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Status Quo - Chapter 32

Written by: Paullell

 Lana feels her smile falter with disappointment but she clutches hope to her chest stubbornly.  “Of course, but it should lead us closer.  It just has to!”  

 

She also grows silent, not wanting to hear the gentle warning Daray was offering.  Her mind whirls at the sudden interruption of her contemplative silence by April’s voice and her stomach clenches nervously at the mention of disclosure. In her mind that means that something is being kept from her.  She bites her lip as she turns to Daray, her expression worried but she pushes her own emotions aside when she sees how frightened Daray looks.  

 

She offers her hand to the other woman, wanting to give comfort and needing the comfort of contact for herself as well.  “I don’t scare easily April, someone had better tell me quickly what I don’t seem to be aware of so we can get past whatever this hurdle is.”

 

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Daray tentatively takes Lana’s hand, squeezing it comfortingly as she seems to be processing what, and how to say what’s on her mind. It could mean nothing to Lana. It could change everything. Not knowing what would happen was probably more rightening to her than the day she’d found out she could never be changed back into Darren…

 

“I…” Her resolution seems to fade a bit the instant she starts to speak. She turns her gaze away, looking to some point of non-interest across the cabin of the vehicle they were sitting in. “I didn’t tell you… because I know how you feel about the situation with your mother and father. Or at least I think I know. But… I can’t bear the thought of hurting you, and telling you this now may mean less hurt for both of us, if you decide to… move on… I guess… than if I keep the secret and you find out later…”

 

“Lana I…” She looks into Lana’s eyes, ready to divulge the horrible truth, when the vehicle comes to a stop and the door opens. She glances out the beckoning portal for a second, then back at Lana. She looks torn about what to do, but then her face brightens a bit. “APRIL? Is this place anything like my place in Tranquility?”

 

-It is significantly smaller Daray, but of the same quality.-

 

Daray nods, and a slight grin forms on her lips. “C’mere. I’ll explain everything inside. Once you get a chance to see…”

 

She snags Lana’s bags in her free hand and drags her friend out of the vehicle, which promptly hovers away to find a new fare as they make their way across a wide sidewalk toward a smallish, two-story building with what looks like several glass pyramids on the roof.  Moving up to the door, Daray waves her hand in front of the scanner, which causes a holographic keypad to appear. APRIL guides her through the entry of a fifteen digit code, then the keypad disappears as the metal door retracts silently into the wall, and Daray pulls Lana inside, releasing her hand as the door slides closed again behind them.

 

The room they are in has a twelve foot ceiling, but opens up into a huge, open area that reaches up some thirty feet to the windowed pyramids on the roof. The floors are made of some kind of inky, black stone that has been polished to a mirrored finish. There is a sweeping, open, curved staircase ahead of them that does nothing to block the view of the massive kitchen with its gleaming appliances and smooth, stone counter tops. Adjoining that is a dining area with an incredible glass table and comfy seating for twelve people.

 

To the right, in the open area, is a sitting room with a sunken, round couch that is upholstered in what looks like real leather. In the center of the sitting well is a large circular holographic entertainment center. The front wall of the building is all glass, allowing a completely unobstructed view of the street outside and, more impressive, the edge of the dome this portion of the city was in. This meant that, a few dozen yards away, was an unobstructed view of the Martian landscape, stretching on forever into a dim, barely-blue horizon.

 

Above them, they could see the sweeping arc of the second floor, wrapping around the sitting area on two sides. There was the hint of glass walls up there as well, although they were tough to make out through the shiny chrome banister rail, even as unobtrusive as it seemed to have been designed.

 

The entire place was all polished stone, glass, and chrome, with a few dark, polished wood accents (real wood upon closer inspection). Nothing was gaudy or trashy in appearance, but the entire building just reeked of money and affluence.

 

Daray held on to Lana’s bag as if it was her single most important treasure in the entire universe, her face turned toward the parcel, but her eyes watching Lana’s reaction sheepishly, unsure of what to expect, or what any reaction might actually mean. She was terrible with people…

 

 

“My place on the moon… is bigger tan this…” She adds with a squeak.

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Lana tries to be patient when Daray pulls her out of the cab.  She shifts as she watches Daray typing in the code, her body showing its agitation.  When they had first reached the building she had assumed it was a small apartment complex or one of those houses that was two or three homes built together.  Walking inside she quickly realized that she was wrong.  Her jaw drops open in surprise at the beautiful interior.  She turns slowly, taking in the whole thing as her mind tries to process what she is seeing.

 

“Bigger?”  Lana manages to choke out, her voice sounding just about as squeaky as Daray’s.  Lana takes a few breaths as she tries to figure out a way to make this work.  She takes a few steps into the sitting room and runs her hand along the leather.  She closes her eyes and leans against the couch.  Grateful that Daray is giving her a few moments to assimilate.  Stupid, stupid to fear wealth.  Not everyone’s like my dad.  Mom made a bad choice.  I’ll choose better.  Daray wants me to work with her, that’s not what mom warned me against.  It’s my life, I have to live it in a way that will make me happy…   She takes one more deep breath and turns back to Daray and offers her a wobbly smile. “Sorry about that, I’m better now.  Now where is our room?”

 

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The hard line Daray had pressed her lips into slowly turns to a sheepish grin at Lana's question. "Come on, I'll show you." she holds out her free hand for Lana.

 

"I'll give it all up if you want, you know. None of this means anything to me. I'd rather be happily in love than living in some penthouse with a view in Tranquility. I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, I just... I couldn't think of a way to tell you I was loaded, on top of doing the most dangerous job in the world and everything else you've had to assimilate recently. It didn't seem fair. And... I didn't want to loose you..." she blushes again at the final admission.

 

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Lana considers Daray’s words for a moment, her face stoic.  Her serious expression is ruined by the small giggle that escapes her throat.  Her giggle turns to full out laughter as she throws her arms around Daray and hugs her tightly.  “Oh, Daray; that may be the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.  And the stupidest.  For God’s sake, don’t throw any money away.  It’s a safety net I’ve never had.  We’ll figure something out.  Separate bank accounts.  Perhaps figuring out what percentage of your money goes to pay for our expenses and then I’ll pay the same percentage out of whatever I make… Oh I don’t know... there are always options.”  When Lana finally releases her hug and leans back she has tears in her eyes, not from sadness but from proof of the depth of Daray’s emotion that must have prompted her to make such an offer.  She wipes her cheek and smiles through her tears.  “I love you.  Now quit coddling silly old me and show me our room.”

 

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Daray wraps her free arm around Lana’s waist and pulls her tightly into the embrace as she breathes a sigh of relief. Not relief born by Lana telling her to not give it up, because she would, although she also knew that Lana would never ask her to. But relief that Lana had, at least initially, been able to look beyond the potentially negative aspects of the admission. And relief from the realization that her last big secret was out in the open, and this amazing person that had fallen into her life, had taken it in stride, and was willing to move on to more important matters.

 

“I wouldn’t throw it away. Give it away maybe. Find some worthy charity or cause somewhere. But not throw it away. I make enough to live comfortably and not have to worry. Most of it was given to me by Solidarity Online when they realized what had happened with the skinsuit. Sort of a combination payment for my work to capture the Aegis Protocol, and a damages payment for the big ‘oops’.”

 

She spoke as she led the way up the stairs where they could see the amazing sitting room and sunken couch from above, the polished black stone floor reflecting the pyramids of windows that made up the ceiling, and the dome of the city and thin Martian sky beyond that.

 

The terrace wound a gentle curve around the home, fully open to below along the curved edge, and a wall of glass and polished metal on the other side, where Daray made a left turn through a huge, glass door and led the way into a bedroom that was larger than the entire apartment they had unknowingly shared on Venus Station. The bed was larger than a kin sized bed, and set in the center of the room with four metal posts at the corners, leading up to a polished metal canopy that supported an elegant array of wispy, fabric drapes that could be used to enclose the bed completely. There was a large, walk-in closet (the size of an average living room) on the left, and another door leads into a huge bathroom on the right where they can see a shower big enough for six people, and a tub that could easily accommodate ten friendly souls. The floor is the same polished black stone, although there are several beautiful throw rugs placed about the room to keep bare feet from touching the cool stone, and a myriad of stylish dressers, vanities, and other bedroom amenities are set along the inner walls o the room.

 

The wall with the door they entered through, as well as the back wall and ceiling are all glass, and permit an unobstructed view of the rest of the house, and the city, and martian landscape, outside, but when Daray waves her hand over a panel affixed to the door frame, all of the glass fades from crystal clear, to opaque in the space of a heartbeat. The rom lights come up to compensate for the change in lighting, and she grins at Lana as she moves over to a dresser and sets Lana’s bags and her baston atop the furniture.

 

“You can separate the bank accounts and divvy up the expenses any way you want. As long as there’s none of that, sleeping in separate beds junk on the agenda, I’ll be perfectly happy.”

 

She crosses back over to Lana and pulls her into another hug, this time pressing their lips together and kissing Lana gently as she runs her fingers delicately up the other woman’s spine beneath the armored jacket. “I’m just not sure I could take that…” She grins as she nips playfully at the tip of Lana’s nose and her lips.

 

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Lana is still in awe of the sophisticated beauty of their surroundings but she smiles and laughs when Daray mentions separate rooms.  She nips back playfully, her teeth grazing along Daray’s jaw and then ear before she whispers.  “No, I hadn’t even considered separate bedrooms.  Nowhere on my agenda, I promise.”  She shivers as Daray’s hand traces along her spine even through the jacket.  

 

She starts to press herself more fully against Daray, her eyes closing as she enjoys the closeness with another person that is completely voluntary.  She sighs and her tail flicks as she starts to relax into the embrace and then she stiffens as a thought occurs to her.  “Do we have time?  Or should we wait until after we track down the hacker?”  She pulls back reluctantly to look at Daray, uncertain as she tries to decide which activity is more important right now.

 

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Grinning at Lana’s response, Daray revels in the feeling of Lana’s nips and kisses. The heat generated by their close contact starts her mind rolling slowly back from reality, and when Lana pulls away, she tries to follow, eyes glazing over slightly. It seems to take a very long moment, and a great deal of will-power for her to snap out of it.

 

She snaps her hands back from Lana and takes a step away from her, breath already coming in shorter, ragged pulls. “I’m sorry… I uh…” She eyes the bathroom, shifting he gaze back and forth between it and Lana a few times, before moving past her, toward the bathroom. “I need a minute…”

 

Her outfit melts away as she walks, receding into her body and leaving only the black second-skin of the skinsuit as she steps into the huge shower stall and turns the cold water on full blast. It’s obvious she doesn’t like it, but she forces herself to stay under the stream for several moments before turning the water off again and grabbing a towel. “I think we should go to the cafe and see what we can find…” she offers back at last, as she pads back out of the bathroom, chasing the water off her body with the towel and pouring a river from her soaked hair.

 

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Lana watches as Daray walks to the bathroom, taking that same minute to try to calm her own body.  When she realizes what Daray is doing she grins.  Amused and surprisingly aroused at the site of someone taking a cold shower because of her.  She turns away to keep herself from attempting to join her and walks about the room, randomly touching the elegant décor.  When Daray steps out of the shower and begins to wring out her hair Lana’s hands itch to go and help her.  She gives a heavy sigh as she watches Daray, her eyes still heated although she has better control over her willpower.  

 

“That sounds good.  You know; I’ve never had anyone take a cold shower on my behalf before.  It’s adorable and incredibly frustrating.  I hope it doesn’t end up becoming a habit.”  Lana grins, sharing her amusement with Daray.  “I want to come over there and help you, but I have a feeling that will end up with yet another shower being needed.  Sooooo… what are we going to do when we get to the café?  Do we just sit around until someone suspicious shows up?”  She asks both because she is curious and to distract herself from her baser nature.  While her life’s records hang in jeopardy is no time to let her libido distract her.

 

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Daray stops her toweling and looks up at Lana when she mentions the cold shower. She just stares for a moment, before breaking into a wide grin and resuming her toweling. “Yeah. Well you’re well worth it. I’ve never needed to take a cold shower before, and it really sucked by the way, so I guess maybe we can call it even. Although…” She pauses her toweling again to heft her breasts for Lana to see, the inky blackness of the skinsuit melting away to transparent as she shows them off with a bit of a blush. “It doesn’t seem to have calmed my nipples down much. They almost hurt they’re so hard.”

 

She takes a moment to poke the turgid mounds before returning to the toweling of her hair, and the skinsuit goes about the business of flowing around her body, creating  a short, tight skirt over knee-high, short-heeled boots with a series of buckles up their length. Above the waist the skinsuit forms into a bustier, beneath a cropped, long sleeve jacket that leaves her midriff bare, and a tight choker. The black color stays on most of the outfits, although it is offset by a few narrow bands of purple here and there, but her hand, thighs, midriff, and cleavage are visible, if still slightly shiny, through now-transparent material.

 

“We’ll go have a look around.” She continues, as if nothing else out of the ordinary had happened, “see if we can see anything out of sorts. But we’ll probably have to confront the owner. These places are usually pretty tight-lipped about stuff like this. They need to make sure their clientele feel comfortable with management.”

 

She picks the ties out of her hair as she speaks, flicking the wet bands onto a nearby dresser as she extricates them from her knotted, wet tresses. “If I promise to behave myself, can you give me a hand with this crap?” She asks as she drags her fingers through the mass, trying to work out the knots.

 

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Lana wonders if Daray is even aware of how much of a tease it is to bring attention to her nipples like that.  She chuckles because there is every possibility that she is completely unaware that the normal response for that kind of action and comment would be the immediate touching or sucking of the aforementioned body part, which is exactly what Lana wants to do.  

 

She grins at Daray’s promise of good behavior along with the request for help with her hair.  “I’m always willing to help with your beautiful hair Daray.  A better question for you to ask me is if I can behave long enough to help you with your hair.”  

 

Lana walks around the bed again and garbs for the brush.  “Of course I’ll do my best.”  She reaches out to take a lock of hair in her hands and begins to brush it.  “Although it feels a little like playing Russian roulette with my willpower.” She gives Daray an admiring look and compliments her sincerely.  “You are very sexy Daray, and you do tempt me terribly.”

 

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A rivulet of pleasure rolls down Daray’s spine as Lana starts to work with her hair, and she smiles wickedly as she responds, “hey, I don’t mind if you don’t behave yourself. Just know that all bets are off for the ret of the day if you can’t.”

 

She continues trying to drag the knots out of her hair with her fingers as Lana works at it with the brush. “And All I really have to say is that, I’m glad it’s not just me who has trouble keeping under control. I can’t believe the way that, just being around you, affects me. When you touch me, it’s like electricity. Seeing you makes me feel powerful, like I could take on the solar system, but at the same time, meek, like I can’t hold a candle to your light. I can’t even describe it adequately…”

 

A shiver runs down her spine as Lana brushes her hands against her back, and she was forced to abandon her hair and clamp her hands onto the edge of the dresser, closing her eyes and trying to stay under control.

 

“So. Uh…” She changes the subject, still clenching her eyes closed and squeezing the edge of the dresser. “When we get there. The owner will get belligerent, once we start asking questions. We’ll have to play rough with him to get a name, and that may be all we get. There may even be a chase, if he decides he wants to be really loyal to his clientele.” 

 

Her mind is working a million miles an hour to try and overcome the wild heat that was building up between her legs and in her gut. She clenches her thighs together and sets her jaw, trying not to look like she is restraining herself as she white-knuckles the dresser’s edge.

 

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Lana’s experience has lead her to be able to realize when she is arousing people; she knows it like she knows the color of her hair or the length of her tail.  The hardest part is to maintain her course, brushing and trying to keep her touches platonic when her gut reaction is to change friendly touches to seductive caresses.  She bites her lip and tries to follow along with the conversation.

 

“Out of curiosity is it really a forgone conclusion that this shop owner will be hostile?  Are there records of his place of business frequently being examined for this type of unethical meddling?  Or is there a chance that he may be an honest upright citizen that provides a service in the hopes that those who avail themselves of his services won’t take advantage of his lax security?”  Lana is almost half way done at this point and is doing her very best to make certain that she doesn’t cause Daray pain as she get into a deep set of tangles.

 

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Daray forces herself to imagine a good long run. A full out, no-holds-barred, leaping from roof to roof charge across Hector as Lana pays attention to her hair. She never would have imagined, in a million years, how sensual something as simple as someone brushing her hair could be. every nerve in her body was on fire with need and desire, and imagining the run seemed to work somewhat similarly to the cold shower.

 

After a moment she even relaxed her grip on the edge of the dresser, sliding her fingers out of the indentations she’d made in the metal as she focused on Lana’s words. The sudden, sharp, but not really painful jolt caused when Lana hit the tangle, snapped her eyes open wide, where she saw her reflection in the darkened glass of the wall behind the dresser. What she saw sort of scared her. She was attractive, she supposed, if somewhat pixieish, although her new tresses reduced that image from the curtain-like cut she’d had before having to regenerate so severely. Her outfit made her look professional, and still sexy at the same time, which she couldn’t decide was a good thing or bad. She was a couple inches shorter than Lana at least, although it was difficult to tell with Lana slightly hunched as she worked away behind her.

 

What really startled her however, were her eyes. Those dark, cobalt pools looked back at her with an intense lust that she had never imagined before. Looking into those dark reflected eyes, she could see the hot, smoldering embers inside her body. She knew it had been, and would be again, a roaring, fiery inferno. But this was different. This wasn’t just lust, but something deeper, more constant. Not a flash fire, but a long, slow, intense heat that could last several lifetimes. 

 

She’d never been in love before. She knew this was it. There wasn’t even the slightest doubt about it anywhere in her being, but what confused her was the thought that, this being what love felt like, how could anyone ever walk away from it? She would give up everything she had to keep this feeling smoldering away in her gut. No, not her gut, her entire being. After all, there it was, quietly stoking itself behind those huge, cobalt orbs in her reflection.

 

Finally, she broke the connection between herself and her reflection, looking down at the top of the dresser and examining the hand-shaped depressions in its surface. She would have looked over her shoulder, but she didn’t want to disrupt Lana in her ministrations.

 

“It’s not like everyone who owns a place like that is a bad person or anything. They just know that they can’t control everything that happens in their place, and still expect to stay in business. One thing leads to another, and before long, they’re turning a blind eye, or they get forced out by someone who welcomes the sorts of things that go on… I’m not saying the person will be difficult, but I wanted you to be prepared if they are, and we have to resort to… less than civil means… to get them talking.”

 

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Lana was unaware of the realizations Daray was having.  Partially because she was blocking her empathy abilities and also because her own attention had turned inward as she examined her own emotional attachment that has sprung so suddenly into being.  She finished working trough Daray’s tangles and began to twist her hair into a long rope braid.  Lana’s fingers are deft as she works and she finds a subtle satisfaction and pleasure out of being able to touch her in such a non sexual way but still show how much she cared.

 

Lana nods as Daray explains why she thinks they may have to get hostile.  “I understand.  I’ll cross my fingers and hope for the best.”  Lana ties off the end of Daray’s hair and finally steps away to collect the stun gun that Daray had purchased for her.  She slides the belt it came with into place around her waist and gives Daray a thumbs up signal.  “I’m ready when you are.”  She takes several deep breaths to calm her nerves.  Her entire being is jumpy with agitation as she tries to prepare herself for what they might find.

 

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Lana’s fingers moving across, and through her hair continues to do strange and new things to Daray’s body. She keeps her weight on her hands, although she is still able to keep herself from crushing the dresser any more, and her thighs clenched together tightly, making her butt stand out beneath the tight skirt as Lana finishes her work. 

 

“Can you get us a transport please APRIL?” She pushes the words through the rising feelings and visions of parkouring.

 

-Of course Daray. One will be at the curb momentarily.-

 

As Lana steps away to grab her stun gun, Daray bites her lower lip and works at reigning in her emotions for a minute before opening her eyes again and picking up her baston from where they lay on the dresser.

 

“Thank you.” She nods toward Lana with a smile as she rolls her head around to test the weight and swing of her hair. “Now let’s get going before I completely loose it and we don’t get out of here for a week…”

 

She starts moving back toward the front door, where they can see another public transport pulling up to the curb for them.


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