Despite the raucous atmosphere, Mira felt a sense of calm wash over her as she gazed around the Ragged Flagon. All jobs were postponed for the time being; meaning everyone was present – including the new merchants and even Maven Black-Briar had made an appearance. After everything the Guild had been through – with Mercer's betrayal – they deserved a bit of rest. And as the Holiday of Saturalia was upon them – what better way to relax than to party?
Mira's musings were interrupted when someone claimed the vacated chair at her table. She may have been both drunk and preoccupied, but having her reflexes honed over the years meant little escaped her attention. And – as she turned her head to look at him – her visitor wasn't exactly the epitome of grace tonight.
"Mira," he said, needlessly calling for her attention. Mira was pleased to hear that despite his bumbling movements, his speech wasn't the slightest bit affected by alcohol. There was no need for people to drink themselves stupid.
"Yes, Vipir?" she answered with a lazy smile.
"You just looked so lonely, sitting here all by yourself. Aren't you having fun?"
His concerned tone touched her heart. Family – that's what she'd found down here in this sewer filled with thieves. People she loved and could always count on.
"I just felt the need to sit down and rest some. I'm fine, really," she gestured to the room around her. "How can I not be – I have food, alcohol and friends! Everything I could ask for!"
Vipir smiled slightly at her unsteady motions before reaching behind him, picking up an object and placing it on the table. Mira stared at it curiously. It was a covered item, wrapped with cloth and secured with some string. It was big enough that its length covered most of the small table, but slim – no broader than the palm of her hand.
"It's for you," Vipir answered her unasked question. "Happy Saturalia, Mira."
"Me? You shouldn't have," the Imperial said admonishingly, but at the same time reaching for the wrapped object with eager hands. She rarely received presents anymore – at least none of the personal kind, usually it was more 'Oh thank you Dragonborn! Here, let me show my gratitude with this big-ass plate helmet. It's surely an upgrade from your current armor'. No, thank you. She quickly made work of the coverings of Vipir's gift and was awed by the contents.
"Oh, Vipir! Thank you so much!"
She held the dagger in front of her, carefully studying it. It was of daedric design and she could feel the small pulsations of magic emanating from the dagger, indicating it possessed a powerful enchantment as well. The Imperial was what some would call a collector – while her housecarls begged her to stop hoarding every piece of weapon she would come across in her travels. Her newest obsession though, were daedric weapons. Sleek, stylish and deadly. Just the way she liked it.
She looked at the Nord next to her and flung her arms around his neck, careful not to cut him with the dagger. The surprised look on his face quickly vanished as he put his arms around her and was replaced with a pleased smile. When his hands started wandering down her back, she released him.
"This must have cost you a fortune!" she exclaimed as she detached herself and retreated to her own seat.
Vipir gave her a pointed look and she felt her cheeks redden, feeling stupid. The man was a thief – a member of her own guild, for gods' sake! Of course he didn't buy the dagger.
"Apparently someone finally bought that house that's been standing empty for ages. You know, the one next to the docks," he took a gulp of mead before continuing. "A rich someone – bastard's got weapons, jewels and gold just lying around. Ripe for the taking," he finished with a chuckle.
Mira felt the smile slowly leaving her face. Did he mean…? She had to ask.
"The one in the northwestern corner? Honeyside?"
Vipir nodded. "That's the one. Maybe we could go there together sometime – the chests are full enough to make us filthy rich."
Mira looked closer at the dagger she was holding. There, at the base of the hilt was a faint mark, put there when she had defended herself against an assassin that had charged her outside of Ivarstead once. This was her dagger, she realized.
"Vipir… I live there. I bought that house three days ago," she stated.
In another situation she probably would have laughed at the look on the thief's face, but currently she had trouble finding the humor in this. Frustration filled her as she looked at the uncomfortable Nord thief. She didn't understand why he was reacting so badly. Sure, it was embarrassing to realize that the house you just robbed belonged to your fellow thief, but frankly she was worse off here! Member of the Thieves Guild, and she couldn't even proof her own house from burglars. She decided to take pity on him.
"Look, Vipir. I'm not mad, you only did-" she stopped when he procured a piece of silky cloth from his back pocket, putting it on the table.
"I, uh, guess you'll be wanting these back then," he mumbled awkwardly, his hand scratching the back of his neck as he usually did when he was nervous.
Comprehension grabbed Mira's heart with a hard fist and squeezed her insides as she forgot how to breathe for a few seconds. Oh, Mara. On the table were the underwear she'd bought in Solitude, with the intent of never ever using – except if (and that was a pretty big if) she ever decided to get married. They were only a small scrap of fabric, bright red, silky and very unpractical. She could still remember the sneer on the Altmer's face when she'd walked in to the store – as if saying that her kind had no place in such a high class establishment. Mira had bought the underwear purely out of spite, and regretted immediately after when she barely had had enough money left to buy dinner.
The air between the thieves grew heavy and awkward as they both looked between the silk on the table and the other person. A loud laugh, coming from the bar, drew Mira out of her immobility and she quickly grabbed the offending item off the table, placing it out of sight in one of her pockets. Vipir cleared his throat.
"So, uh… Maybe you should get better locks?" he offered lamely, trying to diffuse the tension. "Put up a shadowmark, or even two?"
The Imperial nodded stiffly and rose to leave the room, mumbling an inaudible 'goodnight' before hurrying off. Before she could reach the safety of the door, however, someone grabbed her shoulder and turned her around. Vipir's face was concerned as he gently pushed her into a dark alcove next to the door and stepped close, trapping her in case she tried to escape.
"Mira, I'm sorry. I really am," he whispered, his breath hot on her face. When she still refused to look at him, he lifted her chin up, holding it between his thumb and index finger. The sincerity in his eyes made her relax, finally.
"It's okay. I'm just a little embarrassed," she smiled at him.
"No need to be," he smiled back. "Tomorrow, I'll come by your house and return everything I took."
Vipir's expression turned teasing as stepped even closer, pressing the length of his body against her smaller one. He bent down to whisper in her ear, his voice rougher and deeper than it usually was.
"And then you could show me what they look like on."
Author's Note: This was written last year and posted elsewhere, but I figured I should post it (somewhat edited) here as well. Happy Holidays :)