“Told you I’d be back before you were done.”
Slipped through the back door, moving easily across the floor without being seen. I had stood, just watching her, for a few minutes, her feet curled under her now.
Her smile wide and beautiful, as I sit next to her. A smile that says she’s happy to see me, not a smile of relief, after doubting she’d see me again. She trusted that I would come back for her.
“Should we head back now?”
The doctor. We’re supposed to go back to his office after I got what I wanted from Halloran.
“Let her finish. Is that……”
“…cheesecake…..I don’t know where I’ll find the room for it though…”
“We could always have it wrapped up for you?”
“You ever had cheesecake, Anise?”
A small shake of her head, her hand resting on my thigh, sitting close enough to touch.
“Stay, and finish.”
The doc and I don’t sat another word, letting her enjoy it. She can’t finish it, but that’s hardly the point anymore. The sound of complete and utter contentment at the first bite was enough.
She’s nervous, when we get to the doctor’s office. It’s dark now. The doc, knowing the room so well, doesn’t need to see to know where he’s going. Moves across the room, turning on the piece of equipment we’ll need. The envelope sits on a small table. Anise, puzzled, looking down at it, at me.
Her beautiful eyes flicker in the darkness, a slow blink. Her hands touch the envelope, pull back, fidgeting, unsure. Move behind her, letting my hands find her hips, her back. Whisper softly in her ear. Doesn’t matter. Endearments for her alone. Feel her relax under me. Her deep sigh, letting it out slowly.
Takes the envelope in her hands, emptying the contents on the table. Two pieces of paper, and a chip. She’s puzzled.
The first is the will. The one that left her, as just another piece of “property”, with the suggestion regarding her “use” as part of the estate’s security, as a guard dog. I hadn’t asked for it. Halloran added it himself. Didn’t even want to be lumped in with any decision regarding her. Wanted it made clear it wasn’t his doing, that the decision was made by another, before he even knew Brightman’s estate would be left to him.
The second. The second is what I really wanted. What she needed to have. She was sold as a slave. As a fucking piece of property. Somebody thought that piece of paper meant they could do what they did to her. The chip in her neck is gone, but as long as someone other than her has that piece of paper, then there’s always going to be that chance that someone will refer to her as property again. Now, that piece of paper is hers.
The third is, of course, the credit chip from Halloran. More money than I’ve ever seen in my life in one place.
I don’t need to see her to know she’s crying. I don’t do anything else to comfort her, just stay where I am. I know she’ll stop, and it will be over as soon as it begins. She’s not a cryer, she just can’t help it when she does.
The doc opens the door to the incinerator, where we stood and watched her chip burn, after taking it out.
She throws the will in first. It catches quickly, gone, almost as soon as it enters.
The second slip of paper she holds in her hands a moment longer. Held in both hands, like a terrible weight, pulling her under. She places it as close to the door of the incinerator as she can, so it will take a longer time to catch and burn, not being caught in the open flame.
She backs up a step, but I’d already moved up anyway, slipping my arms around her, holding her. The door to the incinerator closes. We watch, through the window, as the heat makes the edges of the paper smoke, and curl. Pieces break away, spiralling up, burning from red to black, and vanishing, until the entire thing is consumed. Gone.
She’s quiet and drained, resting her head on my shoulder. I thank the doctor. A shame neither one of us can ever know the other’s name, but that’s probably for the best all around.
The supplies I had requested before we reached the Midorian are sitting outside, the dockhand resting on the handcart, waiting to bring them on. It’s not much, and it’s over quickly.
She’s sitting back in the co-pilot’s chair, up front with me, as we break clear. Her head rests back, dark hair swept behind her ears, the silver at her throat and her eyes sparkling in the darkness. The flash off her sharpened canines, as she breaks into a beautiful smile.
Set course back to Outpost 17, it’s a rough place, but, for us, for a while, a safe place.The ship, it’s course set, doesn’t need me to pilot her anymore. Move back, to deal with the supplies. She’s tired, but curious. It amazes me how curious she is. Especially when I start unloading computer hardware, software, tools. She’s down on the ground, watching everything I’m taking out. Asking me about everything.
“You have to promise me something, Anise.”
“You tinker with a computer anywhere but here and you have to leave your shirt on.”
Her laugh is infectious, her smile mischievous again.
“So. How many hours do I have before we land?”
Her new toys, forgotten for awhile, as she grabs my hand, and we make for the bedroom.
© 30 Jan 2006, 14:40