I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this...'
Deep breath, buddy, he told himself, you're going to do this.
One deep breath later, he stepped into the bank lobby, bright with late afternoon, desert sunlight. He shrugged his shoulders to try and alleviate the uncomfortable pull of the harness under his leather jacket, and pushed his sunglasses up on his nose. The bank wasn't terribly full, and he was glad of it. From behind the shades, he checked for security cameras. He spotted them all, and then got in line.
The line seemed to be moving about as fast as molasses. He watched as one blue-haired old lady was informed that she had already withdrawn all her funds. The biddy was pitching a fit, much to the distress of the clerk, a nice-looking young woman.
I guess Vegas will do that to you,' he thought, watching with mild amusement. The woman shook her hefty handbag at the clerk. People are pretty damn stupid... This place is a trap for saps like her.'
May I help the next customer?
He looked up and realized he was that next customer. He felt a shock run down his spine. Damn.' He walked over to the teller.
May I help you? The clerk was a little younger than he was, with light skin, long, dark hair, and a polite, friendly smile.
So this was it. He was going to threaten this handsome young bank teller and rob the bank, and probably get caught.
Yes, I'd like to withdraw fifty thousand dollars, please, he said slowly and exactingly, shrugging his jacket to reveal the gun in his shoulder holster.
The man behind the window didn't even seem phased. He sighed, actually. I see.
Hand over the money and wait twenty minutes before pushing the alarm, he said in a hushed tone.
What if I told you I'd give you the money from my own account if you promise to do me a favor?
I don't want to hurt anyone, but - What?! He certainly hadn't been expecting that. Hell, who would have been?
I said I will give you fifty thousand dollars if you do something for me. The teller still seemed as calm and serene as could be, his deep voice not even wavering a bit.
You're serious? You want to hire me?
Yes, now that you put it that way, I do. It's a simple job.
I've heard that one before, he said with a half laugh, laying both of his big hands on the counter and gripping the edges, leaning in to look the man in the eye, even though the man could not see his eyes.
One day only, the teller said somberly, quietly. Then he raised his voice. I'll discuss it with you when I get off work. There's a diner across the street. You look like you could use a break. Go get yourself some lunch. My treat. He reached into his pocket, and then slid a twenty beneath the window. I'll see you in half an hour.
He took the money. What in hell am I doing?' He walked away.
Vaguely, behind him, he hear a cheery, deep voice, saying. Thank you, sir. Have a nice day!

So, Marron who was that?
He turned around and looked at the woman behind him. It was Charlize, his coworker.
Duh. The cute blonde you gave the twenty to. That your boyfriend of something?
He certainly couldn't tell Charlize the truth, so... He's a friend.
A good friend? The redheaded woman got a wicked look in her eyes.
The male teller raised an eyebrow. Yes, you could say so.
Charlize's grey eyes widened. No kidding? Why didn't you tell us?
Marron chuckled. Do I have to tell you everything?
Charlize giggled in turn. Yes! Now we have to tell Eva to stop trying to sick her baby brother on you.
Yes, please do. Marron pulled a face and sighed. I never want to converse with another square dance teacher, ever again.
He couldn't have been that bad. He was good in bed, at least, right?
The dark-haired man looked at his fellow bank teller. I wouldn't know.
Charlize looked desperate. Don't tell me you two didn't sleep together!
Okay, we slept together.
The woman groaned. I hope you know you're a terrible liar. Oh, if only she knew. And he was cute, too!
He was a cheerleader, Charlize.
But... The eyes! The ass! The abs! The smile! Why not?!
I practically fell asleep. The mocking eyebrow was back up. I don't think it's much fun when one of you is unconscious.
Charlize shook her head ruefully. You so need some action, Marron! What did you ever leave New York for?
My brother.
Charlize smirked. Right. Are you sure it wasn't for the legal prostitution?
Both eyebrows went up as Marron threw on his light suit jacket. And, with that, he walked out of the bank's back room and out into the bright Nevada sunlight.

Hungry, I see.
He looked up and stifled a gasp. It was the handsome bank teller. Down, boy,' he said to himself upon seeing the dead-sexy smirk on the other man's face.
Twenty bucks'll get you a lot at this place. He nodded at the menu on the wall behind the counter. Nothing was priced over five dollars.
I know. I had to give you something to do while you waited.
He sighed, shoving a French fry into his mouth and then brushing blonde hair out of his eyes. He'd taken off the sunglasses.
You have nice eyes.
Uh, thanks, he muttered through a mouthful of potato.
The waiter came up and asked the other man if he wanted another. The handsome bank clerk ordered a chocolate milk shake.
After swallowing and taking a sip of soda, he looked straight at the young man, who had seated himself at the counter. Look, were you serious? About the fifty thousand dollars?
The dark-haired man smiled. He extended his hand. I'm Marron Glace. Who do I have the pleasure of conspiring with?
Conspiring?!' He took the man's slender, long-fingered hand in his own broad, tanned grasp. Gateau Mocha.
Marron, the bank teller, nodded. I've heard of you.
You have? He stared at the other man. Should I be surprised?'
No. It was a bit of a big deal here in Vegas, you know.
I'm sure it was. He sighed, studying his hands, folded on they silver counter. I didn't do it.
I know.
Gateau looked the young man in the eyes.
He nodded again. It's just how the system works here, is all.
No shit, that's for sure. The blonde sighed and took another sip of cola.
The answer to your question is yes.

Yes, I'm serious. He felt the teller's gaze, and looked up to meet it. The gold eyes were quite somber. About the fifty thousand dollars.
The chocolate shake arrived, and Marron took a tentative drink before continuing. I was saving the money for a trip to Europe next year. But something came up, and I'm willing to give it to you, if you'll help me out.
What is this job?
Marron sighed. I need you to dispose of a body.
What? Who did you kill!? Gateau whispered harshly, his blue eyes wide.
The other shook his head. No one. You see... My brother sells used cars. He found a girl's dead body in the trunk of one of the car's on his lot. The police already have an eye on him, due to his old partner's rather shady business tactics - he almost got arrested a few years ago for his ex-partner's embezzlement. So he can't really go to the authorities.
Does he know who put the body there?
Marron grimaced. Unfortunately, we have suspicions. There are several members of the Vegas family' on his case, as well. They got him out of trouble with the cops back during the whole embezzlement thing. They seem to think he's some sort of threat to them.
Trying to remind him where his loyalties should stand. Gateau pulled a face of his own.

A phone conversation, approximately twenty-four hours before:
Marron! Oh, thank God I finally go a hold of you!
I just got home. Carrot, what's wrong? Marron laughed. You sound like somebody died.
Fuck. Fuck! FUCK! How did you know?! Fuck! Fu-
Carrot, shut up, came a voice from elsewhere in the room.
There were the sounds of a scuffle. Marron, it's Tira. His brother's girlfriend had shoved Carrot away and taken the phone.
Hi, Tira.
Oh, dammit, god-fucking-dammit! His brother's voice carried onto the line.
Sometimes, I swear, Marron, I don't know why I put up with your brother. She put her hand over the receiver. Carrot, sit down and stop swearing. The baby can hear you, you know! Do you want me to give birth to a child that knows how to swear from the minute it leaves the womb?!
It was obvious that Carrot had sat down.
Tira, what's going on? Who died? Marron was starting to get edgy.
No one we know, Tira said, with an impressive semblance of calm. Carrot found a body of a dead girl in the trunk of one of his station wagons.

Yes. We think it had to be of those mob guys. The police came around the other day, asking about what sort of dealings we'd had with the mob three years ago. Carrot didn't tell them, but they obviously got wind of it.
Marron sighed harshly. This is not good.
So what do we do? Tira asked.
Gimme a little while to think. I'll be back to you with something tomorrow evening.
O... Okay...
Put the station wagon in the back lot for now, where no one can see it.
... Right. She sighed. Okay. Right.

So what's my part in all this? Gateau asked.
Buy the car - I'll give you money for that, too - and take it out to the desert. Bury the girl and dump the body. Marron was absently twirling the straw on his shake between his thumb and forefinger. Was this guy really so implacably calm, or was there something more to this? I'm telling you the truth, in case you're wondering. I don't have time to lie.
I'll -

Said blonde looked around and made a shocked face before looking for an escape route. It was already too late.
The curly-haired assailant was upon him, hugging him with a strangling grasp. He was, suddenly, acutely aware that there were sticky, lipsticky lips on his.
he grated out, when he was released, wiping lipstick from his face with a paper napkin.
Oh, Gateau, honey, you're finally out. I'm so glad to see you!

It's - Oh, my, who do we have here? Milphey turned and winked at the other man. Hello, dear, I'm Mille Feuille. Milphey held out a manicured hand.
Marron took the offered hand. Marron Glace, he said hesitantly.
Quite a pretty catch, Gateau, honey.
Gateau looked like he was about to defend himself, but just sighed and pursed his lips. Mille is an ex of mine. He works in the Vegas drag circuit.
Marron looked at the curly-haired ex of Gateau's. Sure enough, there it was, underneath the makeup. Mille Feuille was, indeed, a man. I'll bet he does,' Marron thought, imagining the man in some sort of rather gaudy dress. I see. Marron repressed the urge to laugh. No big deal, I've known weirder.'
You'd make a beautiful woman, Marron, dear, Milphey stated, toying with a lock of Marron's long, dark hair.
Mille, stop, Gateau said.
The purple-haired man pouted, but released Marron's hair. You never did let me have any fun!
Which is why you broke up with me, right? the blonde deadpanned. Look, I'm in the middle of a rather personal chat, here. Maybe we could talk some other time?
I don't think so! I haven't seen you in four years! I'm hardly going to leave you to your own devices now, sweetie! You can't even clean your apartment on your own! He giggled. Now, I came in here to use the bathroom, and I'm going to do just that. Then I'm going to come right back here and join your little fiesta. Don't move a muscle. He winked again and traipsed off in the direction of the restrooms.
Ye gods, Gateau muttered.
That must have been an interesting relationship.
Like hell it was. Gateau shoved a couple more French fries into his mouth. I was gonna say that I'll take the job.
Good, I'm glad. Marron smiled a grim half-smile.
Now let's get out of here.
Is he that bad? Marron had to admit, now he was a little intrigued.
No bad so much as clingy and a bit too flirtatious.
I see.
So let's go.
Marron said. Gotta pay. And the waiter was nowhere in sight.
Can't we just leave the money and - He left off when he felt a slender hand on his shoulder.
So, are you all just getting here or just leaving? Mille asked from the seat next to Gateau. He leaned over the blonde's shoulder to glance at their dishes. Just leaving, then.
Gateau replied, his voice sounding dangerous to Marron's ears.
Milphey didn't seem to pick up on it, however, or perhaps he'd just known Gateau long enough to be able to gauge his angry tones of voice. I'll come with you, then!
You will not! Gateau glared. Yes, he sounded very dangerous.
What, are you planning on sleeping with him? Three's a good number, anyway.
Gateau glared harder. I'm NOT going to -
Oh, come on, honey. Tell me you weren't thinking about it the minute you laid eyes on his pretty little self.
You're NOT coming with us.
Sure I am! Mille gestured at Marron. Look, he doesn't mind.
Well, I - Marron began, but found himself unable to continue. The drag queen had set a finger on his lips.
Honey, don't spoil my fun, okay? I haven't seen this hunk of man in four years. He batted his eyelids.
Gateau growled after a moment of tense silence and eye batting. Mille's little squeal of joy was cut off when Gateau said, But don't blame me if you get killed.
Who would do that? Marron and Milphey asked in the same voice.
The blond glared before grabbing Mille's wrist and hauling him off the stool.
Marron sighed, and followed them. I may have just made the biggest mistake of my life.'

I have to go back to the apartment, but only to get the money, Marron said, turned a corner.
Thank goodness that sort of thing isn't illegal around here! Mille quipped from the back seat.
Gateau was sitting in the passenger's seat, leaning forward, his arms resting on his knees, thinking. Would you shut up, Mille?
Sorry! Touchy, touchy! Mille held up his hands and smirked.
So where are we going, if we're not staying at your house?
My brother's, Marron said, turning another corner and racing down the empty street.
This is getting very interesting, Mille quipped.
Gateau glowered at his clasped hands. Didn't I just tell you to be quiet? Or are we going to have to drop you off at your apartment?
Fine, fine, not another word out of me. But, tell me this, is your brother cute?
Ignoring the crossdresser's question, Marron turned yet another sharp corner before pulling into a parking garage. He turned off the engine. I'm going in to get the money, and change out of this suit. Wait here.
The dark-haired bank teller got out of the car and walked quickly throught the dark garage. The sun had almost completely set since Marron and Gateau had met in the diner. The other two men waited in slightly tense silence for the younger man to return.
He's cute, Mille said finally, leaning up between the seats to look at his once-lover.
Gateau turned his head and gave Mille a long-suffering look. I hate you.
You know you don't. The purple-haired man tucked a finger underneath the large man's chin, and looked him in the eye. You should give it a chance.
I can't.
Sure you can, it's easy. Milphey smiled gently and released Gateau's chin. All it takes is a little effort.
Just leave it alone, man. I'm not ready for any of this. I just wanted my fifty thousand for Eclaire. I'm not looking for revenge, I just want her back, you know?
Mille sighed, and nodded, his smile sad. I see now. I understand. He sat back in the seat of the compact car with another sigh, and Gateau resumed his position leaning on his knees.
He had to admit, his breath became a little short when Marron returned, wearing a pair of dusty-looking blue jeans, a rather tight black tee-shirt, and a pair of black lace-up boots. He was carrying a black-and-silver messenger bag, which he tossed in the back, next to Mille.
You had the money in cash? Gateau asked, quirking an eyebrow.
The younger man shrugged. The person I was going to negotiate with only takes cash.
Gateau sighed. I don't even want to know.
Marron shook his head. No, you don't. Without another word, he buckled up and revved the engine, peeling out of the garage at a decidedly illegal speed.
My brother and his girlfriend live outside the city limits, near their car lot, Marron explained as he merged onto the highway. Mille, if you wouldn't mind getting three hundred dollars out of the bag for me?
Mille complied, taking fifteen twenty-dollar-bills out of the bag.
Give it to Gateau, Marron instructed, and Mille complied once more.
Three hundred dollars...? This must be one shitty car, Gateau mused.
The dark-haired driver let out a sharp laugh. It's true enough. My brother isn't known for selling the highest quality cars. We'll be giving you a discount due to the car's poor condition. He shrugged, although it was hardly visible in the gloom of a car at night. It should get us where we need to go, though.
Where are we going? Mille asked, breaking his silence.
To the desert, to bury a body that was planted in the trunk of one of my brother's cars. Marron didn't even look back a the cross dresser, keeping his eyes on the almost completely empty road ahead of him.
Milphey let out a low whistle.
Gateau laughed quietly. You can say that again. Looking out the window at the bluish darkness, he thought, The things I do for my sister... The things I do for love. Dammit.'
That last sentiment, the thought of Damn!,' was echoed in the thoughts of the other passengers in the car.

You brought friends, I see. Tira, eight months pregnant, was standing in the doorway of the house.
Hello, Tira, Marron said, a slight smile spreading across his face. He hugged her. How are you feeling?
Come in, all of you, and I'll tell you over coffee. I have a feeling it's going to be a long night.
I wouldn't doubt it, Gateau said as he stepped into the small house. It was a pretty place, although simple. It was obvious that this curly-haired strawberry blonde had decorated the place, and not Marron's brother, wherever he was.
Carrot's bringing over the car, like you asked.
Feeling the inquisitive looks he was getting, Marron said simply, I called them from the apartment.
Tira put a pot of coffee on to boil and motioned to the adjoining living room. Sit down, please. Carrot'll be a few minutes more. You might as well make yourselves comfortable.
Tira settled herself into an armchair and waited while the others sat down. she said to Marron, looking at him expectantly.
After a moment, Marron replied. This is Gateau Mocha, and a friend of his, Mille Feuille.
Tira smiled and nodded to both of them. Gateau nodded back, and Mille smiled companionably.
I'm the one your boyfriend's brother actually hired, Gateau informed her. Milphey's just along because he's an idiot.
The purple-haired man sighed ruefully. I haven't seen the boy in four years. I'll get to spend some time with him finally,' I thought. Little did I know!
Tira half laughed at this, then nodded her head at Marron. His brother has a tendency to get into trouble a lot, I'm afraid. You hang around Marron too long, you might find yourself in another situation like this.
Gateau didn't look terribly amused, although Milphey and Marron laughed. I'll keep that in mind, said the blonde.
Don't let that scare you off, Gateau, dear, Milphey said. Haven't you ever been told that you can't trust a pregnant woman?
It's probably true, Tira replied good-naturedly, getting up and wandering over to the kitchen. She removed a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of chunky peanut butter from a cabinet. She sat back down in the chair, resting the peanut butter on one of the chair's arms and putting the bag of chips in her lap. She proceeded to dip the chips in the peanut butter, and eat them, much to the horror of all the men present.
Anyone hungry? Tira asked, leaning the bag towards them.
Not anymore, Mille replied, basically summing up the general attitude.
There was the sound of wheels screeching to a halt outside. Tira froze mid-chomp, and the three men craned their necks to watch the door.
A wiry, rather short man with oil-slicked black hair burst through the door. Marron rose and embraced the polyester-suited man, who hugged him back.
I guess you got help, eh, bro? said the other man.
Marron nodded shortly.
Gateau nodded in turn. Gateau Mocha. He's Mille Feuille.
said the man in the suit, edging past Milphey to stand by his girlfriend.
Only if you want me to be, Milphey said, winking. Gateau reached out and smacked him upside the head.
Carrot, for that's obviously who the tastelessly dressed man was, bent down and kissed Tira gently before pulling back and making a face. Lord God in Heaven, Tira, what have you been eating?!? Tortilla chips and peanut butter?! How hideous!
Glowering, Tira reached up and gave Carrot a head-smack of her own.
Backing away and rubbing his head, Carrot said, The car's outside, if you wanna take a look.
Gateau rose and everyone else followed him out of the house.
The lights of the front porch flowed out to illuminate a nondescript, wood-paneled, maroon station wagon. Before common sense could take hold of him, Gateau popped open the trunk.
A sickening smell rolled out of the trunk. They all looked down, to see a young woman with full, rat-tailed red hair bound and tossed in the trunk. She was wearing a black mini skirt and a big blue jacket over a tube top, and she had a bullet hole in the middle of her forehead.

They all looked away from the body, realizing that the purple-haired cross dressed had spoken.
asked Gateau.
I know her. She works - okay, well, worked, anyway - at my club, waiting tables.
You're joking, said Carrot.
No, I'm totally serious. She told everyone her name was Chocolate.
Tira made a face. Jesus, that's worse than those cocktail waitresses where I work - Tiffany, Dinah, Lisa, Jennifer. We're not supposed to give our last names, but at least I don't have a flaky name like Amber Lynn.
Mille laughed. What can I say? I run with a strange crowd.
Eying the drag queen, Carrot said, That's for damn sure.
Gateau closed the trunk. Reaching into his pocket, he handed Carrot the three hundred dollars. There, I'll take it.
Carrot returned, sounded a little less than excited. I'll make out the papers later.
So, what now? Tira asked, eying the trunk as though she expected the body to pop out and attempt to snatch their souls.
We go bury the body, then we dump this car. Maybe torch it. Someone has to take my car so that we can get back.
I'll drive, Carrot volunteered. Marron nodded and tossed his brother the keys. Tira would, obviously, go with her boyfriend.
Milphey, go with Carrot and Tira, Gateau ordered. I don't want you getting involved in this any closer than you have to.
Mille smirked. Right. You just wanna ride in the deathmobile with your new boyfriend.
Carrot cried, incensed.
Nothing, Carrot, Marron said calmly.
Don't worry, I'm just joking. Milphey smiled and winked.
He's a big tease. Gateau looked like he wasn't joking at all.
Mille shrugged one shoulder in the blonde's direction. You would know, wouldn't you!
The strong man glared. Let's get going, he said shortly.

The car had been, more or less, quiet for the whole ride. Marron had sat the entire time with the messenger bag in his lap, feeling the weight of the money and his brother's gun on his legs. Finally, Marron decided to break the silence.
What do you need the money for, anyway?
Gateau sighed. Dammit,' he thought, keeping his eyes on the road, trying not to think about the stench that was ever-present in the car, or the fact that he really liked looking at Marron's face. My sister.
Your sister? Marron didn't sound incredulous, or surprised, just interested.
When the bastards who put me in jail - mob guys, of course, local Vegas bigwigs - heard I'd gotten out of prison, they kidnapped my sister. This jackass named Tartlette delivered a friendly little message.
That being?
If I didn't repay them the litigation fees' - the fifty thousand dollars they spent pulling strings and hiring lawyers to convict me of a damn crime I didn't fucking commit - they'd kill my sister.
I'm sorry.
Yeah, me, too. Gateau stared out at the dark highway before of them.
Tartlette... That name sounds familiar...
It probably would. He was a big hacker several years back, almost convicted of felony. Course, same mob guy got him out of trouble that got me into trouble. I, uh...
Marron looked over at the strong blonde.
I dated him before got convicted. I had a completely clean criminal record before that, you know...
What did this Tartlette do?
Gateau let out a heavy sigh. He told me the other day, when he delivered me his nice little note, that he was the one who'd given his boss my name. I mean, I'd been doing odd jobs for the group before then, but... For a couple of extra brownie points, the bastard framed his own boyfriend.
You have good taste in men, Marron said dryly.
Thanks for the insult, Gateau returned. But it's true, I didn't.
One of Marron's eyebrows was quirked.
We should stop now, Gateau said, cutting off any further discussion of the topic. Marron nodded. Gateau pulled the station wagon to the side of the road and turned off the engine.
Marron's compact rolled up behind them, and Carrot got out and leaned in on the open driver's side window.
So, what now?
Marron and I will go a few more miles up the road, Gateau said. Then we'll go out, bury the body, and call you on the cell phone. We'll drive out a few more miles, drop the car, and go back home. You three just stay here and call us know if you see any cops or anything coming.
Carrot nodded, gave his younger brother a thumbs-up, and walked back to his car. Gateau turned the engine on again and pulled the car back onto the road.

He got out of the car and pulled two shovels from the back seat. He watched as the dark haired man stood and slung the messenger bag over his shoulder.
We shouldn't leave it in the car, Marron said simply.
Gateau nodded and tossed a shovel horizontally over the roof of the station wagon. The other man's hand shot up and caught it easily, bringing it down to his side. Let's go out a ways and dig the hole. Then we'll bring the body out and bury it.
It was Marron's turn to nod, and they trudged off into the moonlit desert.

Milphey looked up from his nails, which he had been filing, and followed Tira and Carrot's gazes to the rear-view mirror. His jaw dropped.
A dark car had pulled onto the shoulder behind them, and several black-clad figures were getting out of the car.
One of them, a man with long, greenish hair, sidled up to the driver's side window of the car and tapped on the glass. Carrot had no choice but to roll down the window.
License and registration, the pale man drawled, smirking.
Mille practically shrieked. Suddenly, all eyes were on him.
I haven't know you very long, Mille, but I don't like you much, Carrot growled.
Tira coughed, and shot her boyfriend a strained look.
You bastard! What the hell do you think you're doing here? the transvestite said coldly, forcefully.
I'm here on work, Feuille.
For who, that scum Torte?
As a matter of fact, yes. Tartlette smirked. I'll be sure to tell him you remember him.
Ex-cuse me, Tira said tensely, but just what the fuck is going on here?
Ignoring her, the green-haired man went on. So, where's our boyfriend, hmmm?
Mille corrected coldly.
Sure, yeah, whatever. Then, in the blink of an eye, Tartlette pulled a gun from his long coat and had it pointed at Tira's head, his arm right across Carrot's face. You'll tell me where he is, Mille, or she'll be missing her head.
Fuck you, Tartlette, Mille sneered.
Oh, you wish. He released the safety lock on the gun. Well, if you're not interested in talking, then it'll be Mr. Hair Gel, here, and then you. But, unless you cooperate, I'll go slowly with you. You know, one in each foot, then the knees, the thighs, the balls...

Tira gasped, although whether it was out of relief or further fear, no one could say.
Good boy. You always were pretty submissive, as I recall. He chuckled. Well, lemme just call the boss.
He pulled his hand out of the car so that he could use his cell phone.
When he hangs up, shoot him, Mille whispered, making sure that Carrot alone heard.
Tartlette dialed. Hey, Mr. Torte. Interesting occurrence. He paused, smirking into the desert darkness. Yes, we ran into Glace, his girlfriend, and - the crowning glory - Mille Feuille. Another pause as his employer spoke. Yeah, the queer one, mmm-hmmm. Milphey snorted. Exactly my thoughts, sir. One never lands far from the other. Tortlette pulled away after a moment, put his hand over the mouthpiece.
Where the fuck is he, Feuille?
Out a couple of miles. Probably on the opposite side of the road. Red station wagon.
He relayed the information to his boss and then hung up. Doll face, we're gonna see - FUCKING LITTLE SHIT!
Carrot had used Tortlette's time on the phone to cock his own gun and, when the man had leaned close to the window, he'd reached through the window and shot the man in the left thigh. Tortlette fell to the ground, clutching his leg.
In a split-second his back-up men were rushing the car, but Tira and Carrot were out of the car as well, firing as best they could for their comparative lack of practice.
By the time Mille struggled out of the car, they had three of the five down, and one shot in the arm. The two remaining men were crouched behind their car's open door. The purple-haired man, picking up a fallen gun from the ground, shot down the injured man with the first bullet he fired.
He and Carrot dealt with the last man, who had scuttled to the other side of the car, while Tira stalked over to the fallen, cursing Tartlette.
You know the baby can hear you when you do that, she said, and leveled a shot into Tartlette's chest, followed by her last two bullet into his head.

They had been shoveling for over an hour.
Damn desert ground.

The dry, hard earth was making the digging hard work. It either wouldn't come up, or crumbled back down to fill the hole again...
We'll never be done at this rate...
Instead of making another noncommittal noise, Marron drove his shovel into the earth and pointed in the direction of the road.
Headlights - more than one pair.
This is decidedly not good.

Marron and Gateau both half-held their breath as they watched the cars pull onto the shoulder. There were three cars, Marron realized upon their approach.
What should we do? Marron hissed.
Just stay put. They may just need to take a leak, or something. Not that Gateau actually believed that.
It seemed like Marron didn't believe it, either.
Then there was a muffled, feminine scream. Gateau gasped softly.
Mr. Mocha! rasped a voice across the brush-scattered, dry land.
They've spotted us, Marron whispered.

Marron half turned to stare at Gateau.
No... I know that voice. Somehow, they knew where we would be.
Somehow...? Carrot!
They were falling deeper and deeper into this dangerous world, where they were certainly not in control. And, much to Marron's dismay, Gateau seemed to know who was calling all the shots.
Yes, it's possible... But for now... Just stay behind me. Let me handle this... I... don't want you to get hurt.
Marron's brow furrowed as the tall blonde stepped out into the desert.
Show yourself.
The dark man seemed to appear out of the darkness itself, like magic. He was not terribly tall, but he cut an imposing figure, a shade darker than the other nighttime shadows. His long, leather jacket was billowing in the slight wind, and his dark hair shadowed most of his face. He carried in his arms a smaller, more feminine form.
I have your money.
Marron was quite confused. If Gateau knew this man... and he owed him money... This must've been the man who had kidnapped Gateau's sister!
Hmmm, isn't that interesting. The man chuckled. Because I happen to have your sister.

We were taking her out to the desert to dump the body, and... Well, as you can see, it was quite a lucky turn of events for my party.
Marron would see Gateau's body tense up. She isn't dead.
Believe what you will, Mr. Mocha. He laughed again. Who is this your hiding behind you, hmmm?
Fuck you, Torte!
I'm sure, Torte replied smugly.
I'm going to kill you! Gateau growled.
Are you, then? Well, my friend, hit me with your best shot.
The mob boss obviously had something up his sleeved, but Gateau was too angry to notice, or to care. He rushed at the black-clad man with a shout. Torte pulled a gun out of the folds of his jacket and shot the blonde in the arm.
Gateau yelled in pain, but it didn't deter him. He had hit Torte hard in the face before several of the mobster's cronies appeared, guns drawn.
Torte abruptly dumped Gateau's sister on the ground, and he made to dash to her side. If you know what's good for you, Torte said coolly, you'll step away from her, and come with me.
Not on my life.
What a generous offer.
Marron looked up at the twinkling stars, and, taking a deep breath, reached into the messenger bag.
But now, Mr. Mocha, Torte continued, you'd do best to come with me, and bring your lady friend with you.
Lady friend, hmmm? Marron scoffed coldly, leveling his brother's gun at Torte's chest. I'm not a lady, and I'm not going anywhere. He knew Torte's men's guns were all aimed at him, now. There was little hope left that he would make it out this still standing.
My apologies, young man. However, I'm afraid you don't understand. There is no choice. Then he laughed, and it was a decidedly unpleasant sound. Well, to be completely honest, you do have a choice. You can either die here, in the desert, abandoned, or we can take you back to the city and deal with you, where someone might be kind enough to call an ambulance before we leave. That, my boy, is your choice.
But, somehow, he couldn't see himself as coyote food. He couldn't say that he saw himself making it out all fine and dandy, but he wasn't ready to accept death, either.
Before Marron could decide on his next move, Gateau ducked through the line of cronies, a gun drawn, and fired directly into one of the men's heads. His shoulder holster... Marron remembered seeing it earlier, at the bank. Of course he was still wearing it, he'd had no time to change.
The end result was chaos. Four of the remaining men started to attack Gateau, who did the best he could using his hands and the gun at close range. Three more men ran at Marron, firing.
By some trick of fate, he managed to pick two of them off without getting shot. Then the last reached him, and Marron reached out his long leg to sweep the man's legs out from under him. He took advantage of the man's prone form and empty the rest of his clip into the man's back and head. He grabbed the dead man's semi-automatic, and turned back to the fray where Gateau was at the center.
Marron noted, as he ran towards the blond, that Torte was simply standing there, watching, his arms crossed over his chest, his gun in one hand.
He had no more time to pay it any mind as he got into a heated brawl with one of the black-clad mobsters. They grappled with their hands, because Marron could not use the weapon at such a close range anymore. The man had both arms around Marron's neck, and was attempting to knee him in the groin, but the black-haired youth would not stay still long enough. Marron dropped the gun and, in a flash, reached up to snap his assailant's neck. The man fell to the ground like a dead weight.
He retrieved his gun, and stood up to see one last man, half-conscious, on the ground. Gateau was facing off with Torte only a few yards away. Neither of them had moved yet. Marron finished off the prone man for safety's sake, seeing no use for kindness in such a situation, and made his way to the body Torte had dropped on the ground earlier.

Milphey and Carrot stood there, watching, half-awed, on the shoulder of the road. The tall blonde was staring at a man in a billowing jacket, and another figure was bent over a prone body not very far away.
My God, I hope that's Marron, Carrot mumbled, nodding at the fallen form. Come on. When Mille didn't move, Carrot turned to scowl at the purple-haired man. What, afraid you'll break a nail? he sneered.
Mille shook his head somberly, but there was a slightly sardonic smile playing on his lips. This is something Gateau needs to deal needs to deal with on his own. The man there, in the jacket, is the one who kidnapped his sister... He was Tartlette's boss.
I see, sighed Carrot. Well... I can't say I want to leave Marron there with some psycho mobster and an ex-con, but...
I can assure you that Gateau won't hurt Marron.
Carrot rolled his eyes. Yeah, sure. We're coming back if they don't find us in an hour, though.
Come one, Mille said gently. Let's go back and make sure your girlfriend is okay.
Carrot shrugged and turned to go. Mille stood, watching the unmoving tableau for a moment longer. I think they'll need some time to themselves afterwards, too, he said. Time to work things out. And with that, he turned as well and followed the car salesman back down the highway.

Marron checked Eclaire's body over for injuries. She wasn't hurt, and, he was pleased to discover, still breathing, however shallowly.
Beyond him, Gateau and Torte had slowly begun to circle each other. He abandoned Eclaire to watch the stand off...
Gateau didn't know if he could take much more of it. They were just circling each other, over and over again. His gun was still trained on Torte's chest.
Hey, look, he said as glibly as he could, I'm gonna get fucking dizzy here.
Torte threw his head back in a cruel sort of laughter, and Gateau took the moment to his advantage. He knocked Torte's legs out from under him, and the man fell heavily to the ground. For some reason, he was still laughing, although it was silent. Disconcerted, Gateau hardly heard it when he fired the gun twice into the mobster's open mouth. Then he emptied the rest of the clip into the man's suddenly-still chest.
He blinked and dropped the gun. he said more to himself than to anyone else, that was fairly anti-climactic.
He turned around to find Marron watching him, kneeling in front of his sister's body... Oh, God...
Marron smiled at him. She's still alive. They just put her down with something.
Gateau felt all the tension flow out of his body. He barely managed the few steps he took to bring himself in front of Marron and then he sunk to his knees.
My God, he murmured.
It's certainly been a strange night. Marron could definitely say it was the weirdest he'd ever had.
Gateau watched his sister's composed face with an obvious pride and gratefulness. Thank you.
Marron returned. A real happy accident, eh?
Gateau chuckled. No kidding.
Marron rested a friendly hand on Gateau's arm, and the man flinched. We need to take care of that wound.
And the cars, and the bodies, the blonde added. I don't think I have it in me to bury them all.
We can torch it all. Put the bodies in the cars, along with the weapons, and add a few matches, Marron said pragmatically.

And so they did. They pulled Eclaire to the side before arranging the cars and bodies in an effective position. Then they set fire to it all.
They turned their backs to the huge, roaring blaze, and Gateau walked over to Eclaire's sleeping form. Ever the strong man, he picked her up, and, with Eclaire in Gateau's arms, they started walking down the highway.

They had been walking for perhaps half an hour.
I can't do it, I can't do it, I can't do it, I can't do it...'
Hey, Marron?
The pale man looked over at the ex-convict.
We still have the money...
Marron smiled and shifted the messenger bag on his shoulder.
Well, I was wondering... Once we have everything with my sister settled... Uh...

Would you like to go on a vacation together? I've always wanted to go to Europe.
Marron smiled, nodding. Me, too.
Gateau couldn't hold back his wide grin. Deep breath, buddy, you just did it.'

I never want to converse with another square dance teacher, ever again.: Homage to the Showtime series Six Feet Under. I recently got hooked on that show - It's extremely good! Anyhow, one of the main characters is gay, and he gets set up with this square dancing teacher who's, like, way too young for him. Most of the the guy's conversational skills revolve around ex-boyfriends and screwing like minks. Who could ask for more: gay men, funeral homes, Russian florists, Lauren Ambrose, pop-culture jokes, and even more! (Whoa, shameless plugging there. Gack.)