You might be thinking The Climbing of the Moon? What is this?? I thought she was writing The King’s Gambit?? And you would be correct – I was writing The King’s Gambit. But for half a year nothing has clicked for me – since I finished The Fading of the Light, no literary endeavor has felt like home. I haven’t felt like I was supposed to be writing anything else. Finally, I threw up my arms and decided to begin writing The Climbing of the Moon (TFoTL #2) and…it was exactly what I needed. It’s moving along at a rapid pace, and I feel at home again. Which means I have snippets, which I hope you enjoy. (If you don’t enjoy them,
you have no taste that’s fine. It’s a free world.
“You should have done it during the day, man. That way Shi could take a sniper rifle onto the opposite roof and shoot the guy if he tries anything funny.”
Shi raised an eyebrow so high it almost disappeared under the upper half of his leather mask. “‘Shi could take a sniper rifle’?”
“Well, yeah,” said Shotgun. “I mean, you’ve used them before, right? Like – I haven’t, so…” His voice trailed off, and he cleared his throat. “It’s cold.”
“I have a question, Honey.”
She set the glass down and looked at Kai, who leaned his arms on the bar. “You’re supposed to be watching the door,” she pointed out, “but go ahead.”
“Wasn’t that Saizou Akita?”
“And wasn’t it also the Prince-Regent’s Hand?”
“It sure was.”
“Aren’t they both wanted men?”
“I think I see where you’re going with this,” said Honey.
“He wants to join the gang.”
Shotgun gaped. “The gang? As in us? Are we the gang?”
“We are the gang,” said Saizou.
Shotgun adopted a brief thoughtful expression. “My mother knew this would happen.”
“I know you don’t feel like it, but your feelings on the subject really don’t matter. Comb your hair.”
In response, Alucard hurled his comb at Oscar, who watched the object clatter at his feet. He sighed and picked it up, tapping it against his palm. “This is not mature behavior, and you should know better.”
Alucard adopted a sly expression and scratched the back of his neck. “I’m only thirty-nine days old.” He fixed a mournful stare on Oscar.
Oscar snorted. “That doesn’t count in your case, and you know it. Mentally, you’re nearly twelve. Act like it.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Fuddle.” Oscar folded his arms and took a step back, surveying the situation. Alucard perched on the metal folding chair in the corner, looking like some sort of watchful hawk. His petite, wide-eyed appearance was a complete lie – he could very well take Oscar’s hand off if he wished, and Oscar knew it.
He probably wouldn’t dare, but Alucard could be unpredictable.
“Just once,” he said, “it would be nice if your behavior matched the thirty-year-old body you’re in.”
Alucard stuck his tongue out.
“I wouldn’t recommend calling him ‘late’.”
The Headhunter grunted. “One of those.” He released a breath of smoke, and for a moment he looked very draconian. “He’s got you scared, at any rate. I’m impressed.”
Linx cast a slow, cutting glance at the Headhunter. “Do I look frightened to you?”
“No.” The Headhunter removed the cigar from his mouth and raised an eyebrow, half-serious and half-playful. “Never seen you afraid to look scared before. That’s how I know.”
He was annoyingly keen, the American.
“Open up, it’s us.”
From the other side, Riza’s voice said, “The snow falls on the wings of the moon.”
Saizou blinked and looked at Shi, whose blank stare showed the same confusion at the nonsensical phrase.
Shi moved up a step and pounded the side of his fist once against the door. “Open the door.”
“THE SNOW FALLS ON THE WINGS OF THE MOON.”
Shotgun cracked his knuckles. “Excuse me, guys.” He stepped up between Saizou and Shi, sniffed, and bellowed, “THE SUN MELTS THE EYE OF THE STORM.”
The door opened with an ominous creak, and Riza beamed out at Shotgun. “Niiiiice.”
He bumped her waiting fist as he stepped inside, leaving Saizou and Shi on the doorstep.
“Did I miss something?” asked Saizou finally.
“We have a password,” said Riza.
Shi cleared his throat. “And why did nobody mention this password?”
“Shotgun was with you, wasn’t he?”
“And what,” asked Shi, “if Shotgun had died?”
“We could have shown back up and not known the password,” added Saizou, folding his arms and fixing his good eye gravely on Riza.
She blinked once, her eyes widening slightly at the thought. Then she shrugged. “I would probably have let you in eventually.”
“For pity’s sake,” began Shi, but Saizou cut him off.
“We aren’t doing a password,” said Saizou.
Shotgun appeared next to Riza, his expression indignant. “You can’t just say we aren’t doing one. We already have one.”
“We used it once,” said Saizou. “That should be enough to make you happy. We’re retiring it now.”
“Darn right we’re retiring it,” muttered Shi.
“I thought you hated him,” she remarked curiously.
He gave her a pointed glance as he brushed snow off his coat. “So did you.”
Tsuki twisted her mouth, but had no rebuttal. “It’s harder to hate someone when you get a glimpse of their true colors,” she sighed. “And the true colors aren’t so bad.”
“It does tend to dampen the loathing somewhat,” said Kiba gruffly.
“You need a haircut. You look like an anime character.”
He gave her a sideways glance and lifted the spray nozzle in a threatening manner.
Otter narrowed her eyes at him. “You wouldn’t dare. It’s not even your kitchen. You don’t want Mayumi to come back to a flooded—”
A blast of warm water in her face cut off Otter’s sentence. She screeched and lifted her towel defensively. “YOU’RE GOING TO GET THE DRY DISHES WET AGAIN!”
The stream of water stopped and she cautiously lowered the towel. Haka said, “Sorry, you were saying something about me looking like an anime character.” He reached over and ran his long fingers through her hair once. “I’ve leveled the playing field.”
Otter gaped at him, fully aware of how her hair now looked – short, sticking straight up, and damp. “Oh, you—”
“Shhh.” He nodded in the direction of the dining room. “An impressionable child is asleep.”
“He can’t be that impressionable,” Otter snipped. “Otherwise Takuan and Mayumi wouldn’t let you in the house.”