my_b7_fic: Avon karate chopping (Default)
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(Ficathon walks into a bar fic)


Avon glanced at the note once more. Expensive cream-laid paper delicately scented with lavender matched the flowing, elegantly feminine, handwriting. He wondered what business a woman as educated as this Antoinette had in Deadwood.

And why would she request a meeting with him in the saloon? In this milieu, he was given to understand that women of quality never go in them. He's none too thrilled to enter one himself. There are too many drunken, armed idiots present who seem to enjoy taking affront at Avon's accent.

He hasn't got an accent, but there's no point arguing with these primitives. He sometimes thinks Orac had... has... will have a sense of humour. Why else did it choose this time and location for his exile from all the alternatives the Guardian of Forever had offered? Kerr Avon, the universe's most wanted rebel computer technician - killing his best friend had moved him up a slot- stuck in a community where the highest technological occupation was that of telegraphist.

He pushed open the swinging doors, and as usual, no one took any notice of him, much less responded with respect. This time, however, he felt they were justified in ignoring him. A beautiful, well-dressed, dark-haired woman whose eyes shone like gems was singing, accompanied by the saloon pianist. Her voice was sweet and the words were romantic, rather than bawdy. The pianist was inspired- he was even on key most of the time.

Avon went up to the bar and ordered a brandy, the least poisonous option available, and less likely to bring on dysentery than the water. He leaned back against the bar watching the performer appreciatively. She finished her song and laughed lightly as she pulled her skirts away from a groping cattle-drover. Then she looked directly at Avon and smiled.

Despite himself, he returned the smile. She came to the bar and said, "I'd like what the gentleman's having, Nick."

Avon waited to see what her game was. He was inclined to play, but there are rules. She drank the brandy slowly, her extraordinary eyes sweeping over him with an intentness that betokened well for the intelligence behind them. After a few moments, she spoke. "I have heard, Mr. Avon, that you have remarkable ideas."

Avon drank some of his own brandy. "You refer to my suggestions for improving the telegraph? The management had no interest in them, I fear."

"The telegraph, your design to expand Mr. Volta's ideas, your plans for a 'thinking machine', oh, I have heard many things about you." Her eyes nearly glowed. "You are wasting yourself operating the telegraph, Mr. Avon." Her hand went to the bar, not quite touching his arm. "I recognize genius when I see it."

"Yes, well, genius doesn't pay my hotel bill. Tapping out Morse code does."

Her smile was small, sweet, and wicked. "I once knew a genius who knew how to make it pay. We lived like royalty."

"Please continue, I confess that I find myself intrigued."

"Dr. Loveless had been constantly harassed by a Federal agent, a James West. That harassment led to his death."

"Shot? Or hanged?" Avon felt a mild twinge of sympathy, but at least this Loveless had once enjoyed the fruits of genius. The best he'd ever got was 'Avon's gadget works'.

"Ulcers." She sighed. "Some women are fortunate to be attracted to brute strength. There are many brutal men. But genius is rare. I still miss my dear Miguelito." She essayed a gentle sniffle, while watching Avon for his response. "I still have the keys to his last laboratory, and access to his funds. But I have no one to share it with." She smiled reminiscently. "Miguelito and I used to sing together. It was beautiful." She looked at Avon. "You would have a pleasant tenor voice, I believe."

Avon finished his drink. "Perhaps, but I would prefer not to be accompanied by that abomination of a piano, or mocked by drunken cowhands."

Antoinette smiled brightly. "I have a Louis Quatorze spinet. It has a lovely tone. I would enjoy playing it for you. In private."

Avon held out his arm to her, according to the mode of the times. "I think, perhaps, we would make quite a duet."
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