Not Just Coffee

Sweaty, aching and dirty. Not some of the ways she wanted to spend a Friday evening. But that state was better than the actions that lead to it. Laying over a wall with her brow resting on her forearms, Mary Lewis sucked down deep breaths of air as she tried to centre herself, find balance amidst the chaos she had just left.

Paragon City was a place of wonder and hope. But equally, there was cruelty and despair mired in its darkest corners, and every once in a while it would bubble forth to corrupt and taint whatever it touched. And in the case of the apartment building she had just vacated, the dark magics of the Circle of Thorns had wrought unspeakable horrors upon the tenants.

Unspeakable, but she knew the paperwork would come through. They would ask for her expert account on the events that had taken place, her observations and every little, twisted detail for their records. She would have to relive those memories as she scribbled them down on paper, ready to be scanned and added to the system.

She knew the heavy blade that hung across her back was sheathed cleanly away. Only minutes before had it been sticky with the ichor of demons and cold from the spirits the blade had sent back to the ether. A simple spell had burned away what left of the conflict. The wounds she had received had quickly vanished to the well of restorative power that regenerated her flesh, but her clothing bore the gashes and her skin the soot and dirt of the conflict.

And then she inhaled on another deep breath, and something other than the scent of destruction filled her nose. Coffee. Fresh, hot and just the way she liked it. A sound just near her brought her head up to see the grande cup placed in front of her, a tall figure stood just behind it.

Light brown hair was done up in ponytail, with rectangular framed glasses resting on a slender, defined nose. A black leather trenchcoat warded off some of the night’s chill, a warm wool jumper underneath aiding in that effort.

“Nat? What are you doing out here?” She asked, forcing her aching limbs up so she could stand.

“I was working late at the office when I heard about a situation here.” The reporter said, nodding to the building behind. “A quick call to MAGI informed me you were on the case, so…” She tapped a carefully trimmed fingernail against the top of the cup, a matching one in her other hand.

“You don’t want to go in there,” Mary warned, glancing back at the building behind her. “I can give you some details for the report but…”

“I’m not here for the story.” Natasha said simply, pushing the coffee forwards. “You need to write this up, right?”

Mary nodded, taking an eager gulp from the cup. The heat of it didn’t bother her so much, the slight burn to her tongue rapidly mending itself.

“Want a hand?” Came the offer. “It’s been a while since we’ve chatted, schedules and all. I still owe you some help for that monster case a while back, and-”

Pushing herself over to Nat’s side of the wall, Mary took her cup up. “I’d appreciate that.”

Tapping her cup against the one in the heroine’s hand, they both started the walk towards the nearest train station. “There’s not just coffee.” She commented, pulling a paper bag out from one of her coat pockets. “There’s pastries too.”

Mary Lewis, the swordswoman known as Arachidamia, flashed a genuine smile towards her friend. “Bear claws?”

Natasha opened the bag and presented it to her; bear claws.

Author’s Note: Based on player characters and the setting from the now closed MMORPG ‘City of Heroes’.

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