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The First Surrender Cookie of the New Year

I just realised it was the ninth and went scrambling through my PDF of The Demon's Surrender to find you guys your rightful January cookie! Nick came second in the Main Characters Poll, which meant it was time for a Nick cookie, and the hasty vote I took on twitter indicated that people would rather see Nick Maybe Exposing Some Sort of Emotion rather than Exposing His Chest. (Though chest got a few votes as well...)

I will be posting again tomorrow, because I have some NEWS to announce!

This cookie needs a sentence of explanation first, but for those entirely opposed to spoilers, it lies beneath the cut in italics.



Sin, Nick and Alan are in Nick and Alan's flat in London. Alan has just had what looks more or less like a fit. Or like, say, being invisibly tortured...

Nick acted, grabbing hold of both Alan’s arms and almost throwing him into one of the chairs by their small round kitchen table.

“Now,” Nick said. “Tell me what’s going on.”

Sin slipped in, eel-swift, to block Alan from Nick’s view. “Leave him alone. Have you no pity?”

Nick put a hand to Sin’s throat, forcing her head back. The demon’s attention was on her now, his eyes glittering.

“Don’t stand between me and my brother,” Nick said softly. “And no.”

“Don’t touch her,” Alan commanded, his voice thin and hoarse.

Nick released Sin’s throat and stepped back, until he was behind the counter, as if he did not trust himself not to lash out unless there was a barrier in his way.

Sin didn’t trust him either.

“She knows what’s going on,” Nick observed. “Obviously. How many people know? Why did you lie to me? Why do you always lie?”

“It’s in my nature,” Alan said in a low voice, and then more clearly: “I didn’t want you to get upset. There was no point in telling you.”

“No point,” Nick echoed.

“No,” said Alan. “There’s nothing you can do. It’s just Gerald demonstrating his power over me. He wants you to be upset, so when he comes to you with demands, you’ll do what he wants.”

Alan had decided not to mention that there had already been demands, Sin noticed. She turned towards Alan, joining him in this conspiracy almost without a thought. She bowed her head as if she was fussing over him, making sure Nick could not see her face.

Her eyes and Alan’s met in perfect understanding.

In his nature, indeed.

“And you didn’t think I should know this,” Nick said.

“I didn’t feel like giving him the satisfaction,” Alan returned.

“He was trying to keep it from everyone,” Sin added. “I happened to see him have another attack, the day I was teaching him archery up on the hill. If I’d thought it would do you any good to know, I would have told you.”

Perfectly true, as far as it went.

She looked up to see if Nick was buying it. He was standing with his arms braced on the counter and his head bowed.

“What are we going to do?” he asked, and then louder, his voice furious: “What’s the plan?”

“Oh, well,” Alan said, his voice gentle and tired. “That’s the problem. There isn’t one.”

“What do you mean, there isn’t one?”

“Think about it, Nick,” said Alan. “I can’t make a plan. If there was a plan, I couldn’t know it. Gerald could torture it out of me anytime he liked.”

Nick’s shoulders bunched as Alan spoke. His head stayed bowed.

“What are we meant to do then,” he snarled. “Just sit and wait until he comes with his demands? Or until he pushes you too far and kills you?”

“The second would be preferable,” Alan said. “I won’t have you a magician’s slave.”

“Why not?” Nick demanded. “What does it matter? I was one before.”

“That was before you were mine,” Alan said. His voice was steadier, now. “Nick. If I do die. If it happens, I hope it won’t, but if it does. It’s all right. I’ll feel all right about it, if I can leave you behind safe, with Mae and Jamie. It will be like leaving behind a life’s work. Do you know something? I remember snatches of things before you came, bits and pieces about my mother. But as far back as I can think in a straight line, from that point of my life to this, there’s you, and wanting to take care of you. That’s what I remember. It’s all right.”

Nick did look up then.

“I remember my life, before you,” he said, his voice chilly and distant. “Don’t make me live like that again.”

“Nick,” Alan said.

“Nick,” Nick repeated, viciously. “What was that, in the beginning, but some baby name you used because you heard Olivia call me Hnikarr. A demon’s name in a child’s mouth. Until you turned it into the biggest lie you ever told. Nicholas Ryves. As if there was such a person. As if I was a person. Who do you think I’ll be, when you die?”


Hope you enjoyed! Tomorrow, NEWS!

Comments

( 96 comments — Leave a comment )
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nagi_schwarz
Jan. 9th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Oh. That was heartbreaking. But thank you so much! And a very belated Happy New Year
bludger
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
I've been following your impromptu twitter vote for the past hour and am glad Team (Semblance of) Feeling won out in the end. So excellent! I went back and re-read Lexicon and Covenant during my college winter break and this has only made me more excited for Surrender. :)
katherynne
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
badblood
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
Omg, this is so TENSE. Brilliant cookie. Thank you, and looking forward to your news tomorrow!
sarahtales
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
I hope you will find the news exciting. :)
amori_maris
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
No! Who do I have to sacrifice to make sure Alan makes it to the end of the trilogy?! He's my favourite!

Well, actually, Jamie is my favourite but now that there is the shadow of death hanging over Alan's head, he is my favourite... :)
rowanberries
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
*Clutches heart*

NICK!

I... It's reallyt kind of amazing that Alan and Sin are able to be colder about this that Nick. Not capable of emotion my arse, demon-boy!

(<3)
sarahtales
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Well, Alan and Sin have a certain amount of preparation, and are notably excellent liars. Poor Nick and all his murderous feelings, if only they could be concealed like weapons. :)
(no subject) - rowanberries - Jan. 9th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Ack! *Clenches heart*
sistermagpie
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, Alan. You know the author's doing something right when I can sympathize with the demon in being frustrated with a guy. No noble sacrifices on Nick's watch, Alan!
sarahtales
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
Nick: I have been driven to asking WHY three times in one breath. AND I DON'T TALK MUCH.
kayefierch
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
Oh my God, my heart. Or, rather, the big gaping hole in my chest because there's nothing left there anymore, you smashed it into teeny tiny smithereens and they all blew away. I hope you're happy. Sobs forever, etc.

In other news, I am shipping Alan/Sin so hard. SO HARD. And I would really like to hug Nick but I'm kind of scared of what might happen, so maybe I'll buy him a shiny new sword instead.
sarahtales
Jan. 10th, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
I always like to keep a tally on who ships what. ;) And I AM happy, though it seems cruel to say so...
(no subject) - kayefierch - Jan. 10th, 2011 12:53 am (UTC) - Expand
tsubaki_ny
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
oooooh. Well done.
tsubaki_ny
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
*chills*
lisakawall.blogspot.com
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
Even in the first book, I was always shocked to see Alan doubt Nick caring about him. Alan of all people should recognize twisted love when he sees it.

My God, I love these characters. :)

- Lisa
sarahtales
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Alan would probably understand Nick telling him lots of insane lies as a sign of affection. ;) So many ways to twist!
(no subject) - lisakawall.blogspot.com - Jan. 9th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
neverendingjim
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
Well, that was heartbreaking (in a good way.) Thank you so much!
kilerkki
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic. Fascinating to see the evolution of Alan and Sin's relationship, and to guess at what drove it; I am looking forward very much to finding out what happened on the hill, and what Sin isn't saying! And the last few exchanges, Alan trying to resign Nick to his death, and Nick refusing to be resigned... I'm not sure who's breaking my heart more, but it is thoroughly broken. I look forward to your NEWS on Monday to give me some solace!
faith_mars
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC)
Oh my ..... why can't it be May already ... or June?
sarahtales
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
June 14th is the word, sadly! When I get back my official UK date, I shall announce. ;)
jade_sabre_301
Jan. 9th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
GOD that last paragraph is like, everything I love about your writing and characterization of Nick in one yummy heartbreaking wonderful passage. I remember when I first read Lexicon and had figured out the twist and was waiting to see how you would pull it off, and then you executed it beyond my wildest dreams and it just keeps getting better and BOOK, PLEASE COME OUT SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON.
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