Adavidarian Sartain - Babysitter
By Kammy Gaffney
There was a light tapping at his office door. Adavidarian Sartain raised his head from his desk, and frowned. His secretary hadn't called ahead to warn him, and his brother never knocked before entering. That meant it could only be one person...the lanky blond drakthos leaped up from his chair and was across the room and opening the door in a flash.
"Io! What are you do-mmm..." - and that was all he got out before Iolanthe practically tackled him, locking her long legs around his waist, silencing him with a passionate kiss as she tore at his shirt. Spreading his huge leathery black wings for balance, David staggered back across the room, returning her kisses as best he could. He reached his desk, dropped her on it, and started fumbling with his belt, her arms around his neck, her mouth never leaving his.
"Dammit!" he hissed in frustration, as he struggled with his pants, and Iolanthe, paying no heed to his difficulties, pulled him down on top of her.
"Ahem... is this by any chance a private party, or can anyone join in?"
David shot up in the air like a bottle rocket on the Fourth of July. Iolanthe sat up and giggled, in spite of herself. His face was a shade of scarlet that even she hadn't seen before.
"Mark!" his voice was nearly a squeak. "Don't you EVER knock!?"
Mark Sartain shot a grin of pure evil at his younger sibling. "That's funny...you never cared before. And besides, you never knock on my door. Now you know just how annoying that is."
"B-but, you're always aware that I'm coming - hell, you probably know that I'm heading to your office five minutes before I know!" David was struggling in vain to tuck in his shirt, button it (never mind that half of the buttons were scattered across the floor, thanks to Iolanthe's enthusiasm), and fasten his pants at the same time. He looked utterly ridiculous, was aware of it, and was getting even more flustered as a result.
"Still, " Mark replied, "It's dreadfully rude." He turned his attention to Iolanthe. She was a lovely vision, equal parts sweet and wicked, all huge feathery wings, golden eyes with slit pupils, flowing lavender hair, tiny twisting horns and a body that was the envy of most exotic dancers - and dressed like one in a halter top and hot pants in shades of purple that matched the rest of her coloring. The little pastel succubus smiled and waved at Mark from her perch on David's desk.
"And what, may I ask, are you doing here?"
Iolanthe started to open her mouth.
"Ah... no, never mind... I know exactly what you're doing here. I just interrupted it." Mark gave an exasperated sigh. "Look, you can have him all night, if you so desire. Half the morning too, since he never bothers to show up on time anymore." He raised his hand, to silence David's protests before they began. "Iolanthe, I'm going to make this crystal clear. Davy's time between at least 7:00am and 5:30pm Monday through Friday belongs to me, and to this company. I will not tolerate any more of this nonsense. If you're that terribly hungry, then you need to go and find someone else to play with. Do you understand?"
Iolanthe dimpled and saluted. "Sir, yes sir!" she said brightly.
Mark scowled. Iolanthe wasn't the least bit intimidated by him at all, and it irked him to no end. Probably because they were both well aware that if came down to it, she could have him crawling with a touch, drooling with desire, her mindless slave long before he could do her any harm. Lust faery glamour was extremely powerful stuff.
"Fine," Mark said, and felt the soft, strong thrum of energy running through him, as he tapped into ZauberCorp's mystical power source. David, engrossed with the task of trying to make himself look presentable, didn't notice until the last minute. He looked up, suddenly alarmed.
"Hey - " and David's eyes flashed silver, as he negated the spell. He was too late. Iolanthe had already disappeared.
"What the hell did you do!?" David leaped toward Mark in a rage, fangs bared. "Where is she?"
"Whoa! Down boy!" Mark laughed, and fended off David's attack with the back of one of his great dark wings. "It's okay, I promise - I just dumped her off in the lobby, safe and sound. I didn't so much as ruffle a feather." David relented, and sat on the floor, dropped his head in his hands, and groaned.
"Have you ever considered that maybe you should just say 'no' every now and again?" smirked Mark.
"...Um... no... would you? Besides, I think that would only excite her." David flopped backwards, stretched his wings out full length as he lay on his back on the rough carpet. "And do you have any idea how funny that sounds coming from you? I mean, being at work has never stopped you from having a good time."
Mark shrugged. "Actually, I say no fairly often. I do have some standards, you know. And," he smirked again, "when I do take a break and have a bit of fun, I'm not completely bloody useless for the rest of day - quite unlike another faery I know. "
David draped his arm over his eyes. "Well, I think that I have a decent excuse. How many guys do you know have a succubus for a girlfriend?"
"That could be. But I then again, I think it's also probably because you have absolutely no stamina at all."
David sat up, bristling. "What the hell do you know? I do so have stamina. I'm full of stamina. If you don't believe me, you can just ask Io."
"Of course. But you'll have to forgive me if I don't ask Iolanthe about anything involving you and the intimate details of your sex life." Mark wrinkled his nose ever so slightly. "Granted, there's probably not much worth telling, but nonetheless I find the subject distasteful."
David glared at his brother. Mark was never one to just pop up in his office just to indulge in idle mindless banter. Something was up. "So what is it you barged in here for anyway?"
Mark grinned. "I have a very special assignment for you."
"You're going to baby-sit for Lauren Hawthorne."
"Baby-sit! Are you nuts? And when did Miss Hawthorne have time to have children?"
"Not children, child. A little girl. Lauren isn't her mother; she's merely the child's guardian. However, I'm sending her along with several techmages to a conference in Egypt, and I'd just as soon not have her bring a child along. She agreed, on the condition that she could find someone suitable to look after her. I thought of you. You like children, don't you? I've seen you make an absolute fool of yourself on that dreadful 'Bring Your Brat to Work Day'."
"B-but - that's not the same as actually taking care of a - for how long?"
"No. Absolutely not." David shook his head vehemently.
"I do not accept that as an answer, Davy. You have to. I have already told her that you would."
"Doesn't she have a babysitter?"
"Not one that I'd trust... this is a rather... special child."
"Is that special as in 'she goes to school in the little bus'?" David groaned. "Because if that's the case, I don't think I'm equipped - "
"Tsk, tsk, I can't believe that I'm hearing such words coming from the poster child of Political Correctness. You should be ashamed. Don't worry - I'm sure you'll love her." Mark interrupted. "Now go and find Lauren, and talk to her. If she doesn't think you can handle the job, I'll reconsider. And hurry. We have a meeting in half an hour."
"Mark, this is - "
"Go!" The last was delivered in a tone that brooked no room for argument. David meekly got up and headed for the door. Then he looked down at himself, and hesitated.
"Um... Do you have a spare shirt I can borrow?"
* * * * *
Fifteen minutes later, after changing into a fresh button-down white cotton shirt, David wandered through the dimly lit mess that the company dubbed 'The Archives', searching for Miss Hawthorne and feeling an impending sense of doom. What the hell was he going to do with a little girl for five whole days? Why him, of all people? Surely Miss Hawthorne, as sensible and knowledgeable as she was, wouldn't condone leaving a human child in the care of blood-drinking dark fae, would she? David heaved a hopeless sigh. Human women were so difficult to fathom at times.
Weaving though a maze of boxes, glass display cases, filing cabinets, and piles of books, he turned around a rather sharp corner, and nearly ran over a petite woman crouched down on the floor. Her long peasant skirt was spread out in a circle around her, and heaps of dusty scrolls formed another, much larger, circle around everything else. She was busy typing information into her laptop.
"Hi, Miss Hawthorne. Mark said you needed my help."
The woman turned sharply, startled, and then peered up at David though the wire-rimmed glasses perched on her nose. "Oh! If it isn't our friendly neighborhood Chief of Operations. Hello, Davy. You gave me a fright. I was looking for you earlier, you know. One of my interns had to drop out, and I desperately need another." She stood up, smiling, put the laptop down on a huge elaborately carved sarcophagus that appeared to be doubling as a countertop, and wiped her dusty hands on her skirt.
David shrugged. "Don't look at me. You want to ask Kathy down at HR about that. I've totally washed my hands of the whole thing. I'm still not convinced that interns are such a good idea in this insane asylum, but thanks to you, I got out-voted."
Lauren Hawthorne, co-founder and president of ZauberCorp's research department, was a short, slender, and very active woman, with feathered dark hair and bright inquisitive eyes. She reminded David a bit of a small brown sparrow hawk. She was brisk, efficient, keenly observant, relentlessly optimistic, and seemed to have a nearly superhuman ability to remain unflustered and unflinchingly in control during even the most trying situations. She had also been his tutor growing up, and the young drakthos was never able to call her anything less than 'Miss Hawthorne'. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of the arcane, but magical artifacts were her specialty and her first love.
"I can't believe you're still upset about that. I figured you would be the first person in line for an intern, you know, to sort things out the next time your secretary decides to color-code all of your forms."
"This is true." David groaned. "That would certainly save us from paying a disgruntled techmage thirty bucks an hour to write, 'Pink! Yellow! Blue!' on half of my paperwork. You'd think after two years of working for me, she'd have figured out that I can only see in black and white." He pushed a few unruly strands of hair out of his face. "But I still don't know about the intern thing. It just screams safety hazard at me."
She laughed. "We've had interns for the past three months, and not a single incident. But you wouldn't be you if you weren't worrying about something." Then she suddenly cocked her head to one side and smiled. "Oh, wait, you're here about my little one, aren't you? It's so sweet of you to volunteer to look after her."
"Um, yeah, well... Mark said..." David stumbled a bit over the words. Damn his brother for setting him up like this. He tried again. "I didn't know you had a kid," he blurted.
Lauren had turned from him and resumed typing information into a series of tables. Cataloguing and researching new arrivals took up a great deal of her time. She was a stickler for detail, a real perfectionist, as far as this aspect of her job was concerned. Nothing could be overlooked, and there was no room for error. Dealing with active artifacts, some of them with unknown properties, held a great deal of risk. She looked up from the screen, and chuckled softly.
"Mark didn't tell you? Well, it's an odd story. Short, but odd. He just showed up with her in the middle of the night, looking a bit shaken, and left her with me. That was about six months ago. He did come back a few weeks later with paperwork for me to sign, indicating that I was to be her guardian until further notice, but that was it. After that, he never mentioned the incident, and I didn't quite have the nerve to bring it up - frankly, I thought he'd forgotten about her, until he decided that I needed to go on this expedition."
"You don't know where she came from, or anything?"
"You know your brother. He didn't volunteer any information, and well, Davy, just between you and me, I'm probably better off not knowing. It sounds selfish, I know, but I've always wanted a child. My little Gecko is like an answer to a prayer."
David sighed, and ran a hand through his hair.
"He said she was special. What's so different about her?"
"That's what he told me, too, but she seems like a perfectly normal, healthy, nine-year-old little girl to me."
"Well, I suppose that's a relief." David sighed. "When do I get to meet her?"
"Tomorrow afternoon, after school. I have to catch the plane tomorrow night, and I still have packing - "
"Tomorrow! Why the hell didn't anyone tell me sooner!?"
Miss Hawthorne frowned. "Why? When did you find out?"
"Half an hour ago!"
The petite woman sighed and shook her head.
"Now that sounds just like the Markkastanen we all know and love," she said, chuckling.
David gave another weary sigh and ran his hand though his hair. Five days. Starting tomorrow afternoon. So much for the weekend he had planned to spend alone with Iolanthe. "What time does she get out of school?" he asked.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Adavidarian Sartain - Babysitter © 2002 by KL Gaffney
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