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08 March 2009 @ 11:21 pm
Ysabel fic: Kairos  
Title: Kairos*
Fandom: Guy Gavriel Kay- Ysabel
Pairing/characters: Ed Marriner, Meghan Ford
Rating: G
Summary/notes: For avendya, who asked for something Ed/Meghan. &hearts Even though I started a little bit before that, heh.

*Definition according to Wikipedia is here.

There's a brief period in his third year of university when his inspiration runs low, and subsequently- desperately- Ed Marriner finds himself juggling three different jobs in order to cover his rent, in lieu of the pictures that he isn't selling to the local newspapers and magazines. Internships, he discovers, may lie thick on the ground (more or less, depending on one's perspective), but paid ones approach the unicorn in their mythical status.

He tries bartending for the first couple of months, but even though the pay's great and the perks even better- he comes home one night with three unopened bottles of champagne, a mostly-full bottle of vodka, and half a platter of sushi, for which his roommates crown him King of the Month- he tires of the unpredictable hours and the occasional drunken fallout rather quickly. After the fifth unfortunate encounter with an inebriate, Ed prudently withdraws from the field to revise his plans.

He manages to snag a job at the university library, where there's never quite enough willing manpower. Ed enjoys it nearly despite himself: the stacks are peaceful, if dusty, and the cycle of lethargy interspersed with frenetic bursts of hyperactivity keeps him on his toes. He learns to navigate the various borrowing systems, the most efficient ways to search for research materials, and that it is, in fact, possible to complete his homework assignments in between his stints at the circulation desk. The wages aren't sufficient to cover his expenses, but the lady in the upstairs apartment asks him to walk her dog twice a week, which helps.

Finals approach, and his roommates' insomniac habits seem to rub off on him; he spends so many hours in the tiny, 24-hour coffee shop (just a few blocks away, and a discovery Ed is disinclined to share with his friends) that he befriends both owners and all four staff members. It's the girl, though, a regular, who really catches his attention: smallish and fine-boned and not conventionally beautiful, but with the kind of dramatic coloring that makes his fingers itch for his camera.

For the first time, he refrains from taking a shot.

A week or two of surreptitious reconnaissance- Ed prefers the term to "stalking"- and he learns that she's a med student. She comes in at odd hours, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes just before dawn, always carrying books and occasionally wearing scrubs. Their visits don't always coincide, but each time he sees her, he's fascinated by the mobility of her expressive face.

One day, she comes in without her notes, the usual tense lines of her shoulders and neck relaxed for once. Ed's fiddling half-heartedly with his camera, taking pictures that some people would call "experimental," but which he secretly thinks are lazy: the shiny chrome of the coffeemaker, ice cubes melting in an orange-juice glass. He's moved on to Marie's long fingers at the cash register before he notices the flicker of deep, true red at the edge of his lens.

"Sorry," Ed says, lowering his camera ruefully. "I didn't realize you were here."

The girl laughs. "No, that's all right. I don't mind."

Ed grins, sliding into the chair across from hers. "Ed Marriner, arts student," he says. "I'm figuring out my next project."

"Meghan Ford, med student." She cocks an eyebrow at his camera. "You do that for a living?"

"Well, sort of. Someday, I hope. It depends on how good my pictures are."

"Ah." She blinks. "Why were you photographing in here?"

Ed shrugs. "Bored, I guess? I'm a little low on inspiration." He rubs the back of his neck sheepishly. "I, ah, may also be at the tail end of my current paycheck, so at this point I'm willing to try anything."

Meghan grimaces in sympathy. "Not so much with the actual paid photo credits, then?"

"Well, I'm not usually taking pictures of coffee shops, but even without that- not so much, no."

"I suppose it's difficult to reconcile artistic vision with newsbites, sometimes."

"You have no idea."

Meghan smiles absently, her gaze turned momentarily inward. "It must be nice," she says quietly, "to be able to do what you want."

Ed cocks his head, curious, but the faintest thread of bitterness in her voice silences the questions swirling at the tip of his tongue. "Yes," he says instead.

She shakes herself. "Sorry, I got- well. Anyway. Do you want a coffee?"

"I, ah-" Ed pauses, thinking of all the things he should be doing, like developing his film for next month's photography contest, like sending out another portfolio to the newspapers, like heading to the library in time for his next shift. Meghan looks at him, an enigmatic half-smile on her face, and his hands twitch involuntarily. "Yeah, sure, but on one condition."

The picture he submits to the contest wins first prize: a girl's reflection in the window of the coffee shop, her red hair blurring into the first rosy tinge of sunset.
Tags: ,
Avendya: Stock - night skyavendya on March 9th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
I am speechless. This is so vivid it feels real, and I love the glimpse of Ned as a young man and starving artist, Meghan's ever-so-slight bitterness, Ned's not-stalking-no-really, the bartending. Basically, this is perfect and I have no idea what I can say to express just how much I love this. You just keep writing better and better fiction, don't you?
glass_icarusglass_icarus on March 9th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
&hearts &hearts! :D i'm so glad you enjoyed this! and hee, in my head Ed's not-stalking-no-really becomes well yes, okay, I was, but I totally still got a date out of it when Meghan asks.
Avendya: Stock - soft lightavendya on March 9th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
It may have been printed about 30 seconds after I finished reading it, so that I could read it over and over again. (Er, that sounds odd, but it is worth rereading! And having to hand!)

And, yes, that is how Ed would react (evidently I typoed Ned in the first comment - argh, similar names). Meghan would sigh and act annoyed, but be inwardly amused.

Edited at 2009-03-09 08:37 pm (UTC)