Challenge #00322: Amphibious

We haven’t heard from Todd for a while, or Mortimer, or any of your incarnations of mister Toynbee. Quick, what’s one of them doing right now?

Ha! This was the little bugger. He got it! He got the little bastard. Mortimer cackled to himself as he extracted the bug - Sammy’s pet phasmids had escaped and this one, sadly, never learned to stay out of electronics - from the system. He wrapped the sad remains in a tissue and set them aside.

A little solder, a little duct tape, and then all he had to worry about was putting it all back together and not improving it on the way.

“Oh, Mortimer,” came the slightly disapproving sigh of the one person who meant everything. The one who made him proud of ‘Mortimer’ all over again.

Carefully carrying the bug out with him, he emerged from the bowels of the machine. “Uh. The good news is, I found one of Sammy’s stick insects…”

“The bad news being that it met its end inside a fifty-billion-dollar training mannequin?” guessed Sara. “You missed lunch. Again.” She set down the tray.

She’d grown since they met, and it looked good on her. Tall, elegant, refined… his uptown girl. Everything looked good on her. Even him.

He watched her sit and had to stop himself from composing even more bad poetry inside his head. “I know the drill, love. Put it back the way I found it and write down the improvements.” The lightning had left its mark on his voice. There was a lot more croak in it to lend truth to his codename. “And send 'em along to Stark Industries.”

“Not that they pay the slightest bit of attention,” added Sara. She peeked at the dead phasmid. “Aw. That was Eminrae.”

“You’re better at th’ circle of life talk,” he offered.

“You just don’t want Sammy accusing you of roasting her for your dinner.”

He put his greasy hands up. “You got me. D'ruther stay out of it.”

“Well, you’d better not 'stay out of it’ when it comes to ours, dear husband,” she admonished. Sara gently picked up the tissue and the little body before rising like another poem he couldn’t write. “I might become righteously vexed.”

“Right you are,” he said absently, attacking her gourmet fare with a fork.

She got all the way to the door before he said, “What do you mean 'when it comes to ours’?”

His answer was a winsome smile and an, “I knew you weren’t listening at breakfast. Finish up and then I’ll tell you again.”

He had never worked faster in his life.

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