Traveling Lightly

Theora did not normally take well to being approached by strange men at the Ouzo Bar.

She was well-known amongst the Blanks because of Edison's work with Reg and Dom, so when he called her by her first name, it was no surprise to her.

He sat beside her and smiled at the bartender.

"Haven't seen you around here before, young man," the bartender said, "What can I get you?"

"Rose Mimosa," the young man replied.

Theora turned to him, curiosity piqued. "Do I know you?"

"We've met," he replied simply, shrugging as the bartender made his drink.

He was about twenty six. Not overly tall, but still a respectable height, he had shoulder-length medium brown hair with auburn highlights. His eyes were so warm, she felt that she could just fall into them.

"So," he went on after he'd taken the first sip of his drink, "what's wrong?"

"I don't know anymore," she replied. "I used to think that I could handle being Edison Carter's Controller. I'm very good at the job."

"Better than most," her new confidante agreed.

"Thank you," Theora smiled. "Where are you from, handsome?"

"Not far. Perhaps you should let me drive you home?" he looked at her in concern. "I've only had a few sips of my drink, but you seem to have been here for a while."

"I wouldn't want you to miss out on your drink."

"It's only a mimosa," he shrugged, getting up and offering to help her down from her seat.

"I can manage," she told him. In contrast of this, she nearly fell from her seat.

He guided her to the parking lot.

Pointing at an old truck, she handed him the keys. Then, in half-sleeping directions, she guided him to her garage apartment.

She was sound asleep as they pulled into her apartment, parking in the spot next to her bed.

Closing the garage door, Theora's new friend went over to her side of the truck and helped her out. He guided her to the bed, frowning at her intoxication. It wasn't normal for her to be this drunk. He wondered if someone had slipped her a rufie. If so, he had apparently rescued her just in time.

She pulled him on top of her, but he stood back up. "Not tonight," he told her. "I do care about you, and I wouldn't mind spending the night in your arms. But not when you're too drunk to remember how much fun we had."

He covered her with the blankets, then grabbed a quilt and curled up on the old car seat that served as her sofa.

Theora woke to the sound of fresh coffee being brewed. She wondered how she'd got home and who had spent the night with her. She felt untouched, so whoever it was had at least been polite.

"Hello?" she asked, standing up to find herself still clothed.

"Good morning," he replied. "Do you want some breakfast or just coffee?"

"I should be making breakfast for you since it's my apartment," Theora told him.

"You can make me breakfast some other time," he replied with a winning smile. "Right now, you've got a hangover at least. And it's possible you're recovering from a drug someone must've slipped you."

"I'm guessing that someone wasn't you," Theora said. "Thanks for the rescue. I don't think I've ever seen you around here."

"I've been here," he shrugged. "But I don't live here. I'm from Lloyd's Avenue, near Fenchurch."

Fenchurch was the shorthand name for Fenchurch Dance Club, formerly Fenchurch Street Station. It had been converted into a nightclub after all the street stations had been closed down. The third world war had forced England to transfer its transportation budget over to military transports and fuel for the troops. The buses and trains had been commandeered for troop movements to keep as much of the fuel ready for the actual battles.

Paddington Street Station had been converted to Paddington Church, but that had only lasted about four years before it fell into disuse. Some people still went there at Easter and Christmas, otherwise it remained closed.

"May I ask your name?"

"It's Faer."

Theora smiled. "Traveler. Have you traveled a lot?"

"I have," he replied. "I've seen much."

Theora touched the pale scar on his left cheek. "Street fight?"

"War. I got it when I was nineteen." he replied. "Ask nothing more. The less you know, the better."

"I won't," she assured him. "I hate violence."

"So I've been told," Faer smiled at her. "Is there anything you'd like to do today? Or do you have to go to work?"

"I have the day off," she said. "I was planning to clean up around my apartment but…"

"Then I'll help you do that," Faer decided.

"Oh, I couldn't ask you to do that," Theora said. "I should show you around this part of the city."

"You'll be able to concentrate better and enjoy it more yourself if you're not worried about your housework," Faer replied.

"Okay, you win," Theora agreed. "Housework for an hour. Then a nice tour."


Edison drove up to Theora's apartment a half an hour later. He also had the day off and was hoping to spend it with her. He went to the smaller garage door and knocked.

It surprised him when instead of Theora, a man just shy of his own age answered the door.

"We're doing housework at the moment," the man said. "You're more than welcome to help."

Edison's glare was quickly trumped by the stranger's winning grin.

"Don't worry. I haven't taken advantage of her. Theora deserves more respect than that, don't you agree?"

Hearing this as she walked back into the room with a small vacuum cleaner, Theora gave Edison a tight smile. "When did you arrive?"

"About a minute ago," Edison said. "Your new boyfriend let me in."

"He's just an acquaintance who happened to rescue me from the Ouzo Bar," Theora told him.

"And whose helping you with your domestic chores," Edison pointed out. "Sounds like what you girls like to call a 'keeper' to me."

"Theora's going to show me around after we're done," Faer told Edison.

"You'll be in good hands," Edison said, sensing that Theora wanted time alone with her rescuer. Maybe she was planning to reward him with dinner after the tour. Dinner, and perhaps more. It was, he decided, none of his business.

Edison stayed long enough to help Theora and Faer with the housework. Then he made a polite excuse and departed.

"You'd think he expects us to have some whirlwind tryst," Faer chuckled.

"It's not completely out of the question," Theora teased, a playful smile on her face.

"No, it's not," Faer agreed. "But first, you promised me a tour of the city."

The tour eventually led them to Big Time. Reg and Dom welcomed Theora instantly.

"Who's this then? Boyfriend?"

"We just met," Theora replied. "Blank Reg, Faer. Faer, this is Blank Reg."

Before Reg could say anything, Fang, Reg's old dog, hustled over and jumped up on Faer, as if greeting an old friend.

"You must be a good man," Reg told him. "Fang doesn't take too kindly to strangers."

Faer sat on the cot in the old pink microbus and petted Fang who sat with his head in Faer's lap.

"You've found yourself a good man," Dom told Theora.

"Edison thinks so, too," Theora told her. "Though I think he was disappointed that it wasn't him I was spending the day with."

"Maybe we should've invited him?" Faer suggested.

"No," Theora shook her head. "Today is for us. Tomorrow… we'll see."

"Theora," Faer said, as they were driving to the dining district. "I'm not here permanently. I have to leave tomorrow."

"Will I see you again?" Theora asked, feeling as though her heart would break.

"Some day," Faer promised.

Their dinner was spent in a friendly silence, each memorizing the other.

That night, Faer kept the promise he'd made the night before, loving Theora until they both drifted off to sleep.

Theora woke the next morning in time to hear the door close. Dressing quickly, she ran outside. Following Faer from a distance, she tried to get his attention. At the next corner, she almost caught up with him. But when she turned it, he was gone.

Theora headed home, made the bed, and found a simple note on the pillow that she hadn't seen before.


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