Flash Fiction: Permission to Misbehave (562 words)

He handled frenzied leviathans and royal messengers with equal insouciance. Staring into a sea-black eye the size of a dinner plate, or very human eyes held open only by determination and loyalty after an all-night ride, Korban gave the same annoyed blink. Gemma could almost see the logic puzzle tumbling down behind his eyes, trying to decide whether it would be more satisfying to sock them in the nose or the gut.

In short, Korban was an idiot.

He slammed the door on the messenger while the messenger was still in the doorway, apparently deciding to aim for both face and stomach. Gemma was pretty sure that the man had skittered back in time to avoid the heavy swinging slab of oak, but she wasn’t sure.

Korban listened for a half a second with his palm still flat against the door, as if he expected some reward from his efforts. Then he shrugged and turned back toward his desk and the waiting glass of wine.

He caught Gemma’s look halfway through the motion.

“What?” he asked.

“You can’t do that,” she murmured. She kept her voice low so that it wouldn’t carry outside. If she was lucky, she might get the door open again before the messenger realized this wasn’t a joke.

“I can,” Korban said, with a solid smile.

Gemma clenched her jaw. This would not be over quickly. “You can’t,” she repeated.

“I can,” he said. That time he sounded amused. He spread his hands innocently and picked up his glass.

“I think you’re missing the meaning of the word royal,” Gemma told him.

“I made him Clan Lord,” Korban told her.

“You did not.”

He started to argue, realized he couldn’t, and pulled a finger off his glass to point at her. “I didn’t stop him.”

Gemma continued her dark look.

“And I told him then, that was all he could expect from me,” Korban said. “The funny hat he wears, and the fancy chair he sits in doesn’t make me any more impressed with his smarmy face.”

“But it does make him more sensitive to insults,” Gemma said sharply.

Pausing, Korban looked at her. He tilted his head, trying to decide if that had been an insult.

“And,” Gemma continued. She took a careful step toward him. “It makes his friends more willing to jump to his defense.”

“They’re all idiots,” Korban said slowly.

Gemma nodded, looking at the floor. “Yeah. They don’t like you either.”

He snorted.

“So, the least you can do, is hear the messenger through before you slam the door in his face,” Gemma told him.

Korban stopped. He looked toward the ceiling. Gemma thought he was doing some obscure math, or maybe just replaying the last thing she’d said.

“Did you just give me permission to slam the door again?” He spun on his heel, aiming for the door before she could stop him.

The first line of this piece was originally thrown into my hands as part of The Legal Theft Project. It came from a piece by my friend, Kate (which you can read here), and was thrown to my friend, the BabbleBuzzard (who wrote this madness using the line). However, in between, it rested in my hands for about an hour, during which I decided that I wanted to steal it as well.

Thank you, Kate, for permission to do so.

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