Agents Dafydd and Selene were walking through the corridors of HQ. After the catastrophic ending to their last mission, even the ever-annoying Upstairs had decided that they needed some time off. Admittedly Dafydd had had to threaten to let the fourteen Minis from the Woodsprite mission – who were still being held in HQ until someone could spare the time to visit OFUM – into the Sunflower Official's office before an agreement was reached, but even that was progress.
As they walked, with no clear destination in mind, they completely ignoring the numerous possible destinations that practically leapt in front of them, made accessible by the mere fact that the agents were not headed there. Instead, Dafydd looked at the few agents they passed, and commented on them to Selene.
"That was Halley, she was on the exorcism team... oh, and there's Leopold, he was there too..."
"Dafydd, do you need to tell me everything you see?" asked Selene acidly.
"Yes, actually," the elf replied, and then added, "And Randomelf and Emily were down that last side corridor. It's good to know that Randomelf is out of Medical so soon. I'd thought eliminating the Sea-Longing would have taken a lot longer. The marvels of modern technology..."
So they continued, Dafydd babbling almost continuously, Selene doing her best to ignore him. The only reason Dafydd ever stopped talking was that they turned yet another grey corner and almost walked straight into Agent Steve. "Oh, hi again," said Dafydd.
"Hi," Steve said absently, glancing up from the paper he held in his hand. He blinked. "Oh. Hello." He looked back down at the paper and grinned. "How're you two, then?"
"You mean, other than stressed?" asked Selene acidly. Dafydd rolled his eyes.
"We're good. We've got some time off after that whole Woodsprite thing."
Steve's grin widened. "You don't have anywhere important to be in the next few hours, then?" He made a rather pathetic attempt to look innocent.
Selene eyed his suspiciously while Dafydd said, "No, not really... unless you want us to go on a mission, in which case I might have to suddenly remember something."
"Oh, no... nothing like that..." He coughed. "You know the game Truth or Dare?"
Dafydd stared blankly into space. "I think I heard something about it... er..." Meanwhile, Selene nodded.
"It's quite popular around HQ, I hear, though I try to avoid public places, so I couldn't be certain."
"It is, yes, at least when we get drunk..." He glanced at Dafydd. "People take turns to be asked extremely personal questions or be dared to do dangerous, embarrassing and generally stupid things. It's really fun." He paused. "Really."
Dafydd frowned. "Personal questions... dangerous and stupid things... how is this different to normal Agent life?"
"Well, everyone gets to watch. And there's more alcohol involved, usually."
"Ah..." The elf looked at his partner, who shrugged. "Well, yes, then, I think we can safely say we know it."
Steve smiled. "Then... a few of us're getting together to play it in the cafeteria. You two want to come? You get to watch people being humiliated..."
"You're asking us to come and watch?" Dafydd eyed him curiously, with an expression that could mean either 'Why are you doing this?' or 'I wonder what your liver tastes like'. Probably the former, it's hard to tell with Fëanor's kids.
"No, no, to play." He stepped away slightly. "But there is a lot of watching involved, and... stuff."
Dafydd stared. "You. Want us. To come and play Truth or Dare." He sighed, and shook his head slightly, then looked back at Steve. "Will Constance be there?" Selene eyed him curiously, but said nothing.
Steve blinked. "Well, she said she was coming, at any rate... I barely had to threaten her at all..."
Dafydd nodded thoughtfully. "Well, I'll come. Selene...?" It was a question with a hook on the end, and Selene knew it.
"Well, I don't know..."
Steve looked at her. "Please come? It'll be fun. Depending on how you define 'fun', but being that you are an Agent..."
Selene bit her lip. "I'm... large crowds make me feel uncomfortable..."
"Then... sit in the corner, or something... er..." He shrugged slightly.
Dafydd could see Selene's resolve starting to slip, so he joined in to help her on her way. "Come on, Selene. It'll be fun. You can't be a recluse all the time, right, Steve?"
Steve nodded agreeably. "That's right. So come. Please?"
"... all right. I'll come. But I'm not buying my own drinks."
Steve grinned. "Excellent. So yeah, people will be starting to meet up... well, about ten minutes ago, actually."
"Well, this isn't Pern," said Dafydd, "so we'd better get going. Coming, Selene?"
"I'm coming," she said, with a slightly annoyed tone in her voice, a given when talking to Dafydd most of the time.
"Yes, that would be helpful. So, the cafeteria, which is... that way. I think. No, actually... eh. This way!" And he turned and headed down the hallway.
Constance never did figure out who started it, nor did she particularly care. She had briefly toyed with the idea of trying to find out, so she could administer appropriate punishment, but decided against it, on the grounds that doing so would require leaving her hiding place.
Sighing, she took another drink of Bleepka and leaned against the table leg.
"Truth or dare?" someone asked, and she shook her head sadly. She'd thought better of her fellow agents, even the drunk ones.
... well, perhaps not the drunk ones.
Which was currently most of them.
"So that would explain it, then," she muttered, scowling down at the Bleepka bottle and lifting it to her mouth again.
"Sorry, would explain what?" said a quiet voice from behind her, and she choked on her Bleepka and twisted around to look at the figure she hadn't noticed before.
Coughing, she replied, "They're drunk, would explain the whole truth or dare thing."
"It would, yes. And not all of them are drunk, which worries me, rather."
"Aren't they? They're acting it. I mean, you'd think if anyone were sober they'd have thought to turn on the lights..." She sighed, and squinted into the darkness. "So... do I know you?"
"Er... possibly? Who are you?"
"Constance Sims... Mary Sues De—"
"Connie? Eru, why didn't I figure that out?"
She blinked slowly. "Er... well, you'd better be Dafydd, because otherwise I'm going to have to kill you for calling me Connie."
"I am, I am. So, you don't like Truth or Dare?"
Constance smiled grimly. "You could put it that way. See, when I was nine... ah, never mind. Bad memories. You, then?"
"Never played it. Never intend to. What happened when you were nine?"
"It involved a tube of toothpaste and a tin of tuna..." There was a pause. "The alliteration was unintentional. Anyway, yeah." She shuddered and took another drink.
"Ahh. Sounds nasty."
"It was. Oh, it was." They fell silent for a few moments, listening to the rest of the agents in the cafeteria, until Constance said, blankly, "What did she just dare him to do with a cottonball?"
"-- better not to ask, I think," he answered, sounding slightly stunned.
Constance whimpered slightly and nodded her agreement, then sighed and looked down at the bottle. "I'd offer you Bleepka, but I'm afraid I've only got the one bottle. If you don't mind sharing, you're more than welcome to some, though."
"In this case, I think I could stand sharing..."
She smiled faintly and waved her hand around in the air until it connected with his arm.
"Sorry." She gave him the bottle and sighed. "So why're you here?"
"Thanks. And here, under the table with you? Or here, in the cafeteria at all? Or was that a philosophical question?"
"Um... either of the first two, really. I'm not a philosophical sort of person."
"In the cafeteria because my partner's out there playing, and if I go back to our RC I'll probably get sent on a mission. Under the table because I really don't want to risk being forced to play. What about you, then?"
"Ehm, same, actually." She paused, then blinked. "Your partner's playing?"
"She just doesn't seem the truth or dare type, is all..."
"You know her?"
"I've... heard of her."
"Yeah." Constance shrugged, then blinked as Dafydd pressed the Bleepka bottle back into her hand. "Thanks..." She looked down at it. "Though I really shouldn't be drinking this at all. I have very low alcohol tolerance."
"Do you? That can't be fun."
"No, not when your partner's idea of a really good joke is to get you drunk as anything and videotape you hitting on a mini-Balrog."
Dafydd raised an eyebrow. "Steve did that?"
"-- you know him? And no, that was my previous partner, from before Steve got transferred out of HP Mary Sues. Her name was Jayde..."
"Met him, yeah. And that's an interesting name. I've never met her, I think..."
"Oh, isn't it just? And... no. You wouldn't have."
There was a long, long pause. "Connie, what did you do to your partner?"
"Me? I didn't do anything. She got careless on a mission..."
"She got careless, or you let her get killed?"
"Hey, she lived. She just kind of had to leave the PPC afterwards... –but yes, just for your personal enlightenment and edification, I do not like practical jokes. Especially not if they involve alcohol and camcorders."
After some inner conflict, she took another drink of Bleepka. "You don't own a camcorder, do you?"
"That's good. –oh, dear Eru."
Constance didn't answer, but instead stuck her head out from under the table. "Gahhh, gahgahgah. That's Steve kissing that girl, isn't it?"
Dafydd looked. "I can't tell, it's dark out there. But it certainly looks like it, yes."
"Arrrrgh." Constance collapsed onto the ground dramatically.
Dafydd looked down at her. "Possessiveness issues?"
She boggled. "No, no, it's just... ew. Steve's not supposed to kiss people. Ewww."
He laughed softly. "You have a kissing phobia, do you?"
"Ever kissed anyone?"
"I don't," she said sulkily.
"I don't believe you, I'm afraid."
She stuck her tongue out at him, then remembered he couldn't see it, and shrugged. "I'd threaten to prove it, but..."
"Oh, you wouldn't dare."
"—yes, well, that's not the point." She glared down at the Bleepka bottle, then glanced up at Dafydd. "Stop laughing at me!"
"But you amuse me."
He grinned and patted her shoulder absently. "—by the way, you do realise how people would take it if they found us here?"
"... yeah, that wouldn't be pretty."
"No, it'd be fine. It's perfectly innocent, after all. Has to be, with your kissing phobia..."
She fwapped his leg. "I am not afraid of kissing!"
Her eyebrows shot up. "I'm sorry?"
Dafydd glanced out from under the table and laughed. "I dare you."
She blinked rapidly. "Yes, with who? You're the only one here."
"With me, then, I'm assuming."
Shaking her head slightly, she sat up and stared in his general direction, cursing the darkness. "—right, then, if I have a dare you need a truth. Do you want me to?"
He shifted slightly. "To what?"
"Gah, you know what. Kiss you."
He sighed. "--well, I probably wouldn't object."
"That wasn't a real answer." He nodded. She sighed, and moved closer to him, touched her lips first to Dafydd's chin, then to his cheek, then finally he turned his head and her lips found his.
She froze like that for an eternal second or maybe two, then pulled away hastily.
Constance stared into the darkness at where she was fairly certain Dafydd was. "Er... sorry?" she said hesitantly.
"No, no," replied Dafydd hastily, "don't be sorry. Er..."
"... yes. Right. Well."
"What do you do after that?"
"How should I know? I've never done it before." Constance scowled at the dark figure.
"Ah... right." Dafydd coughed. "... nor have I, actually..."
She stared. "But you... you're... how old are you?"
"I don't know. Very, I suppose. But... look, I came from a 'fic, I don't have any past between the War of Wrath and the beginning of that. And that's pretty much when I started with the PPC, so... well. Yes."
Constance blinked. "I didn't know..."
"No," Dafydd sighed, "I know." There was a moment of silence, broken only by the sounds of the Truth or Dare game outside – it sounded like six agents were trying to form a human pyramid – and then he said, "... nice, though."
"... yes," replied Constance, smiling slightly.
There was another moment of awkward silence, during which the pyramid, predictably, collapsed, and then Dafydd muttered "Oh, to Angband with it," leaned forward, and kissed her again.
This time, though, it lasted more than a few seconds. The pair moved closer together, wrapping their arms around each other, and remained that way for a good half minute. When Dafydd finally broke the kiss, he blinked. "-- right. That was... um. Yes." He looked at her for a second, and then added, "Wow?"
Constance nodded dazedly. "I think 'wow' just about covers it, yeah..."
Dafydd blinked a bit more, and then said, "Er, Connie, could you stop clinging to me quite so much? I'm finding it difficult to breathe..."
Hastily, Constance moved away, but not too far. Dafydd smiled. "Thanks. And, by the way, you win."
She blinked, utterly bemused. "Win what?"
"The argument. Apparently, you don't have a kissing phobia."
She fwapped his leg. "Very funny."
"Thank you," he replied, "I thought so too." Then he glanced nervously at the dark cafeteria. "So, what do we do now?"
Constance thought for a moment, and suggested, "Wait for a suitable quiet spot, and then make a run for it? I mean, they're really starting to get noisy now, and I wouldn't be surprised if some ended up under the table."
"A good plan," replied Dafydd, smiling slightly. "So what do we do until a suitable time comes up? Just sit and wait?"
"Oh," replied Constance, a mischievous glint in her eye, "I'm sure we can find better ways to occupy our time. Come here." And she pulled the unresisting elf forward into their third kiss of the day.