And here's the next chapter, my apologies for the delay! I posted this on Archive and Fanfiction.net a while ago but forgot to update the story on here! I hope you'll all enjoy the next chapter, it's a bit ouf ot season now cause it still takes place during the Christmas period but just use your imagination ;-) I promise there'll be some Iason/Riki interaction in the next chapter (finally!).
Katze sends Riki on an undercover mission in upper-class Midas, Mimea reveals the existence of a resistance movement inside Tanagura and Riki receives some unexpected letters. All the while Riki is desperately trying to get a hold on his own life.
The Birthday Massacre – Kill the Lights (Tyurru’s nightcore cover) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjc9exrCNrw
Rating: M to be safe
After spending another half hour effortlessly attempting to pry more information from his friend’s dark-cherry lips, Riki finally said his goodbyes, habitually pulling her over for a tight hug before heading out. While inhaling the scent of her perfume during that embrace however, he noticed a familiar citrus-sweet scent and instantly recognised it as the same perfume he had smelled earlier in Katze’s office.
“That a popular new scent you’re wearing, hon?”
“I’ve succeeded in crawling my way back up the social ladder a while ago now, sweetheart, therefore I would never wear anything ‘popular’ nowadays. As a matter of fact Orange Dream is a very rare export product that is hard to come by even in Eos, so I wouldn’t expect many others – if any – here on Amoy to use it.”
Weird. I could’ve sworn I smelled the exact same scent in Katze’s office today.
Walking out of the hazy warmth of the upper-class coffee shop into the splendidly-lit, beating city centre of Midas, Riki enjoyed the chilling breeze that crawled into his jacket’s collar just as much as he resented having ever left the luxurious comfort of the posh establishment. Damn, I’m getting way too soft if even a gust of wind is having this effect on me.
Inside the right front pocket of his ripped, black jeans his fingers were absently playing with his Pet coin. The coin Iason gave me that first night. No matter how much time passed or how badly he thought of the blonde fucker, those memories never failed to put his heart on fire. If only the beautiful bastard’d had other motivations than just humiliating the hell out of him. Or did he? Could he’ve had other, hidden motivations?
At least he’d managed to get the invite that was required for his next BM job, the boss would be pleased. But something definitely didn’t sit right after this last meeting with Mimea. He had the feeling she was hiding something from him, something important. But whenever he’d tried to question her about it she’d just laughed it away or avoided answering the question. Was that because she simply didn’t realise the importance of getting some answers? Or was it all part of some well-orchestrated technique to fool him?
“Tsss, idiot! This is Mimea we’re talking about! She couldn’t fool anyone even if she tried... Besides, she’s got no reason to set me up”, Riki whispered to himself while pulling his collar more closely around his exposed neck. Doesn’t she?, a small voice in the back of his head asked mockingly. He’d been the reason she had lost her pampered life up in Eos and that she had been subjected to actions that had not only left her aching physically but had no doubt seriously lowered her self-esteem and value in the Tanaguran market. But she forgave him a long time ago, right? She blamed the system for that, not him.
Passing a mailbox on his way back from the busy square to the subway station, a wry smile came to his lips. Of course with the modern technology available to most Midasians there was no more need to send any actual letters, but for some reason the upper classes thought it was très chic to send each other messages and invitations on old-fashioned paper. During his time in Eos, probably the only useful thing Riki had done to fill up the oceans of time at his disposal, was to ask Daryl to teach him how to write. As in truly write, with old-fashioned hand-written letters on paper. Or later in the desert sand that always found its way to the pavements of the Midasian border areas or in the condensation on the windows of the subway.
After leaving Bison he’d toyed with the idea of keeping a diary, as now there would be no risk of his gang members finding and reading it. But in between his job in the Black Market and getting drunk on stout he just couldn’t muster up the self-discipline that daily writing required. So he’d started writing letters instead, if they could even be called that. Of course he didn’t use actual paper, even the recycled kind would be too much of a bite out of his monthly pay check. But he’d write on anything else he could get his hands on: the boxes of take-away pizzas, the wrapping paper around the packages Katze would sometimes send him, the back of receipts from his neighbourhood supermarket... Strangely enough the very act of writing had a calming effect on him and helped him to organise and come to terms with his own thoughts. So of course the letters would focus on the same subject his thoughts usually did: Iason Mink. At first he’d hoped that writing to Iason – even if he’d never have the guts to actually send the letters – would be good for him. That writing down the thoughts on that enigmatic Blondie would also make them disappear from his mind. But it kind of ended up having the exact opposite effect, with actively thinking about the Blondie generating even more unwanted thoughts on the subject.
Nonetheless he’d kept up the writing, having nothing better to do with his time now that he was spending his evenings on his own in his small but comfortable apartment at the outskirts of Midas. Everyone needed a hobby other than getting drunk or high, right? Even if it was a highly unusual and slightly disturbing choice of hobby to be sure. Sometimes he’d even imagine that one day he’d get a response from Iason. A silly thought, especially since he’d never posted the goddamn letters. Perhaps that was the beauty of unsent letters: never receiving an answer meant never being turned down.
Unknown to Riki himself however, he had accidentally posted said letters a couple of nights ago in a drunken fit of courage incited by stout. In fact he had been so thoroughly intoxicated that he couldn’t recall it even days later. Although in his drunken stupor he hadn’t thought to put any stamps on the envelopes, the policy for letters addressed to Tanagura was that upon lack of verification of payment the cost of sending them would be paid for by the recipient. And of course upon receiving a whole stack of ‘love letters’ from the beloved object of his devotion, Lord Mink had been most happy to provide any compensations attached.
It's so much better to pretend
There's something waiting for you here
Every letter that you wrote
Has found its way to me, my dear
Getting on the subway that headed in the direction of the area his apartment building was located, Riki leaned back in his seat and watched the cityscape speed by in a multi-coloured blur of neon and snow.
Unzipping his jacket – the subway was heated after all – Riki noticed a golden hair sticking to the black leather. Carefully fishing the hair off, he noticed that it was unusually fair and long. He would recognise that particular shade of blond anywhere. It’s Iason’s! Quickly going over the last couple of days in his head, Riki thought on whether or not Katze had given him a ride in any of the Mink household vehicles. The thing was that he hadn’t, not even once since he’d hired Riki. Probably because he knew it would only freak Riki out, so whenever he’d offered him a ride he’d done so in his own vehicle. And of course Riki never had any physical contact with his boss, the other’s ingrained Furniture training having made him averse to it. Not to mention Riki doubted that Katze ever got close enough to Iason nowadays to end up with one of his hairs sticking to him. Doubtlessly the brushing of those golden tresses was now reserved to a younger piece of Furniture at the household.
Then how the fuck did Iason’s hair end up stuck to my bloody jacket?!
Twirling the silky hair around his tanned finger until it was surrounded by a golden cocoon of sorts, Riki failed to figure out how his former oppressor’s precious hair could have possibly landed on the coarse leather of his jacket. Perhaps Mimea hadn’t been spewing superstitious crap after all when she’d talked about predestination.
Finally arriving back at his apartment, Riki decided to add both the Pet coin and the hair to the small cardboard box he’d dubbed ‘cursed momentos of a time I’d rather forget about’. Pulling it out from its hiding place under his bed, Riki opened the box only to find it surprisingly empty. It only took his brain a short moment to register what was missing: the letters. What the hell, did someone come in here and steal my fucking private letters?! But no, what kind of idiot burglar would have stolen some scraps of paper and left all the electronics in the kitchen behind? He himself had to have misplaced them somewhere...
Searching all over his apartment, Riki eventually got the idea that perhaps he’d been confused while being drunk and had put the letters in his own mailbox in the hallway downstairs. Rushing down several flights of stairs in a matter of seconds – the elevator was busted, again – he ran to his mailbox, unlocked it in a flash and yanked it open with enough force to nearly break off its rusty hinges. Inside the mailbox he found the expected letter. Grabbing unto it in relief, Riki only noticed something was off while sliding his fingers around the envelope on his way back up to his apartment. The paper felt exactly like the kind Mimea’s invitation had been printed on: thick and textured, like Tanaguran, high-quality paper. Definitely not any of the cardboard boxes or paper shopping bags he’d written his letters on. Smelling the paper, he noticed that it was the even more expensive perfumed kind that the Elite used, and only amongst each other.
Holy smokes, what am I to make of this?!
Unsure of what to do, the mongrel then opted to simply open the letter in order to find out who it was from, for there was nothing other than his name and address written on the envelope, nothing that could help clarify who the sender was. Pulling the luxurious letter from its delicate envelope and folding it open, Riki instantly recognised the handwriting.
My darling Riki
I hope this letter finds you not only in good health but also properly housed and fed, although I am aware the latter may be wishful thinking from my part. I cannot express to you the tremendous joy that filled my lonely heart upon receiving your many pleasing letters, wherefore you have my deepest gratitude.
I too have spent many a day and night contemplating our previous interactions and in retrospect find many of my own relational responses somewhat lacking. Therefore I hereby offer you my sincerest apologies for any inconvenience you may have suffered due to my ignorance on matters of the heart.
Given this unexpected yet most appreciated opportunity of being solicited to respond to your own earlier communications, I must incite your permission to initiate an attempt at rectifying our previous long-term engagement. I pray you do not delay in formulating your reply to my aforementioned suggestion.
Your most sincere and everlasting love
For a long time Riki just stared at the letter in complete shocked disbelief, his heartbeat and breathing picking up several notches in the course of several paragraphs. If anything that had to be the largest amount of words the fucker had ever spoken to him. Perhaps he thought that writing required more words than speaking did? Perhaps it was some or other fucked-up Tanaguran politeness policy.
After the shock had lessened somewhat – although not by much – Riki tried to wrap his head around what Iason was actually trying to tell him in that last paragraph. It would probably be best just to leave out some fancy words that didn’t convey much meaning anyhow:
That probably translated to something like: “I ask to fix our relationship. Don’t make me wait for an answer.” Typical! If you left out all the polished niceties the bastard was still telling him what to do and telling him to do it quickly! And what the hell was all that stuff in the second paragraph all about?! His ‘relational responses’ were somewhat lacking? Somewhat?! He apologised for inconveniences suffered due to his ignorance? Inconveniences?! Where did he get the gall to dare call Riki’s kidnapping, imprisonment, rape and torture a mere inconvenience?! That crazy psychopath had gone too far once again!!! The whole letter was one, long, eloquently-put insult!!
Reading over the mystifyingly roundabout lines once more, Riki’s attention was then drawn to other, more unexpected aspects of Iason’s letter.
The tremendous joy that filled my lonely heart.
Iason was lonely without him? Iason did have a heart?
My deepest gratitude.
Iason was grateful that Riki had sent him the crappy letters and even explicitly said so?
My sincerest apologies.
Iason apologised?! If there was one thing Riki had learned during his time in Eos it was that Elite never ever apologised for anything, for they were supposedly perfect in everything they did.
Ignorance on matters of the heart.
Another unheard of thing to say for any Elite: actually admitting to not knowing something!
I incite your permission.
A Blondie – none but the favoured Son of Jupiter himself – asking him – a worthless mongrel from the slums – for permission.
Your everlasting love.
Up until that point Riki had assumed that Iason didn’t even know the meaning of the word love, let alone use it in an address to a lowly gutter rat such as him.
If anything the contents of the letter revealed that apparently Iason was now actually aware of at least the more prominent of his personality flaws and desperately wanted to make amends. Or lure me back in to start up the whole shit show of abuse all over again.
Rubbing his temples in an attempt to stave off a pending headache, Riki decided to just let the cursed letter rest for now and think about what to do with it later. Besides, he had more urgent business, as the Mass ball thing he was supposed to go undercover on was already tomorrow night and he’d barely received even a shred of concrete information on the assignment ahead.
Glancing around his cluttered dining table in search of his cell phone, Riki’s perceptive dark eyes immediately fell on the foreign object resting there. It was a small square package, wrapped in the grey recycled paper that was always used in the market. When had Katze’s courier managed to drop that off unseen? It must have been when he’d rushed downstairs in such a hurry he’d left the door open. Damnit! If the courier went and told Katze how easy it’d been to get inside his apartment undetected, his whole image and credibility as a reliable agent would be ruined! Then again he could always explain to Katze why he’d been so distracted, cause if anybody understood how overbearingly demanding the top Blondie could be it was him. Perhaps there’d been some truth to the dealer’s conviction that Mink’s so-called feelings were genuine.
Unwrapping the unknown contents of the package with a rising curiosity, Riki closely examined the compact, state-of-the-art device inside. Fortunately it came with a brief explanation in the form of a note. Even the meticulous, former Furniture’s handwriting looked blunt and clumsy in comparison to Iason’s elegant handwriting.
This is a portable, remote datastreamer and -collector. All you have to do to get access to the information on any portable data carrier – firewalled or not – is get within a distance of one meter and activate the streaming function. Then you’ll be able to not only access but also copy all data, because you will not have enough time to sort through the files before copying the relevant information.
Don’t worry about storage space, I’ve connected the data streamer to a whole series of remote servers that will filter the data and forward all relevant information to my personal terminal.
Well, that sounded easy enough, but knowing Katze the devices and programming he considered to be a piece of cake could still pose a challenge to a tech rookie from Ceres, so it would probably be best to use what little time he had left before the event to practise using the device. Already yawning, the youngster went over to his kitchen isle to put the kettle on for some much-needed strong coffee. At least the stuff he could afford now was somewhat more palatable than what he was used to back in the day, for it was gonna be another long night working overtime on some or other complicated device for Katze ...
Only hours before the start of the event he was expected to appear at, Riki was still typing away on what had turned out to be a far more complicated programming than what Katze’s short note had implied. It was only after having figured out all of the menus he would need to fulfil his task successfully, that Riki realised that he would not be able to show up as an undercover agent at a masked ball wearing his usual biker-gang, gutter-trash attire. Holy crap, am I gonna have to spend the last hour before this thing stressing out in one or other freakin’ department store?!
Just as Riki threw open his front door and rushed out, a courier carrying a large delivery box was about to ring the bell, causing a head-on collision to occur.
“Umph!! By Jupiter, can’t a guy get a fucking break around here?! Like one minute a day without being stalked by one or other moron with an unwanted message of some sort?”, Riki cursed as he scrambled around on the hallway carpet in an attempt to get back to his feet, picking up the fallen lid of the box in the process.
“My sincerest apologies, sir. But I come with an urgent delivery from an... ergh... acquaintance of yours, up at Eos Tower in Tanagura. If you would be so kind as to sign for confirmation of the packaged, sir?”, a kid wearing a stylishly-cut yet simple Eos Furniture uniform said in a slightly-shaking voice, his brown doe-like eyes uncertain as he took in Riki’s exotic, Ceresian features. ‘That is... if you are capable of writing your name? If not, it would also be perfectly legitimate to scan your identification tag... That is, if you have an identification tag? Sir?”
“Don’t worry, kid, I can write my fucking name AND I have an identification card, if only a temporary and undoubtedly illegal one”, Riki said, his earlier annoyance at being disturbed making way to sympathetic compassion as he realised the youngster in front of him couldn’t have been on the job for more than a couple of days, judging from his clumsy manner and the uncertainty literally dripping off his facial expressions.
Returning the signed data slate to the other’s shaking, sweaty hands Riki asked: “Any idea what I may find in there? And please don’t tell me it’s another love letter or a sex toy or something even more disturbing than my underdeveloped mongrel imagination can come up with? Perhaps a bouquet of poisoned flowers to knock me out and kidnap me with?”
The kid in front of him was literally at a loss of how to respond to those strange, blunt questions, the slight O-shape his mouth was currently forming a clear indication of the loop his inexperienced mind was currently in.
“You said it was from Eos, was it top floor?”, Riki asked matter-of-factly, simultaneously expecting and dreading the confirmation of his suspicions.
Before even a single part of the customer confidentiality clausule he’d had to memorise only a week ago could enter his mind, the young Furniture had already responded with an unthinking nod, followed by an innocently indignated question: “How did you know that... sir?”
“Just a hunch, I have some unwanted acquaintances with crazies up there. They just won’t quit stalking me, fucking unbelievable. Does a guy need to live in a trash can not to get any of this bloody junk mail no more? How these fuckers keep on finding me every single time is just beyond me! Thanks for the parcel, kid, I’ll be sure to at least sniff at the contents before chucking it in the trash can I’ll soon be moving into. Have a good day now”, Riki said, shocking the living daylights out of the unsuspecting, green youngster before slamming his front door shut in frustration for the umpteenth time in the last 24 hours.
You can make believe that what you say is what I want to hear
I'll keep dancing through this beautiful
Faking every tear
Looking like a compromised suicide
Keeping all my dreams alive
To Be Continued ...