A waiter approached Fabi with her iced coffee and placed it on her table. Fabi thanked him and began to sip the cold liquid, her dark blue eyes following a man who was across the street from her. His name was Dalet, a known assassin that had escaped from a prison in Prague. She watched as he approached a Chinese restaurant and discreetly showed a card of some kind to the hostess. Her eyes narrowed. The hostess led him to the back and he slipped into the back room.
Standing up, Fabi made a mental note of the restaurant's name. She paid for her coffee and left the café, strolling down the street in her shorts and t-shirt. Her phone rang.
"Fabi! It's me, Eldritch! I heard you were in Perth," a bright voice answered.
Fabi smiled. "Yeah, I'm in Perth. I'm actually in Northbridge, walking down James Street."
"James Street? Me too!" Eld squealed through the phone, and Fabi saw a tall girl wearing a long coat at the end of the street, tearing through the crowd. Her frizzy hair was flying, and the hand that didn't hold the phone was covered in purple, black, and grey striped fingerless glove. Definitely Eld, she thought.
Fabi braced for the impact and Eld tackled her, taking them both down. A bemused passerby sidestepped the collision and shook his head. Fabi and Eld lay laughing in the street.
"It's good to see you."
They grinned at each other and stood up, starting to walk in the direction Eld had come from. Fabi put up her disheveled hair in a bun as they talked, rearranging the multitude of bobby pins that were intertwined in her hair.
"Is this your first time in the city?" Eld asked.
"Yeah," Fabi replied. "I was just…checking something out."
Eld raised an eyebrow. "Another criminal loose? Where do you parents think you are?"
Fabi nodded. "Yeah, another one. Supposedly I'm on a two month school trip in Europe."
Eld smiled so wide it looked like she was about to swallow her head. "Two months? Will you stay here?"
Fabi considered it, chewing her lip. It didn't look like Dalet was going anywhere, and besides, she could use a holiday. "Affirmative."
Eld squealed again and began dragging Fabi to the bus stop and began to babble excitedly.
Eld led Fabi up a set of stairs in a small apartment building. Thankfully, Eld offered to let her stay in her apartment with her roommate, whom she had never met. They walked up to the top floor, and Eld unlocked a light blue door that looked like it had been hand-painted.
"Sorry the mess," Eld mumbled. "It's her fault."
They entered the apartment and Fabi looked around. The walls had been painted a light beige, which gave the apartment a warm feeling, and the sunlight streamed through the large windows that covered all the walls. It was a small apartment, but it's high ceilings gave the impression of space. Eld took Fabi's bag from her and searched for a place to put it. Eventually she gave up and gave it back, shrugging.
Eld beamed at her. "Let's go on a tour!" Fabi was promptly yanked around by the hand into different rooms.
"Living room! Kitchen! Bathroom!" Eld listed as she opened various doors. "And this is my bedroom."
Fabi peeked in. It was messy in a charming way, with a low bed and a fuzzy rug. An assortment of different scarves hung on a rack in the corner, and books lined the walls in cleverly built bookcases. Eld took off her coat, and Fabi grinned.
She had almost forgot about Eld's wings. They were bat's wings, protruding from her shoulder blades, with a dark purple colour that sometimes looked black, and a wingspan that was over two metres long. When they were folded, the reached all the way down her back. She did a good job of concealing them.
"What about your roommate?"
Eld smiled. "Right, forgot about that." She led Fabi back into living room and began to climb a winding metal staircase that she somehow hadn't noticed.
"It's like a little attic," Eld explained. Eld opened the door and stepped inside. Fabi followed, and looked around in wonder. The room was much smaller than all the others, and had a skylight that looked up at the blue sky. The floor was wooden, and every centimetre of it was covered in papers, pencils, and paintbrushes. The walls were covered with sketches and paintings, and at the centre of it all, sleeping on the floor, was a girl. She was small, and looked like a child.
Eld nudged the girl with her foot. The girl mumbled in her sleep and turned over. Eld pushed her with her foot again, smiling. Suddenly, the girl opened her eyes and grabbed a handful of crooked pencils, pointing them at Eld threateningly.
"Oh! It's just you," the girl panted. She put the pencils down and stood up.
Eld gave her a careless smile and shrugged. "Fabi, meet Dau Sketch, my roommate. Dau, this is Fabi. She's staying in Perth for a while, so I said she could stay here."
Dau stuck out her hand, but then seemed to change her mind and pulled Fabi in for a hug. "She'll need a bed, right?" Without waiting for a reply, Dau left the room with one of the crooked pencils and her sketchbook. Fabi followed Dau to Eld's room, where Eld was beginning to clear a large space next to her bed. Dau looked her up and down.
"Why is everyone so tall?" Dau muttered, shaking her head. Eld smirked and rested her elbow on Dau's head as she sketched.
Fabi gave up trying to figure out what sketches had to do with carpentry, and instead flopped onto Eld's bed. Dau finished the sketch and brought over the pad to Fabi.
"Does that look okay?" Dau asked.
Fabi looked at it. A roughly sketched bed frame. Next to it was a rectangular shaped box next to it with rounded corners, which Fabi took to be the mattress. She nodded.
Eld sat down next to her and Dau stood near at the edge of the clearing with her sketchbook. She touched the sketch, which glowed, and Fabi jerked back as the crooked bed frame materialised in the clearing. Moments later, the mattress fell on it clumsily.
"Dau," Eld scolded, "how many times have I asked you to use rulers?"
"There was a crooked sorceress," Dau half-sung, "with crooked furniture, who lived in a crooked house…"
"That's all right, I got this," Fabi said. She got on her knees and touched the frame, smiling. Metal. Concentrating, she laid a hand on the frame and closed her eyes. She could feel it twisting under her palm, shifting and straightening out. She looked at the frame and grinned.
"See?" Dau said to Eld. "Who needs rulers?"
Eld punched Dau playfully and scowled at her.
Fabi covered the last of her pillows and set it down on her bed. She made the bed neatly, tucking the blanket in at the end, like her mother used to when she was little. She sat down, tucking her legs underneath her, and pulled out her phone, turning it in her hands. Her fingers were restless, aching to dial, wanting to call. Mom and Dad. She dialled and put the phone to her ear, listening to it ring. Pick up. There was a click, and she held her breath. Her mother's voice.
"Hi, this is the Cavendish house. We're not home right now, please leave a message after the beep." There was a small beep, and then silence. She cut off the call softly, and gently clutched the phone to her chest, swallowing the bitterness in her mouth. Her parents were usually not home. They were never home.
Dau and Eld were in the kitchen, supposed to making dinner. Fabi watched the scene, amused. A red-cheeked Eld fumbled through a variety of cookbooks, while Dau threw assorted ingredients in a pot with a kind of childish gleefulness that told Fabi she had no idea what she was doing. Eld looked over her shoulder and glowered at Dau.
"Oi! Do you have any idea what you're doing?"
Dau nodded convincingly. "Yeah, of course. I'm just throwing in some…" she consulted a tin full of white powder. "Some baking powder."
"Are we baking, Dau?" Eld asked exasperatedly, and swiftly took over control of the pot. Dau glared at her and went to sulk next to the spices.
Fabi entered the kitchen carefully. "How's it going, guys?"
Eld gave her a radiant smile and laughed. "Oh, just fine! We're almost done." Dau made faces behind Eld's back, and Fabi resisted the urge to laugh. Eld grabbed a spoon and scooped some of the mixture out of the pot. "Here, try some."
Dau's eyes widened and she made throat-slitting motions. Fabi smiled weakly at the spoon, and nibbled at the brown concoction. Immediately she gagged and went to the sink to rinse her mouth.
"Vile. Absolutely vile." she wheezed, her head in the sink.
"It'll pass," Dau said from her corner. "We've all been there."
Eld patted her back. "There, there," she added unhelpfully. She glanced at Dau. "Maybe we should order some pizza."
Fabi moaned. "I hate both of you."