“I like this dress.” Senga ran her hands over the fabric and tested the range of movement. “I want to go clubbing in it sometime.”
“Good. Try to keep it in one piece, then.”
Ezer’s voice was clear in her mind, which meant their “comm” system was working. Good. Erramun was next to her, dressed in – well dressed like he’d escorted his girlfriend to clubs against his will and now was trying to handle her when she was a little too drunk and very belligerent.
“”Right. Oh, yes.” She looked up at Erramun. “While we are in cover, only things that start with your name – that is, with ‘Erramun’ or with ‘order’ are orders, okay?”
“Clever.” His approval sounded strained. He sounded strained. “This is definitely not what I-” He grumbled. “All right. Come on, Susie. Let’s get going.”
“You remember your job, Mountain Man?”
“I remember that if you don’t stop talking in my head, I am going to leave you on the top of a mountain. Talk to me when you need something, shadow man.”
Senga pretended it was a good thing that they were calling each other nicknames. She offered Erramun her arm. He took it like he was trying to steer a drunk girlfriend. “Here we go.” He didn’t look remotely pleased about it.
Maybe he was just in character.
“Eddy,” she whined, as they stumbled down the street – moving around the corner from some of the loudest and most well-known clubs in the city. “I don’t want to go here. I want to go back to Lightning. Come on, Eddeeeeeee.”
“Susie- Susie, no. You can barely walk and besides, they kicked you out of Lightning last week.”
Much to her surprise, he sounded believable, more than believable, he sounded real. She stumbled on a non-existent crack in the sidewalk and was caught by Erramun. “They didn’t kick me out,” she whined. “They asked me politely to go somewhere else. Ooh. A mirror.”
She stumbled, caught by Erramun’s hand, and preened in a mirrored storefront. Then, while in the middle of patting her hair back into place, she seemed to see something out of the corner of her eye and darted off across the road.
What followed was five minutes of comedy gold for anyone watching the security footage – at least Senga hoped it was. She was bouncing back and forth, seeing interesting things, trying to get back to Lightning, all while “Eddy” painterly but with increasingly less patience visible on his face, chased her down and herded her out of danger.
Thus it was no problem to believe that she just happened to pull open the right door and bounce in – bounce being the operative word, with the Working they’d given her chest to make it both bigger and more excitable and the dress that was barely containing that chest – and drape herself over the desk, asking them for another Sunset Doomgarden. Or was that a Sun-doom Set garden? Or?
“She wants a sunset margarita and Soundgarden.” Erramun caught her up around the waist. It was a surprisingly nice sensation that she thought she’d enjoy in another circumstance. “But that’s because she thinks we’re in a bar. We’re not in a bar right now, Susie. Remember? We left the bar. Because you were -” He ‘lost his hold’ on her and she leaned over the guard’s desk with a giggle that hurt her throat.
“Because,” she whispered, loud enough to be heard several hundred feet away, “I took my shirt off. Well, not my shirt. I sort of flashed the bouncer. Do you want me to flash you? Will I get a soungarita if I- if I flash you?”
The guards were watching in something that was close enough to rapt attention for what she needed. One of them was mildly disgusted; the other looked like he couldn’t peel his eyes away from her cleavage.
“Miss,” the grumpy one told her, “this is a secure facility.”
“OKay.” She smiled at him beatifically, or at least drunkenly and innocently. She could play this role, but there was a reason Allayne normally did it. “That’s cool. I won’t tell anyone anything. I don’t tell anyone anything. I mean, come on, last week, Jenny Snyder told me-” She covered her mouth with her hands and giggled.
“Susie, come on.” Erramun tugged on her arm, making sure it looked a little rough. “Just because we can’t go back to LIghtning doesn’t mean we can’t still have a little fun tonight. I don’t want to spend it all watching you bother people.”
And there was the nicer guard’s cue. “Easy, man. Don’t get all rough with her just because she’s a little drunk.”
“A little drunk? A Little? No, A little drunk was last week, when she got us kicked out of three clubs. This week, this week is seriously sloshed, and it’s really not cute anymore, Susie.”
The last was aimed at her, but she was wriggling on the counter like she was trying to get something out of a pocket she didn’t have. The grumpy guard’s eyes were glued to her.
“I don’t know, I think it’s pretty cute.” She winked at the guard. “This guy thinks it’s pretty cute. And besides, Tom thinks it’s cute.”
“Fuck Tom.” Erramun’s growl was seriously believable. Senga shuddered a little, which was fine, because it kept with the role. “You know he can’t take care of you like I do. The one time he took you out to the clubs he left you there. Three sheets to the wind and missing one shoe, and how did you get home, anyway?”
“Judy.” Her voice was small now. “Judy came and got me.”
“See? At least with me, I get you out of there before you lose your shoes and before you get – well, usually before you get kicked out. I’m sorry, dudes,” he added to the guards. “My girlfriend, you know, she just doesn’t know what she’s doing sometimes.”
“I think the lady knows exactly what she’s doing.” Grumpy guard had gotten very firm. “And I think she’s fine. Why don’t you leave her here and we’ll call a taxi for her?”
Out, whispered Ezer’s voice in their ears.
“I don’t think that’s necessary. I can get her home just fine.”
“Ed-d-dy,” she whined. “But I want to go to -”
“To the club that kicked you out, I know. Come on.” He picked her up over his shoulder, showing off her panties to the guards. “I’ll get you home and then you can have a nice nap, okay? Then we’ll watch a movie or something.”
“Sir, why don’t you put the lady down? Just put her down and everything will be fine.”
“On a cold day in hell,” Erramun snarled.