Something Real to Cling To
Chapter Nine: Staying With the Dead, Joining the Living
Summary: Thanks to Shilo, Blind Mag survives the Genetic Opera, although she still loses her eyes. Shilo is now alone…except for her now wounded godmother and the man who robs graves, sells Zydrate, and has an inexplicable interest in her.
Disclaimer: I do not own Repo! The Genetic Opera, unless we're talking about a copy of the DVD or the soundtrack.
Pairings: Shilo/Graverobber, Shilo/Mag
Author's Notes: LAST CHAPTER, GUYS.
Shilo's alarm ran at 7 AM, for that was the time when she needed to get up to go to work. Mag stirred a little; Shilo hastily turned off the alarm, then hugged Mag gently and whispered that she should go back to sleep. She scampered downstairs to phone Rube and call in sick. When she came back to her room, Mag was not only awake, but she had dressed in a striking deep blue gown and was combing her hair.
"Magdalene, you look beautiful!" Shilo cried out. "What are you doing awake?"
Mag said nothing for a moment; Shilo walked to stand next to her and squeezed her shoulder.
"There was no way I could get back to sleep."
"Here." Shilo took the comb from Mag and began running it through her godmother's silky hair, trying not to think about the fact that it would be the last time she did that. "Do you want me to put in your eyes?"
"No. You might want to sell them to someone else. Someone who survived an eye repossession and needs them."
Shilo struggled not to whimper. "What do you want me to do with your hair?"
"You can decide."
Shilo went to the bathroom and rummaged around for the hair toys she had bought for Mag since she had started working. She found several cobalt ribbons that matched the dress Mag had chosen and brought them back into the bedroom, where she brushed the long, glorious mane to a gloss and tied the ribbons around small gatherings of hair.
"You look so lovely." Shilo kissed Mag's shoulder. "Why are you dressed so nicely?" Shilo prayed that it had something to do with Mag changing her mind about dying.
"I suppose…I want to go out in style." Mag smiled grimly. "I'll be the prettiest corpse in the truck."
That time Shilo wasn't able to stop herself from whimpering. "I'm not putting you in the corpse truck. You deserve a proper burial."
"I wasn't aware such a thing existed in this city. Also, you might want to call Graverobber so he can get first crack at my brain."
"Don't talk like that!" Shilo wept, throwing her arms around Mag. "Please, Magdalene, don't talk like that."
Mag twisted around in Shilo's embrace to gently take her goddaughter in her arms. "I'm sorry, little one. Black humor helps me…come to peace with my death…with the fact that I've entered my aching hour. Please don't cry."
"I'll miss you," Shilo sobbed.
"I know, my darling. I know." Mag squeezed Shilo tightly and brushed her lips over the girl's forehead. "We should eat something. That will give us a little more time."
"Okay." Shilo sniffled.
"And I promised you that kiss." Mag gently touched Shilo's lips. "Let's go downstairs. And don't forget the Zydrate gun."
Shilo's hands were trembling so badly when she picked up the gun that she could barely hold it. She had to tuck it under her arm as she walked down the stairs with Mag, holding her godmother's hand.
"I feel like I should make something really special," Shilo mumbled as she sat Mag down at the kitchen table.
"You don't have to. Just something good." Mag paused. "I don't know how soon Amber might send her men after me."
Shilo nodded. "What would you like?"
"What do you call those English muffins you make with peanut butter and bananas…breakfast sandwiches, I think?"
Shilo set about toasting two English muffins, but for some reason she couldn't stand the silence in the room, so she switched on the TV and turned it to the news. While she was slicing the bananas, she heard something from the TV set that nearly made her miss the banana and cut her hand.
"…CEO of the megacorporation GeneCo found dead…"
"Shilo, turn it up." Mag's voice was tense, like a guitar string tightened to the verge of snapping.
Shilo scrambled for the remote and cranked the volume.
"Amber Sweet, née Carmela Largo, was discovered early this morning in an alley in the southern quarter of the city. A full autopsy has not been performed, but preliminary examination revealed that she succumbed to an overdose of Zydrate. Now, this confirms the widespread rumors that Miss Sweet—the mind behind the Zydrate support network—was herself an addict…"
Mag had one hand pressed to her mouth, muffling sobs of what Shilo could only assume was relief. Shilo wrapped her arms around Mag, breathless with the revelation that Amber was gone; Mag leaned on Shilo, clinging to the girl, pressing her face to the front of the girl's nightgown to stifle her noise.
"Amber's dead," Shilo whispered over and over. "Amber's dead. You're safe."
Shilo held Mag for a long, long time, until her tears finally subsided.
"It must have been Graverobber," Shilo noted softly. "He said he'd kill Amber. He must have deliberately overdosed her."
Mag said nothing; Shilo suspected that this would be the beginning of one of Mag's silent spells. She didn't care, though, not as long as Mag could live without fear now. Shilo kissed and stroked her godmother's hair, hoping that could be of some comfort. After a while, though, Mag seemed calm, and Shilo tried to pull away to call Graverobber and ask if it had indeed been him who had caused Amber to die. She gasped in surprise as Mag tightened her grip, squeezing Shilo tightly.
"I'm not going anywhere," Shilo soothed. "I just want to call Graverobber."
Mag permitted Shilo to slide out of her embrace, but still clung to one of Shilo's hands as the girl dialed Graverobber on her wrist communicator.
"Morning, kid. Shouldn't you be getting ready for work?"
"I wanted to stay home, because of…well, after what happened last night…"
"Should I come over?"
Shilo smiled at the undercurrent of concern in Graverobber's voice.
"I think…I think Mag and I will be okay. We just saw the news about Amber." Shilo paused. "Was that…was that you?"
"I said I was going to fucking kill her. I did."
Mag squeezed Shilo's hand.
"I think Mag wants to thank you," said Shilo, her smile widening.
"Tell her it was my pleasure."
"So…did you give her an overdose on purpose, or…?"
"It was a hot shot. Poisoned. I wanted to make sure that bitch was dead."
Shilo sighed shakily. "I owe you."
"It's nothing, kid. I take issue with people messing with my girl."
Shilo couldn't help but giggle at the fact that Graverobber had actually articulated a romantic relationship with her for the first time. "I have to make breakfast for me and Mag now. But…thank you. Thank you so much." Shilo never anticipated thanking someone for killing somebody else, but she felt it appropriate.
"You're welcome, Shilo. I'll talk to you later."
"Bye." Shilo terminated the link. "I really should finish making our breakfast," she noted to Mag, punctuating the sentence with a forehead-kiss.
Mag nodded and slowly released her hold on Shilo's hand.
Shilo said nothing as she laid out the placemats and silverware, knowing if she did speak she was unlikely to get a response. She paused in her work to admire Mag; one advantage to Mag's blindness was that Shilo could gaze at her all she wanted and Mag wouldn't notice her staring. The cobalt dress was cut high in front and low in back, so that Mag's entire back was exposed from neck to waist. After the previous night, Shilo mused, she would find it easier to stop herself from going to Mag and touching the uncovered skin. She'd gotten one kiss from Mag; that was enough.
Shilo nearly jumped at the sound of Mag's voice; she had, of course, noticed that normally when Mag fell silent, the silence could last for days. "Yes?"
"Will you come here, please?"
Shilo went to Mag, who stood and laid one hand on Shilo's cheek, brushing her thumb over the girl's lips. Shilo looked up at her curiously; Mag had promised her a kiss if she would give her the fatal Zydrate injection, but now Mag knew she could live without fear. So what was she doing?
Shilo got her answer when Mag leaned slowly forward and kissed her. It was a quick kiss, but it was kind and gentle and Shilo's senses clamored for more. Suddenly the one half-accidental kiss from the previous night seemed insignificant.
"I know this is isn't fair to you, and I'm sorry. To approach you like this after turning you down once…" Mag whispered, shattering any fear Shilo had that the kiss might be in exchange for Shilo's helping hand in Mag's death. "And what with you being in a relationship now…"
"No, it's fine!" cried Shilo. "Graverobber won't care if I'm…if I can't choose between you and him."
"I know it's wrong. But…I've fallen for you." Mag let out a noise that could have been a laugh or a sob. "Your mother would despair to see this."
"I think she'd want us to be happy." Shilo rested her hands on Mag's thin waist. "Magdalene…I love you."
"If you'll still have me…"
"Of course I will!"
Mag kissed Shilo again, and this time the kiss was fierce and sweet and Shilo felt her whole body grow warm with happiness. She embraced Mag tightly, moaning slightly as Mag bit down ever so gently on her Shilo's lower lip.
Mag broke the kiss suddenly. Had she been too forward? She'd rather die than be another Amber to Shilo… "I'm sorry."
Shilo kissed Mag instead of bothering to reply, and felt Mag's hands cup her face again. Shilo was more adventurous, running her hands up and down Mag's spine, savoring the feel of Mag's skin under her palms, and praying that Mag was enjoying the first consensual affection she'd experienced in years. That was all Shilo wanted, to give Mag the kindness she deserved...
It wasn't much later that the idea that Mag was wearing too much clothing made perfect sense to Shilo; she undid the tie of the dress at the nape of Mag's neck and pushed the sleeves down. Mag's only reply was to gently glide her hands down Shilo's sides, stopping at her hips. Distracted by her mission to trace every contour of Mag's back with her fingertips, Shilo was taken by surprise when one of Mag's hands moved beneath the hem of her shirt, rubbing the small of her back. She gave a little gasp and her heart, already racing with excitement, throbbed wildly; her knees buckled. Mag caught her. "Shilo? Are you all right?"
"Better than all right," Shilo whispered. "Don't stop. Please." Magdalene, I just want to do this for you…
Mag almost sighed with relief. Shilo actually returned her feelings of…no, Mag didn't want to say "lust"; that sounded violent, and Mag would never hurt Shilo. But whatever it was, it was mutual. Mag had forgotten that certain feelings could be mutual.
Mag carefully lowered Shilo to the floor and then, to Shilo's surprise, Mag was the one who lay down, and then draped Shilo over her. Shilo nuzzled Mag gratefully and kissed her over and over, unable to get enough. Shilo shifted her weight so her hips were resting between Mag's legs, and felt Mag's thighs press gently against her sides in response. "You're so beautiful, Shi." Mag's voice was heartbreakingly soft. "I wish I could see you…"
Magdalene wants me! The thought filled Shilo with a rush of happiness. She tightened her hands on Mag's waist, the will of her body deciding to take over for the will of her mind as her hips moved involuntarily, grinding against the other woman's slim frame. She sat up for a frustrating moment to yank her own shirt off, then immediately went back to kissing Mag. She pressed herself flush against her new lover, as if unable to get close enough to her.
Mag easily discerned what Shilo wanted. She hadn't intended for things to progress so far so quickly, but if Shilo wanted it…she was young, so, so young, but past the age of consent. And, most importantly, Mag trusted Shilo. She sat up, guiding Shilo onto her back and slipping the discarded shirt under the girl's head as a pillow. Seconds later, Mag's lips were on Shilo's neck, kissing her way down, but she had only reached the hollow between Shilo's collarbones when Shilo grew impatient. "Magdalene, please…now…"
"All right, my little one."
Mag trailed her parted lips down Shilo's belly, quickly dispensing with the girl's skirt and panties, even pushing the stockings down a few inches to nuzzle her inner thighs.
"Magdalene! Don't tease!" Shilo felt a familiar pressure on her lungs, painful, cautionary. She ignored it, because what Mag was about to do was much more important at the moment.
"I'm sorry, Shi, I just wanted to prepare you." Mag touched a tiny kiss to the join of Shilo's legs, earning a little cry in response, then took hold of Shilo's thighs and gently pushed her tongue into the girl.
"Ohh, Magdalene…" Shilo whimpered, burying her hands in the silky hair of the woman whose soft tongue was caressing her most intimate places. Her breath hitched and she struggled to get out another cry of Mag's name, but the only sound that escaped her mouth was a strangled whine. She panted, fighting for breath, but no air would enter her lungs. "Mag…" she could barely hear her own voice. She choked, and her head spun, blackness encroaching on the edges of her vision.
Barely half a second later, Mag had Shilo cradled in her arms and was kissing her face. "Breathe, Shilo! Relax. Breathe."
With Mag holding and rocking her, Shilo couldn't help but let her muscles unclench, and she felt air flow into her lungs again, and she was able to cry with shame and disappointment. She leaned her head against Mag's shoulder, which was now bare, mentally cursing her own body's weaknesses as she fought the impulse to kiss Mag's skin.
"Oh, Shilo, I'm sorry. I didn't know…your illness, I should have thought…"
"No, don't apologize, I wanted you!" Shilo wrapped her arms around Mag. "I wanted you."
"Why does everyone I touch out of love get hurt?" Mag whispered.
"No, Magdalene, it's not your fault. Please, please don't blame yourself. This wasn't…this wasn't GeneCo."
Mag said nothing.
"It's okay," Shilo insisted. "I'm getting better. Soon I'll be able to breathe fine all the time, and then we can…"
"No." Mag cut her off. "You're too young. For this, anyway." Not to mention I don't think I'm...ready...for this sort of thing...
"I'm almost eighteen," Shilo begged. "When I'm eighteen? Please?"
Mag sighed painfully. "Shilo, I'm broken. I'm damaged goods. How can you possibly...?"
"I love you." Shilo kissed Mag's cheek. "Please don't ask me how it's possible. I just know I love you."
There was a long pause. "All right." Mag hugged Shilo closer.
"Can you be my eighteenth birthday present?" Shilo whispered.
"I don't have to be your present, Shi." Mag stroked the silky dark stubble that was beginning to grow on Shilo's head. "I'm already yours."
Shilo rested her head against the curve of Mag's throat, savoring the softness of her lover's skin. Her entire upper half was bare, as was Mag's, and the tender flesh of Mag's torso was pressed warmly against Shilo. It was exquisitely comfortable. There was no texture, Shilo was learning, quite as delicate and lovely as a woman's skin.
It seemed as though Mag was learning the same thing. "Oh, this is nice…" Mag breathed, holding Shilo to her. Shilo could have sworn she felt Mag's hand trembling as it passed over her back. "Mmm…"
Shilo kissed Mag's neck. "Magdalene…I think breakfast can wait."
"I'd have to agree," Mag whispered. They helped each other up and Shilo kissed Mag gently.
"Let's go back to my room." Shilo took both of Mag's hands. "Come with me." Shilo led Mag up stairs, through doors, underneath bed-sheets. Mag wrapped Shilo in a tight embrace, Mag's head tilted back with Shilo's face resting against her neck, Mag's breasts pressed to Shilo's thin chest, legs entwined.
"Shilo…oh, Shi…" Mag's voice was barely audible.
"Are you comfortable? Magdalene?"
"So comfortable…" Shilo caressed the blades of Mag's shoulders with her free hand, earning a soft moan in response. "I love you so much, little one."
Shilo trembled at the quiet intensity in Mag's voice. "I love you too."
Breakfast could indeed wait, but not forever. After a while, the empty growling of both their stomachs forced them to release each other from their warm embrace, dress again, and proceed downstairs for food. Since it was closer to lunchtime, Shilo simply reheated the rice cake soup Mag had made the previous night. They were at the table eating (seated right next to each other, with Shilo pausing every few bites to kiss Mag's cheek) when Graverobber knocked on the door (which unfortunately was still hanging on its hinges after the previous night). Mag tensed slightly until they heard Graverobber's voice: "It's Graverobber. Nobody panic."
"We're in the kitchen!" Shilo called.
Graverobber had been inside the Wallace house enough to know where the kitchen was. Shilo leapt up to greet him when he came into the room, and he hugged her tightly. "You okay, kid?"
He turned his attention to Mag, his arm still around Shilo's neck. "So, Mag. How are you holding up?"
"Well enough," Mag replied, and the usual frostiness with which she spoke to Graverobber was gone. She stood up and walked in the direction from which Graverobber's voice had come; he went to her. Despite her lack of sight, she turned her face up to speak to him. "You saved my life," she said simply. "By killing Amber, you made it so Shilo and I can live without fear."
Graverobber was very much not used to being spoken to that way. Casual flirting he could do, and flattering women (or the occasional man) was incredibly easy. But being told he had saved someone's life was something with which he had not had practice. "Yeah, uh…she was one of my best customers, but not if she's going to after Shilo. Or…or somebody she cares about, I guess…"
Mag hugged him.
Both Shilo and Graverobber stood stock-still for a moment, dumbfounded. It was unlike Mag to show such affection, except toward Shilo. But eventually, Graverobber put his arms around Mag; after all, it wasn't every day that one got to embrace the legendarily beautiful Blind Mag. It occurred to Shilo that Mag looked remarkably frail in comparison to Graverobber's well-muscled arms and wide shoulders. "Thank you," Mag whispered, her voice quavering.
Shilo threw her arms around both of them and found herself immediately drawn into the embrace by both of her lovers. Her face ended up pressed against Mag's neck, which she kissed gently, but after a while she couldn't breathe and had to wriggle free. At that point, Mag and Graverobber broke apart, rather awkwardly; Shilo took Mag's hand to alleviate the unease.
Graverobber smirked. "So, Mag, you finally came to your senses."
Mag's eyebrows furrowed. "In terms of what?"
"He means this," Shilo explained, planting a firm kiss on Mag's mouth at the end of her sentence.
The only thing Graverobber could think to say after that was, "Holy shit."
Blushing, Mag tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear before addressing Graverobber again. "Graverobber, do you actually have a home?"
The question startled him, but this time he answered promptly. "I…have a place where I crash."
"He won't bring me there," Shilo added. "He says he 'won't take me to that crap hole.'" Graverobber had actually said something worse than "crap hole", but Shilo decided to censor that.
"Well, if your place of living is that unsatisfactory, you could stay here," Mag offered.
Both Graverobber and Shilo gave Mag startled looks.
"Magdalene, do you mean it?" Shilo's eyes were wide.
"It's a large house," Mag pointed out. "And with me and Shilo sharing a bedroom, there's one open."
Graverobber's eyebrows went up at the first clause.
Shilo was grinning ear to ear. "So, what do you say?"
Graverobber thought about that for a moment. "It's a nice offer. But this house…" He gestured around him. "It's too rich for me. Not my kind of place. I don't fit in here. Besides…" He winked at Shilo. "I'll give you two your privacy."
Mag found herself hating how easily her pale complexion could blush. "Well, you will always be welcome here, particularly if you are on the run. After all, I owe you my life."
Graverobber extended his right hand. Mag, of course, didn't notice.
"Magdalene, I think Graverobber wants to shake your hand," Shilo prodded.
"Ah." Mag held out her right hand.
Shilo grinned suddenly. "Hey, Graverobber, are you going to make her spit-swear like on the streets?"
Mag raised her eyebrows. "Spit-swear? Really?" Mag spat delicately into her hand and proffered it again.
Struggling not to laugh, Graverobber also spat into his palm. "Offer accepted." He shook Mag's hand, but almost instantly gave a guttural yelp and pulled away. "Unclean! Shit, Mag, you spit like a demon!"
Mag burst out laughing. "Of course I do. I sing opera."
Graverobber eyed Shilo and Mag suspiciously. "Is that, like, a thing?"
Mag smiled wickedly. "Oh, I don't know. I might just be teasing you. You could, of course, ask Shilo." With that, she kissed Shilo again, long and deep.
Graverobber pinched the bridge of his nose and cursed under his breath. He was not going to be able to get that image out of his head, and would probably have to do something about that. Most likely the second he got home. "Okay…this is a little too fucking weird. I think I'm going to head out."
"Okay," Shilo agreed, but Mag gave Graverobber a knowing, almost smug smile.
The smile soon vanished, though, and then Mag said seriously, "Thank you. I never thought I'd thank someone for murder, but I would call Amber's death something more like justice."
Graverobber gave Shilo a goodbye kiss and Mag a goodbye handshake (without spitting this time), then departed almost hastily. It was all Mag could do not to laugh.
Shilo slipped an arm around Mag's waist. "I've never seen you joke like that."
"There's a simple explanation for that," Mag replied, twisting slightly to wrap Shilo in her arms. "This is how I act when I'm happy."
Shilo stood on tiptoe and pecked Mag a kiss. "I hope to see you like this more often?"
Mag smiled warmly. "As long as I have you, I'm sure you will." She kissed Shilo again, and it was a long, long time before they broke apart.
A/N: I bet if Graverobber had seen Firefly, he'd be saying "I'll be in my bunk."
I wasn't really sure how to end this, but…holy shit, it's done! Took me…what, about ten months? Yeah, something like that; maybe a little longer. Hope everybody enjoyed it. And yeah, I wanted GR to have a role other than his usual lurking purposes and being a love interest for Shilo, particularly because he doesn't do his whole narrator thing. So, he'll save the day by killing Amber.