And here’s a late Christmas present for all of you: the long-expected next chapter of this fanfic!!! :D I was planning on finishing this first seasonal chapter by Christmas but unfortunately my writer’s block had other plans... But better late than never I guess, so here it is, I hope you’ll all enjoy it! :) This is the first of two Christmas Special chapters that I had planned, so you can expect at least another merry chapter, hopefully still at some point during the holidays, to keep things more or less in the seasonal mood ;) It’s sort of a sequel to my Christmas fanfic from a couple of years back, Amoyan ChristMass, but you don’t need to have read that fic to understand most of what’s going on in this chapter.
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL in which Mimea somewhat wistfully ponders the meaning of winter, Iason is merrily plotting yet another scheme and Riki has a very unexpected chance encounter with someone from his past.
Opening theme: The Birthday Massacre – Shiver (Tyurru’s nightcore cover) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpBic6JyhXQ
Ending theme: Jan Wayne – Christmas Time
Rating: M I guess, cause there are references to past sex and as usual there's some serious swearing in Riki's lines as well ;-)
Having worked as a fulltime hacker-in-training and occasional courier for the Black Market for several months now, Riki the Dark was really beginning to get reacquainted with the job, which wasn’t so surprising seeing as how he was learning the ropes from the very best: Katze himself. After taking a few days off following his last risky but successful assignment, he was now on his way to the crime boss’ office for what sounded like another promising thrill during their earlier short telephone conversation. Apparently an opportunity to gather precious, hard-to-come-by intel from one of the market’s main competitors had finally presented itself, and Katze wanted none other than his latest but so-far very best trainee to execute the already carefully-planned job.
Honoured that Katze had chosen him for what was obviously a crucial job – not that he would ever admit as much of course – Riki was in a hurry to get to the red-head’s lair. But unfortunately it was the time of year during which the weather often had other ideas, with snow beginning to fall down heavily from the heavens once more, as if the gods themselves were thwarting the small figure of the black-clad tough mongrel on his racing bike on the slippery road down below.
“Jupiter be damned to hell!!! Can nothing ever go right this bloody time of year?!”, the young man cursed as Dustbiter finally succumbed to the impossibility of the circumstances, the bike had fought hard and bravely all the way to Orange Road but now refused to budge beyond that point. Not that an awful lot of budging would have been possible, for from where Riki was standing he could clearly see that the entire traffic artery was jammed up for miles on end.
Spotting an up-class vehicle just up ahead that was undoubtedly the property of an Elite, the mischievous mongrel shook with laughter when the driver’s vehement klaxon blowing did nothing to remove the piles of melted and subsequently refrozen sludge blocking its path. Apparently the weather also had a way of evening out the playing field, with the more expensive and therefore heavier, more sensitive models of hovercars being the first to be incapacitated.
Crouching down next to his bike, the former gang leader attempted to detect the exact nature of the problem. Putting his ear right next to the part of the bike that housed its engine, Riki tried to run the bike once again and listened carefully. Yep, there was definitely something stuck and frozen up in there. Knowing that putting further stress on the bike now could risk it being irreversibly damaged, there remained nothing to be done but to simply heat up the bike somewhere and wait. The question then remained: how was he gonna get the bike home when he was already streets away from his apartment?
Getting up and looking around while stretching his cold-numbed limbs, Riki could see the Mass lights of a nearby store. It wouldn’t be too hard to get his vehicle over there, but the businesses on Orange Road were usually posh enough not to allow a mongrel access, let alone one who wanted to put an old, rusty bike inside as well. Not seeing any other option at the moment and starting to lose all feeling in the tips of his strong but bare fingers, the mongrel started pushing the heavy, snow-laden bike in the direction of the bright lights regardless. Damn, how could a bike that was built to withstand desert sands be so ill-equipped when it came to dealing with snow? There had to be at least a ton of the stuff sucked into the rear accelerator to weigh down the bike like this!
He artfully concealed his bike behind some pine branches out of sight of the store window – thank Ceres for those ridiculous Mass decorations – and went for the door, pulling out his temporary citizen pass and hoping that the Black Market still had some influence in the area the establishment was located.
Upon entering the small store, there was apparently no one on the premises to greet Riki. Wonderful, perhaps he could hide his bike in a less-frequented part of the store without even being noticed. Then detecting a security camera that was already homing in on him, those thoughts soon left his mind. Was there really no such thing as good luck for a mongrel – like ever – in this blasted shit society?
Just as he figured it would probably be best to bail and find somewhere else to defreeze his mode of transportation, a shop assistant appeared out of seemingly nowhere, making Riki nearly jump all the way up to the ceiling! Motherfucking noiseless ex-Furniture!
“Could I possibly be of service to you, dear Sir?”, a well-mannered, alto voice sounded even before Riki had even seen there was anybody there.
“Whoaa!! Holy shit man, you scared the crap outta me! Do you guys have like a freakin’ invisibility mode to sneak up on people or something?!”, Riki cursed, thinking there was no way to sweet-talk his way into the shop assistant’s good graces anyways, not if he had the discipline of a former Furniture.
“My sincerest apologies, it was not my intention to startle you, Sir!”, the mouse-like young man began to apologise, appearing to hide behind a light-brown, half-long bob of hair and wringing his fragile hands nervously, only now looking at his customer’s face. “I simply... Riki? Is that you?”
“Shit, kid, no need to apologise to the likes of...”, Riki began – sick and tired of poor, castrated young lads feeling the need to grovel in the dust even when faced with their social minors – only to become as near to ghostly pale as was possible for one of such a dark skin tone.
“Wait a minute! I know you... Daryl?! What the fuck, man!!! I thought you were dead! I saw you executed on television!”
“So people keep telling me, those ill-fated enough to fall down this low that is. To be honest I was most surprised myself at discovering that I was not to be executed after such a serious offense as mine”, Daryl admitted, still tensely fidgeting with his hands even after he’d discovered that his latest client was actually an old friend.
“Such a serious offense? You just opened a gate for a desperate kid who was about to kill himself just to get outta that goddamn death trap! You should’ve gotten a freakin’ medal for that, not an execution warrant!”, still not believing his eyes, Riki surged forward like a fire storm, snatched the former Furniture’s skinny form right off the polished floor and nearly crushed him to death in what could only be described as a bear hug.
“Ugh! Riki... glad to see... you too... Please don’t.... carry out that sentence.... after all... by choking me to death!”, the smaller man protested while being squeezed with more force than he remembered the mongrel to be capable of.
“S... sorry! Shit, how come you stayed this small? You must be like... What?... Twenty-four now?”
“Twenty-five actually, practically ancient, I know. I told the store manager that I was only twenty-two and somehow he bought it...”
“Wait, couldn’t he tell from your record then? But how come you’re not dead?!”, Riki exclaimed again, now grabbing both of the former Furniture’s thin wrists in a slightly too-powerful grip.
“That’s just it, I am dead. At least officially, the record I’m using now is an illegally manufactured one”, the other revealed, selfless enough not to point out that the now much bigger, adult version of Riki was hurting him again.
“How on Amoy did you pull that off? Escaping execution in Tanagura, faking your ID... ?!”
That kind of stuff would not even have sounded likely if it had been Katze they’d been talking about, so it seemed entirely impossible that honest, sweet Daryl would have managed such a feat.
“Actually Katze is the one who created my new ID, on the orders of Mas... I mean, on Lord Mink’s orders.”
“Whohoho! Mink knew about this?!”, Riki asked in total amazement, his dark eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets in an almost comical way.
“Oh, didn’t you know? It is thanks to the good graces of Lord Mink that I am alive today, he knew that a hacking offense at such a level meant that my execution would be inevitable, therefore he came up with the idea to stage my execution and to smuggle me out of Tanagura”, Daryl explained with an immensely grateful expression and a benevolent smile.
“No shit, the bastard never said anything to me! He must have known I’d think you were dead...”, Riki wondered.
“Probably he reasoned that the less people knew about it, the less risk at being discovered?”
“As if anyone in Eos would have even stopped to listen to a word I said... Besides, I would’ve been the last person to do anything to endanger your life!”
“Perhaps he was trying to prevent you from being involved to make sure that no guilt could fall to you? Because in Tanagura knowing that a felony was committed and not coming forward is enough to make one an accomplice in the eyes of the law...”
“Seriously? Holy shit, Tanagura is even more horrible than I knew!”
“But how about you, Riki? How come you are here, did you somehow succeed in escaping Eos after all then?”
“Gah! If only... No, the bastard must have gotten bored with me, cause one day he just let me go. Took off my Pet ring and sent me running back to Ceres, not that I have any complaints about that... Hell, I don’t think I ever ran that fast!”
“Then it is a most advantageous outcome that Lord Mink has helped both of us get out of Eos safely”, Daryl said with another smile, the genuine gratitude in his eyes preventing even a tough slumdog like Riki from uttering any of the acidic, snappy replies that came to mind.
“Ergh... Yeah, most advantageous indeed, I guess... So you’ve been working here all that time, huh? And how’re you liking the job, I mean... It’s quite something else than what you were used to...”, Riki expertly changed the subject and tried to start an actual conversation, for he knew for a fact that the shy former Furniture wouldn’t, at least not by himself.
Damn, had he ever even had a half-decent conversation with the poor guy before? Probably not, all he ever really gave the kid was a load of smart-mouthing and a lot of trouble. If not an outright physical attack or destructive effort at ruining all of his hard work.
“Oh, my boss is a most generous employer, and he didn’t ask too many questions about my past. But what is it that brings you here today, Riki? I don’t wish to come across as judgmental, but I wasn’t expecting to see you here...”
“No problem, I wouldn’t expect to see me here either. But hey, I’d expect to see me even less in Eos, yet I was there, wasn’t I? Desperate times call for desperate measures, my bike crashed right before I could queue up on Orange Road...”
“Oh dear! You were in an accident?! Were you injured anywhere? Shall I call you a medic?!”, Daryl got into his usual panic, apparently forgetting that the mongrel was no longer his charge and that nobody was going to punish him for not tending to any potential wounds straight away. Or perhaps a part of him would always consider the charming dark mongrel his charge, regardless of what any laws or regulations said.
“No, no accident, no worries... I mean that my bike broke down, y’know, the engine just stopped working. I reckon it’s the cold and the snow, those models were built for daylight desert conditions so it’s not really all that strange I s’pose...”
“Would you like me to call a tow service or a mechanic for you?”, Daryl offered kindly.
“What? Nah, I just figured the problem’d fix itself once I got the bike warmed up a little bit... But I don’t want to get you into trouble with your boss, so I’ll just see if I can drag it somewhere else...”, Riki said as he already started moving backwards to the exit. The last thing he wanted to do was to get the kid he owed so much in trouble again.
“Nonsense, the manager isn’t even in tonight and he won’t be until morning. I’ll just put your hoverbike next to the radiator in the backroom for you”, the ex-Furniture said and peered out of the front window trying to decipher the bike’s position so he could drag it in himself.
“OK, thanks a lot, kid! Dunno how I’m ever gonna pay you back for all you’ve done for me... Cud you jus’ keep the door open for me? Thanks, man!”, the mongrel cunningly gave the boy something other to do than dragging in the heavy bike, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to resist a direct request.
A couple of hours and a lot of cups of hot coffee later, Dustbiter was finally heated into working order again and Riki got up from his chair at the small table in the cosy backroom of the store.
“Well, it was very nice to see you again, Riki! I wish you all the best for the new year! And if you’re ever in need of assistance of whatever kind, or if you simply wish to converse...”
“Yeah, likewise. It’s easy, talking to you, you don’t judge. I guess I’m actually not a bad dude when I’m not thrashing the place and shouting in your face, huh?”, Riki winked jokingly as he went outside and hopped back unto his now defrosted bike.
“Yes, that is very true indeed. But at least one never gets bored with you and your spirited personality in the vicinity. Moreover one does not need to go through the trouble of finding appropriate topics of conversation”, the former Furniture replied with good humour.
Then Riki kicked his bike back to life and was greeted by the old, familiar roaring of his faithful companion’s engine. He turned to wave at Daryl, who was watching him take off through the store window. As he did so, his gaze was suddenly drawn towards one of the sparkling decorations in front of said window.
On Christmas night
You always have been on my mind
The tiny white figurine dangled in front of the frosted glass windowpane innocently enough, the Mass lights illuminating it magnificently and the wind blowing it about making it seem as if the angel’s small, feathery wings could really make it fly. But it were the fine, golden threads of long hair that trailed from the figure’s head that had first attracted Riki’s attention to it.
Of Christmas night
I’m dreaming for so long
The cold light of dawn was already creeping through the luxurious curtains of the master bedroom in the Mink household, when the mongrel under the pristinely white, silk sheets began to stir. The pure colour – or lack thereof – made for a stark, unusual contrast against the mongrel’s dark skin and night-black hair. The previous night had exhausted him but somehow he knew - as if by some long-forgotten instinct - that dawn was upon him. Probably this was also due to the fact that it was the agreed time starting from which he would go back to being an inferior rather than an equal, and would thus be at risk once again.
But before his instincts of self-preservation kicked in entirely, he turned to look once more at his lover from the previous night: the divinely beautiful and coldly distanced Iason Mink, still on display there in all his blonde splendour. Fortunately he was apparently still asleep and therefore there was no need for Riki to rush his exit before being apprehended. Riki took the time to study his nemesis – or had he become his real lover overnight? – in more detail while he was still in Morpheus’ arms. Not that Riki hadn’t been given ample opportunity for looking at each and every delicious part of the blonde angel the night before, yet while asleep Iason possessed an entirely different aura from when he was awake. It was as if an aura of sweetness and innocence surrounded him in sleep, making him appear like a normal, feeling human being rather than an inhuman, unfeeling Elite. Although an exquisitely alluring human being.
Oh Christmas time
The peace on Earth we hope to find
Cursing under his breath, the mongrel shut down his bike’s engine once more and walked back up to the front door of the store. Opening the door and hurrying outside, Daryl asked anxiously: “Has the problem with your bike not been fixed after all then?”
Oh Christmas time
We’re waiting for so long
“What? Nah, bike’s fine. It’s just... Do you still hear from him sometimes?”
“Him?”, Daryl asked, confused about who his friend was referring to.
“Iason. Do you still hear from Iason sometimes?” There it was again. That name, hated and desired in equal parts. Iason.
“Why no... I wouldn’t see why I would. I mean, even if he so graciously decided to spare my life, I have failed him in every possible way.”
“Or it would be a risk to your life if he contacted you... Cause the authorities could discover that you weren’t really dead...”, Riki wondered aloud, suddenly rethinking the way in which he so far had tried to explain the Blondie’s motives for all that he did.
Perhaps he had been mistaken more than once in his conclusions. After all he would have never even dared to think that the Elite’s utter silence when it came to Daryl’s demise was because Daryl was actually still alive and the number of people who knew had to be kept limited for his own protection.
“Oh, I never thought of that explanation... Although I don’t think Lord Mink would have any reason to contact me. But you on the other hand, I am sure Lord Mink would love to hear how you’re doing! If you’d like I could pass on your contact information, I’ve still got a phone number he gave me, in case of emergency...”, Daryl said hurriedly, his enthusiasm at the thought of reuniting his former Master and Pet making him forget all about his Furniture-bred calm demeanour.
“Nah, that’s OK. I mean, I’m working for Katze again in the Black Market, so I’m sure I’d have no trouble if I wanted to call him or something. Y’know....”, he hesitated to think of whether or not it was wise to share this rather shaming information with anyone. But he just couldn’t take the lonely silence anymore, with nobody but him even suspecting how he truly started to feel towards his old tormentor. “Y’know, this time last year, something weird happened, between me and Iason....”
“You mean to say that you saw Lord Mink again last year? How was he doing? And how did such a meeting come about, if I may be so bold?”, Daryl inquired uncharacteristically.
“You know you can be bold all you want with me, Daryl, there’s not a lot that could shock me”, Riki laughed nervously. “Well, I figure he was doing all right, he was in the middle of some fancy Mass party with a bunch of big-shots when I walked in and interrupted them so rudely... But in my defence, he did invite me to come... Not sure if he intended to have an audience when I went up and kissed him though, but I’m sure the kinky devil kicks on that sorta scandal anyways...”, he rattled on, somehow hoping that adding more to the story could make the other forget about the kissing part. But no such luck.
“You kissed Master in front of an entire audience?!”, Daryl asked in surprise, hardly believing what Riki was telling him but at the same time knowing that it wasn’t like the proud mongrel to lie about such a thing.
“It was sort of like a spur of the moment thing, OK! You can’t ask someone to come with you to a more private setting when you’re so full of fire you don’t even know what you’re doing anymore!”
“And how did Lord Mink react to this? Was he very angry with you? Oh, dear Jupiter, I do hope you didn’t have another one of those terrible arguments?”, the ex-Furniture cowered, already frightened when imagining his former Master’s ire.
“No argument, he just sent the whole crowd home straight away to continue undisturbed...”
“He did?!”, Daryl squeaked, knowing from experience that only the highest placed and most revered Elite in Tanagura attended Lord Mink’s Mass parties. For him to send away such esteemed guests for a mere mongrel...
“Yeah. Perhaps he was bored with the whole thing, or he just figured he could torment me better without those other yuppie fags around....”
“No, Riki, that’s not true! You can make excuses for it all you want, but the truth is...”, suddenly realising how loud he was shouting in the middle of the store – even if there were no customers there at present – Daryl lowered his voice and then continued with a certain air of conspiracy. “The truth is that you are very dear to Lord Mink. I believe that there is nothing that he wouldn’t do for you, Riki. You say he sent you away because he grew tired of you, but I cannot believe that. Not after all the trouble and social judgement he went through to keep you close to him. No, I think that he finally saw what I did earlier, that to remain in chains in Eos would destroy you. Therefore he would rather not see you anymore at all than see you thus!”
“You know, Daryl, you’re the second ex-Furniture from the Mink household to tell me this in only a couple of months’ time. Of course I can’t trust a single word Katze says, as Iason is undoubtedly still pulling his strings. But from what you’ve just told me, there’s no way that he’s pulling yours, right?”
“Not that I know of. Of course I still consider myself loyal to the Mink household first and foremost, especially after everything Master has done to me. But like I said, he has not been in contact with me ever since my so-called execution.”
Knowing that regardless of what his Master commanded him, poor Daryl was simply incapable of lying, Riki knew he had to be speaking the truth, at least as he knew it.
“Shit. Shit, OK, maybe there is... something. Something between Iason and myself, something strange and... totally out-of-line”, Riki admitted, allowing himself to think once again about all the things that didn’t add up, not since their last face-to-face encounter. “The way he was with me last Christime – I mean, last Jupiter Mass – that was not the way I remembered him from my time in Eos at all. It was... for the first time he did something selfless. Admittedly, he succeeded in luring me to him, which undoubtedly was his intention all along, but he was willing to sacrifice himself to do it...”
“Master sacrificed himself? Oh no, did he hurt himself?!”, Daryl asked worriedly, his face painted in absolute horror at the thought of his former Master being hurt.
“No, no, nothing like that. At least, I think it didn’t hurt... He’s an Elite after all, they can’t be hurt, right? Especially not through sex, I mean, I’m pretty sure they’re pretty much built for it...”
“I know that Elite bodies are regenerative and that there is hardly anything that can seriously injure them. However I do not know if that means that they never feel any pain. The Elite built for sex? I don’t think that is possible, Riki, because they are forbidden to have coitus by Jupiter’s decree”, Daryl droned in an encyclopaedic manner. “Wait, did you just say that you possibly hurt Master through sex?!”
“Well, I don’t know! I mean, if what you say about sex being forbidden for Elite is true, then... Holy smokes, he must have been a virgin! But does that actually mean anything for an Elite? Oh shit, I must be the world’s stupidest asshole!”
And I believe at Christmas I’m in love again
“What do you mean, Riki?”
“To think it didn’t... it couldn’t... mean anything!”, the mongrel now defended himself desperately. “But if it’s forbidden for them to have sex, then... Then it must have meant even more than it would have for a human! I just assumed... cause sex in Eos means nothing! It means nothing with a Pet... But he’s an Elite so... I should’ve guessed there would’ve been different standards for different classes! Argh, I’m such an idiot! I was just so focussed on myself and how I felt that I... Never even thought that maybe he felt something too!”
And I believe there’s someone there for me
“Indeed it is hard to imagine that an Elite would, especially Master Iason, for he is widely-known for his perfect demeanour and his ability to show no emotional weakness whatsoever. But as his Furniture of several years, I personally think he is most definitely capable of emotion. Not in his words or facial expressions perhaps, but I’d say it is very strongly there in his actions towards those who depend on him. What he did for me went against the law...”
“And what he did for Katze. And what he did for me. Shit, I’m such a dumb moron!”, Riki yelled in exasperation, his dark eyes inadvertently moving up the familiar sparkling tower in the distance, easy to make out even through the falling snow. He could have sworn he could hear the snow flakes bouncing right off of that incorruptible surface of pristine, icy crystal. How could he have been so blind?!
And far away we hear the bells go ding ding dong
“Oh no, Sir Riki, you are no such thing!”, Daryl tried to reassure him, using the old appellation endearingly without even realising it.
“Quit pulling my leg with the ‘Sir’ already, ya cheeky lil’ twit!”, Riki accused, a broad grin making its way unto his tan, attractive features.
“Oh no, Si... I mean, Riki! I would never purposely taunt you in such a way, I swear!”, the other pleaded in alarm.
Laughing like a madman – his seasonal spirit much improved - Riki smacked his newfound friend’s shoulder a bit more roughly than was his intention, expecting there to be more muscle to lessen the blow.
Oh Christmas time
“Nah, it’s me who’s pulling your leg, kid! Don’t worry about it, jus’ my fucked-up sense o’ humour. Gotta go talk to my boss now or he’ll have my head for being late without the excuse of the snow drift”, the attractive young man said with a glance at the now snow-free sky before jumping unto his old bike – lean as a gutter cat – and racing off mongrel style.
On Christmas night
Please wait for me
In case any of you are wondering about the references to “last year’s Jupiter Mass Eve” or “this time last year” in this chapter, those are references to my earlier Christmas fanfic Amoyan ChristMass (more specifically to the chapter Under the Mistletoe). I guess you could consider these two Christmas Special chapters as a sequel of sorts, with the events in Amoyan ChristMass taking place somewhere after the point at which Iason set Riki free yet before the beginning of Star-Crossed.