shipwreck_light: (Nene-2)
Shipwreck Light ([personal profile] shipwreck_light) wrote in [community profile] rainbowfic2014-11-02 10:51 am

Ember #20

Author: SWL
Story: Jealous of Roses, Arc 0
Index: Click Here.
Colors: Ember #20- Summer
Supplies and Materials: Finger Paint, Canvas, Mural, Damnit.
Word Count: 31,000ish
Summary: One summer of Nene on her own, part 1.
Featuring: Illustrations by The Winter Cynic, Nene Icon by [profile] thebonesofferalletters and a Special Guest Appearance by [personal profile] starphotographs.
Rating: XXX. Illustrations are SFW though.
Warnings: All of them. The noncon is implied rather than graphic.
Suggested BGM For A Really Obvious Cue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eP05iSzpz94
Full Music Listing: Click.
The following are always welcome: comments, constructive criticism, collaboration inquiries, cake.



1.

Anyway.

Let's say real freedom's the ability to be with who you wanna be with, how and whenever you want. Just think. Wouldn't that make you free? If not you, somebody like you, who's not you, who actually wantsa get laid or held or whipped.

Whipped? Yeah. Whipped.

See- you're not free. I know. I've been there. I've been onea you.

But, /whipped/? That's not normal, right? I mean, how many movies about recoverin' BDSM addicts did they run on the melodrama channel last week?

Yer not free. You don't know.

Some people can only get to that sublime subspace of bein' themselves when they're whipped and they're fucked and they're sliced up. I'm tellin' ya I usedta kinda be inta the scene, the place where us headcases go to get off. I'm tellin' ya I had this girlfriend.

One night while I had her on her knees infronta me, she begged me, just pleaded and cried and ripped me with her pretty nails insteada the other way around.

See, she wanted me to punch some holes in her labia so we could put rings in 'em and lace 'em shut when we went out. That way, her cunt would be mine to share, not hers.

I was kinda high at the time. I'da said yes anyway- just, the stars in her eyes when I smiled.

There was so much blood.

Not kinda inta the scene if ya've done somethin' like that.

So, here goes.

My handle is Nene. I set people free.

Sometimes I use a whip.

Sometimes I use a rifle. Nobody's freer'n a dead man.

I'm not free. Oh no. There's still people b'sides myself that I gotta please.

But, you're not half as free as I am.

You never made a girl come with an ice pick and you sure as hell never enjoyed it.

~*~

2.

T'day, we're out: boss, her bodyguard who's also her girlfriend and her /other/ bodyguard, a/k/a me. We're in an arcology with a salt water lake at the middle. It's humid as fuck, kinda likea storm, but brighter, nothin' but jet trails up past the ceiling panes where they aren't all steamed over.

This place's inside, but it's got roads and weather and shit. Comes off pretty trippy, but I did takea hit b'fore we left. What? Just some pot. OK, /and/ some ephedra. Long night last night. Summer's a busy time for us hired goons.

This isn't hired goon business. Not like- traditionally, anyway. We got this formal parlay with some Amelia Campion about tradin' loan customers, prolly golf too if I know this kinda thing. Tea and finance can and does get violent, buuut odds are in my favor that somebody else there is stoned too. Hah.

I think Tian knows I'm toasted. She keeps glarin' at me from under the golf umbrella where she and the boss walk.

Me, I climb up on the rail along the sidewalk and jump between the struts. Ya'd think this is /not/ proper goon behavior, but boss sticks her pretty head out and watches. She keeps right on goin' where she's goin'. We'll catch her, right? If there's a crack, or a puddle or some douchebag witha knife.

There's a honk out on the street. What- I'm not jumpin' out inta traffic.

Or, I wasn't gonna b'fore that. Next thing Mr. Blue Sedan knows, I'm all up on his bumper. "What? Can't a girl walk here?"

"I can see your panties!" Yeah, he's complainin'.

I lift my skirt up with one hand and scoot said panties off with the other. They get hooked on his windshield wipers. "Better?"

No, just more horns, b'hind him this time. I guess I'll mosey off b'fore anybody tries to drive anywhere.

Back on the sidewalk, boss lays hands to the umbrella, tilting it over all threea us. "I can't believe you were wearing /acetate panties/ in this heat," she mutters.

"I'm not anymore." That's the important part.

We keep walkin'. Not gonna lie, the draft's way better than the stickin' to myself business I had goin'. Shade's not bad either.

Amelia Campion works outta this corporate village like they usedta have in new England or somethin'. Everybody's office's got its own cottage with its own historical-lookin' sign and all the way down to the lake where the air's practically sweatin'. The one we hit up's got a lion's head doorknocker. Chick who greets us after's wearin' a black half mask- bottom half. She's maybe thirty, pretty cute, b'sides gesturin' us in as somebody calls, "Please follow Janey."

So, soon as she closes the door, I'm all like: "Thanks, Janey."

She looks away.

Guess that embarrassed her. Doesn't last long. She shoos us into a conference room overlookin' a wooden porch. Yeah, I'm serious. The office. Has a porch.

And an owner. Now, there's a woman in a women's suit, there's a woman in a guy's suit and then there's Amelia Campion, I presume, who's in flat-out drag. She's gotta be wearin' a binder. Chin, that's luck. Me, I only know this's the in question chick 'cause I got to run the background check on her.

"How droll," she says. "Well then. Alexandra Duclos, was it?"

"Duclos will do," says the boss.

"Is that all? Well then, you may call me Ace."

"That's presumptive."

"I know."

Ho boy. This's gonna be good.

"Now, I don't like to banter..."

Me, I like to laugh. I'm so not gonna laugh, though. I swear I'm not gonna laugh, I... snorted, didn't I? Well, at least I didn't fart.

Regardless, Tian is totally not impressed with me right now. Or, much of anything. Her neck twitches that real subtle way she does when she's listenin' hard with the bottom partsa her brain. She looks up and down the walls, from one console to another and the not-quite-latched filing cabinet. The curios- mostly "Best Loan Shark: Two Years Ago" kinda crystal shit.

One though's a rat skeleton in a Japanese court getup, wig and tiny tea tray and all. Hell, there's even lipstick on the rat's skinless face.

OK, that is one great, big semantic mess there. Everything refined about imperial Japan, everything barbaric about imperial Japan, /dead rat/, dolly tea tray.

Somebody's got issues. Prolly the artist. Or me. I'm about ready to ask to pet it.

Somehow, I think me makin' with the impropriety wouldn't be the first time 'round these parts. Case in point, Ace turns a shoulder at Duckie and he's all- "Momoni? Would you bring the guests some water?" OK, fine. It's the next part gives me my suspicions. "Momoni is my paramour. I expect you will treat her appropriately."

The funny thing on toppa all this bein' she said no such bullshit 'bout herself, unless ya count the nickname.

Boss nods. Tian follows. I do too.

Mostly.

Holy shit. Ace's girl. She barely looks real, man. She's likea ink drawing watercolored in, but she's /moving/. I'd say without the heels she's still like five-ten. Her feature's, they're sharp except for her downturned blue-green eyes with the smoked eyeshadow around 'em. And she's got this /hourglass/: real big, cakey tits; wasp waist and oh man these heart-shaped hips with super muscular thighs everybody sees real good through the splits in her skirt. It doesn't fit, like how they usedta draw superheriones didn't fit. Like, on one hand, I'm already usedta it. On the other, she throws me off.

She comes in pullin' this Aquarius pose with her pitcher. First glass she pours, she holds up all wordless to me and Tian. "I understand your employer has a taste for romance," she... titters, I guess's the word. Anyway, hellova thing to say to somebody ya just met.

We taste. This's so Tian's department. The water's been perfumed. All I can tell is it smells like floor cleaner and tastes worse. In fact, it's so bad, I got no problem smilin' on through the part where I pretend to gargle. Still haven't swallowed by the time Tian goes, "It's fine." Our glass goes to Duckie. I get my own. So now, I gotta drink that shitty water, but I also know I'd damnwell rather watch Momoni pour from all on high without a drop spilled or lavender blossom rubbed away from the lip of the pitcher onto her fingers and oh, when nobody's lookin', past her lipstick.

I get to stand across from the seat Ace pulls out for her. From there, I can't really tell what she's thinkin'. But, she's kinda got this kink goin' at the cornersa her mouth even though yield curves couldn't be much less funny.

She laughs when Ace smiles, crosses and uncrosses her legs at the best possible moments in the conversation. Nobody's cup runneth empty, but she even moves in time with the downplays of this market and that weather on the outsidea this damn arcology. I try not to yawn. The water kinda helps, so I tell myself I tolerate it. The glasses sweat enough that they start hydroplanin' across the goddamn coasters.

They look like lil boats. Kinda. I guess.

Plus, just now occurred to me, there's no boats on that lake. There's no fish. No water weeds. It's just kinda out there bein' with the lines in the skylight reflectin' in it then back up in the ceilin' here and all around and over the heada the geisha rat.

All their attempts to get this arcology to look charmin', they were shot by the time Ace opened her mouth. Now though- double shot.

The laptop comes out and Ace starts on about company plans. Boss crosses her arms and watches on all cold- yes and no and couldn't someone have laid that scatter plot out better?

"You could almost wound me with all of this unasked for criticism. Now, as for my ten year goals..."

They move on. The laser pointer ticks on and off. Ace's glass drifts close to the edgea her coaster. Since it's no immediate threat to me and mine, I let it go. It's gonna fall.

Except, it's about the time that shoulda happened, when ten years goes on for about twenty and just the edge's singin' of the coaster that Momoni catches the thing. She wipes off the glass and the coaster. Duclos and Ace, they don't even look to see what she's up to.

That's a napkin alright. I get a look at the design stamped in the corner: a triskelion with fists on the arms and a rope pattern 'round the outside.

I just nod her at bein' there. So does Tian.

Inside though, I'm like- holy fuckin' shit. Ferget the rat. Ferget it!

I've never seen onea /those/ in person. Internet doesn't count. Other people's phones? Not even second-hand, c'mon. And I /guess/ other people could be usin' it, but that'd be pretty stupid considerin', y'know, the part where that's the logo fora posh bondage club downtown.

I'd say- accident then. Somethin' less excitin' than whoa, I am suddenly in the presence of a master and at least one slave and I think I know who's the slave, but I could be totally ass-up wrong.

I kinda get to thinkin' b'sides, close as they're sittin', her and Ace, maybe she's got her hand on her thigh. Maybe there's a remote for somethin' insidea her. And there she is, waitin' to orgasm in silence and nobody knowin'.

Just me and my daydream I guess.

My skirt drags in the air conditioner drift. I don't move to fix it even though, gotta be pretty obvious back to her, and Ace I guess, that I got no panties on.

Maybe it makes twoa us.

Or maybe there's a goddamn rat in a geisha wig in the corner.

Eventually, everybody- and by everybody, I mean Ace and Duckie -decides that they're not decidin' anything today. By that time, my knees're locked up. Duckie rubs her butt as she stands. Nobody's taken a bathroom break 'cause bathroom breaks're a signa weakness.

As "everybody"'s havin' one last rounda barbs for sendoffs, I wave myself off at least to Tian and sneak 'round to the porch sidea things. Damnit. Momoni's right there. I could literally be standing next to Momoni right now. I could accidentally get a look at her thighs for concealed vibrator wires. Or, I could ask Tian. I guess. Hardly the weirdest question I ever put to her. Nevermind that she knew offhand at what temperature eyeballs vaporize.

I *know* I am pissin' in grass that doesn't belong to me. It's wrong, but it feels so good.

Couldn't see it on the way in, or from the window, but the one who sidea the office village's muddy with desire lines.

Forget the panties. Fine day not to bring my sneakers.

~*~

3.

When I get back to my place, I got my own welcomin' committee.

"Sophie! I'm home!" I sing out.

The hallway sings it right back at me about three times as I'm tossin' my clothes off till I get down to that post-coital long shirt and nothin' else business except for the part where the shirt's not actually long, so my bush sticks out the bottoma the button split.

There's nobody 'round to 'preciate it 'cept the blue-and-gold macaw that comes stalkin' 'round the corner.

"Is Sophie in her cage?" I ask, pretendin' like I haven't noticed I got company.

"Sophie is a good bird."

I pounce. Feathers go flyin'. "Liar, liar, butt feathers on fire!"

"Sophie is a good bird! Springrolls!"

OK, maybe kinda a good bird. She lets me snorf her fer a whole ten seconds b'fore she starts threatenin' to rip my lungs out through my asshole. See, kids. This's why you don't leave parrots alone with hitpersons. It's way too fuckin' cute.

I guess I should put her back in her cage. But, she bothered to get out, come see me, lie to me. Maybe she's right and she /is/ a good bird. Like, maybe on Mars'r some shit.

I plop her on my shoulder and it's off to the kitchen. Somebody left the takeout menus on the counter. That somebody was prolly drunk me, but I'll forgive her onea these days. Fer now, I call her a bastard and take her leftover Thai food.

Yeah, it's officially too gross out to heat this up. Downtown's glary up the side windows and my head's still fulla humidity fuck.

B'sides. Yeah. What I saw t'day b'fore the mud and all.

Looks like I got sweet omelet, satay and some kinda green rice, plus the halfa bottlea rum drunk me left on the sideboard as a peace offerin' or just 'cause. Like I understand said bastard with her rum and not finishin' this awesome omelet.

I sit on the couch with my feet on the coffee table and the rum in the empty champagne bucket stand nobody's bothered to move fer like a year. Sophie holds her shrimp from the omelet like she's got a popsicle. Yeah, I know it's got egg on it so she's like gobblin' up her cousin.

There's nothin' on TV but people whingin' about the weather. I already did that, so I check my phone to see if anybody messaged me. Nope. I take another swiga rum, then burp loud enough the bird gives me a look.

"Sophie?" I tell her. "You're a dick."

"Wheehoo. Springrolls."

"Maybe tomorrow."

"Banana?"

Always with the bananas. Pretty sure we're out. Know my ass is not leavin' the couch right now. Luckily, somebody's OK with scritches instead the b-fruit.

And then.

Yeah. I'm tired. I've still got like two hoursa daylight to go blow on whatever stupid shit I want, but...

I think about the napkins back at Ace's. Wow, deep stuff there, Nene. Like- b'tween the rum and the evenin' trackin' on, I can almost see that damn logo up there on the ceiling.

Y'know, I wouldn't tell on somebody if they were trans and in the closet. Yeah, I think the closet's no place to live. Who wantsa compete with dust bunnies fer space? I mean seriously? Who wantsa live like that?

But, this's me not bein' in the kink closet, which's... maybe not as bad if we're playin' the oppression Olympics. I get plenty enough shit fer it. I think it's kinda funny. Like callin' me a pervert's gonna accomplish jack shit. Guess what? I'm still gonna bea pervert t'morrow. If I get married, adopt a couplea kids and go live in the suburbs under that "real" name I usedta have, I'll still walk past hot chicks and think about canin' their asses. I'll still think guys who wanna be footstools are hot.

I do not get to go around outin' people, no matter how sexy their girlfriends are. I mean, ah, not even fer business purposes. The fact it's obvious to me Momoni'd look flat out fuckin' amazing inna collar doesn't mean everybody's gotta know.

I'm all set to leave it at that and go read some Farmer. Then, I'll jerk off, sleep likea bagga bones and do it all again tomorrow.

Eh, who'm I kiddin'.

I am so gonna tell Duckie. Sure as I'm alone in this place witha bird and all the news that's fit to ignore, queen of cold takeout and trashy sci-fi.

Yes. Thank you. My life is awesome. Just kinda quiet when there's nobody needs murdered or fucked. Or fucked and then murdered. Or put back in their cage.

~*~

4.

Flash forward a couplea days and welcome toa meetin' with Lord Gauthman. I think he and the boss set this up to discuss the finer pointsa their secret club decoder rings or some shit, but s'far all we've got is a stroll througha dumpy mall that smellsa cigarettes and ketchup, plus several more magnitudes more than the average persons's yearly snark allowance.

Lord Gauthman gets called the Old Bastard a lot buy us scoundrel-types, but hell, he calls himself that. Pretty sure Lord Baudelaire's older, but this guy looks more like he got soaked, trampled, then left out in the sun. Baudelaire's gotta beautician on staff. I know. I fucked her overa pool table once.

Meanwhile, Gauthman's brought two his fourish guys with him: Casca and Siebenkas. Got a deal with Tian that if things get hinky, I take out Casca 'cause she's more my size. Not that I couldn't nail the gentle giant over there, but for efficiency's sake.

Assumin' it's worth it. M'lord looks about ready to Gauthman the dude her damn self. "You have /no/ sense of scale. None. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Alice in Wonderland Syndrome supposed to be transient and treatable?"

"You're one to talk, *Miss* Duclos. What's rotten needs to be cut out. That goes for a body, that goes for the world."

"Then, why are you still walking around?"

"He's gone past rotten into fermented," suggests Tian. And she /sniffs/.

By the way, they're talking about dog racin'. Hey, as long as they don't give me any sudden assassinations to do in public.

"Would you get off it," M'lord says, just says. "The gestapo are looking this way."

Yep, there's two /real/ cops chillin' on the mezzanine. One's got his phone out. Don't look like they're payin' us any attention, but who knows with cops?

I know we're all starin' up their way, exactly the way half-decent hired goons're never s'posedta do. I guess, far as "dog racin'" goes, we all forgot there for half a sec.

Casca jogs up in fronta her lord. "Permission to speak," she asks, hand up.

"Granted," Gauthman snorts. "Assuming anybody lets ya get a word in."

So, back she goes. I watch her backside wiggle the way over, just in case it's got that knife in the waistband kinda cant. Nope. Excellent firmness-to-bounceness ratio though. "Begging your pardon, but that was not the proper use of the word gestapo."

All us muscle snicker it up. Her boss, not so much. "Seriously, girl?"

Mine crosses her arms and looks Ms. Casca right in her pretty face. "Well then. Come up with another word and I will perhaps consider it."

This almost seems to satisfy her. The other her. The one that works for Gauthman.

Me, I butt in witha wave. "She sure doesn't needa. Kay? I said so."

"Did you have to bring the mouthy kike along?" Gauthman groans.

Siebenkas looks like wantsa .22 aspirin 'bout now. Swear he's justabout blushin'.

I'm not. Oh fuckin' woe. I got called a kike again. What was I just rum-ramblin' about?

"Why yes. I did." Concludin' sentiments from Duckie there.

So acourse, Gauthman bangs on. "Fine. I guess she's just whatcha get for, ahem, firin' that mulatto."

"Creole, if you're referencing the individual I am left to assume you mean."

"Mulatto! Mutt! Not a kike ora frog!" He yells, he milks the giant cow and so on and so forth right up to mall cop who sidles up to him.

She's all like- "Sir, if you're going to loiter here, mall security would appreciate if it you would help make all of our patrons feel welcome by..."

"I'm an old man! I've paid my taxes! I think I have the right to loiter. This is a mall! It exists for the express purpose of loitering."

And callin' Jewish chicks kikes. Right.

Worth it in this case. Dude's turnin' fuchsia over here.

So, ah. Fun fact. Casca's not white. What *is* she? I dunno. Olive, tiny, cute asa button and I once watched her rabbit punch a dude to death, then poke his hard-on and laugh likea somebody put acid in her energy drink. I guess nobody told her that dudes with broken necks get it up? Well, she learned. I got to watch. I could totally be raggin' on her about it now, except, public and all. Nevermind- like I said. Not white. Lives with this dude. Dunno why she does what she does, but... not my business.

"You wanna go get some fries?" I ask her.

"Sure," says Casca.

Neither was that, but hey, there's a joint here where they serve all kindsa fries in plastic shot glasses with fancyass ketchup.

Pretty sure that's the only reason we came to this failure ova mall in the first place.

~*~

5.

Whatever that was, by the time I get back again- and it's after midnight 'cause clubbin' with gun runners where somebody got a tampon up their nose, but that's typical -the tellin' Duckie part's gone from resignationa truth to yeah, I am kinda doin' this.

I never madea secreta bein' Jewish, or kinky, or kinda a chick. Hell, if ya asked, I'd admit I liked it in the ass- just not s'much as I likea good canin', me with the cane.

I'm standin' up fer somebody else whether they like it or not. 'sides- I like my boss more'n I like that person.

It's not right-right. But, it's right enough fer me. My grin smarts all the way down to the lobby office of one /Alexandra Duclos/ [Frog] [Lipstick Lesbian] [Three-Timer] [Killer] [Daddy's Girl] [And Occasional Cokehead].

Fuck you, everybody's got problems.

Duckie's writin' at her desk. Not typin', writin'. Plus, sorta anglin' for her phone like that's step two of whatever communicae she's up to. I punt the door shut and run a bug check. Nonea this merits more'n a glance from her, just the cornera her eye.

On the couch, Tian glances up froma military supply catalogue.

"So, ya remember the napkins at Ace's joint?" I say.

"This had better be going somewhere that's not actually about paper goods," the boss mentions.

"Sure is now."

"Excellent. Do tell." Sarcasm there bein' thick enough to serve for dessert.

"I know where she got 'em."

"And the answer is relevant to my life."

"Yep. Gentleman's club. As in the kind that prooooobably doesn't pay taxes." 'bout that time and for the purpose's makin' a point, I hop up on the desk butt-first and do a couple can-can kicks.

Duckie tolerates this in the sense she only /kinda/ scratches her pen. Damn thing rolls down soon enough. She grabs me by the thigh and pulls me 'round so she can look up my skirt. "Your underthings are boring today. What insolvent nightclub would that be?"

"Why, Durcette Major, acourse."

"Have you been?"

"Fuck, no."

"Do you know how to get in?"

"I know it's on the top floora the Bayshore hotel every other Tuesday, so you can prolly buy your way in /if/ ya had onea their napkins or condoms, some shit like that."

Round abouts then, we finally get some eye-contact. Her stare's plenty done with it, but me, I still got some grim. Also onea Ace's napkins whipped outta those "boring" underpantsa mine.

Boss takes it, gives it a look, then picks off a red short and curly kinda decided to go hang on the edge. "Excellent work."

"Thanks."

Duckie gives not one fuck about my "power-based orientation", and yes, I damnwell wrote all about that on my petition to work for her, along with mosta my life story. Maybe I left out some stuff hadda do with my snatch and favorite kinda beer. Answer's mostly yes and mostly yes.

Meanwhile, she, still fumblin' the napkin all thoughtful-like, dials up her secretary. "Mariska, do we have anything scheduled at 8PM... next Tuesday?"

I give her a thumbs up.

"No, you do not," answers Mariska.

"I see. Mark me as unavailable from 8PM to 8AM the subsequent morning."

"No calls?"

"No calls. And, after four tomorrow, am I also free?"

"Yes, you are."

"Well, not anymore. I'll be at the Bayshore. Emergency contacts only."

"Until when, ma'am?"

"Until I am finished."

"Right."

"Thank you, Mariska." Duckie taps off the connection, then slings over to once sidea her chair, napkin waftin in her grasp. "So."

I whistle along. "Sooo."

"How the hell am I supposed to dress for this occasion?"

~*~

6.

Me, I think it's uber-trashy (inna bad way) any place like this would havea /logo/. Don't perverts go there fer sanctuary and shit not... Rosicrucians?

Although, maybe it's like they say- somebody tells you they're a Rosicrucian, they're sure's hell not a Rosicrucian.

Ah, screw what I just said. There's Ace and she as good as told us what ultramodern, too-loud and *way* too well-lit fera bondage club to find her at. Onna Tuesday.

She's like, "The truth is, I had hoped you would notice," while she does that rubbin' a dick thing with her martini glass.

(I fuckin' hate it when people do that. No idea why. Just do.)

"Of course," Duckie, says all smackin'a domme, so A+ on that. "It is touchingly obvious that you hope."

"So, it's wrong to hope?"

"Oh, is it."

She doesn't ask fer the chair beside hers. She takes it.

The affront's fairly smokin' offa Ace. Yet, she kinda turns her half a joker-face grin all up at the boss. "Well, either way, I don't recommend the wine list. It's uncreative."

The boss looks it over just the same. "Noted."

And, ahem, If I do say so myself, I did a number on her. Was aimin' fer 'switch', so she's super femme t'night, all kindsa exposed and just a lil imperfect, but still icinged with leather. I'd say yes to that.

Ace should look away from this imposition on her territory. She doesn't. Not till she catches Momoni trailin' back on somebody else's fingers.

Did I mention this place's huge? I mean, the amouta empty space's pretty much unreal and they've got a stage and there's this fuckin' bar. How're ya s'posedta get makin' up close to anybody like this?

Well, I got in fer free and there's beer. Also, Momoni, already made-out-with, her superheroine thighs littered with somebody else's hand prints.

More to the point and holy shit, she /does/ havea collar- a sliver torque witha hinge and what I think's a real aquamarine. It's fitted juuuust right, sittin' perfect lil swoopa her throat.

Now, that's a conversation starter. Except...

"You're Nene. You work for the younger Duclos." She smiles.

I quit breathin' in there someplace. 'bout the time she said my name. Covered it up OK, rubbin' my chin. I think. Let's say I did. "Yeah. Guess that's right."

I also guess she's only stuck on me 'cause Tian's leanin' on Duckie's shoulder fer the occasion. Ace meanwhie's claimed the guy brought Momoni over. They're up to some sour almost laughs b'hind us and I say: "What brings ya here from lord Valentine's Castle?"

Momoni thinks about that. As if she's got an answer. A split second I'm expectin' a half-a-haiku kinda comeaback about Majipoor or sendin' dreams.

Then though, she tells me: "I don't know what you mean. This is our club the way most people have favorite restaurants. Don't you have one?"

"Favorite what now?"

"Favorite anything."

I nod and I sidle on up. Oh, I sure do. Lemme tell yer demi-monde drape all about 'em.

'bout that time, the bartender remembers he might notta been ordered /around/ fer the time bein', but he makes with Manhattan after somebody's call. Hell, even Momoni ends up with one.

And Momoni toasts the beer I've hardly touched.

After, she scoots in b'side me with the menu: half drink specials, half what's goin' on stage, back stage and all up in the performers if I'm readin' it right. It's like, a gang bang, ya say. Wonder how muchova script they got. It's a script or it's popper and sildenafil cocktails.

I guess that sleek, Thalassan-lookin' kinda girl and the Virago escortin' her through the spotlights're on next. The Thalassan's got ballet boots on her here to yaya legs plusa shocka golden hair; the Virago a sweetheart face with this gorgeous dude kinda body, perky tits and a shaved snatch. They whisper to each other and the clothes start to come off.

"So, you... inta this sorta stuff?" I try.

Momoni gives her drink a ripple with her lips. "Watching, doing it, or having it done to me?"

"Anya the above."

"I have never done any of those things before."

Allovasudden on stage, the two girls dip. The Virago over her partner, then the other way so one can house the other up on the platform. The Thalassan wiggles herself, cheesecake modelin' it up, but then all in one flash and what's almost a laugh, she jams her knees down and her hips up so we all gander at her clit ring.

"Really."

"I'm glad I /get/ to see it first. I'm excited." Momoni holds her hand over her lips as she laughs. "Ah, maybe not like that."

"Whatever works fer you. That's the idea."

"Are you any kind of excited?"

"Me? I dig watchin' a good fistin' session. But, it's gotta be the whole thing, not justa clip. So, here I am."

I'm not just sayin' that fer her to hear me. Fistin's an art. Simple enough idea- shove yer hand inta somebody. But, it's got ministrations and technique to it, b'sides that thrill up in the idea- bodies /can/ do that. Nevermind if the bureau of public health does not approve.

Ah, but the Virago does. Havin' kissed up her partner's crack, she takes a squeeza lube. It's no trouble at all to get two fingers inta the Thalassan's ass after that. She just parts right up for her.

Damnit, I thought they were gonna have her go by the snatch. Well, not my party. B'sides, watchin' that red flowerbud ova bung open as they flex inta each other? That's hot.

Don't think it's /just/ the lube drippin' in that glossies up her cunt, though she is /totally/ playin' up the swoopa her back, I mean c'mon- nobody turns over their shoulder to sigh. Then again, not everybody flinches their thighs open on their own fingertips to let a heavy hand like that inside. The third finger hardly makesa difference. It's the fourth gets her blushin' up the backend.

The thumb's where things get tricky, but it's down from there if things go right. The Virago lets another squeezea lube slide down her hand. Like that, she pushes in again, edgin' real slow outta the crimp so the girl under her spreads then spreads a lil more. A little dark dab opens under her hand. That's where she tucks her thumb.

They work and they twist, botha 'em, the Thalassan, archin' inta it. Hell, that hand looks biggeraround than her spine. There's kinda a cry on the real thick part and after that, she just mouths, closed up on the rest.

I'm sayin' the Virago's up to her in her wrist, rocking back and forth as the muscles in her arms flex it out. She's got a real fist in there and that's what's got the audience clappin', much too subdued given that moan that carries up the speakers.

The Virago rides on. Her and her partner look wrong-sized next to each other in the way they push it on, writhe echoes of punch motions. They breathe in and out almost together, though while the Virago rocks herself with it, she only goes deeper.

A turn here, a flick there; work and more lube.

They /are/ doin' what I think they're doin. And here I am, watchin' it with A) my boss, B) my boss's girlfriend and C) this chick I wouldn't mind doin' this kinda stuff to fer kicks.

Fistin' like they're doin' it up there, workin' their way in and slidin' as the bodies smack, that's somethin' else. Boss's totally quit drinkin' fer the time bein'. So's Ace. Momoni's got her hand over her mouth, though I can see the kinka her smile, not so much's mine.

On stage, the Thalassan stretches and spreads. The cries get edged with pain now, but- speakin' from experience, it's push me pain ora real good actress. I'll take either, but I can feel myself startin' to slide wet just fer how much I'm not s'pposedta wanna see this.

"Does that really feel good?" Momoni asks.

"Depends on a lotta factors. How the sub's built, dom's technique, if they even got a rapport or whatever." Maybe morovan answer than she wanted.

But, she takes it.

And: "Five bucks says she fakes it."

The Virago's in her up to the elbow. I can see her hand makea bulge in her belly when they arch.

"Five dollars back says that there's no question at all when she comes," Momoni tells me.

I dunno what I'm up to anymore.

Fistin's not about comin' anyway. It's about knowin' ya can or knowin ya did get that close to somebody- wore 'em likea glove and clutched 'em on the inside.

Least fer me. I could be that Virago. In my dreams- hell, maybe I'm not enough fer that hungry Thalassan ass, but I'd try to make her cunt buzz and then I'd devour whatever of her /would/ get her to scream out my name.

Like I said, I like to see the whole thing. Guess that makes me inta this?

While Duckie's got the same kinda face she'd wear at some snooty gallery. Ace- a sneer. Tian holds the boss's Manhattan-cold hand to her tits like it's her life or her lube.

Momoni asks: "By the way, are you wearing panties today?" Asks me, I mean.

"Barely. They're crotchless," and, I snicker. "Heh. You remembered."

"Well, I enjoyed watching your skirt drift back and forth the other day."

"Ya don't say."

"I do say."

Me, I'm kinda done. I don't need the mics and I don't need the closeup screen. The red flower glisten flutters under the spotlights, girl hunchin' back on that arm up her ass.

Oh, my God.

She fucks herself with the Virago's arm. Makes these cries where we can all see her snap- clit bounce, cunt squeeze, juice run outta her hole in with the lube as her body clenches on what's inside of it fora long while.

The Thalassan's snatch's already spread, but she pulls it wider and it /gushes/.

When she's done, she puts her hand on her belly and squeezes the fist insidea her that way.

"See?" says Momoni.

They take their sweet time pushin' themselves apart.

Mosta the audience claps again to see her insides still twitchin' with her breath, since the Virago holds her open after.

Best five I ever lost.


My panties're soaked when I get home. What I wouldn't give fera girl to lick me clean once they're off. Don't have one acourse, so vibrator it is. The big wand one I can ride. Yeah, that sounds like it'll get me off good enough.

I want somebody else to flip over and screw. A body I could lord over insteada the plastic pinned b'tween my legs.

I almost think I'd like to try again. You know, the fistin' part. Bein' on the small side means I can do it to other people OK, but try it on me and thaaaaat's probably not gonna fly. At least, not my snatch, which, by the way's all twitchin' for somethin' inside me even as I'm edgin' and I start to get that burn in my back muscles already, but I want another. I'll push on through and there, right there.

I know my own damn hand won't work fer inside. Maybe that squirmer in the nightstand case. Usually, I warm this sucker up with some lube first. Tonight, it goes right in. Maybe smarts a little until I get the pearl part ridin' my g-spot. I squeeze that hard I can get the sensation of the motor revvin' in my teeth.

Then, I push it out. I try fingers anyway. Man, I can't even stretch it to four. But, that's OK. Anyway, that's me bein' too tired fer it to come off anything more.

~*~

7.

Now, I don't let the bird in with me while I exercise 'cause she tries to help, and by that I mean eat me. 'parently, sweat-salty humans're some tasty stuff.

I like havin' arm muscles other people can swing on if they wanna and they happen t'be shorter'n me (haha, very funny, I know). I got some now. Maybe I'd have more if I didn't sometimes hafta steal other people's crap with about as much warnin' asa unicorn sevin' bologna sandwiches in the middleova chessboxin' match, which's to say what the fuck? that's never happened and so there'll be no warnin', man.

Bottom line, I love runnin' my hand over my bicep.

To say nothin'a rabbit punchin' people. Also not big enough fora barehanded strangle ora TV neckbreak, but nobody's that second one. OK, maybe Siebenkas. Might ask him next time I get him drunk. Anyway, I can sure's hell throwa punch, work a dildo onna sub in distress, to say nothin'a myself.

More reps equals more masturbation. No wonder I gun it t'night.

Right now, I can deadlift 150, bench press 'bout 110 and skip the kettlebells because I'm not fuckin' Russian. Don't exactly do pull-ups either. Least, not right-side-up. That shit's annoyin'. Me, I do situps hangin' from the bar. The exact oppositea what it's for.

What? I /also/ like bein' upside-down.

I do that till my back goes numb too. Ya'd think I'd call it quits by then- I'm a hot, sweaty, stinkin' mess -and maybe I should. But, then I get on the treadmill and I run.

I get my think in.

Not like it matters so much. I like guns. Nothin' I do t'night makes all that much difference.

I think about breathin'.

I think about how I don't believe in soul mates.

It's my soul with the big arms. I don't want anybody all up in it. I don't want a set.

Still, it's like.

I think about- what if there's a world out there where people're born with words on 'em. It's, I dunno, somethin' they usedta write about online. Comes up outta the archives every so often and people who wanna move on past the future thinka ways to get pissed about it 'cause it's old and schmaltzy and possibly the only perfect thing anybody ever posted on the 'net.

The words're scars from yer soulmate. They're precious like that, and not just 'cause they mean there's a God and nobody gets to argue. (I mean, somebody's gotta decide who goes with who else.)

What would I have under my sweat right now?

Whatever it is. It's not Momoni's handwritin'. I know that.

Thinkin' that takes the edge off. It should.

'cause I can still kinda see it there, the words that aren't hers in this perfect world somebody made up, the one where I was born with "Fuck Me" on my skin. My mom was so pissed. Hell, I might even be down an arm by now.

I'd still know though what they were and how they looked. I'd find a way to paint them back on. Y'know how many girls and guys and blands and boths I'd have chasin' down my whip with that?

Fer now, I guess it's midnight in my orgasm reflex. I stop and roll onta the mat, stretchin' like I just woke up. Some grapplin' under the weight machine comes up with the grease pencil we use to label the damn plates when we gotta take the thing apart to spray it.

I write "Fuck Me" on my arm.

Then stare like an idiot.

Of course it's my own handwriting. It looks stupid as hell, even if there's a weight down to my bones where it lies.

~*~

8.

Not too long 'til I see Momoni again. Allegedly, this little meetin' we schedule'd inna hotel bar. But, also allegedly, said hotel's got onea the top five pool spreads in the city, includin' private cabanas overlookin' single-sex adults-only "quiet pools" with concrete rock grottos.

Ace and the boss split "Cabana 3C" by the "East Wing" of the "Ladies" pool. It comes witha buzzer fora valet and its own palm tree. Bein' as it's hot as the buttfucka Bermuda in the shade, I'm pretty sure they stopped talkin' business about three micro bikini's ago. Now, it's up to their swords. I mean, ah, endurancea all things swelterin' to see who comes out on top.

We may all be old enough to drink and we could totally be talkin' over that fistin' business last week, but we get stuck at the kids table.

Momomi, and me, I mean. I don't mind. My sneak-a-toke's servin' me well. But, no booze fer us, just shave ice and small talk. Hell, maybe that's not even the pot gettin' twitchy up through my arms. Maybe it's the goddamn sugar. I've had two. Think one was peach.

Momoni's got a book. Theoretically, I do too, but Heinlin's just not workin' fer me right now no matter how much literal mother fuckin' it involves.

Onea her dove-wing hands spreads out her book. There's a ring on it, somethin' bright bluey copper beaded together. It shines on the cabana ceiling when she turns the pages.

My reader flips off by itself since it's been just that long since I bothered to give it a swipe.

Anybody else at the table pays more attention to the sudden screen black than they do me, but that's momentary.

I can't tell so much how it fits together, that ring. I think the beads have two holes? I know that on Momoni's finger they look like they go down deeper than the pool does.

My hand's been tip-fingerin' her hand's way for a while now. I figure she'll swat me off sooner or later. Sooner comes, then later. I'm still there.

"I made that," says Momoni. "It was part of my summer homework last year."

"Cool. I mean, ah, the ring. Not that you got homework."


 photo illus-1-lo-res.jpg


"You work during the summer, don't you?"

"Sure do."

"Ace doesn't like it when people turn lazy this time of year. So, I try to better myself."

"Makin' space fer at least one more person to relax."

"You call it relaxing. I call it slacking off!" snaps Ace.

"Sure thing," I answer, b'fore the boss cuts in. "And this is a business meeting."

The ring where it rests against my hand flashes one way. Momoni tips her fingers under mine, so it goes again, back the other, her talkin' quieter about it now, but still. "This finish is called 'slipper'. It's very old, but so are most glass colors. I know it doesn't match all over like the pearls do, but I thought it was pretty."

"Do you match all over?" I try.

She pulls back, half a giggle, somethin' she shoulda swept off witha hand in her hair. But no, we're still right there. "And they made beads like this all the way back before the war."

"Also cool. Huh." Close up, I see they do have two holes. And they feel like bullet tips waitin' in a case, but I don't tell her that much.

Momoni smiles on, picture perfect enough. Almost kinda makes me wonder- did that crack about all over get her in the wrong place? Yeah, mistresses can be kiiinda sensitive about that. Like one slip'll stop me. I need closer to five b'fore that sets in. "Whatcha workin' on this year?"

"I'm learning Esperanto. I'm only about twenty hours in, and I need about two-hundred to understand it."

That's still not bad fer that early in the season. It's also the second time Ace jabs her way in. "I try to steer her to useful things."

"Jes, sinjoro," Momoni calls back.

"But, it doesn't always work."

"I am studying on my pronouns."

"I'm sorry. I can't tell how your lessons are going. Can you repeat that in Esperanto?"

I snicker. Don't really mean to

Momoni almost pulls back her huff. What does escape, that's so damn tiny and charmin'.

And- ya'd think this's be about the place she took her hand back to herself. Instead, it's hers and mine skimmin' down the page.

How retro, her havin' a /paper/ textbook. But hey, sometimes that's all ya need.

"Esperanto pronouns are tiny. They're hard to focus on. I'd much rather bead, but..." She trails off.

I happen to mention myself: "Vanya onna."

"I haven't learned those words yet."

"That was Elvish."

"Ah."

"Now there's a useless proposition- /Elvish/," B'sides Ace fer the third time, but who didn't figure that? "There are *no* elves. It doesn't cross any boundaries to learn a language that no one ever spoke. What purpose does it serve? To fill space in a book. It's ugly and fake."

Not gonna lie- that one gets me close to /balkin'/ as I've been in a longass time. "And Esperanto ain't?" As are most things made by one Polish dude with aspirations bigger'n his pants.

Ace starts to argue up my snort, but then there'sa smack on the arma Duckie's chair. What she says back though, that's just smoky and bored. "Tais-toi."

Our guest holds that for allov two seconds. "You watch your mouth."

"As if you understood a word I've said this afternoon."

They go back to their own conversation over there.

So, I say to Momoni, "Ya know what this feels like?"

"What?"

~*~

9.

I'd dig it if a big dude wanted ta gimme a bubble bath, just the same as I'd dig it if a lil girl or somebody inbetween wanted the same stuff. Maybe *I just like bubble baths* and whippin' people till they bleed.

(Little as I've been gettin' the chances lately.)

I'd never say no to somebody begged to lick my feet. Is it my thing? No. But, it doesn't gross me out, sure's hell doesn't hurt me. Kinda tickles.

But yeah, still a paraphilia or whatever, preventin' us from havin' families atopa which all societies're built.

Whatever. Let's see anya the assholes who decided that speak Esperanto like some cute service subs I know.

I guess that's what she is. Am I askin' straight out? Maybe later.

Fer now, I do get my goddamn bubble bath and a big, silky bowla kush. Oh, so many paraphilia's at once. Bubble baths bein bad fer ya and all. Or, they always say. Definitely not while jerkin' emselves off over the mere thoughta suds.

Funny thing, wasn't actually all that inta 'em till I met Teela. I spent mosta my youth strictly a shower girl. But, she loved 'em, to give 'em and to get 'em and to watch other people in 'em. From when we first met we'd take 'em together, usually her idea. Yeah, I ended up the boss in bed, but she could force me inta call kindsa foofy bath bombs. If ya dunno, bath /bombs/, despite the name, are pretty much the foofiest thing ever. Lookit up.

She also usedta get these soaps shaped like lil champagne bottles and candles with flowers in the wax. I'd sit there in the flower smella her and all that frou and I'd run my mouth. She'd tell me stuff she thought. We'd splash each other.

One night, I was all- "Hey," twirlin' onea the bottle soaps around likea baton. "These're pretty phallic once they wear down. Sure you wanna have 'em 'round a queer like me?"

Figured she'd swish in real close like she did. That we'd be suds on the floor carryin' on inna sec there.

Instead, she fished hers up, gave it this long, funny kinda look. "Well, I am trying to seduce you."

I laughed.

Teela though, she fished her heels up on the sidea the tub so her hips were justabout level with the water surface- bubbles in the way acrouse. Of her snatch. She usedta keep it all but shaved 'cause the inside lips slid along the edges all too-long lace slip-like.

I brushed somea the suds outta the way, watchin' as she slid the champagne bottle soap up and down her clit a couplea times. Then, she popped it right inta her cunt, all easy and pourin' milky alcohol-scented runoff down her taint and inta the water around us.

I rubbed my eyes. What was I watchin' there, man?

While Teela moaned once all kittenish and the whole lotta water 'round us got all tidin' with how hard she was goin' to town on herself.

Next thing, I was on topa her. "Stop me," I said. "'cause otherwise? I'm gonna fuck ya and tomorrow's gonna bea mess."

"Excellent," she said. "Mess me up, Nene."

The soap ended up on the floor. So did a lotta the water. I washed her out real good with my fingers this time. I patted and rubbed and held onto her whole, bare snatch with my whole, bare hand; my arm across her throat and my teeth so hard in her shoulder she wailed and she came and there was blood. After, we got out onto the rugs and I sat on her face until I was only holdin' myself up through my fingers in her hair.

So like, if that was our first time and it was /fuckin' awesome/ s'far as first times with anybody else go.

Even left me some creative ways to push her buttons, if I do say so myself.

When we'd get back froma job, still all sweaty and sometimes bloody- I'd have her let me make out with her whole body while she was still /that/, just herself. No soap, no perfume, no makeup, just her salt up my fingers and my tongue. Like I said I liked her frou stuff. I really did. But, I liked her just comin' back in curlies stuck in my teeth and her period blood slicked up to her asshole; her snatch white and drippy from skiddin' away froma firefight on a motorcycle. The sweat on her thighs and the bare tastea her cheeks with the creases from her mask in 'em. way her back shone when I'd grab a split and some lube offa my bedroom table and I'd fuck her with it 'til she was red and cryin'.

'course I put a gun up her cunt. Wasn't loaded, but the fuck d'ya think assassins do with their little selves after work? She tasted like soot for days. But, like herself too. What's that? Well, it was like Teela.

I remember. It's still there on the backa my tongue. And yeah, it's kinda soapy even now, was even then after she'd ridden my gun and my hand and the handlea my whip.

So. Ah. Yeah. I don't care if subs wanna serve even when it's not time to screw 'zactly. I'm OK with that.

I like that Momoni's inta that, even.

Now that I've gone and cached my pipe already. Shit.

I sink down in the tub till the moutainsa bubbles cover my head.

~*~

10.

Sounda the thunder justabout hides out footsteps. Wouldn't think an arcology makes so much noise inna storm, but I swear there's an echo goin' on in here. It's only like four, but it looks like dusk and it smells like an old attic. The bottles standin' in the office window across the lake come up brown in the last jagga sunlight b'fore everythin' closes in.

They're havin' some tenant meetin' fer people work in the village. I guess Ace's there and I guess she brought Momoni.

I'm here with Tian, the cottage with the rat skull in it hung up across the way. We march right on up the cobblestones and she does her Tian stuff with the lock. Almost think usin' the keycard woulda taken longer the way she just- hands over, and BAM "After you."

Maybe the camera reports our shadows b'fore it tricks on over to lock, just like the ones outside. It should be so lucky.

We got about fifteen minutes to do this, threea which're already gone in the network and the noise.

Since I got covers on my hands, I won't leave fingerprints if I go pick through the sideboard for what kinda booze's on hand fer meetin's.

"Nene," says Tian.

"It'sa character study!" I say. Then, I knock back the biggest swallow I can holda the stuff in the biggest crystal flacon.

And that is seriously rank.

"Well?"

"Gross. Let's do this."

We leave the lights off and pick through the drives and the documents, snappin' pictures off on our minicams.

Tian gets a shot every second or so. Takes me 'bout three times as long, workin' off the tiny bita reflection b'tween the blinds. Yeah, she's fast and she's bigger'n me, but she ain't gonna rat me out fer drinkin' on the job. We're cool.

It starts to rain and that's the roof tidin' down songs. Not this roof- the skylight lines above us, drums in the deepa the clouds, whatever I just swigged mixin' it up with the ephedra I downed again over lunch. But, the windows're totally still.

"What d'yer elf I see?" I ask Tian.

"Leagues of leagues before us," she answers, diction fadin' almost British, assumin' her usual busted guitar string twang didn't just up and bite it there.

I snicker. I shoot on. Names and places and numbers and namesa projects.

I definitely see a Campion in there; but, like a Bruce, not an Amelia.

We don't even spend the whole twelve. It's maybe ninea snap, ruffle, plink, names there in the justabout dark. It doesn't even seem like five to me either. Like I gotta watch myself so hard to dupe stuff onna rainy day.

If the people who own this joint care, they'll figure it out t'morrow or the next day that somebody was all up in their stuff. Maybe they just chalk the subtle movesa the paper up to somebody careless perusin' the sideboard bar. Maybe it'll sweet to 'em in a way that anybody bothered.

Tian and I just head out the way we came in, nothin' proper-stolen 'cept the booze.


It's a long drive home, not just 'causea the five'r six accidents along the way. By the time we get back, it's comin' down so hard the plaza outsidea the office's all foggy with castoff.

Boss's /chambers/ up top look every bit as dark and deserted as the village, the drop b'low her skyline view all gray and the lights down and everything put away just so.

Even her.

I shove my way up infronta Tian and I knock. "You can come outta the bathroom now!"

"Why? I just got comfortable," comes the voice on the other side. Then, a light.

Tian picks me up and puts me outta her way so she can be the one to open her little package.

Duckie's justa touch damp yet- she might not be able to do better in this weather -hair loose over her shoulders and the lines bare on her face without the makeup to hide 'em. She's also in her negligee witha spider knife strapped to her thigh anda book in one hand.

The knife she drops soon as she's out. Tian kisses her that she's back. Me, I bust out the tablets to go over t'days haul. And, since negligee seems to be the ordera the evenin', me and Tian go right along fer it. She's got on her blue spiderweb lace shorties. Me? Boxers anda tank that've been washed a couple too many times. "What?" I say to Duckie as I set up her ill-gotten data. "Maybe I learned after the acetate panties."

"I doubt it." Actually, she doubts it right inta her champagne since, next strobea lighting comes out edges in foam fer the bottle she just cracked open. "Anyway, did you get the scans I asked for?"

"Yep." Course we did. We had our orders, right? What do I look like? Some amateur? In her underpants?

"Then, you could have gone out naked and I still wouldn't criticize you /too much/."

"From 1301 like ya said," me, I offer up the tablet, once it's cued with my stuff, the way I would a chocolate bar. Tian tries to reach her way in to share her twice what I got gottness. I snatch back. Or, I try. This's Tian we're talkin' about. As she's doin' her bit, I point out. "Ace's in 1527, ya know."

"Indeed I do. Champagne? For your not getting to go out naked? I saw that look."

She's got some finesse to handlin' that old style French bottle. Like, if I could get a whip around with half that gravitas, I'd get a decent wage at Durcette Major. My cat'd be a boy witha buttplug.

"Kay. Fine. Fer me goin' out while bein'a /kike/."

"Oh, stop that." She shoves the glass in my face.

There's a table we could use, but the table's got lights and heat and chairs with velvet seats that tickle somethin' fierce on bare legs. Here's cool and dark witha champagne bucket all waitin' (seriously, she musta had that in the bathroom with her).

We stretch out on the floor and we read, reachin' across each other's tits as we do or pokin' with bare toes.

"Call me sexist, but..." says the boss.

"Frog," I cough.

"But, men don't appreciate putting their /hands/ on information like this.

Tian gets a glower goin'. I might join her, but fer the fizz in my brain. Then again, she reaches over witha snarl and next thing she's on toppa the boss, nibblin' her up where the lipstick oughtta be.

Duckie gives me one lil glance out from underneath. Holds it kinda as she kisses back.

"Don't stop on my account," I murmur. Scheduling snafus, man. They're just riveting. I'm so totally distracted from the drizzled up hand shadows slinkin' low light b'side me.

It's all harmless. The documents, I mean.

I sip my champagne. They stop to join me and then they get liquor up each other like they do. Eventually, the words quit makin' so much sense. The thunder rolls on by, quieter up here in the clouds.

I can jerk it later if I want. Or, maybe they'll get so drunk they drag me in. Maybe, we'll all just fall asleep on other people's calendars.

~*~

11.

"Signorina, you seem, how do yo say? to barely be with us," simpers the guy I know as Lord Zampano, but mosta the people here call Torregossa to his face.

Duckie pulls away from the skyline. "Perhaps I am. Put the teaspoon you're trying to steal back on the table."

Can only assume a /Lord/'d be pullin' that clownish shit on purpose. The spoon bounces when he drops it.

"Does he always do that?" mutters Ace.

"He is a man of many vices."

And, since he's got his hand up and all, he reaches back inta his pocket. Us bodyguards- plus Janey over Ace's shoulder -watch him do it. All he's got is his cigarillo case. His second (Riges or somethin', looks likea extra from /Logan's Run/) knifes the end off.

But, it's my boss lights it fer him.

They've done this b'fore, closer than they should get maybe, both of 'em carryin' goons 'round this city. But, I love watchin' em walk that bloody edgea decorum and hey, I am onea those goons.

From the place at the garden rail where she's been scratchin' up the roses, I swear Momoni's /gigglin'/ about it. Just the cigarillo thing, unless we got a hellova lot more to talk about than I figured.

"You may be in fine company," say Duckie.

"Or, you may accept your company and suspend your disbelief otherwise," adds Bhakta.

"You still dislike my projections?" Ace asks. "No need to be sour about it. I am only the messenger.

"And messengers have no say in the message itself?"

"I thought that went, ah, otherwise for your religion?" tries Zampano arounda mouthfulla smoke.

"Of which I have none," snaps Bhakta. "We are here to discuss properties. Duclos, where did you find this rabble?"

"At the bottom of a lake." It's almost an answer.

But, it's absolutely true that when she pulls her own cigarette, Zampano and Ace both squirm underneath their suits, reachin' fer their own lights to offer.

She only takes the one from Tian.

Ace slides off her jacket and hands it over to Janey. Nonea this covers up what she was plannin'. She sits back. She tries- "This is excellent tea. Thank you," fer Bhakta.

She's the one came here with nobody on hand b'sides her servant who I'm pretty sure's got no purpose other'n tea. She looks at Ace like she would a broken window, her standin' outside witha baseball bat.

Yeah, I know better'n to screw with her. Firstovall, no orders. Second- seriously. Third, I see Momoni put a lighter back in her purse. Was she waitin' fer my boss or her boss or did she want one herself?

Ah, whatever. That moment's all washed up and it's back to this alleged property stuff. It's back to me tryin' not to stare at Momoni, soft slidea golden down her skin inta the crusha purplea flowers clingin' down her dress.

The lighter doesn't make it away. She smiles and she offers it to me.

Oh man. I already hadda toke. I already remembered I'm not s'poseta havea toke in public, much as I guess we're not, all those damn roses crowdin' in around her gorgeous legs.

I duck past, fists in the hedge and me way too close to the hemma her skirt. There's an oh or some other little sound her way as I snap it off: the dandelion I found noddin' up seed fluff all up under the roses and hibiscus and closed up mornin' glory vines.

"Hey, check it out. Ya ever try this?"

"Of course. But, it's been a while," Momoni tips onea her shoulders to the side. "Sinjoro has very good landscapers."

Is that a shame? Nah, not really. I still hold it her way. Not to fast now. That'll spoil the first puff.

It's a lil likea cigarette. Maybe.

Anyway, she's the one touches my hand this time, holdin' it back close to my chest. "You do it. I want to watch."

Now, there's a line I like. So, as I take my dragga city air, I hold her eyes all seductive blowjob kinda. I purse my lips and there's this threada whistle slides out b'sides as the dandelion breaks real slow. Seeds rise up around us, spill out against the sky.

"Nene!" spits Zampano. "The snarling fuck are you doing? Don't you know how hard those damn things are to kill?"

"Really?" says Ace. "Let me recommend a gardener for you then."

~*~

12.

If there's some stuff I needa know after that, nonea it's got t'do with gardeners.

Hardly call it hackin' if everybody leaves with all their fingers. I don't wanna take it or change it, I just wanna look.

Know I've been out a lot lately, but out leads to out and I guess it'd be even better if I used somebody else's network fer this, s'long as I got non-reportin' parts from Zanzibar in the comp.

The trick to it's the same kinda business that works on bustin' inta a place. Think maybe ya got my philosophy down, but lemmetellya- I once strutted inta Nephi Pharma witha fake ID card, had lunch with some scientists-types and notta one of 'em asked me if I was new. Also, didn't get to play doctor with any of 'em,. Not sure I wanted to considerin' the company I'm talkin' about makes gene-preservin' leaches. Onea which I did walk right back out with so yeah, not an urban legend.

Ah, who'm I kiddin'. The company I'm keepin' t'night's not any better. Those yucks can hang onta their leaches, I'll noodle 'round in Amelia Campion's network from the backa some seedy sex club where nobody even kinda questioned why I wanted a bed to myself fer thirty minutes.

Damn fuckin' thing, lookin' at all her shit she bothered to save (she's been scannin' her handwritten notes... I just... the hell? Least she's got decent penmanship.)? I think she's right. This 'property' she and Duckie're talkin' about is actually gonna /bounce/ if the market even kinda goes 'long with these projections. Even the fuck and piss scenario's got a profit.

See, government? Always getcher facts straight up font. Ya can't finance families that never happen, no matter how smart the bureau of convincin' people not to be freaks says their new system's gonna work.

Eh, I'm givin' us pervs too much credit. Prolly just some neets and dinks and people who couldn't make kids. Heh- all the mental hygiene in the world won't save ya from yer body and a debt with nobody to collect on it's gotta go someplace b'fore it fuckin' blows.

But, the net is vast and infinite, yadda yadda, blahblahblah. Fuckin' touche, Ace.

I shut the comp down.

Air's not workin' so good in here with all the bodies. Smells like some seriously fucked upon sheets all over. Hell, even the vodka tastes that way. Tasted, should say. My glass's been cashed fer the better parta my hangin' out here, listenin' to other people orgasm. I savor the last minutea my thirty.

As I'm gettin' up, this couplea guys dive-bombs me, gettin' past fer the pillows I already warmed.

I grab one by his shoulder, even if his shoulder's 'bout level with my forehead. "Hey."

We let the night talk otherwise. We kiss. He tastes so badda cock and pot and that boyfriend he's about to lay waste to. It's not even thanks. It's gimme gimme gimme in a heartbeat b'fore we pull apart. Him to the bed that was kinda mine; me back to the bar fer seconds.

"Have a good spank?" asks the guy with the condoms and the glasses up by the register.

"You wanna be next?"

"Maybe."

We shrug. I turn him 'round so I can check his back pockets, somethin' I'll have ya know gets me nothin' but earthly laughter. Plus more bedroom vodka. Dude wastes no time comin' up with that.

I wouldn't say I'm specifically lookin' to get laid, but the body wants want the body wants and even just there at the bar, there're hands, eyes, voices grazin' my way. No hankies fer the bartender, though I do come up witha razor blade in left pocket. Why, hello there.

I spin him back around.

"Sassy minx," he says. Bein' a sassy minx gets drinks t'night so ch', whatever.

"You cut or you bleed?"

"Cut."

"Damnit."

"Likewise." He shakes his head, sighs too. "I've struck out all night."

"Have ya? Poor lil guy. But," I try to hold myself all serious like there, carryin' the razor close to my chest. The wrapper spins through my fingers and dusts off on the counter. "Y'know, I keep drinkin', it's only gonna take a couple lil cuts and I'll be bleedin' all over the place."

"Yeah, but..."

I blow him a kiss. I have to climb up on the stools to get inta a place I can slide my leg on toppa the counter. Hand up my own shorts, I give myself a long, loopy graze.

Not halfa what I've done shavin' already. It stings, but it leaks up quick.

The bartender comes to me. That little bitta blood- he's breathin' heavy already. His hands balled up, he does his darlin' best to lookit me.

Somethin' melts in my chest. It's my pleasure to the tipsa my fingers to ask him- "Ya wan somethin' there?"

He doesn't answer. Doubt he can. Not with these word things us humans insist on usin', much as our bodies talk.

Yeah, I really do think shit like that sometimes while I'm stuck by my own designs in places like this.

Anyway, his eyes are touchin' wet, the kind they give the hero inna movie when his best friend kicks it. He's got some whiskers on his chin. They prick more than the cut does, there settlin' on my skin, his lips next and all chiffon-feelin round the dabba his tongue.

His body talks good. It's a rightness. And my drink sucks, but I expect s'much.

"What shall I call you once I've drunk?" he asks.

"Nene," I tell him. "I'm just Nene."

His lips crawl up my skin. His breath goes deeper up against my calves as he makes his way into the place where his body just's gotta be mine.

Somewhere underneath, it's "I thought you were a boy."

I'm.. what does it matter what the world says? But- "You mind?"

"Oh, never, Nene. Let me. Please, let me."

I get pretty good oral standin' on the facea some guy who serves drinks on the same spot I use fer leverage. He totally likes the cut better and it's that he goes down on more'n me.

I don't know what it's like, bein' on the other side, but I know /those eyes/.

~*~

13.

It's no plot twist that we end up back at the Durcette Major. There's music this time, Momoni at my elbow as the stereo thumps on to nobody so much's tries to dance.

I swear we're closer, she and me, than any other two people in this place. Even the ones who just got done fuckin' each other to fingernail cuts.

Me, I got a hand on another beer glass insteada that business.

"We should switch so you can try something different," says Momoni.

Oh man. I don't even know what's she's drinkin'. I wanna, but that's kinda iffy even if I didn't play beefeater sometimes.

I turn to Tian, puttin' in my very best pretty please.

She gives me a look back. Shrugs the one shouldera her dress back inta place. Hell, if that's not /whatever/, I dunno what is.

So, I'm all: "Hey, Momoni. Hold my beer."

"Yes."

I hardly even feel her switch the glasses, she's just that card trick perfect about it. I am so not her first.

We toast. Again. Whatever she's got- it tastes liquor bottle brown. Strong as hell too. I feel it in my nose while hers twitches all up in the foam that was mine up until a second ago.

We put our heads together to give commentary on this silliness, but "Now what are they doing?" the boss asks.

I got a contractual obligation to look.

Heh. Looks like Momoni does too.

When Ace doesn't answer, Duckie prods her with the whip I lent her.

She thumbs, it black and reptile, outta her hands just to poke her back, drop it on her lap. "Something I know you haven't seen. Get ready to thank me. I had to bribe the hosts."

"And this will somehow prove that you're serious."

"If it doesn't, at least someone in the audience should be turned on and that, well, that /is/ why /I'm/ here."

Momoni drinks real deepa my beer. Her own smile, it's sparklin' there b'side me and it's so.

Like.

Halfa handfulla notes from a song I barely remember the namea, but it's still there.

She looks so lonesome there as the lights go down.

I'm not the only one who whistles when the Virago comes on up in the footlights- leather boots and gauntlets, black tape on her nips and the rest? Ferget the rest.

She climbs onto pedestal and I am so OK with that. My mouth waters watchin' the linesa her arms glow as the light pours down on her flexin' there. If that didn't get me goin' plenty enough, it's not too longa this I find out her nymphae's rose red inside. The closeup camera fills with the bella her clit hood. That is one cute puss- just a lil pudgy, y'know.

She's got a manicure on those paladin handsa hers- seems like it's too long, 'specially after she slides her fingers inta herself. But, that's hardly two thrustsa herself b'fore she pulls her legs higher.

Here comes the guy in the black hood. Why am I not surprised?

The menu just says Ophiuchus fer this act. The way they kiss, it's meltin' hot, twined-like and risin' offa each. So fer show, all the way their tongues're out. Hmm. Doubt they'd be that clever with their metaphors here.

The Virago pulls the clamps on the gimp's chest. No shock his hands skate towards his crotch all sensuous-like, but he eases off to his thigh holster b'fore stuff gets better again

Outta it comes a snake. Not a real big one- it's reddish and smallish. Its tail curves all the way down his arm as the crowd buzzes and the music throbs on as his partner lifts her hands to his. The snake twists onto her bare fingers, comin' down in her grasp.

She tastes it back, reachin' her tongue up to the fork, then pressin' her lips to its side. Its eyes are bright, but it moves so tame over her, coasting and reachin' an S curved down to her chest, her belly to the cresta her thigh. It's then the gimp holds it still. The tongue flashes and the Virago reaches her legs back.

Man, I know snakes aren't really /gross/. They're cool and leathery-like. Not what I'd want in another body, but then again, I'm not a snake and I'm not that Virago; I don't havea snake crawlin' all over where my thatch usedta be.

Just when it's gettin' all good and curved up on her damp, she lifts it up.

They're gonna do it. They're really gonna do it.

When the gimp tries to open her himself, the Virago shoos him off. He ends up just holdin' her leg, kissin' the snake too, there on the rat-eatin' lips it ain't got. She spreads her folds and she pushes out at the moutha her cunt, lookin very mucha way in. Together, they ease the snake down.

She arches up to take it.

Where she was so quiet plungin' her way into the Thalassan, she throws her head back and she tells the spotlights yes.

It goes all the way in 'cept fer it's head and onea crinka its body. A living thing in her living thing and the audience /gapin'/ forward toa dropped drink somewhere out there.

Like it's a surprise. OK, it kinda is. Wouldn'ta thought they'd go this all out witha butch woman all cunt up in live snake? There's a carnival kinda atmosphere to it.

This doesn't turn me on like the fistin' scene did. But, gotta tell ya, it does get me. Tongue in the cornera my mouth and that kinda sink goin' in my shouder muscles, like somebody's watchin' me and I /shouldn't/, but here I am.

They tickle the snake under its chin. It's gotta be usedta this. Don't think it's tryin' to get outta her. It looks one way than the other over the audience. Tastes us, and the smella the snatch where it lies.

Doubt it feels half so good as she's makin' it look.

So like, when there's some immaterial kinda fuss b'side me, I shudder that I was even thinkin'. I haven't done that in funkin' ages. Hell, I've drawn intestines outta people without it.

I turn real slow.

Momoni's got her hand on some suit. Her nails are in him.

That guy, Ace says to him: "Her specs are private unless we have an engagement."

"What about her?" he asks.

"You don't want /any/ of my hers." Like that, she shrugs him right off. She puts his hands on her cheeks and holds Momoni that way. And she smiles. "Remember. That could be you up there."

Again, I don't look away. Not till it's too late. There are sighs first.

In Momoni. Her lips part. She comes or she has some epiphany or it's both. Either way, her legs sink away. She holds herself close to Ace, scrabblin' with her suit.

Screams start on the stage. I jerk back.

The snake squirms. The Virago scrubs up her clit and lets go. The creature insidea her gets all shiny. As she lets go, there out of herself, she pats its head and the snake fer wanta anyhin' better to do, crawls down her leg. Watchin' us.

~*~

14.

It's like- I wonder what's wrong with me.

Since, there's still that voice. The one that says at 2AM I'm s'posedta be asleep. There's a thing I needa feel fer some guy or some girl.

I'da settle fer all kindsa stuff if I'd settled fer that. Me, who'd be tender in bed with some person I was /faithful/ to. In that some other world, I'd be asleep t'night. I'd have my two kids and my partner. We'd live in the 'burbs and sometime b'fore I went to our bed, I'd remember bein' that kid who lived outta shitty sci-fi paperbacks and marksmanship after school and somebody else's closet after Mom kicked me out.

All that junk's a million miles away from where I cross, rooftop to rooftop over the bannisters and falls.

Me and Cherryh.

See, I named my sniper rifle Cherryh after one night hammin' it up with Duckie. Guys don't get it, right? They're all wounded to her, and who does wounded guy/strong woman better'n CJ Cherryh? Or, me witha sniper rifle.

Duckie knows I'm not so muchova girl as she is and that I think she's kinda fulla shit when it comes to guy goons. Anyway, I told her s'much.

But, 'less we getta psychic all up in this housea hers, nobody's gonna know I named my gun like that kid I am who stays up all night readin' trash and passes out 'roundabouts dawn, head fulla Kzin and Puppeteers and Oberon's children.

Who wantsa fuck Momoni. Like- I can smell her on my fingers when I'm done with myself and that makes me remember all this stuff.

Hell, t'night- Cherryh reminds me too. Of a girl, but her mosta all. My mouth waters the whole time I'm slidin' her together. But then...

The highway slinks b'low.

I wonder what's wrong with me.

When I was a kid, I ended up in the ER 'cause my chest was actin' weird. I was kinda... scared's not the world.

(Thinkin' back on it- the idea my own red meat had somethin' so wrong it in /I could die/ just made me wanna sleep. Exactly like I don't now.)

Turns out, I had extra heartbeats. It's not unusual fer kids. I just didn't have any idea.

My mom still freaked out. If I was that sure I'd gone wrong that I'd walked up to the fuckin' hospital myself, there hadda be somethin'.

When there was nothin' anybody could do fer the nothin' that was wrong with me, she took me home and yelled at me for wastin' her money. What with thinkin' I might die.

I can only kinda see across the chasm b'tween me and the highway. I gotta wait fer a car to come by in the changeout down to the corporate district.

Somebody else awake at 2AM. Somebody else prolly up to nothin' good. What goes on in their chest. Eh, I think I'll let 'em be, whoever they are.

The date on the one pillar's cut in stupid- the 23 and the resta the numbers aren't kerned right. I've seen it so many times.

Am I takin' my mind offa Momoni, doin' this? Maybe. More importantly:

Car.

When I shoot, my heart stops. OK, I never had the EKG done to prove it, but yeah, it's prolly true.

I got my extra heartbeats in when I was a kid. Someday, I'll run out. T'night, I waste one sinkin' a shot b'tween the eyesa two numbers.

Dead on and it's smashed in likea an asteriks when I cast on through the next setta lights.

Will they notice? Or, will it take somebody in the mornin' rush.

I know. So, I roll over and I stare up at bare sky.

Cherryh wasn't any author's given name. I don't even havea name. My gun's not registered s'far as anybody knows. Maybe a cop could pin down the model from what's lefta that shell. Me, I'll wait to cook the striations on the barrel until I shoot a person.

My mom thinks I'm dead.

Like maybe she did when they called her from the ER the day I found out I had heartbeats to waste.

~*~

15.

I get this half an instant Tian waves me off, seein' Momoni leave the reception. I follow her. I absolutely don't grin.

Not on the outside.

We're hardly alone. The sounda the meetin' room carries. Hell, there's some guy chattin' up his phone 'round the corner. Janey's a couplea footfalls b'hind me. I turn and wave. Almost stops her halfa second.

Momoni comes to the west sidea things, sunlight glarin' off the pavement and windshields at the strip across the street down there. The crystal bows on her shoes leave prisms flutterin' up the wall and me, I just squint. Bathroom's not far from there.

She goes right to the mirror. I take the stall b'hind her. It's kinda too long from there 'till Janey shows up. I just know I got sighta Momoni from here- she's got on this strapless number, shows off her shoulders and the bite marks she's touchin' up with this concealer melts right inta her. She hums as she does it and other people take the time to make like they're not watchin'.

I don't. She has to see my in the door slit.

Janey comes in to take the place b'side me, much as she's ostensibly here for the right reasons.

As she washes up after, Momoni, still not quite put away with her makeup bag, curls a finger to her. "Janey, Janey. Let's play like we used to."

Janey shakes her head.

"I thought we were one? Or, whatever the way Amelia put it."

And again.

"It's not masturbation if you help."

Sounds of no this time.

I flush with the heela my shoe and stride out to the sink on the far side that's freed up. Somebody further down the counter gives me a look bein' as I'm inna dude's suit today. "If she's not inta it," I offer, "consider me a volunteer."

Momoni straightens her gorgeous hips out. "Aren't I allowed to powder my nose by myself anymore?"

Janey and I both shake our heads that time. Oh, and she looks at me across the veila Momoni, bite-levelin' mode over there.

I say: "How d'ya know I'm here to join ya? I got my own nose powderin' to worry about."

Think I stowed some makeup stuff in my pockets. I open my jacket to keep the powder off the collar and salt and pepper myself- least compared to how Momoni does it. By all rights, she and the fifteen towels Janey ripped down should be on their way, but the hum's back. She's... heh, clever girl. She's watchin' me back in the glass. I'll take that. Hell, I'll purse my lips (which're got a different color than I swear I went out wearin') up at her. "So, I do it to yer specifications?"

Short answer- no. Momoni /growls/ at me, swipes some of her magic melty stuff under my eyes, flicks somethin' from my lashes then washes her hands all over again.

Me, I don't see muchova difference 'cept my lips look blushed and that's prolly my own fault. Still- "OK, thanks."

As we head out, this time we'rea clot in the hallway and Momoni's got her makeup bag open in her hands, sortin' the vials back inta place, Janey watchin' where she's goin' at least. "You need to have some pride."

"Never."

"Aren't you and your mistress like us?"

"Depends. What's the weather t'day?"

We can both and real clearly see it's another hot, clear, gorgeous-lookin' not-so-gorgeous-bein' day out there across the glassware in the cars.

"That's sad," says Momoni. All the inflection she'd give "that's red".

"Well, works fer me."

"Unlike some people," she reaches over, and it's Janey she pokes this time. "We'll be home soon. Don't make that face."

I dunno. Same kinda face she usually makes to me, but it's kinda hard to tell what with the half mask.

"You three." I stretch my arms b'hind my neck, wide enough to make the seams in the jacket I still haven't set right snap up on my shoulders. So, as I'm fixin' it.

"Four," says Momoni.

"Huh."

"Four. We count sinjoro's spouse."

"I knew that." The married part. I thought that wasa secret. Least, they sure don't air the fact Amelia Campion is married and has been married fera longass time.

"It's boring."

"Exactly." I got one lapel in my hand when it hits me. End up lookin' her in the face. I mean Janey, then Momoni, Janey again. "Wait, so four...?"

Momoni nods, tosses her head back. Like, I was expectin' a laugh. Instead, just drag noises as her and Janey come to a stop in the arch back to the ballroom, standin' more're less across it, though there's nobody else comin' or goin' or doin' more than gettin' hung up on our shadows.

"It was three until I came along. Janey can't go down on sinjoro anymore, but she used to be just like me, only smaller."

And Janey doesn't cringe, not even as in Momoni's hand catches on the seama her mask. The sharp cut in her stare goes out likea flame in wax.


 photo illus-2-lo-res.jpg


Momoni peels her with this practiced kinda ease. I wonder if this's parta their deal or if it just happens a lot or if it's the first time and everybody's just cool it's gotta be this way.

I think I should be shocked right about now?

A lotta Janey's jaw's just gone. She's all stringsa red burn scars grown back inta place best they can against the sticksa her teeth come out 'round what's lefta her tongue.

"Sinjoro is boring sometimes. Janey never bothered to argue. Yes, I'm sure you still could."

Janey says nothin'. Then again, she couldn't, at least, not that eithera us here could understand.

"There was an accident," Momoni goes on. "It was in the news and everything. So, you can tell your mistress, right? It's not even a secret."

"Ah man." Fact is, I'm so usedta this kinda crap, I got no idea how sorry goes with it anymore. I can see Janey's hangin' over there, even as she smooths the mask back inta place, closed eyes and swannin' hands up her own throat, her hurt and her spit and all.

I know what fixes hurt. I undo the buttons on my shirt, then yank my suit open. No bra t'day. "There. Ya saw my business too. We're even."

Momoni's the one kinda skids surprised at that, her wrist hoverin' right over her lips, but no so much's to get inta her makeup.

Janey now, she gives me a long, long onea her stares. Still so waxed out as ever.

Then, she shoves me over to Momoni. I let myself be shoved. Momoni more're less catches me.

"You, ah... really not allowed to masturbate?" I try. I know it doesn't sound half so bad as well, whatever else we got. I'm here though.

"It depends. What's the weather like?"

~*~

16.

So, I ask the boss: "What's Ace got thatcha want so bad?"

And the boss looks up at me from the water.

We got our own swimmin' pool, done up all deep and Grecian-like. No windows, not that I'd mind goin' there naked where everybody can see. Hell, I'm already naked- plopped on the edgea the water and her watchin'.

I go on. " I mean, she's hardly worth extractin' liquidity from in the grand schema investors. She doesn't know anybody worth knowin', least not s'far as I can tell. Her taste in art sucks. You want tied up so bad, ya got me."

"Indeed I do," says Duckie.

"So..."

She hangs her wet self on the side, watchin' nobody in her storm gray eyes since they're closed. "Nene?"

"Yes, m'lord?"

Man, she's got that bite in the linesa her lips like follows her underneath to /business/. "It's obvious to me that Ace is a dominant sort in the bedroom. What would she expect from a prospective partner?"

"Everybody in the scene's different."

"Make your best judgment."

"Tie-ups, service, some kinda sex with her on top. I'd plan fer wounds." Hey now, in my case at least? Best judgment's got nothin' to do with /conscious thought/. Like, if I'da been offerin' Teela to Ace, that's what I'da planned fer.

"Service, though?"

"Like, ya wait on her. Ya do what I do for ya, plus some body servant stuff. Maybe Ace throws wine on ya and makes ya go 'round witha vibe up yer snatch."

"And then handcuffs or ropes."

"Those're just two options. Ace seems like kinda a spreader bar girl to me, b'sides."

"I see."

What I see's her who owns my ass askin' bondage kinda stuff infronta her own 'paramour' who is so not inta that. Far as I know. And, I only know s'far as Tian's at right angles to me over the water, also naked, but fer her hat and waitin' out this conversation.

Which- if I hardly knew Duckie, if she was my mistress, I'd still finish it up witha shrug just like I do now. "I got one if ya wanna try it. I don't even hafta be there fer long."

"I was in the army," Tian snorts. "I think I know how to restrain somebody." And that's not /reproachful/, I wouldn't say.

It's all just: "Ya do realize that if yer in a scene as a submissive, ya can still say no, right?"

"You told me something like that before," Duckie sighs, turnin' her head otherwise on her folded arms. "Safewords, was it?"

"Right."

"So, how do you still call it surrender if there's a way out."

Rhetorical or not, I still got an answer. "It's so when ya dun use it, I gloat."

"If it's you specifically, I hardly gave you such a thing," says Duckie, bedroom eyes up my way.

"And ya never answered me 'bout Ace."

"Momoni." Spoken as if Momoni's a thing you go pick up at the liquor store and the bottle's gorgeous, but the bill /offends/.

"Huh?" I rub one eye. My hands're wet. The water runs down my chest.

"I want to know where she got her."

"Seriously?"

"Yes."

I can justabout shrug that off too. Hell, I can almost laugh my way through. "Ya never showed any interest."

"Also, Janey is one of my half-sisters. Ace's father stole from mine, then ran over my cat. She owns a cake shop I want."

"Bullshit. You hate cats."

Like that, Duckie takes my hand. I wouldn't say she pulls- she just makes it known through my skin. I should chase down after her. I wanted to anyway and there's a splash as the water swells up around me, us, her.

We fin down inta the center, blue-green sideways cast. Her barely censored in white and me with nothin' at all to hold itself against me. There's a circle in the sidelight swirl of our shadows and we come up, bothovus gaspin', right inta Tian's fielda ripples.

"Oh," says Duckie. "And about that man you had occasion to borrow papers from the other night?"

"Yeah?"

"Kill him when you have the chance. There's no rush, but someone needs to put the fear of god into that lot."

I nod. I know Tian's gonna drag me under fora tickle, but I let her have that. I got it on the pretty decent authoritya my memories that she's ticklish too.

We swim. At least, we're in the water fora long while that afternoon; until our limbs turn heavy on land and upstairs and back to the places we pretend to sleep.

~*~

17.

Since there's no rush, I spend one night eatin' peanut butter and chasin' it with rum while the bird shits on my printoutsa his schedule and stupidass notes to his broker. They'e goin' in the incinerator anyway, so I'm mostly too blitzed to care. We nod off after midnight and her claws leave prints in my boobs. By then, my drunk and dreamin' brain's pretty damn sure how to get this done. Call it wackin' a guy by osmosis.

On Friday. Boss did tell me no rush, so she's not gettin' a rush after all I slugged last night.

Now, my specialty's sniper rifles, but I'll take whatever I need.

There was this one time I funneled denatured alcohol down a guy's throat and lit a match. Maaan, those were some /interestin'/ noises. Like- mesozoic monster, shouldn'ta come outta a person noises. They sure didn't last long, but I'll never forget 'em. Or the smell. Or the burnt up lips still stuck in this black grimace. But, that's what he gets for tryin to screw the boss over.

Speakinawhich, she's kinda a closet arsonist and, ho boy, she did she not approvea my methods. "Sloppy," she said. Too much screamin' and puke that was kinda on fire, she also said, just not in those words (I think not, anyway). She docked my pocket money for like three months /and/ gave me a hining...

Yeah, yeah. You /wish/ you had a boss who spanked ya.

I /also/ know and (from experience) that snipin' inside arcologies sucks hardcore. Sure, there's always a place to nest, but they come with 'micro climate's and 'cyclonic temperature drift' which is to say 'wicked verticals'. Why d'ya think they don't grow birds in the damn things? They get slammed inta the ceiling, that's why. Same doesn't exactly happen to bullets, but there's no point in messin' with that t'night.

I scratch Sophie goodbye, then kiss my rifle goodbye. It's the Litchfield/Hale .38 joinin' me t'night.


I dunno this guy. 'cept, fer this golden moment, I do. We're closer, him and me, than we've ever been to anybody else.

I watch him and I wait. He exposes himself like he's alone. OK, not like he's got his pants off, but I saw him out there with those other suits and he didn't move like this then- all clumsy and dabbin' his fingers off on his shirt.

Teela'da done him witha knife. She'da pulled his guts out and squished 'em up in fronta him just fer kicks. OK, and maybe seein' if I'd still lick her clean.

As he goes to pour himself a glassa water, I walk outta the curtains, gun drawn. Ya'd think he'd scream. Well, shock somebody hard enough, they'll forget they even can.

I look him straight in his shiverin' eyes and I tell him: "You betrayed me." Which's crap. Utter fuckin' crap. But, sounds cool.

He's tryin' to figure it out as up b'hind the half mask, somebody smiles and I guess that somebody is kinda me.

I shrug.

The dude does not grock this business that I am.

aourse, it's all bullshit. The gun goes off. Bits of rib meat and pages spray over the desk. Sometimes, when ya hit 'em with a chest, they like try to put their hands in it. Him, he just drools and there's some kinda noise I'm not impressed with all up squirmin' in his throat. So, head one follows. His brains go pop all over and he hits the table all sacka potatoes.

Yep. That's dead enough fer me. I do check him fer a hard-on and a pulse though. He's got neither, so back out the garden door I go.

The arcologie's super quiet this time, all just passin' cars but they're likea million miles away outta the lake shadows- damn thing's still asa pieace glass without anybody to bother it up. Me, I peel off my top layer. I don't think I got anything particularly gross on me, but GSR? Man, that's like accidental spunk-discharge. It always goes where ya don't want it.

I head outta the arcology and join the flowa late night traffic. Under the assassin gear (now chillin' in my backpack), I got on club clothes. As in general people kinda club clothes, though they do look about rumpled enough to have seen some good makeouts.

So, I could be justabout anybody else out here on the sidewalk, 'cept fer the part where if I get my prints run, no name'd come up. Wouldn't be so long b'fore they figured out there was a /body/ to find no matter how long they spent dredgin' up shit.

I wouldn't let it get to me. Hey, my number's up, my numbers up. Ain't nothin' doin' about it. Figured I'd sit there and I'd smile and wait fer it to sink inta somebody else.

Y'know what? Fuck it. I'm here now. I'm dressed fer a party.

I swing off inta an ally the way I would if I was drunk. Oh hell no, not yet. But, I have made a calculated decision to dispatch with the whole sleepin' thing.

I get my pounda pleasure the old fashioned way: a mirror anda rolled up hundred dollar bill (with tape on it 'cause have you ever tried to get onea those fuckin' thinks to /stay/ rolled? I'd seriously rather whack a dude witha ice cream spoon). Occurs to me I /could/ do it the /other/-other way to match all this other-other I got goin', but that's after I've already gone and made myself cough.

Duckie gets us some primo stuff, meanin' it burns not-as-much and I taste cheap vodka all up in my sinuses. It's kinda a trip, but that's b'fore- I'm awake.

Hey, know what else's in this pouch?

Alright!

Nobody'd ever suspect. I know I wouldn't anyway, and coked up, I am kinda closin' in on epic sainthood badassery, but so's everybody else did a couple lines t'night and in their own heads.

I pop in my earbuds and sling up some tunes, laughin' as I work the dial. There's only a handfulla song's be funny right now. I got 'em all.

And it really is 2AM. How 'bout that? Gun's cold by now's all and hell, it's smelled likea storm fer days now...

I don't need help acourse. I needa crank "Twilight Zone". Man, like this, my fingers almost got the guitar string rasp all up in 'em even though I sure's hell never learned to play. Hell, I start it over b'fore the first chorus just 'cause my lips miss the words first time around. Also like this, the drum beat's intoxicatin' up my hips.

Y'know I'm talkin' about the Golden Earring song, right? And it's about a hitman?

I grin.

Fact is, not sure how many kills I got. More'n two, less'n a hundred. Ya think suits keep tracka how many deals they cut in the back room? All the people I let go're smokin' t'gether in hell and that's all I wanted outta 'em when I started this fuckin' party.

Me, now. I got some walkin' t'do yet, far as I can tell from this cornera the pavement. Damn thing about that arcology- it's pretty classy all up inside, but the outside's rusted up and down and dirty too. What d'ya call this- urban decay? I guess. I'm hardly alone on this corner. Two skinny-ass hookers huddle together in the heat as they watch me step on by. And there's "For Sale" signs far as I can see down the block- not that much, bein' as a fewa the lights are flickerin' busted instead under the feeta moths.

Though, there's like cloudsa those, the only ghosts out t'night s'far as I can tell.
I yawn. I got work tomorrow. Like- my other kinda work. I think.

Me, that dark person passin' by with all the others. Dancin' down the street and thinkin' I'm funny. It's not much further from here, wherever I'm off to.

Right now, I got this. Least I think I do.

Cop car drives past. Can't even hear it over when the bullet hits the bone. The night's fulla guitars and stomp and me and whores and a smile that hurts.

~*~

18.

The boss's got this bar she likes. Some members-only joint halfway uptown and on toppa a skyscraper. They make a lotta their own booze. It's half bare and half regency inside. Outside, the highways runs riversa light after sunset.

"Now that I've thought on it..." says the boss.

To Bhakta. Who, if ya didn't know, is this fragile-built hindi woman with gray hair down to her calves who drinks palm wine like she's got an obligation. "Are you changing your mind about that slimeball?" she sneers.

"Which one? I'm acquainted with so very many."

"You know very well which one I mean," said as she bites off a cornera onea her tea biscuits. Always that with the wine. Maybe that's why she can pound it so good. "The man's been seen at several, ahem, unhealthy functions. He keeps uncensored stories in his library, besides that /mistress/." Bet if there wasn't carpet around, she'da spit on that one.

"So, you spied on her enough to determine all of this."

"I have myself to consider."

"And because her moral fiber is lacking..."

"Even to your estimations."

Duckie rolls her drink all gentle-like, hung up on her fingers so and colorless b'sides what from the window catches on the condensation. "Her forecasts of what's to become of the real estate override loans is somehow incorrect."

"I would not touch any business of his. He's filthy."

"Is she?" Boss comes around aftera sip, turnin' her thoughtful-lidded eyes up at me, b'sides the chipsa ice still skimmin' her martini. "Nene, Bhakta called your people filth. Do you want an apology or does that turn you on?"

"I'm good," I tell her.

"I know. Answer the question."

Bhakta snorts. "She doesn't keep human animals. At least, not that I know of. Are you trying to tell me something?"

"Not fer lacka tryin'. Done much worse b'sides, ya know." Which might just be too much. I got a gust going up in the boss's gaze; in the end though, it's not fer me.

"If your father was here..." says Bhakta.

There's a clank. Fist on the table. "Shut up about my father. I'm here. You will speak to me and you will use the correct pronouns for Ace when you disparage her. Now, are you going to assist me by buying into her little scheme- for the meantime at least -or is this conversation over?"

Bhakta sips her drink. Then moves onta, "What says your other clown?"

"I'm just here for the atmosphere," mentions Tian. Not even lookin' her way. T'night she's all about the traffic. As if that means more than the woman in the sari with the knife up her thigh.

The one who snaps, "I mean Gerald Torregossa."

"He isn't here either," says Duckie, soundin' like pretty much the same reaction I just had. Gerald /indeed/.

Our guesta the evenin' (OK one of 'em, but the dude she's got on guard duty ain't said shit, drunk shit, looked anybody in the eyes) thinks, finishin' up one more dink as she does it. "I need to speak with my accountant. I will do nothing suddenly."

"Is that so," answers the boss. She motions like she's reachin' fer my sleeve, though we never touch. It's all I need after all, that she'd put her hand my way with that particular finesse.

I sling on to the bench b'side Bhakta, my arm across the back like so many bad movies. When she glares my way, I makea kissy noise.

Duckie goes right on drinkin'. "She could blow your mind, you know. You'd sleep like a dead woman tonight if you wanted to."

Does she though? That's notta bad question. It's ours in the streaka police lights gone over the streets. Tian gets way too steady all up in herself, and this woman we're all courtin', she looked that way for halfa goddamn second. I act like I paid it no mind and my lips get mixed up with hers, that breath she goes guard down b'side me.

She's got that sappy sweet taste like palm wine gets when it's warm. And, to her credit, she kisses me back no problem. We breathe like one person pressed up in the siren glare. We both get the rush. I can taste that in her too.

As we pull apart, her runs thin down my lips and I smile, lickin' it off.

Bhakta looks like she wantsa slap my stupid.

Course. She always looks that way rather'n do that.

Filty, am I? Well then. Why kiss me back.

Like she does after, softer and longing so I gotta, I just gotta close my palm on her blouse, feel her knotty fingers creep over my neck to push me away.

"That was unnecessary," she says. Not to me, to the boss.

"She's right though," Duckie points out. "She's done much worse."

They go on talkin'. I end up witha shotta vodka. Bhakta use uses me as an armrest. I'm OK with that. Even if she does kiss pretty damn good but I got no more pretty damn good. Then, and later when we get up to leave, sometime after the sirens.

~*~

19.

It's packed. Kids out. Just- everywhere, stumblin' off the sidwalks on each other's hands, laughter bleedin' t'gether from one enda the street to the other.

I go first through the speaker noise cut over the pavement, a dead line through the jostle and snowcone cups.

This's not my bodyguard nightmare. Hell, it's not even that loud. They're just waitin' to go swimmin' and they've had too much sugar. Still pretty sure those big glitter bangles somea the kids got on stand fer what they will and don't do come to makin' out in the changin' rooms, but am I gonna stop to ask?

Maybe if one walks inta me. Heh, it'll prolly make em blush.

It sinks through my head- they're coverin' up their wrists. It they had words there, nobody's see underneath the plastic.

There's a mess of 'em are covin' up the windowa some shop, whinin' that they want the channel changed. Can't really see the news anchor through the bikini ties, but can almost hear her: "...Jonathan Basset was released by court order this morning. The reviewing judge cited lake of evidence and improper interrogatory procedures. Mr. Bassett has threatened to sue both the security firm of the arcology where his husband was found murdered as well as..."

Hey, I know that guy. Know the name, anyway. It's not his picture they're showin', but roughly what that husbanda his looked like last time anybody photographed him. Not just saw him. I mean, I saw him when Is shot him.

The cops madea mess outta the scene, sounds like. Somethin' 'bout other leads.

I shoo another girl with bracelets off to the left b'fore she hits us or trips out into the alleged car traffic, though nobdoy's drvin' this way t'day doesn't have somethin' they just wanna show off. Ora wish to be terminally late.

Us, we're doin' OK. Time-wise, I mean till the shrieks. I elbow everybody back in time to see somebody trip and go ice up.

They laugh. Their friends laugh. Back b'hind us, think the news switched toa commercial. Sidewalk up ahead's all sugar syrup and fake snow. Smells like gummi bears and somebody's spray tan. Whatever all it is, pumps don't go in it. So, I'm shoulderin' my way inland when Tian grabs me by the pits and hoists me over the mess.

"You first," she says. "So you can catch the boss."

OK, fine. I got manhandled by a giant Chinese woman again today. She just standin' there. With her arm over the boss. Shade glancin' on and off and their attention not so much.

Did they hear that? Get that? I mean, they were behind me but- yeah, I think they did.

I shrug. "Didn't know we had all day."

"I said to take your time," purrs the boss. "Did I ever tell you to stop?"

"Fine, just walk around."

Tian sniffs. "Too many snocones."

"As if Nene wouldn't take one for me."

I nod. Next thing, she's on my arm, looped around it, tight and jangling and way too black fera summer suit, but what do I know? I just whack dudes.

That's all the more anybody's gotta not say. And we're late then, dragged through the storm of slush and bodies and her lookin' just so damn satisfied all up on my arm.

~*~

20.

Gotta be coincidence we all ended up here wearin' white. I mean, t'night's the seasonal black tie gala at the Durecette Major and here we are- my house and Ace's house and all the champagne we can down, white as white can be.

God. Momoni's in this tight white and gold gown. It's mesh in places and gold scales in others. It puts feathers on her shoulders. I don't mean wings ora cloak. But- feathers. Like they're parta her.

I'm really- I have another slippa caviar and I thinka her on my hands.

She even smells like metal if that makes any sense, If ya get that? D'ya get that? Does it make sense in the gutsa yer reason that I'm so crushin' on her? Here, where, we can hardly even talk all the guys and girls and workersa this place she's got drftin' 'round her.

Except, there's this heartbeat make it happen. "Hey. Want somethin' to eat?"

Momoni looks to me and gaze tangles soft. She starts to sat somethin'. It's my drink I give her and somethin' sweet, pink, risin on gilt that's been on my tray. When she takes it, that's her lips over my skin.

The boss doesn't notice. She's all occupied by Tian and her brocade. Whatever they're sayin's, it's quiet and sober. Ace's no place there.

But, she's not far. I know better. I start to say it just the same: "Hey, y'know what we should do?"

Momoni kisses my forehead and she nudges me aside.

But! She did that. To me and nobody else.

The Thalassan and that guy from first time we were here grasp her slow away. Man, she doesn't even push 'em off, but let's 'em carry her all ceremonious-like to Ace.

"Do you want this?" She demandsa alla us standin' there.

Somebody out their with their bubbly's gotta go "YES".

Ace again: "You want /this/?" Her gesture cut b'tween her and the resta the clubwhere it hollers again. Even the boss- Get on with it!

"This is Momoni."

OK. Some slaves are thises and some are bitches and some are fuckers and cum buckets.

She pulls a knife from her suit- fancy painted thing with a gut hook that's barely a decoration.

But, I flash my /real/ one from my lapel just the same. Hey, it's my job.

There's a smilea acknowledgement b'tween her and the onlookin' drunk pervs b'fore the cut.

I gotta say, her technique as she slices up from b'tween Momoni's legs to the place where her bodice splits? Excellent. Doesn't leave a mark on her.

And Momoni doesn't flinch as the dress pulls back from her and there's nothin' but the feathers left.

Under, she's just a body. The golden cast to her- no hair just skin and sweat and bruises. Skin and sunder as the other people sing out, all tryin' to answer that one more question shouted across the floor. "You want this?"

She's also got a heart scared on her belly, up above one hip bone. Branded, maybe? No- sliced. Somebody cut a paisley-line kinda thing inta her. They let it heal that way. She did.

Ace thrusts her towards the rest. "Look on my whore your mighty and despair. It is perfect. We men do not touch perfect things."

With that, Momoni goes over, drumming down b'neath his boot.

"We trample them."

With her like that, she walks back to her place at the bar. People call for her and Momoni moves after- there's a please now and I can hear it. But, there's also hands.

It's the Thalassan grabs her first, tittering about how cute she is as she holds her on her fingertips- that tiny girl and alla Momoni who she hoists by the hair to deal out a bite to her neck b'fore shovin' her down again. Onea the boys sits on her back as she creeps along.

"I suppose if you need filling, maybe you can blow one of them. Make it worth my while," Ace announces over her glass.

The requests gush on by.

Hands all up on her thighs and in her mouth where they've been down somebody's jeans or hell, her cunt. She doesn't chase a one, not off, but after as much as they keep leavin' her just to touch themselves again. Clothes come off and cocks out. Twoa the guys're makin' out, switchin' off on the Thalassan while she pushes Momoni's hand into her. It's the one faked out like he was scared shoves his way in first.

"Rub your face in it," he cheeps.

He looks like me under his shorts. Momoni swallows hard. She falls into him, lips soaked somebody just now passin' by fingers down her collar so she's gotta pull to make it. There's swells and pinches and draws down fer her.

I can hear her lips workin'. Least, I imagine I can over the sounds. I couldn't really, could I? Not her mouth and the gloss down her crack as the others start askin' fer who's next.

Why don't I say me?

'cause- "Ace. /Please./"

She acts like she can't hear her.

Somehow, there are still feathers. They go up likes birds hit on the highway.

My drink gets warm.

I wish I was there. I wanna go all Clive Barker on their asses, my fist through their chests and shit like that.

I wanna go Clive Barker all over Momoni's perfect, gorgeous heart-shaped hips.

A tray clanks down in the bar. Guy carryin' it makes sure not to look up. Then, he's gone.

The boss has a look, then sways her way back, nothin' but a nippa dry ice from underneath to show fer her attention. That goes in her drink. It pours mist over the sides. "It's really too bad you're a man after all. I'm not interested in those."

"Well, I don't like demanding women," Ace points out, shrugs off. She plucks over the plate inta the curliecuesa lobster tail half outta their shells. "I'd say we're even. We could at least strike a balance."

Boss nods, a flasha her eyes her way.

The piece Ace took ain't been deveined right. It's still got that blueish tube thing up the back beneath the slice line.

Duckie sees it too. "I am not perfect. My demand is orgasms."

"Plural."

"Well, you have talked yourself up."

"I know." Ace puts the whole thing in her mouth. The intestine that's left breaks on her lips and she licks the gunk up like it's butter.

Seein' boss's hand there after, smoothin' it in. I knew it was gonna come to that.

Their kiss after is hungry.

The crowd calls 'em on it, but the night reels on and somebody sounds like Momoni whimpers underneath.

"Ace. Why not you?"

Or, anybody that couplea inches too far.

Why not me?

But, who'm I to judge?

~*~

21.

"Stand down, Nene."

I bow and I guess I take my orders.

I've seen some shit.

T'night, I also see my boss get fucked.

Tian growls like an engine needs kicked. But, she'll know when she needsa bite. I mean, she's been at this way longer'n me. It's just what she does.

I sit there with Momoni and some amaretto. She's still pretty much naked. Me, I lost my tie a while ago. We roll a shot glass back and forth while takin' sips outta the bottle. She might not actually be drinkin'. The sky growls too.

I think maybe this's Ace's /property/? I dunno. I barely remember the taxi ride over.

"Momoni. Come here."

She sits the glass up, sheds her feathers. What's left 'em, which- hardly seems like she's missin' any. And it's lucky bastards over there, all threeovem. I keep drinkin as long as anybody cries and there's whip cracks across the enormous bed. Nobody calls for me. I'm OK with this. Like- mostly.

After, Tian and me watch everybody else sleep. Slouchin' there in the lamplight as the half empty bottle gets stickier and stickier.

"Whatcha thinkin' about?" I ask.

"Restraint knots," she answers. Justabout as wistful as I ever heard her talk.

I don't wanna sleep myself. I don't even try. Like- listenin' to them'll more'n do me. If they're even really there, even really restin'. There's eyes in the shadowa the sheets as the slit b'tween the blackout curtain comes up blue.


Duckie wakes up 'round nine and her hand goes right to her forehead. Then, the razor blade lines down her shoulder.

Ace's pretty much been up. She looks like she just ate somebody and that somebody happens to be my fuckin' boss. Lucky me, I finally get to cut in.

"And what will mademoiselle have to break her fast?" I ask, flyin' the flagga truce, by which I mean her kimono with the pussy willows on it.

And damn, I know how to get blood outta it by now. As I'm movin' the slide it onto those (pretty, white) (tore up and chewed on) shoulders just like usual, she glances at the sheets- they're bloody too 'round her knees. Her hair seeps through her fingers and she groans. "Aspirin."

I stick out my tongue. "Aspirin."

That's a glare from her.

"Thins yer blood. Guess again."

"Naproxen. An overdose. /Thank you/."

The robe goes back over my shoulder and I slink off witha bow. Guess what else we packed fer? Hell, we bring our own china and biscuits when we do the rendezvous thing.

Special guests supply their own drugs and smarmy comebacks. This one in particular- now all up in Tian's attention, b'sides mine in the glassa the abstract on the wall -strokes her hand over her own bare chest, archin' back like that's justabout the nicest touch she's had since conquerin' the sheets. "You enjoy it when she speaks to you that way."

"Fine," says the boss.

Me and Tian start the coffee while we're at it, changin' off who's watchin' the bed. Pills get swallowed. Ace watches Duckie's throat bob and glisten the whole while, but she's been doin' shit like that all night- like, you don't even get privacy to swallow. Again, not surprised.

'course I was right about the wound business and the restraints. There's cords all over the sheets. Momoni's still got one looped 'round her ankle as Ace lays a heavy hand on her shoulder. Just like that, she's conscious and she's draped on her shoulder. Strokes adorin' up her sides.

"The usual. You bring it. Or Janey. It doesn't matter."

"Jes, sinjoro." She nods though and like that picks her way outta the wreckage and limbs. Her own robe's pretty much see-thru.

"No bandages. That would be a waste."

She blows her a kiss. The door opens and closes. "There you are. What are you doing..." before it cuts out into static hotel kinda babble.

"You know," Duckie points out. "she keeps calling you sir."

"Fine," Ace echoes. "Everyone who comes to be with me will call me sit. You did seem to realize that at some point last night."

They both just stare at each other. There's a sink back to the pillows. A minute or so later, Momoni comes in. That robea hers goes back on the chair across from the bottle and she gets back in bed, strewn on the far sidea Ace.

Ace deals her a fondle, then a swat, b'fore she retreats to the boss, by which I mean tosses her down like she means to mount her again.

"Your sir is talking to you. Doesn't that leave you wanting?"

"Certain things, yes," mentions Duckie.

The door opens. It's Janey already. She musta been waitin't with... whatever red stuff that is in the glass. Looks like Ace gets prescription pain killers and bloody marys for hangovers. Also, an egg rollin' all precarious in its dish as Janey tiptoes her way over. She's movin' kinda clumsy-like and her eyes are damp. First time she sets the tray down, nobody moves fer it. So, she picks it up, does it again. That's got Momoni wavin' her off (and makin' her way to the pill bottle) as hips get all liquid tense otherwise on the sheets.

Ace strokes Duckie's cheek b'fore creepin' lower inta the wounds she left. One breaks bleeds as she kisses it. It's all kindsa wantin' to its own and such, which is why I guess Janey picks that outta everythin' else so far.

Or, she's just sentimental 'bout somethin' here. I'm not.

"Gun!"

The adrenaline goes off insidea me, a shot in and of itself. I'm draggin' out this one too many mornin', then I'm all cocked Janey's way. She's standin'. I can get her down faster'n I can cover Duclos. Her grip sucks. If I hit her in the jaw, she'll go down extra easy. I'll feel like shit. But, she'll go down.

Although, truth is, she never points it at anybody. Just puts it to her temple and blammo.

It's not real high caliber.

Just kinda leaves this black hole in her, spumea blood, bitsa hair. The usual blowbacka slime and powder.

"Shit." Tian's the one grabs her on the way down as her knees give out. She lays her out real easy on the side she's not bleedin' outta. "The fuck was that about." And she goes inta pickin' her first aid stash outta her chensogram which she's already gone and torn, crouchin' like that.

I catch myself on the dresser and rip my phone open. All I gotta do is slam my fist on the screen and I got a personal emergency concierge.

OK. Take a breath. They're gonna needa talk to you. It's not the boss.

Not exactly. Momoni's pounced across the bed. She lies hidden in Duckie's arms, wide-eyed, shakin' and death-gripped on.

Ace meanwhile cracks the egg in her drink. "Ah, thanks," she says. "This is technically my job."

A toast for that with nobody else so much's movin'.

~*~

22.

Janey's still tryin' to breathe last I heard.

Parta me's like- good fer her.

And the rest- fuck alla you people. She wants to go.

Just let her go.


Once she's done with the cops, Ace puts the lotta us up in another hotel room pretty close to the hospital. She bribes herself permission to smoke and she uses it b'tween phonecalls explainin' she won't be 'round t'day, not why. Momoni's gotta swan curve over the chair arms to put her head on her shoulder, but she does it just the same.

Tian ended up in a t'shirt and a wrap skirt, neithera which are hers or /fit/. I guess her and me didn't get checked 'cause bodyguard privilege or whatever. Story is we didn't see nothin'.

It's the boss runs the doctors around when they show.

Not me. Like I even got a dog in this race. Hell, I could barely walk into a hospital if I needed it. No ID and genes that belong to nobody (heh, not even the leach I jacked).

I just got a hand in mine. Ring on the one finger says it's Momoni's. Smella her skin says she's Ace's, but Ace's, well, not here.

I'm no good at soft stuff.

And the last time I was in the hospital, it was 'cause umm...

Ah, nobody'd listen. I got nothin' to say I didn't say I was done with years ago.

I left out some stuff about my snatch when I told Duckie who I am and what I wanted and all that kinda shit. Too late now.


Last time, I went home. My legs were so tired from sittin' 'round in the ER all day and b'sides, I had these wicked cramps halfway up my back. I staggered and I fell inta my bed. The door didn't latch- it bounced off the frame like it did sometimes when it got muggy out.

I'd figured I was done cryin', but soon as I hit my sheets, there I went again with the waterworks. The syrupy kind ya get when yer all raw.

Mom didn't knock when she came in. "You're not going to do it, are you?"

"Huh?"

"Give me a grandchild,"

(Oh my fuckin' God, I can hardly even think those words. I heard them so much that they lost all but halfa shotta sense, but now my teeth squeeze and that's... Momoni again, strokin' my jaw.)

"Just because you have one, little condition, you're going to deny me."

"Mom!" Back then, my voice cracked. "I could die if I get pregnant!" It was like- hadn't she been listenin'? Sittin' there all steely-faced while the doctor went up and down this latest probelma mine.

I swear, she looked like I'd offended her. Like I stank. "So could ever other woman. I don't know why you think you're special."

"I don't want to die!"

'bout then, she threw the door, even though it was already open. Came stormin' over and crammed her fists in my blouse. "Now you listen to me! You /owe/ me grandchildren after all the shit I put up with raising you."

"I do not!"

"Yes, you do. That's how it works."

"I'm /fifteen/. I /can't/..."

Do this right now. I can't have kids. I can't take another minutea listenin' to you say these things that I can't believe yer even sayin' to me.

"You ungrateful little bitch!"

That's when I clocked her. Truth was, it hardly left a mark. Hell, even right then, she only stumbled sideways.

"If I had a baby it'd be just like me anyway so what the fuck would you want with it!"

I guess she left after that. Dunno if I'da hit her again. Back then, I had real tender knuckles.

Just know I came up alone allova sudden.

Y'know what I did after that?

Nothin'.

I laid in my bed until it was way too late for dinner, dark out too.

The TV was on in Mom's room. Could just barely hear it. I figured if I wanted somethin' to eat, I had some chocolate snack cakes stashed in my closet. Assumin' she hadn't up an jacked 'em again, leavin' the empty box b'hind witha note about how I was selfish or fat or bad with my pocket money.

But, no. I never got hungry that night. I laid in my bed and I stared at the place where I guessed the ceiling had to be someplace underneath the gloom.

I wanted to leave so bad that I couldn't even move.

Where was I gonna go anyway?

Huh, Mom?

Who'd I have left after everybody at temple knew I was /yours/?

What's that?

You think yer slutty, selfish, fat, ugly, stupid daughter's dead?

Well.

Isn't that what you wanted?

Choke on it.


Meanwhile, I guess they let Janey go. I hear somebody else out there cryin' in the goutsa sunshine. It's not me. I am done with that shit.

But hey.

I also got a Momoni tryin' to use me likea squeak toy while Ace screams at the doctors.

I can't move now either.

~*~

23.

I do remember now.

Janey's eyes.

The kisses on Momoni's shoulder that weren't mine. Her eyes too. That brusha my tits against her dress. The slow jazz inside out she almost leaves me, even now when it's after dusk and I'd damnwell better be alone here.

I take another toke. It's helpin' me focus, I swear. That's all it's doin' fer me. Anymore at all. OK, so I don't care so much how heavy the heat's gotten since it just won't fuckin' drop it already.

Ace comes home. Window open or not, she changes inta a blue pala. Against it, her gaze goes to nothin' and she looks like she's got empty space b'tween her lashes. Then she's gone on the stairs someplace b'fore I see her again in the sittin' room.

Her husband looks 'bou sixty-somethin'. Honest to shit, I'd almost think they're siblings. They kiss on the cheeks as some new girl inna maid costume makes martinis. One of em takes one couch and one takes the other.

They own onea those townhouses in Central ward that's more a month than I make inna year. Place looks likea hotel inside. Smelled like one two when I slunk past scopin' it out.

I slunk past. I didn't bug the place. The hell should I, if they leave the windows open to the resta the city? Nevermind people like me. I guess their couple kinks include flashin', since w
why no one-way glass?

I think I know. I just.

The new girl, she's 'bout eighteen. She pours 'em and watches the Campions drink. Doesn't ask if they're alright and nobody even seems to know she's there 'till Ace grabs her by the backa her shirt and throws her over the husband.

Her shoes work against the floor, but she doesn't go nowhere until he grins and shoves her off. Then, she's gone out the side door.

Husband's lips say somethin' about "the other one".

They take this long moment, smoothin' over their drinks to their little selves b'fore they stand and they come together, arms tight and closed in like they'd never let go if t'morrow didn't make 'em.

Over her husband's shoulder, I'd swear Ace looked right at me, 'cept she can't.

I'm a million miles away in the dark, without my shoes on some other rooftop.

I got no bugs to plant 'cause I came here on my own.

Just to see Momoni.

Oops, I'm a creepy stalker.

But, she's there soon enough. She comes in wearin' nothin' but her collar.

Husband, holdin' her by the cheek asks Ace again about this 'other one' and 'this one' and... yeah, I don't lipread so good. There's somethin'- "when you have this", which I only get cause Ace echoes it back at him with I'm tried and you know.

They call for more drinks. Momoni stands by the window in her nothin' and her collar. She doesn't even seemta know that's what it is. Or that she looks like- barely half a kiss away from me.

Husband cuts in though. Ace takes the other side and they lay hands to her, fistfulls of her thighs. Tangles and takes and makin' her expression dissolve inta needy closed-eye waitin'. It's almost subspace while the maid fumbles around the bar tryin' to get the shaker goin' again.

Huh. So, they are four.

Or they were and they're workin' on again and so what the fuck do I know again?

OK, I know that Ace and her husband each leave a couplea fresh marks in with the ones they counted off on their girl they still got. Then, they /escort/ her over to the couch.

Ace takes her place. She pushes against the glass from her elbows, presentin' all her pala drapes fer the husband to pull aside. Seems like she's onea the people that when she's not in charge, she's not more'n pillow to get shoved around.

It's not much to see- them poundin' together. Momoni waitin' on the couch.

I don't dream of leavin' here now. Like the heat still won't leave the pavement and vice versa.

They grok nothin' about the couple stops to whisper on their front step. Guard just b'hind it doesn't stop to tell 'em, but they're all caught in this gravity together. Hell, that couple- they had so many other doorways for their seriousness and their own 'other'.

Just like me.

I take another toke.

~*~

24.

"Hey, Nene?" said Teela.

"Hey yeah?" I said back. And I put my fingers through the ruinsa her makeup so they came up pearly green.

We were done playin fer right then, but I remember thinkin'- if I'da put my fingers up her, her clint, her cunt, maybe her perfect posey asshole, woulda sparkled too.

Instead: "What have you got written on your arm?" My pretty girl asked me.

"Huh?"

"Honey, it's a thing." And let me fuck her now, even in my dreams. I /loved/ it when she called me honey.

I don't think I ever told her. "Sure is. But, it's notta thinga my things. "

"Your soul mate words."

That gave me, umm, notta start. Like a twinge all up in my self-sense.

And anyway, Teela came slinkin' over. I hadn't given her her hands back, so she had to use her gleamin' lips to gesture. Meanin' she kissed me all over the undersidea the arm I had dropped on the pillow. "They're a message on your left wrist when you're born. They're from your soulmate."

"Gotcha. Mine washed off."

Teela frowned.

I did too. All these words! I knew what they meant, but they weren't addin' up to what passed fer sense at the time. So, I rolled her over, pinner her up b'neath me and pulled her back by her hair. Her bare, brown tits got all toothsome against my shirt. "Are ya tryin' t'be serious here?"

"Maaaybe."

"Huh." Whatever. Subspace does weird stuff to people. I figured no further'n that. So, if she still had the sub in her and I still had the domme, I kissed her. Dep reachin', glitter on my mouth insteada her other one. Until we were both slick with spit. Then, I said: "Fuck me. Just that. Just fuck me. Short, sweet and to the point b'fore they washed off. Can't have precious daughter runnin' around with an F-bomb fer the whole world to see."

"I thought you were going to tell me you didn't have one."

"I don't. But, I did. It washed off. Holy shit! This's silly."

"Sure." Teela nodded. Her mouth slipped open one more time when she did. So, acourse I was in her again. After though. "Am I short, sweet and to the point?"

"Two outta three works fer me. What does yers say?"

"Yes."

"Well, there's the shorta it."

"Fuck me."

"Yes." I shook my head. "Heh. Walked right inta that one."

"It's fine. Fuck me."

"Yes."

"Fuck me."

"Yes."

Trailin' off inta... whenever anya that happened. I can't see the window in my head.

Hell, I can hardly see her in the startle outta my phone buzzin'.

Not sure if that's a thing that happened or if the pharmacy on the nightstand I keep fergettin' to put away's got somethin' t'do with it.

Now's now, and now's the middlea another /gorgeous/ fucked up hot afternoon. Me, I gotta be downstairs in twenty minutes. Cocaine it is. The /other/-other way.

I put my heels on the wall, spread my legs and go to town. Whatever I was dreamin'... or thinkin'... or... I dunno. Point is, I'm fuckin' soaked, so the powder goes all creamy over my snatch and my clit's already throbbin' and shit, I shoulda just snorted it. Well, nineteen minutes is nineteen minutes.

Here I go again.

I'm awake.

~*~

25.

We end up at an exhibita pre-industrial medical illustrations. Me and Momoni sit on the bench under /Anatomy of a Gravity Uterus/ by Thomas Graves. Ora a print. Somethin' like that.

I might bea pro, but I'm not an artist. I can't tell. I just know it's old and the muscles look way too dry. Pregnant insides're all feathery and wet.

Back in the day, I looked all that up, ready for the day my period stopped 'cause now /my/ insides were just like that, or they would be.

I was gonna quit everybody at temple that day, if I hadn't already. I was gonna ask fora mirror in the hospital so I could watch as I finally did somethin' all by myself. The blood and slime wasn't gonna put me off. It's just parta how stuff goes.

Hey. I got that. I use it all the time. I know my arteries are squirmin' right now and that outsidea my body, my uterus looks likea dead sea worm.

I wonder too what the model's name was and what killed her and if she cared that she died.

Some people don't. I wouldn't blamed her if that's what she wanted.

I manage to say though, "So, what d'ya think about... stuff."

"I could never do that," Momoni answers.

"Draw a..." she's lookin' out across the gallery elsewhere. All those other drawings with no blood.

And an old couple holdin' hands as they walk on by, complain' about where the 'nice' pictures've all gone.

I smile. "Sure ya could."

She shakes her head. "I don't even know if I want to."

"Yeah? I... I get that too."

"Too?"

"Somethin' like that."

Onea her sandals clanks down closer, then the other. She pulls herself over on her toes, but it hardly looks, even to me, like she moved at all. She's just shinin' there and at me now. "So, what do you want?"

"Me?" I stretch, hands b'hind the backa my neck. "I wanna get a quiggly."

"Hmm?"

"It's when ya hit two targets with one shot. It's named after a guy who wasn't real, but you can totally do it."

Momoni now, she holds one hand halfway to her mouth. Even her liftin' her arm that way, I know it's cause she's gonna giggle. "I didn't know you shoot."

"Sure do. Pays in my linea work."

She nods.

I nod.

It's true! I mean, no matter the fuck she thinks I do, that's true from where we both are, Ace and the boss all quiet off somewhere in the Japanese cracked skulls that might as well be drawn fulla flowers.

Momoni flicks a finger my way. And past me. And- "That doesn't?"

To the little knot of ink and skin somewhere past the edgea my gaze.

I take a breath. I give the thing a once over, hand on my chin like it and me both got all the providence in the world.

Dunno why that's funnier than the word /quiggly/.

But, I got her to laugh despite a dead baby and at what wasn't a dead baby joke.

I turn back.

Momoni brushes my hand away, down to my knee. And hers, hers stays there with me.

"Depends," I manage after a whistle. "Doesn't matter in my case. I like my job."

"Good. I like you."

"Cool. I like ya too." And oh sweetness, I can tell you know. Feel it on your skin.

"No, you want to sleep with me."

"Also true."

"Ace thinks it's a bad idea, but I wouldn't mind."

"Yeah?" I take it like a compliment, if just 'cause I /want/ to, damnit. I also put my other hand on toppa hers. Our fingers seep together and her scent fills me up and the bluea her eyes, but I still gotta say it. "I'm only in that kinda stuff fer the wanna, not the just OK with it happenin'. So, Ace's got nothin' to worry about."

"I wasn't worried. I bet you're fun. We should try."

"Still not..."

"I want to." With that, she leans in. Rests her head on mine one more time.

"There we go."

"I think I can sneak out this weekend. I'll text you."

"Sounds likea plan."

Heh. Some domme I am.

~*~

26.

We got another storm comin'.

Somehow, I'm not surprised. Betcha it's still just as gross out once it's over. Bet it doesn't even try to cool off.

My windows look like stone walls.

And meanwhile, the boss stares out 'em like the rain coastin' up over the other wards is just that interestin'.

"How long have you been down here by yourself?" she says? Barely call it askin' when she's not even lookin' my way.

"A couplea- hey!" Guess I smack the end table or whatever.

She just looks at me.

"I got the bird, don't I?" When I stick my finger over by my shoulder, Sophie there goes up hollerin' like I threatened to drag her East of Eden to the Landa No Bananas Evar. "Apologize."

Duckie stalks over on the toes of her heels. She grasps the bird on my shoulder who next thing's all singin' without movin, without seemin' to do much breathin' inta her sounds. The way she does it? It think- if cats could only pure that way.

Boss says: "Forgive me, oh banana-faced foundling of my former courtier's."

"Yeah, that. Yer special!"

"I'll kill her fer this! Spring rolls! Spring rolls!" tweets Sophie. That's now. Nothin' former 'bout it.

Except, I remember. I got somewhere to go, assumin' that's not leftovers form yesterday too.

"Who are you talking about now, you ridiculous creature?" Croons the boss, still half all over me as the rain edges in.

"Ya really do think I've gone batshit'er somethin' though, huh?"

"And you really care if I hire anyone else. Who told you that you were allowed to do that?"

"Nooobody."

"It's creepy in here with just you two." At that, she stands back, crosses her arms, and I'd swear on any other day she was smilin' at me. Now- I don't know. "Like an orgy waiting to start, except no one showed up."

"Like you'd know." I snort. "Everybody shows up to yer orgies."

Outside, the thunder gods and the shrikes and the worms and the people who devoured their each others to get where they are pour out and there's...

It's not even four. Sophie still starts on with her evening song.

~*~

27.

Man, it's beena long time since I packed my kit. Feels like I'm tryin' to fit the whole world in this damn briefcase. Nevermind tryin' to remember what's hard-core and what's not. Whatever's whatever, I need lube. That's neutral enough. Plus, not the huge piece for my strap, not the big wiggler and not the crop that cuts likea razor. The rest, I take a shot, give up, and let the liquor do the stashin'. Bird's all confused, but she still knows better 'en to gnaw on *my* toys when she's got her own.

Though, I'd be lyin' if I said I never experienced the joy of reorderin' supplies from my dealer in all things perv slash orgasm tastic 'cause, and I quote, "Mine got eaten by a pissed-off macaw".

Waitin' until after dark to down some 2CB and just a lil coke dusted up a halo 'round my clit so I start mouthin' on myself real quick and just walkin' out fora cab gets me wet enough to eat witha spoon.

Man, I shoulda jerked it b'fore I left. I'm hot up to my navel.

Parta the city where we're headed, it's all Amsterdam coppery-colored even to the corners away from the streetlights. The road comes off likea river under the glitterin' sky. Perfect place to meet somebody fora bang, really.

I stop the cab a couple blocks up from where I'm headed, make sure he's driven himself off with his ridiculous tip, then duck into an alleyway to rub one out. I'll just bowl Momoni over if I meet her like this. 's not way to treat somebody else's mistress and it's not like I could keep my hand outta myself at this point either. Lil too much coke, lil too much /oh my God/ Momoni's waitin fer me but here I am crouched in the shadows beggin' myself to come already.

Once I'm all over myself and, that hardly does anything 'cept make me clench up harder inside. My clit's still achin'. Anyway, I keep walkin'.

There'sa lion's head knocker on this door too. I play shave and a haircut strictly in the interestsa knowin' Ace would never do sucha thing.

And there she is. All gold and white again. Much different dress though- this one's got pleats and pearls. It's real, umm, proper in its own way, despite leavin' oh so little to the imagination.

"Nene. You came."

Did I? "Ya think I'd leave ya hangin', gorgeous?" I swing on in.

We stand there a couple twitterin' seconds after the door, me with my bag b'hind my back.

Her all gorgeous lines a head taller'n me.

"I'm that late?"

"No, you're right on time."

"Good." I gotta lean up on my toes to get even kinda close to her, long as we're standin'. So, all the reasons I got to hope that ends, that's one up front as I purse my lips.

What I get's this amused lil sound. Swear I heard it from her once already sometime somewhere else. Now, I know those're her fingers on my lips. And her, strokin' my cheek and down my throat and there it is again as she drifts off, beckonin' now.

"Swanky digs ya got here." I'da told her that anyway, I swear. Place's real /clean/ lookin, fulla light and silk spaces. Like- there's pretty much no surface here not perfect fora throw.

"I traded with a friend of mine in the same sort of arrangement I have. My quarters aren't much different though."

"And hey, if yer friend's outta town, lets make usea everythin they got."

I'm standin' there witha hand on a figurine's not mine when she turns around to catch me offa that.

And I grin. "So, you wanna play?"

"Play? I am here to be touched by you." As she moves off that way.

Me close b'hind. But, not too close if that's how we're gonna take things down the shadowa this hallway.

I hear it in her steps- chase me. I hear though against her footsteps and myself, I guess

Momoni came here t'night wearin' her collar, the very thing that says she's somebody else's.

Might think that'd make fer more serious misgivin's on my part.

Nah.

Just makes me more determined to give her a fuck she'll never ferget. Hell, I don't even care if it's kinky. Challenge totally accepted.

The doors she throws wide on the end. There's one step up and another and there's enormous champagne shimmer bed lookin' down the hill inta the lights b'low. It takes up the whole room more're less, except fer some mirrors and fer us.

"You do want me, right? You said you did."

My answer being I drop my case, I settle my hands 'round her waist and I pull myself so close to her. All that silk sweet body in my arms.

"You're funny. But, I knew that."

"If you want me to stop..." I manage. But, she shakes her head and the powder or somethin' makes me sneeze.

So, what can I do? I shove her down on the bed and she goes there, boneless. Shoes toed off, I join her- that warm well she makes on the sheets, place where her pearls spill out. She's so firm to the touch and she's so much bigger'n me. My squeezesa her start flowin' off each other real quick. I can't, I can't get close enough even though the beads she's wearin' bite. Lil by lil I expose her. One lace undone, she curls it 'round her fingers. One breast free, she caresses herself hard until I have to seize her top off and just- there's so much of her to bite and to stroke. I get her skirt pushed up, and there's those superherione thighsa hers wrapped 'round my waist.

When I push myself on toppa her, that's how she pulls me in. I ride the tidea her and her, she lost a pearl in there someplace I think, but the laces're all comin' undone now, mostly my hands, but I touch them to her and her lips b'sides.

It's my mouth waterin' to find her half-shiverin' in the same pressure I got, nothin' but panties and a collar to cover her up.

The heart looks so much a wound in this light. And that- it turns me on. Thinkin' she would do that. I think" what's she got to offer me who just wants to get my hands on her?

She lets me bite her there and she tastes on my tongue like the pearls do on my skin.

"Ya sure?" I murmur, almost to myself fer all the smallnessa her nod. " I wanna tie you up. I wanna make you scream."

"It's OK."

There's a long look, hung up b'tween us.

I go for the kit. My clothes get gone. Robe, cuffs, vibes and me crash her way, but she catches me and we turn over each other that way. I know I rip her panties. She's so smooth underneath and she's got, once I spread it on my fingers, this fuckin' perfect porn star vulva. I can see everythin'.

Yeah- she's been worked on. Y'know, it's her body. I don't care. I so don't care. I look like a fuckin' barbarian b'side her I'm sure, but I can't see me 'cept fer red stains in the mirror. I see her. And the white rope with latches I brought. Silky stuff, hard to tie without riggin', but I got time and I got skills and next thing Momoni hands me her wrist.

The left one. Naked as the rest. I kiss her there.

"Yes," she says as I lash one arm down, then the other. I'm sucha sucker. I just want her spread. I want her open. I want every parta her I can possibly reach to be there waitin'.

"You OK with clamps?" I ask.

"Yes, Nene. Tight as you want them."

That's the first lil moan comes up. I can catch her whole skeleton shiftin' inside as she takes one, then the other- clover ones, canoodled in with the rope so I can tug a chain here, nudge a link there to get it all goin' in the fasteners. The city outside- no, /she/ makes 'em shine. All catchin' in her chest. I pull 'em, soon as she settles. I won't let her. She's shakes all on my hands in my hips and she said yes.

I could faint. Fuck that, I could come.

Her first though. I get my paintbrush.

She sees it. She lets out a squeak, squirmin' by the side she's got the heart drawn on. Like, would you? Would you really.

I would. I would absolutely kiss her all over whatova mound she's got. I will sink my lips in and then I will lick her clit clean, that and nothin' more, much as her belly wriggles. I know she can take it. I tell her so as I put the dry tip to her and I give it a twist wouldn't pull the easiest trigger on the easiest gun on the world.

"Be careful..." plays across her mouth.

"I'll be so careful."

I twist now, flickin' real soft across. That's where the flush comes up. That outta alla this. It's not like how she turned at the club, but she goes warm under her powder, pink it'd be if she wasn't wearin' that. Her whole snatch like writhes, inside and out and pullin' and risin'. I gotta sit on her thighs to keep her where I want her. Call that somethin' I'da done anyway and I will do watchin' her blush come out and her clit blossom. She was wet b'fore, but now, "The bed's gonna be soaked~." I tease

Momoni nods. "It's been so long..."

She says and I swear she's gonna come already. At least, the flutters underneath her skin and that gasp up close to my ear lead me onta these things.

I reach back b'tween our legs, thinkin' I'll tease her with my fingers. Just one inside and a pinch b'fore I lick her again and damn, I'll start all over.

First brush on her cuntmouth though- she's already got somethin' in her.

Huh. I was just watchin' the shadows down there nibble emselves. It's real slick whatever it is and it skims into my hand as I push down, big and just a lil crooked. It musta felt so good.

Except, when I reach back, inside's gone.

There's this archa hot flesh where Momoni had a cunt a minute ago.

I ah. I did not expect that. And it's like- that fit in her? That's the inside-out here where I was seriously thinkin' I'd ask if she'd take a fist fer me?

She's gone so still- except fer that, shimmerin' it up with her breath. At least until I look back. Then, it's a scream. "No! No! No!"

I snap the ropes.

"It's supposed to be fixed this time! Ace promised!"

And more from that, on and just the same, over as the tears come and I fall and the thing b'tween her legs bobs up away from her, harder and stronger still.

I've never heard anybody cry like Momoni cries now. It's this gory, bone-shaking sound like she's got other seams splittin' apart inside. And she's just beggin' through the sobs: no, no, no, no...

I just. I don't know what to do. The sound screws with my insides too. It hurts. It's not even me and it hurts so bad.

I have to pull her hands away. Her face's all wet and blushed too. "Momoni," I say. And, I stop myself from the rest. Tellin' her it's alright's just stupid now. I know it's not. I couldn't even pretend. Like, if that was me and somebody even tried that shit. I'd know it wasn't.

She cries harder.

I kiss her face. The real her and the makeup. I suck the snot out of her nose and the spit from the cornera her mouth.

"I know you wanted me," she whimpers. "I wanted you to have your pretty girl. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"You are a pretty girl." I tell her. Soundin' as much like I mean it as I can. I try, anyway. "Always and forever. So what if you have a bone?"

"I hate that ugly thing! It's broken!"

Holy shit. The scar on her belly. And maybe why... I don't deal in why. I can't now.

The fasteners on the ropes clank as she lays hands on herself. And she pulls. "Get off of me! Go away! Stop doing this to me. I'm a girl!"

Somethin' insidea her makes a crack.

"I know! Momoni!" And I swat her b'fore I bring my palms down on her face. Both at once, not too hard, so I'm holdin' her cheeks. "Look at me!"

Almost autonomic in the way she does it.

"You are a pretty girl. T'night, you're my pretty girl. I'll prove it."

"Nene..."

How could I not fer somebody who says my name like that?

OK, then. Changea plans. I takea deep breath. A shootin' breath.

/I/ want fucked.

Don't laugh, self.

I want fucked. I want this glorious thing in my hands. I can take it. I want it. I can dish this sorta thing out, I'd better be damnwell prepared to do it the other way 'round.

When you got a sub and they need ya, you need them back. So- I need her. I need this in me. I want fucked. This of hers, it's the most delicious lookin' bone I've ever seen.

I kiss it. She's salty, but she tastes likea woman, that white-wine kinda afterthought all ridin' the backa my tongue.

Not just the head. I do the whole thing while she watches. She's barely breathin', but her eye're all bright b'neath the tears.

Will she tell me it feels good?

OK if she doesn't. But, I want it too. I wanna feel her hips roll back inta me. I wanna stretch round this to the places nobody sees withouta speculum. I've been holdin' her. That'll be no different.

Now, she's also firmer'n a dude would be. I can only get a lil of her in my mouth at once. I lick her down, all the way to her labia split and back up; one hand on her. One on me.

Fistin' doesn't work so good on me, right? Momoni's bone though- it's not gonna fit up front either and fer sure.

It's beena while. Honest to fuck, I jitter inside puttin' fingers to my asshole insteada my snatch- well, did that too so they're slick. Know that's not nearly enough lube, but I brought more, didn't I?

I pour it on. Shameless about it. The champagne sheets're officially ruined b'fore I ever get started with the fuckin' parta fuckin'... gettin' fucked by Momoni. Man, I got two fingers in and a whole fist 'round her. I think myself relaxed, not just all up inside, but up my back someplace inta my shoulders.

I want fucked. I want her. I douse her again. I climb up on her belly.

"Yer so gonna get me off. Watch."

I also pull my legs apart so she can see- how juicy wet I am inside, either way. Some curious sound comes up her way as I push my hips forward and her tip slides against my hole. I gotta ease myself open with my fingers as I push down real slow. She's really thick and she just keeps going, but she's still restin' on my nerves y'know, the good one's that sing out even as my eyes water and it's really tight- OK, it hurts but I want it so bad.

Like that, I start to ride. Her skin and her heartbeat.

First pushback and all I'm just so goddamn sighin' my mouth won't make words. Every little time she hits that place insidea me though it's somethin' vergin' onna yes. I bob there fora long time, deep in b'fore I drop myself again and goddamn, that's too somethin', but I'm full, I'm so full and I still get that spreadin' sensation on the outside. It /hurts/.

But it hurts just right. My endorphins're still risin'.

I tip my head back and grin.

I like it.

So much, I wipe my hands off. One goes to my clit which's still plenty hard, thanks. Gets me a janglea curiosity from underneath.

"It's not you, babe. I need somethin' up front no matter want I'm doin'."

"I... I wouldn't expect anything else to be true."

I make myself shiver. Yes again while she lies there and she watches me schlick myself open while I ride- somethin' nostalgic almost in her half-closed eyes. There, as I get her all up insidea me. As she sees me without my words creepin' towards gettin' off. There where she's buried and that's me. I want fucked.

I want to be with her. Like this.

And I want more lube, there from out the tanglesa rope she's still half wearin'. Doesn't take more'n a moment. She's slippery all over her thighs and me I got it up my back, along the way she's pierced into me.

Not literally. There's nonea my blood. I check. Then, I let my hips lead like they do, no caution to it.

It's about that time that she gets it. She snaps. Momoni arches up from the sheets, pushin' hard inta me. There's a bright flasha pain with it. I shriek, but I also get this milky slide up inside my cunt where we're not together, but I'm so hot and I /want/.

"Shove it in! Fuck me with yer gorgeous cunt!"

"Nene!"

"I'm sorry, I just, I..." I this and I that. It all spills out inta a screamin' moan.

She takes her orders though and she slams inta me from off the sheets. Me and her. Me ridin' her thighs and her bone and her sex.

My heart's thuddin'. I get ethereal lightness all in the way I lost handsa myself where she's all balled up insidea me.

Momoni pushes back on my orgasm and I got nothin', nothin' at all but that all up in my senses until I've wailed it all out.

And I'm still movin'. I gotta. Her turn now.

I see her get off- eyes back, lips just parted, cry long and tender against me. I feel it too, deep in my belly. There's no spunk when she comes. She wells insideame still, holds me tight, jabbin' me down in all the sore places and where my orgasm just jerked through.

I gotta force myself back to normal breathin' after. I'm still like twitchin' up front and inside and just all over. But, I got this. I did this. I... take a whole fuckin' minute to pick myself up.

Pullin' apart makes it way worse at first.

I wash Momoni up gentle as I can with my good wipes and then a washclotha hers. I don't mean to watch as she slides back inta herself. Takes me a while to realize when she's all settled. She looks real red now, blown out and hurtin' too.

Bendin' over to grab what's leftaher panties sends a shootin' pain up the bottoma my back.

And then she won't put them on but... alright. That's fine.

We just look at each other. I sit there a couplea more seconds. I try my bag this time.

"You toke?" I ask. Why yes, I do have a couplea joints in my black bag. Also brought chocolate to be fair.

"God, yes," says Momoni.

That's her hands my way again. I fill 'em witha lighter and a whole joint. Me, I got my own and I need 'em.

She takes that first hit like a drownin' man touchin' the surface. And another. And another. Hey, if she's not gonna stop at two, I don't either.

The room goes misty and I guess somewhere in there somebody hits the lights.

We both sorta collapse onta the sheets. Me in a ball. Her spread out posin' fer a picture, even with the tear tracks.

I say, softly then and some while after the fogs reachin' it's way inta my lungs: "Where didja come from, sweetness?"

A long look to the ceiling, she does tell me. "It's hard to remember. I had one master and then another. I was in a basement with only a dog collar when Ace bought me. I'd forgotten how to talk."

Nonea that surprises me. I don't wish it did. But I do wish- it wasn't her sayin' that.

Or: "You?"

"I was bored. Nothin' more to it than that. Ah. Sorry?"

Momoni shakes her head.

When I move in to kiss her after that so she can taste the smoke and how true that is.

I dunno.

It just never happens.

We lie there and we laugh a while. Least, that's what I remember once later comes around.

~*~

28.

It's too hot and I'm too high. Doubled up on the ephedra, and when it didn't work, I tried the coke trick again. Dunno if I got different stuff than last time, but it just kinda smarts I was already hurtin'. Walkin' makes it worse. So, I walk faster and I gotta keep heel-steppin' back to the boss and the gang.

Her, Zampano and Gauthman and their goons, I mean.

Bhakta said she'd meet us here.

Ace. Well, I didn't call Ace. Neither did Mariska. The rest's up to their swords all over again.

"You know, the theory goes that the only reason the Jewish people ever do anything notable is because they've faced so much adversity. We should thank them, all the asshole of those world /just for being assholes/."

I don't cut in with why I think he's wrong. I mean, I could be all to my boss, permission fer this and...

I swallow. Throat's like sandpaper inside.

And it's Zampano talkin' by the time I coulda pushed my tongue inta gear.

"So, we should all be assholes, but not the wrong kind of asshole? You're not making sense, old man."

That's got him going. Hell, it's got Casca and that Glorfindel guy he brought insteada Siebenkas clappin'. Her though, Casca who I'll kill if things go sideways (Call that bein' plenty enoughovan asshole) straggles on over like she might be turnin' my way, but thinks better of it. Hell, maybe the other sidea the streets just that much more interestin'.

Me, I jerk back fera look. In it, I decide I'm gonna get her b'fore she gets me. "Ground control to Major Tom." My hand jitters close to her shoulder.

And she's all: "What?"

"Ya answered."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"And I," snaps Duckie. "Have no idea what you're trying to accomplish by dragging us out in this weather."

Gauthman draws himself up just as high as high can go for a rat bastard left out in the sun too long. "Fermenting another day. I'm not ready to be drunk just yet."

"Says you," snorts Zampano.

"What a shame," the boss tells this to her watch. "It passed noon a whole three minutes ago."

Nobody moves on from there. The sun touches down and we swallow our spit. OK, that's what I'd do if I had any. I'm not farin' so hot in that department. "You're being an asshole to educate us!" I call.

Still nothin'. Not until, "Seriously, was that you on the news last night with the Campion man-boy?" Zampano says.

"If it was, I want you to know that I didn't lift a finger. I was just there." With that, Duckie's the first to step off from this place in the glare we all kinda stranded ourselves for a beachin' long while. But, that while's gone again.

Out on the street, a car I think I know pulls up.

Bhakta knows we're bad news in the way she only dreams about sometimes, but she came anyway. And that's her accountant.

I blow her a kiss. Nobody stops me.

~*~

29.

T'night, I do take Cherryh with me.

We make ourselves a nice lil place in Central, somewhere in the scale linesa townhouses.

In the nest, there's no time. There's no thought.

There's functions that keep me alive and there's an eye. My guts're numb and quiet. The night draws on.

People sleep and wake and dream and fuck with their air conditioners around me.

I think if like this, I had skin, I'd be covered in sweat like I was swimmin' instead.

I don't have skin.

I sure's hell don't have any reasons.

Reason's fer people aren't entwined with the barrel ova gun.

Ammirite?

I'm so right.

I can't even feel the gun in my hands.

Just the way the air turns.

Smellsa city.

Smacksa the storm passed over one more time.

But- thank you if there's anybody needs thanked it's dead out here far's the atmosphere goes. If the haze gave it up, I'd more're less be shootin' a picture already inna frame.

Baby. Whoever's listenin'. You don't know how long I can wait. Waitin' isn't evena thing here with me and Cherryh.

T'night is...

When she comes, there's a pull. Even b'fore I see, I know it's her. But, insteada that extra heartbeata, I drop one and I pull her across the glassa the sight.

Me, her, down below.

The movement in me gets the trigger on- it's not even that. My desire translates and transforms in this swift electric.

Shot.

Yeah, they call it that 'cause the language won't hold nothin' else fer the way it coasts after.

I put a bullet in Ace's brain.

Maybe then, I breathe again.

I lift my head. I drink it in- all this city after dark where dark's barely a thing. There's an echo out there- me, Cherryh and everybody else. Traffic skids and songs from distant earths.

Without the scope, everything looks so damn far away.

The close-up stuff I slipped through to see where I was shootin'- I can't really touch it.

Or. Can I? Somethin' like that?

Breath down, I go back eye-scope-function. Back to that place halfa mile away.

There's no sound. I can only snatch it closed-in pieces.

That golden door's got the side blown out. Blood and brains run down the brass work.

Ace has crumpled to the sidewalk. She's soaked in herself.

Looks like somebody drilled out parta her head. Gotta say, I kinda I got her in the temple, not the middle.

But, I can see everythin' inside. The violet veins. The blue-green under gray curled up in her skull bones allovasudden gone. Where her memories usedta stalk- now, they're tangled with the fuckin' burned out endsa her scalp.

See, I shouldn't be able to make this out.

Did she hit the wall?

I give Cherryh one more impossible small nudge. A millimeter here's a thousand ticks off over there where I'm not.

There's Momoni.

Holdin' Ace in her arms.

She shakes her.

Not gonna do much, wound like that.

More of Ace falls outta her skull.

I can see her screamin'. Momoni, I mean. Her pretty eyes just pour.

She's sayin' her name.

Ace.

And come back.

And when their faces get so close together in one jolt I halfway miss, I guess they kiss.

After, Momoni's got blood all down her cheeks and her throat.

Somebody else pulls her away.

Ace starts to fall.

But, there's a bite. She grapples her way back.

She hangs on to her as she falls in on herself, little by little, under all the tearin' hands come in.

Me, I push back and I blink one more time up at the streetlight glare.

I should so be gone. Those sirens, they gotta be fer me.

But, I also think: "And remember who it was who gave you your life where another would have taken it."

I am another.

That dark person walking by.

~*~

30.

D'ya know how they make slipper color?

Well, it's called "sliperit".

They have to use a vacuum 'cause the oxygen chokes it out.

It's not anything if ya just spray it on.

But, take it outta atmosphere and allovasudden ya get all these sunset kinda colors on the glass.

And it's real hard to do more than one sidea anything, which's why it's all kinda all over the place when ya buy a bagga beads.

I looked all that up to tell her next time.

Heh. I bet she already knows.

Too bad fer that.

Too bad fer all that fuckall useless shit like lovin' anybody or carin' about broken glass.

It's notta big deal.

Really! I only did a little coke. I didn't even put it on my snatch. I did some Red X too, but that was yesterday. I think it was yesterday. Maybe it was just ecstasy. And some ephedra and that morphine analogue I jacked a couple years ago just fora night like t'night.

Nonea this matters. I did it. The fucker's dead and I'm still here and ain't nobody gonna hurt Momoni anymore even though she likes bein' hurt but sometimes... she's still here. That's what matters. Not what I did or Teela.

Or.

Shit.

Teela.

This isn't about Teela!

But.

I let her die.

I sent her out by herself that night even though she was mine. I laced up the holes I'd punched in her labia and I kissed her goodbye. "I'll see ya in a lil while."

I sat up with my best cock in my strap, strokin' it when I kept thinkin' I heard her outside. I thought she'd like it, seein' how I wanted her soon as she got in.

But, I never saw her again. I just passed out after a while, thinkin' I would.

The black mech got her or somebody shot her and dropped her inna hole someplace rather'n call the cops.

Unless she did to me what I did to Mom.

The fuckin' thing is I fuckin' don't know. I never found nothin'. I looked fuckin' everywhere for her and I...

Next thing I know, I'm down on the floora some smoky dive bar bathroom, pukin' my guts out. So hard I see stars.

Whatever I did, it's done now. It's all comin' out and it tastes like mercury fulminate smells.

Everythin' looks dark and blurry 'cept fer the roaches.

I sputter and heave till it hurts.

I can't breathe. There's just spit and acid slickin' outta my mouth.

And tears. Big, fat, sticky tears.

"Mess me up, Nene."

She says. Someplace in the backa my head.

I just.

Baby doll, I'm already messed up. You can just rub yerself on me if you want more you sick, fuckin' gorgeous woman.

I'm alone except fer the roaches. People wash their hands. Somebody else pukes. I'm alone, but I'm not the only one. After a while when the heaves just hurt instead doin' anything. I pick myself up. I go to the bar.

"Double shotta vodka."

I gotta have somethin' to get me back to my place and it's not legal to sell me straight everclear 'cause fuck everything.

I guess that's where I'm goin'. Back.

Hardly think it matters what else I pour down my throat.

~*~

31.

It doesn't. I get back Somehow're other. I get back. The halls sound like they're talkin' there in the deada night, walls stirrin' it up with my shadows.

Feels like I got cramps startin, 'cept I don't do that anymore and it's too far back.

I still check my shorts fer blood on the way up. Standin' up after gets me dizzy and whatever, I sure's hell know my way from here.

'cept, there I am starin' at my keys for the longest fuckin' time. Like I never saw 'em b'fore in my life. Which one opens my door?

Goddamn fuckin' shit, I even lock the thing?

Yeah.

OK. I'm OK. I'm still standin'. At least till I hit the lock again. Everythin' just kinda stops after that.

I crawl to the couch. I can't go to bed. I can't even lie down.

Cherryh goes b'hind me.

I can kinda sorta see up here- the whole fuckin' up and down Dhalgren messa the city starin' at me while I... do nothin'.

I'm alone. I can't even hear myself breathe. Head's fulla static and fuck and hot and the scenta champagne soap.


The sun comes up. I put some bird sandwiches in Sophie's cage. "Springrolls." I don't answer.

I stand at the fridge and tell myself I'll eat. Instead, I cough some more junk up in the sink.

Can I at least choke down some pain pills?

Well, choke's the word alright.

I guess I get dressed.

Everything hurts. My eyes. My legs. My guts. My gun hand. My head. This thing right above my stomach that's leadin' into my shoulder. My /teeth/.

I gotta go someplace t'day. I gotta move. I gotta.

In the mirror I look likea zombie.

Doesn't matter.

I hafta sit down to dress. Spend halfa the age anda half it takes slumped over with my head b'tween my knees.

I hate this. I hate this zombie in the mirror. I hate I got so sloppy I left my Cherryh out, but I don't wanna lookit her right now. I still don't. She's mine too and- what the fuck's wrong with me?

Who'm I to /"protect"/ anybody.

That's not my job.

Fuck, that sounds lazy.

Fuck, it is lazy. But, consider a sec here.

I never wanteda sub.

I wanted somebody to play with who wasn't a character inna book. Somebody who listened just- sometimes, anyway.

I never really wanted a kid.

I think.

I just figured kids were somethin' that'd happen to me. So, I read everythin' about how kids happened, with other people and what woulda been insidea my own body.

I figured I couldn't get outta that bloody, shitty, pukin' mess.

But I did. I found another bloddy, shitty, pukin' mess, didn't I?

Hangin' over the toilet, I just heave. Nothin' more comes out.

OK, good.

Or, it would be if the door wasn't knockin' around with somebody else's key.

I make my way out to the hallway.

"Well, aren't you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning," says the boss.

"8AM's inhuman this timea year," I get out.

Walk straight, self. All I gotta do is make it downstairs to the car and I can sit fer fifteen goddamn fuckin' minutes.

I can do this. I can move. Sure, my reflexes're shot and it's hard to cover that up, but...

Next thing I know, Tian's all up in my face. /Sniffin'./ "Who did you kill?"

"Ace," I mutter.

"Took you long enough." She stands back. I swear she sighs. Don't remember the last time she did that.

The boss just stares at me.

Yeah. I'm fucked. People do not piss off Alexandra Duclos and live. How do I know this? Well, I usedta be the one who took carea that shit.

Hey, guys? My handle was Nene. I liked drugs and pretty subs and guns and trashy stuff. Leavea note for the next one not to do what I just did.

God. I just. I wonder why I slipped up, but there's no anger anymore. Just hangover mouth and numb. And I'm so tried

Duckie takes out her cel and dials it blind as I list further and further to the right.

I am not gonna puke again b'fore this is over.

This bein' a call. "Yes, Bhakta? It's Duclos. Of course I called your personal phone. This is about a /personal/ meeting, isn't it? Mariksa is... Alright then, how are you? Fine, thank you. Though we are having some minor technical difficulties. Not more than fifteen minutes. My apologies. Well, if you get bored, consider asking Mr. Gauthman what he thinks of Jewish people. Yes, I will see you."

Doesn't so much hang up as she does throw the thing. She's got me by the fronta the shirt next.

"I am not taking you out looking like that. Have some pride, woman."

She drags me back to my own bathroom, Tian's shadow trailin' b'hind. I get my face washed with somebody else's hand fisted in my hair fora change. Then stripped. OK, I'm not sure it's in that order, but it happens and I end up standing naked at the foota the bed as my boss digs through my closet. Somea it gets shoved my way after a while. A barely familiar setta buttons starts poppin' open in my hand, but I'm not fast enough fer Duckie.

She's rough- yanking stuff over my head so my ears burn.

I prolly still got hairs outta place. I don't clean up well. I /warned/ her once what seems like forever ago.

I end up inna tailored skirt suit, her doin' up my tie. All this time, she hasn't looked me in the face, not even through the mirror. And she's got this nit in her brows, like she's thinkin' about somethin' that doesn't want thought up.

 photo illus-3-lo-res.jpg

As she's got her hands at my throat: "Just don't forget. You can have whoever you want, but you are mine."

"Yes, m'lord," I answer.

Should prolly gross me out she said that, but just fer today or something.

We leave after all.

~*~

32.

Janey had the right idea. I should just blow my brains out and get it over with.

Like, t'night'd be nice. Just go back one more time, do it in the garage or somethin' so I don't scare the bird.

Except, I kinda don't wanna.

Yeah, my head's killin' me, stomach's roilin' and my ass is just messed up; I still smell like mercury to myself

But. I don't actually wanna die.

Huh.

The person who wrote Fuck Me on my arm's gone.

I look over the achin' hot streets and I...

OK, that hurts. Everythin' hurts.

But, I don't wanna die.

I really don't.

Not t'day anyway.


Not sure anymore if I was like this b'fore I found out I had Hauthan's, b'fore the only friends I had were murderers in books, b'fore I was born. I say "if I talk to God" 'cause God's kinda a bitch about answerin'. Hey, never known a manager who wasn't.

I do know it was b'fore Teela; so b'fore Momoni, that'sa given.

If I talk to God, I don't even think I'd ask about myself. I'd be all- you let Orson Scott Card win the Hugo twice inna row, but Naomi Mitchison didn't get one?

Yeah, I still think I'm funny. And God only knows why.

I know, if I know anythin', t'day- we're out again.

I got no idea what day it is. I squint. It still smells like summer out there as I escort the boss from the town car to the doors, crowd flittin in slow motion through my lashes. Nobody moves any way likea gun ora rush.

But, I'm not sure who'd want to off Duckie right now. That, either.

She follows me just the same, hand on my shoulder like I got a steering wheel back there.

We hit the lobbya some glass house kinda office, open inside almost as big as arcologie skies, mornin' light streamin' in all so bright it's almost blue.

Today, whatever day it is, I kinda think I'd like to kill the guy who designed this place.

Later. When I'm in the mood again.

There is totally a mood fer killin'. Sorry, Gurney. You were kinda a jackass anyway and nobody here remembers ya fer that but me.

I think.

I /know/ I am not takin' my shades off. Holy goddamn.

I get no guff fer it. Justa swat as Tian takes my place. Has she seriously got an umbrella under her arm? Sky's Caribbean & chlorine clear all the way to ow, ow, ow, damnit.

"Watch the crowd," she says.

I was doin' that anyway, thanks.

So, here I am, lined up at the wall with all the other nobodies. Some're just nobody's t'day. They'll go home later, put their names back on. A lotta us won't. I saw The Lord Pirate Jenny on the way in, plus a Hirschfeld sister; some guy I know fera fact owns a brothel. Bhakta's glued herself to the boss, complainin' that she actually showed up, far as I can catch. I did hear that somethin' about Gauthman, who I don't see at the moment, though that is his gentle giant easta my gun arm.

Two of a hundred goons. But, him. I don't need to do any research fer it to fall inta place. Dude would not work for Gauthman if he'd never killed anybody.

Two killers I know. There's a halfa dozen more out there. One more day, we all stand at attention and pretend and nobody needs to hide the scars on their arms.

Siebenkas slips a hand into his suit jacket. It's my job to watch him do it, since I know he's got a gun in there. Instead though, he comes up witha glasses case.

Shades there half unfolded in his hand, he gives me a glance.

Then he puts them on, real suspect-like b'fore he goes back to his not-so-little self with all the finesse ova bad little kid.

Me, I just bust up laughin'. Why shouldn't I?








bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)

[personal profile] bookblather 2015-06-21 10:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, Nene.

I feel like I should have more of a reaction than that, but pretty much all I want to do is cuddle her and feed her cookies and put her to bed. She'd probably hate it.