It was the present that he had fantasized about since he was 14: waking up to find a beautiful, naked blonde with generous tits in his bed on Christmas morning.

Dutch had a headful of last night's bourdon- and lust-flavored memories to go along with that lovely set peeking out from under his sheets, but the whole scene had a monkey-wrench of a problem. He knew that blonde, and even as exquisite as she looked sleeping naked and so close that he could feel the heat of her creeping across the mattress to warm his arm, fucking Eda had been a mistake.

Dutch rubbed at his eyes. He didn't feel hung over, so the Southern Comfort wasn't to blame for this indiscretion. His memories of last night at the Yellow Flag were all there. He brought in the Lagoon crew as a reward for their latest bullet-ridden job for Hotel Moscow. Dutch hadn't bothered to tell Revy that Balalaika had thrown in a bit of a bonus for the season, so the way her greedy eyes lit up like a Christmas tree when he bought her the whole bottle of Bacardi was priceless.

"Ho ho ho, Santa Claus is coming to town tonight!" Revy whooped while Benny grinned and Rock shifted on his stool. The poor guy knew that it wasn't going to much of a Christmas once Revy got shit-faced, but what the hell did he care? The man was Japanese. They don't celebrate Christmas like Americans do.

Dutch made sure that Benny's mug stayed filled with the Miller's that Bao imported to satisfy all the expats' taste for the homeland during the holiday, and they got in about three hours of good times before Revy dared herself to play "Jingle Bell Rock" using nothing but her Berettas and Bao's reinforced bar. Eda came by just in time to see Revy making the usual scene while Rock dragged her out to the car.

Eda shook her head, took Revy's place at the bar, and ordered a round of Janis Joplins for all Americans "unlucky enough to get stuck in Roanapur, damn it all".

It was a nice gesture in a town of greedy bastards and cheap-skates. The whole place felt a little less depressing for her kindness, and Dutch told her thanks.

"No problem. Hey, remember back when you had to take care of Revy's noise when she got wild? That girl should be damn grateful that she fell in with you, but you're lucky that Rocky-boy turned up. Now, he's stuck with her," she said and clinked her old-fashioned into his.

That was how it all started, but it wasn't anything special or new. So they talked about home and Christmas and apple pie after that. What of it?

"Dutch, don't make me go back to the Church," Eda had pleaded with him at the bar well after midnight. "Yolanda is doing that all-night Christmas Vespers shit. If I hear one more carol, I am going to lose my fucking mind."

He didn't have a reason to deny her request, so Dutch let her give him a ride because Benny cut out to see one of Madame Flora's girls and Rock had already taken the car to get Revy home. Once inside the office, it all flowed together so easily. From the moment that Eda leaned in to kiss him to the minute that she bit his shoulder because she had asked for it harder, everything just fit. Dutch had no excuse for his conduct beyond the simple pleasure of fucking an insanely gorgeous woman who wanted very badly to be fucked in return.

Dutch looked over at Eda's angelic sleeping face and, yeah, she was undeniably hot, but he had rules about this sort of thing. Roanapur had enough complications without adding sexual histories to the mix. If he needed a fix, Dutch went to a goddamn professional. No mess, no fuss. Easy.

But professionals didn't kiss like Eda had kissed him. They had spent a good half hour necking like teenagers on the couch before she pulled back and demanded to know where he kept his bed. Dutch wouldn't deny how much he liked the shine of her eyes when she went for the button on his trousers after the bedroom door closed. The way that she moved with him felt like heaven. All that instinct and hunger after so many encounters with false enthusiasm and practiced caresses made her the best damn lay he'd had in ten years, at least.

He sighed. Great sex, be damned. It wasn't like him to take anyone home, but then again, it wasn't like her either.

Eda rolled in her sleep and threw an arm over her eyes against the blare of Roanapur's noisy, bright morning. Dutch took a moment to really look at her in the harsh reality of a new day. She looked a little older than Revy, but not by much, which meant that Eda had to be in her 20s. You can always see 30 in the thinning of a woman's cheeks. Why she would opt to hook up with a man nearly two decades older than her didn't make much sense. There had to be an angle, and Dutch knew how Eda liked her angles. She also liked money and guns and getting the upper-hand on the situation, even if she didn't elect to actually interfere.

Maybe there was something that she wanted, but Dutch couldn't think of what she might need that could be bought with a night of righteous sex. You needed a relationship to exact emotional blackmail, and a one-time fuck didn't qualify as true love. She couldn't expect to hold the promise of a good time over his head either. The Lysistrata gambit would never work in Thailand, the country of cheap whores.

Dutch felt himself frowning and carefully wiped the expression from his features.

Even if she could succeed in manipulating him, what would she ask for? Dutch made it his business to avoid the information trade. He wouldn't have any intel that Eda couldn't find on her own. Black Lagoon had no big jobs on the docket either. Dutch doubted that Eda would bother vying for a slice of the fetch-and-carry Hotel Moscow business he had had lined up for the next few weeks. If she wanted to tap the talents of Revy, Benny, or Rock, then she would have gone directly to one of them. Dutch made it obvious that he didn't have a monopoly on his employees' trade. They were welcome to do what pleased them outside of regular Lagoon gigs.

Dutch was willingly to believe that he had been led around his desires. Eda was so damn close to his ideal-- the body, the hair, the strength, and the spirit. Sure, he wanted to have her. He could make this kind of mistake after a long night of talking with a beautiful woman, but what was in it for her? Why him? Her choices didn't make sense.

Dutch's instincts sounded out a warning as Eda's eyelids worked their way open. She pushed herself onto her elbows and cleared her throat.

"What time is it?" she asked.

"Not sure," Dutch answered carefully.

Even half-awake, Eda was no idiot. She could feel the chill. She swung her legs over the side of the double bed and stood up, her back to him.

"Let me steal five minutes in your shower, and I'll be on my way," she said.

"Eda--" Dutch began.

"It was a nice time, Dutch. Don't ruin it now. Merry Christmas and all that," she said and padded off to the bathroom.

Dutch stayed in bed. Easier that way.

He heard the squeak of the faucet and slap of water against the tiles, then quiet and the inevitable sweep of terrycloth on soft skin. Eda emerged in his towel to gather up last night's clothes.

"Listen," she said as she stepped into her panties. "It's not a thing, so you don't have to worry. I got what I came out for."

"What's that?" Dutch asked.

Eda looked up from fastening her denim mini skirt to smile at him through threads of wet, blonde hair.

"My Christmas present," she said.

He blinked.

Her grin spread, but it looked as fragile as a blown glass ornament.

"You can believe me or not," she said. "But you can't tell me that it wasn't a good time."

Dutch opted for silence.

Eda finished with her boots and straightened to her full height. "Don't disappoint me by being the type to kiss and tell."

"That's not my style," Dutch said.

"Thanks." She paused to pull her hair back into a tight, high ponytail. "Really, thank you."

A flick of the wrist in a half-hearted wave, and she was gone.

Dutch fell back into the pillows. His bed smelled like sex and a beautiful woman who had bought him drinks, talked her way into his bedroom, gasped when she came under him, and left the next day without so much as asking for breakfast.

It was Christmas morning in Roanapur, and he had passed up the chance to have something made of simple pleasure because he was too preoccupied with the possibility of deception. Dutch closed his eyes and tried to hang onto the feel of her skin against his.

He had made a big mistake after all.


A/N can be found at unkeptsecret .insanejournal .com/ 11163