certain if I'll fit."

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Metarie on

When Mire turned, Azuel was beside her. A meep of sound escaped her. How had she not noticed? Mire chuckled a little and lifted out a big, fluffy robe.

"Well, I was thinking this." Ok, granted it was thread-bare in a few places, but it would cover him up. Draping the robe over her arm, she pulled out a pair of shorts. They tied at the waist and were a little big on her. "And, these." Another dig into the wardrobe surfaced up a pair of thick, soft socks. "And, these."

Mire smiled at him. "I'll go into the bathroom while you change." The bathroom wasn't really big enough for much else than what it was designed for. Mire pushed the things at him and ducked into the bathroom, closing the door.

"Just leave the clothes on the counter. I'll hang them when I come out." She called through the door.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Azuel Vyaduka on

Azuel blinked at the clothing she handed him. It was awfully colorful. Azuel had worked hard to make certain his usual attire let him blend into the background as much as possible. This robe she had handed him was a light green reminiscent of spring. It personally reminded Azuel of her eyes, which were of a similar coloration. And possibly the reason she had chosen it.

He was beginning to regret this decision. He had never liked standing out. It felt like lying about his mood and introversion to the world, which was pretty depressing now that he thought about it.

He realized he was staring at the garments without doing anything, leaving Mire stuck in the bathroom. Feeling negligent, his cheeks turned red and he quickly undressed, slipping into the robe and shorts first. His wet clothing lay in a drenched pile on the floor nearby.

When done, he picked up all his wet clothing and started walking to hang them up himself, having absentmindedly forgotten that Mire had offered to do so for him. “Alright Mire, I’m done.”

By the time she had opened the door, he had already hung up half his clothing. Having run out of hooks, he had hung his cloak over hers. Since both had been severely drenched by the rain regardless he didn’t see much reason why he shouldn’t.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Metarie on

When Azuel called her, Mire opened the door. The first thing she did was look at him. He was hanging his clothes everywhere.

"Oh, Azu!" She laughed. Maybe this was because he was used to having servants or a bigger home? "No, no... you're getting water all over the floor." She was grinning, chiding him, but nicely.

"Here." Mire moved to a round bump on the kitchen wall and pulled out a piece of thick twine. "Let me. Will you get the pot-pie from the oven? It smells like it's done. The oven mitt is hanging right there." Another hook with two oven mitts on it was on the wall nearest the stove.

Meanwhile, Mire moved around Azuel and collected his clothes and hung them neatly with clothes line pegs, even his underpants. She wasn't embarrassed by touching them. This was no different than doing the laundry at the orphanage. She hung his pants last, with the tops closest to the warmth of the stove. The thicker fabric at the waist always took the longest and she'd figured out years ago that doing this meant the clothes dried more easily. Something fell from his pocket.

In curiosity, Mire leaned over and picked it up. She bit her bottom lip and moved to the table. Reaching for the towel, she placed the paper wrapped mini-package on the table.

With an amused twinkle in her eye, she said, "Friends, huh?" She was grinning and couldn't help it. His reaction was going to be priceless.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Azuel Vyaduka on

Azuel, to his credit, immediately realized his mistake. “Oh! I uh, right. Sorry.”

Afraid of making another embarrassing blunder, he let her handle the rest. Besides, she was telling him to get the pot-pie from the oven. Not even he could make an error with such a simple task. Eager to atone, he moved to the task with vigor.

Azuel strode over to the oven and slipped on the mitt. It too was a light, cheering color and Azuel was starting to feel rather emasculated. If he complained about it though, he knew he’d rapidly come to feel even worse, so he simply let it slide.

He retrieved the pot pie from the oven, lifting it over to the table. It did smell done, and besides that it smelled good. He let the scent fill his nostrils and flood his thoughts in an attempt to forget his prior embarrassment. Once the aroma had worked a therapeutic effect on him, he managed to stumble over to the seat and sit down without having looked like a complete buffoon. He silently congratulated himself on his small victory, pathetic though it was, to restore his failing confidence.

Azuel blinked. Mire had approached the table with a mischievous grin plastered on her face. What was this about? Azuel’s jaw hung open a little as he stared uncomprehendingly at her face. She was holding her arm out, and dropped something on the tabletop.

Though he didn’t particularly care to face what she had discovered, it was hard for him to deny the condom, sitting there in the ignorant, innocent way only a treacherous inanimate object ever could. Azuel face immediately cycled through a dozen variations of embarrassment, momentarily displaying shock, frustration, anxiety, anger and fear before continuing on to mock the very concept of facial expressions with hybrids of the previous ones.

“I- Uh, you” He stammered, having chosen to settle on fear. He physically recoiled from the table, pushing his chair a few steps backwards, “It was just in case, you uh, I, uh, um, I don’t have, er, what I’m trying to say is-”

Azuel went completely stiff and his cheeks turned red. He sat their obstinately, his posture stuck in a nervous spasm, refusing to dig himself any deeper by opening his mouth or moving. He looked up from the condom at her face, his stare unflinching, in an act which could be interpreted as either daring her to make smart comments or begging her to let the matter quietly drop to the side.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Metarie on

A small, knowing smile curved her lips. Mire leaned down and brought her face down, lips hovering close to his. With a sudden motion, she pressed a kiss to his...

... cheek. She whispered into his ear.

"Go put it on the bed stand. We'll use it as a reminder of our choice to be friends."

Pulling back from him, she gave him a nod and a gentle smile, albeit one with mischief still playing around the edges. "I'll get the rest of the things for dinner."

With that, she easily navigated his now drying clothes to re-emerge with the apples, hard cheese, and some bread, allowing him a moment to digest what had happened and recover a bit of his equilibrium. The first bottle was popped open. The metal ring-clip, clattered softly against the hardened clay. Mire poured them each a half glass, emptying the bottle, before serving them each half of everything on the table.

" To good company and good friends." Mire lifted her glass and waited for Azuel.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Azuel Vyaduka on

His composure broke when she leaned in, but he rather tellingly did not edge away from her. He still held a strong desire for her, regardless of what he thought was best for them. When she kissed him on the cheek, he only became more nervous; having no mother and a turbulent relationship with his existing family members, Azuel’s previous experiences with kissing were limited almost exclusively sexual contact with Elemire. It happened that he could recall many times during their intimacies that she had kissed him all across his body. He could feel his body react to the touch of her lips, the butterflies which filled his stomach as well as the more primal reactions.

It was only when she whispered into his ear that he partially recovered. Had she chosen to press the matter he suspected they would currently both be in the bed, letting the chicken pot pie cool upon the table until it would be uncomfortable to eat.

His cheeks still painted red, the most visible outward sign of his infatuation and embarrassment, Azuel made haste to complete her instructions. He tried not to think to hard about the condom as symbolic of their friendship, nor the possibilities that might arise from one so near. He hurriedly set it on her nightstand and hastened back to the table, dropping into his seat with some force and wondering when his humiliation would end.

So lost was he in his thoughts that it took Azuel a moment to notice what she was proposing they do with their meal. Startled, he moved for his glass and nearly spilled it in his haste to complete the toast. He lifted his and managed to complete the toast without making any further mistakes. He wondered at the domino effects of embarrassment; make one mistake, and it seems a dozen others would inevitably follow.

“To good friends” he replied, nodding. With the clink of their glasses upon one another, Azuel was relieved to see that the dominoes seemed to have reached their limit for now.

He took a small sip before setting at the foods. When conversation became valid, he decided it was time to forewarn her. “So, I should probably tell you something. In my... um, confusion, I did talk about us to my sister. It ended with her giving me the uh,” his eyes wandered meaningfully to the nightstand, “which is a story I’d rather not repeat. But about midway through, she declared that she had to meet you. So if my sister suddenly ambushes you one day... try to be honest with her. She’s a very, erm, direct person. She’ll ask about me.” He stuffed his mouth with pie, enjoying the flavor, before continuing. “And since she might as well be able to read my mind, it’s pointless to try anything deceptive. Anything that would contradict what I would have to tell her, anyways.”

Azuel couldn’t overstate how relieved he was that their relationship had gone the way it did. Once Latifa was properly informed that things had cooled off between himself and Mire, she would be much less likely to gossip or accidentally let the matter slip. She wouldn’t find friendship as cute or funny. He just hoped Mire would be able to handle her when she did approach, or he didn’t know what would happen.

Azuel really disliked all this uncertainty that had entered his life. He frowned, then looked up to gauge Mire’s reaction to the news. He supposed there was plenty of ways information like this could be taken.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Metarie on

Mire watched Azuel plop hard into the chair. She watched he expressions flow across his face like water, to the point that the hand that wasn't holding up the glass became a prop for her cheek. He touched his glass to hers and replied, but was still obviously uncomfortable. His discomfort was painful to see, but Mire also thought that maybe, just maybe, he needed to be pushed out of that comfort zone because it was his hiding place. Mire knew he had potential. She just needed to support, cajole, and gently love him out of his hidey hole. She'd also need patience. The latter was not her strong suit.

Mire took a few sips from the glass before beginning to eat. She continued to listen as he spoke, gazing at him as she chewed her food. A swallow, a drink, and a nod. He'd talked to his sister about her and about them being intimate? Inwardly, Mire jumped for joy. Didn't that mean that he wanted to be more than friends? She managed to keep from smiling too much... mostly.

"I'd like to meet your sister. I'm direct, too, if you haven't noticed. And Azu, I have no reason to lie to your sister unless you ask me to." MIre gave a half-laugh and a smile. Having finished her half of the pot pie, Mire lifted a piece of cheese and an apple slice. She pointed the apple slice in his direction.

"You'll have to help with the dishes, you know." A change in subject was given to indicate all was OK as far as Mire was concerned. The rest of the evening was quiet and without much upset, other than the fact that drying clothes can take a few hours, leaving Azuel in Mire's fluffy robe, shorts, and fluffy socks and a need to pass the time.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Azuel Vyaduka on

Three Hours Later

Elemire’s head rested on his shoulder, having fallen into a slumber. She snored softly, releasing a sound which Azuel found endearing; her hand was on his outer thigh, and Azuel had pretended not to notice when it had darted inwards earlier. Azuel set the book they had been reading down, making certain he set it down beside him rather than on her hand. He was also unwilling to move such that she awoke. He wasn’t one to wake another for something as small as his own convenience. He kept his shoulder still for her while he turned his eyes from the pages to her form.

He felt weakened by the sight of her, privately acknowledging his desire to pick up where they left off last night. His expression changed from a contented grin to a mournful frown. He was certain that he had made the right choice by asking her to remain as a friend, but it was clear that she wanted more. He did too; he could admit that. But there were so many barriers between them. How could they remain happy in a turbulent life like that?

He leaned back a bit, turning his face up to the ceiling. It was blank, and he found it easier to work through his thoughts without distractions. If they worked at it, perhaps they might one day be able to work through all the hate such a union would cause. Perhaps they would simply accept it, and find some sort of peace amidst the scorn.

But no matter what they did, one thing would never change. His head lowered back to her, his eyes fixing on her ear. He remembered nuzzling it, kissing it, and biting it. He knew he wanted to again. But it also marked her as an elf. The fact would never change: she could outlive him by two hundred years. There was no force on earth that Azuel knew of that could change his lifespan, barring vampirism. Of course, that was an attribute which was something Azuel could never accept nor was likely to acquire.

The point his was driving towards, as circularly as he possibly could so as to draw out thinking about the issue directly, was that when he was old and dying, she would still look like she did now. He had changed in the last two years; near as Azuel could tell, she had not. How could she not see the outcome that must inevitably befall her? Regardless of whether their relationship became public or private, she would have to deal with his loss, and before that, his old and broken body.

Their relationship so far had been based on passion. When that died, what would be left to them? Would frustration take hold? Would they be miserable? By entering a relationship, they would be acting in a shortsighted manner.

He sighed, knowing he could tell himself that all he wanted and might never really believe it. He would still want, more than anything else, a relationship with Mire. The question became a choice between living a life of either suppression and denial or difficulty and sorrow.

That had gotten depressing quickly. Azuel didn’t like being a pessimist, it’s just that being one so often seemed to make him right. He raised his hand to Elemire’s far shoulder, his hand across her back, and shook her awake.

“Mire,” he called softly, “I should be going soon.” He considered making a joke about being her pillow, but hesitated for long enough he felt as if it would be awkward to say it. Instead he waited for her to rouse.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Metarie on

The rest of the evening passed pleasantly enough as they waited for Azuel's clothes to dry.

30 minutes in included dish washing turned into splashing water and laughter - at least for Mire. The warmth of the stove and the ale reddened the apples of Mire's cheeks.

1 hour in and the apartment was nice and toasty. Three rounds of backgammon occurred, of which Mire lost two and during which Mire shed her long sleeved shirt and put up her hair, leaving her in a sleeveless shift and shorts. She honestly wasn’t thinking of how she might look, what with the line of her shoulders and neck so bare, ears so blatantly exposed, the rise and fall of unfettered breasts under the snugness of the shift’s fabric, or how bare her legs were.

No, she was just comfortable around him and also too warm and had done something to remedy the situation. She sat cross-legged in her chair and changed from sharing a single bottle to them each having their own bottle. Four bottles remained. Azuel would find that Mire was actually a tad bit competitive, but she lost well... mostly.

The next hour, two bottles remained, maybe three depending on how much Azuel consumed. This hour found them on the couch with books and with Mire leaning against Azuel in a way that was reminiscent of their childhood days. Overall she hadn’t been too handsy (for her) with him, even despite the drinking.

If Mire bothered to think about it, she’d think she’d done well, considering she could see a little bit of his chest and its hair through the gap of the robe and her fingers so wanted to touch it. But, no! She’d persevered and remained as a friend. Friends did not put their hands in friend’s clothing. Never mind the bit where she had unconsciously, rubbed her fuzzy socked foot on his fuzzy socked foot or drawn little circles in the fuzz of the robe with the hand not supporting the book, or had ran her fingers over the hair of his outer and inner thigh. She hadn’t even noticed she was doing that.

Every now and then, she’d murmur and show him some passage or other that she thought well-written. The stove had begun to burn down and the quilt from the bed covered them on the two-person couch. It still smelled like them, but what could be done about that? There'd been no time to do laundry. Laundry days were reserved for her off days. Besides, she only had the one quilt. She'd rather sleep in a quilt that smelled like them over being cold. Regardless, by the end of the hour, Mire had fallen asleep with her head on his shoulder, her book laying across her thighs. Yet another thing reminiscent of their childhood. She may or may not have snored softly. If she did, she’d deny it.

By the end of the hour, the storm had also abated, leaving a quiet over the entire apartment. Marn was asleep, but for those whose jobs required them to be awake. Most likely, Azuel’s shirt had dried the hour before as had his underpants. The heavier fabric of his pants might have only just dried.

“Mire, I should be going soon.”

Mire hadn’t slept so well in years. Azuel’s arm around her shoulders, his hand on her back, all conspired to make the sleeping elf curve toward him more when he shook her. Mire rolled to her left, drawing her knees up until they rested on Azuel’s thigh. Mire’s nose burrowed into Azuel’s throat. Her nose was cold. The hand that had been on his thigh curled in to rest against her chest. The other hand slid from her legs with the book in tow. The book fell with a soft thump onto the seat behind her rear before slipping from the duvet to the floor with another soft thump. The blanket had couched its fall. If Azuel really wanted to leave, he’d have to try harder to wake her or move her to the bed himself.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Azuel Vyaduka on

She rolled towards him, her limbs creeping over his body. Azuel’s first reaction was to pull away but a lingering desire not to disturb her, and worry that she would fall, kept him from moving quickly enough to escape. His head swam, but his eyes, still fixated on the pointed ear that now was placed just below his lips, seemed to focus with even more clarity.

He took a deep breath in and closed his eyes, trying to calm himself. It enjoyed mixed success, restoring his sight and thoughts to clarity while only bringing her intimate touch into greater focus. He fidgeted around, fighting the urge to wrap himself around her, until she stopped moving and returned to a more peaceful slumber. He breathed a little sigh of relief.

If he was being perfectly honest, he wasn’t certain how to proceed. Disentangling himself had become a tricky proposition, especially if he didn’t want to wake her up. He supposed he could try picking her up and moving her to bed. But then a little thought occurred to him. A vengeful and mischievous thought.

His hand, up until this point resting on her back, slid upwards. It came to rest just a few inches from her ear, Azuel thinking to grab, poke and tease it.

He couldn’t seem to move his hand any closer, something in his gut telling him that this was the wrong choice. Racking his memories for clues, he was glad he had trusted his instincts when he suddenly recalled that her ears were ‘sensitive’ parts of her body. His face blossomed into a full blush for what was not the first time today and would certainly not be the last, and his hand fell back down. What a narrowly avoided catastrophe.

He sighed. There was nothing to be done for it then, he would have to lift her. If she was so tired as to not awaken at his gentle touch, he thought it best to let her sleep.

He arms reached down under her legs, and he wished once more that she had not changed her outfit into something that showed so much skin. With one hand under her legs and the other supporting her back, he rose slowly. Despite her the muscle of guard training, she remained lighter than most humans. Azuel did not find it too difficult. Trying to keep himself from gazing at her chest as he walked, Azuel eventually made it to the bed.

He realized she hadn’t changed the sheets, but he didn’t have a way to lift the blankets without setting Mire down on the bed regardless. He wouldn’t be able to tuck her in and would simply settle for letting her lie atop the bed. He did so, setting her gently down atop it before retracting his hands. They lingered only slightly on her thigh as he drew back. He immediately felt horrible.

This accomplished, the next order of business would be to change out of her clothing. He skittered over to the cupboard, nervous about waking Mire. She was asleep as far as he knew, and it was apparently quite deep, so Azuel simply took the clothing from his form and folded it, leaving it in a neat little pile. He wandered over to his clothing, now dried upon the line, and first made for his underwear. When he undid the clips, he was facing her, but he looked down at her and swiftly turned around without thinking about why he was doing so.

He slipped on pants next, and finally his shirt and coat. Dressed for success in the latest shades of industrial grey and dirt brown, he took one last glance over at Mire before he went. He smiled serenely. For now at least, maybe they could be happy in each other’s company.

What a foolish, childish thought.

Re: The New Recruit

Post by Metarie on

Mire slept through the jostle and motion of being moved to the bed. Her only reaction was a natural instinct to grab hold tighter when she was lifted up. She awoke later, in the near dawn, shivering, and balled up in a sheet. The heavier duvet had been left on the couch and the fire hadn’t been banked. The apartment was chill enough that she could see the mist upon her breath.

“Azu?” She said drowsily, knowing that he’d already left, before sighing and forcing herself to get up and restart the pot-bellied stove. She noticed the robe folded neatly and lifted it to her nose. It smelled like her, Azu, and rain. Mire’s eyes closed as she inhaled the scent. Shaking her head, she shook out the robe and pulled it on. It helped drive out some of the chill.
Friends… it really hadn’t been so bad, actually. They spent time together and did normal things like eat and read. It could work. Were physical intimacies really necessary? Sure. They felt good when it was with the right person, but when push comes to shove, she knew how to ‘help herself’ if it was needed.

The kettle came to a boil and Mire made herself a cup of tea. Toast came next with what remained of the fruit and cheese from last night. The sounds outside the thin glazing of her window told her dawn was near. She could hear tradesmen calling to one another as they prepared their day. Once the house warmed, she’d do the wash. Today was her day off, after all…

Several hours later, the sun was shining, a fact for which Mire was greatful. She could hang the wash on the line between the buildings and take advantage of the sun and the wind that blew between the buildings. Mire often felt bad when she had to hang the wash from the window line. She imagined the water dripped on anyone who took the alleyway between the two buildings. Ah well, the joys of living city life!

Next, she would go to the bank and deposit her pay, pay for utilities and her rent. She kept out enough to buy food for the next day or two. Mire was frugal and saved her bishani. She had a separate bank book for different things. One was for the day she could buy her own house in the residential district, one for day-to-day expenses, and one for books. Speaking of books… Mire smiled and headed down the steps of her apartment building. Yes. That was a good plan for the day: bank, bills, and books.

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