Wraith_Fan (wraith_fan) wrote in ai_no_kusabi_,
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Star-Crossed Chapter 3: Out on the Town

Summary: Riki and his gang are cruising through Midas, just out for kicks and some quick cash. But when they have a run-in with the Dark Men, Riki is unexpectedly rescued by an old acquaintance. But not all is what it seems ...

Ratings: I'd dare to say T for this chapter, only a few very indirect reference to sexual or violent stuff, but like I said this fic as a whole is gonna be a definite MA so...

Author's notes: Hi everyone :)
I’ve been feeling really inspired for this fic, so I’ve gone and written the next chapter already, just couldn’t help myself :) Riki’s making an appearance here, so naturally there’s more action in this one ;) Not yet any real smut, but no worries, I’m getting there ;) So I hope you’ll all enjoy reading this next chapter!:D And pls leave a comment so I know what I’m doing right or wrong here and what your expectations are for the rest of this fic ;)

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soundtrack: Starship – We Built This City
   
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Here's your favorite radio station, in your favorite radio city
The city by the bay, the city that rocks, the city that never sleeps

It was just another Sunday night in the city that never slept and continuously kept up its flirtatious games with the night. Its bright lights were winking to any potential lovers whose wallet could afford it and extravagantly dressed worshippers of decadence were crowding its streets in a never-ending mass of movement. In the air resounded a fragmentary collection of sounds, each competing with the other both in volume and spectacularity. All in an effort to sell their products through auditory advertisements or to lure customers to their establishment using enticing music.
   
We built this city, we built this city on rock an’ roll
We built this city, we built this city on rock an’ roll

And that glitter and glamour did not only lure those who were eager to spend their cash but also those who were eager to steal it. Not that they would ever admit that they needed anything at all from the deceitful seductress of the night to survive. They just considered it good sport and entertainment to illegally cruise the streets of Midas, just another “fuck you” in the pompous face of Tanagura and a way to show off their unrestricted freedom of movement to the virtually caged citizens of Midas. Never would the supposed scum from Ceres allow anyone to forget that they still existed. That even if Tanagura had managed to beat them down and humiliate them, it would never be able to break their spirit or exterminate them completely. The mongrels knew full well that their very presence was an eye-sore to that whole system, which was exactly why they flaunted themselves at every opportunity they got.
     
Someone's always playing corporation games
Who cares they're always changing corporation names
We just want to dance here, someone stole the stage
They call us irresponsible, write us off the page

It was on this night that the infamous leader of Bison had decided to fly out with his gang and rub it in some more for good measure: Ceres was never gonna back down. And definitely not under the watch of Riki the Dark. When he returned to Ceres after nearly two years spent in Iason Mink’s gilded cage, he’d initially encountered some difficulties to re-establish both himself and his gang to their former glory. But in the end those difficulties had helped him to become even more feared and awe-inspiring than he had been before, for he knew better than ever the importance of what it was he was fighting for: freedom. His hatred for the tyranny that Tanagura exerted over not only its own citizens but those of Midas as well, had never burned more strongly. They would be acknowledged eventually, because they would make both Tanagura and Midas notice them!

“Hey Riki? Y’wanna check out Sasan? I hear it’s real crowded with tourists this time o’ year! We could sneak in and out, grab some cash, and no one’ll even notice!” Sid yelled at the top of his lungs as he was speeding right behind the gang’s leader, closely followed by Norris, then Luke, and Guy closed the hoverbike formation. This sequence was in no way indicative of what was happening relationship-wise between Riki and Guy, as it was the regular formation of a Ceresian gang: leader up front, second-in-command at the rear. No pun intended.

Riki hesitated for only a second, but long enough for the gang members he had grown up with to notice it. Sasan was the place where he had first met the object of both his burning hatred and his secret desire: the icy perfection that was Iason Mink. Misunderstanding his leader’s hesitation, Sid added: “Unless ya think there’s better cash to collect elsewhere tonight?” Since Riki had regained his authority over Bison and had brutally subdued the new rival gangs that had popped up, no one in the gang dared to out-right question his decisions.

“Nah, ‘s fine. Extra Dark Men ain’t gonna be a problem if there’s as much of a crowd as you say. We’ll have to ditch the bikes somewhere and go in on foot though”, the dark-haired mongrel shouted towards his back, his voice sounding rough and not a single tremble vibrating in it. Damn had he gotten good at hiding his true feelings after some time spent in the company of that sick blonde bastard. While he was swiftly and agilily steering his bike into one of the less-frequented alleys at the edge of the popular area known as Sasan, Riki was unconsciously playing with his key chain.

“Y’know you never told me where ya got that? Looks like something worth sellin’…”,  Guy said as he approached his former pairing partner, while the other gang members were securing the parked bikes as best as they could. Any excuse to try and start a conversation with his friend had to be exploited these days, for conversations with Riki had been few as of late.

“What the fuck’s it to you, huh?!”, Riki hissed out more aggressively than he had intended. He immediately regretted it, because he had been looking for a way to get closer to his former pairing partner and best friend again. But it wasn’t proving easy, as everytime he tried to reconnect Guy saw it as an invitation to make out. And he just wasn’t sure if he was ready for that yet. Especially since the first time Guy had kissed him after his return to Ceres, memories of the extreme ecstacy that he had experienced with Iason had flashed through his head. How was he supposed to make love to Guy while he was still thinking about that psychotic maniac from Tanagura? Would Guy – or anyone else for that matter – be able to truly satisfy him ever again now that he’d had a taste of the android’s eroticism?

“Shit… Guy, wait, OK…”, Riki said as he was checking whether he still had his pocket knife tucked inside of his boot and trying to see if the other gang members were still within hearing distance. Guy momentarily glanced in the same direction, and then returned on his steps, not sure what to expect. Riki had not exactly been forthcoming since his return and Guy had a feeling that maybe his old pairing partner wasn’t interested in getting together again. He just couldn’t figure out what it was he had done to make it so.

“Fuck, Guy, it’s not you… it’s me… I’m just… I never talk about it but… I’ve been through some pretty crazy shit, some very sick shit, while I was away… I just wanna make sure I don’t get you involved in that mess as well, y’know what I’m sayin’?” Riki did not quite have the guts to look his friend in the eye while he spoke. Guy had been able to tell for several months now that Riki was clearly struggling with something. But he had no idea what that something was, so as long as Riki wasn’t willing to talk about it all he could do was wait.

“Yeah… yeah I figured there was somethin’… Crap, Riki, y’know you can always tell me anything, right? That’s what friends are for, and I’m always gonna be your friend, even if nothin’ more”, the other said, that old familiar caring sentiment shining in his light brown eyes. It was the same look that had made Riki approach him on the day they’d met, all those years ago. Guy hadn’t changed one bit, and it felt as if Riki’s very heart was being janked out of his chest at the thought of shutting out his friend or lying to him. But there was just no way he could ever make Guy understand what it had been like for him, up in that terrible marble palace of terror.

“Knowing about that shit… it changes a person, man… and I don’t wanna do that, I don’t want you to become as fucked-up as I am…”, Riki finally said, unable to look Guy in the eye for fear of him noticing the unshed tears in there. When he noticed he was still fumbling with the Aurora coin, he angrily shoved it back into his pocket. He could not even keep the memories out of his thoughts by day, and even less by night. Guy had often heard Riki move uneasily and mumble in his sleep, but Riki had never been willing to share what his nightmares had been about. One time he had even woken up the entire gang by crying out in the middle of the night, they had thought he was being murdered in his sleep by a member of a rival gang.

“The cops torture you or something like that? Hey man, I don’t wanna make you talk about anything you don’t wanna talk about… But not talking about something, it don’t change nothing, it still happened, y’know?” At that Riki finally did look up and into the other’s eyes, and Guy was too shocked by what he saw there to react straight away. He had never seen such raw suffering and fear on the brave mongrel’s face before. Nor such inner turmoil and indecision.

“Hey ladies!!! You comin’ or what?! Before they run out of the good cards!”, Norris yelled at them with a big, fat grin on his face. He loved robbing folks more than anything, and he hadn’t had an opportunity to hone those skills of his in weeks. At first he’d thought that the end of Riki’s relationship with Guy could mean a possible intro for him. But he only needed to throw one look at Riki’s face while he was watching Guy, and he could tell straight away that Riki still had strong feelings for his best friend. What he couldn’t wrap his head around, was why they weren’t pairing partners no more then? Cause it sure as hell didn’t look as if Guy wasn’t interested anymore.

“Who the fuck you’re calling a lady, huh?! Just you wait till I catch you, ya motherfucker, I’ll show you who’s the lady here!” Guy was relieved when he heard Riki yell back at Norris with his same-old don’t-you-dare-mess-with-me! attitude. They decided that splitting up and meeting back at the bikes would be the best course of action. As large groups of mongrels tended to attract the attention of Dark Men or cops more quickly, and they’d probably get separated in the crowd anyways.
   
Who counts the money underneath the bar
Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitars

Riki decided to finally cut his old partner some slack, so he paired up with Guy but also asked Sid to join their group. Having Guy alone would’ve made further questioning inevitable and he really didn’t feel like talking about it, especially while he was supposed to be paying attention to his surroundings. “All right, fellas, let’s go kick some rich motherfucker asses!”, their leader shouted, to which the others responded with equal enthusiasm. This was gonna be their night.

Pretty soon Riki, Guy and Sid were walking down the main street and into the square that held the most prominent casino’s and bars, close to the Sasan city-gates where the tourists usually landed. So far they had seen no sign of Dark Men, but then again the bastards had a way of showing up unexpectedly. After only a couple of minutes of prospecting potential prey, they had picked out a middle-aged man with a bald head, who was apparently out on the town all by himself and was literally waving around his fat wallet while greedily staring at the casino’s he intended to visit. The three mongrels got into the usual formation: one right on his tail with another following farther behind under the cover of the crowd, and a third one slightly in front of the victim’s trajectory path. One of the most lucrative techniques in this formation was for the mongrel in the front to create some kind of distraction, while the one following closely behind took the victim’s wallet while he was occupied by the diversion. The third mongrel following slightly behind was mostly meant to keep a look-out or to lead cops away in another direction in case the victim of the robbery screamed for help.

However the bald man slightly upset their scheme by turning into an alley on the side, that was still relatively crowded yet did not offer the density of people that worked best for the execution of their intended plan. Too spread apart now to change their strategy, they simply continued to follow their victim while trying to remain inconspicuous. But the twisting and bending of the street and the presence of many stalls blocking most of the road, made it difficult for Sid - who was on the look-out - to clearly oversee the situation.
   
It's just another Sunday, in a tired old street

However just as Guy was about to make his move and create a disturbance in front of the victim, Riki saw two Dark Men come from behind a stall smack right in the path of Guy and the tourist. Riki just froze, he could tell even from this distance that Guy clearly wasn’t looking in the direction of the Dark Men, expecting Sid to sound the alarm in case of their appearance. But the Dark Men were standing so close that if he screamed to warn Guy, they would turn and see Guy in the middle of his diversion. Dammit, we should’ve just let him slip and chosen another one in the square!

Unknowing of the danger close-by, Guy made his appearance and ran straight towards the man while loudly asking the man if he could please burrow his phone. You see his bike had broken down unexpectedly closeby and he’d been unable to reach a mechanic because someone had stolen his phone. Despite Guy’s tattered clothes being clearly identifiable as those of a mongrel by citizens of Midas, it would not be so obvious to a tourist. Therefore the man was initially not suspicious at all and was already reaching for his phone. At that time the two Dark Men had noticed that something was going on and had just turned around, while standing only a couple of feet away from Guy and the tourist.
   

Police have got the choke hold, oh, then we just lost the beat
 
There was simply no other way to avoid that the Dark Men would notice Guy. “HEY!!!!!!! HEY OVER HERE MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!”, Riki yelled at the top of his lungs while waving his arms above his head in the hopes of momentarily distracting the Dark Men from Guy’s presence. Fortunately for Guy, his plan worked, and as soon as they heard the yelling and saw Riki they were on his tail, brushing right past Guy in their hurry to get to the mongrel who they had spotted right away. Oh shit now they’re after me, hadn’t thought of that!

Riki ran as quickly as he could, manoeuvring in between passing people like an acrobat. He knew that he could turn the fact that the street was less crowded to his advantage. If he could only gain speed and put some space between himself and his pursuers before disappearing into the big crowd at the square … However the way in which the stalls had been scattered all across the street made that difficult, and all the people in the area had become unmoving obstacles as soon as they had heard that something was going on. He had almost reached the square, almost there. He risked a quick glance behind him and his heart stuck in his throat: he wasn’t going to make it!

Just then Sid started shouting and jumping up and down like a madman some distance beyind the Dark Men, which created a momentary distraction when they looked around. But Sid was standing far enough to get away safely, and the only thing their hesitation did was give Riki a few extra seconds to dive into the mass of people. But contrary to what he’d been expecting, he only managed to shake one of the Dark Men in the crowd. The other one had risen a lasergun and had started randomly shooting up into the air to get the crowd to part straight away upon his approach. Shit! Since when do these fuckers use techniques that are risky to the crowd’s safety?

He was right behind Riki, and armed, there was no way Riki would be able to beat him in a head-on fight if he had the advantage of a lasergun. Seeing no other way out of the situation, Riki ran into one of the casino’s, hoping the security there would not notice him until he had made his way out the back door. Assuming there was a back door, that is. The entrance of the casino was so crowdy that people barely noticed it when Riki dashed inside. But once inside the main playing hall, he slowed down his pace not to draw attention to himself. For once he was grateful that he’d been wearing a new set of clothes when Mink had set him free. For it was the very quality of the material they were made out of, that made the people who saw him hesitant to assume anything. True, he was dressed in the style preferred by the inhabitants of Ceres, yet most inhabitants of that place could not afford that kind of quality. That slight hesitation was all Riki needed to charm his way into the crowd, combined with the pretense that he belonged there and wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was truly amazing sometimes what you could get away with just by pretending you belonged.

But just as he was beginning to think he had pulled it off and the Dark Men were no longer on his trail, they burst in through the very same back door that Riki had been eye-ing as his exit. Holy motherfucker! Riki quickly spun around to go back out the way he came in, only to see that the other fucker had caught up with his colleague and was now blocking the main entrance, already informing the security men there of the situation by the looks of it. There was no other way to go now but up the flight of neon-decorated stairs into the
VIP-section of the casino. Maybe he could pull off a roof exit or hide somewhere upstairs until they gave up. Riki swiftly but silently flew up the stairs while staying close to the walls on the side, and by some miracle the Dark Men and the security men weren’t looking high enough to see him.

The mongrel kept on sneaking around upstairs, staying close to the walls, peering around the corner and into the upstairs game-room. He had to admit it looked pretty classy: crystal chandeliers, gilded Louis XV furniture, velvet upholstery, printed wallpaper and some neo-classicist paintings. Which would be problematic if he were seen cause in that kind of setting he just stuck out like a sore thumb. Only one of the rich dandy snobs in that room had to call security and he would be royally fucked, and not in a good way.

All of a sudden he was awoken from his contemplations by a soft, feminine hand on his arm accompanied by a waft of sweet, expensive-smelling perfume. Probably Chanel or some shit, judging by the multi-layered depth of the scent. As he turned around, ready to physically throw off whoever it was who was attempting to apprehend him, his mouth fell open in surprise at the sight before him.
   
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The familiar girl in front of him had straight, full, glossy dark-red hair that reached until right above her narrow, frail shoulders. Her skin was of the purest white yet he could detect a faint gray-ish undertone upon closer inspection, but for the rest it was entirely unblemished, like a doll’s. The eyes were big, wide and bright which gave the face the appearance of a childish innocence, but at the same time the deep orange colour of the eyes and the sharpness of the jawline rendered it a rather feline, almost predatory quality. The lips were still full, and adorned with bright-red lipstick, whereas the rest of the face was narrower and less filled-out than he remembered. Also her body appeared to be skinnier, although possibly that only added to the elegance and fragility that radiated from it. And best of all, she was currently wearing more clothes than he had ever seen her in, although the fact that the dress was made out of a golden, glittering fabric did not make her any less conspicuous.

“M.. Mimea! What… what are you doing here?”, Riki eventually blurted out, completely caught off-guard, as he had not been expecting to see the girl there in a million years, nor anywhere else for that matter.

“I work here. But I think the bigger question here is: what are you doing here, Riki?”, the young former Pet responded with a wink and an uncharacteristically cheeky smile. Just then they heard voices behind them and the sound of several men hurrying up the stairs. Oh oh.

Mimea pressed a manicured finger to her shiny lips and indicated for Riki to follow her, after quickly pulling off her heels for those would certainly alert the approaching men to someone’s presence. Riki hastily followed her red and golden figure across the exaggeratedly decorated rococo-style landing, mentally comparing her graciously swinging form to a burning flame. Just after Riki had followed Mimea into a small room containing some spare furniture and cleaning materials and shut the door, he could hear the security men pass right outside the door. For a few moments they were standing there, close to each other in the darkness, not speaking for fear of the men outside overhearing them.

After five minutes Mimea decided that it was safe by whispering: “This room requires an access code, so I don’t think they’ll be checking this one. But just in case, there’s a personnel stairway behind that curtain over there, that leads into the kitchen.” Despite the dim lighting in the room, Riki could still clearly make out the vibrant red of her hair and even her shining orange eyes could be made out in the darkness. As she was softly explaining the lay-out of the building, it became apparent to Riki that she was standing close enough to kiss, as her lips almost moved against his face when she spoke. He was not even sure if she was doing it on purpose. Probably not, he sure as hell wouldn’t want to kiss anyone who’d pulled such a stunt on him as he did on Mimea. But then again he surely would not consider risking his job at a posh place like this for the mere sake of aiding a person who had cheated him so.

“Mimea, ergh… not that I’m not grateful that you’re helping me out here or anything but… Why are you helping me?” The mongrel inside of him realised this was terrible timing on his behalf, but the man inside could not simply accept this girl’s assistence without even mentioning the wrong that he had done her in the past. She had been right, he had been a coward. But he wasn’t about to be now.

“Why? Well, that’s what friends are for, right?”, she responded with a beaming smile as she was pulling the curtain aside, revealing the run-down staircase she had been referring to. They clearly didn’t bother with the same décor back-stage, typically Midas: a fancy façade with ugliness behind it. Was that all he was too, in the end? A brave face with the heart of a coward to back it up?

“I wasn’t acting in the way a friend should, the last time we saw each other. So you’ve no reason to treat me as such anymore.”

Momentarily overcome by apparent surprise, Mimea stared at him for a few seconds, her pretty mouth slightly open now, revealing her pristinely white teeth and giving her face an extra cute expression. “Oh, Riki! None of that was your fault! I know you did not mean to hurt me, and how were you to know that Lord Mink would overreact like that?”, she said comfortingly while she gently brushed a stray lock of wild, black hair from his face. She kept on smiling but the look in her eyes betrayed regret and … compassion? Great, now even an ex-Pet feels sorry for me. Get your act together already, Riki!

“No, no, Mimea, it was my fault. OK, perhaps I didn’t know the fucker was gonna freak out like he did. But still the point is that I misled you into believing I had feelings for you that I didn’t.” When the beautiful creature was attempting to open her little mouth again, he raised a hand to indicate that she ought to let him finish before responding. “I mean, not that I don’t like you, I like you very much, but as a friend, you know? But I pretended otherwise because… the truth is I wanted to make him jealous. I just wanted to do something to him, something that would hit him where it hurt.”

“I think you have succeeded there, Riki.” Was that a hint of sarcasm that he detected in her melodious voice? Could Pets even understand such a concept? He must have imagined it.

“Yeah, look what good it did the both of us. Shit, I’m sorry! Dammit, I shouldn’t have done it… I just couldn’t stand feeling so bloody helpless!” Riki finally burst out, unable to stop the emerging flood of guilt and frustration that he had been suppressing ever since that day that the blonde psycho had found out about him and Mimea.

“It’s all right, Riki”, she soothingly whispered in a rather husky, intoxicating voice. She had gotten even closer to him and was now blowing warm, perfumed air into his ear with every word she said. “I understand very well what it’s like to feel helpless.” With that last sentence she slightly bended her head and let her moving, slightly moist lips make a path along his neck. Considering all the hurt he had caused her, he did not have the strength to pull away from her caresses. But when she laid one hand on his shoulder and the other on his hip, he had to react.

Mimea responded with a startled gasp of disappointment when he pulled away so abrusquely. “Have I… displeased you in some way, that you pull away from me like that? Am I… disgusting to you perhaps?” Riki experienced the forlorn expression appearing on her face and the slight watering of her eyes as a knock right to his heart. Not because he was in love with her, but because he could not bear the thought of causing this innocent girl any more pain because of his stupidity.

“No, no! Of course not, you could never displease me, Mimea. But I don’t want to take advantage of you, ever again. I don’t want to be selfish like that, I don’t want to treat you like you’re some kind of thing without emotions!” Realising that he was perhaps contradicting the point he was trying to make by using such a loud voice, Riki smiled reassuringly and added on a more gentler note. “To me you’ll always be a person, so you don’t have to do that, OK?”

“You can’t betray me like that again, Riki. Things are different now, if we were to seek pleasure in each other, there would not be any consequences, even if someone found out”, she whispered rather seductively, as she started leading the way down the old, dusty staircase. There were no lights in the stairway either so the same soft, hazy atmosphere of darkness remained. “Or maybe you’re not like me in that way? Maybe you are more loyal, in that you seek pleasure with only one other person?”

It took Riki a couple of seconds to figure out that those two last sentences conveyed two meanings, for he wasn’t generally expecting a lot of underlying meanings in Mimea’s words. The first being that she had slept with at least one other person out of her own free will since the last time they had seen each other. The second that she thought that he refused her out of a sense of loyalty to someone else, whom he truly loved, as more than a friend. He was just about to respond when he realised something: he had never told her about Guy. Which meant she had to be referring to… No freakin’ way!

He could not have possibly reacted to it in any other way but a violent way. But with her it was different, she was so sweet and innocent, and she had just saved his butt. It would not do for him to get angry with her now over a wrong assumption she had made without intending any harm.

“Ergh… I’m not gonna judge you Mimea, if it’s just your way to connect to people I get that. And as far as I am concerned, I’m single and I don’t mind staying that way. At least until I’ve had some time to figure things out”, he had added that last part while thinking about the problems he had been experiencing with Guy, momentarily so caught up in his own thoughts that he had forgotten that Mimea did not know about that.

“You mean with Guy?”, she went and made her first mistake. When Riki had made his last statement she had understood very well that he must have been talking about the mongrel called Guy, the one who was also a part of his gang. But in realising this she had automatically reacted in her own childish mind-set: assuming that everyone knew the same things she did and that she was supposed to know all the things that she knew.

The mistake was hardly surprising, considering that she had no experience whatsoever in lying about factual information. Sure, she could deceive others into believing she liked or desired them even if that was not really the case. But her knowledge had always been of the most rudimentary sort, she had simply never obtained any information that needed hiding before. If she realised her mistake, it did not show in her facial expressions, as she continued to gently smile. If I keep on pretending that everything is fine, perhaps he will do the same.

“Yeah… yeah, but how did you know that? How would you know about Guy?”, Riki asked, astonishment evident in his voice but not yet suspicion.

What explanation to give? The fact in and of itself that he immediately asked these questions indicated that he recalled that he had not told her anything about Guy. So claiming that he had told her so himself would only prove her to be a liar.
Stay as close to the truth as possible. Do not mention any unnecessary falsehoods.

Who else knew about Guy? Who else could have known? She could make something up about a customer at the brothel, but then she would not be sticking close to the truth. Who did Lord Mink tell about Guy?

“I overheard a mongrel talking about him, at Mistral Park”, she answered while keeping her voice calm and matter-of-factly, looking him straight in the eye while fluttering her purple eyelashes to avoid any suspicion. Purposely she did not mention what she had been doing at Mistral Park, she only thought of how it was a place were Blondies and lower-class citizens could meet without any eyebrows being raised. And she knew it was the place where Iason Mink had met the former member of Bison known as Kiri. And the two of them had discussed Guy.

“What? A mongrel at Mistral Park? Who was this mongrel, what did he look like?”, he already had a sickening suspicion at the back of his mind about any mongrel who would have the audacity to show himself in a place like Mistral Park.

Mimea smiled sweetly while giving a very accurate description of the one Riki had immediately suspected: Kiri. Of course she had only ever seen pictures of Kiri. But Riki didn’t know that and he assumed that her very accurate description meant that she was speaking the truth about where she had heard about Guy and Riki’s relationship. The accurateness of Kiri’s description and the curiosity as to whom in Mistral Park he would be discussing him and Guy with, made Riki completely forget about asking the obvious question: what had Mimea been doing at Mistral Park?

“You’ve got to be shitting me! Kiri, that stupid kid! Have you heard anything else? Who was he discussing this with?”, Riki demanded as he grabbed unto Mimea’s shoulders rather harshly, his momentary rage at the kid’s devil-may-care attitude at the expense of others getting the better of him.

And of course it could not hurt to make him think that his precious friends could be in danger, even if I see no more direct need to resort to such measures now.

“With Lord Mink. Which is why I know very little about it, as soon as I saw them I ran outside to avoid any kind of uncomfortable confrontation”, her need to explain herself had now unfortunately reminded Riki of another strange aspect of this story. What had she been doing there?

“What were you doing up at Mistral Park anyways? I mean, what happened to you after you were sent away from Tanagura?”, he had often thought about that at night as well, when he was unable to sleep. What had become of that poor girl after his stupid mistake?

“Back then I worked at a… pleasure-house. But they had some clients that wanted to remain unknown, so I was sometimes brought to places in a hovercar. But then I was bought by the owner of this casino and three days later I was sent here to work.” All of that was actually true. However no hovercar had ever brought her to Mistral Park, as The Red Lotus did not usually deal with such rich clients, unless they presented themselves at the door while waving money. And the casino happened to be owned by Iason Mink, and Mimea had been working there starting from the third day after he had bought her, but that had been only one week ago.

Wrecked by guilt at listening to her words, Riki did not even notice how she was nervously twisting her hands while they were still standing in the dark, abandoned hallway the staircase had descended into. “Oh crap, Mimea, I’m so sorry! I hope that first place you worked at wasn’t too bad?” If they sent their whores to Mistral Park in a hovercar it had to have a pretty high-class clientele at least.

“It was very unpleasant. But it’s in the past now, Riki, don’t worry. My new Master treats me much better, and I am quite sure he will continue to do so as long as I do the work he gives me to the best of my abilities”, she said with a radiant smile, which made her rather hollow cheeks fill out a bit more, partially due to the effect of the subtle blush she was wearing. If she wanted to give the impression that she had been working at a high-class pleasure house that sent call-girls to Mistral Park, it would not do if he would be able to detect the still slightly present signs of malnutrition.

He also grinned reassuringly at that, knowing that his angry scowl had upset Mimea in the past, thinking that it had been directed at her. “I’m glad that you’ve found a place with someone who treats you well, doing a more decent job than… well, you know. It’s no fun being hooked up with random people without having any say in the matter, huh?”

Seeing as how her new “job” required for her to hook up with him, the very man she was still in love with, there really was no arguing there. She nodded enthusiastically and her bright eyes sparkled with genuine mirth and relief: “Oh yes, I am very pleased myself. I had never expected that anyone decent would still buy me after I had worked at a pleasure house. Neither had I expected to ever meet you again, Riki. I am so glad we ran into each other here, I’ve really missed talking to you.”

“You know… If it’s possible for you, and if you want to… Maybe we could hook up sometime? As friends, I mean. You know, just to talk or do something fun together… Like shop…”, Riki started, in an unusually hesitant manner for one as bold and confident as him.

“Shop-lifting?”, the Pet interrupted the mongrel with a knowing, humourous smile. “Sounds like fun. It’s a date, Riki!”, she cheerfully exclaimed as she led him through a kitchen where no one was paying any attention to them, and straight out a back door that opened with her access code. “This is where I have to leave you, Riki. You’d better go before the Dark Men decide they want to search this area further.”

“Sweet exit, thanks a bunch, you really saved my ass out there today. Yeah, sure, it’s a date, I’m sure they won’t even notice that I’m robbing them if I’ve got you with me to distract them”, Riki laughed as he accepted Mimea’s extended arms and gave her a hug. The kind of nonchalant bear-hug that you would give a friend, yet somehow Mimea managed to add several lovers’ caresses and a sticky kiss to the throat to it. Pets will be Pets I guess.

She stood waving at the door until he had left the alley, in search of Sid and Guy, they had to be worried shitless by now! After that she immediately took out her new phone while remaining standing in the relative privacy of the back alley.

“Hi, it’s me, I think I’ve got him”, she said while restlessly walking up and down the alley with clicking golden heels, desperately trying to keep the excitement out of her voice. Better to be safe than sorry. Even if minimal contact was allowed, minimal satisfaction because of it probably wasn’t.

“Excellent. You can tell me all about it over dinner tomorrow night. La Deésse, 8 pm. Don’t be late.”, the cold voice spoke with delighted wickedness that chilled her to the very bone. Before Mimea had a chance to respond, there followed a decisive click that indicated he had hung up the phone already.
   
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To Be Continued …
   
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Thnx for reading and pls leave a comment!:D
   
   

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