Uber Gals and the Mystery of the Hen’s Bane

(An Auset and Reese short story)

By Emily Mills (dj_em81@yahoo.com)

Disclaimers and Filk: This short story (approximately 11,000 words) is definitely rated a mere PG-13. There is naughty language, sexual innuendo abounds, and some girl-on-girl smoochies do ensue. Oh yes, and a number of hapless chickens get maimed in the process. Other than that, characters are (for all intents and purposes) originals, owned by little ole me. Please read "Rising Into Consciousness" before tackling this wee fella, as this is the sequel to that, and a lot of what goes on in this story will make little to no sense if you’re not familiar with "Rising…". Thank you, and goodnight.


The sun was blazing in through the open windows of a well-kept apartment suite, tossing unpleasantly warm rays of light onto the features of two women. The dark-haired and taller of the two was pacing slowly from the bed to the computer desk, using her hands to emphasize something she was saying. The shorter of the women, her golden hair especially highlighted by the onslaught of the sun, sat patiently on the bed awaiting an end to the tirade of her companion.

"I don’t understand how you could possibly think that way!" the dark-haired woman said, throwing her hands into the air in exasperation.

"Auset," the blonde began, still managing to maintain her stoic patience. "It’s really not that big a deal anyway, I mean—"

"Not a big deal? Reese! How could you say that? It just proves that your crazed opinion on this is completely unfounded." Auset paused, hands on hips, and glared at her partner. "Apparently you haven’t been as dedicated, and therefor have no right to an opinion anyway."

Reese took a moment to wipe away a bead of sweat that had trickled down her forehead and was threatening the well being of her eyeball. Finally, she took a deep breath and spoke.

"Auset, honey, there’s a good reason I’m not as ‘dedicated’ as you. It’s a freakin’ television show! I’m not even sure why we’re debating this."

"I knew you were a nonbeliever." The taller woman stopped and dropped her head, trying to regain her composure. "Look, all I’m saying is that they should have ended the series with season eight, with that damn kiss. Season nine was a total waste of time and energy, especially since Duchovany wasn’t even on the show anymore. I mean, sure, Gillian can hold her own, but it just wasn’t ‘The X-Files’ without the both of them. It was a sham, a complete affront to the die hard fans."

Reese got to her feet and stood directly in front of the now brooding Auset. She patted her affectionately on the head.

"I know this is a deeply concerning issue for you, but I think it’s time to move on. The show’s over, and you still have the movies to look forward to."

"I know," Auset said, shoulders slumped in defeat. "But it’s just not the same. I feel dirty and cheap for having even watched that sorry excuse for a final season."

Deciding she was quite through debating the pros and cons of the final season of "The X-Files", Reese meandered into the kitchen to check on the linguini that was slowly cooking on the stovetop.

"You want salad with this?" she called into Auset, who she assumed was probably still standing in the middle of the room, gazing forlornly at her dusty collection of VHS tapes. Most of them had been dedicated to recording the show over the past nine years, but mysteriously ended right after the first few episodes of the final season.

"Uh, sure," Auset replied, finally snapping herself out of the reverie. She ran a hand through the messy locks of very short black hair that resided on her head. It just wasn’t worth arguing with Reese about her favorite show. She had to be content with the fact that she’d at very least been able to get Reese into Bruce Lee movies. Auset might have had to consider breaking up with the girl if she hadn’t liked Bruce Lee.

"Did the mail ever come today?" Reese called out to her again. "You should be getting another illegally exported artifact from your rogue archaeologist of a mother sometime soon."

"Oh yeah, I forgot to even check," Auset answered, padding over to the front door. She caught a whiff of something unpleasant as she approached it, but wrote it off as perhaps some funky spice Reese was adding to their food. Reese was always doing stuff like that. But Auset wanted no part of it. Cooking made her nervous.

She opened the door and reached her hand around to the side where the little mailbox was. The mail had come, but there were no packages. Maybe tomorrow. Just as she was about to duck back inside, she glanced down at the floor and nearly yelped out loud at what she saw. She would have yelped too, if it wouldn’t have betrayed the cool, calm exterior she had worked so hard at perfecting over so many years.

There on the ground, directly in front of her door, was the disemboweled and quickly decomposing body of a chicken. The incredible heat of the summer day wasn’t helping its situation any, and Auset decided not to look any closer for fear of discovering maggots. If there was one thing she couldn’t abide by, and it really was the one thing, it was maggots. Damn things had no right to be that creepy.

"Uh, Reese?" she shouted over her shoulder. The blonde was almost immediately at her back.

"What’s up?" The shorter girl had to stand on tiptoe to peer over Auset’s shoulder. She gasped when she finally saw the dead chicken. "Jesus! What the hell is that?"

"A dead, disemboweled, and unpleasantly effected by the heat chicken," was Auset’s matter-of-fact reply. She lightly kicked the dead animal with the tip of her sneaker. Yup, it was dead all right.

"OK, but what’s it doing there?" Reese insisted while trying desperately not to gag at the horrendous smell the putrefied poultry was giving off. Auset shrugged nonchalantly.

"Being dead and nasty, I suppose." Reese poked her in the back, far from being amused.

"It isn’t a gift from another one of your admirers, is it?"

"Um, I haven’t done an illegal job since that whole Pharmatech affair, so unless this is a really old grudge, I dunno."

"We should, um, probably dispose of it. One of the dumpsters out back?" Reese suggested helpfully. Auset nodded and went back into the apartment to search for a plastic bag and something she could use to get the thing into the bag without having to touch it. She may have been in a line of work that called for the handling of some very messy situations, but Auset wasn't above wanting to be hygienic when it came to dead hens on her doorstep.

Auset found an old grocery bag and grabbed the plunger from the bathroom and went back to the door. Using the rubber end of the plunger, she poked and prodded the chicken until it slid into the bag. Luckily, there was only a small blood smear on the carpeting of the hallway where the thing had been.

"I’ll see if I can get that cleaned up. Your landlady probably wouldn’t be too keen on finding a blood stain in her hallway," Reese volunteered. Auset smiled her thanks and then headed towards the door that led out to the back alley where the apartment complex’s dumpsters were.

She went to open the metal lid of the first dumpster when a piece of paper that was taped to it caught her eye. Auset went ahead and dropped the bag wrapped chicken into the receptacle and then tore the paper off to read what was written on it.

"The chicken’s fate is your own, Hawk." OK, so apparently someone was holding a grudge. They had called her by her old hacker handle. But who? It had been a good two months since the end of all the madness that had marked the beginning of her relationship with Reese, and Auset was fairly certain she’d taken care of the majority of her loose ends. She’d been working legitimate computer jobs ever since, making a concerted effort to distance herself from the possibility of situations like this.

She sighed, pocketed the note, and then headed back to her apartment. She found Reese on her doorstep, furiously scrubbing at the blood on hands and knees.

"Y’know, I could get used to you like that. But it’d be a lot sexier if you didn’t happen to be mopping up blood," Auset purred as she circled around behind Reese so that she stood just inside the apartment.

"Uh huh, I thought you were supposed to be Miss Tough Gal," Reese quipped back. Auset chuckled and play-kicked her in the rear.

"Sure I am. That doesn’t mean I have to be a fan of chicken blood. And I don’t want to get fined. Thanks, by the way."

"No problem," Reese replied as she finished up and stood. "The linguini is ready. Shall we eat?"

"After all this? Definitely," Auset answered amiably. She threw her arm around Reese’s shoulders and closed the door behind them with her foot.


"So," Reese began as a noodle was violently sucked up into her mouth. "Who do we think did it, and why?"

Auset shoveled a mouth full of dressing with a garnish of lettuce into her mouth before answering. "Well, in the note they called me by my old handle, so it’s someone from my sordid past." Reese shot her a look. "Yeah, I know, again. But I still don’t know who it is. Both Sera and Cally are in jail, and they would normally be the major suspects."

Reese dabbed a bit of sauce from the corner of Auset’s mouth and then added absently, "Why did he call himself ‘Sera’, anyway? I mean, I can’t imagine that it was his real name."

The question was slightly out of left field. It took a moment for it to process fully in Auset's brain.

"Uh, well you’re right, his real name is actually Marcus Detrimus. Or, at least, that’s what he had it officially changed to years ago. No one really knows what his birth name is. But Sera, well that’s short for Seraphim, which was his old hacker handle."

"Seraphim. You mean like the angels? Somehow that doesn’t seem fitting," Reese replied, a slight frown marking her features.

Auset chuckled. "Yeah, like the angels. As far as the story behind it goes, most people who were actually friendly with him considered the way he swooped in out of nowhere and saved their butts to be pretty angelic. Something like that. The Seraphim are higher-ups in the hierarchy of angels, so short from referring to him as an actual god, they started calling him Seraphim, and it sorta stuck."

"Lovely," Reese drawled. She laid her fork onto the now clean plate and pushed it aside. "Well, maybe this chicken business was just a one time fluke. Maybe we needn’t worry about it."

"Maybe," Auset agreed. "But I guess we’ll see." She wasn’t entirely sure it was a simple isolated incidence. But she was content to forget about it for the evening. After all, this whole dinner thing was just the start. Reese had also promised a long night of Bruce Lee movies and some possible gymnastics of their own later on. It was almost intolerably warm anyway, the blonde’s rationale had gone, so why not just go with it and get really sweaty?


"Bloody bastard weathermen. If they’re gonna tell me it’s supposed to rain, it better as fuckin’ hell rain already!"

The forecast the previous night had proclaimed there to be thundershowers in the near future, but the night had proved to be completely precipitation free and the heat had only increased with sunrise. Auset was lying in what she assumed was a puddle of her own sweat, sprawled lazily over the tangled sheets of her bed. She could hear the soft sound of Reese’s bare feet padding around the kitchen as she filled a large cup with ice water.

There was a small fan amiably blowing slightly cooled air at Auset’s face from the table next to the bed. Reese wandered over and put the ice-stocked cup directly in front of the fan, hoping to make the breeze it produced even cooler with the presence of the ice. She then flopped down onto the mattress beside Auset and stared at the ceiling, trying to absorb as much of the fan’s breeze as possible and lay very still at the same time. Too much movement just made a person hotter.

"Chicago’s not suppose to get this hot," she complained as she began idly drawing her index finger along the centerline of Auset’s exposed and nicely muscular midriff.

"It sure as bloody well isn’t! Australia was usually hot as hell in summer, but at least we had the excuse of being really close to a desert." Auset sighed unhappily. "I don’t understand this place."

"Aw, don’t fret mon cherie, it’s bound to cool off sometime," Reese said with a touch more enthusiasm than she actually felt. "Hey, maybe your mom’s package finally came. That’d cheer you up. Either that or you get another dead chicken, but in any case, at least it will be something to concentrate on other than the heat."

Reese’s logic may have been slightly daft, but Auset couldn’t help but concede on the final point she made. Slowly, she lifted herself from the bed and made her way over to the door. She didn’t smell anything rank and took it as a good sign. Happily, there was a small brown package on the floor beneath the mailbox, postmarked in Athens, Greece.

"You’re right, mums package is here," she remarked as she shut the door and ambled back over to the bed. Auset retrieved a small silver knife from the rack on the wall and then sat down on the edge of mattress to open the box.

Reese sat up and rested her chin on Auset’s shoulder so as to look on at her progress. The package was opened and Auset pulled a short letter out of the packing peanuts.

"Auset dear, here’s another artifact I liberated from the government of Greece and went to extreme measures and no small danger to my professional career to have shipped to you. Hope you and your blonde bombshell enjoy it! Stay cool (the weather services tell us you’re experiencing heat similar to our own over here), and talk to you soon. Love, mom."

Auset dug deeper into the peanuts and finally came out with something that had been carefully enclosed in bubble wrap. There was another note attached to it that held the description of the artifact. She peeled off the wrapping before reading it.

Both Reese and Auset let out tiny gasps when the item was freed from the wrapping. It was a small chunk of a mosaic, a very old mosaic, with all of the small tiles still in place. The depiction was that of two women from the shoulders up, smiling benignly with their hands clasped between them.

"Read the description," Reese urged in a whisper. She reached out a hand and gently touched the surface of the artifact, still a bit disbelieving that Auset’s mom could smuggle something this beautiful and probably priceless out of the country.

"This piece came from a much larger floor mosaic of an old Grecian nobles’ home in the countryside outside of Athens. The exact owners of the home are unknown, save that they were obviously well off. This particular part of the floor mosaic was a part of a larger work, apparently a family album of portraits, presumably of the residents of the home. The two women are shown clasping hands. This was a traditional way of depicting married couples, so one can only assume that it was not all together uncommon for individuals of the same sex to be openly recognized as having formed a marriage bond. The piece dates from approximately 100 BCE in what was then the Roman province of Macedonia."

Reese chuckled and Auset felt it vibrate through her shoulder. "How very forward thinking of the Greeks."

"Agreed. Hmm, I wonder sometimes about the methods my mother uses for smuggling these things out. She’ll get herself arrested one of these days." Auset stood and walked over to where the other artifact her mother had sent, the ornate dagger, was mounted carefully inside a small glass case. She lifted the case and placed the mosaic piece alongside the dagger. "This’ll have to do until we can get it its’ own case."

There was a sharp shattering noise just then, as some large projectile crashed through the window just above the bed and slammed into the floor. Reese shrieked in surprise and plastered herself against the wall, away from whatever had just landed on the floor with a squishy thud. Auset immediately ran to the broken window and peered down to see if she could catch the person who’d thrown the thing. There was a blur of black as someone ducked into one of the side alleys just across the street. Without another thought, Auset charged out the door and down the stairs to the street to pursue their assailant. The fact that she was barefoot and wearing only a pair of cut off sweat pants and a sports bra didn’t seem to phase her from her efforts.

Reese, for her part, found herself staring at the second disemboweled chicken to visit the apartment in as many days. OK, so it wasn’t just a one-time thing. Finally coming to her senses, she too made her way out of the building to follow Auset on her chase.


Reese caught up with Auset some two blocks away from the apartment. The tall, dark-haired woman was hovering menacingly over a very frightened, shaky young man, her hands bunched up in his sweat stained shirt so that she held his face frighteningly close to her own.

"All right kid, what’s the deal with the chickens, eh?" she growled out, her breath hot on his face. The guy looked about ready to pee himself and he wasn’t any closer to talking due to the death grip Auset had on his collar. Reese approached carefully and put a calming hand on Auset’s back.

"Um, I don’t think he’ll be able to answer if he can’t breathe, love," Reese said reasonably. Auset frowned deeply but relinquished her grip on the guys’ shirt, tossing him away from her slightly as she did. He sat in a crumpled mess on the grimy pavement, his back leaning against a brick wall. Reese moved so that she stood in the way of any possible escape route.

"So, what’s with the dead chickens?" she asked matter-of-factly. The guy looked up at her, his blue eyes glazed and red and his sweat drenched skin colored by an unhealthy pallor. "And what kind of drugs are you on?"

He spat a wad of phlegm at Reese’s feet but missed, and she had to hold Auset back from trying to pummel him for it. The deep growl that came from the dark-haired girls’ throat, however, seemed to sober him up enough to give some sort of an answer. The heat had served to considerably shorten Auset’s temper, and he could sense it even through his drug soaked haze.

"Lay off, will ya?" he mumbled, turning so that he lay on one side, looking away from the two women. "Got paid, crazy bastard, said chickens, dead ones, delivered to you. However I liked. Be creative he said. Just deliver the fuckin’ birds. Leave me alone!"

Reese’s face scrunched up in a mix of revulsion and confusion.

"Was digging out their guts your own creative embellishment, or did the guy who hired you tell you to do that?" Auset asked, still being slightly restrained by Reese. The man laughed, choked, and then cleared his throat.

"Restaurant nearby pays good for gib…giblets. Sold ‘em."

"Nice," Auset drawled. "So who hired you?"

"Why the fuck would I tell you?" he snapped. Reese suddenly found that she no longer maintained a grip on her companion. Auset lunged forward with a savage kick to the junkie’s kidneys. The air left his lungs in one quick whoosh and he doubled up on himself, wheezing in pain.

"That’s why, now talk you nasty piece of shit!" she shouted, her patience well used up.

"OK! OK! Just lay the fuck off you crazy bitch!" he choked out, still clutching his stomach. "Some guy, came by the squat lookin’ for anyone who wanted to make an extra buck. I figgered, what the hell, I can always use some extra cash, so I said sure. He gave me yer address and the instructions and the cash. No big deal, all right?"

"You’d agree to throw dead chickens into a complete strangers home for a few measly bucks from someone else you didn’t know?" Reese inquired.

"I’ve done a lot worse for a quick buck. Now I told you what you wanted to know, can I fucking go?"

Auset stepped forward again with her foot raised and ready to strike if necessary. "No, first you tell me what this guy looked like, you ever seen him before? Catch a name?"

"Yeah, yeah, he came around the squat pretty regular like. He was a sort of messenger, I guess, always lookin’ for people to help act out requests from whoever was payin’ him. Short guy, bright fuckin’ orange hair. Talked like he weren’t from ‘round here. But that’s all I know, I swear, so leave me alone, all right?"

The description seemed to satisfy Auset and she lowered her foot. "Get out of here," she growled threateningly. The man scurried away down the alley as quickly as he could and was soon out of sight. Auset turned to Reese and raised an eyebrow at her.

"What?" Reese asked.


"For what?"

"For keeping me from killing that poor bastard. All this heat and dead chicken has put me a bit on edge," Auset replied with a self-effacing shrug. Reese grinned and nudged her with an elbow.

"Anytime. So, what’s the plan?"

"There’s supposed to be a plan?" Auset asked incredulously. Reese nodded in earnest, knowing that Auset was already working something out in her head. The dark-haired woman smiled, caught. "Yeah, well I think I may know who hired that guy. Short, bright orange hair, talked with an accent. Sounds like someone I used to know, ran errands for various power players on the hacking circuit."

"Fun. We track him down? Shake the information outta him?" Reese asked as they both started the short trek back to the apartment. Auset was starting to realize how dumb of her it had been to run outside barefoot. The pavement was incredibly hot.

"I guess so. I mean, if I don’t want more dead chickens to show up, because chances are he’ll just get some other crack head to run the errand for him." They went into the front entrance of the apartment building and made their way up the stairs. Just as Auset went to open the door to her apartment, she glanced over her shoulder at Reese and smiled mischievously. "Guess that means we’re going out tonight."

"Uh, where?" Reese asked as she followed Auset in and then dropped down onto the mattress once again. She saw Auset snicker as she sat down in front of her very expensive computer.

"The Manhole."


"The Manhole", as it turned out, was a club that catered almost exclusively to gay men. Reese had wondered aloud if they would even be able to get in, seeing as how they were of the female persuasion and all, but Auset assured her that she had clout there and could get them inside.

Dressed in their best clubbing gear, mostly black and mostly form-fitting attractive little numbers, the two took a blissfully air conditioned cab ride downtown to the club.

It being a Friday night, there was a sizeable line out front to get in, but Auset took Reese around back to large metal double doors manned by a very beefy guy wearing vinyl pants and no shirt.

"Biff, long time," Auset greeted the bouncer happily. The man glowered at her and shook his head.

"Goddamnit Auset, don’t call me Biff. M’name’s Alfred. And good to see you too."

Auset only laughed, and this seemed to break the bouncer’s stern resolve, as he too broke into a smile and clasped her hand in a gesture of friendly greeting.

"Who’s the dish?" he went on, indicating Reese with a flick of his wrist. Said woman blushed profusely.

"Reese, this is B-…Alfred. Al, this is Reese, my girlfriend. So you can’t have her, all right?"

"Right," Alfred chuckled. "Wouldn’t dream of it Auset, luv. For one, you’d win in the fight, and two she’s lacking in the essential equipment for me to be really attracted to her."

"Got that right," Reese insisted. Both Alfred and Auset burst out laughing.

"She’s a keeper," Alfred went on. "Go on in you two. And try not to make any trouble, OK? The boss’ll have my hide otherwise."

"No worries. You can trust me to be a good little dyke," Auset quipped and patted the muscular shoulder Alfred had moved out of their way. Reese giggled despite herself. It was all still taking some getting used to.

They came into a small backroom filled with extra chairs and tables, then eventually came out just to the side of the bar in the main room. Very loud dance music was being pumped through a substantial sound system, and a good number of scantily clad and very sweaty men were grinding their way around the dance floor.

"Josh is always here on weekends. Just keep your eyes peeled for the orange hair," Auset shouted into Reese’s nearby ear. She nodded and began scanning the crowd. Auset disappeared momentarily but returned carrying two bottles of some malt beverage or another and handed one to Reese.

It was blessedly cool in her hands, and she promptly pressed the glass against the heated skin of her forehead.

"I think that’s him over there in the booth. Follow me," Auset said. She took Reese’s hand and led her over to the other side of the dance floor to a booth where two people were sitting. One was a guy with bright orange hair, presumably this Josh character. Across the table from him sat a youngish looking woman with extremely short brown hair. Auset leaned casually against the table and stared down at a somewhat astonished Josh.

"Mind if we join you?"

"What the fuck? Hawk? Is that you?" he blurted out, trying to mask his nervousness with friendly bravado. "Damn it’s been a long time. Yeah, uh, go ahead and make y’self comfortable."

Auset slid into the spot next to the girl, across the table from Josh. Reese took her cue and sat down next to Josh. Judging from his accent, Reese mused, she was pretty sure he was Scottish. Josh glanced at her briefly, but quickly focused his attention back to the dark woman in front of him.

"I have a question for you, Josh," Auset began.

"Good to see you too, Hawk," he joked feebly. Auset’s face remained perfectly impassive.

"Cut the shit. You sent some crack head to throw dead chickens into my home. Why’s that?" she deadpanned. Josh shifted uncomfortably in his seat and took a long swig of his beer before answering.

"Uh, fuck Hawk, I dunno what yer talkin’ ‘bout." Auset kicked him under the table and he winced. "Damnit woman! Fine, fine. Look, I got hired by some whack job rottin’ inna state penn. Contacted me over the net, OK? Sent me a great heap o’ cash t’ do the job, an’ I hired some slob at a squat t’ do it fer me, right?"

"If the guy’s in jail, how’d he get the money to you?" Auset asked, her voice still coolly calm.

"Messenger, delivered it all in cash. I didn’t ask no questions. It was a lot o’ money, a’right? You woulda done th’ same!"

Auset promptly kicked him under the table again. "That’s where you’re quite wrong, Joshy. Throwing dead birds into people’s homes ain’t my cup o’ tea. A bit low for me. So," she said, sitting back to get more comfortable in her seat. Reese was eyeing the girl next to her, who had taken to staring into her drink as if her life depended on it. "Are you gonna tell me what you know about the guy that hired you, or am I gonna have to knock you around a bit more? If I did, it might ruin you for your spanking session later." Reese’s attention was abruptly drawn back to the conversation at hand. Josh blushed and a bead of sweat slipped down off the tip of his nose.

"Leave me personal life outta this, Hawk. Geez, you never fuckin’ change, do ya?" Auset narrowed her eyes angrily. "All right, cut that macho shit out already! He was usin’ the handle ‘Ares’ when I talked to ‘im, said he was locked up in the state penn on assault charges or somethin’ lame like that. But that’s all I got, I swear!"

Reese noticed that Auset had gone very still. The girl was tracing the lip of her glass with her pinky finger, still trying desperately to become invisible.

"What’s up, Auset?" Reese asked quietly. Or as quietly as she could over the pounding bass line of the music.

"Lets go, Reese. We’re done here," Auset answered as she slid out of the booth and stood. Reese followed, but before they actually left, Auset turned back to the girl she’d been sitting next to. "Good to see you, Ali. You hang with scum like this often these days?"

The girl slammed her glass onto the table and turned defiant eyes on the older woman.

"Fuck off, Hawk. I’ll hang out with whoever the fuck I want, OK?"

"Fair enough," Auset countered. "I just think you’re better than what slime like this has to offer. You know my offer still stands." The girl just nodded and went back to studying the contents of her glass. Finally, Auset turned and followed Reese out of the club.


The absence of the sun had cooled the city all of five degrees, so the two decided to walk back to their respective apartments. Reese had been playing absently with Auset’s left hand, tracing the lines of the veins there as they walked along.

"Do you know everybody in the whole city, or am I just paranoid?" she asked playfully. Auset chuckled and squeezed the hand that was clasped in her own.

"That was Ali. She’s a couple years younger than you. I’ve known her for a while, good kid. Has some seriously advanced electronics skills and I was trying to convince her to put them to good, legitimate use, instead of running with fuckers like Josh who’d only get her into illegal dealings."

"Does that have to do with the offer you made her?" Reese asked.

"Mm," Auset affirmed. "I told her I’d be able to find her a good paid position with a company in the city, working with electronics and such. All she had to do was promise she’d stop running with those dregs. But I understand how tempting it is to stay on the other side of the law. It’s…fun, easier."

Reese mulled this over in her head for a second before speaking again. "Parents?"

"Dad’s in prison, mom died years ago. She’s on her own."


"Yeah," Auset agreed quietly. They walked on for a few silent moments, just enjoying the somewhat cool air and the company. As they came up to the front of Reese’s new loft building, the blonde stopped and turned to face her companion.

"So, are you thinking pretty much the same thing as me when Josh said he got the orders from a guy in the state penn going by ‘Ares’?"

"Afraid so."

"Then it’s Sera, somehow, sending people on errands from inside prison. What a jerk."

Auset chuckled and nodded her head. "I’ll do some research tonight and call you first thing tomorrow with what I find. I want to make sure he doesn’t manage to send someone on a more fatal mission next time."

"Good idea," Reese agreed enthusiastically. She noticed a dark shadow pass over Auset’s features and reached out to gently cup the side of her face with one hand. "Don’t worry too much. He is in jail. I’d say we have the advantage."

Auset let out a long sigh and leaned into the touch. "Yeah, I know. Doesn’t mean I’m any less pissed off at him in general."

"Try to get some sleep?" Reese asked. Auset flashed her best dashing smile and kissed the palm of Reese’s hand.

"Will do."

"G’night then," Reese said affectionately. Auset bent her head down slightly and gently kissed the shorter blonde before tipping her a wink and then turning to make her way the remaining four blocks to her own apartment.


Things were starting to make sense. Auset clicked the mouse a few times and scanned the text displayed on the screen.

The FBI investigation into Sera’s business, Pharmatech, had gotten underway shortly after her virus had sent the more incriminating files from the pharmaceutical company out to the cops some three months ago. When they started to go through the files, they inevitably found the links to his other businesses and received permission to shut down and fully investigate the whole corporation. Detrimus Enterprises was effectively dead, and Sera was probably, understandably pissed about the whole affair.

She conceded him that, sure, but having dead chickens delivered to her apartment? That didn’t seem much like his style. Maybe he’d cracked during his time in jail. Maybe some beefy inmate really had made him his bitch. Who could know for sure?

Auset just didn’t really want more dead poultry being catapulted through her windows. She’d cleaned the broken glass up, but the window still sported a gaping hole in the middle. For now it was fine, she kept the windows open all the time these days anyway. But if the stupid weathermen ever did manage to get the forecast correct, and it did actually rain, she’d be screwed.

Another thought occurred to her then: what if it wasn’t Sera sending the chickens? Who did it sound more like?

Cally. But she was in prison, too.

Auset’s fingers dashed across the keyboard as she went about cracking the nationwide prison records and searching for the one where Cally was being held.

Fifteen minutes later and still nothing was coming up. Either Auset was losing her touch, or someone had erased Cally’s records. At the moment, the latter seemed more likely.

She pushed the rolling chair back from the computer and stretched herself out, listening as the bones of her spine cracked loudly in protest. A shudder of pleasant sensations washed up her back and she lay back, content to be limpet-like for a minute while her brain mulled over some possibilities.

There was a soft rustling sound that came from just out in the hallway then and Auset’s senses perked up immediately. She hopped out of her seat and quietly stalked over to the door. It sounded like someone was out there, possibly planting more damn dead meat. She grabbed the knob and flung the door open, surprising the person in the hallway so much that they dropped the dead chicken that had been laying in their arms and stumbled backwards a step.

"Ali? What the hell are you doing?" Auset insisted angrily upon noticing who the person was. Ali stood dumbfounded for a moment, just staring and blinking. Finally, she shook her head and tried to meet Auset’s steady gaze.

"Christ, this looks bad, doesn’t it?" she asked meagerly. Auset merely nodded. "I swear I didn’t put it there, Auset. I came over to talk to you about…the offer…and the damn thing was lying on your doorstep. I was gonna dump it out back."

Auset grunted and motioned for Ali to enter the apartment. The girl did so, and then Auset stared back down at the bird. At least it wasn’t disemboweled this time. That must have been a unique quirk of the crack head from before. If it wasn’t actually Ali this go round, some other new messenger had apparently been found.

Completely lacking in any desire to care about the thing at the moment, Auset shrugged and left the chicken lying in the hallway to go talk to Ali, who was now nervously pacing the main room.

"What’s going on, Ali?" she asked in as calm a voice as she could muster. The girl paused to stare warily at the rack of swords and knives that Auset had mounted on one of the walls. Then she reached a hand into one of her pant pockets and pulled out a red computer disk. "What’s that?"

"It’s for you. It’s my last paid delivery before…well it’s my last job, OK? I want to go clean."

Auset took the disk from the girl and turned it over in her hands. There was nothing written on it. "You’re ready to take me up on that offer then? For real this time? Because I’m not gonna put up with any more of that crap where you go off and keep dealin’ dirty behind my back." Ali nodded and dropped down into the rolling chair at the computer station.

"I promise this time, Auset. You gonna see what’s on that disk, or am I gonna have to do it for you?"

Auset pushed the disk into the disk drive on the taller of the three hard drive towers that resided under the desk and brought up its contents on the screen. There was a text file and an image file. She opened the text first.

"My little Hawk, did you think prison would be enough to keep me from exacting revenge on you? I do hope you’ve enjoyed my humble offerings, as I’m sure they were less than thrilled to be sacrificed in such a manner. But then, that is the lot in life of prey. As a predator you ought to know that. But even predators are sometimes prey. Don’t forgot that.

All my burning love,


Auset rubbed her scalp thoughtfully and reread the note before opening the image file. It was, not surprisingly, a picture of dead chickens hanging in a row in a slaughterhouse. She heard Ali start giggling behind her and turned to look at the girl in question.


"Look at the chicken on the end," Ali stated, pointing out the dead bird furthest to the right. Auset looked more closely and found that the image had been doctored so that the chicken had a little Auset-face pasted on. She couldn’t help but laugh.

"Oh great, I’ve been marked," she chuckled. "Somehow I’m beginning to think that this is definitely not the work of Sera. Prison may have cracked him, but even crazy he’d have more tact than this."

"So who do you think it is?" Ali inquired, still looking at the image and chuckling.

"I’d bet on Cally. She’s wacky enough for it. Who’d you get the disk from, anyway?" Auset asked as she closed the window with the image and then brought up the application she’d been using to sift through the nations prison records.

"Josh. Who else?" she answered with a shrug. "What’re you doing?"

"Trying to figure out where the hell Cally is. Someone seems to have misplaced her prison records though, I can’t find them." Auset paused for a minute and glanced at Ali, who was diligently studying all of the electronic toys Auset had lying around. "Look, it’s getting late and I can finish this later. Let’s go grab a bite to eat and we’ll talk about getting you employed. Sound good?"

"Sure, as long as you’re paying," Ali enthused. Auset grinned and swatted her on the shoulder.


"Yeah but I’m a cute mooch," the girl teased back. Auset just laughed and then led the girl out of the apartment, sidestepping the dead chicken on their way out.


Morning came with all the usual heat and humidity, but as Reese rolled over in her bed and gazed out the window she noticed some dark clouds had formed and a cool wind had kicked up. Maybe it would rain after all.

She slid out of the bed and ambled over to the phone, which had started to ring.


"Good morning to you too, sunshine," Auset's voice came over the line.

"You sound chipper today, what's up?" Reese asked as she put a pot of water on the stove for making tea.

"I'm pretty sure I know who is behind the hen murders, and it ain't Sera."


"I got another dead bird on my doorstep last night, and a message delivered via Ali. She's starting a legitimate job tomorrow, by the way," Auset added happily. "Anyway, the message sounded more like Cally than Sera, I'll let you read it, and there was a picture that accompanied it too."

"What of?" Reese asked as she listened to the pot picking up steam.

"Chickens in a slaughterhouse, only one of their heads had a picture of my face superimposed over it." Laughter came over the phone from Reese's end. "Yeah, I know, right? Not Sera's style at all. So I checked the prison databases and found that someone had seemingly misplaced Cally's records."

"Sounds fishy," Reese added. She pulled a mug out of a cupboard and put a bag of green tea into it.

"That's what I was thinking. So I did some digging into the file paths that are sometimes left even when the host file is deleted or moved. As far as I knew before, she'd been incarcerated at a maximum security women's prison up in Minnesota, so I started there and found her old records. About two hours of tracing and digging later, I lucked out. Whoever was trying to hide Cally's newer records got sloppy and forgot to delete the electronic lists prisons keep of inmates’ daily medications. Cally's on a whole lot of lithium, by the by. Or rather, was, because it looks like she was moved about a month ago. The only problem is that I have no idea where to or why. But I do know someone who could find out for us."

"Who?" The water finally boiled, and Reese filled the mug with it and gently stirred the liquid while it steeped.

"Oddly enough, Ash has a cousin who just so happens to be a corrections officer at the prison where Cally was being held. He's been known, from time to time, to let me in on little factoids about inmates there when I needed information. Old jobs and such."

"What a happy coincidence," Reese said with a smile. "So, a trip to see Ash today?"

"A superb idea. I'll pick you up from work?"

"Sounds like a plan," Reese agreed. The phones were hung up and Reese took a satisfied sip of her tea. She looked outside then to see fat drops of water beginning to thud against the sidewalk. It was shaping up to be a good day after all.


Five o'clock rolled around and Reese gladly untied her apron and tossed it into her locker in the back room of the cafe. It had been fairly busy, probably due to people wanting to get in from the rain, and tips had been generous. She'd be able to make rent that month.

Reese went out through the back door and stood under the eaves, watching the rain come down in sheets and wash away the heat that had been bullying the city for weeks now. She looked down the alley towards the parking lot and saw a person walking towards her.

It was Auset, dressed only in a tank top and jeans and already completely drenched.

"What are you doing?" Reese called out, motioning with her hands for Auset to come stand with her where it was dry. Auset swung her head from side to side, letting water spray out around her.

"Are you kidding? I've been waiting for this damn rain for weeks now, I'm going to enjoy it!" Auset proclaimed.

"You did at least drive here? We can't walk all the way to the club in this!"

Auset just laughed and pulled Reese out into the deluge with her.

"Yes, I parked in the lot, silly!"

The two made there way over to where Auset's sleek little sports car was parked and jumped in. There were towels lying on the seats. Reese chuckled.

"You're such a rebel."


Auset had called ahead to Ash's and the bartender was waiting for them just inside the empty club when they arrived. He scooped Reese up in a firm hug.

"It has been far too long. You two bitches need to come visit me more often. I could excuse you that first month, as I'm sure you were busy getting more fully acquainted with one another, but you're way overdue now."

Reese blushed and let out an exasperated puff of air. Auset laughed and play-slapped Ash across the head.

"Hey, we're here now! You gonna invite us in or what?"

"Oh excuse me, where are my manners?" Ash drawled sarcastically. He led them up the stairs and to the door that connected his apartment to the club. Auset and Reese sank down into his plush couch and Ash perched on the side of an armchair. "So I suspect there’s more motivation behind this call than just a social visit."

"You know me too well," Auset said with a smile. "We were wondering if you could find something out from your cousin the pig." Reese covered her mouth with one hand as she tried to hide her chuckle. The comment didn’t seem to phase Ash, however.

"I can call Bacon Boy right now if you want, ask him whatever it is that’s itchin’ at yer brain," he replied happily.


A somewhat short and monosyllabic but very productive phone call later and Auset had the information she needed.

"She was transferred to a labor farm a month ago, somewhere in Arkansas. It’s high security and hard work for the inmates, but in a place like that, she’d have more access to people who could carry out errands for her," Auset explained to Ash and Reese, who had sat chatting quietly together as the phone call progressed.

"But I thought you said your runner in the city got his orders from a man going by the handle of Ares," Ash supplied helpfully. Auset nodded in agreement.

"But," Reese piped in, finger raised to emphasize the point she was about to make. "Having dead chickens sent is way off from Sera’s MO, and he would never use an alias that was simply his normal handle backwards. That’s just silly and way too easy to pick up on."

"Right," Auset agreed with an eyebrow raised as a scenario played itself out in her head. "I think Cally wanted us to think it was Sera, but also knew that we’d catch on eventually, so didn’t make it too difficult. I mean, Ares," she guffawed. "What a lame handle."

"Tres AOL," Ash added with a somewhat pretentious lilt.

"So, as boring as this conclusion is, I'm thinking that this whole mess is just Cally being her usual old daft self again, and if we manage to get word to her handlers, the chicken deaths will come to an end," Auset finished.

"Hmph, that is boring," Reese said with a slump of her shoulders. "I was hoping it would require some slightly more in depth sleuthing on our part."

"And here I thought you'd be pretty fed up with mystery and intrigue after everything you've been through this past year," Auset quipped. Ash remained prudently silent, content to sit back and watch the playful banter unfold.

"Oh, c'mon Auset, I'm not so old that I can't take a little excitement now and then. Everything that's happened has just helped me get to know myself better, which is nothing to complain about."

"I s'pose not," Auset agreed.

"You know what they say, 'Know Thyself'," Ash mumbled mostly to himself.

"So we just notify the authorities at the place where they're holding Cally and this all ends?" Reese asked.

"I'm not entirely positive. There's still the matter of someone having deleted Cally's records from her last prison. I'd be curious to know why." She thought for a minute. "Ash, can I borrow your laptop for a sec?"

"Sure," he replied and wandered off into the bedroom to retrieve the machine. When he came back, he dropped the sleek black notebook into Auset's lap.


"What're you checking?" Reese asked as she slid down the couch so that she was right next to Auset.

Auset remained silent, content to let the results of her search speak for themselves. She brought up a window that contained a brief description of the various penal institutions of Arkansas and pointed to the entry for the labor farm where Cally was being interred.

"It's a...poultry farm," Ash commented, snorting as he realized the connotations.

"You've got to be kidding me," Reese sighed. Auset chuckled and patted her friends on their backs.

"That seems like appropriate Arkansas punishment, making inmates muck out hen houses and such," Ash half-joked.

"Guess we're not the only creatures she's grown to have a grudge against. Maybe sending us the dead hens was her way of killing two birds with one stone, so to speak." She laughed at her own joke, but received thoroughly not amused looks in return. Reese went so far as to step on the toe of Auset's shoe in retaliation.

"This is all pretty ridiculous, if you don't mind me saying," Ash said ruefully.

"Oh, I completely agree," Auset answered. "I'm beginning to wonder if it was even worth the time we've put into figuring it all out."

"I vote no," Reese supplied helpfully. Auset grinned and closed the laptop, handing it back to Ash who stowed it away on the bottom shelf of the coffee table.

"Well I have an idea," Ash began. "Why don't the three of us go out for a bite to eat."

"And what will that solve?" Auset asked reasonably.

"Hunger?" Reese supplied and batted her eyes pleadingly at Auset. Ash nodded enthusiastically. Auset, for her part, simply chuckled and motioned for the bartender to lead the way out of the apartment.

"How can I argue with a face like that?"


"Clams! I love clams...and look at them all! Oho, I know what I'm having for dinner."

The hacker and the bartender both shot bemused and befuddled looks at the somewhat overexcited blonde. Reese was gazing longingly at a buffet stacked to the brim with clams. They had decided on an all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant. It was close by to the club, reasonably priced, and had the freshest seafood a Chicagoan could hope for.

"O-kay," Ash commented, drawing out the word as he gently moved the nearly drooling blonde woman away from the row of clams. "Someone needs to explore her other options before getting orgasmic over some dirty clams."

Auset stifled a laugh from behind them. Reese shot her a look, and then returned her attention to Ash.

"I'm sorry, it's just that I haven't had seafood in so long. I've been practically living off of noodles. And little miss rolling in it over there has the money for good food, but not the cooking abilities or the restaurant savvy nature to go along with it. So, you'll excuse me this once?"

"Well when you put it that way...." Ash left the sentence hanging in the air to torment Auset with his unspoken knowledge of her culinary ignorance. He'd once seen her attempt to bake for his birthday, and it had ended in a broken stove, second degree burns, and a store bought cake.

Reese dumped some of the clams onto her plate and dutifully moved on down the line as Auset and Ash took up with their search for food just behind her in line.

Eventually the trio made their way to a table in the corner of the dining room and began the task of mastication.


"Mastication, it means 'to chew'," Reese answered around a mouth full of scallop. "Why, what'd you think it meant?"

"I was just...checking. That I'd heard you right," Auset countered.

"Gutter brain."

"So we call the authorities down in Arkansas, tell 'em one of their inmates has been harassing someone on the outside, and this whole thing's taken care of?" Ash chimed in, trying to refocus the conversation.

"Basically, yeah," Auset agreed as she took a test sip of some foreign beer she'd never tried. Something called Tiger Beer. It had seemed appropriate. And it had a pretty label. "But I still want to find out who erased her records and why. So, that should keep Reese happy for a little while longer, at least, before she decides to ditch me in search of someone more exciting."

Reese gave Auset a dirty look from across the table and gently kicked her.

"Nah, I know when I've got a good thing goin'," she said. "Besides, who else in the world am I gonna find who can look sexy even when she's geeking out over a computer?"

Ash nearly lost the piece of crab that had been in his mouth. He laughed, and the bit of meat shot out to dangle precariously from his lower lip. Quickly, he pushed it back into his mouth and took a long swig of water to keep from laughing any more. Auset was shooting daggers in his direction. It wasn't the most pleasant gaze for which a person could be on the receiving end.

"Aaanyway," Auset went on, trying her best to ignore Ash, who was still shaking with silent laughter. "I think that's a mystery for another day."

"Right. For now, we eat!" Reese enthused with a raised fork for emphasis. Auset just smiled and licked her lips.


"Nice repair job." Reese ran her hand over the hastily duct taped hole in Auset’s window where the chicken had smashed through.

"You like that?" Auset replied from her usual seat in front of the computer. "It started to rain so suddenly that I was caught off guard. One of these days I’ll actually get it repaired. But for now…" she clacked away at the keys, "I’d say I’ve found something of interest. Maybe this won’t turn out to be as mundane as we originally thought."

Reese moved from the window to stand behind Auset. "What is it?" she asked.

"Cally may have a thing against chickens these days, but not because she’s being forced to work in a poultry farm. Turns out she’s being held in a special, maximum security mental institution that’s on a hill overlooking the poultry-themed penal colony."

"OK, but how does that change things?" Reese asked, scanning over the first part of the text on the screen once more. "Maybe she resents the chickens from the view of her barred window."

"If you’ll keep reading, ma’am," Auset drawled. "You’ll notice that patients at the institution are completely restricted from any sort of contact with the outside. No visitors, no net access, nothing." She paused and continued reading, typed in a command, generated a password, and a new block of text came up. "And with all the drugs they’re pumping into her, I doubt she’d even be coherent enough to think up and execute this whole scheme."

Reese’s brow furrowed in thought and she shook her head. "I don’t get it. Then who’s behind this? Sera?"

"I’m still hesitant to say it’s him," Auset replied as she continued punching in commands and navigating around a database that held all of Cally’s criminal records. There were still noticeable gaps in the information. "What I need to do is…no wait…what’s this?" Her fingers stopped moving over the keyboard and she just stared at the screen. Reese looked on, trying to figure out what she saw. "Well g’day to you sir or madame, who might you be?" Auset spoke, mostly to herself.

"What’s going on?" Reese asked in a whisper.

"Nothing worth whispering over," Auset joked. The blonde made a face at her and went back to studying the monitor. "We have a guest from the looks of it. Someone else is snooping around in the database, and they’re not a certified user. And they’re in Cally’s files, shit!" There was a flurry of fingers as she hurriedly typed in something and then seemed to relax, drawing in a deep breath and sitting back in the chair. "They would have seen us sitting there too, but I cloaked us. Far as they’re concerned, they’re all alone to pick through…and erase the files. Well, since today seems to be our lucky day, it looks as though this is the person responsible for deleting some of Cally’s older files. I may be able to get a trace."

"That does seem pretty lucky. Should I be suspicious?" Reese asked, only half kidding. Auset shook her head no and set up the trace program, watching with a certain degree of perverse satisfaction as it triangulated the location of the call and then locked in.

"Got it. OK babe, you’re mine now," Auset mumbled. The address came up on the monitor. "Huh."

"It’s an office complex in Naperville?" Reese read the address out loud. "Is that right?"

"Should be," the hacker answered. She did a simple web search for the business the trace listed and came up with a website that was still under construction.

"GlobalCom Enterprises, taking the power of today into tomorrow. Hunter Althea Smith, CEO. Headquarters located just off I-90 in Naperville, IL."

"If they’re so global, how come I’ve never heard of them?" Reese questioned reasonably.

"Well, lessee," Auset said absently as she brought up the company’s mission statement. "They’ve just started up to repair the rift in business that was left behind when, lo and behold, Detrimus Enterprises went under. This Hunter Smith cat apparently used to be one of Marcus’ higher ups, but she seems to have managed to kept her nose clean through the scandal. Read this crap," she said and pointed to a bit of text in quotation marks. Reese read on.

"’My hope is to regain the trust of those who were adversely affected by the shortcomings of my former employer, Mr. Detrimus. I plan to build GlobalCom into a worthy, far-reaching, intelligently run, and incredibly effective corporation with the goal of helping small businesses get off the ground and larger ones run more efficiently.’ What’s that nonsense?"

"That nonsense is the smart tactics of a person who was well trained by Sera. Which begs the question, what would someone from GlobalCom be doing snooping around in Cally’s criminal records?" Auset asked almost rhetorically. A smug grin crept across Reese’s features and she leaned against the chair her partner was sitting in.

"OK, I can do this," Reese began. "This Hunter woman was apart of the upper echelon of Detrimus Enterprises, but when it went under in the investigation, she was the only one who managed to get out clean. Then she goes off and starts this new company, designed to take the old company’s place and probably all of its’ old clientele, right?"

"Go with it," Auset urged her on, happily watching the look of concentration that had taken over Reese’s face.

"And now someone, possibly this same Hunter woman, from GlobalCom has been slowly deleting Cally’s old criminal files. Why would they do that?"

"Maybe they have plans for her, or maybe they just wanted to make it harder for us to figure out that Cally was actually moved to the Mental Institution Of No Return instead of the labor prison nearby. Which they did, because we didn’t find that out until just now, and I had to go in through an insignificant backdoor file to find that."

Auset and Reese both sat in silence for a moment, working out the various problems in their heads. The blonde was the first to speak again.

"Hunter might have access to Sera’s old net accounts, if she played her cards right when the shit was hitting the fan. And judging by the fact that she seems to have managed to snag the old clientele and start a large business up for herself…."

"I’d say there was a good chance of it," Auset finished the thought for her. "But what would this Hunter care about me? And dead chickens?"

"She obviously tried to get you to think that it was either Sera or Cally doing the harassment. So maybe she wanted to displace the blame and get you riled up at your old enemies—"

"—and therefor keep me distracted from anything she might be up to," Auset again finished the sentence for Reese. The two looked at each other, grinned broadly, and couldn’t help but giggle aloud.

"So…what’s she up to?"


There was some serious goatee stroking taking place on the other side of the bulletproof glass. In fact, Reese was almost positive that the hair had been rubbed so much that a bald spot was developing. She tried to look more closely, but the face the goatee was attached to glared back at her, breaking her concentration.

"Why is she here? I was to understand that it would just be you and me," the stereotypically tall, dark, and handsome man that sat on the other side of the glass partition spoke. Auset leaned back in the uncomfortable metal folding chair and gave him her best steely glare.

"Sera, focus for a minute, would you?" she said. Her former mentor clenched his jaw, the muscles flexing with restrained speech. "Who is this woman?"

"Hunter? Just your average power suit wearing corporate woman. Very sharp, intelligent, has a lot of potential," he answered with a grin. Auset cocked her head to one side and stared him down. Sera shifted in his seat, rubbed his cuffed wrists and resettled. "As far as my I know, she is the only executive who has, thus far, made it out of this debacle with a clean break. Bitch is probably stealing all of my business as we speak."

"You’d be right," Reese chimed in cheerfully. "She’s gone so far as to start her own business, rising from the ashes of your company, so to speak." The man growled at her. "Hey, don’t blame the messenger."

"Not for this, no, but I can think of many other good reasons to place blame on your irritating little blonde head," Sera replied, his voice a low rumble. "Now," he turned back to look at Auset. "Why have you come here to ask me about Hunter? What is going on?"

"Hunter’s been using an account of yours to send people on errands…to send me dead chickens," Auset replied easily, watching with amusement as Sera’s face darkened.

"Dead chickens?" Both women nodded. "I swear, my luck with women lately…." He rubbed the short brown hair on his head. "Look, I don’t know what her deal is, why she’s doing this. Maybe she considers you a threat, considering what you did to me and all."

"Covering all her bases," Auset stated. "Anything else I ought to know about her?"

Sera remained silent, just staring her down with intense yet startlingly disarming brown eyes. Reese noticed the stare and decided to put an end to it. She moved her head in between Auset’s and the glass, blocking Sera’s view of her girlfriend. He snarled at her.

"Cut that out. Your face will freeze that way," she quipped, grinning. Sera merely snapped his head to one side, looking away from both women in disgust.

"You could have been one of the greats," he spat disgustedly, addressing Auset but not looking at her.

"I’m doing much better now, thank you," the hacker replied, glancing briefly at the blonde that occupied the position next to her. Sera turned and gazed at her once more.

"I still don’t get what you see in her," he sighed. Auset half-grinned and raised a slender dark eyebrow at the inmate.

"A lot more than you’ll ever have in yourself, old pal."


The night was remarkably cool. The front that had blown up with the recent rain had brought with it a fifteen-degree drop in the temperature that had stuck around longer than the precipitation. The city seemed to thrive with the comfortable atmosphere, sirens wailing and taxi wheels screeching, people bustling up and down the sidewalks.

Reese sat perched in the windowsill of her loft, staring out at the landscape of rooftops, chimneys, and TV antenna that sprawled before her. Auset was stretched out on the bed just behind where she sat, reading over a short story Reese had written recently.

"This is good," Auset mumbled between bites of an apple. Reese turned her attention away from the outdoors and looked down at her companion.


"Really. Little smoothing out, and this is money," Auset said with a nod. Reese reached out and took the manuscript back, scanning it briefly before tossing it aside and sliding out of her perch and down next to the dark-haired woman. They lay side by side for a moment in companionable silence before Reese spoke.

"So, no more dead chickens?"

"Not sure. Hopefully. But I don’t think we’re done with this Hunter lady," was her reply. Reese wiggled around so that she was on her side, staring at one of Auset’s ears. It looked appetizing. She nibbled the end of it lightly.

"But that’s a mystery for another day?" Reese asked as she worked her way past the ear and down Auset’s jaw line, en route to the waiting mouth.

"Uh, yeah, I’d say so," the hacker answered absently, too concerned with the ministrations of her companion to really care about anything else.

Reese was closing in on the mouth, but paused just inches away and tilted her head to one side and pursed her lips.

"We could always sick PETA on her, y’know."


"PETA. You know, the hardcore animal rights group. They found out about all these dead chickens, they’d come down on Hunter hard," Reese suggested enthusiastically. Auset squirmed a bit beneath Reese’s painfully close body. Why was she stalling, dammit? Auset could give a flying flip about much of anything at the moment, save the fact that Reese wasn’t kissing her.

"Um, sure, whatever. Look, can—"

"No seriously, they’d maul the bitch, and then we’d be rid of her. I think it’s a fantastic idea—"

A finger pressed against Reese’s lips prevented her from rambling on any further. Mischievous green eyes peered down at the blue ones that stared back up, an slightly evil glint apparent.


"Yes?" the blonde replied meekly. The blue eyes narrowed and Auset grinned saucily.

"Shut up and kiss me already."

Reese giggled and poked the dark-haired woman in the side, drawing out a startled expletive in response. Auset’s apartment could have been knee high in dead hens at that very moment, but neither woman cared much to think about it. They were cool, comfortable, and fully prepared to shirk all responsibilities and mysteries until at least the next morning. Reese lowered her face even closer to Auset’s lips, but just before she reached her destination, paused momentarily to whisper,

"Now you and I make furious zug-zug."

"What?" came Auset’s perplexed and extremely frustrated question.

"Nothin’," the blonde answered simply with an inwardly amused grin.

Then with great enthusiasm, and much to Auset’s extreme relief, Reese completed her journey towards the most inviting mouth.


The End! Haha! Auset and Reese need some time alone, so yet again, I leave them to their own devices. This short story is most certainly dedicated to my dear friend Ali, who with no patience and a lot of persistence finally convinced me to write this little sequel to "Rising Into Consciousness" (and also unwittingly lent me her name for one of the characters). Thank God Reese and Auset decided to start speaking to me again, else Ali might have eventually come after me with a demand for a PWP story. I am atrocious at sex scenes, so don’t even think about suggesting it. Anyway, I do hope this tidbit of an offering was somewhat enjoyable. I had fun being silly while writing it. Cheers!

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