Gem sat at the 93 Underground bar, tapping her fingers together. She rubbed a spot on her forehead, and glanced around, looking for Kami. They had arranged - somehow - to meet here for a "date" and would see where it went from there.
The bartender nodded to Gem's empty glass. "Another one?" he asked. Gem glanced down at her glass; the last foam of the drink left in the bottom, and shook her head. He shrugged, and headed to the other end of the bar, leaving her to twiddle her fingers. If Kami didn't arrive soon, she mused...
"Sorry I'm late," Kami said as she took her place behind Gem.
"Other business?" Gem asked, without turning to look at her.
"You could say that," Kami replied, glancing around the club. Gem turned to look at her. She was in her 'casual' wear, which for her meant the black body suit and trench coat. She turned back to Gem with a smile. "Ready to go?"
"Depends where it is we're going."
Kami leaned down towards her. "I was thinking about the 'Edge of Night.'"
Gem cocked an eyebrow. "Why there?"
"Somewhere different. It's about as 'Neo York' as we can get, without crossing the bridge."
Gem shrugged. "Sure, why not," she said. Kami offered her hand to Gem as she stood. Gem merely brushed it off, and headed for the exit.
"Oh well," Kami shrugged and followed her out.
The Edge of Night was doing a roaring trade. The place was almost full, with carefully groomed corporate shoulders pressing to the flesh of the just-too-neat zone wannabes. Loud music blared throughout the bar, and the dance floor was packed.
Kami wandered in through the door, handing the bouncer her duffel bag. "Wow, so this is the Edge of Night! I've heard so much about it!" Gem followed her in quietly, handing her pistol to the bouncer. "I'm surprised he's not checking IDs," she said with a giggle.
"Oh, don't you know? 'Zone clubs' don't do that sort of thing," Gem said with a hint of sarcasm. The pair pressed past the crowds, heading for the bar.
"Oh yeah, I forgot, we're in the zone," Kami said playfully. She tried to contain a laugh.
Gem nodded to a passing waiter, noting his uniform. "Most of the staff did too." Kami checked out the waiter, and couldn't help but smile.
"Really, but those Edge of Night T-shirts they all wear are just so kewl." Kami giggled a bit too loudly.
Gem continued with clear sarcasm. "Don't you know? All zone clubs have their own professionally done staff uniforms."
"Really?" Kami laughed back. They finally reached the bar, and managed to squeeze themselves into place. Gem found herself next to a rather large suit. She spared him a glance, then signalled to the bartender. He approached and nodded to the two of them. Gem couldn't help but notice how conspicuously clean he was.
"Can I get a lemon drop?" Kami asked. The bartender nodded and turned to Gem.
"Bloody Mary," she intoned. The bartender turned his back to mix the drinks.
Kami grinned from ear to ear. "Like the city except I can drink!" The bartender presented them with their drinks, and Kami slammed her teenybopper cocktail in a single shot.
"And do all the other things you've been doing for ages," Gem intoned.
"Yeah, but this is like doing it in the city!" Kami exclaimed. Next to them, the suit choked on his drink.
"Not really," Gem replied. "In the city, you've got to be quiet about your usual perversions.
Kami inched closer to Gem. "And here?" she asked.
Gem sipped her drink. "This is the zone, regardless of what those city types think. Heck, I could blow someone away and not have to worry about it." The suit next to them choked in amazement, and gasped for air.
"So you mean indulging myself here isn't a problem?" Kami leaned closer, bringing herself nose to nose with Gem. The suit turned towards the pair, ogling them.
"Generally not. I don't know anyone who's enough of a poser to come here regularly."
Kami smiled. "Good," she purred and locked her lips with Gem's. The suit gaped, not breathing, merely watching the two girls.
Gem quickly pulled away. "I didn't mean like that!"
Kami looked a little down. "Sorry, but with you talking about how you could blow a guy here and it wouldn't be a problem, I just got thinking."
Gem looked disgusted. "I said 'blow him away.' You know, as in 'shoot?'"
Kami blushed a bit "Oh sorry, my mind was in the gutter, again..."
Turning to her drink, "Sometimes I think that's your natural state."
"Sorry. I tend to go to extremes, one way or the other." She raised a bill to the bartender saying, "Another please."
Gem sat in silence for a moment, then turned to Kami. "I can't help but wonder which one of you is the girl who ran away from home."
Kami looked over at Gem. "All of them." She took a breath and continued. "It's just considering my lifestyle here, they don't mix very well."
"I can't imagine how you were back at home."
"I was much more restrained. Except when I got drunk at a party or lost my temper because some guy grabbed my ass."
Upon hearing this the suit sitting beside them put his hand back on the bar. They were a bit hostile at the moment, probably drunk, but definitely hot and definitely worth keeping a close eye on.
"So that's where Kami comes from?" Gem asked.
"Yeah, and Silver comes from getting drunk at parties and pulling my top off because I knew I was better looking than some snotty senior."
Gem winced at the description. "Of course, I can't talk."
"I wouldn't worry too much about it. I'm a violent, amoral, hedonist dyke who just happens to be the upgrade from hell. Probably a good thing I'm not an ESPer, then I'd really be dangerous.
Gem stared at her in a mixture of amazement and awe. "I never thought I'd hear someone describe themselves like that."
Gem heard the suit's heavy breathing behind her and turned around. Seeing that he was paying far too much attention to their conversation she scowled and said, "Why is it that wherever I go, all I meet is creeps and freaks? Beat it lard ass, before I show you my hobbies." He reeled back, then departed the bar.
"I could have killed him," Gem muttered, "But I've got enough problems with revenge-hunting losers right now."
"'Sides, you wouldn't want the bartender to cut you off." Kami added. "Want to find a seat somewhere?
"Better than staying out here," Gem agreed. She shouted to the bartender, "Hey barkeep, keep those drinks coming!"
The bartender looked over the two girls, and nodded. "Sure thing."
Kami lead the way as they left the bar, moving through the throngs of people throughout the bar. Gem drained her drink as they walked, and casually dumped the glass on a table as she went. Kami spied an unoccupied leather couch by the dance floor. She lead Gem over to it and sat down, chirpily saying, "Here we go."
Gem sat next to Kami, and felt the couch. "Nice," she said. "I guess this place has one advantage after all."
"I'll bet furniture doesn't get broken here as much here as it does at 93U."
"And they can bring it straight through the checkpoints. Legally!" Gem added.
"There's nothing illegal about bringing stuff into the zone. It's just getting people to deliver. 93U has a nightmare just keeping liquor in stock. Being right next to the check point means only one courier, not two."
"Good point." A waiter arrived by the girls, delivering each another drink. "Good service," Gem muttered, and downed half her drink.
Standing nearby, the suit from before perked up as he heard their familiar voices. He glanced over to the girls, watching Gem drink. This could be my lucky night, he thought.
Kami sat in silence for a few moments. "You said you were surprised to hear anybody describe themselves that way," she finally said.
"Well, yeah. You just don't hear that kind of honesty often," Gem replied
"Um, thanks. Weird thing is, I'm violent but I'm not malicious."
"I figured that. You do stand out here when you're killing people."
The suit casually wandered over to where the girls were sitting and nonchalantly positioned himself on the couch next to them. Through his half-drunk haze, he enjoyed watching the too and barely noticed their conversation. Noticing him, Kami leaned over and lifted her legs, resting them across Gem's lap. "Excuse me but I'd like to stretch my legs out," she said with a grin to the suit, ignoring Gem's frown.
The suit leaned back with a grin, gesturing towards his own lap. Kami's eyes narrowed. "We haven't been introduced, and I just recently broke a puma with these," she said, glaring at the suit. She raised her voice slightly, and continued. "So unless you don't want to be the second person I kill tonight, leave."
"You killed somebody? Tonight?" he muttered. He sobered up in an instant and had no trouble standing and making himself scarce.
Kami's expression returned to normal and she proceeded to stretch her legs out across the couch, and of course Gem's lap. "You can put your legs down now," Gem said in a deadpan voice.
Kami gave Gem a pouty expression, and looked into Gem's eyes. She slowly drew her legs back. Gem added, "Look, I'm not a footrest, okay?"
"Yeah I know." Kami stretched her legs out on the floor, and sat up properly.
Gem sighed. "Look... I want to be serious for a bit, okay?""
"Okay," Kami replied.
"It's about... 'us.'"
Kami nodded. "Go on," She said. She had a fairly good idea of what Gem was about to say.
"Look... Uhm..." Gem scratched her head. "I'm really not good with feelings and all, it's just that, I need to say... Er..." Gem trailed off, looking confused.
"I understand that you're probably confused right now,"" Kami said.
"I'm not really good at this sort of thing..."
"I can imagine."" Kami took a deep breath. "Please go on," she said, looking concerned.
Gem paused, and finally blurted out, "I... I don't want to sleep with you again." Her face turned red as she realised she had spoken a little too loud.
Kami put her hand on Gem's. "That's okay, you did seem to enjoy it."
Gem began muttering rapidly, "I mean, it's not you, not that I didn't enjoy it or anything, I do still like you and all, but..."
"You're not really comfortable with the idea of sleeping with another girl?" Kami interrupted.
Gem nodded. "Yeah. It just..." Gem trailed off, and shrugged at a loss for words. Kami leaned over, and took a hold of Gem's shoulders. "It's also my business. I really don't need a relationship right now."
"I understand. Maintaining a relationship in this business is tough, and potentially distracting. But it's also nice to have someone you can go to who's willing to listen or help you think about something else."
Gem solemnly nodded. "You're right, but I'm not so sure. I keep thinking of what happened that night, and wondering what other kind of trouble I'll get you into."
Kami nodded her understanding. "Please don't worry too much about that night and getting me into trouble. If it weren't for me, you wouldn't have been there to begin with. Please try to not feel bad about it."
Gem leaned back scratching her head. "But you see, it's more complicated than that. It's about..." she stopped, with an almost pained look on her face.
Kami gave Gem a rather puzzled look. "About..." she said, glancing around.
Gem sighed and looked straight at her. "It's about things I can't tell you."
Kami looked into Gem's, "Confidentiality is something I do understand, and respect. You don't have to explain."
"But-" Gem cut herself off. "I'm involved in some very messy business right now. Having you around is just going to be dangerous."
Kami nodded; she understood the business. "I understand. But I want you to enjoy yourself tonight and let me take care of you for a little while longer."
Gem gave a small, pleasant smile. "I'm not going to win, am I?" Kami smiled and shook her head. Gem nodded and reached forward, wrapping Kami up in a hug. She patted her on the back, and rested her head on her shoulder. "Where were you the rest of my life?" Gem muttered.
"I'm here now," Kami quietly replied. Gem nodded silently, and pulled away. Kami held Gem's shoulders, and looked into her eyes.
"I've never really had a friend like you. You know, someone I could just chat with." Gem smiled. "I feel like you understand me better than anyone."
"Thanks. I like having you as a friend too." With that Kami gently put her hand on the side of Gem's cheek.
"Just a friend," Gem repeated.
"I know" Kami wasn't sure how much of that she actually believed, nor how much of that was meant for her and how much was Gem's self reinforcement. Still there was a hint of sadness in her eye.
"Sorry," Gem said, and leaned back on the couch. She downed her drink and signalled for another.
"That's okay," Kami replied, "I still have you for a friend".
Gem nodded. "So, now that we've got that cleared up..."
Kami looked over at Gem. "Hmmm?"
"It's your night." Gem leaned back. "So what's the plan?"
"Hmmm, I was hoping for an evening of long passionate kissing. That got more interesting later on. Now I have to rethink things."
Gem paused for a second with her mouth wide open. "Silly me," she finally muttered. "Remind me why I'm doing this?"
"That's what I was hoping for until our little discussion." Kami smiled. "You're doing this because you like my company and enjoy living dangerously," she added in a rather smug tone.
Gem thought for a second. "Cute, but I don't see how 'living dangerously' equates to 'fake zone bar.'"
"I was referring to hanging out with present company, myself." She winked.
"Oh, I can handle that," Gem replied.
"True. Perhaps you enjoy being tempted by your inner lust?" Kami teased.
Gem grinned. "Perhaps I enjoy the prospect of a dangerous night. Whenever I go out, I get in trouble. It just happens."
"I wonder how much or that has to do with living in the zone?" Kami slammed another shot.
"Gem just my luck. I assume some zoners can actually enjoy a quiet night." Gem shot her drink and called the waiter.
"I'd like to every once in awhile." Kami replied, "I guess that's why I'm in a faux zone bar instead of the 'Half Tanked.'"
Gem nodded. "It's a funny atmosphere. Not quite real, but familiar."
"Nice change, maybe we should get more 'real' zoners to hang out here." Kami sniggered. "Give 'em a taste of what it's like to go to a club in Neo York."
Gem sniggered. "What, and scare off the patrons?"
"Like the poor bastard who keeps looking over at us?" Kami grinned, and watched the suit finally slink off. "Besides they spend a lot of effort to try keep real zoners out."
Gem glanced over her shoulder, looking for the man Kami mentioned. "Well they're not doing a very good job," she muttered.
"Naw, I think they just let us in because no zoners could be this cute."
"No way," Gem replied, turning back to Kami. "No-one could ever mistake me for a corper."
"Perhaps you're too cute for them to actually care?"
"Get serious," Gem shot back.
"Ummm, maybe they thought I was a coper, and you're my bodyguard?"
"Seems about right." Gem looked around the club. "Everyone else in here has that proper air of respectability."
"I can pretend to be respectable." Kami piped up.
Gem laughed to herself, "No, I'd like to see that."
"Fine, next time we come here, I'll play the snooty corpie bitch and you can play my bodyguard!"
"Can't we do that now?" Gem deadpanned.
"It would be more fun if I were in my school girl outfit." Kami had a rather evil look in her eye.
Gem shied away slightly. "I really don't want to know about that."
"Hey it helps with the attitude!" Kami defended. "Besides, it's not like you're gonna be wearing it." Taking a breath, "Unless you wanted to."
Gem blinked in surprise, then leaned forwards. "What, do I look like a child?" she asked, clearly concerned.
"You look Japanese, no offence but you look like you could be anywhere from 15 to 25."
"Yow," Gem said. "I mean, I am kind of young but I always thought I looked more mature than that."
"Like I said, I really can't tell. You look teens to early twenties" Kami looked at Gem. "How old do I look?"
"Mature," Gem mused. "You look in your early twenties, I'd say."
"Really?" Kami could only blink in shock.
Gem nodded. "Yeah. You dress sensibly - when you dress - and you're very well..." She waved her hands vaguely in front of her chest. "Developed."
Kami sniggered. "Thanks." She paused. "There's really not much room or opportunity for me to dress otherwise though. If you saw me before I came here you'd probably just think 'high school slut.'"
"Of course," Gem replied with a smile, "It's getting you to act that age that's the problem."
"That's what the school girl outfit is for." She smiled, "Acting is easy when you have the right outfit."
"And I bet you'd love to demonstrate," Gem deadpanned.
"I think it would be cuter if you demonstrated." Kami grinned.
Kami sighed, "Just thought I'd suggest it."
Gem shook her head. "I don't play around like that."
Kami nodded, "I figured as much". Thinking for a minute, "But you find it entertaining if I play around like that?"
Gem shrugged. "Could be fun."
"Okay," Kami beamed. She was in a rather mischievous mood.
"Now what do you have in mind?" Gem said in a somewhat worried tone.
"I'll give you three guesses what was in the duffel I checked into the weapons check at the door," Kami said with a devilish grin.
Gem leaned back. "You're kidding, more clothes?"
"Do you really want to know why I have an outfit like that with me?"
Gem thought for a second. Her expression wandered between amused and disgusted. Finally, the alcohol got the better of her. "Yeah, actually I do."
"Remember the plans I had before we had our discussion?"
"Surely that could have waited until you dragged me home."
"I had to get it from 93U. I really don't have a use for it anywhere else."
Gem rolled her eyes. "Silly me."
Kami laughed. "I have this really sexy two girl routine I worked out with it."
Gem sat still, blinking in amazement. "Why am I not surprised?" she slowly asked.
"Gordon's a bit hesitant about letting me do it." She snickered, "He's afraid we'll take it too far."
"Well I don't really blame him," Gem replied.
Kami started ranting. "But it's so cute. She plays the school bully, and I'm just an innocent little school girl. For the first song she handcuffs me to the pole and strips me. She's so turned that she strips her self for the second song. The she uncuffs me for the last song and finishes the routine just like any other girl-girl show."
Gem rubbed her eyes. "I really, really didn't need to know that."
Kami giggled, "We don't really do anything. It's all show just a lot of teasing, and a little molesting."
"I'm amazed people sit down to watch that stuff," Gem replied.
"Most guys will sit down for who knows how long just to gawk a pretty girl."
"This is true," Gem said with clear disgust.
Kami looked over at Gem. "Hmm?"
Gem looked directly at Kami. "I'll make it no secret that I don't like your profession. But I hate the guys who watch you even more."
Kami just had to laugh, "So take advantage of them. I do."
"No way. You know I'm not like that."
"I know." Kami agreed. "But your more than cute enough to. But it's kinda sad, I make more money than prostitutes, and never have sex with the clients."
"Then I guess you're lucky."
"It's more brains than luck. From what I understand, most prostitutes earn slightly more than the waitresses at 93U. That is when you consider tips."
"Sad," Gem mused.
"Exactly. That's why 93U has a policy of firing girls who are caught turning tricks. It's not illegal, but it is not the image Gordon wants." Looking over at their waitress. "Now, just think about how much you're tipping the girl each time she brings you a drink, then think about how many times that happens per hour, then do the math."
Gem snorted in amusement. "I'm surprised he's worried about image with people like you working there."
"He does have standards, but remember it is a club and definitely not Neo York. Just imagine if Mutt and Jeff were working as bouncers."
"I get the picture."
"Beep." Kami reached over, touched Gem on the nose and grinned.
Gem blinked in confusion. "Uh... what?"
Kami shrugged. "Nothing, just playing."
"I'm getting depressing, aren't I?"
"Just a tad. But I'm not gonna let you."
"So what do you suggest? Besides that."
"I could tickle you until you're too tired to be depressed."
"Not here!" Gem yelled back.
"Then you're not gonna get depressed here are you, hmmm?"
Gem rolled her eyes. "Fine, if you put it like that, I won't." Kami leaned back into couch, and giggled to her self. Gem looked around, and out at the crowd nearby. "Let's dance," she abruptly said.
"Arighty." Kami gracefully rose to her feet in a single fluid, almost snake like motion, and reached her hand out to Gem. She took her hand, and stood to face Kami. "After all, if I'm here, I might as well enjoy myself."
Kami put and arm around Gem's waist, "Now you have the idea." With that she began to escort Gem to the floor.
"Always gotta try something new," Gem replied with a smile.
Out on the dance floor Gem stumbled a bit. She was obviously drunk, but made and effort. Not being familiar with dancing didn't help either. "Oh, something else I can teach you," Kami purred.
"I mean, I've done plenty new with you already," Gem muttered.
"True, but you've only just started." Kami began moving her hips to the music. "There's soooo much more I could teach you, if you were willing."
Gem looked down, and tried to copy Kami's movement. "Dunno," she said, "Sometimes I'm tempted."
"Just loosen up and let is come naturally" Kami put her hands on Gem's hips, and pressed herself up against Gem, drawing her into Kami's own movements.
"Kay," Gem replied as she looked back up at Kami. She was soon moving naturally, alongside her friend. "This ain't bad," she eventually said.
"It's nice. You have to start slowly; once you get comfortable life gets really interesting, and more fun." Kami dipped down then rose up again keeping her face as close as possible to Gem's body.
Gem grinned and tried the same move, stumbling a bit on the way up. As she stumbled, Kami caught her and pulled her in even closer. "This is gonna be a lot of work." Kami grinned to herself.
Gem giggled. "Whoops. Guess I'm not as good as I thought."
"That's okay." Kami dipped Gem while remaining nose to nose.
Gem giggled slightly. "Maybe I could get used to it."
Kami moved close enough to kiss Gem, and was met with a light peck on the lips. Kami smiled as she returned Gem to an upright position whispering, "You can grope if you want."
"No..." Gem replied, looking straight at Kami. "That was a thank-you kiss."
"It was just an offer, if you were comfortable."
Gem shook her head. "I just wanted to thank you for caring enough to show me a good night out."
"You're welcome." Kami replied, "I enjoy being with you."
Gem's face fell in surprise. Her eyes widened. "R... really?" She said. Her eyes motioned with tears. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me," she whispered.
Kami wrapped her arms all the way around Gem pulling her into a full embrace. The other girl leaned her chin on Kami's shoulder, sniffing slightly. Kami leaned her cheek on Gem's and stroked the back of her head.
"You know what you said..." Gem began, sniffing. "You know, that time on the street, after you saved me?"
Gem sniffed again, trying not to cry. "You were right," she whispered to Kami. Kami held Gem closer, if that were possible, and rubbed her cheek against Gem's. Gem remained quiet, trying not to cry.
"It's okay." Kami whispered in Gem's ear. While holding Gem's back and head, Kami gently scooped up Gem's legs, and carried her back to the couch. As they returned to the couch, Gem started quietly sobbing on Kami's shoulder.
Without releasing Gem, or even letting her slip, Kami had a seat on the couch with Gem sitting across her lap. Kami allowed Gem to continue crying, stroking the back of her head all the while. Earlier that night she was hoping to get Gem into her lap, or vice versa, but not like this.
Gem eventually let off, and pulled back from Kami, looking at her with sorrowful, reddened eyes. "I've said too much," she quietly intoned.
Kami wiped the tears from Gem's cheek. "It's okay, you can say anything you want."
Gem shook her head slowly. "I can't."
Kami was a bit confused. "You don't have to." She paused, "But if you ever need somebody to confide in, I'm very good at keeping secrets."
Gem shook her head again. "Never," she intoned. "It's... It's just too much." She pulled herself from Kami's grasp, and staggered slightly as she stood up.
Kami stood up to catch Gem. "You don't have to." She caught hold of Gem, more to steady her than to restrain her.
Gem brushed her off, and turned away. "I've got to go," she said, wavering.
"Whoa, do me a favour and stay here for a little while longer."
Gem shook her head and staggered to the door, shoving people aside as she went. As she reached the door, Kami grabbed her, yelling, "Wait!"
Gem stood still, looking down. "What?" She finally asked.
"You're too drunk to leave." Kami added, "If I can prove it, will you stay long enough to sober up some?"
"You better stay for a little while and listen to me."
Gem tilted her head back, staring up at the ceiling. "Can't you just let me go?"
"No." Kami was adamant.
Gem hung her head. "I'm being an idiot, aren't I?"
Kami smiled and reached her hand out to who slowly took Kami's hand in hers. Kami then drew Gem in and put an arm around her.
"I'm sorry. I just..." Gem looked at Kami, struggling for words.
"Shhhh" Kami put a gloved finger to Gem's lips. "Let's have a seat."
Gem shook her head. "No," she said quietly.
"No?" Kami was curious.
"No. I don't want to be this close to anyone."
"I think I understand." There must have been a dozen things she wanted to say, but she thought less might be better right now.
"I gotta go," Gem said quietly, and pulled her hand from Kami's grasp. She turned towards, the door, but hesitated.
"Please stay a little while longer, at least until you sober up some more." Kami swallowed.
"Aah, I'll be fine," Gem said. She stepped out the door into the cold night.
Kami stepped up to the door, "Take care."
Gem headed out, ignoring her. Kami got their stuff from the weapons check and headed after her friend, cursing as she went.
Korey stepped quietly, her breath shallow as she trailed the dark figure ahead of her. The Japanese girl stepped into a pool of light cast by a nearby home. Korey raised her dart gun in anticipation.
Somehow, she was heard. Gem spun around before her, swaying slightly. "What're you-" she began. Korey fired on instinct, aiming dead to rights and landing the dart in Gem's chest. The girl staggered back for a second, then dropped like a rock.
"Easy enough," Korey said to herself with a smile. She stepped over to Gem and knelt beside her. "Nothing personal," she muttered as she leaned closer. Her expression changed to one of concern; the girl's breathing was shallow and almost undetectable.
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