Disclaimers: Not my characters, yada yada. Sue me and you'll end up with squat.

Author's Note: Damn, I can't resist suspense. No spoilers, other than scarce mentions from here and there. Not too graphic or gory. T for language and some violence. It's femmeslash. Don't like? Simple, click that red cross at the top of your page.


Prologue

1989, Las Vegas, The French Palace

For the fifteenth time that evening, Sara tried to think of a reason why she should be there, and for the fifteenth time she came up empty. The screaming, bustling crowd, the air thickened by a potpourri of cigarette smoke, various brands of perfume, tangy alcohol and the more baser human sweat, was making her sick. She plucked out a stick from her own pocket and shoved it between her lips.

"Here, let me." A young man – more like a boy - approached her with a lighter. Sara allowed him to light her cigarette while idly appraising him. He was handsome enough, but for his shaggy, unruly locks and the yellowed tobacco stain on his teeth.

"You alone?" He grinned eagerly at her. "A pretty thing like you shouldn't be alone."

Sara almost rolled her eyes at his pickup lines. "Nope, not alone."

His smile faded a bit. "Don't see anyone around ya."

"Looks can be pretty deceiving."

"Hey Sara." A petite blonde slid herself on the chair beside her.

The guy stared at this new woman, and then at Sara, and then back at her. He grunted, "Dykes."

"Excuse me, what did you say?" The blonde leant forward challengingly.

He smirked. "Forget it, ladies."

"What's his deal?" She asked Sara once the guy quickly retreated within the crowds.

"He was trying to get laid." Sara took a swig of her beer. Her head was paining and she wanted to get to her hotel and sleep the night away. But it was Josie's birthday and she couldn't just leave.

"And are you?"

"Am I what?"

"You know, get laid."

Sara shrugged.

"C'mon Sara, when's the last time you had sex?"

She was about to come up with some snappy retort when her attention got diverted towards the stage. An audience had already gathered by the foot of the makeshift podium and hooting catcalls echoed all around the dingy club. It seemed the entire brimming population in the place were shuffling and pushing to get nearer to the scene.

Her eyebrows rose. "Are we having some kind of guest performance?"

Josie gave her an incredulous look. "Sara, didn't you read the board outside?"

"I must have missed it." She replied nonchalantly. "Besides, who are we expecting, Boney M?"

"Honey, this is a strip club."

Sara choked on her beer. She sputtered, until she got the burning liquid out of her windpipe. "What!"

"I thought you read."

"You brought me to a strip club?"

"This is Vegas." Josie answered defensively, as if that was self-explanatory.

"Josie, I'm leaving!" Sara slammed the bill on the bar table and stood.

"C'mon Sara, it'll be fun. And it's not just the gals stripping. We have male strippers too."

"Right, I'm going orgasmic just thinking about it."

"Sara, please." Josie grabbed her hand, pulling her to a stop. "When we return back to Harvard, I have only six months before I get engaged. Peter is a nice guy - rich, educated, well-connected, the whole deal. But I'll never have this chance to… see things again. Soon I'll be married to him and will be raising his babies. Just this one time, please?"

Sara shook her head. "You have no idea how nasty things can get once the show starts. Why don't you just rent some erotica?"

"So, you are leaving?"

"Josie…"

"Fine, leave."

Sara sighed. "Alright, I'll stay. But we don't stay all the way through, deal?"

She looked pleased. "Deal. Thanks Sara."

"I'll just catch a breath of air." Sara looked around. "I feel as if I'll suffocate out here."

Josie nodded absently, her attention focused on the emerging dancers.


Outside, Sara took her final puffs before discarding the burnt out roll. The nicotine embers had just about died under her boots when she heard loud voices behind her.

"Get out of here!" A woman screamed.

"God, Cath, stop being so stubborn. You knew what you were getting into when you signed up this job. It's just goin' from one thing to another."

"I'm not a slut and I won't whore myself!"

"So, what do you think you are doing up there, Russian ballet?"

"Go away, Johnny. I'm tired." Sara heard a sliver of desperation behind the woman's calm.

"Baby, don't make me use force."

Even before she realized what she was doing, Sara shouted, "Ma'am, you alright out there?"

There was a heavy silence. Each of them was assessing the situation and its risks. She couldn't catch a good look of the two, but she noticed the flashy attire on the woman's body. Probably a dancer, she thought.

"Mind your own business, bitch." The man spat.

"Sure, I'll just call 911 then."

The man breathed a series of curses before she saw him lean away from the woman. Without another word, he walked away.

"Thanks."

Sara shrugged and then thought that she was probably as obscured in the dark as the woman was, so she said, "No problem. You okay, though?"

"Yeah, bad day." A dry chuckle escaped. "I better get going."

"You need someone to walk you?" She was surprised at her newfound gallantry.

"No, I'll be fine. Johnny's not going to show his ass tonight."

"Well, you take care then."

"Yeah, you too." A pause. "Thanks again. Very much."


I know how this looks, but it's not A/U