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Sunshine didn't leave any notes when she finally made herself leave Milliways. She had already told everyone she was leaving the bar - as though if she said it enough times, that would make it true. There was no need for notes. In any case, the time it would have taken to write them would just be another reason to delay.

The coffeehouse was still its busy self when she returned. As it ever was. Its steady hum of activity was comforting, and helped distract her from the worry gnawing at her. It'd have to be tomorrow when she started - maybe Aimil could tell her something of what's going on. Why SOF was questioning her boyfriend about her, and where Pat, Theo, and Jesse had gone. She couldn't let herself worry about it until then. There's only so much attention one can spare for underlying tensions when it's the dinner rush and the kitchen is short-staffed.

During closing, though, when the coffeehouse was quietening, its settling sounds punctuated occasionally by a staff member calling out their good-nights and the sounds of the door closing behind them, Rae made sure to place around her bakery some of the tiny devices Jason had given her. She felt foolish doing so, play-acting at being a spy or something similarly dramatic. But if a bug or motion-detector averted her to any trouble that might come her way, she reasoned, momentarily feeling foolish would be a small price to pay.


Rae was pretty certain that Aimil knew a bit about why she had asked her to check out a used book sale with her that next Monday. The librarian must've been waiting at her door because Aimil was already out of the building and approaching Rae's car when she pulled up to the curb. Aimil greeted her with smiles and a hug, but Sunshine's Dark Sight could see the uneasiness disguised in the cheerful smile and easy conversation. It didn't surprise her, just left her feeling slightly sick to her stomach.

What did surprise Rae was when, once they were in the car and on their way and Rae had tentatively started to broach the subject of SOF, that Aimil immediately interrupted her and mentioned she wanted to stop by a bookstore on the way, to pick up a movie she's been wanting. Some new release Rae hadn't even heard of. And this was Aimil, who only ever rented her movies or borrowed them from the library where she worked. Sunshine couldn't manage to answer for a moment - did Aimil think it wasn't safe to talk in her car? Her mind couldn't help but think of the little devices Jay had given her. Had SOF... Had they bugged her car?

Of course they would have, if they're looking for information on her. She just hadn't thought to check. She had still wanted to believe that SOF was at least semi-sort-of on her side.

Pulling her thoughts back to the present moment, a sour taste in her mouth, Rae belatedly answered Aimil, assuring her that stopping by a bookstore first wouldn't be a problem.

It was one of those large chain bookstores with a trendy little cafe attached, one of those that all look the same. The kind of bookstore neither Rae nor Aimil ever stepped foot into. Movies and music were in their own section at the back, walls and low standing displays covered in movies and CDs for sale. Aimil led her to one of the back corners, looking over the stacks movies in one of the displays so they could see the rest of the room and no one could approach them unseen. There, among the rows of comedy movies, Aimil spoke in low tones.

Rae remembered the incident that must've started it. SOF had gotten the reports from some survivors a few weeks ago - a couple who escaped the vampires that had held them. Their report said there had been a commotion that had allowed them to escape. And, Aimil's shadows showed her anxiety as she explained, they had seen a human fighting among the vampires. A human who matched Rae's general description.

Sunshine felt ill, listening, her gaze resting unseeing on some mindless comedy in the display. The Goddess hadn't gotten anything useful from Pat or Jesse or Theo when she had questioned them, had reassigned them to investigating reports of a group of Weres trying to establish themselves as the anti-change drug suppliers in Whiteout. It wasn't obviously punishment, but that was exactly what it was. The Goddess of Pain had even questioned Aimil, knowing the librarian and the baker were friends. But Aimil knew little enough that she could easily hide it, and was smart enough to casually not stay still when the Goddess was asking questions. Apparently, the Goddess had also opened a case looking for a 'Malcolm Conner,' who had been last seen giving an incomplete report after an incident in No Town, two years ago. With Rae. Not a major case, of course; on the surface, it was just a follow-up, getting in contact with a citizen to see if there's anything else that might be useful. The Goddess wouldn't want too much attention brought to it until she was sure there was something.

The baker's eyes are stinging as she reaches over to squeeze the librarian's hand. Aimil, blessed Aimil, who could trust without asking, and was willing to put herself at risk because she believes that what Rae is trying to do is for the good of everyone.

Even though at the moment, Rae was at a loss for what to do.


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Rae "Sunshine" Seddon

August 2017

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