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Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably-priced love! And a black coffee!

Chapter Text

Captain Jack Greener of the City Watch pinched the bridge of his nose. “Why is it always me?” he complained. “Why is it that every time you young idiots do this, it’s when I’m on duty?”

Evgeni folded his arms over his chest, almost stabbing Marrock in the chest with his flag. Marrock leaped back to avoid it and crashed into Brochantite. Bro picked him up gently. “Ow,” Marrock said weakly. Bro gave him a pat on the head. Marrock winced, but quietly.

“The people have the right to demand an election!” Evgeni exclaimed.

“No,” Captain Greener pointed out. “You really don’t.”

“Well, then, we should have the right to demand an election!”

“Yeah!” “What he said!” “What election?” the crowd chimed in behind them. “What’s in it for me?”

Captain Greener and Evgeni ignored them and continued glowering at each other.

Happy sighed and scratched his beard. “They’re going to do that all night, aren’t they? I have a shift at Lady Sybil’s in the morning, I’d already arranged for Lyrichana to come bail me out.”

“Hey!” Hughnon protested. He was picking bits of fruit out of his own beard. Apparently the tomato season was very good this year.

“Eh, there’s always someone from the university coming around,” Happy said dismissively.

“Well then you should have filed a permit!” Captain Greener’s raised voice interrupted them.

“Paperwork is against the spirit of activism! And truth!” Evgeni countered.

“Justice!” Brusher added automatically.

“Freedom!” Marrock knew his mark as well.

“Reasonably-priced love!” Miss Fell was loyal to her guild motto.

In the silence that followed, Petiterre’s voice rang clearly over the plaza from where he’d ended up standing in front of one of CMOT Dibbler’s famous carts. “--And a black coffee!”

Only Evgeni’s righteous fury with the City Watch kept him from rolling his eyes. Instead he glowered some more. An Überwald werewolf in full glower was a sight to see. Unfortunately, Captain Greener was immune.

The protest ended like most of their protests did: With all of them cooling their heels in the Pseudopolis Yard jail, waiting to be bailed out in the morning. Hannu was over by the door, having a friendly conversation with the on-duty officer, Happy had claimed one of the cots by the wall and was sleeping peacefully, Marrock was helping Marcus compose an ode to Cozy Effie’s beauty, Brusher was using Hughnon, Miss Fell and Bro as sounding boards for the article he was writing for the Students And Apprentices And Others’ Gazette Weekly (SA3O) protesting the terrible state of the coffee they got in jail, and over in the corner, Petiterre was sharing his coffee1 with Evgeni.

Nina had, as always, slipped off into the night, and would probably be back in the morning with Cozy Effie to bail at least Marcus and Miss Fell out. Possibly also Evgeni, since there was a widespread conspiracy within the group to keep Evgeni from ever ending up face to face with the Patrician.

There was a general air of satisfaction permeating the jail cell, and everybody agreed that they’d really made a difference, while also having had a great time.

THE END

1. [Well, CMOT claimed it was coffee. Petiterre suspected it was ⅛ coffee and ⅞ mud. As long as it wasn’t water from the Ankh, it probably wouldn’t kill them.]

Chapter Text

Lilyanna Fell flicked open her fan, and everybody took a cautious step back.

Hannu remained smiling. He'd gone through training with Sgt. Detritus. It took more than a redhaired woman with a fan to scare him. Even though he'd seen what she could do with a fan. "I understand that it's annoying, but you are a registred Seamstress. You seriouslly can't cause grievous bodilly harm to everyone who makes a perfectlly understandablle mistake."

Miss Fell sighed. "It's my army training. It just kicks in when people grab me."

"It's unfair to expect her to not react," Evgeni pointed out. He probably couldn't help himself. Even the Great A'Tuin could probably see the crush he had on Lilyanna Fell, former captain in the Borogravian army. Apparently getting punched out on first meeting was a big turn on for him. Hannu wasn't really shocked by that revelation. Evgeni admired strength, both physical and mental, and Miss Fell had both. In spades. In the background Petiterre chewed absently on his coffee bean necklace.

"Modern times," Hannu pointed out. "Aren't you allll about modern times?"

Evgeni looked uncommonly torn.

"Our fearless leader only wants the useful parts of modern times," Petiterre said sarcastically.

Hannu wasn't surprised when Evgeni was immediately sidetracked into an argument about the philosophy behind the communication age and how it was different from pre-clacks and steam age. Nobody else looked surprised either, though Brusher mostly seemed exasperated.

Miss Fell fanned herself thoughtfully. "I suppose I could try to only cause medium bodily harm?"

"That is allll I am asking." Hannu beamed and adjusted his flower crown.

Chapter Text

Petiterre was face down on the table, holding his hand out hopefully.

After ten minutes, Nina took pity on him and stole some random guy's Black as a Really Dark Night, dropping it carefully into Petiterre's hand. He lifted his head to giver her a sharp toothed, but grateful smile. Behind them Cozy Effie sighed and made a new cup of coffee for the customer, even though Nina had left her Thieves card in his hand, so it wasn't like he had anything to complain about.

"I spent all night listening to the Glorious Gang talking about demanding a Patrician election, one open for the extremely unwashed masses," Petiterre said, and downed the coffee. He placed the cup on the table and then stared at it hopefully. One day he’d find the magic cup that refilled itself, and it would be a, hah, glorious day indeed.

Nina looked sceptical. "One, I don't think they've thought this through, and two, everybody knows the next Patrician will be von Lipwig."

Petiterre raised his hands. "I know! That's what I said!"

Les's Coffee Shack1 wasn't actually a shack, though as with most houses in Ankh-Morpork, the cellar was better constructed than the actual business part. Nobody knew much about Les, the owner's, past, but there were rumours he'd been an unlicensed thief at one point. Petiterre wasn't sure he believed that. Right now he was definitely a proper guild member, and generally busy being the nicest father ever. Not that Cozy Effie wasn't just as lovely and cozy as her name suggested, but Petiterre was certain the regular Ankh-Morpork father would at least comment on their daughter reading the collected works of Miss Gordon while at work.

He'd been nervous when he'd first started coming to the Shack. He'd made sure his black ribbon was clearly visible on his coat, and no red-brown paint that could be misinterpreted on his hands or in his black curls. Ankh-Morpork was an open-minded place2, but, well, even the most open minded citizen could be a little weird about vampires.

Petiterre had three advantages though, which he was well aware of. He was a young vampire, he'd grown up not far from Ankh-Morpork and, unlike most other vampires, he was likable. He secretly suspected it was because he wasn't as handsome as most vampires naturally (or supernaturally) were, and instead of making burlap sacks look like haute couture, he made nicely tailored suits look like burlap sacks.

So it didn't take long until he had a regular table, all the baristas knew his name and coffee preferences, and he didn't worry so much if his black ribbon wasn't in plain sight at all times.

He'd met Nina when she'd robbed him, which was apparently how Nina met most her friends. It was certainly how she'd met a very bewildered Marcus de Montebanque as he stepped off the train arriving from Quirm. Later they all realised that "bewildered" was Marcus's usual state of mind. Somehow every woman he came in contact with found it charming. Petiterre didn't understand it at all.

Of course, his type was apparently suicidally inclined, politically active3 Assassins who yelled at him every time they met.

He'd been sitting quietly in the corner, nursing his sixth coffee of the night when the defiantly not black clad Glorious Gang had stumbled inside, clinging all over each other and laughing. Except the one in front, who was all in black except his bright red coat, and was frowning instead of laughing. "Where do you buy your coffee beans? How do you pay your workers?" he demanded to know, leaning on the counter. Cozy Effie blinked at him. "It is very important!"

After blinking some more Effie apparently answered to his satisfaction, because they all crowded around a table disturbingly close to Petiterre. He registred absently that there were only six of them -- it had seemed like more -- but he couldn't keep his eyes off the leader. His coffee was paused halfway to his mouth.

It didn't take long before the blond turned his head, scowling. "What?"

Petiterre blinked, startled to be noticed. He put the cup down, placing his hands flat on the table. "Um. Nothing. Nothing, I was just."

"Oh, Evgeni," the dwarf had said, grinning. "Let it go. He wasn't doing anything."

"He was staring," Evgeni -- a mountain name, definitely, which explained things -- said flatly.

And that was when Petiterre had to open his big mouth and make an enemy of Evgeni for all future. "I've just never seen a werewolf as beautiful as you before," he'd said.

There had been a lot of yelling and a lot of facepalming (mostly from Marrock and Happy, some from Petiterre who couldn't believe he'd been that stupid). Luckily, Hughnon had then tripped over a chair and spilled hot coffee all over himself, so everybody had been distracted. Petiterre had been so grateful, he'd bought Hughnon his next three coffees, and then he'd also acquired a friend for life. And with Hughnon the jolliest, but clumsiest wizard ever came Happy Daye, the most neurotic dwarf Petiterre had ever met.

He was still a little amazed that he had friends. That hadn't happened since he'd left home and gone on the wagon.

"Cup of lava," the troll that just lumbered in ordered. He was wearing a fancy blue suit that mostly seemed to fit. "Long shift," he added.

Petiterre brightened at the sound of the gravelly voice. "Hey, Bro! Over here."

Brochantite came over, cup of lava in hand. Petiterre had met Brochantite when the troll had unceremoniously chucked him out of the Blue Cat Club for being over-caffeinated. Petiterre had gone back the next day to apologize for trying to bite his hand off, something that had admittedly hurt Petiterre himself more than it had Bro.

"How was the Blue Cat Club?" Nina asked, grinning. "Any riots?"

"Some punching," Bro nodded. "Worse at the Pussycats. Wizard night."

They both nodded. They knew all about wizard nights. Lots of “fake” beards and fancy dresses. And watchmen, looking stern and arresting people.

"Hughnon was there," Bro added. "Met a dancer."

"Pretty? Does she like coffee?" Petiterre asked, always focused on the important things.

"Human," Bro said. "You know I can't tell. Probably?"

Nina placed her elbows on the table, her chin in her hands, and gazed past Petiterre in a way that suggested that Marcus had bumbled his way up to the counter, where he was probably flirting ineptly with Cozy Effie. Nina sighed longingly.

Petiterre remembered that she’d brought him a coffee and didn’t roll his eyes. “Do you know her name?” he asked Bro. “Maybe I know her from Art Appreciation. We have a lot of dancers as models.”

Petiterre had exchanged his b-word addiction with an addiction for coffee, art and Evgeni, mostly in that order. He tried to be less obvious about Evgeni, but suspected that he fooled no one. Except possibly Evgeni.

Bro frowned. “Lyrichana? Maybe?”

Petiterre brightened. “I do know her! Klatchian?”

Bro shrugged. Bro had been in the city since he was a pebble, but some things about humans was still a mystery to him.

“She’s lovely. You’ll like her,” he added to Nina.

“I don’t like anybody,” Nina said.

“Lies,” Bro noted.


1. [Technically the sign said “Less Coffee Shack”, but Les leLes had hammered a nail in as an apostrophe, which was more effort than most people in Ankh-Morpork put into grammar ever. With the exception of the Times, of course.]
2. [Anybody could be robbed, insulted, murdered and sold genuine Ankh-Morpork antiques for 9 dollars and 99 cents, guaranteed made in XXXX or money back
]
3. [Those two were definitely related.]

Chapter Text

“Cozy Effie, are you wearing trousers?” Marcus looked and sounded completely scandalized.

Cozy Effie and Nina both gave him a funny look.

“I wear trousers every day,” Nina pointed out. This was indeed true. She was wearing a pair now, along with a man’s shirt, a dark blue vest and a loosely tied light blue cravat. All of them (with the exception of the cravat) came with an abundance of pockets1. “You’ve never commented on that.”

Marcus flushed. “I thought you were a boy!”

“Oh Marcus.” Marrock’s voice was full of pity.

“Well, I don’t now.”

“I think she looks quite handsome,” Miss Fell said serenely. Behind her, Evgeni’s face fell, although whether it was because of personal reasons or because Miss Fell was no longer discussing the political situation in Borogravia was anybody’s guess.

“Why, thank you, Miss Fell.” Nina bowed smartly. “May I return the compliment?”

Miss Fell’s fan snapped open, and everybody took an automatic step back, but Miss Fell just gave Nina a coy look over her fan. “You may indeed.”

Evgeni’s face fell further. Brusher gave him a kindly pat on the back. “But she has such interesting insights into politics,” Evgeni said sadly. “I was really looking forwards to hearing more about the recent theories behind the last stand of the Not Quite Red Regiment at the Battle of Last Ditch Valley.” Brusher stopped patting him and sighed instead. At the table in the back corner, Petiterre brightened imperceptibly, while Hughnon, in an attempt to give him a supporting shoulder punch, bashed his hand into Petiterre’s chair. Now it was Happy’s turn to sigh.

Across the room, Brusher and Happy exchanged a look of complete and total understanding.

“What’s happening now?” Marcus asked the room, a little helplessly. Cozy Effie gave him a fond look.

 

1. [The current special offer from the thieves’ guild was differently patterned tea cozies, which at least were easier to haul around than barbeque sets or steak knives.
]

*

Nina slammed her fist on the coffee table. “We, my friends, are going drinking!”

“Yeah!” Cozy Effie raised her dainty fist in the air triumphantly.

“Where?” Lyrichana wanted to know.

“I don’t know.” Nina blinked, then threw her head back and yelled for Miss Fell. Miss Fell waved back in acknowledgement, but finished her conversation with Brusher before coming over. Nina smiled up at her. “Hey, Miss Fell, want to go out on a girl’s only bar crawl with us?”

“Me?” Miss Fell looked surprised.

“Yeah, you’re a girl, aren’t you?”

Miss Fell threw a quick look towards the group of rebel students. “I guess? We’ve never really hung out though.”

“Well, time to change that!” Nina beamed. She put her arm around Lyrichana’s shoulders. Petiterre had been right, she did like her. “Lyrichana is in, aren’t you, Lyrichana?”

“Absolutely!”

“Well, um. Sure?” Miss Fell shrugged, red curls dancing on her shoulders. She still seemed a little puzzled, but not, Nina hoped, unpleasantly so. “I’ll just let the boys know I’m leaving.” She turned to do so. Nina watched her go until Lyrichana shook her arm off and smirked at her. Nina refused to blush.

“Oh!” Cozy Effie said excitedly. “I have a dress you can borrow, Nina. Because we should get dolled up! Be girly!”

Nina blinked. “Um.”

Cozy Effie looked hopeful. She was really quite adorable. Nina could see what Marcus saw in her.

“Well… I guess I could...” Her clothes were useful and comfortable, but not, she had to admit, something people wore when they wanted to impress other people. Of course Miss Fell already knew what she usually wore, and she probably wouldn't be swayed one way or another by fancy clothes, but. But somehow making an effort seemed like it was important.

Cozy Effie beamed and leaned over to give her a hug. “Excellent!”

Lyrichana laughed. She started digging through her purse. “Come on, I have some lipstick that’d be perfect on you.”

Chapter Text

1.
Nina turned a little melancholy the day she realised she was no longer in love with Marcus. She could watch Marcus and Cozy Effie flirt awkwardly and adorably by the counter, and she felt fond of them, but there was no hint of jealousy. She knew it was for the best, but she had been in love with Marcus for so long, she wasn’t entirely sure what to do without that feeling.

She’d never had a chance, of course, but that hadn’t mattered much. She could admit now that part of the attraction had been the dream Marcus offered her, as much as the man himself. Dreams in Ankh-Morpork were precious things. She was sure the rest of the Glorious Gang knew this as well, and that had to be at least some of the reason they followed Evgeni. Either that, or they were all suicidal. Which was also an option.

She must have a very strange expression on her face, because Petiterre gave her a puzzled look and waved his hand in front of her face. “Hello? Are you still with us?”

“What?” She shook her head. “Yes. You were saying?”

“I was saying, I think we need some more stakes,” Brusher began, and paused when Petiterre flinched back. “...Bits of wood? Sticks? What’s a good word to use here?”

“No, no,” Petiterre protested. He was fiddling nervously with his coffee bean necklace. “I’m just… Well, I don’t have positive experiences with the… s-word, but I should get past that. After all, it’s modern times now!” He blinked rapidly, eyes wider than normal. “And I have a black ribbon!”

Hannu, who was sitting next to him, gave him a comforting pat on the arm. “We allll know that. And, llook, Brochantite is quite at ease in my presence.” He gestured towards Bro, who nodded agreeably. “And Happy is… Where is Happy?”

“Studying. Apparently he has a test this week, and he’s panicking about being unable to tell an ulna from a humerus from granite from whatever it is those little creatures that live in the sewers have.” Hughnon shrugged.

“I see. Wellll, Happy is doing that, and not axing peoplle’s llegs off. We’re alll very modern citizens of the great city-state of Ankh-Morpork!” Hannu beamed.

“I notice you didn’t mention Evgeni,” Brusher said dryly.

Evgeni looked up from his discussion with Miss Fell and Marrock to give them a stern glare. He probably hadn’t even been paying attention to their talk until he heard his own name mentioned. He had an uncanny ability to tune in to that. It was the reason Petiterre had started to refer to him by anything other than his name.

“Wellll,” Hannu began.

“As I’m sharing rooms with him, I can tell you with some certainty that he’s not in the habit of killing people and dragging them home to feast on them in the light of the full moon,” Brusher said. His voice remained dry as the Djelibeybi desert.

“I didn’t mean--”

“In fact, when it comes to modern sensibilities, I dare say--”

“Of course, I would never--” Hannu sounded shocked. Nina was busy watching Evgeni so she didn’t know what Hannu’s face looked like. Everybody else were watching Brusher with varying degrees of confusion. Except Petiterre, of course, who had leaned back in his chair with his mug and was also surreptitiously watching Evgeni.

Evgeni was shaking his head to something Miss Fell had said. Miss Fell gave him a nod in return, and said something that made Evgeni smile briefly before he gave her a short bow, and started walking out of the shack. From the back it looked like he walking out into a storm. Nina frowned. She met Petiterre’s gaze and jerked her head towards the door. Go after him, you idiot, she thought at him. Apparently she looked convincing enough, because Petiterre took a deep breath, and then slipped off, quietly, after Evgeni.

When she looked up again, Miss Fell gave her a small smile, before turning and going up to Cozy Effie at the counter.

“--And when it comes to honour,” Brusher raised his voice. He didn’t seem to have realised that he wasn’t actually arguing with anybody yet. “Evgeni is among the finest men, I have ever--”

“I apollogise if I said something--” Hannu tried.

“--had the utmost pleasure to call my friend. The fact that he is a werewolf doesn’t change any of that,” Brusher finished.

Marrock laid a gentle hand on his arm. “Yes, and all of us here know that.”

Everybody nodded, a little shellshocked. Brusher never cursed, but he didn’t have to. When he got angry, he got scarily intense. Even Nina, who was rarely impressed by anything, was impressed by it.

“I realllly do apollogise,” Hannu said, quietly. He was looking down at his hands, avoiding their stares. He looked like a wilted flower. Even his hair was drooping.

Apparently Brusher saw it as well because his face changed completely. Nina quickly grabbed Brochantite and Hughnon and hauled them with away from the table and over to Cozy Effie and Miss Fell by the counter. This was getting way too personal.

Miss Fell handed her a cup of Fancy with a Kick, and a look of sympathy. Nina appreciated it.

They heard the nearby Alchemists Guild house explode, loudly, signalling the end of today’s lessons. Bro smiled, his craggy face lighting up. “Oh, good, Latite will be coming home soon. I’m off.” He lumbered off.

Hughnon brightened as well. “Can I get that to go, Cozy Effie? I can probably talk Happy into a short break now.”

Soon it was just the three girls, and Marcus once he came back from his trip to the shed, standing by the counter. It was much less awkward than it would have been before the epic bar crawl. Cozy Effie kept casting worried looks over their shoulders, presumably paying attention to the trio over in the corner. Nina, on the other hand, was doing her very best to ignore the drama.

“So, Miss Fell, punched anybody interesting lately?” she asked.

*
2.
“Hm, yes, good point that,” Evgeni nodded, clearly dismissively. “Remember, my door is always open if anybody else has a suggestion. I’m always open to new ideas.” He gave them what was probably meant to be a grin, but mostly looked like he was having an internal debate about who to eat first.

The entire room screeched to a halt.

You could hear a coffee bean drop to the floor.

Evgeni’s grin faded to a puzzled frown.

Then Petiterre smacked Hughnon over the back of the head. “What did you do?”

“Ow! I didn’t do anything!”

Petiterre glowered.

“...I may have given Happy a copy of How to Dynamically Manage People for Dynamic Results in a Caring Empowering Way in Quite a Short Time Dynamically. I guess it’s possible that Evgeni saw him reading it, and asked to borrow it,” Hughnon admitted after a moment. “But Happy wanted some light reading after those terrible exams! He thinks self-help books are funny! He has everything Knacker Wood and Releventia Flout has ever written!”

Nina raised an eyebrow. “Does he really? Does he have the most recent Flout? Because I’ve been wanting to steal a copy.”

“Yes, I’m sure he’d be happy to let you steal--”

“Yes, yes, you can talk literature later,” Petiterre interrupted. “This is much more important.”

“Excuse you!” Three female voices said in unison.

Petiterre gestured wildly towards Evgeni, who had folded his arms over his chest. “His door is always open! Next he’s going to tell us how he values all our contributions to the team!”

Evgeni looked surprised, and then wounded. It made him look unnervingly like a large puppy. “I do value your contributions.”

“See!”

Brusher removed his spectacles to rub a hand over his face. “Okay,” he said once he’d placed them back on his nose. “I see what you mean. Clearly this has to be nipped in the bud.”

Thank you!” Petiterre sat down and clung to his coffee mug.

*
3.
This protest wasn’t one of the Glorious Gang’s, but they agreed with the general philosophy behind it (“down with the aristocracy! more rights to the cabbage farmers!”), even if a good part of them were members of the aristocracy, and none of them were cabbage farmers.

“It’s a question of solidarity,” Evgeni said seriously.

Nina nodded in agreement, along with most of the others, except Petiterre who either wasn’t listening or had farmer-related issues. She noticed that he tagged along after them though, hands shoved into the pockets of his paint splattered coat.

When they got to the square, it was already full of people holding protest signs, home made banners and cabbages. Miss Fell met them over by the statue of the Maid and the Cow. Her face was flushed and her eyes shone. She grabbed Nina by the hand, pulling her with her into the crowd, grinning widely as she did. “Come, come! Miss de Serres is about to hold her appeal!”

Nina laughed and ran.

The protest turned into a violent riot in no time fast, which was expected by everyone. Nina was sure she saw Captain Greener over by the fountain, facepalming as a thrown cabbage hit the watchperson standing next to him in the back of the head, knocking their helmet off. Then she was punched in the face, and got too busy punching back (and kicking, and kneeing people) to pay attention to her surroundings.

“Duck!” Miss Fell yelled suddenly. Nina ducked, and Miss Fell’s arm shot over her head, fan in hand. She smacked Nina’s attacker across the face with the fan, and then spun around to take care of her own attacker.

The riot didn’t last long once Captain Greener called in the troll officers and golem officers of the watch, who had very little reaction to being pummelled with brassica. Nina slipped away as soon as the crowd started to slim, and made her way to the coffee shack, grinning all the way.

She was the first to arrive, but the others came straggling in in ones and twos shortly after. Cozy Effie shook her head at them and kept handing out coffees. Nina did a brief headcount after an hour. It looked like Hughnon, Petiterre, Bro and Brusher had been swept up by the Watch. She made a mental note to grab Happy and Marrock and go bail them out in the morning. Maybe Lyrichana if Happy had a shift at Lady Sybil’s.

Right now he was tsking while cleaning blood off of Evgeni. “Really, would it kill you to duck once in a while?”

Evgeni looked sheepish. “I was just…”

Happy rolled his eyes. “At least I know you’re not going to get horrible diseases.” He blinked in sudden alarm. “Wait, or do you get rabies? Are you going to start foaming at the mouth?”

“Unlikely,” Evgeni said. He touched the cut on his cheek and winced slightly.

“But not impossible?” Happy remained alarmed. “I need to consult my books. Don’t go anywhere!” He dropped the cloth he’d been using to clean Evgeni, the bandages in his lap and various other bits and bobs on the table and ran off.

Nina grinned after him, then looked up in surprise as someone joined her by the table, leaning against her, with a hand held lightly over her shoulder. She looked right up Miss Fell’s cleavage. She blinked and refocused a little higher. “Hello,” she said, surprised.

“Hi you,” Miss Fell said, amused, but with a hint of something uncertain as well. “I lost track of you when the Watch marched in, the way they always do.”

“I’m a thief; Slipping away into the night is what I do,” Nina said.

Miss Fell nodded. “I know. I thought I’d find you here.”

Nina looked down, smiling. She rested her head against Miss Fell’s waist. “I admit, I was half expecting having to bail you out in the morning.”

Miss Fell laughed quietly.

*

4.
“Oh!” The soft exclamation made Nina pull away from the kiss and look around in confusion. It was late, nobody should be around the back of the cafe at this time. Cozy Effie had said so.

Evgeni was standing in the doorway, eyes wide.

“Evgeni…” Miss Fell said, breaking the silence as she pulled her dress back up over her shoulders.

He shook his head. “You never told me,” he said accusingly. “Why wouldn’t you tell me?”

“I guess…” Miss Fell frowned a little. “I didn’t think it would matter to you?”

“You’re my friends! Of course it matters!” Evgeni paused, looking more upset by the second. "Aren't you? I mean, I understand if you don't feel as close to me, but I thought we were--"

"Don't be silly, of course we're friends," Miss Fell interrupted. She grabbed Nina's hand as she pulled further away from her, turning towards Evgeni. "I didn't think we were friends who talked about our love lives though, that's why I haven't said anything."

Evgeni frowned uncertainly. "Really?"

Nina wondered about that as well. Not that she didn't think they were friends, but everybody knew how Evgeni felt about Miss Fell. Maybe she'd been hesitant to hurt his feelings? But this seemed to have hurt him more than just saying it would have.

"I don't lie," Miss Fell pointed out.

"I know you don't." They stared at each other, and Nina wondered if she should say something. This was getting awkward. And she'd like to put her shirt back on, but she didn't want to let go of Miss Fell's hand.

"Um," Evgeni said finally, glancing away. "I'm sorry I interrupted your... date. I was looking for the draft to the speech tomorrow. Have you seen it? I think I left it by mistake earlier."

Nina actually had. "Petiterre has it. You left it with the banner sketches, so he grabbed it by mistake, and when he came back, you'd left, so, yeah, he's probably still got it."

Evgeni's face went through a series of emotions; Surprised, annoyed, impatient, amused, fond, hesitant, and then decisive. It would probably have been a more fascinating sight if Miss Fell wasn't leaning up against Nina, but at the moment, she mostly just wanted him gone so they could get back to what they were doing. It had been going so well, too!

"Where does he live?"

"On Filigree Street. His place is the one with the painted windows."

Evgeni nodded. He turned in the doorway to give them a hesitant smile. "I'm happy for you, I really am."

"Well," Nina said, once he'd gone. "That was awkward."

Miss Fell started giggling.

*

5.
The incessant knocking on her door came much too early in the morning. Nina groaned, banged her head against her pillow a couple of times, before giving in and staggering over to open the door. “Evgeni? What the hell are you doing here? Who died?”

Evgeni pushed his way inside, handing her something on his way in. Nina squinted with one eye down at her hand. Oh. Coffee. All right, Evgeni could keep living. She took a sip. Ooh, Fancy coffee! Evgeni must have stopped by the coffee shack. She closed the door and leaned up against it, closing her eyes as she drank her coffee.

“Tell me what to do,” he demanded.

Nina opened her eyes again. “Hmm?”

“Petiterre! He’s being impossible!”

Nina squinted at him in suspicion. “Are you asking me for relationship advice?”

“I…” He hesitated. “Yes! I suppose.”

Nina gave him the eyebrow rise of extreme scepticism.

“I don’t understand why he won’t-- He likes me, doesn’t he? He’s always there, and sometimes I’m sure…” He trailed off. “Wait. He’s not in love with you as well, is he?”

Nina snorted coffee out her nose, which was both disgusting and hurt like hell. “Ow, ow, ow, gross. No!”

Evgeni folded his arms over his chest, looking like an offended cat. He’d probably be even more offended by that comparison. “Well, nobody tells me anything! I had to ask.”

“Gods, it’s probably good that you’re pretty,” Nina sighed. Evgeni looked more offended by that. “Look.”

“I am empathic!” Evgeni burst out, surprising Nina and derailing her completely.

“...What?”

“Just because I’m not bringing my personal life into political activism, doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings or ignore the fact that other people have feelings! I know people have feelings! All sorts of feelings, and I don’t think it’s wrong to have feelings. And, and, if we’re going to create a new world with equality for everybody and justice for all--”

“Please stop talking,” Nina sighed.

Evgeni kept surprising her and did.

Nina finished her coffee. “Okay, I’m awake. I think. So you had another argument with Petiterre?”

Evgeni nodded.

“And somehow this argument was different from the gods know how many arguments you’ve had before, because you’re usually not at my door at fuck o’clock in the morning.”

Evgeni nodded again.

“All right.” Nina considered this. “And it involved feelings. Your feelings or his?”

“He doesn’t think I have any.” That was definitely a pout.

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m not! That’s what he said!”

“How is this my life?” Nina muttered.

Evgeni frowned at her. Werewolf hearing could be such a pain, honestly.

“Okay, look. Petiterre is well aware that you have feelings. Strong feelings, about many things.”

“I do,” Evgeni agreed. His shoulders were suddenly less tight, and she realised that he’d genuinely been upset. She blinked.

“He probably just meant that you don’t feel the way he does.” Nina was just guessing, but it seemed a fair guess, based on what she knew about both of them.

“But I do! That’s what I was trying to tell him, but he was refusing to listen. How do I make him listen?” Evgeni gave her a pleading look.

Nina stared at him. “...I think I need more coffee for this conversation to make sense.”

Chapter Text

“You want to go with me? To the Royal Art Museum?” Petiterre repeated, trying to keep the incredulousness to a minimum.

Evgeni nodded. Even when being very confusing, he looked like a blond god (one of the human-like ones, not one of the animals with lots of eyes). “Yes.”

“Okay. Uh. Okay?” Petiterre blinked. “Now?”

“Isn’t tonight the opening of the new Daniellarina Pouter exhibit?”

Those were words Petiterre had never expected to hear coming out of Evgeni’s mouth. “You, Evgeni Caloches, want to come with me, to a modern art exhibit? Did you hit your head recently? Is your poison teacher trying out new poisons again? Did you walk past the UU trash dump?”

Evgeni frowned. “No, I just wanted us to do something together. It’s not that weird, is it?”

“It kind of is,” Petiterre pointed out. He pulled at his coffee bean necklace. “But if you want to, then, sure, we can go. It’ll be fun.”

It was exactly as much fun as Petiterre had expected it to be. Which is to say it was awkward, and uncomfortable, but he was with Evgeni, who for once was paying close attention to everything Petiterre was saying, and that was a heady experience. If this was what all vampires felt like around werewolves, then no wonder… Though of course that was wrong. And Petiterre never wanted to rule anybody, least of all Evgeni. He’d never been very good at being a vampire, even before the temperance league caught on.

They had started out along with everybody else at the new exhibit. It was unusually low key for Daniellarina Pouter: One sturdy kitchen table with a pile of laundry on it in a glass case. Something may or may not be alive in the pile of laundry. Petiterre tilted his head to the side.

"Looks like Marrock's place," Evgeni noted.

Petiterre snorted in agreement. "Hasn't Marcus moved in with him? Maybe he'll clean more than once a year?"

"He couldn't possibly clean less," Evgeni pointed out. "And anything would be an improvement to Marrock's approach to it. I don't think he's ever lived anywhere without servants to pick up after him."

"Neither had I until I moved here, and I figured out clothes hampers pretty quickly," Petiterre said. "Vampire," he added at Evgeni's look. "I did use to live in a castle, you know. Not a very big one, I admit, but it was a castle."

"I used to live on the mountain," Evgeni offered, surprisingly. Petiterre had never heard him speak much about himself. His beliefs, yes, his interests, yes, but not himself. "My family wasn't... There weren't many other people around. I wasn't very good with people when I first came to the city, because of that." Evgeni was staring much more intently at the painting of a young girl holding a flower hat with a dragon on her shoulder than the painting deserved. He seemed tense.

"You're still not good with people," Petiterre said, lightly, trying to lighten the weirdly serious mood. "I mean, just the other day you threw Hannu and Marcus out of the coffee shop for disturbing the peace."

"They were reciting bad poetry!"

Petiterre grinned. "Cozy Effie didn't seem to mind."

"Love does weird things to people," Evgeni said, shaking his head.

"No kidding," Petiterre sighed. Evgeni hesitated, but didn't say anything, and after turning to look at the Pouter once more, they decided to move on, see the rest of the museum, since Evgeni had never been.

Petiterre had ended up standing for fifteen minutes in front of the museum’s newest masterpiece by Pillock, “My Daughter Got Her Hands On My Paintbrushes And Now We Employ A Nanny”. It really spoke to him.

Evgeni, on the other hand, had been fascinated by the battle of Koom Valley. He hadn’t even noticed when Petiterre had stopped laughing at him for being so predictable and started sketching him instead. A radiant light of the modern werewolf, standing amidst the war of the old world.

Chapter Text

Fanny was dressed in the latest ____ with her hair done by Hugo when she sailed into the coffee shack. “I see you’re not ready yet, Cosinante Effluvia,” she said reproachfully.

“Oh mother!” Cozy Effie complained. “Do I have to?”

“Yes, my dear, you do.” Fanny was firm. “This ball is the beginning of the season, and you are my daughter, even if you're not a guild member.”

“But I don’t have anybody to cover my shift,” Cozy Effie tried.

“Nonsense.” Fanny looked around the room, and gestured towards Marcus. “I’m sure this nice young man would be willing to step in. Wouldn’t you, young man?”

Marcus dropped his cup and stammered.

“See?” Fanny smiled in satisfaction.

Marcus, for once recognizing when he was out of his depth, pulled out his private clacks and sent a message to Marrock for help. Luckily the window was just in sight of the nearest tower.

Cozy Effie sighed and took off her apron. She handed it to Marcus with a slightly worried frown. “Try not to. Do. Anything,” she said.

“I will do my best,” Marcus said earnestly. “...To not do anything.”

Cozy Effie shook her head, but left for the back rooms, rattling the drawers absently as she went.

*

When Marrock came sauntering in an hour later, Marcus was already looking overwhelmed. Marrock was a little impressed, since the only customers in sight were Petiterre and two elderly ladies.

He made his way to the counter, and leaned against it. “How are you holding up?”

Marcus turned, regarding him with wide, panicked eyes. “Coffee is complicated. Did you know it was complicated? Because it is. And Cozy Effie is trusting me to do this!” The last was said in a wail of despair.

“Oh Marcus.” Marrock couldn’t help the pity in this voice, but Marcus didn’t seem to notice. He’d kindly requested that they’d keep the “oh Marcus” exclamations to a minimum just this weekend, but apparently panic made him ignore it1.

Marcus gave him a pleading gaze, wringing his hands absently. “You have to help me!”

Marrock sighed. He could boil a pot of coffee with the best of them, but he was as clueless as Marcus when it came to the fancy ones. Still, how hard could it be? “Of course I’ll help you. Do you have another apron somewhere behind there?”

*

“Really, Cosinante Effluvia, do try to enjoy yourself,” Fanny said. “Smile!”

Cozy Effie put on a smile, and fluttered her fan in the beginning moves of Empress Decapitates Hummingbird. Luckily her mother didn’t notice. She liked dressing up in lovely new dresses, and swishing around with the skirts, but she’d rather do that at the coffee shack. At least she still smelled like coffee, which hopefully explained the hungry looks a couple of the vampires were giving her.

The conversations here were so dull, though. She much prefered the arguments the Glorious Gang had at the shack. She looked around the room, hoping to find at least somebody she recognized.

A moment later, she brightened at spotting the back of a black-clad individual with blond hair. She couldn’t see his face, but she could see the glazed expression of the couple he was speaking to. “Evgeni!” she called out, ignoring her mother’s sigh of “Really, Cosinante Effluvia, manners”.

*

“This should not be this difficult!” Marrock complained, glaring at the… steam… thing in front of him. Marcus was standing well away from the machine. Petiterre had abandoned his usual table in favour of one closer to the counter, and was busy alternating between giving them toothy grins and sketching them. Marrock didn’t feel that any of that was very helpful.

“Maybe if you sort of… poke it,” Marcus offered up as a suggestion.

Petiterre snorted, then looked as innocent as he could manage when Marrock transferred his glare to him.

“Hmph.” Marrock hesitantly pulled the lever, ready to jump back in case he was covered in steam again. He beamed when the machine started puttering cheerfully instead. “Ha! I knew we could do it!”

“Well done, you two!” Petiterre agreed.

“Does that mean you’re not giving Cozy Effie your sketch?” Marcus looked pathetically hopeful.

“Not a chance, but I admire your optimism.”


1. [Marcus knew about his status as the bumbling idiot of the group, but pointed out that he really was trying, and anyway there was nothing wrong with being romantic. The gang thought that the request to stop treating him as an adorable, but dim three year old was a reasonable one, and were now doing their best to comply. ]

Chapter Text

Eddie Marrock’s leather satchel was covered in patches. At least three of them were from The Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons. Apparently he’d had one when he was little. It had exploded one day, and Marrock still missed it. Of the others, one was a larger copy of the stamp known as “the lovers”. He’d added a black ribbon after getting to know Petiterre. He also had various patches from the Golem Trust, the Differently Alive Society, the Preservation of the River Ankh Society, and the Campaign for Equal Heights.

It would be fair to say that the satchel consisted more of patches than leather at this point. He was very proud of it, and brought it with him everywhere.

His current obsession (or, one of his current obsessions. Marrock contained multitudes and could easily obsess over more than one thing at once) was with alots. Brusher had tried to point out that alots weren’t real, but had given up in the face of the combination of Marrock’s stubborn denial and wounded baby dragon eyes. It wasn’t that much of a hardship. After all, Marrock had never teased him after Brusher had revealed, somewhat shamefaced, that what he’d really wanted to be, was a doctor. It was only fair that Brusher let Marrock have his own flight of fancy.

After a couple of weeks of Marrock’s wounded looks, Brusher had felt bad enough about it to commission a picture of alot of feathers from Petiterre, and now that patch had place of pride right in the middle of the satchel.

Brusher smiled helplessly every time he saw it. Even Evgeni had noticed and kept giving them both confused looks. At some point someone would probably take him aside, but Brusher had no intentions of it being him. He loved Evgeni like a brother, but no. Absolutely not. Maybe Miss Fell would finally take pity on him, or Petiterre, if the coffee shack ever ran out of coffee beans, but it was not going to be a conversation Brusher would have with him.

“Willifred Brusher, did I say something to amuse you?” Mrs. Pinehead was suddenly standing in front of his desk, glaring at him.

Brusher stared wide-eyed back at her. “No, ma’am.”

Marrock and Evgeni had both turned their heads to look at him. Evgeni had his eyebrows raised in a question, while Marrock’s dark eyes were full of suppressed laughter. Brusher really couldn’t say why he liked them both so much.

*

Marrock was bored. Bored, bored, bored. He looked towards Evgeni, who was staring absently at the same page of Dangerous Poisons and Mysterious Potions by Ph. Applesauce, Alchemist, he'd been staring at the last time Marrock had glanced his way. Something was definitely on his mind. There was no point asking until Evgeni was ready to say anything though.

"Bruuuusher," he whined instead, slipping down to the floor -- you could actually see the floor in their appartment. Fascinating. Weirdos -- while leaving his legs on the couch. It was soundlessly and elegantly done. He was an Assassin, after all. "What are you doing? I know you've already written the essay. Entertain me!"

"Entertain yourself," Brusher replied distractedly. He had a smudge of ink on his ear where he'd been rubbing it. He rubbed it again while Marrock watched. "I'm busy. I promised Hannu I'd get this done by tonight."

Marrock peered at him in interest. Hannu's poetry was much more to his tastes than boring essays. "Is it one of the sexy poems? Like the one with the fruit metaphors? Or the one with the pollination metaphors? Or the one with the brassica metaphors? Though frankly I think he's misunderstood some basics of brassica farming when it comes to that one. Oh! Or the one with struggle against authority metaphors?" Marrock loved that one. Every once in a while, Evgeni would quote it at meetings, looking the way he did when he was passionate about something, and it made Marrock's night. Petiterre was less delighted by it, but Marrock was of the opinion that adversity in life built character. Not that he'd experienced much of it, but in general. Besides, he'd been best friends with Brusher for ten years, and Evgeni for eight. He had tons of character.

Brusher flushed a delicate red. "No! It's one of his Classical pieces!"

Marrock eyed him. "I have read his Latatian verses, you know." They had a distinctly Ephebian flavour. Even Evgeni understood those, though Marrock was of the private opinion that Evgeni understood subtext perfectly well, he just chose to ignore it when he could get away with it.

Brusher went redder. "Well, it's not like that!"

"U-huh." Marrock was entertained now.

"It's about justice and freedom for all," Brusher protested. He frowned. "Or justice and freedom for one. Or three. He's a little vague on this." He made a note. Since that meant he'd stopped paying attention to Marrock, Marrock reached into his sleeve and then threw a dagger at Brusher's head. Brusher caught it in mid-air and gave him a disapproving look. "You're not getting this back until tomorrow."

"I have more," Marrock said dismissively. He moved his legs off the couch and got more comfortable on the floor, displaying himself in front of Brusher at the same time. He thought he'd caught Brusher looking at him more lately and he wanted to encourage that kind of thing. He'd been in love with Brusher for years, but Brusher had never seemed to reciprocate his feelings. Which had been fine. They were friends, he could live with that.

There had been that one moment after they'd all celebrated living through the basic exams, where Brusher had kissed him before blushing and backing away, while Marrock stared at him in surprise, but they never talked about that. Marrock had tried, but Brusher kept changing the subject, so eventually he'd given up.

But now Brusher was definitely looking. It was shy, quick glances, so Marrock was reasonably certain he wasn't just memorizing muscle groups again. Happy had done that for his exams once, and Brusher had been very interested. Marrock had immediately volunteered to be the male human specimen.

Now he beamed at Brusher every time he caught him looking. He'd tried subtle. Apparently he wasn't very good at it, so now he was trying the opposite.

Finally Brusher bit his lip and sighed. "Sometimes you are so..." he trailed off, much to Marrock's disappointment. He was immediately cheered up as Brusher continued, "I have two tickets for How Do I Hate You? Let Me Count The Ways at the Dysk tonight. Do you want to--"

"Yes!" Marrock jumped to his feet. "Yes, I do!"

"--Come with me. Okay then."

*

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Hannu began. He’d crashed on Marcus’s and Marrock’s couch after their protest planning session the night before. He’d woken up to the smell of coffee boiling on the woodstove in the corner of the room. It was a good way to wake up. And the sight of a sleepy looking Marrock outlined in the morning light, wasn’t too bad either. “But…”

Marrock blinked sleepily at him. “Hmm?”

“You know, you llook a bit… fey… around the ears, sometimes?”

“Oh, that.” Marrock smiled slowly. Apparently early morning Marrock was a slow, languid creature, with a lazy sensuality that was very appealing. “My mother is Llamedosian.”

“What? Realllly?” Hannu was surprised. “You don’t have an accent at allll.”

The smile turned crooked, and then Marrock said, straight faced, “Wellll, I coulld tallk llike this, a proper Llamedos, but,” he dropped the accent and shrugged. “I’m more Ankh-Morpork than I am Llamedos.”

“I’ve never heard you speak like that before.” Brusher was standing in the doorway, hair completely flat on one side and standing up in a wild tangle on the other. Marrock spun around with startled squeak, then look like he’d absolutely meant to do that. Hannu was reminded of the watch house cat.

“I don’t, usualllly. Usually.” Marrock shook his head a little, like he was trying to shake off the accent.

Hannu sat up in the couch, rubbing a hand over his face, knuckling sleep out of his eyes. Well, at least that explained the slightly pointed ears. It wasn’t uncommon for Llamedosians to look a bit, well, elvish. Hannu didn’t, but his family history was complicated and certainly not pure Llamedos.

“I like it,” Brusher was saying, and Hannu opened his eyes in time to catch Marrock blushing. “You should do it more often.”

They smiled at each other, both a little tentative, and Hannu resigned himself to looking and not touching. He didn’t really mind. He was fond of both of them. This budding romance had faded into the background next to the much louder, much more public romances of their friends. Hannu suspected they both prefered it that way. He still felt like he ought to have noticed sooner. He could've kept himself and his heart safer. But it was what it was. If nothing else, there'd be some excellent poetry in this.

He watched from the couch as they moved around each other with a new sort of hesitancy as they got breakfast ready. He started to think that maybe he hadn’t noticed sooner because there hadn’t been anything to notice.

After five minutes of this, Marrock finally stopped, put a palm over his face, and said, muffled, “Okay, I realise this is extremely amusing to you, and I don’t blame you, but could you just. Stop it with the grinning?”

Brusher stopped pouring coffee into the three mugs on the table. He blinked in confusion. “What?”

“Not you.” Marrock waved his free hand vaguely in Hannu’s direction. “Him!”

“Oh! Sorry!” Hannu said. He realised he didn’t sound sorry at all. “I mean, I’m sorry I’m making you uncomfortable, but I’m happy for you! You’re adorable!”

Both of them blushed at that.

Brusher put the coffee pot down, and scratched his neck. “We don’t… Um. It’s not. We haven’t. You know.”

Marrock nodded in agreement. Hannu had never seen that shade of red on Marrock’s face before. Or throat. Or chest. Huh. This was a fascinating morning indeed.

Hannu blinked. “...Not really, no? What?”

“Talked about… anything,” Brusher mumbled. He was avoiding both their eyes now, focusing intently on the table.

“Oh. Ohhh. I should go,” Hannu decided. “I should leave you two to… talk. Or whatever.”

“You should at least have a coffee first,” Marrock said. He was still red, but he seemed to mean it. He looked up through his lashes. “Pllease?”

The watch house coffee was truly terrible. Hannu hesitated. “If you’re sure?” They were both sure. Hannu stayed. And did his best not to smile too widely, even though it was very difficult. They really were adorable.

Chapter Text

Nina liked Marcus because he was sweet, and relatively innocent, and treated her like an equal, like a lady (or in light of recent revelations, like a gentleman), and, well, he was cute. He was different from every other man she’d known, and she liked that. She’d wanted to protect him when she’d met him, and she’d never really lost that urge.

Miss Fell was also unique, but in an entirely different way. She could never be described as sweet or cute, but she was handsome, and could be stunning when she tried. She was the furthest from needing protection, having been a soldier in the Borogravian army which wasn’t exactly known for being soft on its recruits, and currently working as a bodyguard for the Guild of Seamstresses. Also unlike Marcus, she seemed to have noticed that Nina was alive.

She was selfish enough to be flattered that Miss Fell had chosen her over Evgeni. She was used to never being anybody’s first choice.

“You can call me Lilyanna, you know,” Miss Fell said, grinning. She was standing half-undressed at the foot of Nina’s bed, so it wasn’t an unreasonable request.

Nina wrinkled her nose. “Do I have to? It seems weird.”

Miss Fell shrugged, letting her underslip fall to the floor. “I don’t care what you call me, I just wanted to let you know it was okay. At least you’re not calling me Captain,” she added, dryly.

“Oh Captain!” Nina moaned immediately. They both shuddered. “Definite no to captain,” Nina decided. It reminded her both of the City Watch and of Evgeni and neither were welcome in her bed. “How do you feel about just Fell?”

“I am fine with Fell,” Fell said. Her lips curved up in amusement. “I admit, I wasn’t expecting us to be doing this much talking.”

In response Nina loosened her cravat, lifting her head to pull it off, and dropped it on the floor. She was gratified to see Fell’s eyes following her movements. “Well, I do have an alternative for you, if the conversation isn’t to your liking...”

Chapter Text

Fanny - the seamstress!
Her daughter, Cozy Effie - not a seamstress!
Les leLes - Coffeeshop owner with dodgy past!
Jack Greener - Watchman - Sammie obvs.
Nina - Thieves Guild, dresses like a man.
Marcus de Montebanque - Assassins Guild (not the black syllabus, obvs).
Evgeni Caloches - from Überwald, werewolf. Assassins Guild.
Eddie Marrock (Neddard) - Assassins Guild.
Freddie Brusher (Willifred) - Assassins Guild.
Petiterre - The coffee-addicted Black Ribboner artist!
Happy Daye - medical student at Lady Sybil's. Dwarf.
Hughnon - wizard-in-training. Not very good at it.
Lilyanna Fell - from Borogravia. Member of Guild of Seamstresses, not actually a seamstress. Handy with a lady's fan.
Brochantite "Bro" - troll, bouncer at the Blue Cat Club.
Hannu (y Lumi) - poet, sometimes published, mostly not, sometimes florist, sometimes watchman. Llamedos.
Lyrichana - dancer at the Pink PussyCat Club. Klatchian.