[Author’s Note: So, this isn’t a short story, not really. Short stories have points and they create a universe of their own and enchant you all by their lonesome. They’re enough in and of themselves. This is a scene. It has a mini-point.
It takes place in the ’90s in Kyoto. Sara is the same Sara from Flight from Hell, but at a low in her life when she really doesn’t like humanity as a whole. She isn’t a werewolf yet.
This has been written because I felt like it and I wanted to share something that will never go in the novel. I think it can be read as a stand-alone.
Hey, I come from the world of fanfiction. Throwing random prose at people is acceptable behavior.]
The building was eerily quiet, as if all its inhabitants had taken vows of silence. It suited Sara just fine. She felt like a shadow herself, a ghost haunting an elegant Kyoto penthouse. And why not? Surely heads of criminal organizations had beautiful homes that they eventually killed people in. She could be one of the murdered, eventually, if she played her cards wrong. Unless, of course, they were more clever than to kill her in elegant places where her death would draw a lot of attention. Sara was still a bit shaky on the details of such organizations. All of her information came from fiction, which was unreliable as a whole.
The thought of dying didn’t make her afraid, or even very anxious. In a way, it didn’t matter to her whether she lived or died, except in this case dying meant losing the game. She didn’t fancy losing.
“Can I get you anything, mistress?”
The man had been sitting humbly on a pillow for the better part of two hours. Sara was too apathetic at the moment to stir much, but she had to wonder how he wasn’t bored out of his mind yet.
“How about an answer?” she asked in return. “What could make a man sign his body and soul over to another man?”
“I’m afraid that…”
“Tea,” she cut him off. She’d already heard his polite excuses over and over. Damien didn’t want her to know what this man’s contract contained and her slave-servant-person wasn’t about to break his confidentiality clause. “And salmon,” she added. “If we still have salmon.”
The young man was alright, she supposed, but he was unexciting. Damien liked his servants biddable, which she appreciated in general, but now she would have liked to be around someone more exciting. In two days she would meet with some of the important Japanese families and she’d start having work to do. Until then, she needed to wait and waiting wasn’t her strongest point. She’d visited Kyoto, seen the people, been entertained by a geisha and done everything a tourist would do, and now she was out of ideas, as well as lethargic.
She thought it was easier to get bored around people than without them, since you couldn’t relax and do whatever you wanted to do in peace. This obedient Laurent was lovely as a slave and shit for company. Sara considered telling him to take the night off and rent a hotel room somewhere, so she’d be left all alone in the apartment.
“I think you ate all the salmon, mistress,” he said from the kitchen. “It’s remarkable, since we had enough for five people at least.”
There was something new in his voice. A light sarcasm. She turned around, suspicious. Had boredom broken down his walls? Was there something in him that was actually worth looking at?
“Then perhaps we still have tuna?”
“…some, I think, mistress.”
Obedient again. Sara wasn’t very happy. She wondered if people had been spreading half-lies about her again – the ones to the effect that she was a batshit crazy assassin.
“Actually, I believe the tuna is gone as well,” Laurent said, the light sarcasm back in his voice. “In a few weeks you’ll be the size of a…” He realized what he was saying, stopped, licked his lips and gave his best dumb smile. “The perfect size to… to be a…” He was obviously struggling to find some brilliant, complimentary way to finish the sentence. There was none, so he ended up saying, “…a really big leader.”
Sara stared at him, stone-faced. If she made the slightest move, she would burst out laughing. She hadn’t laughed in months, so she felt it would be inappropriate to do so now. Not a muscle on her face twitched. Unsurprisingly, he took it to mean she was angry.
“I’ll go buy salmon and tuna, I’m sure some place must still have them,” Laurent said cheerfully and tried to run out of the kitchen. Sara grabbed him by the hand.
She hadn’t meant to be threatening, but the moment he stopped and turned towards her, she realized she was being so. If they’d told him that she was a murderous psycho who was barely waiting for a provocation, his worried expression made a lot of sense.
“Forget that. I don’t want to be a really big leader just yet,” she told him. “Just get me tea.” She considered. “And rice balls. I didn’t eat all the rice balls as well, did I?”
“I don’t think so,” he answered. Sara almost saw him make up his mind about something. “I think it’s rather lucky that you were so fascinated with staring out the window that you forgot about them.”
His tone was tentative, trying to gauge her reaction to impertinence. The intention wasn’t disrespectful, so she let her lips curl up into a smile. He relaxed visibly. If he ever got any ideas about how far he could go, it wouldn’t be much of a problem to put him back in his place.
“Isn’t it?” she asked. “You can help put a dint in my abnormally large leadership by eating with me this time.”
Not much later, at the table, sitting on pillows, they talked over tea and rice balls. Sara reconsidered her evaluation of Laurent from the past few days.
“Did they tell you I was a psychopath?” she asked out of the blue.
“Yes,” he answered. “With an inclination towards violent rampages.”
Well. That explained a lot. “And they told you that I am often silent because I am psychotic, I presume. The quiet type who bursts out in murderous explosions of discontent.”
Laurent nodded and named a few names, explaining who had told him what. Sara resolved to knock their heads together when she met the bastards and scold them for putting the fear of dangerously crazy in those who worked closely with her.
“I am violent,” she told him. “But not randomly. Also, depressive, not psychotic. I suppose Damien wanted you to amuse me in some way while I was here, to lighten up the gloom.”
“I’m a sex slave,” he offered. “I think there’s a clue there. I’m not trying to say that you need to get laid, of course, but…”
Sara got laid a lot, actually, but it was none of this man’s business.
“Which reminds me of my question: why would someone sell themselves to somebody else, body and soul?”
“Not just anybody. I gave myself to Damien Kenden.”
Sara looked him up and down. “I think that was the gayest answer you could have given.”
Still, it was more of a clue about him than she’d had before. That he needed something, probably desperately so, was obvious. That it had to be Damien was a new development. She’d have to see what she could make of it later. Also, she’d need to talk to Kenden about asking people to sign sexual slavery contracts in return for his services. It was funny, but rather uncalled for.
“You have a filthy mouth,” Sara told him. “I’ll be making use of it.”
“I can’t read Japanese, but I know you can. You’ll be reading my correspondence for me tonight and teaching me how to write and read in the next few days, when we have time. I’m uninterested in sex right now and uninterested in you in general.”
“But interested in eating the entire kitchen.”
She decided she liked his teasing and speaking back. It was like having a friend, except not really.
The thought made her gloomy again. She would have liked to put daggers in some of her old friends and see them drowning when blood poured into their lungs. She would have liked to grin at them when she asked why they’d shunned her so easily, why they’d seen fit to humiliate her. Her vision darkened and her blood pressure spiked so much that she became dizzy.
She noticed Laurent looking at her with worry in his eyes. Smart boy, but he wasn’t the enemy. And she would never really harm her old friends, either, despite how much she wanted to.
“Mm. The novelty of raw fish will wear out in a few days, I am certain,” Sara told him, getting a grip on herself. “Well, since you are an outspoken individual with a real personality not resembling that of a doormat, I suppose I can make use of you in more ways than I initially expected. If I think that I can trust you, and if you are faithful to me, I will take you on as a confidante. Maybe even as a lover, who knows?”
Laurent’s lips quirked up. “My mistress has a sense of humor, as well.”
“I mostly like laughing at other people’s stupidity.”
“Alas, I am sorry that I can’t entertain you better in that case.”
She snorted, more from a desire to be amused and lighthearted than from an actual desire to laugh.
“Call me boss, or ‘my lady’. Either one will do. Stop it with the ‘mistress’, I am not your dominatrix.”
“If this is who you are, you are free to provoke those I come in contact with, unless I tell you otherwise. A bit of wit never hurt too many people.”
There was something very honest in the way in which he agreed to do her bidding. At some level, he probably really was an obedient sort of person. Signing a contract for sexual slavery… She could easily blame Damien for that, but he didn’t draw up funny contracts lightly, and not one like this that she could remember. Perhaps the question wasn’t why a man could sell himself, but what sort of a person you had to be to sell yourself. Why would you want to belong completely to somebody else? If you weren’t a sexual pervert, that is, and Damien was uninterested in those.
The answer came to her: protection and a natural ease for following orders. Hullo, Laurent was in trouble. And if Damien was willing to take him on, more than that, if he’d given him to her, he had to be interesting in some way. Her fingers itched to go to the phone, pick up the receiver and call the London offices, hoping that Damien was there, and ask him what the blond slave was all about.
Sara decided not to. She was bored and finally there was a challenge before her. Hopefully, behind the smile and the wisecracking, there would be some sort of prize. Something that would cheer her up more than a new book or a new lover. Or a new failed attempt to find a friend.
“Also, you’ll be sleeping on the floor in front of my bedroom door tonight,” she told him.
“Are you kidding, boss?”
She was. “No, I am not. You get pillows and a blanket.”
“…Alright. I feel it is my duty to inform you that I talk in my sleep.”
Nice dodge, but she wouldn’t let him off so easily. “No problem. I listen in my sleep.”
“Then I’ll try to be quiet before I reveal my secret pasta recipe.”
Sara decided she liked him, as much as she could like anyone she’d just met. She could let the him cheer her up, or at least she could let him try. Especially by being sarcastic towards the annoying people she needed to be polite and nice towards.
Maybe she would call Damien, just to say thank you for giving Laurent to her as a gift.