His apartment was warm and silent when he got there, exactly as he'd left it. Within moments of his return it exploded sound. A rado in the living room began right into a rendition of Romeo & Juliet, his electric kettle began to bubble loudly.

Mars flopped down on his couch, the springs squeaking under his weight in familiar harmony. He pulled the coffee table closer, and emptied his bag onto it. Carefully, he organized and cleaned each piece if his gun, slowly reassembling her to ensure that everything was as it was supposed to be. He was mostly finished, with a face full of instant noodles, when his phone buzzed. Pausing Romeo's escapades in the garden, Mars rescued his phone from under a cleaning rag.

"One new text message from 555-3105."

"Read it, please." He wiped his hands free of grease and noodle juice.

"Message: 'Speak not of Ravens, for to me they shy, in comparison to a diamond, they be a sow's fetid pie. To a sunset, a star; a table left wayside. But feathers, them age true, but older yet, sits too. One a line, alighting, bright smoke, hav, for by lead life took, felled. Felled again, this time a tree, hot with an eye's dream. Notice to come, a dream's over before begun. Much ado to nothing, to soldiers tall, to heart, stitch it to heart, a prophecy star-tied, a bird flew fiery, and thus fell."

"Uh," Mars' brow furrowed.

"Would you like me to repeat the message?"

"Please." Mars had to listen 4 more times before it clicked. The text lacked formatting. He sat, murmuring it back to himself in iambic pentameter several times. Then he spent several minutes composing a reply. "End Message, read it back?"

"Message for 555-3105: 'Why speak of Ravens, with ears bent to blades, with King's Masquerade, with Queen's night away? Twix pence wasted, on a fool's escapade. Julien then nary blossomed, but for Romeo's Flower. Wit and Sword, or Sword of Wit, or Wit of a Sword? For Ado to quit, one must begin it, and quite frankly my dear, I giveth no shit. Whost be thou, a bird sings to axe felling, whence thine sings not to dream and star?' End Message. Send?"

"Perfect, yes. Send." Mars grinned, stuffing his face again. It took a couple minutes to get a reply. His phone buzzed, and read out the message at his word.

"That was not in Iambic, nor any other poetic count."

"I am the one the plays were written for, not the writer himself."

"She died 500 years ago, don't be silly."

"She did in fact die some 500 years ago," Mars agreed, "But fickle Phoenix are a creature many centuries in existence." Pause. "Wait, don't send that-"

"Message sent. Anything else for you today?" His mobile betrayed him.

"Aw, c'mon-"

"Command not recognized. Please try again. You have one new message. Would you like to read it aloud?"

"Pbbt, nah. I'll read it later." Mars stood, hefting his gun gently. His thumbs found the delicately carved roses that marked where his hands needed to be. Very carefully, he returned heat to the metal, checking for weakness and damage. Once satisfied Rosa was perfectly fine for her day of service, he smiled and sat. He drew the heat back out of her at a slow pace. Only once she was cool again did he set into dismantling her.

Once she was safely returned to her carry bag, Mars returned to his noodles. they'd gone cold in his inattention, but that was no bother to him. One quick stir, and he'd returned enough heat to make the cheap noodles palatable again.

"Okay, Phone, please read new messages." He commanded once dinner was gone.

"One new message from 555-3105: 'Phoenix don't exist, don't be silly'."

"So too is that true. But stories harbour some feeble truth, and centuries have passed since the firebird of lore rose on wings of tongue, brush, and pen, if not feathers true."

"Truth you may speak, but to begin again, feathers of black, gold and songbird asking, a name would not be a gift received."

"Aw, come on, a rose by any other name still smells as sweet; should a songbird greet, and name he'd like to tweet."

"Then any name would suffice then, no?" Mars chuckled at that. "But a songbird tells, his song on the breeze, ne'er to hear the whispers of trees."

Mars hummed, "An evening star of fire and ice, masculinity incarnate. With the unsexing of venus, and mercury ridden, a songbird rises as the sky above dims, singing angels to their rests."

"And so the unsexed has her son, and her son and her husband, and I think we've used too many metaphors. Please clarify."

"I dunno man, I lost track of the metaphors ages ago." Mars shrugged, "The name's Mars. How can I be of service?"

"Hello Mars. My name is Tobias. Do you drink?"

"Not really, unless you mean coffee?"

"That's sad, I feel we could be good friends.

"Well, comrade, we've just met via text message. Forgive me if I'm hesitant to go drinking with someone I haven't actually met." He fiddled with his cleaning rag. "Who're you looking for, Tobias? Maybe I know them?"

"A coworker of mine. He's said to drink heavily enough to be named for his drink of choice."

"Hm, you don't mean a Pernod Sinthe, of Absinthe's Pit, do you?"


"My uncle's all I got, sorry."

"It's fine; I'll check the number again on the morrow. Thank you all the same."

"Cool." Mars abandoned his phone, and wandered into his bedroom in search of something else to do. When he returned with Gwen – a fairly standard looking glock – he had a new message.

"So you drink coffee?"

"The light of day unmasks mysteries that the dark of night doth protect." Mars began to pull apart his other gun.

"I see."

"You doth protest too much, me thinks. Your ado is a candle gone out, out, too soon. Would witching hour of the brighter zenith be pleasing to you?"

"Witching hour of the brighter zenith? That sounds fine. Hast thou a regular haunt, o' aylcote of Hecate?"

"I have, though I'd have to find the address."

"Well, do let me know."

Of all the wrong numbers, he had contacted another Shakespeare fan. The odds were astounding. Mars was grinning as he selected a place downtown that would serve. Someone as fond of the works as he was!

"Phone, create a new contact."


"Tobias, mobile #555-3105. Done."

"New contact created."

"Text Tobias; 15387 – 98 ave, Little Steamer Cafe."

"Message sent." Mars nodded, approving.

"I'll see you tomorrow, then, Mars." Tobias replied.

"Until then, Tobias."

Mars then settled down with Gwen, letting Romeo return to shouting pick-up lines while trespassing.

It took longer to clean out Gwen. She was back up, and quite frankly Mars didn't pamper his 'wife' as much as he did his 'mistress'. He was a terrible 'husband' to his gun, rarely dragging her from her place in his bedside table. Rosa was armed with longer range and larger bullets, and was thus preferable in this time of war.

Luckily, Gwen was a gun. She didn't care so long as she was cleaned and oiled occasionally, and always worked like a charm.

Like with Rosa, Mars stood once Gwen was rebuilt, checking her for weaknesses with heat. Where Rosa had carved roses, Gwen was marked with slightly melted divots where his fingers and palms needed to be. She was custom to him; his hands had never had an issue finding their spots even before he'd melted the spots.

After much deliberation, he slipped Gwen into his spare bag. He had slipped his new friend his actual species. Chances were not a thing he could afford to take at the moment.

Standing, Mars stretched and turned off double suicide. "Phone, power level?"


"Excellent; resume Playlist Hamlet." The phone complied, launching into grave digging and skull kissing. Soliloquies saw him through a shower, and to bed. He had a date with a new friend. He'd hate to sleep in accidentally.