On a clear moonlit night, the kind of night in which their personalities click together rather than their usual clash, they are soft and sweet to each other in a way they seldom have been or ever will be. Irina’s bed is the bigger and better option–more accustomed to the finer things in life–the sheets nearly as smooth as kisses on skin.
“You dress like a pirate,” she says, trailing her finger down a spine decorated equally in freckles and bruises. At such a light touch, Frances’ skin turns to goosebumps, the small downy hairs prickling ineffectively.
“And you dress like a queen,” the other girl laughs, tickled by the touch and the thought.
“Is that meant to be an insult?” Irina asks, lightly scraping the backs of her fingernails in a reverse path.
“No,” Frances says, turning over, unashamed of her lack of shirt; even if she were, it would be quite belated. And it’s not like Irina is wearing a shirt, either. "Was yours?“ she continues, the slightest hint of a bite to her words, prepared but not seeking the argument which could so quickly form.
Irina pauses, allows herself to ponder. She’d prefer this moment not to sour, either, "No,” she admits, perfectly honest for once, before leaning forward and pressing their lips together. God forbid any other truths spill out of her mouth.
The problem with Frances is that she’s infuriating. Unrefined and loud and heedless of her own safety much less proper etiquette. They shouldn’t work together as well as they do, but despite all their arguing that’s just how it is.
Irina wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“Frances and Yasmine are back, Boss,” Tanj says, even though Irina has previously told her not to call her such on multiple occasions.
Yet another correction is on the tip of her tongue–they’re a team, not a mob–before the words register. “Where are they?” she asks, hoping she doesn’t sound as eager and worried as she feels. The mission she sent Frances and Yasmine on was only supposed to take three days, four at most, yet a week had passed without any word from either of them.
From the look on Tanj’s face, Irina has failed to control her tone, “The infirmary,” she says. Obviously, she doesn’t add.
Her worry condenses into dread. “Excuse me,” she barely blurts out, before stepping around Tanj and hurriedly walking towards the infirmary.
She doesn’t reprimand Tanj’s “sure thing, Boss,” that drifts after her.
When she finally gets to the infirmary and lands eyes on Frances–and Yasmine who, except her hair, looks as unruffled and composed as normal–she can feel the weight in her chest grow lighter. It is only a small injury, Yasmine dutifully stitching up a cut on Frances’ upper arm, far from the worst she’s ever seen Frances receive and laugh off.
But it is a short-lived relief because Frances does not do so this time.
She sits, quietly, tense and pale, brow furrowed and staring at nothing. She doesn’t even make a remark on Irina’s presence which is something that she always pokes fun at, sniping about the team’s high and mighty leader beginning to care for her poor, lowly servants.
“What happened?” Irina asks, aiming the question at Frances, but Yasmine is the one to respond:
“We ran into some complications,” Yasmine says mildly, winding a clean bandage round and round Frances’ arm. Who remains unnervingly silent, even now.
“Three days worth of complications?” She spits out like an accusation, scrambling to regain her calm, her objectivity.
“It’s not like we decided to play hooky,” Yasmine bites back, also reproachful, nearly offended at the implication that she might be even the slightest bit unprofessional. And it’s not like Frances would do such a thing, either. For all her jokes and recklessness, she’d never do anything that would endanger the mission.
Irina doesn’t apologize, but she consciously gentles her tone when she prompts, “Complications?”
Finally, Frances speaks but it’s with such a hollow expression on her face, her words bearing such ill news, that Irina almost wishes she hadn’t said anything at all. “We ran into some members of the Flock.”
As far as Irina and, really, any outsider knows, the group referred to as the Flock is an elite branch of the Kelley crime family that make strategic strikes against the family’s enemies whether that be through theft, blackmail, arson, kidnapping, or murder. No one actually knows how many members the Flock has because one of them is a confirmed metahuman–shapeshifter–and can look like anyone at any time.
Not in the way Tanj can, who despite her default appearance is a completely baseline human. Tanj is just a fantastic actress with an uncanny control over her body language and voice–though the makeup skills and near endless wardrobe doesn’t hurt either–capable of seeming like a completely different person between one breath and the next. No, the Flock has a shapeshifter who can actually transform themself into a specific other person.
Irina has had nightmares about such a thing, turning around and seeing one of her team’s face melting away into a stranger’s. Thankfully, those are sparing, the kind of fleeting thoughts limited to her overactive subconscious.
But Frances? She seems to be actively afraid of the Flock. And Irina doesn’t know why.
All of them have their secrets, Irina perhaps more so than the others–although not actually knowing the others’ secrets makes that a guess more than anything concrete–and she’s been firm on the matter of everyone being entitled to keep them.
She created this team not looking for friends, only wanting up and coming stars in each field that wouldn’t mind taking orders from a young woman–unsurprisingly, that turned out to be other young women, but she’s hardly put out by such a thing–and yet, now? She wouldn’t hesitate to call any of them her friends.
And, maybe, Frances as something more.
She can’t ask for Frances’ secrets without being willing to offer her own, but something in her fails to let go. It’s hypocritical, but she wants to know about Frances’ past so much that she aches with it. And not even just why the other girl is so afraid of the Flock, though that would be welcome, too.
No, Irina also wants to know the story behind every scar, wants to know what her favorite childhood memory is. Why she dresses like a pirate, and what happened to her family. If she’s ever been in love before.
If she’s in love now.
Irina never believed in love. It was an impossible idea, steeped with too much romanticism and not enough practicality. Even if such a thing did exist, surely it was for the feeble minded and naive.
Love was a curse that happened to other people.
A/N: … whoooaaaaaa my god… I wrote all of this on my way home from work and I’m honestly hella surprised and pleased by this 😀
And because I have no chill, I made a WITCH Guardians doll-maker version of the Spectra team. That’s not really what I imagine them looking like, per se, but what I imagine they would look like if they were in the WITCH world… Basically, the outfits have a very limited color-scheme and I was like, well, if they were magical girls (which they’re not) then this might be what they look like.
From left to right:
Violette Jones, Tanj, Irina Aubrey, Frances Verde, Cathy Xanthe, Yasmine Odell