Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

Prompt: Who are these two? by pygmymuse. Glass Angel


Liana Mir

Series Listing

16 — 02. Summer

When the Clock Strikes Midnight

16 — 02. Summer through 03. Autumn

Wake and Thrive

16 — 03. Autumn through 17 — 01. Spring

Its Own Absolution

16 — 03. Late Autumn

After the Grief

16 — 03. Late Autumn

Battery Acid

17 — 02. Summer

Accounting for Redemption

17 — 02. Summer

Counting Heartbeats

18 — 01. Spring

Song Between the Waking and the Dreaming

20 — 04. Winter

Echoes of Anchor Lost

21 — 01. Spring

Don’t Remind Me That It’s Over

21 — 02. Summer

Welcome

21— 02 Summer through 22 — 01 Spring

Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

22 — 01. Spring

Glass Angel

22 — 01. Spring

Pause the Sonata

22 — 02. Summer

Without a Reason

22 — 03. Autumn

Learning Legato

23 — 02. Summer

Acceptable Cost

23 — 02. Summer

History Lesson on the Night Train

23 — 03. Autumn

Abyss Looking Back

23 — 03. Autumn

Collateral Damage

23 — 03. Autumn

Five Reasons I Love You

23 — 03. Autumn

Little Things

23 — 03. Autumn

Owning Beauty

23 — 04. Winter

Dream the Dance

23 — 04. Winter

Snow Day

24 — 02. Summer

As the River Breathes

AU 21 — 04. Winter

Normal written in coffee grounds

Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

He wanted to know her name. She wanted him to know who she was.

Ashen hopes to create a new life and a new name for herself with Jordan Michael, a businessman with his own reason to be interested in special type humans like her, but can he ever see who she is beyond the name?

21— 02 Summer through 22 — 01 Spring
Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction
Short Story

1

Ashen met Jordan Michael on the underground train. Her ticket led her to a seat between an elderly woman and a man on the younger side of middle-aged. He was reading a newspaper, and Ashen noted that the headline was about people like her.

“These specials,” he started abruptly. “Have you ever heard of them?”

Special type humans, essentially genetically modified, though a rare few were simply born that way—Ashen hadn’t heard that was their official name now. When she was a child raised by the military that messed with her genes in the first place, they had called her a GMH.

She nodded.

“I’m Jordan Michael,” the man told her, as abruptly as he had opened the conversation, and he reached out to shake her hand. “And your name?” he prompted, after a pause.

Ashen gestured at the paper. “What have you heard?”

2

Michael was a sort of business analyst or consultant. Ashen never asked his title when she was cracking open his books or listening to his growing worries about how the “new” people would affect the trade sector.

“They’re human all right and deserve to be treated that way, but…” His brow furrowed and he looked up from his endless note-taking and buzzing phone. “It’ll sure be expensive to take into account variables.”

Ashen nodded, not answering for she knew far better than him what sorts of variables. Not one special type human alike. Even when their genes indicated they ought to be the same, they weren’t, because they trained their abilities differently.

“What do you think, sweetheart?”

She listened and he knew it, for he asked her opinions often. She set down the book and considered what to tell him, what would be fitting and genuinely helpful. Commenting on his endearments would not be helpful, she decided, for he still hadn’t given her a name, something that indicated something of what she meant to him. On topic then. She shrugged. “Which business?”

Michael held up a paper, finger perched on the logo. “An employment agency. They don’t know how to deal with potential abuse.”

Ashen changed her expression to questioning.

“Oh, you know. These telepaths and cyberpaths can negate any valuable background checking. Even change a person’s mind.”

She thought about that. He had no idea what specials were capable of. “Hire one.”

He stared at her.

“Hire a telepath and a cyberpath to do their background checks,” she repeated slowly.

It was a simple solution. He mulled it over and then went to work troubleshooting it while Ashen returned to his copy of a classic novel on class warfare. She wondered what he would think of a biotransferrant.

3

Piano was, if not Ashen’s first love, then her mistress and occupation. Students came into her small studio during the two four-hour sessions Ashen made it open each day. The studio was attached to her own city apartment in the heart of Bellyn, nine levels off the ground and connected by a cement bridge between the two. Long after her last student left at the early end of dusk, Ashen kept playing, piano spilling through her open windows until in the evening, she closed them, walked out of her studio, and locked it, then traversed the cement walkway to her home and called Michael.

He kept asking her to travel with him. She continued to demur.

Jordan Michael liked to travel to the Thorn Republic frequently on his business trips, a place which only held bad memories for Ashen, but when he visited other kingdoms cities, where dozens of nations jammed cheek by jowl in Bellyn alone, occasionally she would travel with him, rearranging her students to make it possible.

His work was much in demand in the kingdoms cities. The kingdoms were new and people were still getting a firm handle on what how to work within so many rules of law: one for their workplace, another for their home, and another for their daughter’s private school on the west end of town. Michael’s business thrived on the confusion. He learned the emerging trade and commerce laws for each quarter, burro, and district, then helped businesses profit from his understanding of their clientele and location.

“What shall I call you, love?” he asked her again, as he helped her down from the train platform in Edyll.

Ashen tilted her head and tucked her hands in her pockets. “What do you think?” she tossed his own question back at him.

“A lovely, beautiful, accomplished woman,” Michael replied smoothly. “But what is your name?” he insisted.

“I,” she corrected him, “am a piano teacher.”

4

Who is like the Lord? That’s what Michael meant. Ashen hummed thoughtfully to herself as she flipped through the naming book.

“Considering children, angel?” Michael hissed on sipping his steaming coffee.

She shook her head and set the book aside. “It’s too hot. You should wait.”

“I have a meeting in fifteen minutes,” he countered. With his free hand, he gathered up the papers he would need and stuffed them into his briefcase. “Would you like to get away for a while maybe?” Michael glanced up at her with eyes younger than usual. He was nervous.

Ashen considered the way he said it. “Away from what?”

“Work. Stress. Everything?” He shrugged. “I want to see the gardens in Glaston. They’re quite famous, you know?”

“Yes.” She knew. She waited until he got fidgety to answer further. “You have a meeting.”

“Is that a no?” he pushed back for once, voice grated out between clenched teeth.

She liked that he did. A man who could not learn would never suit her. She shrugged. “We will see the gardens.” She let him arrange it. He liked to be the man in charge.

5

Glaston’s hanging gardens were indeed beautiful. Ashen had never seen them, though as anyone else, she had been aware of them and their reported loveliness. Michael was attentive and more full of good cheer than even his wont. She did not argue it, just smiled when he looked for her to and tucked her hand on his arm when they went walking through the city.

Edyll was an old city, one of the great bastions of western culture on the continent. The little shops were fascinating, though Ashen supposed she ought to call them delightful as he did. But Jordan Michael was a businessman. He was content with her contentedness and did not require her delight.

He came out of the last shop a few minutes after her, grinning like a little boy and chuckling mysteriously to himself. She looked a question at him, but he just shook his head and walked her over the famous stone bridge that had once crossed a magnificent river. Now, it overlooked a lower level to the city, more streets laid in bright golden hued stone bricks, a profusion of green and flowering plants tucked in nooks and niches between the houses.

At the bottom of the steps, Jordan Michael turned to her and handed her the tasseled gift bag. Puzzled, she opened it. It was a small angel, made of glass, holding a thin, gold ring in its outstretched hands. She looked at it and thought of all the times he had called her angel, wondered if this was a name she could ever dream of claiming.

Ashen rarely laughed, but she could almost laugh at this. She had been called many things, but none of them fit so poorly as his endearments: sweetheart, darling, honey. Ashen had always been plain, plainspoken, straightforward, practical. But she would love to think he might have a reason to call her angel.

“Darling.” He was on his knees on the steps leading down from the bridge and toward the brief path out of Glaston. “Will you marry me?”

Holding that glass angel, such a fragile thing, she met his gaze quite calmly and asked, “What is my name?”

Jordan Michael stared at her, uncomprehending. His mouth fish-gaped open and shut again. At last, with great effort, he managed, “You never told me, love.”

The glass angel slipped from her fingers, crashed on the pavement. He wouldn’t or couldn’t name her.

#


Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction

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4 Responses to Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

  1. Kabobbles says:

    This part really summed up the problem in their relationship for me: He was content with her contentedness and did not require her delight.

    He didn't care enough about what mattered to her, what made her happy.

    I like this extended version because I now understand why she wanted him to name her and why she reacted the way she did when he wouldn't/couldn't.

    • Liana Mir says:

      I like this extended version because I now understand why she wanted him to name her and why she reacted the way she did when he wouldn't/couldn't.

      Mission accomplished! Yes, that was my problem with him too. Well, actually no. I had a problem with him that she didn't. He was self-satisfied, pompous, and sanctimonious. Even if he did have enough good taste and sense to be attracted to her.

      • Kabobbles says:

        Well, he might have been able to overcome some of that, especially if he really cared about her, but he didn't.

        • Liana says:

          'Tis true. But I never liked him anyway and so wasn't inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. :grins:

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