Part 10...
by Emily Mills

Comments welcome at: batgirl@agog.net

A little while later, after getting a bit more exploration out of their systems, Reese suggested they go visit Ash, who they hadn't seen or talked to since before all of the more recent craziness had begun. They both agreed that the poor boy deserved to hear some sort of explanation as to why they'd both been neglecting him for so long, and so they set out, via the L, towards Ash's club.

It was early evening in the city, Auset's favorite time, especially in the summer like it was. The heat from the day still lingered in the air, stubbornly resisting the onset of cooler night but mixing with it nonetheless. Things were more still in the summer, more afraid to move. People, animals, trash, all shifted through the day sluggishly--but were glad for the reprieve from the notoriously cold winters. During the summer, the sun's light became a deeper reddish-gold, covering the buildings and individuals with an almost sanguinary veil. But the best part, Auset mused wistfully, was when evening came and added a cooler feel to everything. It makes you feel...infinite. She was allowing the view of blurred colors that swept past the windows of the train to almost hypnotize her, but the gentle pressure of fingers interlacing with her own suddenly captured her attention.

Reese was looking at the hacker, nervously anticipating what reaction her sudden move might warrant. But when Auset simply grinned and winked, she felt heat rush through her cheeks and was almost positive she was blushing. I feel like a twelve-year-old with her first crush! Geez Reese, and you call her a dork?

The train came to a stop at the station nearest to the club and the two women exited quietly along with the other passengers, walking down off the platform and into the dirty alley below the tracks. They moved past all of the funky shops and equally as funky people who were out and about, reaching the nearly hidden entrance of Discordia after only two blocks. The doorman, as usual, nodded cordially and allowed them to enter without paying. The place was nearly empty, but then it was a weekday and still fairly early. A man of whom neither Auset or Reese recognized was tending bar and so they made their way up the stairs and to the door that lead to Ash's apartment. Auset knocked loud enough so that the sound could be heard over the loud music and after a few seconds, the door opened.

In a flash, the bartender had both women in a fierce hug and pulled them into his place, closing the door behind them with his foot.

"Where HAVE you two been? I was beginning to worry maybe you'd run off together and left poor ole me behind to fend for myself!" Ash exclaimed dramatically, smiling from ear-to-ear.

"Sorry 'bout that," Auset mumbled, chuckling despite herself.

"Things have been pretty crazy lately, and we've been out of town. But I figured it was time we came by and brought you up-to-date," Reese chimed in happily as their host lead them to sit on his couch. When the blonde flinched as she sat down, taking care to lower herself slowly, Ash noticed.

"Are you all right?" he asked, concern evident in his tone. Reese hesitated for a moment and sunk back further into the couch.

"I'm...fine. It's nothing," she mumbled dismissively. Auset snorted and gave her friend a "yeah, right" look.

"She got shot," the hacker supplied helpfully, to which Ash gasped in shock.

"What? Wait...who? Why?" he began frantically. Reese scowled at Auset but remained silent, prompting the taller woman to finish the explanation.

"It's all right, Ash, it's all taken care of. She was helping her brother with something..." here she glanced back to Reese, who nodded. "...uh, they were at a clinic, and some people were outside protesting, and when Reese came out with her brother and his girlfriend, someone fired a shot and it hit Reese. We found out who it was and they're in jail."

"That's the long and the short of it," Reese mumbled under her breath.

"Trouble sure seems to follow the both of you around then," said Ash, shaking his head in disbelief. "You've been having a pretty rough month, eh kid?" He had noticed, since the two had come to his door, that both looked fairly worn-out. It had, he gathered, been a long month for both women.

"You could say that," the writer agreed, grinning sheepishly.

The three friends spent the next hour or so going over what all had happened in the past week; with Auset's job in Dallas, Reese's family business in Flora; and ending with Auset coming to Flora herself and finding out that Sera had been behind most of it. Ash listened intently, shaking his head and uttering little noises of disgust when Sera's role was revealed. Finally, when Reese's voice was tired out (she had done most of the talking, with Auset sitting stoically by and adding her two cents only when Reese tried to downplay her own role in everything) and the sun had completely disappeared from the sky, they agreed to go down to the bar and get some drinks. Ash figured the two women could use a night of kicking back and relaxing a bit. They deserved it.

By then, the club had filled up a considerable amount, especially for a weekday night, and the evening's special guest DJ had set up shop and begun a set of what promised to be really good progressive trance. The trio ordered their drinks; beer for Ash, cranberry juice for Reese and Auset; and found their usual booth near the back to be empty.

"I should call my mother sometime soon," Reese spoke up first, after a few minutes had passed. Auset looked away from the dance floor and at her friend, who sat next to her. Ash was across the table from the two women, thirstily sucking down his drink. "She should know about everything that went on."

"Mm," Auset agreed. "She stateside?"

"Yeah, I think so. Not for long though. I think she's going back to Greece soon, to finish up their current dig." Reese stopped and seemed to think about something for a moment before going on. "Y'know, I've always wanted to go to Greece. Hell, I've always wanted to go to any country on the Mediterranean. Maybe one of these days I'll harass her into letting me come along."

"I've heard it's beautiful," Ash agreed amiably, rubbing his thumb across the lip of the bottle. Auset nodded and sipped her juice, enjoying the cool trail it left down her throat.

"Maybe you could come along too," Reese added, shy green eyes lifting to meet Auset's gaze. The hacker shifted in the seat a little and swallowed.


Just then, the DJ dropped a particularly moving piece of music and the crowd responded audibly, cries going up in appreciation for the choice of tunes. Ash nodded approvingly.

"I love this song. Every time I hear it, it just makes me want to jump out from behind the bar and dance until I pass out," the bartender chuckled, eyes partially closed in rapt worship of the song. Reese sat, head cocked to one side, listening to the music and seriously considering something. When Auset turned her head and saw the thoughtful look on her friend's face, she pursed her lips and raised one eyebrow in question.

"Uh...I," the writer started, pulled out of her musings by the look. "Um...I was just...wondering if, maybe, you wanted to dance?" There, it was out.

This seemed to catch Auset totally off-guard and she sat completely still, just staring at the blonde seated next to her. Finally, after taking a deep breath, she smiled and replied, "Sure, let's go." The taller woman stood first and offered her hand to Reese, who took it happily and was lead off towards the dance floor. Ash just sat, mouth agape, and wondered at the definite transformation he saw that had taken over his dark-haired friend. I don't think I've ever seen her dance before. Hell, I've never seen her this happy before.

The bartender leaned back in his seat and took another long draught of beer, perfectly content to stay where he was and observe the dancers out on the floor. Especially his friends, who, by the looks on their faces, were having the best time out of anyone.

The music reached a quiet place, the notes becoming very melodic and no beat driving any of it, just a beautiful moment of sound. Then it rose back up into the driving four-to-the-floor beat, hinting at a greater climax yet to come.

Auset and Reese moved like fluid through the sticky, smoke-filled air of the club, weaving between the other dancers out on the floor with them. They circled together, creating an intricate pattern of dance between themselves as their eyes never left the others' gaze. Ocean blue and forest green, lost in a deep understanding, experiencing together the pure, primal joy of the moment--the dancing, the complete abandonment of their senses to the music that pulsated all around them. Every person in the club felt the rhythms pulling at their minds, calling them to let go. Auset and Reese felt it too, but they felt something extra, something uniquely theirs.

The DJ turned the volume up a level as the music started a grand build up, the harmony becoming epic, the beats driving faster towards the goal of a great release. The two women were lost in the wash of sound and the flash of lights all around them. They were lost amidst the sea of like-minded people, taking part in this basic human desire to move and be apart of the music, an act as old as time.

The room was electric, everyone was awaiting the music's final climax. The sound grew louder, more full, until it reached a great crescendo and crashed over everyone, their faces turned up towards the lights, their eyes closed, souls soaring.

Reese fell forward into Auset's welcoming embrace, their sweat-soaked arms holding tight to each other. The blonde smiled hard into the taller woman's shoulder, her face lit up with complete joy. The dark-haired woman gave a lop-sided grin, happy at last and completely complimented by the writer in her arms. She rested her chin on top of the blonde's head and let out a deep sigh of breath.

"Perfect" was said to be something unattainable, especially by someone like herself, Auset mused. In that moment, however, she knew that even if that were true, this was certainly the closest she could hope to come to reaching that perfection.



"Put...the knife...down."

"I didn't realize I'd left that out somewhere she could get at it."

"Well she did. She's very resourceful. And very, very NAUGHTY!"

Reese lunged for her cat, reaching out to grab the scruff of her neck, but Ephiny anticipated the move and ducked out from her mistress' grasp and continued to play with the small silver knife she had found. The thing was tiny, a throwing knife, and the shine of it attracted the cat. When Reese and Auset had come in the door to the apartment, they'd found the feline batting the weapon across the hardwood floor with great focus. Currently, Reese was lying on her stomach, cursing like a sailor, with the cat behind her and continuing to happily scoot the little knife around on the floor. Auset, for her part, was casually leaning against one wall and observing the events that were unfolding in her apartment with a great deal of amusement. Not that she wasn't worried that maybe Ephiny might hurt herself, or possibly even her very frustrated friend, but the hacker couldn't help but find it all terribly humorous.

Finally, after taking pity on Reese in her attempts to remove the sharp object from the cat's clutches, Auset snuck up on the unsuspecting calico and pounced. With a feral growl of her own, the taller woman snatched the knife, flipped it twice in the air, stood up, and placed the item in the top drawer of her dresser. It happened so fast that Ephiny was left frantically searching the area around her for the lost toy, and Auset finally broke down and let loose a deep belly laugh. Reese, still lying prone on the floor, gave in as well and chuckled right along with her.

"I suppose I'll have to cat-proof my apartment now," Auset suggested, still laughing, as she offered a hand to help Reese up with. The blonde took the proffered hand and stood up as she grumbled something unintelligible about her pet. Then a thought struck her, brought on by what Auset said.

"Um...Auset, I really appreciate you having let me stay with you all this time, and I'm going to pick up the pace in my search for a new place right away...so I should be out of your way relatively soon and I just...I mean...thanks? For everything," the writer rambled off nervously. Auset leaned back against the desk and crossed her arms over her chest.

"You're welcome, and you can stay...as long as you like. You're not in my way at all," she finished with a shrug, trying not to betray the fact that she was really hoping Reese would stick around for a while longer.

"I couldn't impose on you for much longer. But, ah, it's good to know I've got a place for a while. Just, thank you. Really."

"I should be thanking you," Auset replied softly, eyes focused on her suddenly captivating feet.

"What for?"

"For everything you've done. For being my friend. For not giving up on a big hard-ass dork like me. You don't know how much I love...that."

Reese saw the pained look on her friend's face and knew that the words to express what was going on between them were hard to formulate. Instead, she opted to walk over to Auset, who was still staring hard at the floor, and wrapped her in a tight embrace. After a seconds' hesitation, Auset returned the gesture, lifting her arms to circle the smaller woman before her. They let all of the stress of the past few weeks seep out in that hug, reveling in each others' reassuring hold, and just taking those few moments off from life.

Finally, they mutually stepped back a bit and let their arms drop. Ephiny chose that moment to rub up against Auset's leg, purring as loudly as she could. Reese smirked and leaned down to pet the cat on the head.

"Well, she seems to have taken a liking to you."

Auset grunted and kneeled down so that she could scratch the persistent feline's ears. "You brat."

Reese's head jerked up and she glared at her friend.

"Me or the cat?"


The blonde stuck her tongue out and stood back up, stretching her back a little.

"I should call work and let them know I'm back," she thought aloud. Auset nodded her head in the direction of the computer before moving over to her weapon wall and removing the pair of sai to practice with. Reese ambled over towards it to make use of the phone and situated herself in the comfortable office chair. As she settled the headphone set over her ears and dialed the number for work, her eye caught sight of an officially-stamped piece of paper laying on top of the mess on the desk. It was a death certificate for one James Passaris. Auset's dad. Reese knew she probably shouldn't be looking at the document, but her curious eyes couldn't help it. She scanned down the rest of the paper and came to Auset's mother's name, Elizabeth Pappas Passaris. As the phone rang in her ear piece, the writer ran the name through her memory. Somewhere far off, it rang a bell. Pappas was Auset's mother's maiden name. Why do I recognize it? Before she could finish the thought, however, someone picked up on the other line and Reese went back to discussing plans to come back to work soon.

Auset went through her usual sai workout routine, twirling the weapons in her grip with easy familiarity. Reese would be around for a while and that...was good, she decided. She could help the woman find a new place, somewhere nearby, and the prospect of spending more time with Reese was very appealing. It had been so long since she'd been close to anyone really, and this time it just felt so right. Scary, but right.

She had lost herself so much in the practice that she failed to notice when Reese got off the phone and walked up behind her. Before the hacker knew what was what, the blonde had grabbed one of her hands and pinned it to her back and then disarmed her, taking one of the sais and dropping the other to the floor. Auset blinked a few times in complete surprise but decided that this new position wasn't quite so bad.

"Gotcha," Reese declared, her voice a pleasant rumble in Auset's ear.

"Oh yeah," the dark-haired woman replied amiably. "That you do."

THE END. (2-24-01)

Wow. Well, cats and kiddies, that's that! Actually, not entirely "that", as this is the end of the rough draft. This just means that now I get to go back and revise, edit, nitpick, edit, edit and edit some more. SO! Thank you so very much to anyone who read along with me, I really do appreciate it. Also, if anyone has any suggestions for the revision, PLEASE let me know--I can't do this alone! *pitiful wail* Your comments/constructive critisisms are very welcome. OK, now, I'm rolling the idea of a sequal around in my head...maaaaaybe. *g*


Back to Part 9

Return to Main Page