“Abby?” Fumiko repeated, yanking me out of my head.
I still had no idea what to say. My autopilot decided to go without me. “It’s… it’s about Hans,” I blurted. But then my autopilot decided to betray me by spitting out exactly what I was thinking. “You two would be perfect for each other,” I said to my horror. I knew that I was just saying that so I could segue into the let down of me not giving him up, but I was too anxious about disappointing her — especially now that we were actually sort of opening up about stuff like friends do — and started tangenting before I could get to that part. “I mean, he has a safe word and…” I don’t know why my voice dropped to a whisper. It just did. “…you’re a dominatrix!” I hissed. Then I blinked twice and tangented further. “How many side jobs do you have, anyway?”
Fumiko looked at me bemusedly. “Just a few. There’s the ‘official’ job at the print shop. And you know I’ve done some booth babe stuff at conventions. I occasionally take commissions for costumes or clothes — although, actually, I get a lot more sales through the kink community than the cosplay one. I dom occasionally — that’s really not as big a deal as you’re making it out to be. I mean, a session usually only lasts an hour or two. Oh, and sometimes I pick up a few days as a substitute instructor for the dojo down on Lakewood.”
I just stared at her. Where the hell did she find the time?!
Fumiko laughed at my expression. “What?” she asked in protest. “So I have expensive hobbies. You didn’t think all that anime, manga, consoles, video games, fabric and leather just show up magically for free, did you?”
I tried to explain what I had thought, and then realized I’d never really thought about it. “You know, I never really thought about it,” I admitted. Fumiko did have a much larger manga and anime library than I did. I should’ve realized that just booth babeing occasionally wouldn’t cover all of that and her cosplay wardrobe and her first person shooter games.
Fumiko smirked. Then she shook her head. “Now, about Hans,” she said, bringing us back to the original topic.
My cheeks flamed. Crap crap crap. How was I going to let her down gently? I didn’t do gently. I did blunt, or possibly crazy. Sometimes a freakish combination of both. “Yeah, I said. Um… I was trying to get the two of you to go out,” I started to explain — but Fumiko interrupted me again before I could get into how I wasn’t doing that anymore.
“Not going to happen,” she said bluntly.
I stopped. I blinked a couple of times. Did she know I was about to say that I wasn’t giving him up after all, and she was saying that no, she was going to take him regardless of what I said? No, no: that was crazy. Megan was the mind reader, not Fumiko. But otherwise it just didn’t make sense. Hans was a total catch! “Bwuh?” I said in confusion.
“Abby,” Fumiko finally said, “Look: Your guy is a really nice hunk of beefcake, yes. But no. Actually: hell no.”
“Bwuh?” I reiterated.
Fumiko laughed at me. “Look,” she said, “No offense… but Megan is a better match maker than you, and the last person she tried to set up died the next evening.”
I gawked at her harder. Had she really just said that? To me?! But yes, she had, and from the way Fumiko was grinning it was obvious she really hadn’t meant offense. And I guess it was sort of funny, since I hadn’t exactly stayed dead. It was dark and twisted, but okay: Kind of funny. And the idea that my efforts at hooking her up with Hans would probably have ended up somewhere worse than murder certainly underscored her point: Fumiko did not think I was qualified to try and set her up with anyone. Even if it wasn’t really a fair comparison, since it wasn’t like Hans had killed me.
I still gawked at her. “But…” I said, even though I couldn’t believe my luck. “Are you sure?” I stammered. Oh fuck no autopilot! I yelled at myself, but my mouth just kept on going. “I saw you blushing at him. Plus, he’s like super strong and I know you like that in, well, anyone. And, when he just picks you up and shoves you against a wall…” Stop it stop it stop it, why am I trying to argue her out of not stealing him?!
Fumiko raised a hand, palm out, to stop me. “Abby,” she interrupted. “Abby, stop.” Somehow I managed to reign myself in — and after Fumiko waited a second to see if it would stick she started shaking her head at me.
“Okay,” Fumiko said — but she didn’t lower her forestalling hand. “Yes, he made me blush. Usually I know what I’m getting into in advance when a guy drops trou in front of me. Or, that sort of behaviour has been preceded by so much smarm that I’ve either bruised the dude’s ego or his face enough for him to get the point and go away before it comes to that.” She let that sink in for a second.
“And yes,” Fumiko continued, “Yes, I like strong guys. Especially if they know how to handle themselves. And yeah, a guy like Hans presents a challenge that just…” Fumiko paused, lips bit together, and my eyes widened at the tension that seemed to well up inside off her and across her shoulders. The hand at her side curled in a fist so tight it trembled. And then Fumiko forced out a breath and all that tension melted away. “…that’s just begging for a beat down,” she concluded. “If he ever needs a sparring partner, just let me know. I’d be all over that. But I mean it, Abby: Sparring partner. That’s not a euphemism.”
“And finally,” Fumiko concluded, “I can handle a switch. But in general telling a dom how the guy you think she should get together with can pick her up and pin her against a wall is not actually a good selling point.” She grinned at me, and I just sort of blinked at her. She was talking about stuff as easily as she did when she was showing off her cosplays. It was like the shy and reserved Fumiko I was familiar with was gone, and I wasn’t sure if it was just because she was talking about something she knew, or if it was because she wasn’t deliberately keeping herself reserved around me now — but for the first time, it didn’t really confuse me that we were friends.
I mean: talking to her like this, it didn’t feel like she was just putting up with me for Megan’s sake. And that, more than the conversation itself, actually made me feel good. Confused as all fuck, but good.
“But frankly,” Fumiko continued when I kept standing there like a lump, “there are so many things wrong with the idea of Hans and I getting together that I almost don’t know where to start.”
That got me to stop blinking in confusion and start staring, instead. When I continued to stare instead of saying anything, Fumiko sighed and held up a fist so she could start counting points off on her fingers. “One: he’s dating you. I don’t share well, so both of us dating him would be a horrible idea. Two: he seems really devoted to you, and I’m not going to help you sabotage that just because you’re scared, or try to set myself up to take your place if the shit hits the fan again. I mean, did you honestly think I didn’t notice that you first brought it up back when Lewellyn was gunning for your head? No. Just no. Three: I’m pretty happy with my pseudo-single lifestyle. Four…” She quirked an eyebrow at me. “This shouldn’t really be a surprise, but I like my eye candy to be more on the bishie than the beefcake side. And five: the guy has the wardrobe sense of a… a werewolf. I mean, have you ever seen him in anything other than jeans and a tee shirt? I like my guys to have a lot more style, you know?”
Her last point actually surprised me into sputtering out a laugh, but it was the first one that got lodged in my head. The one about not sharing well.
“So, we’re good?” Fumiko asked while I was distracted. “And you’re going to stop trying to set me up with your guy?”
I didn’t reply immediately. I was too busy in my head.
Mental image: The sun had set and I was stirring from dormancy. Lonely, I went looking for my people. The sound of hearts beating led me too Hans.
He was in the guest room with Fumiko. She was showing off one of her cosplay outfits: all black leather and lace. It had far too short of a skirt, but gave the illusion of modesty because of the way her heeled boots reached over her knees and stretched up her thighs. Black leather opera gloves added an impression of sleeves to the lace-and-leather corset that strained across her chest, forcing her breasts up until the swells of flesh threatened to spill out of a top that could have made that threat through simple merit of the cut of its neckline. All of it — the gloves, the boots, the corset; even the individual pleats of the skirt — laced up with intricate criss-crossing ties, as though she’d been stitched into the outfit. I could only imagine that either Jamie had helped her into it, or the whole thing was just a glamour to begin with.
Probably the later: Fumiko moved too smoothly for someone in so tight and stiff an outfit.
She turned when I entered. “Abby!” Fumiko greeted me with a smile. “Is it nightfall already? Good evening.”
I smiled back and stifled a yawn. “Yeah,” I said. “G’evening. Sorry to interrupt. Can I get a hug from Hans? Then I’ll go bother Emma and Megan for breakfast, promise.”
“Sure,” Fumiko said easily. She stepped aside, opening the way to Hans. For some reason he was on his knees and naked — oh: he must have just shifted back from his wolf self. I smiled and stepped toward him, arms spread open.
And Fumiko stepped in behind me. One of her hands caught the back of my head; the palm of her other snapped in front of me, connecting with my jaw and applying enough torque for vertebrae to snap and grind as my head twisted ninety degrees further than nature had ever intended it to.
I collapsed in a formless heap.
Hans gave Fumiko a reproachful look, but she just shrugged: unrepentant. “What?” Fumiko asked. “She was taking too long.” Hans arched an eyebrow as though to say: ‘really? that’s your excuse?’ and Fumiko laughed. “Oh, fine: Don’t worry. I’ll make one of her girls bleed for her later. It’ll be fun. Now, where were we?”
Hans’ shoulders slumped in resignation, but he didn’t answer. That was probably the best deal she’d offer — and Fumiko had told him to do his best to keep quiet.
“Oh, yes,” Fumiko purred. She drew a multi-stranded flogger off of the bed. The ends of the leather braids cracked through the air as she unfurled them with an expert flick of the wrist — but she didn’t strike him with them. Not yet.
Instead, Fumiko reversed her grip on the flogger. She used the pommel on the end of the handle to tilt Hans’ chin up until his throat was stretched fully and he was staring up at her face over the tip of his nose.
“I believe,” Fumiko purred as she smiled down at him, “That I was just about to teach you how to beg.“
“Abby?” Fumiko asked.
“Yeah,” I stammered weakly. “I mean: Yes. We’re good.” Holy shit: Fumiko was terrifying! Also, now I couldn’t stop picturing Hans, topless; his back streaked with the beginnings of welts from her flogger — balancing a cookie on his nose.
Although, given that I’d started to realize that I really enjoyed leaving marks for my partners to remember me by, maybe I could ask Fumiko for some pointers? And I did need to pick up a replacement vibrator, since my last one had no doubt melted in my apartment fire. As long as I was going to mortify myself by going into an adult store, I may as well pick up some other stuff, too, right?
Oh god, I was so gone off the deep end already, wasn’t I? Mom would have a heart attack if she ever got wind of any of this.
Fumiko derailed those thoughts with a friendly punch to the shoulder. “Okay then,” she said cheerfully. “Now, speaking of Hans: Let’s go call John and get something for Daniel to wake up to, so your boyfriend doesn’t get eaten by a ghoul in the morning.”
I blanched. “Right!” I yelped as Fumiko caught my shoulders in her arm again. I blushed and tried to get my thoughts unjumbled and keep my fangs hidden and to not squick out about getting ‘food’ for Daniel.
And together, Fumiko and I returned to Cassie’s house.