Author: Sirius

Rating: T, for innuendo

Summary: Trudy had always had a weakness for women in uniform. One-shot.

Disclaimer and Author's Notes: None of them are mine, and though I honestly can't imagine Kristen Britain wanting this little one-shot, if she does, she's welcome to it. As for the story itself, blame Lady Dark Star for prodding this little plot bunny. Yes, I'm still working on "A Rider's Heritage," but this silly bunny wouldn't stop bugging me. Also, as a reminder, "Esther" was the name used by Lady Estora when she was traveling back to Sacor City with Fergal.

It was late afternoon when Trudy caught sight of a flash of green entering the courtyard of the Golden Rudder, and she couldn't help but hope that the color heralded one of the two female Riders to pass through the brothel recently. Young Fergal held no interest for her – being male – but she could have had quite the time with Rider Karigan or Rider Esther. Unfortunately, neither had been interested.

Well, I suspect Rider Karigan was interested in someone, but it wasn't anyone here, more's the pity. As for Rider Esther… she was beautiful, true enough, but she wasn't as comfortable in the Green as either of the others. Still, there is no finer sight than a woman in uniform… unless it's a woman out of one.

As the green-garbed figure came closer to the building, Trudy realized quickly that this Rider was none of the three she'd met recently. This Rider was older, with red hair that was graying, held in a braid that fell halfway down her back. What caught her eye most, though, was an unmistakable air of command. This Rider was In Charge… and she knew it. The young prostitute licked her lips, dearly hoping this woman wouldn't be as uninterested as the others. Trudy swiftly fixed her hair and dressed in her most enticing gown, planning on catching the Rider's attention.

Captain Mapstone entered the brothel, hiding her sense of unease and inwardly snarling at Fergal for daring to bring Lady Estora here, of all places. Granted, no pursuer in his right mind would have thought to look for her here, but couldn't he have found somewhere else to hide… anywhere else? And why, in the name of all that is holy, did I volunteer to bring the payment for that stay, even though Fergal made it clear that the proprietress did not expect any? Actually, that's fairly obvious. The future Queen cannot be indebted to the owner of a brothel… even if no one other than my Riders is aware of it. Truth be told, I don't even want my Riders indebted to her… despite how much Fergal apparently enjoyed it.

Several minutes of arguing later, she'd gotten nowhere with Silva, the brothel's owner, who was continuing to insist that any debts incurred by the Riders were nothing compared to what the Golden Rudder apparently owed to Stevic G'ladheon. Now, I don't recall Fergal or Karigan mentioning that little bit of information… but it does go quite a way toward explaining why Karigan turns a most unusual shade of red whenever she's asked to speak of her stay here. How, by Aeryc, did Stevic G'ladheon come to be involved with this, even incidentally?

Having finally convinced Silva to take at least some of the money she offered in recompense for Fergal's second stay, if not the first, Laren breathed a sigh of relief and took a seat for a moment, bowing to Silva's wishes that she at least linger long enough for a bite to eat. She was enjoying the meal and entertaining a thought – briefly – that she was perhaps getting too old for this, when the meal was interrupted by the feel of fingers ghosting across the back of her neck.

Laren turned quickly, coming face to face with a woman who was looking at her as though the Rider Captain was the most expensive new treat available from Master Gruntler, and she had to admit to feeling somewhat disturbed at the thought. Granted, she knew more than a few individuals who preferred the intimate companionship of their own gender, but she wasn't one of them. Even had she been, she was not accustomed to being looked upon as though she were… tasty. For a moment, the usually fearless Rider wanted nothing more than a place to hide; it had been some time since anyone wished to hunt her in such a manner.

Usually, they just want to kill me. That, I know how to deal with. This is something new. Even in the midst of this unforeseen situation, Captain Mapstone spared a moment to wonder if something similar had happened to Karigan when she was here… or, gods forbid, Estora. That's the last thing we need.

"Can I help you, miss?"

A secretive half-smile on the other woman's face made Laren even more wary than she had been. "Actually," she responded, "I was hoping that I'd be able to help you, Rider. You seem a little tense."

"Thank you for your kind offer," Laren responded, common courtesy serving to calm her in this… most unique situation, "but I'm afraid I'll only be able to relax once I'm home. Riders cannot often afford to be distracted from the tasks at hand."

"Green Riders," the woman responded, with a little pout that Laren suspected would have ensnared many men and no few women. "The best ones always say the same thing. They're in too much of a hurry to be done with this place even when they're here for a few days. It's a pity, truly, especially when they seem so very concerned with the events of the world. I'm only here to help them escape from it for a time… provide a little comfort and refuge from the cold."

The Rider Captain felt some sympathy for the younger woman… but it didn't change her mind. "I'm certain you do quite well… but I am not so inclined."

"Ah, well, I can't say that I've never heard that before. Strangely enough, the other two women to voice the same sentiment were also Riders, though the first was much more comfortable in the Green than the second. I will bother you no more then, Rider… but should you happen to speak with Rider Karigan, tell her Trudy's offer is still open."

Shocked beyond the ability to speak, though she wasn't surprised that Karigan had been propositioned – that girl gets into the most interesting situations – Laren simply nodded, watching as Trudy turned and sauntered up the stairs. Shaking her head, she murmured a final word of thanks to Silva for the meal and left to prepare Bluebird for the trip back to Sacor City. The sooner she was home, the better.