Halloween I.F – “Uncanny Valley” Day 20
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Tam hesitated. On the one hand, it felt like he might be doing something wrong—his brother was off somewhere, kidnapped by a witch, and he was thinking about just… indulging himself? Was this what Ash would want—?
Thinking about that actually helped immediately.
Ash, Tam had to admit, would kick his ass if he found out that Tam’d had the chance to bang Lithway and didn’t take it.
He smiled back at Lithway, lifting a hand up a little daringly to touch their mass of smoky curls. “I don’t know anything about your folk,” he admitted. “Anything I should understand in terms of… cost? I mean, I keep meeting vampires and incubi, and I’m going to need to be alert and on my game in the next couple of days—”
Lithway laughed, a soft, melodic chuckle. “Oh, nothing like that, my sweet boy,” they said. “No cost whatsoever, and nothing more than you’d give to any other person. Effort and attention! All I want from it is the experience. You’re on a grand adventure, aren’t you? Allow me to be part of it.”
“Lithway,” Tam said with an embarrassed grin, “I’m so onboard with this plan.”
With another laugh, Lithway closed the distance and kissed him.
Their mouth was warm and soft, but without the same sense of solid pressure behind it in kisses that Tam had experienced before. Rather, there was something yielding about it—an impression that made sense a moment later as he felt smoke leak into his mouth through the small part in his lips. It stroked his tongue insubstantially, a flavor that he couldn’t quite identify in the lingering, teasing caress.
Tam drew a heavy breath in against Lithway and, when he let it out, he saw smoke leak out of his own nostrils.
Somehow, that was absurdly exciting.
“The bed?” Tam suggested a little unsteadily.
Lithway smiled, rising as they took both of Tam’s hands to lead him over to it.
The next morning, Tam woke from strange dreams—something about chasing his reflection in a mirror and continually finding the wrong faces there—but nevertheless woke surprisingly refreshed. His body felt not just good in the aftermath of the night before, but better than he would have expected after what must have, on a very technical level, been quite a workout.
He yawned, stretching out and getting his bearings.
Lithway wasn’t in the bed, which he’d expected; he doubted that they slept at all. But he could hear soft humming from elsewhere in the room, hidden by the bookcases, along with the occasional tak-tak of keys. They must be on the computer.
Tam rolled over and fished around beside the bed—nearly falling out of it, it was so high—until he found his clothes, dragging them up on the bed with him. His phone and Ash’s were in both his pockets, and he took them out to catch up on things quickly.
First, he checked Ash’s phone, reminding himself that there was still one thing he hadn’t checked—the location history. He loaded up google maps’ timeline—and was relieved to see that it had stored information. Ash usually had it turned off, but when he was told he was being taken, he must have turned it on. Tam let out a breath of relief. He couldn’t be sure when exactly the phone was handed over to Antoine and so which stop was Ash’s last—but he had a good guide of the walk path, and could compare that to the photos.
He checked his own after that. No message from Lithway’s lawyer contact yet, but that wasn’t a surprise, given that it was only nine in the morning. He did have messages both from Sahil and Jared, however.
Sahil’s said: So glad to hear you got some good information out of the meetup! I’m not working today but I’m happy to hit up the library if you need more research from me. The others there want to help too. I did talk to our leader and she’s willing to chat with you! I don’t know for sure if she’ll offer aid or not, so if you have more promising leads you can always just skip. But if you want to have lunch together we can have an early afternoon chat with her after?
Jared’s said: Got everything set up, dude. You wanna do dinner? You can catch me up on things properly and we can go over after it’s full dark. If you wanna bow out lemme know in advance and I’ll make an excuse but the contact already talked to Dupré so if you do that, he probably won’t wanna work with you after. But do what you think is best to help your bro, okay? I’ll do what I can to make things work.
Ash turned the phone off without replying to either message, thinking his options over as he began to dress. He wasn’t sure if there was anything else he’d want to do or other people he’d want to talk to that might interfere with either of those plans. Before he’d decided how to reply, the humming stopped, and Lithway—in a humanoid form again—leaned around and smiled at him.
“Awake, my dear co-lead?” they asked cheerily. “I don’t have any food in here since I don’t eat, but it appears I could get delivery. Or are you going out to continue on your quest to save your brother?”
[Please suggest an action in the Comments.]
[Completed Parts: Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Day 26 | Day 27 | Day 28 | Day 29 | Day 30 | Epilogue | Author’s Notes]
Sounds like that’s a day that lines up pretty neatly. Pretty convenient, but it makes sense, given the nature of who you’re talking to.
So: now that you’ve got a pretty good start on locating Ash, you need to figure out how to get him out, so you know what to ask for from your allies. If a couple of weredogs wanted to help you out, they might make tracking him down a lot easier, and Bella Istem might notice a couple of stray dogs less than she’d notice loitering humans. As for the vampires…it sounds like they’re generally more suited to a direct approach, and you don’t want to get them mixed up with the weredogs, so it might be more useful to get information from them than direct assistance. Maybe Antoine can sell you some charms or something to help you get around her wards and get out again — that’s not working against her, that’s just helping a customer. And Lithway, hopefully, can give you a hand with actually getting in and out; it’ll probably enjoy the intrigue, and it probably has enough tricks up its sleeve to be helpful.
…it might be that one use of the legal assistance you’ve got on tap is to get Bella Istem out of her house and tied up in legalese for a while. Maybe the vampires could help with that too — depends on how they relate to her. If you can’t…well, things get more dangerous. The witch doesn’t seem like the negotiating type, or the type to back down from a challenge, so your best bet is probably not to encounter her at all.
All this assumes that all parties involved are willing to help, of course, so it’s a best case scenario. But it’s better to have an idea of what kind of thing you’d want to ask for, now that you’re at the stage where you can ask for things. Get everything settled today, and then tomorrow you can make your move.
Do stay for breakfast, at least. But don’t get too distracted from the task at hand.