Monday, August 29, 2011

Neither Whisper Nor Echo

It’s true, my relationship with Av was purely professional. I had certain talents in the social arena, and Av had certain talents in…other, less tasteful arenas. I won’t get into the details on how we met, but let’s just say it seemed only natural that we would work together.

We were, after all, two sides of the same coin.

There was a time when I held my composure around him. Whether out of pride, out of fear, or something in-between, we were both distinctly uncomfortable in our meetings. We needed each other, but we didn’t want each other. What would they say if a gentleman of my stature were to be found gallivanting with an individual of Av’s disposition? It was one matter to hire a thief, it was another to befriend one.

I would have to say it was the 77 First City coins that tipped the scales to our scandalous friendship. While trapezing the bars of Veilgarden, I overheard whisper that a set of coins could be found within the Museum of Mistakes. Further research (in and out of beds of one nature and another) revealed this to be quite true, and that the path into the museum would prove to be quite perilous.

“They go for a good price at the Bazaar. It may be worth your time.” At that time, any mention of a good penny was enough to capture Av’s attention.

Our relationship was monetary, after-all. I remember watching Av scratch at his chin (her chin? His? I’ve never seen a spot of stubble, at the least) and look upward in consideration. If Av refused my offer, I would be down thirty coins and up one very particularly vengeful monkey.

His massive shoulders shrugged. “Awright.” A man of few words, but always the correct ones. I expelled a tense breath, but a fraction too soon. Spotting my silent celebration, he added, “screw me and I rip you limb from limb, aight?”

And I knew he would.

Presently, I reminisce on this conversation and can’t help but chuckle. We were young, we were driven, we were wicked. In all cases, we still are, but nowadays we are friends. Throughout the mission of the 77 coins, we came to learn about each other, despite ourselves. I found that Av has a fondness for fresh flowers. Av quickly learned of my honey addiction. We both realized our affection for the urchins.

I don’t want to go so far as to say we “bonded” (“bonding” has the connotation of warmth,) but there certainly was a “tightening” of our relationship. Later, we came to hesitantly trust each other, and from there, love each other. Not “love” in the romantic sense, dear lord no. Av and I came to love each other in an almost brotherly sense.

To this day, there are still things that I do not know about Av. We’ve never spoken of our families, what our lives were like on the Surface, what our true intentions here in the Neath are. On the Surface, all of those things might have been considered essential to comradeship. But I’ve found that the Surface is just that, the surface. Fallen London is a unique place. It’s deep. Values here change from right to left. Necessities differ up and down. And friendship, true friendship, is neither a whisper nor echo.

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