A/N: Hello! This series was created for the sole purpose of entertaining :) The characters that Midnight will meet along the series are the Muses of real authors, both on Fictionpress and Fanfiction, and were created by them. I have been given permission to use them in my series. I will add information about the Muses and the world in my profile pretty soon, and the authors that the Muses belong to, but for now I've just got the story. Enjoy!
The Muse licked the tip of her finger and turned the page of her latest glossy magazine. She hardly ever bought them anymore; she didn't have chance to read them thoroughly enough before she was called away. It annoyed her to no end. She was her own person, but she felt as though her life was being run by someone else. Whenever her 'Boss' called her out, it would always be during the most inconvenient times, and she would get a pain in the front of her mind. It was like an unrelenting twinge, as though she had an elastic band tightening and loosening all the time until she answered.
She sneered at the thought of being commanded about by someone else as she looked down at the short man painting her nails. She was used to giving the demands, and when she did, they always complied. She was known for giving orders and her stern appearance and demanding presence always had people fulfilling her wishes.
The man's hands moved slowly, taking great care as he brushed the purple paint over her long nails. She narrowed her eyes as she pulled her hand back to inspect them once he was finished.
"What is this?" she demanded, thrusting her hand back at him. She hoped he could see the tiny dot of paint that touched her skin. Petty, she knew, but it mattered to her. She liked things perfect.
The man, Mickle, frowned as he looked at her nails. He sighed and shook his head at her. "They're fine, Midnight. Stop complaining."
Her mouth gaped open as she stared at him. He rose from his stool, brushing out the wrinkles in his glittering shirt where it had gathered at the middle. Seeing that she was still looking at him, he raised his eyebrow at her. "Are you going to challenge me, or am I going to have to threaten banishment from my store again?"
Midnight pouted, taking her hand back. She looked at her nails and sighed. As usual, they looked pretty much as perfect as they always did when she went to Mickle. She only started questioning him when he took a day off and her nails had been done by his assistant. It had been a mess and she'd sworn that she wouldn't come back. But, as stubborn as she could be, no one else would give her a manicure because of her reputation around the Glass City. She had no choice but go to Mickle. He was the only one she knew who could put up with her.
She pulled out the box of cigarettes from her pantsuit's jacket pocket. "Oh fine, fine! They look great, okay?" she admitted as she lit one up. She blew out the smoke in front of her, creating wispy grey circles that floated above them. Noticing Mickle watching, she grinned and waggled her eyebrows. "Eh? See? It takes skill to do that!" she declared proudly.
Mickle watched the circles lift higher into the air until they faded before looking back at her, unimpressed. "Uh huh, yeah, I'd say it definitely takes skill to kill yourself."
Midnight threw him a look. "Not your choice, boy-o. Stay out of it," she warned lightly, not wanting to get into an argument they'd already had a million times before.
She exhaled the smoke out through her nose and smiled to herself. As she reached down for her jacket from where it hung on the back of the neighbouring chair, she couldn't help but feel a little happy. The day had been pretty peaceful. She'd actually managed to make it through a full manicure session without being called. It was like being in heaven.
"What are you grinning at?"
Midnight held her cigarette between her painted red lips as she turned to the mirror behind her, threading her arms through the sleeves of her deep purple jacket. She liked the material; it was like velvet to touch, but she still hadn't learned what material it was actually made of. Of all the things her boss had thought up, this was one Midnight would recognize as one of her successes. Boss had thought it suited her well and created it for her.
She didn't like admitting that she agreed with her boss - ever. They had a love-hate relationship. Boss had tried to establish 'boundaries' and 'the rules' that Midnight had to follow, but Midnight was never one to walk on the right side of the law…or even listen to it. She found it too confining. Eventually, when Boss realized that she needed Midnight she agreed to give her some leeway. But that didn't seem to cut down on how many times she tried to call her into work before she was supposed to start. Sometimes she hated her…
"I was just thinking about how quiet it's been today," she said, brushing her long wavy red hair from where it had gotten trapped under her jacket when she put it on. She pulled at the ends until it fell around her face and shoulders. Looking back at Mickle, she tapped her temple and winked.
Mickle nodded in understanding. "Is Becky taking a day off from writing or something?"
Midnight shrugged as she stared at her appearance. "I dunno. Just as long as she ain't callin' me all the damn time, I couldn't care less. All she's been doing for the past few months is writing. Before then, I had all the time in the world to do what I wanted. Y'know, when she had that long break? But her writing had started to become more frequent since she joined that damn group. Who joins a group on Facebook? Honestly?"
"That was one time. I left straight after."
Mickle chuckled. "Yeah, when they refused to let you be the leader," she heard him mumble but ignored it. "Anyway," he said suddenly. "Aren't you proud of her?"
Midnight's blue eyes narrowed as she continued to look at her reflection. "For what?"
"Well, y'know - writing. That long break wasn't for leisure…unlike yours," he said. He moved to stand beside her, checking himself out.
Midnight scowled down at the small man. "Are you trying to make me feel guilty? Because you know I don't like it."
Mickle shook his head. "Of course not. I was just trying to remind you that, if it wasn't for her, you wouldn't even be here. She gave you your life, the least you could do is work when she asks you to," he reasoned.
Crossing the room, Midnight folded her arms stubbornly. "Sometimes I hate you," she mumbled grudgingly. "But," she sighed, "I guess you're right. She's not so bad half the time. I just wish she'd give me a break-what?!"
Mickle raised his eyebrow again. "You are such a child, Midnight. I can't believe you're her Muse."
"Hey, I'm pretty smart when I wanna be!" she argued.
"Oh yeah," Mickle drawled sarcastically. "When you wanna be, huh?"
"I'll have you know, Mickie, I've helped her out a lot lately. She's been getting lots of reviews, and she's made friends in that group she joined – because of me. And, I've been getting all these ideas and sent them to her today," Midnight said smugly. She looked at Mickle, taking a drag of her cigarette as she waited for him to find the negative. He always did and it annoyed her.
Whenever she thought she'd gotten one over on him, Mickle would turned her words around on her, dampening her mood and made her feel stupid. She started to become impatient as he continued to straighten out his short blue hair in the mirror.
"Did she ask for them?" he asked over his shoulder.
Midnight froze. "What?" she exhaled the smoke.
He turned to her fully, smiling. "Did she ask you to help her and give her ideas?"
She bit her lip, looking at her nails. "Well…no, but-"
"She won't be happy, Midnight."
Midnight stomped her foot. "I'm supposed to be her inspiration, right? Well I was just doing my job!"
"You went overboard again," he sighed tiredly, rubbing his temple.
"I gave her ideas!" she argued.
"Ideas she can't use. If you send her too much you'll give her writer's block."
Midnight scowled. "So, what do I do then? Nothing? Let her suffer?"
Mickle shook his head. "No, that's not what I'm saying. It's just, if you send her too much then you'll suffocate her. You said she's already started two stories, right? That's her limit. It would be like me trying to give you a perm and then another straight afterwards."
Midnight's eyes widened at the horrible image that popped into her head at that moment. "Oh my Muse! That would be horrible!"
"Okay, I hear you. What can I do then? You don't think she'll fire me, do you? For overdoing it I mean."
Mickle looked at her, his eyes shining with amusement. The look made her want to slap it off. She didn't like being made fun of, and he was the only one that she showed the sliver of a 'soft side' that she possessed. She didn't like that side of herself. She thought it made her weak. Mickle meant a lot to her and he'd never laughed at her when she showed her insecurities, but she wouldn't hesitate to hit him if he did.
The short man that reached her neck lifted his hands to her hair. While he readjusted it, he smiled up at her. "She won't fire you, Midnight. I can barely stand you and I still love you…even if you do my head in. You give her more grief but I know she still loves you. Otherwise she wouldn't ask for your help."
Midnight smiled down at the man. She held her cigarette between her fingers and bent to reach her free arm around him to pull him into a hug. "Thanks, Mickie!" she beamed.
It was at that moment she winced when she felt the familiar twinge in her forehead. She stood back, closing her eyes and rubbed the spot where she felt the mild pain.
"Oh, here's your chance to find out for yourself," Mickle said as he turned to make himself busy. He shot a smile at her over his shoulder and picked up the magazine she'd been reading.
Midnight grinned at him and pressed the small device buried deep in her ear. She heard a 'beep' sound and knew she was connected. "Hey, Boss. What's up?"
"Wow that was quick, Midnight. I didn't have to wait all day," she heard Becky chuckle humorously down the line.
"Yeah, yeah, it's a bloody miracle. So…um," Midnight hesitated.
Midnight pulled at her hair. "Did you, ah, get my ideas?"
"Oh…yeah, about that. Um, Midnight?"
Midnight swallowed, dreading the tone her boss's voice had taken on. It sounded almost sad and hesitant – like she was about to give her bad news. The thought made her stomach clench with fear. "Yeah?" she asked.
She heard Becky sigh on the other end. "I appreciate the ideas, Midnight. I really do. It's just that, with everything going on at the moment and the stories I already have on the go…I just don't have the time to start anything new."
Midnight waited, expecting more. But when none came she huffed and frowned. "Is that it?"
"What were you expecting?"
Being fired? She looked up at Mickle and could see the 'I told ya so' look in his eyes. She scowled at him and turned to look out the shop window. "Oh…nothing. Anyway – you called?"
"Oh, yeah," Becky laughed. "I'm kinda stuck on this chapter. I've been at it for, like, two days, but I'm not getting anywhere with it. I was wondering if you have any ideas. What I could add to it, or maybe, what I could do with the characters and plot?"
Midnight sighed in relief. She wasn't going to get fired like she feared. She took one last drag of the cigarette and put it out in the ash tray that appeared before her. Before answering, she wanted to get something out of the way. Something that hadn't been bothering her just because she'd spoken to Mickle about it, but something that had been on her mind lately.
She cleared her throat. "Hey, erm, Becky?" she said. The name still felt weird passing through her lips. Human names were always weird. "I was just wondering…"
"Yeah?" Becky prompted. "What is it, Midnight?"
"Am I in trouble?"
"What? No! Of course not-"
"Do you love me?" she interrupted, keeping her voice low so that Mickle wouldn't hear the insecurity in her voice. She sneaked a peek over her shoulder and saw him sat on one of his chairs, feet up on the table flicking through her magazine.
There was no hesitation in Becky's answer. "Of course I do, Midnight. I love you – you're my Muse! My stories are as successful as they are because of you."
Midnight rarely let what anybody said about her affect her, but she couldn't help the way her chest swelled with pride. A stupidly large grin stretched across her face – one that some of the other Muses that worked in the city saw as they passed the window. A light and dark pair of wolfmunks threw her strange looks as they passed, and it took everything she had in her not to stick her tongue out at them in response. She'd seen them around the city a lot, and often found them messing around in the Glass Tower where she worked. They had reputations too that could almost rival her own.
"Yeah, I'm still here. That's awesome, Boss. I…," she made her voice low again and whispered, "I love you, too."
"I heard that!" Mickle called across the room.
Midnight's face filled with colour. She pulled a face at his triumphant expression and left the shop. As soon as the door closed behind her, Midnight started toward the Glass Tower that resided in the middle of the city. She was in one of the inner circles so it wouldn't take her long to get back to her office.
"So, you're having trouble with this chapter you say?" Midnight asked, reaching out another cigarette.
"Yeah, I need your help," Becky said desperately.
Midnight lit it up and took a drag. Releasing the smoke into the air, she grinned, relishing the newfound security of her position as her human's Muse. "Tell me what's happened so far and we'll go from there," she proposed.
"Right, well so far…"