Outside, the rain. Inside, the warm. Plans for tomorrow, the pride of Thelion industries. The plane ticket in his pocket.
Bedroom mirror. Winning smile. Adjust the tie. Dinner plans. Sweet guy, lower class, awkward, shy. Loved that kind of guy. Little thrill taking care of him. The wine, the dance. The little peck on the cheek.
Home. The chat, with dad. The little irritation, the concern. The argument. Bellowing at a prone form in a bed, feeling awful for it. The rebuke, wiping his face clean and trying to stamp it down. Still the same as when he was younger. But he was dying now.
Back to his room. The ensuite. The shower. The plan.
The heat, the fire, the water, the pain.
Shower curtain torn, collapse, the pain, the scream.
The bathroom mirror. The drugs, grabbed, hands shaking.
The door, the floor, blood on his feet and fingers? Hard to tell. Water, maybe, just hot water, but the pain.
Breakfast was the most important meal of the day, for Eris. For a start, these days, she didn’t have to pay for them. Second, she got to have them in a pretty swank place. Third, she got to do it around the… undeniably visually striking Ms Mycroft, and her gaggle of cute collaborators. People didn’t buy locks at 9 AM, and they usually learned they’d locked themselves out of their homes much later at night, so it wasn’t like a slow start to a lazy day hurt her any.
And hey, consultancy. It was even a tax scrub if she wanted.
The only part of breakfast that bothered her now was when something had Ms Mycroft’s attention. And that was annoying because sometimes it meant the morning table was like a school yard, with a teacher directing everyone until they pronounced her name right. And Ms Mycroft always opened these things like an object lesson, too – always quietly needling at Tally.
Eris didn’t like people teasing Tally.
“Huh,” And that’s how she started it. That beautiful brown woman would always look at the paper, lower her glasses, and look around the table, always avoiding looking at Tally as she mentioned the headline that had her puzzle in it. And it’d be some word play or a museum opening, something really light and airy because all the heavy stuff in the newspaper wasn’t worth talking about, because she already got it, and she knew it upset Sparrow and Tally and she didn’t want to make it seem like she cared – “It seems Aubrey Thelion has committed suicide.”
Well that flattened things out.
Jude adjusted the tablecloth as he set down a tray of hot buttered bread, toasted well, some dusted with cinnamon, some spread with jam, and all those wonderful things that he did of a morning with doughs and pastries. He asked, with a careful patience: “Does that surprise you, Ms Mycroft?”
“Oh, definitely.” She said, fanning the paper. “Aubrey was a lovely boy, by observation.”
“You knew him?” Jude went on.
“Oh, no, goodness no. He liked socialising.”
“Ah, obviously then.” Jude said, pouring tea, from his position standing by the table. “And it surprises you, because…?”
“You can’t exactly predict why someone commits suicide.” Tally murmured into their cup, as if afraid to directly circle against the mistress of ceremonies, interrupting some interplay between monster and her butler.
“That much is true.” She murmured, adjusting her glasses with one hand while she reached for toast with the other.
“Wh-what?” Tally started, looking up wholeheartedly.
“I said that much is true. You’re right. It could just be that someone kept their emotional state hidden from their peers and social groups.”
Tally squirmed a little. “I…”
“Oh my gosh,” Sparrow laughed, “You’re not prepared for that, huh?”
“I’m… I just figured you’d think anyone could give that up-“
“I am a creature of rational information and the processing of vast amounts of data, Tally,” Ms Mycroft crunched on the toast. “I am not psychic. I am merely terribly smart. And with that smartness comes a recognition that there are subjective experiences of relative strangers that I can only logically infer rather than necessarily predict.”
“However,” Ms Mycroft murmured, as she turned the page of the newspaper, peering at both sides, as if it might surrender some extra information. “There is enough information…”
“Enough information for what?” Eris asked. Whether or not she solved anything, she got paid – she was quite happy to turn up at a posh place, have a nice breakfast, and then be told she didn’t need to do anything today, able to go back to her locksmithing business.
Ms Mycroft bit her upper lip. “Now, you see, I am at something of an impasse.”
“Isn’t she in Hyrule Warriors?” Sparrow chirped.
“Shut up. No… in this case, it’s something small and frivolous. Because, you see… I think there’s more to this than I can know. And that is frustrating. A remarkably improbable end.” She tapped her chin with a fingertip. “Sparrow, Eris, are you available to visit the Thelion home today?”
“Sure,” Sparrow said, cheerily.
“What about Tally?” Eris asked, guarded.
“… Tally, I figured you would stay here and use that ‘internet’ wizardry of yours to observe Jude’s body camera.”
“… Is that a problem? I understand I have quite a good internet connection here. And a basement. Jude assures me that basements are quite homey.”
“I uh. I’m… okay.”
“Okay who?” The brown woman asked, raising an eyebrow and the corner of her mouth.
“… Okay, Ms Mycroft.” Tally singsonged.