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|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Crime/Noir||PG-13||Positive||N/A|
|Strangers in the Night|
Two. Fucking. Hours. That's how long this asshole kept us waiting down by the docks. Me, Gun, and Yin had been waiting all fucking night for this arms dealer guy, whose name was Hito, by the way, to come down here and give us what we needed. Now the sun was starting to come up and I was really starting to lose my patience.
Oh, and after all this time, Gun still hadn't told me what it was that we were getting. Wasn't that nice? I was still being kept in the dark on my assignments, even after he told me I'd have full disclosure.
The only reason I was here apparently was in case things went south, which, as Gun put it, 'wasn't likely', so you can imagine why I was so annoyed.
It wouldn't have been so bad if Gun would've let me sit down. Then I could've at least thought to myself about anything I wanted to for a solid two hours. Would've been a great opportunity to organize my thoughts, but noooooo! Gun insisted that the three of us had to stand. It also would've helped if either Gun or Yin weren't practically mute, or if the damn gullbatrosses would stop flying over my head, but I guess neither of those things were gonna change since the universe just loves shitting on me!
Ugh. Geez, I'm so sorry if I sound like I'm complaining.
As I rubbed my half-closed eyes and released the scent of morning breath from my mouth as I yawned, I finally saw some guy coming towards us. Fucking finally.
The dude was black with a bald head and had a thin, dark beard running across his face. He was wearing a brown, leather coat and was carrying a wooden crate in his right hand.
He stopped just a few feet in front of us and gave us a toothy grin. "Gun, my man," he said. "Good to hear from you again."
Gun gave a slight nod and both Yin and I saw just a tiny bit of emotion leak out of his face in the form of a slight smile. "Likewise, Hito," he said in his usual deadpan voice. "You got what we came for?"
"Man, what the hell do you think is in this crate?" Hito replied. "The real question is, have you got the money?
Gun nodded and took a large stack of yuans out from his pocket. "Right here," he said.
"Alright, then let's do this," Hito said stepping over to hand Gun the crate.
"Now wait a minute," Gun said, putting the yuans back in his pocket. "How do I know what's in that crate is the real deal? What if it's a fake?"
Hito chuckled and put the crate down on the floor. "C'mon now," he said. "You know me! Have I ever double crossed you like that before?"
Gun's slight smile turned into a knowing smirk as he continued. "Yeah, I know you alright," he said. "You're my friend and we've known each other for a long time, but you're still a lying, duplicitous bastard and the day I end up trusting you is the day I've gone out of my fucking mind."
Hito chuckled again, having taken the insult surprisingly well. "Aw, man," he said. "You are one big asshole."
He lifted the crate and turned it to the left, showing all three of us the black ink that had been stamped onto the side. "You see that?" he said to us, pointing to the words. "That's the official seal. This thing came straight outta Ba Sing Se."
Gun pulled the money back out of his coat and handed it to his friend. "Alright. I guess that settles it," he said.
Hito took the money and handed Gun the crate. "I hope you appreciate how hard it was for me to get that," he said.
"I think the money in your hands will tell you how thankful I am," Gun replied.
Hito shuffled through the dollar bills and cracked a smile. "Pleasure doing business with you," he said.
Gun's knowing grin finally transformed into a smile. "Take care of yourself, Hito," he said.
"Likewise," Hito said as he turned around and walked away.
The three of us gathered around the crate and watched in anticipation as Gun prepared to open it. What was inside that was supposedly so effective and so difficult to find? Rock gloves? A pair of kali sticks? Was it just some kind of glorified sword?
Gun opened the crate and the three of us just stood there staring at nothing but an ordinary orange lantern. We spent all night waiting... for a fucking orange lantern. No. I thought. No, no, no, no. There had to be more to it than that. I wasn't just gonna believe that this incredibly important item that Qin was counting on to save the Triple Threat Triad's future was just an orange lantern.
"Anybody gonna tell me what I'm looking at here?" I asked. "Because it just looks like a lantern to me."
"It's more than just a lantern," Gun explained. "The Dai Li used these back during the war to brainwash people. They call it the Lantern of Silence, because they used it to silence any talk of the war within the city."
Huh. Well, now the pieces were starting to come together. I guess it's true what they say about books and covers. This lantern was no joke.
"So we're gonna use this on Yang," I said, stating what was already blatantly obvious.
"Yep," said Gun. "After we're done with him, the only thing he'll remember was being on vacation."
Well, shit. I had to hand it to Gun. He really came through on this one.
The next night was a lot better than I had anticipated. I thought for certain Gun was gonna put me on brainwashing duty, but thankfully he decided to give me the night off. And boy did I need a night off. I'd had more than enough life-threatening experiences for a lifetime in the last three days. Whether it was my life being threatened or someone else's.
I was sitting at home for a good while, just doing my best to take it easy. It wasn't very difficult at first. I just put on my most comfortable pair of underclothes, plopped myself down onto my favorite chair in the living room, and listened to the radio while chowing down on a bowl of noodles.
It was the semi-finals of the pro-bending tournament tonight and the komodo rhinos were facing off against the canyon crawlers and, from the sounds of it, boy was it a doozy. You could just feel the excitement coming from the announcer's voice, seeping out into my living room and making me feel like I was right there in the ring with each of the players.
Every waterbending jab, every slam of the earth disk, every roaring onslaught of flames. It really got my blood pumping. It occurred to me at one point that I was supposed to be relaxing, but fuck it, y'know? It didn't matter whether I was calm or excited, as long as it made me happy. As long as it took my mind off of work.
Once the match was over and the announcer declared that the komodo rhinos won by a knockout, the commentators started giving their analysis of the match.
I always loved listening to the commentators. Not because I actually wanted to listen to them, but because it was so damn hilarious to me that anyone would want to listen to them. One of them would always say something stupid like, 'what do you think of the way he threw that earth disk, Lee?'. And the other one would say something like, 'I think he threw it pretty hard, Ping'. Like, yeah. Thanks, Captain Obvious.
But then the announcer listed off his panel of commentators for that night and, well, let's just say it was unexpected who they got.
"Joining me tonight is retired two-time pro-bending champion and former captain of the rabaroos, Ming," he started. "Former earthbender of the lion vultures, Shang," he went on. "And the owner of the Pro-Bending League, Mr. Yang-"
I shut off the radio before I could hear another word. Damn. Whoever they actually did put on brainwashing duty was fast. They already had this guy back on the street. I knew it was a bad idea to listen to any more of what they had to say. Just listening to Yang's voice again would undermine the whole night's worth of peace I had worked to build for myself, and would send me spiraling into a mood I had no desire to be in whatsoever. But then I thought it would probably be a good idea to listen to what he had to say. I had to know whatever memories they implanted in his mind just so I had the exact story straight.
I switched the radio back on and resumed listening to them speak.
"So, you went on a vacation this week," the announcer said. "Tell us how that was."
"Well, Pinglu, any vacation to Ember Island is just magical," Yang replied.
"Yes, I know," Pinglu said with a laugh. "Me and my wife take our boy, Shiro, there every year. It's so much fun. But you didn't stay there for very long. Why is that?"
Well," Yang chuckled. "I realized it was silly to take a vacation right when the pro-bending season is getting into high gear, so I decided to come back."
"Alright, then," Pinglu said. "Good to see you back."
"Thank you, Pinglu."
I shut off the radio and went into my room to put on something else. The only thing that could take my mind off of work now was to go to Gan's. The only problem was that I might run into another triad fuck like Zolt. No. I thought. I had to put that out of mind. I had been into that bar more times than I could count and only once, I'd run into some grunt like him. Those were good enough odds for me. I let my good thoughts take the cruise control, put on my coat, and walked out the door.
Thirty minutes later, I'd finally gotten to Gan's. I handed the cab driver a crisp stack of yuans, stuck my legs out of the cab, and stepped onto the sidewalk. My eyes quickly scanned the immediate vicinity, just to make sure there was no asshole planning to jump me. After the small feeling of relief washed over me, I walked up to the club, pushed open the front door, and made my way inside.
I walked past the foul-smelling smoking section towards the front and, as always, covered my nose with my shirt in an attempt to block out the fumes.
As I kept making my way through, I noticed there were two different types of people who were smoking the cigars. The ones who still looked cool while doing it and hadn't lost their youthful appearances yet, and the ones who had been smoking for so long that at this point, their faces looked warped and disfigured like some kind of ugly fucking spirit monster.
That's basically the main reason why I don't smoke. Because in two or three years, I'll have to walk around with a face like that. Granted, smoking a cigar does make you look cool, but not if you look like something that comes out of a scary bedtime story you tell to your kids.
Once I finally got into the non-smoking section, I took my shirt away from my nose, allowing myself to inhale the wonderful smell of the night life that I missed so much once I started working for the Triple Threats.
It didn't take me long to walk on over to my usual seat and sit down right in front of Gan.
Also, there was this really hot guy sitting right next to me. I mean, holy shit was this guy something to look at. He was an olive skinned guy with smooth, black hair that was combed backwards and the clearest blue eyes I'd ever seen. He also had just this rugged look that I've always loved in guys. He looked a bit older than me. I'd say by probably about seven or eight years, but that just turned me on even more. To me that was everybody's golden age. Everybody, men and women, all look their best from their mid-twenties to their mid-thirties.
Just as I was starting to fantasize about what I'd like to do to this guy, Gan's voice snapped me out of it.
"Hey, child," he said to me from behind the bar.
"Hey," I said.
"So," he continued, a hint of nervousness escaping his voice. "Did you... uh... y'know. Do that thing we were talking about last time?"
"No," I said. "I never got the chance to."
"Oh, thank the spirits," Gan said, letting out the biggest sigh of relief I'd ever heard in my life.
"Yeah," I continued. "Look, I came here to take my mind off of work, so can we change the subject?"
"No problem," Gan replied. "Besides, the show is just about to start."
"What show?" I asked.
"I've got this stand-up comedian performing tonight," Gan elaborated. "His name is Yoshi. He's supposed to be really good."
"Well, I'll be the judge of that," I remarked.
"Yeah, I'm sure you will," Gan laughed. "Excuse me, I've gotta go up there and introduce him."
Gan ran out from behind the bar and made his way up onto the stage, which, conveniently enough, was directly across from where I was sitting. He took the stage and stood right up against the microphone. "Alright, everybody," he said. "Put your hands together for the comedic stylings of Yoshi!"
Everyone in the crowd, including myself and the guy sitting next to me, gave a small round of applause as Gan walked back to the bar and the comedian took the stage. He was kind of a short guy with curly, black hair, a build a little bit on the heavy side, a larger-than-average nose, and a really noticeable double chin to top it all off.
"Hey, how you guys doin'?" he started. "Y'know the great thing about this city is that there are so many different kinds of people here. You've got non-benders, firebenders, waterbenders, earthbenders. How many earthbenders have I got in here?"
Normally, I wouldn't have raised my hand, but I figured since all the regulars here already knew I was a firebender and an earthbender, I just thought, why not? My hand went up, as did a bunch of other people's.
"Y'know, I'm not a bender," Yoshi continued. "But if I were, I feel like it would suck to be an earthbender. 'Cause I'd just be so pissed off that I'm the only kind of bender who doesn't have some kind of supernatural occurrence that makes my bending stronger."
This got a pretty big laugh from the crowd and managed to get a small chuckle out of me.
"I mean, it's not very fair when you think about it," said Yoshi. "All the firebenders have Sozin's Comet, the waterbenders have a full moon, and there was even that crazy shit that happened, like, thirty years ago or however long it's been now with the Brightest Hour or whatever it was they called it. I'd just be fuming, like, 'where's my supernatural event, huh? How come there seems to be one for all the other benders but me?'."
At that point, the crowd had become hysterical with laughter. I still didn't think it was that funny. I mean, it wasn't awful, but it was certainly nothing special either.
"This guy fucking sucks," said the guy next to me.
"I don't know about that, but he definitely needs to keep working on his material," I replied.
"Man, you guys have been a great audience so far," Yoshi continued. "I mean, really. You guys are more on fire than the air temples after the war started."
This got another pretty big reaction from the crowd.
"Okay, now that was terrible," I said.
"Yeah. No kidding," said the guy next to me.
"Although, at least there's no way you can offend anybody with that joke," I said. "Y'know, seeing as how there's only one airbender on the face of the Earth."
"I guess that's true," the guy laughed. "Doesn't excuse the fact that he's fucking awful."
"No, of course not," I said back.
The guy next to me took a sip of the scotch he was drinking, then turned back to me. "So what does make you laugh?" he asked me.
"What?" I asked. For some bizarre reason, I wasn't picking up the signals he was sending me.
"What does make you laugh?" he repeated.
Now aware of where this was headed, I went into flirting mode; taking out my fishing rod and doing my very best to reel him in.
"Why?" I asked him. "You think you could get a laugh out of me?"
"I betcha I could," he said.
"Oh yeah?" I goaded him. "How much?"
"I'll bet fifty yuans on it," he said.
"You seem pretty confident," I smirked.
"Is it a bet or not?" he asked.
I gave off a playful smirk and nodded my head to the side. "It's a bet," I said. "I'll give you five tries."
"Alright," he said before cracking his fingers. "Why can't Yuyan Archers ever have sex with someone?"
"Because they only like to nail people from a hundred yards away."
Motherfucker. I burst out laughing like a nine-year-old on the very first try. I was expecting to be able to hold out until at least the fourth try, but nope. The son of a bitch got me.
I leaned against the bar and started pounding my fist while I laughed, causing Gan to crack a smile.
"Pay up," the guy sitting next to me said.
I got out my wallet and handed him fifty yuans, which he snatched up and put in his own wallet, before taking another swig of his scotch.
"I see you're a scotch drinker," I said.
"Yeah," he replied. "Best liquid ever invented."
"I feel the exact same way," I told him.
"You know," he said. "There's a saying I've always gone by."
I leaned in real close and gave kind of a playful smile. Then I spoke to him in a nice, soft voice. "What's that?"
"If you're lucky enough to find a woman who loves to laugh, loves scotch, and is as beautiful as she is smart, then you should stop counting your blessings. Because you've found them all," he said to me.
At this point, the sexual arousal oozing out of the both of us was so high, it's a wonder we didn't just tear into each other right there in the bar.
Of course, Gan had to come over and put a big dent in it. He only dented it, mind you. He didn't destroy it. "So, if you two are, uh... done here, I'll just take the check and, uh-"
The man next to me took out his wallet again and handed Gan the money he was due. Before he put the wallet away, I was barely able to see the name, Ito, plastered on his I. D. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't even wondered what his name was up until that point. How stupid of me.
"So, you ready to go?" he asked.
"You bet'cha," I replied as the two of us got out of our seats. "See you, Gan."
"Take care, child," Gan said, rolling his eyes at me as he smiled.
I shot him back a smile and walked off to go get laid.
About fifty minutes later, I had Ito pressed on his back and he was thrusting harder than a dancer's pelvis.
I hadn't stopped moaning for twelve straight seconds, and each moan got louder and more sexual than the one before it. I could tell the moaning was turning him on, which made him thrust even harder, which made me moan even louder, all like it was part of some wild, euphoric, sexual cycle.
The moment he reached up and grabbed my breasts was the moment the both of us climaxed and the moaning turned into screaming.
We were rocking the bed more than a boat in a thunderstorm and I felt like queen of the whole damn world.
The neighbors probably thought we were psychotic, but I didn't care. I wanted them to hear. And something about them being annoyed made me want to scream even louder, so I let out one final cry of pleasure and the both of us stopped, panting like we had just run a marathon.
I laid down in the bed next to Ito, taking absolute delight in the sexual feeling that was flooding the room.
One thing was for sure in that moment. I wasn't thinking about work at all.
- The title was taken from the Frank Sinatra song of the same name.
For the collective works of the author, go here.