Archive for the On Guard Category

Gods Above, I’m Getting Too Old For This

Posted in On Guard, Private Thoughts on December 2, 2012 by Author Jennifer Quail

Physically, I am only slightly older than I’ll admit. By the standards of my day and my then-chosen profession, I’m certainly getting up there. Of course I’ll never face the further degeneration of the body and mind I would have, the increased weakness of the bones and muscles with the decreased sight, hearing, all the drives that make life worth living. Instead I’ll remain the specimen I was the moment it all nearly stopped (and in some ways it did). Until one day when I finally am too slow, not quite ruthless enough, or simply not paying attention, and then it will end quickly.

Mentally, I am of late feeling every single year I’ve actually seen and then some, and it is entirely the fault of two people I am supposed to protect. I wonder if they would accept an interpretation of ‘protect’ that would involve their not being permitted out without an escort. If necessary I’ll enlist Nicodemus, as soon as I can find him, though my honey-sweet has that serene, smug, I-know-something-you-don’t look she usually gets when the cards have told her he’ll be turning up. If she or he thinks we’re in for a repeat of that business in 1889, they have another think coming unless they’re very persuasive. Or by some impossibility I’m very, very drunk.

There have been times of late I wish I could get drunk. I don’t miss the headaches and nausea afterwards, but the blissful oblivion Bacchus can provide would make my work lately much easier. Alan is not in fact that difficult to keep an eye on, as he’s distressingly predictable, but I have the very distinct impression he is not enthusiastic about the idea of having a protector, or even an adviser. Strangely enough he is less resistant to my Nadia’s attempts at mothering. My poor love is feeling the emptiness of the nest more acutely, I think, now we’ve had these reminders around, and in fairness, besides her compulsive need to cosset the ‘children’, Alan does seem to rely inordinately on fast food and pre-made items from the supermarket, so letting her feed him serves a dual purpose: makes sure he doesn’t die of malnutrition, and allows me to observe without him complaining. Plus it spares me loitering around his coworkers, whose latest entertainment during their weekly happy hour has been teasing Alan about his new ‘girlfriend.’ I can tolerate many things, but that kind of inanity is no longer one of them.

Elaine won’t handle it well, either.

I’m told, via Alan, she’s home safe and at the least no less sound than when she left us. That does not make me feel better about letting her go that far away. True, the odds are long that either of our surviving friends will follow her, and there are only two of them–but then again weeks ago I would have said there were none of our Mages left in the world, either. The worst part is I understand–I understand her reticence, her need to keep this compartmentalized, and I sympathize, but it also means she’s not exactly helping me protect her. I don’t know how much longer I can, and I don’t want to waste that time, before her powers are truly developed, with her hundreds of miles away. And of course there’s the possibility she will decide the simplest solution is to never come back. To ignore the call and do her best to pretend it never happened. Or even to finish the job she first came to D.C. to do. Though somehow I don’t think so–Elaine was considering that route because she thought she was useless, and now she knows there’s the chance, at least, she has a purpose, one no one else can do. I doubt she’ll be any more amenable than Alan to my keeping a close eye on her, though without a job and living so close, she may have a harder time avoiding it. But I am increasingly sure that Elaine will come back.

First, when she left, she kept the Key.

Second, I still have her gun.


Absit Omen

Posted in On Guard, Private Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Author Jennifer Quail

For clarification: I am not stalking this woman (her name is Elaine, I’ve determined.) I’m simply curious.

I don’t have special senses, you see. At least not beyond what you’d expect, all things considered. Nadia is the psychic of the family, prone to dreams and visions and those portentous feelings. I’ve suggested more than once she start paying better attention to the flocks of sparrows and doves that are common to any city park, as I’m sure an auguries she drew from them would be far more accurate than those of the political, paid-off priests were. I don’t have any abilities in that regard. I don’t sense things like power, either, and I’m not even all that subject to sudden drafts, which is why that moment in the galleries is utterly nonsensical.

This Elaine isn’t especially pretty. A bit of work with the computer shows she’s Navy, graduated near the top of her class at the Academy, aviator, test engineer, decorated with some very high honors for reasons kept behind encryptions even I can’t break, and discharged for medical reasons with a small service pension. Her family is what I would call middle class–all self-made money and only recent Americans. More than comfortable, even if their eldest chose a university that paid her and committed her to a career the upper classes of today have come to look down on. Not that the army was any great honor in my day, but even among my sort a commission was nothing to be ashamed of. Unmarried, no children, no paramour in evidence, traveling alone with no apparent schedule and wandering past the normal tourist traps as if she doesn’t even see them. Exactly as the cliche says, no visible means of support.

The only surprise thus far is, besides wandering in cemeteries, she seems to have a taste for Asian art. After Arlington, she went back to the Freer and Sackler Galleries and this time spent an inordinate amount of time in the Peacock Room. It’s the entirely too-ostentatious dining room from Charles Freer’s home, paneled floor to ceiling in peacock green-blues and gold filigrees. She’s a very pale person, this Elaine Gates, but to my eye in that room something about her seemed to glow.

Every instinct I have says to follow her. Not in any perverted sense (again, I’m quite a contented man in carnal matters) but since I saw her, so soon after Sophia’s book told me someone is coming, I’ve felt as if I’ve been given a message. This is the one. The one who is coming. Prepare. Protect her. From what, I don’t know, though in the bowels of the Sackler (one of one only Mall museums that’s in fact underground) I thought I saw a shadow, though whether it was attached to her or to me I can’t say. It’s not a good thing. Our lives have a bit dull, I suppose, and if it’s her, if I’m not all who’s following, then it’s starting again and it will not be dull. We’ll be back to worrying again and that nagging sense every parting is a final one. Some part of me hopes I’m wrong.

But some part of me very much hopes I’m right. Danger or not, there’ll be a purpose. All of a sudden, after all these years, I have a job again.

Of course, the book said venitias. Plural.

I suppose I’ll have to ask Nadia where she’s been all day.