An Irregulars Vignette By Astrid Amara
Originally posted at Fantastic Fables
Follows the Irregulars novella, No Life But This
Deven Shaw was used to not having a clue what was going on around him.
After all, he grew up in the hellish underworld of Aztaw as a human sacrifice-turned-assassin. And years after repatriating himself to the human world, he was still no better at interpreting what was considered “normal” behavior and what was not.
So when entered a small cabin in the woods and found himself eye to eye with a wolf wearing a frilly lace nightgown and sleeping bonnet, he didn’t think this was anything to write home about.
Not that he had a home anyway. Unless you counted NATO Irregular Affairs Division Special Agent Silas August, his husband and the person Deven considered home more than any place or any person in all the worlds.
“Anyone in there?” August called out from the woods.
Deven waved at the wolf in the twee bedroom, then backed out slowly. He closed the front door behind him and made his way down the narrow stone path to August’s side.
August blinked. “Wolf?”
“In a nightgown,” Deven clarified. He shrugged. “Looks pretty cute, as far as wolves go.”
August raised his eyes to the sky, a look Deven was all too familiar with. Ever since they became work partners on behalf of the Irregulars, investigating strange claims and cases of probably magical intervention, Deven had gotten that “you’re an idiot” look at least once a day.
“You want me to ask him why he’s in the old lady’s house?” Deven asked. He grinned. “Or, if you prefer, you could turn on your well-established charm and ask him yourself.”
August made a face. “Enter that spider web-infested firetrap in my Armani suit? No thanks.”
“You’re such a big, bad, agent,” Deven said. “So, based on your worried expression, I assume you think this wolf in the bed is a bad thing.”
“Yes this is a bad thing, Deven.” August sighed. “It means the girl was right to call us and that her grandmother is indeed in danger. Or more likely dead.”
Deven’s hand twitched for the knife at his belt.
August narrowed his eyes. “What—“
“Nothing,” Deven said quickly.
“No, Deven. No. You don’t get to cut it open.”
“She’s not still alive in there. That doesn’t happen in real life.”
Deven pouted. “Real life is so confusing. Besides, last month you said it wasn’t possible for a pumpkin to turn into a car, but when the clock hit midnight—“
“Yes, I’ve been wrong, point taken, but honestly. You are going to slit the wolf in half and hope the old lady is still knitting inside?”
“Maybe.” Deven shrugged. “I don’t know.” He kicked at a stick on the ground. “Worth a shot?”
August sighed, one of those deep, painful, life-regretting sighs, and pulled out his mobile phone. Deven suspected he was calling the Irregulars clean up team judging by the one-sided conversation he overheard.
“…Yeah. Definitely not your average lupine. Yeah… laying in bed. In a fucking nightgown… he knows we’re here. Copy. Copy… okay.”
He hung up the phone, then pulled off his dark brown merino wool scarf and carefully laid it over a dry log. He then sat on it, looking dashing and proper and in command. The CEO of the forest.
“They’ll be here in fifteen minutes,” August announced. He crossed his legs.
Deven released the hold on his knife and sat beside August on the log. He wore rugged work pants, so he didn’t care if they caught on the loose bark. He pulled his backpack off and rustle around for his water bottle. He took a sip, and offered one to August.
August took the water bottle and mumbled, “Just another Wednesday detail in the fucking Enchanted Forest.” He handed the bottle back to Deven. “God, one of us needs a promotion.”
“If I killed Agent Ramsey, you’d be next in line for the Paris investigation squad,” Deven offered. He smiled sweetly at August. “Consider it an early birthday present?”
August smirked. “You know I prefer presents that involve you being naked.”
“That can be arranged,” Deven promised.
“And less homicidal,” August added.
Deven held his palm to his chest. “I was joking. I promised you I wouldn’t kill anymore, unless it was absolutely necessary.”
August reached out and tucked a strand of Deven’s dark hair behind Deven’s ear. “My hero.”