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Electra

The Guy Who Has Everything

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It was strange to be traveling through Lantern Hill when the sun was still up, and even stranger to be driving her car instead of taking the much faster plant subway she was getting used to, but Stesha was on a special mission. Chloe's birthday was coming up at the end of the month, and her big sister still hadn't picked up a present, much less mailed one. Some calligraphy pens and paper might do it, she thought, especially if they were unusual and interesting. Chloe wasn't too bad to shop for.

Derrick, on the other hand, was a lot more of a problem. What did you get for a man who brought you candies from space, and was going to take you, literally, to worlds you'd never seen before? The only thing she could think of was something book-related, because she knew he liked to read. He'd talked about how his books were occasionally destroyed in transit and there wasn't much he could do about it. She wasn't sure it existed, but if anyone had a bulletproof book cover, Silver's Rare Books and Antiquities might be the place. If its proprietor was anything to judge by, it wouldn't be the average bookshop.

Stesha windowshopped her way down the sidewalk without wasting too much time, finally arriving at the shop itself. "Here goes nothing," she murmured under her breath, then pushed the door open and stepped inside.

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Today had been a day like so many others, the only one that had even bothered stopping by had been John, not that Damien complained, he thoroughly enjoyed the young mans company, but sometimes it would be nice with customers. He’d brought one of the old tomes from upstairs down, and was currently in the process of reading through the ancient scriptures: it was in ancient Celtic, not something that was properly taught anymore, but for Damien that was little hindrance, since it was his birth tongue. After a few minutes of reading, Damien got so caught up in the ancient story, that he barely noticed John leaving; the bell over the door was the only reminder that he should be saying farewell to the boy, to which he murmured an unrecognizable phrase before going back to his book. Sometime later, the bell over the door gave out it’s trademark toll, without looking up, Damien spoke "you can back to your book, I didn't bother putting it back in its place, and it should be on the page that you left it."

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Stesha recognized the man from the park, looking a little bit different now in his place of business. He certainly seemed to be busy with something, though it looked more like a very, very old novel than like a sales catalog or price list. "Sorry," she said, amused. "I think you were expecting someone else. It's nice to see you again, Mr. Silver." Stesha, too, looked different in the daytime, having traded her hoodie and leggings for a pretty pair of slacks and a jacket with a pastel shell underneath, just the sort of thing for working in an upscale boutique shop. Her green hair was more noticeable in the daylight too, wound up into an elegant twist behind her head and ringed with yellow forsythia. "I'm looking for some gifts, and I was hoping you might be able to help."

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Damien paused, he knew that voice, "Indeed," said he just, acknowledging all that Fleur de Joie had said. It was only a split second, but in a crooked display of athleticism Damien was up on his feet, book closing and him already on the other side of the counter. "And what kind of gifts might they be, books of course, but what kind?" he was smiling happily, he had customers, and a nice one at that.

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"The first one should be pretty easy, I hope," Stesha told him. "My sister's birthday is coming up, and I'd like to get her some calligraphy supplies, if you carry them. She's really into that right now, but she's just got the plastic-nibbed training pens. If I could find her something a little nicer than that, and maybe some ink and a blank book with that thick textured paper, she probably won't even mind it arriving a little late." She grinned conspiratorially at him. "I meant to send it last week, but you know how things get. Do you have anything like that?"

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"It's right this way" replied Damien, beaming with pride, when it came to books and everything that it entailed, he would like to think that none could surpass the vastness of his supplies, at least not if one wanted quality. Walking towards one of the storage isle, he started reciting what he had just read to himself. As Damien passed the shelf, he picked up a big block of paper, some black ink before heading back towards the counter, "I haven’t gotten John to mind my flowers yet, but I suspect I’ll get him to do it within the week."

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Stesha followed behind him, looking avidly at the varied contents of the shelves as they passed. "Wow, I could spend all day in here, just looking around." She leafed through a blank book of thick paper, testing the texture. It wasn't as though she knew what to look for, but the thick paper seemed to match the formality of nib-pen calligraphy. "Oh, I like this one," she said, picking up a silver nibbed pen in a wooden box. "That's gorgeous. Chloe will get a kick out of that." Discreetly she turned it over, checking the bottom for a price tag. She wasn't poor or anything, but she did have to be a little careful with her extravagances. "How's the rhododendron doing this summer?"

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"Don’t you worry your young head about the price." says Damien feigning a scolding tone of voice, punctuating it with a playful wink as he places the items on the counter. "They’re still alive and kicking" smirks Damien, casting a quick glance across the items before him, "anything else?" asks he friendly.

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"Yes, there is one more thing," Stesha told him, "but it's sort of a long shot. I thought that if any place might have it, an establishment like this would be the best place to look. A very good friend of mine has been having some problems with his books not being sturdy enough for his traveling. They can get damaged easily in travel, and it's a problem. I was wondering if you might have anything in the way of a really, really strong book jacket, like maybe reinforced steel, or Kevlar. Nothing that can catch fire, you know, but strong enough to resist a lot of impact."

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Damien blinks, somewhat confused by the request, "you'll have to say that again dear..." begins Damien whilst cupping a gnarled hand to his ear, "... my hearing isn't what it used to be: Could've sworn you just asked for a...a... bullet proof book jacket."

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"Well, it shouldn't really need to stop bullets, Stesha equivocated, "but other things. Little meteorites, ultra-high speed travel, getting a little too close to a star, you know? Something bulletproof would probably work, but it's not like anyone's going to be shooting at the books or anything," she assured him, as though that made the request entirely normal.

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Vexed at such a, particular, request, Damien scratches his head, now deep in thought, he had no ideas about how strong a container needed to be to be sustained during space travel. Perhaps a small safe… no, that’s going to be unwieldy, hmmm… "I give up… I honestly have no idea" concedes he finally, he gestures around "you’re welcome to have a look and see if there’s something that you could use, but otherwise, I don’t think I can help you."

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Stesha frowned, disappointed. "Oh, that's too bad," she replied. "I guess I'll have to think of something else, then. I just don't know what else to get him. The gift is for... for someone very special, but he doesn't have a lot of hobbies besides reading on trips. I was hoping I could find something he could really use." She looked around at the nearby shelves, searching for inspiration in the doo-dads and antiquities interspersed among the books.

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Oh, now she was talking, "Well, this is a book store, so if this friend of yours enjoys reading, I think I can manage that" says Damien with a crooked smile, he'd have to make a note of that: get something that could withstand traveling through space, but whom to ask for such a thing, that was a intriguing question indeed.

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"I don't know exactly what he likes though. Maybe a book about astronomy," she decided, starting to browse the nearby shelves. "But nothing easy, though. He really knows a lot already, so something basic wouldn't be any good to him. But maybe a nice-looking shelf or coffee table book, telescope pictures..." She picked up a little brass-fitted globe off a shelf, turning it over in her fingers. "Or maybe something like this, something of Earth." She looked up at Damien with a sheepish grin. "Men are hard to shop for."

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After Fleur’s comment, Damien cannot help but laugh "isn’t that true for all of us, I’m sure he’d be in the same conundrum, were he to get you a present." Nonetheless, she did have a point; it probably was difficult to buy a present for someone who could travel through space. "yes, that sounds like a splendid idea, does animals interest him? I’ve got a rather interesting book on wildlife."

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"No," Stesha said absently, "he's an astronomer. I think this will be fine," she decided, giving the little globe a turn with one finger. "It's pretty, even if it's mostly a dustcatcher. He can put it on his dresser and think of Earth." She brought it back over to the counter and set it with the calligraphy materials, then reached for her purse. "And Chloe will love her presents."

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"I hope she will." replies Damien with a slight smile, determined not to show his annoyance at the fact that he couldn’t have helped as much as he had wanted to. "Oh no, I couldn’t take anything for this, all I ask is that you continue doing what you do best" says he, this time with a larger, more genuine smile.

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