momebie: (Architect William)
Original fiction.
~1500 words.
The Steampunk-verse.
For [livejournal.com profile] theemdash.



1.

“Do you think I made the appropriate impression?” William fiddled with the lace at the end of his sleeve and looked about the crowded parlor room, scanning it to find Jon Henley. He’d wanted to please him. It was important to William to become someone important, which he fully believed Jon could do for him.

“I think you made an impression,” Edmund said.

He was rather brazenly wearing a smug grin that William felt was definitely inappropriate for the occasion. Then again, he admittedly didn’t quite know what was appropriate for the occasion, hence the question. Sometimes he hated everyone he knew.

“Smooth,” Nate said. He donned his hat and started patting about the lapels of his jacket, searching for his cigarette case. “Not quite as…worldly as you could have been, though.”

“Worldly?”

“I’ve found, in my dealings about the Opera house, that it is polite to kiss the knuckles of your betters when you greet them.” He found the cigarette case and pulled one out, tapping the tip of it gently on the smooth silver back absentmindedly. “Did you kiss him, Mr. Claxton?”

Edmund choked around a laugh and William felt his ears going red. The silk lining of his jacket suddenly felt as constricting as any male corset. “He’s not my type,” William said.

“It’s hardly about types, my good man,” Nate said. “And I’m off.” William watched him disappear into the crowd.

Edmund crowded in next to him and draped his arm across William’s shoulders. “I’ll buy you a whole bottle of that disgusting Sarmillian plum wine you like so much if you do it.”

“Once a man has tried to kill you with a priceless vase, it’s a little late for first impressions,” William said.

“Don’t you think it’s time we left for the evening?”

William looked at Edmund, who was still carefully composed and smug. “Sod it,” William said. He stalked through the parlor and out into the foyer, leaving Edmund behind. When he finally found Jon Henley the man was surrounded by other people. William stood at the edge of the group for a moment, composing himself. He then did something he had told himself he would never do and let a stereotype get the better of him. He flounced into the center of the circle, letting his cane lead the way.

“Mr. Claxton,” Jon said, eyebrow raised.

“Mr. Henley,” William said. He reached out and grasped at Jon’s naked hand, holding it firmly in his gloved fingers. “It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance this evening. I look forward our next meeting.” And there, in front of everyone, William brought Jon’s fingers to his lips and gave them a quick, dry kiss. Then, without looking up into Jon’s face again, he bowed his way out of the circle and shot for the door.

“Dandies,” he heard Jon say behind him, and the crowd laughed: quietly, politely, conspiratorially.

“I’d say you’ve left an impression now,” Edmund said, clapping his hand down on William’s shaking shoulder and wheeling him off the porch and down to where their horses were stabled.

“I think,” William said carefully, “that if I work for him, I’m going to become someone different than who I mean to be.”

2.

It had been a whirlwind six months, working for Jon Henley as one of his Architects. William learned more than he thought there was to know about the way politics worked and how to get people to do the things he wanted. Edmund was still the deadliest blade in their group, but William had become the most graceful, and as such had made himself as useful to Mr. Henley as he imagined he could be.

And he was the most graceful. He prided himself in being carefully put together at all times. He liked the way Jon looked at him when he first entered the room. He felt petted and approved of whenever Jon would give him one of his slight nods. “Thank you,” he assumed it to mean. “You’re perfect.”

The fact that that woman had joined the group did not make things different. Her golden hair and her demure lips and the swell of her hips were nothing when compared to the sword William kept in his cane. Feminine wiles did not a conspirator make. So why did Jon now nod in her direction when she entered the room. As if she’d done more than sleep with Nate Ayre and frustrate that Dawes boy. Not that he couldn’t appreciate anything that frustrated Derek Dawes. But still….

William needed to do something drastic. He needed to get himself noticed again. And since carving her heart out and delivering it to Jon with the evening report seemed a little drastic, he settled on something a little more subtle.

“Mr. Claxton,” Jon said, as William entered the main drawing room on the airship. Jon was already seated, preparing for the unmooring that he had never really gotten used to.

William noted the distinct lack of an appreciative nod and straightened up. “Mr. Henley,” he said, stepping forward. He leaned in and grasped Jon’s forearm, pulling him forward in his chair. Then he swooped down and left a small kiss on Jon’s cheek.

Jon froze. William smiled and leaned back, releasing his grip on Jon’s forearm. There was a cough at the door and William turned, taking a step to the side, just in time to see Tom Bridgman back out of the room with a tip of his hat. William smiled at him. After all, there was nothing unusual happening, just a guard dog greeting his master in the appropriate manner.

The silence between them evaporated as the airship’s engines were cranked and prepared for takeoff. William watched as Jon slid back in his seat and gripped hard at the arms of his chair. “The report, Mr. Claxton,” he said in a tight voice.

3.

They were drunk. Edmund disgracefully so, but William wasn’t far behind him. Technically they didn’t have nights off. The job of revolutionary wasn’t one that came with an office or routine, so in general it suited them to be as sharp as they could whenever possible. Some nights though, some nights you just needed to let your hair down.

The necklace at William’s throat was spinning, receiving a message. “You,” he said, pulling at the waist of the woman closest to Edmund. She giggled and fell back into him. He gave her his widest, most charming smile and said “do you have a looking glass on you, my dear?”

“You’re still the prettiest in the land, Will,” Edmund crowed, and pinched the breast of the girl in his lap. She shrieked compliantly.

“No,” William said. “I believe it’s the boss.”

“Ah, that familiar stirring in your heart, then?”

“Almost surely,” William said. The girl handed her mirror over and William took it over to the fire. He unbuttoned his shirt down to his stomach and pulled it and the lapel of his jacket aside, holding the mirror up so that he could clearly see his left collar bone. There they were, the familiar raised bumps on his chest in the code that only the Architects knew. Morse code for the devil himself. “I believe we’re being summoned,” he said.

“Let the bastard bring his arse down here where it’s warm and comfortable,” Edmund said.

“The bastard shouldn’t have to bring his arse anywhere.”

William turned around quickly, almost tripping over his heel. “Mr. Henley,” he said. “Jon.”

“Has this fine young man come to join the party?” said the girl in Edmund’s lap.

“I’ve come to join nothing. You are needed, Wilson,” he said to Edmund. “If you’re finished polishing your saber you can clean yourself up and meet Mr. Bridgman outside.”

Edmund frowned and stood, carefully pushing the girl from his lap. She gave a small pout, but he tapped the end of her nose with his finger and spared her a smile. “I’ll be back for you,” he said. To Jon he said, “you could use a little polish yourself, careful you don’t tarnish.” Then he stomped from the room.

Jon stared at William expectantly. Do something, William thought. You have an audience. What would get the greatest reaction?

“What a pleasure this is,” William said. He tripped forward toward Jon as foppishly as he could manage in his already disoriented state. “You are always welcome in our home.” With that William clasped Jon’s neck in both of his hands and dragged him bodily forward, laying a wet, welcoming kiss on Jon’s lips.

The girls clapped and cheered. Jon stood very, very still as William let him go and stepped back, grinning for all the world like a street mutt that had just found a bone.

“You forget your place, Mr. Claxton. And you do it often.”

William let his lips fall, drawing himself in and trying to look more serious. “You forget that you wouldn’t have your place if I knew mine.”


This bit of fiction was written for the Second Chance Topic: No Man Is a Hero to His Valet at [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. I realize this is kind of ridiculous, even for me, so you know, let me know if you were amused. As always, all comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Architect William)
Original fiction.
~1000 words.



“We crossed swords the first night we met,” Edmund says. His mask is resting on the top of his head, curved beak pointing up toward the chandelier and making it look, from William's seated angle, like he is hanging from it. Edmund is the only person who feels at ease enough in the Henley family home to have taken his mask off. William suspects it's because Edmund has no airs, no sense of propriety, and no wish to make a name for himself. All admirable qualities for someone of new money.

At Edmund's words most of the women are smiling coyly behind their gloved hands or decorated fans. Standing around William there are masked men and women decorated in laces, silks, and fine brocades collected from traders on the Chinois border. After all, when Grand Dame Henley requests your presence in her home dressed to please royalty and masked to complete espionage, you comply and you do not stray from script. William is just pleased to see his peers taking some interest in what they wear, since the new fashions do nothing but make the women look mannish and the men look less so.

“He does mean steel, ladies,” William says, self-consciously adjusting his crisp, black lace cravat. “I'm afraid you'll find no tawdry penny dreadful affairs here.” At that the men are laughing and William lets himself relax. He's just about to remove his own mask when a heavy hand falls on his shoulder.

“I trust you're keeping my mother's guests well entertained, Mr. Wilson.”

A frisson runs through the group, as if someone has suddenly pulled the marionette strings of polite society tight. William looks over the high, winged back of the chair to see that there's a man behind him dressed in bright red with a simple, black cloth mask tied about his head. It covers his face from his brows to his nose. He's directing his question at Edmund, but he doesn't release William's shoulder. This must be the Mr. Henley that Edmund invited him to meet.

“It is what you're paying me for, sir,” Edmund says, and gives a mock bow.

“Much appreciated.” Mr. Henly looks down at William. “You won't mind if I steal Mr. Claxton away for a moment, will you? I do believe this is his first time in our home and mother will want to meet him.”

“Be my guest,” Edmund says. The group chuckles politely.

Sycophants, William thinks.

“Mr. Claxton,” Mr. Henley squeezes William's shoulder briefly before letting it go. He turns and exits the parlor without any other instruction to William, who stands, collects his cane, and hurries after him.

Mr. Henley weaves through the other guests, not acknowledging their presence, though William notes that every one of them gives him the courtesy of stopping their conversations and nodding as he goes by. William keeps an eye out for Dame Henley, not wanting to be startled into doing something embarrassing. He does not see her anywhere. Mr. Henley takes a turn down a dimmed hallway and by the time William reaches the head of it he has disappeared.

William pauses, not knowing what to do. “Mr. Henley,” he calls. When he receives no answer he starts down the corridor, looking into the open doors as he goes. As he passes the last door there's a noise behind him and he swings around, arching his arm and bringing his cane up to eye level just in time to block Mr. Henley's hands as they come down toward him, bringing a heavy vase with them. When William's cane makes contact with Mr. Henley's wrists he drops the vase. William watches it bounce once on the thickly padded rug and crack from lip to base.

"I trust no one will miss that," he says.

“You are fast.” Mr. Henley admires the vase between them, lightly rubbing his right wrist. “Edmund mentioned that you were a better swordsman than he was, but I hardly believed it.”

William lowers his cane, clutching it tightly in his fist. He can feel his cheeks flushing. “That's hardly a matter of distinction. Edmund Wilson has the the worst form of any saber fighter who has ever lived.”

“You have to admit, he gets results.” Mr. Henley reaches up and unties the knot at the back of his mask, pulling the thin, black fabric away from his face. "Jon Henley," he says.

“I know who you are," William says, a tinge of disdain hiding a tremor in his voice. He will not be made to look foolish at the hands of a man whose family are not his betters. "If you don't mind my asking, Mr. Henley, is there a reason you have just tried to kill me, or am I free to go?”

“I had to make sure you were going to be useful." Jon holds his hand out, palm flat. "Your mask please.”

Ludicrous. “What?”

“Remove your mask,” Jon says. “This meeting has already exceeded my taste for theatrics and I have rounds to make among the guests.”

William does as he's told, tugging at the silk ribbon with his free hand. When the mask loosens he pulls it away and places it in Jon's open hand. Relieved of his mask, William can take in both Jon and the wide hallway. Jon looks smaller than William had previously thought him, not nearly as intimidating as the rumours about him would suggest.

Jon stares at William for a moment, summing him up. “Do you ever feel as though you've been rendered obsolete?”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“The way you dress and the way you carry yourself. You are positioning yourself as one of the ineffectual elite. You've carved a niche for yourself in dandyism and now that niche threatens to break open, leaving you exposed. If you are not careful, Mr. Claxton, you are going to slip through and be left behind.”

“With all due respect,” William says. “I find my niche as comfortable as any that has presented itself to me. Is there a point to this, Mr. Henley?”

A slow smile cuts its way across Jon's face and William feels that tension again. This time it's inside of him, threatening to split him open. He suddenly feels as though he's standing at one of history's ledges. Does he jump, or does reach back and depend on the strength of a thin branch that could drop him at any time.

“Mr. Claxton,” Jon says finally. “How do you feel about overthrowing the monarchy?”


This bit of back story for the steampunk universe was written (with apologies to [livejournal.com profile] theemdash and to the Tom Bridgeman rolling his eyes in my head) for topic 14: Cracks at [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Architects Derek sit)
Original fiction.
~1000 words.



The opera house was on fire. Everything around the opera house was on fire as well. It had taken a few days, but the flames were now sweeping across the Upper City, buffeted by the winds. James pulled the missive from his pocket and wiped at the sealing wax that had rubbed off onto his jacket. The heat from the flames was melting it. The heat from the flames was melting him. He shucked off his jacket and draped it over his elbow. The sweat rolled across his skin in torrents. He didn't see much of a point in trying to look put together when the whole of the world was coming down around him. He felt like a proper fool. Derek had given him this one last task and he couldn’t complete it.

He should never have found himself in this situation. He should have stayed his dreams and kept to his modest place, rather than try to force himself into becoming something. Being someone. Everything he'd done since ending up in this city had worked against him.

It was just as well that there was no one there to receive the letter. Unlikely as it was that Amelia had stayed in the city once the bourgeois uprising began, she wouldn't have been able to help them anyway. Regardless of her feelings for Derek, it wasn't going to be safe for her or them to have and eighteen year old girl familiar only with her upper class coterie tagging along after them. She was safer with Nate and the Architects. He hoped.

But he still couldn't return with the letter. He didn't want to leave it to burn in the street. What if someone came back to sift through the rubble? It was possible it could still reach her. James wiped at his drenched brow with the back of his hand and did the one thing Derek had specifically told him not to do. He opened the envelope.
Teddy.
I don't know what they've told you about me, but I wanted you to know that I am neither a traitor nor a coward. I joined with the Architects to try and change something for the better. For everyone, not just for Mr. H and those like him. Now I see that we were lied to. That was never going to happen. I still want those things as idealic as it is. I know that you are laughing at me right now. That's good. Keep your laughter and don't let anyone take it from you. I know that you can have a comfortable life with N. I want to let you know that the minute I get a chance, I will formally absolve your betrothal to me. You shall be free to accept his hand, if he is to offer.

Please do as you wish, I will do as I have to. If you need to reach me find James. He's likely to be the easiest to tail.

You never treated my feelings with the gravity that they deserved, but I have always loved you. I will continue to. Be safe. Be happy.

Nance.


James re-folded the letter and slipped it back into the envelope. Derek thought that he was indiscreet and didn't trust him. It stung to see it written out, but it wasn't something that he hadn't known. He'd have time enough to prove himself otherwise if he didn't die of asphyxiation here in the square. He covered his nose and mouth with the tail of his coat and took a deep breath, choking on the smoke.

The marble pillars that marked the entrance to the opera house carriage way were still standing strong against the rebellion. James pulled a large rock from the garden and carried it up the drive. He placed the letter on the ground and pushed the rock on top of it. He hoped it would keep it from flying away and protect it from flames or weather. Then he found a charred piece of wood and went to work on the base of the pillar with it. He scratched out the words TEDDY GIRL in soot right over the place where the letter was. There were a number of teddy girls and mashers working within the city, but so as long as Amelia hadn't told Nate about Derek's nickname for her, it was unlikely anyone would disturb the letter before she had a chance to find it. He hoped, anyway.

There was a crash to his left and a series of cries. One of the mobs of brawlers making their way to the lower city, no doubt. Searching still, after two days of fire and executions, for upper class people to kill. James dropped his jacket into the dirt and shucked off his waistcoat. He hurriedly used the soot on the wood to paint his face and undershirt with ashen streaks to make it look like he had been in the streets looting.

“Bruder!” a voice cried. “Are you willing to come with us?”

“Where are you going?” James shouted back. He'd heard the same exchange many times over his last several days in hiding. It was how they told the patriots from the hiding upper class. It was the call and response of the new world. The new world he'd helped to destroy.

“We're going to build the future!” the mob cried in unison. There were cheers and screams after as someone shot twice into the air. The sound of the bullets was almost drowned out by the sound of the flames around them. He hadn't known fire could be so deafening.

“Count on me!” James stood up and moved toward them. He could follow the rabble down into the Lower City and then sneak away to find Derek while they were distracted. At least for the time being he and they had the same goal. They were all going to change the world.


This entry was written for Topic 7: Brouhaha at [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. For those with no context, it's part of a larger steampunk type of work I'm writing with [livejournal.com profile] theemdash. All comments and questions are welcome.

I wrote?

Nov. 28th, 2008 12:29 am
momebie: (Default)
I've been in a funk lately. I've been working on things, slowly but surely, but I haven't really felt like anything I've written clicked at all. I feel like it's all disposable, which is a dangerous feeling when you're writing. Earlier, randomly, I checked my 'media' filter and found this prompt at [livejournal.com profile] we_are_cities. It reminded me of some of the architects, most specifically Derek and Amelia, but I think I'll get in something with William and a random girl later. So um, yes. I wrote Architect smut. I wrote HET Architect smut. What? Just a messy shorthand of realization, scribbled electronically, unchanged. This is pre the story, but it helps to establish their relationship as it is. Or something.

Sometimes we fuck alone, too, despite two bodies sharing one space. )

I have to get up at 7am on a holiday because the people are coming to upgrade my parents' alarm system and need to be able to get to the window contacts. Lame.
momebie: (Default)
All right! *slaps hands together* [livejournal.com profile] theemdash posted blurbs on her half of the steampunk characters, so I might as well fill you in on the rest of the crew. All of my characters belong to a group called 'The Architects', which are headed by Em's character, Jon Henley. They are basically a group composed of people he knew, and people he made it a point to know because of their strategic placement within society. The Architects themselves have varying levels of knowledge of the actual Plan. I'd say that the only ones who really, truly might know all of what is happening are Tom and William. The ultimate goal of the Architects is to revamp the way things are run within society while staving off revolution. Not that that last bit is really imperative. Throw Jon lemons...

But darling I want the same thing that I wanted before... )


Ah, no eccentric machinists here. I apologize if my characters are not as exciting as Em's at a glance, but I promise they're interesting in vastly different ways. Also, a bit odd. Heh. *pets William* Since Em did it I'm going to go ahead and open the floor for prompts. If you feel like you want to know more about any of them, toss me a prompt or two. I tend to write random snippets about them from time to time to learn more about them anyway.


And now, dying. God I'm exhausted. I am SO GLAD tomorrow is Friday. >.>

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