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Happy New Year! (The smell is a little unusual)

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I think I’m going to kill someone tonight.


Cal snorts in Hekate’s mind, a prickling warmth spreading in Hekate’s neck at the sensation. It doesn’t make the air around Hekate smells any less putrid or warm the water up, but it does make for a welcome distraction against fatigue and boredom.

Earlier this month, the Fianna got wind that the Dayvilles were looking to form an alliance with the Foxglove clan from south Boston—a development that, should it ever happen, would prove disastrous for the Fianna and potentially turn the tide of the war. Half the organization went frantic for weeks, searching for the meeting’s time and date while the other tried to figure out how to nip the alliance in the bud. They’d eventually secured the location and sent Hekate’s squad to interrupt the meeting, aiming to catch some key players of the Dayvilles—or, at worst, delay the meeting enough to give the Fianna some breathing time.


Of course it had to be the sewers.

I’ll trade place with you any time.


Hekate’s shoulders and chest tighten with Cal’s frustration, neck heating up in annoyance, and the general image of a plaster cast flashes in her mind, causing her to chuckle in turn. By all accounts, Cal is one of the most dutiful patients the Fianna doctors have ever met—they sing her praise to recalcitrant Fianna members whenever they get too noisy—but having one foot in her head gives Hekate the perfect vantage point to understand how hard-won that reputation was.


I’d say yes but the squad might not survive that.


Cal snorts just as Hekate sets foot on the ladder that will take her back to street levels.

The icy fabric of her pants stick to her unfeeling legs, and Hekate spends the short climb cursing at the faulty information in every way she knows. She and Cal may joke around, but the fact remains that for Hekate and her squad to turn out on a big fat nothing is a cruel blow to their planning and confidence. The next weeks—months, maybe—are going to be hell, trying to figure out how the rebel clans evaded them.


I guess at least we won’t be bored, Cal says in Hekate’s mind—Hekate feels an itch rise and vanish as Cal scratches her knee—but if their intel came from within….


Hekate swallows a groan, checks her surroundings and exits the sewers with greeted teeth. Next to her, Tamoh—her field partner—is busy taking care of a pedestrian who saw him exit the tunnel, but other than that the alleyway they chose seems empty and quiet, and Hekate sighs, thanking heaven for small blessings.


I need a shower, Hekate tells Cal, soon.


It’s a fantasy, of course. With the way things went tonight, it’ll be a miracle if Hekate reaches her quarters before four AM, and that would be lucky. This is a far cry from the tv-and-wine evening she’d hoped to get for herself—and maybe Cal, too.

Maybe she’d have refused. It’s only been a few days since Hekate dragged the both of them to an unknown hotel and gave them their first full night together—they haven’t had the time or words to discuss this further since, but Hekate had hoped…well. Never mind what she’d hoped. It was naive of her anyway.


Something wrong?

Don’t feel like going through administration, Hekate says.


She must have gotten too absorbed in her thought and let Cal pick up on her disappointment.

With a tired glance, Hekate surveys the rest of the squad and their less-than-impressed faces, and then she signals for them to move on toward the headquarters.

Cheers and explosion noises erupt around them, shouts of ‘happy new year’ echoing from window to window as the few cars still out start honking like the world depends on it.


“Yeah,” Tamoh mumbles beside Hekate, “Happy fucking new shitty year!”


Hekate snorts, shoulders drooping as she speeds up her pace, eager to stay out of the post-countdown crowd of people trying to get home early and prepare for a day’s work tomorrow. She dodges several handfuls of confetti on her way down the streets, the stream of her inner cursing building up until Cal laughs and says:


Hey. Happy new year.


The ghost of a kiss brushes against Hekate’s lips, fainter than the real thing but present enough to surprise Hekate out of her gloom.


Right, she answers, happy new year.

Now get to that shower, Cal says—Hekate feels the heat of a caress against her ribs—and I’ll see if I can make tonight worth your while.


Hekate snorts, knowing nothing is going to make the beginning of 1994 any easier, but she does accelerate again.


(Cal falls asleep long before Hekate reaches her quarters.)