Yes, I know this has been gathering dusk for awhile. This chapter took awhile to write, tweek, and tweek some more. Let me know what you all think - especially if you have suggestions. :) Besides that enjoy, as always.

-Don't own Fallout-


While Cora buried her face in her pillow - pushing the sticky leftover skin of her forehead into the soft material so violently that it made the pillow hard – somewhere else, on the other side of the wakening Vault Harriet was balancing on her knees…

…on her knees and naked; blowing out heaps of moist air on the clinic floor.

The smoothskin blew out the contents of her lungs over her damp clothes - having already stretched them out across the moderately clean floor. Now, on hands and knees, she proceeded to sputter out waning breathes in an incredibly vain effort to dry them faster. It would have been smarter to hang them up before she'd passed out last night…but her sex muddled brain had little but…well, sex in mind.

So now she panted, shaking her head with eyes rolled upwards as if the whole idea was stupid, and the fact that she was actually doing this was even worse – which it was.

She slumped, laying her hot stomach on the cold, cold floor; admitting the defeat physically instead of trying to pretend she hadn't just been blowing on her fucking clothes by getting up and crawling back in bed. This kind of defeat cooled the itch in her stitches anyways – where as the bed gave her the impression the bands of tubing would just bother her further.

Besides…the floor in itself felt good...

"…sooo goooood."

The door was shut to her right, but the lock was defective, and even though the button blazed red, in all honesty she didn't know if outsiders were completely safe from her nudity or not. She'd tested it out of habit earlier before she'd removed the gaudy pink dress, but some wire must have slipped and no matter what she did its prongs never latched fully.

Though, it was hard to worry about the loose lock as of now.

Pouritture may have been right when he said she lacked modesty. In a way it was true, but here – in this red polished vault – she felt safe. There were no sky-high raiders or addled Brotherhood's to rape her in here. In fact, she couldn't remember feeling any safer than she did right now; lying on this cold clinic floor like an early morning drunk in their delighted stupor – it really was quite a feeling.

With a deep exhale she craned her neck to the side, giving out a muffled crack under her skull. The clock hung above her, just barely in line with her view. It was early indeed…so, she closed her eyes, took in another heady breath through her nose, blowing it out across her clothes before entertaining the idea of a nap; a nap in the middle of Pouritture's floor in nothing but nothing.

This…this was luxury.


In the shop, behind the counter - with the brown contents of whiskey sloshing in a stained bottle - Aser squatted on his heels, feeling the effects of sleep loss less and less the more he drank.

He hadn't slept a wink since seeing Harriet off. There was something about the savory tang he'd gotten in his mouth after kissing her – it'd gotten to him, which had been odd considering he'd munched on plenty of lips since setting up shop in Abyss. If anything it was more the confusion than the lust over her that kept him awake at night.

"Whores..." Aser tipped the bottle high, swigging the last - and best - sip. He needed whores around.

It had to have been at least a month since the last one scampered off, scratching her arms in spite, and he couldn't help but scowl at the memory of that one. He didn't get the whore's name then; none of them really wanted to give it out anyways. Though that red-head had been the worst of them; a poor scrawny thing with shaky knees. She'd covered her eyes and mouth; just lay there with her legs spread when he paid his fee for her. He'd only ever been with her once considering...

Even that one lousy fuck had felt a little too close to rape for his likening.

So now as Aser crouched, meddled in his sexual frustration - tapping the empty bottle between his legs behind the counter like some intruder in his own shop - he waited. He waited for any signs of those firm footsteps to come clamoring down the corridor. Maybe she'd call out his name when she saw he wasn't in sight, and he could pretend in his sordid brain that it was for another reason…

It was hard not to smile at the idea. He scritched at the puffy scar against his adams apple, contemplating how he'd show himself and how she'd probably part her lips in mild surprise before giving him an agitated little smile...especially if he just popped up from behind the counter like the drunk fool he was now.

He grunted, fingering the bulge of his scar up along his neck as he remember his conversation with her about the mark. She'd looked at it like a person littered with they're own evidence of survival would; admiration in their stare. No one but other ghouls had seen the scar as just that. Even the more hardened whores looked away from him; away from his thickly bunched scar…

That first day she'd came in…

He couldn't lie; he'd been disappointed that first day. Normally he could charm himself into the pants of loose women, regardless of if he was paying or not, and damn did he fucking try his hardest with her.

His engorged libido had him bee-lining his thoughts to the pair of puppets on her chest, and when she'd gotten removed from his shop...just as she was easing up to his witty remarks he'd felt more than a little perturbed. Though, when she came back - with booze and that clean-enough smile - he'd felt something a bit more than just the twitch of his dick; it wasn't love or any of that bullshit, but it was something more than lust...just a little bit more.

When...or if she came back, he'd try his best to explain himself. Kissing her might not have been his smoothest move, but he was just as good with words as he was with his dick and sure enough he'd try his best...try...try...try...

Something told him he'd be waiting awhile...but hell, Harriet was worth the wait; until then he could always sit back here and pretend he'd disappeared, maybe pound one out to ease the tension.

In the heat of the Vault - the vents rattling above his head with a noise only a resident could truly ignore - Aser flicked a finger against the pin-wheel at his side, staring down at it's swirl of diluted colors with only the smoothskin in his head.

He was in a pickle; a jam...stuck between a rock and a hard place as everyone said. In the end, judging by the word on the street, he was possibly putting himself in front of Cerberus' shotgun. Harriet - from the mouth of Apep - was someone else's territory; a territory Aser accidently put his mouth on without thinking.

He hadn't ever felt much fear or pressure from the tall ghoul in charge, but now he was starting to get that itch everyone else had for the big guy; that itch that had near everyone beckoning on his every whim.

Even tucked away at the backside of the Vault he knew what the gossip was. What he heard might have been fragmented and askew, but...

"...shit!..." He cursed under his breath, growling it out as he curled a fist on his knee. Why didn't he think of that possibility before he kissed her? Why hadn't he put two and two together?

Cerberus…

Cerberus was the ghoul she'd been looking for...or more precisely...Charon. He would have laughed at his true name if he hadn't found himself in the dilemma he was in right now. That itch had teased at him and even laughing to himself in his shop about it felt risky. Aser stiffened, wishing above all that he could break a sweat so the sickly hot feeling he'd started getting would fade.

The booze he'd been ingesting at an increased level as of late had made him sloppy in the noggin', and now he found that despite knowing the consequences; the repercussions and stupidity of perusing someone else's gal – that itch didn't blossom into fear and he just wanted her now more than ever. The want was overlapping the nerves of stepping Cerberus' bound.

Far away there signaled a repeated tapping; a sound he felt more than heard...

Footsteps; short-spaced footsteps and he didn't need to get up and turn around to know who it was coming down the hall. Of course she would pick the 'perfect time' to come down the corridor, just as he was realizing how much shit he could be crawling into by even looking at her the wrong way...

It was just his luck that his knees locked as her firm steps stopped in the shop; no more than four feet before the counter.

"Aser...? You back there?" She sounded good, better than the last time; a good sign since he was just bothering himself over apologizing like a bitch. The silence following her voice was thick and sour though. It wasn't guilt he felt growing the more he kept his mouth shut, but it was something similar.

He stayed squatted behind his counter, gripping the empty booze bottle in one hand; the other tightening into a fist on his knee as if he could somehow disappear into himself.

Aser was a brash man...well, ghoul. He knew this was pathetic; hiding from her while he rearranged the proper things he should have been feeling as if he were putting a jigsaw puzzle together. He liked her; liked her a lot, but he should force himself to back off. He needed to tell himself 'Yes! Fear her...fear Cerberus.', but he didn't...

If he died trying to make bread n' butter with Harriet then it wouldn't be called the worst death; at least not the worst cause of death.

His knees were still cramped - the only part of him that had a brain it seemed; they didn't want him getting up. 'It's safe behind the counter.' they'd say. What his knees hadn't counted on though was that he could still articulate words.

Just as he heard her footfalls reverse out of the shop he finally grunted, "Over here, smoothskin." It was quiet for a few seconds too long before he heard her saddle hesitantly up to the counter. She was much closer now.

"Aser...?", a small chuckle, "Did you melt into the shadows finally?"

"Behind the counter...", he turned his head to the side, hearing her round the corner. Bare legs in weathered boots met his line of sight. "ugh...hiding from sobriety, or time...something along those lines.", he trailed off.

From this angle...just wonderful. His large eyes lifted up her thighs. It was funny, but he didn't remember her skirt being that short before...nor had he realized she was the type to wear white under it either. White was a good color on her.

"You're doing a lousy job of giving me prayer-book thoughts in that skirt, doll." He put on a grin, seeing her smile before sinking down to her knees beside him. His knees were still the only things saying no; it was a bad sign, especially when she plunked down on her ass right beside him.

Aser scuttled down too, planting his ass on the metal; eyes on her now exhausted looking face. "Something tells me you wouldn't be grinning like this if I was a man."

"How did you guess?", his reply sounded more drunk than he'd intended.

He grinned wider despite the inebriated slip as he watched her smirk, running three fingers and a stub through her clean looking hair. Come to think of it - he took a nasally inhale of the air as she shook her hair out against her face - she smelt marvelous.

Aser rotated the neck of the bottle in his hand, squeezing erratically as he watched her frown. "...how goes the stomach?"

"Better. I didn't really have anything in mind when I came in here...just...needed a friendly face I guess. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed - well...gurney uh…actually." Her body language compensated for the bitter tone of her words. She stared at him as if she'd made a joke rather than a complaint - he went along and smiled.

"I got a warm mattress with your name on it straight ahead." He gestured with a loose nod to the door ajar in front of him. He'd often wondered what it'd be like to lead her down on his mattress so he could press her into it.

"Something tells me it's got your name on it as well."

"Nothing in life's for free sweet-cheeks."

Her nose wrinkled as she spoke out her throat, "No shit...your preaching to the choir Aser...I don't need another reminder."

There was silence again but it wasn't sour as before. Comfortable was a good word for the pause in their conversation, and it was just as enjoyable as the conversation itself. A part of him said not to stare at the shadow her skirt cast between her legs...but it barely surfaced before he worked his eyes down her imperfect-perfect, tanned legs.

"Aser..." That tone wasn't good; turned the silence into something bitter again.

He looked at her with the same face he always wore, playing dumb to the way her eyes shifted all wet-like in her skull.

"...have you ever..." She paused, looking as though she were trying to find something small, lost on the floor in front of her, "…fooled around on anyone before?"

Yeah, her question was strange, but it hadn't staggered him like he knew she expected it to. Her face looked taut as if she was preparing for some kind of eruption.

"A few times...back in the old day's." Aser didn't ask why; didn't really want to...but something in him wondered - maybe hoped - she was referring to him, her and Cerberus...still though, he didn't ask.

"Did you ever lie about it?"

"About sneaking around?" He shrugged, situating his empty bottle between his legs with a glassy chink. "Sure - never worked well though. I'm not the best bullshitter, if anything I'm tastelessly truthful."

She didn't smile like he'd hoped at his witty response. Something was eating her and it wasn't him...

Aser looked her up and down, concentrating on her stiff expression, ignoring - as best he could - the expanse of her legs and her jutting collar bone. Even as he put a hand on her shoulder - finally asking her in so many words what was the bother - his pent up brain imagined shoving his face between her legs. She still had that creased frown on her face though, and he was almost annoyed that it practically ruined his mental image. That dread; that worry a man got when his interest started asking questions only another dame should be answering started crawling around in his gut; it wasn't a grand feeling.

"I think I cheated on someone...", her voice was small; like that of a child's, sounding more unsure by each word.

He couldn't help but scoff despite the way her brows pressed together at the sound, "Who was the lucky gent then, if you don't mind me asking?"

The smoothskin seemed to ignore his flippant tone, and shrugged sloppily before opening her mouth again, "It doesn't matter, I think I've been forgiven anyways...it's just been bothering me all morning." Aser turned away from her, pretending that he had the power to refill his empty whiskey bottle with just constant eye contact - it didn't work and she kept talking. "I'd rather drink and flip through a nudey mag with you, but...Cora's probably hungover and...I..." She stopped, and he was grateful. The girl sure could trail off when the mood struck her.

"Speaking of porn, my magazine hasn't shown up at the lost and found yet." The way her brow rose; one eye squinting for some effect only she knew the goal of - it made his tongue slap to the roof of his mouth while she grew a small smirk. At least she knew how and when to change the subject.

"Like I said before...you don't need the magazine smoothskin."


Despite the way Cerberus had danced around the aroma in his office; glaring at him from across the table to drop the subject – it seemed that somehow the word had gotten out.

Gwyn leaned against the sharp edge of a dismantled control panel, spit-balling with the two ghouls on duty in the mid-morning hours. McCrae was a relatively close friend of his – a ghoul whom he'd found while leading a supply search a few years back. The short stoutly ghoul had managed to kill him two smoothskins when him and his group rounded up on him…whether the chopped up humans were hoods or not Gwyn would never know for certain – still, the ghoul looked quite ideal standing with thick blood painted up his overalls.

This McCrae; this husky ghoul 'knew' though, at least knew enough that something tipping the bounds of communal friendship had occurred between their leader and a certain smoothskin. Gwyn didn't show any concern for the problematic situation though; just readjusted his stance and took another heart-felt drag off his cigarette. He knew how to drench this situation. McCrae had said he knew, not found out from someone else. If the shitty little bit of gossip would start with him then Gwyn knew just what to do about it.

Again he swallowed in another breath of smoke, letting it out through his mouth in globby clouds as he spoke. "So…was it that bitchy smoothskin that came down the hallway?"

McCrae turned his head up to the ceiling as if he was remembering some small miniscule detail, but he answered quickly with a simmering smirk. "Yeah…with a rip in that pink dress too boot."

Gwyn had seen that same rip alright…but he'd only smelt her in the office…not Cerberus. He watched as McCrae light up his own smoke, borrowing a light from the ghoul beside him. Gwyn couldn't remember the fresh ghoul's name, only that he'd been here shy a few months – and been a ghoul about that long as well. McCrae chime up again after building up an inch of ash at the tip of his roll. "She had that same look on her face that the more...'committed' whores...had when you got done with them, especially when you made real nice afterwards."

Gwyn didn't know exactly what he meant by that – it was the only thing he didn't find very likable about McCrae; his insatiable lust for pussy and his lack of shame for it.

"You saw that shiner she had on her face last time. Could have stepped out of line again…" Gwyn threw the possibility out there while proving the feigned obviousness of it with a shrug of one shoulder. As he smoked - the residue floating up his face from his nostrils and mouth – he watched McCrae and the other 'No-name' out the corner of his eye.

McCrae was indeed tossing the idea around his skull, looking over at 'No-name' a few times before shrugging to himself. The pot-bellied ghoul nodded over to Gwyn, sucking on his roll with a gruffly demeanor. "I'll be the first to admit a good beating and a good fucking can look similar in the aftermath…but…" Gwyn kept his slack look off to the wall as if the current subject was the least bit interesting while McCrae continued. "…but...I'm leaning more towards the good fucking. Besides…I don't think we've ever seen the big man indulge himself before, not once, even you're not that damn sneaky."

Gwyn held in the snarky comment as it filled his mouth. Everyone knew how Gwyn handled his whore visits so it didn't matter in the end, but the conversation had put him on edge; had started to make him antsy and for the first time he had the urge to shove McCrae into the vault mechanisms…

"…or…maybe your right. It sounds more like Cerberus to give a beating than a…" Gwyn hadn't realized he'd been sneering until McCrae's words started to wobble. He removed the tension in his face and snorted out a blast of smoke. "…than ah'…you know."

"Yeah." 'No-name' gestured in agreement with wide eyes that darted up to McCrae and the floor nervously. Gwyn retained his calm and nodded along with them in a much smoother fashion than their own erratic head waggles. Gwyn helped disrupt the anxious ambiance with another shrug of one shoulder and rubbed his smoldering cigarette on his jacket, flicking off the embers as he turned to the side. The door to his right made a groan, signaling it's locks unbolting with a noisly 'slink'. Halfway open the door stuck; fidgeting then finally slipping upwards, exposing the smoothskin in the door way.

Speak of the fucking devil.

"Gwyn?" She had that sound to her voice that told him she knew just what she'd walked in on. The girl wasn't dumb…

"Yes?" He pushed off the console, turning to her with his dead cigarette in one hand. It was an odd situation; her being down here and all, especially down here alone.

"...and McCrae?" Her eyes darted from 'No-name' to McCrae until the portly ghoul raised a hand nervously. Just as Gwyn's face started to contort in confusion and McCrae and 'No-name' made simultaneous grunts – Cora snuck in behind the smoothskin, glaring with slanted blood-shot eyes.

Not alone anymore.

Cora stared over at him – past the smoothskin's shoulder - obviously trying her best to push back the hangover he no doubt knew was brewing behind her eyes. "Did you not hear the speakers? Cerberus wants us all to meet in the common room in…" Her gaze shot to the clock in the corner. "…now it's in two fucking minutes. You two…" She gestured to Gwyn and McCrae in a rush. "…are the only ones not there."

Gwyn grumbled. He didn't remember hearing anything of the sort - speakers must have been bust in here, but Cora was a bitch when she wanted to be, speakers or no. He watched her lead the smoothskin our of the door way, into the red hallway with a pained look on her face. The half-ghoul woman seemed to work with the headache, using it's power over her facial features to shoot them both a deadly look before turning out into the corridor herself.

"Stop dickin' around!", he heard her yell back.

Gwyn stood there a moment, ignoring the ringing of her grating shrill voice in his ears as McCrae walked around him to follow the girls.

Something told him this had to do with the hoods armory, a certain smoothskin, and him holding back the urge to bite said smoothskin. As he stepped into the red hallway - rolling his ashed cigarette between two fingers – he almost felt betrayed after stubbing out the gossip that McCrae no doubt would have spewed forth…

Gwyn's agitation told him he deserved better than to get the smoothskin thrown at him like she was his boss's ignorant little wench; deserved more than getting stuck with her for how ever many days it took him and his team to reach the fucking hood's stash. The extreme dislike followed him into the common room, even as he settled in beside McCrae and Eugene. The rest of the small group consisted of Harriet, Cora, Apep…(who was settled off by the air vents as far away from everyone as possible), and three other unimportant souls. They were all gathering to the left of the room, hanging under a particularly blazing red light that shroud them all in bloody stains and dark creasing shadows – it was a sight, that was for sure.

A few passerby's heading to the cafeteria slowed as they walked by, rubbernecking the situation before disappearing past the hallway walls.

Gwyn guessed they were all waiting on Cerberus to mossy on down from his office to give them all the details. Why they weren't all meeting upstairs he hadn't the slightest clue. Maybe the office still smelt of the smoothskin. Gwyn smirked with malice more than amusement. Cerberus was crawling his way into a predicament…one that – at least to Gwyn – was more trouble than it was worth.

He eyed Harriet off besides the withering ghoul woman, standing hunched with one hand thrown into that ratty-ass flight jacket. He had to admit; the grenades slung over her hips were a nice touch – it almost made her look like a challenge…almost.

Everyone seemed like they wanted to pipe up; complain maybe, but Gwyn just saw their eyes shifting from the floor to each other, and then to the darkened stair case to the right. It had been much longer than two minutes and they all wanted to point out the obvious. Even from eight feet away Gwyn could see the beads of sweat forming on the smoothskin's forehead and upper lip – whether it was fever from the bullet wound or nerves he couldn't tell.

Someone light up a cigarette with a match - the harsh smell of phosphorus fumes and acrid synthetic binding agent made his nose crease despite his lack of movable cartilage. At least the smell of butane gasses didn't stamp the inside of your nostrils with it's smell for minutes afterwards.

It was at least another five minutes (on top of the other ten that they'd been standing there) until Gwyn could hear the distant door sliding open from upstairs. A few others noticed the noise and turned to the stairwell, waiting.

Cerberus came down, planting each foot carefully at the base of the stairs. That massive shotgun was hanging off his right shoulder and he was donned in his scuffed metal padding. The leader looked ready for combat…not a meeting.

The tall ghoul made eye contact with Gwyn, faintly smirking in the dark red of the room. He looked like a monster; a benevolent master, and Gwyn wouldn't expect any less from him. It almost made him forget his previous animosity, but the smoothskin walked up closer and the reminder had him frowning again.

Cerberus didn't move, but offered a small tilt of his mouth with narrowed eyes and a minute curl of his fingers before uttering his maniacal greeting, "Morning."

Everyone went still – no breath, no unnecessary noisy movement….nothing.

"Cora, Apep…follow me. The rest of you gear up and ready yourselves in the control room." No one moved as Cerberus glowered over in the corner where Apep stood, shifting eyes to Cora as he turned to the side. "Be ready in fifteen everyone."

As he made his way up the stairs with Cora and Apep following behind – he spoke again, "Today you'll all be robbing the Brotherhood - hopefully."

McCrae made a satisfied grunt, along with two other shabby ghouls who punched the shoulder of another in sick cheer. Gwyn remained calm; excited yes, but he let it simmer in his gut as he turned his eyes from the stairwell to the smoothskin currently fingering the pockets of her jacket. For a spilt second Gwyn felt pity for the girl…but it was short lived when she turned a hard stare to him. He could tell this is how it would be between them from now on. Gwyn would be the first to admit he'd started it. He hadn't liked her from the start, but she hadn't tried to make nice either…

…they were both to blame in the end.

Either way their feelings towards one another – Harriet strode up to his side and eyed him like an adversary would their opponent. He could see her charm...ironically when she slipped a brow up under her fringe, staring him down even though she were a few inches shorter. The girl had at least some balls.

Gwyn sighed, letting down his facade - not even bothering any longer to hide his frustration.

"I take it that look means your as keen to waiting as I am?" He gruted, keeping his spot in the center of the room even as Harriet inched closer to him. He refused to be sized up by a smoothskin, let alone a woman. A smoke would fill the gap – he knew – so he retrieved a pack from his back pocket, slapping the end against one palm as he gave the girl the same look she was giving him. It worked, oddly enough, and she backed down, staring off at the stairwell again with shifty eyes.

It was hard not to offer her a smoke when she looked like that.

They both enjoyed the cigarette; disobeying Cerberus' orders to wait in the control room with both an air of defiance and loyalty – it was a strange moment, and Gwyn knew the feeling was mutual. Harriet looked as if the room had turned cold as she puffed on her roll with all the signs of a chill except the shivering. Her shoulders were hunched, her hands were buried in her jacket, and her head was ducked down as if she were sucking up all the residual heat from her core.

"How long you think?" She spoke and he didn't bother pretending as if he'd been listening.

"What?"

"- until we're out of here. How long do you think?" He gave her the same shrug he did everyone when he didn't care. Only Cerberus really knew when they'd be heading out, and Cora and Apep probably knew more than he did right now. Jealousy sang through him in that moment, but it dissipated quickly enough when he felt his personal space being invaded by the smoothskin again.

He stifled the growl, "Does it matter? We leave when he says so. End of story."

He didn't mind the way she hid her glare with the turn of her head, nor the distant hum of irritation in her throat – if anything it made him feel a little bit better as he enjoyed another breath of smoke. He really did hate smoothskins…they had only been good at one thing for him and this one – Harriet – wouldn't have even sprang him if she wasn't already claimed by his boss and friend. He liked his women mute…though that didn't stop him from visualizing what really went on after he'd come up to Cerberus' office last night.

Thankfully he didn't have to stew in perverted thoughts very long until that familiar echo of a noise that signaled Cerberus' upcoming presence rung above them. Gwyn rubbed his cigarette out between the floor and his boot, watching as the smoothskin took another drag off her inch left.

It was Cora and Apep who came down the stairs first; both of them making a beeline for the control room without but a single glance at himself and Harriet. Cerberus stepped down slowly after, pausing briefly to watch the two disappear down the hallway before bringing his attention to him and the smoothskin. Gwyn nodded his way; eyes dead straight on Cerberus', waiting for his command.

"I thought I said in the control room…Gwyn?" That tone told him in such a vague way exactly what it was he'd just been ordered to do. Leave. He hadn't said Harriet after his commanding slight …he'd said Gwyn. So he did as he was 'told', but didn't leave with a stone cold face as he did so. Instead of turning tail and disappearing like a good boy all silent like - he paused a moment to unhand another cigarette, lighting the tip after shoving an end in his mouth with a loud grunt. Cerberus just watched him with that amused glint in his eyes despite the way his mouth set in a frown.

Gwyn knew he was the only one that could get away with pulling this shit, so he kept on as he inhaled a thick drag, blowing it out with another audible grunt before flicking the end and finally…turning tail.

Certainly, when the stupid smoothskin finally left; when she finally bore Cerberus enough, Gwyn would be one happy ghoul – perhaps he'd even throw himself a personal party.


She looked off; edgy in a sense, and Cerberus saw it the moment he'd came down into the common room the first time. Her eyes had been on his the whole moment – out of hate or want he wasn't sure. In the end her gaze had made his shoulders itch. He'd figure he could wait after the meeting, hold her back while everyone filed out and possibly talk to her about...the other day, but as luck would have it she was right where he left her. Gwyn though; he was there as well, and never before had the ghoul had the gall to push him like he did just then...

He was starting to push his luck. The dark ghoul seemed hunkered down in the belief that women were just women; that Harriet was just another dame that had a sweet spot between her thighs that could be found on any other woman. Normally, Cerberus would agree whole-heartedly, but Harriet was different...always had been.

Once the smoke from Gwyn's roll faded, her face seemed to soften. Her feet even began to inch against the space between them.

"Hey…", her voice came out as if she was cooing to a frightened animal; a funny sound considering.

"How are you feeling?" This time the question hadn't come out just to fill the air, truly he wanted to know and he hoped his tone said so.

She looked around nervously, taking one last puff of her smoke before letting the fumes out with an answer, "…better. Good enough to head back out there at least."

"Something else bothering you?", he curved the words into a slight perversion.

It was hard not to smile when her eyes shot to him; narrowed and glaring, telling him he knew damn well what was really bothering her. Her lips had thinned but it didn't take more than a keen eye to see she was holding in a smile as well.

"Nothing more than a certain ghoul and his idea of apologizing."

Cerberus gave a half-hearted grunt, tossing his eyes to the side as he rolled a shoulder against the barrel on his back. He played her coy game like they used to – it was the way she flirted with him in the beginning and he had to admit, it was hard to stifle the soft warm feeling in his chest when her lips ended up curling fully.

"Do yo-…we…have time for a quick smoke?" The hopeful edge of her voice had Cerberus' teeth clamping. There was more behind that question; more suggestion, but he'd ignore it. He had to prove his civility at least…not too mention he had a certain gift on him.

He might not have added anything to her loose questions, but he did give into a small grin as he pulled the silver inlayed cigarette case from inside his jacket. It was her face he was watching as he pulled out two crisp cigarettes from the trinket. The red of the room stained everything, including the trinket…but it was only the trinket and her face that reflected it the right way in this moment.

Just like the first time he'd made her smile for him – his chest constricted and his belly churned in that horridly pleasant way it did. Her eyes had softened, mouth puckered up and those little dimples at the side of her mouth made an appearance as he placed the two in his mouth, lighting both with that smooth flick of his wrist. Enraptured as she was by the way he took the first drags of their cigarettes – he could still see the distance she put up between them, either out of shame or regret. This was the first time he'd wished the room had fluorescent lights, so he could see if her cheeks were red or not.

Cerberus hadn't realized he was staring until she breached the bubble and plucked one cigarette from his lips, tugging against the fusion his wet mouth had made with the tip. Her manner was slow and her eyes were fogged; hooded – it had him groaning audibly, reminding him of filthy, filthy things. She looked as though she knew what had just crossed his mind too, smirking lightly; keeping eye contact as her cheeks hollowed when she took the first suck. The way her chest expanded as her body stole all it could from the invading carcinogens; the way her head turned but her eyes stayed on his – it all had him thinking one thing.

She wanted him.

Calculating his chances – Cerberus stole glances up at the railings, the corners, the doorways and even up in his own office. The coast was clear…

When he found her eyes again she removed the smoke from her lips, licking them. The air seemed thick, and not just from the smoke. His own cigarette had stayed at the side of his mouth, growing ash by the second as an unspoken approval passed between them.

Quickly, with one last glance to the normally heavy used hallway – Cerberus spat his cigarette out to the side; the embers flying off with bright red sparks as he yanked her against him in one brutal motion, curling his fingers into the density of her jacket.

He expected a gasp, a look, or maybe even a growling yell, but the last thing he noticed before he dipped down to her mouth was a tiny exhale – just that one puff out her lips had him grunting as he smashed his mouth over hers.

Wasting little time he opened up, sliding his tongue past her loose lips with little resistance. Her taste seeped into his mouth as her own tongue pressed against his. Right now, with her back arched and his hands stuffed into the fabric along her back – he wanted everyone to see. This was his victory, and the alpha in him wanted an audience as her breath waffted out of her nose along his face while she tilted inwards with a rough bite to his upper lip.

She made a stifled chuckle as he groaned. She seemed too amused for this too be what he'd hoped it was – it felt a little bit like a tease, but he'd take what she gave him like the hungry hound he was and relish in any taste.

He felt a pang of shame as he moaned when her hands ran up his chest to rest against his neck; curling as if she were ready to choke him. This was bad, no matter how good it felt he knew – despite the way her tongue turned his thoughts south – he shouldn't be doing this here; not in the open. He couldn't ruin this now though. He'd waited too long to feel these things again and the past week had felt like years. If someone saw…then…they saw.

Finally she moaned; a slipped whine when he reached down to grasp her rear. He could fuck her right here; right in the middle of the common room and not care who saw – it was the exact opposite of what he'd told himself not just five minutes ago, but he also told himself he hadn't expect her to let him do this…or…this…

He kneaded the weight of her bottom in his hand, catching the hitch of her breath in his mouth as he sucked in her tongue with a wet sound.

Suddenly his vision blackened - a heavy pain struck his neck and he couldn't stop himself from wavering a fraction. With a growl he pulled off of her, feeling her heat leave him in a swift exiting move, leaving him high and dry with his sight returning; purple throbbing against his eyes. She'd pinched his pressure point; plucked at the nerve nestled just behind his artery like he'd taught her.

Despite the mild nausea it gave him – he grinned, baring his teeth with hooded eyes. If anything her way out of his grasp had just made him crave her more, but she was already a foot or so away, holding a forced indifferent look as a rubbernecking ghoul walked behind her.

He made a mental note to give her more credit than he did. She was still sly…

"I want to have a…talk when I get back – as soon as I get back. Make time...alright." It was a demand; no question to be found, and it had his fingers curling into his palms as the blood started to flow between his legs at a faster pace.

Cerberus had to remind himself he was boss – he could make her stay if he so chose…but as he stood there he realized this was the kind of thinking that got him into trouble in the first place. He had to hold back the urge to take that extra inappropriate step. Forcing her into doing anything would just put him back to square one – he knew. It was time to nod and agree, and know that when she got back he'd be closer to where he'd been almost a decade ago…

"Yes, but what makes you think you're leaving today…"

"You-"

" -before I talked to Cora…and Apep. We're not ready to go gung-ho yet…" That agitated scowl returned, quick as a combusting match – he stubbed it out just as fast. "…don't worry, you'll get your chance. Be patient…" There was a brief moment of pause where she just glared at him, but her hard stare wavered by the second until the look had dropped completely.

"Shall we then?" Her tone was unsure but a small smile had pushed itself on her face. Again he nodded and gestured with an open arm. Harriet walked off and he – Charon – followed.

Inside the control room the lights were softer, casting everything in colors – not just a color. Everyone was staring, as was to be expected, but Harriet eased her way to the back of the group besides an eyeing Cora and Cerberus gaited to the control panel ignoring the enrapt stares.

"Before all of you get too hard-pressed on killing tonight...we have a...problem."

Only the heavy moans of the vault sounded in the space - everyone else went quiet, holding in their displeasure.

"We need more soldiers - at least two more. There will be no hounds sent out. According to Cora, without their bomb collars it's nothing but another hindrance..."

Cerberus eyed the ghoul woman in the corner, seeing her face falter only the slightest under his gaze. The rest of them were stock still; motionless as if they were holding their breaths. "You all can relax if you'd like. This isn't an interrogation..." He leaned on the edge of the console, showing the casual air of the meeting in his stance as he slipped a cigarette from it's trim bright case. He really did enjoy smoking more because of it - probably the last thing harriet had intended.

"Smoke even...I plan to..." A couple ghouls did indeed light up their own stale or home-rolled smokes. It eased whatever tension and dissapointment the lot of them had created.

Cerberus let out the white haze, locking eyes with Harriet in the back as she kept up an indifferent face, yet in here...he saw the redness of her cheeks. He crossed his arms, tightening his chest by flexing the muscles under the leather - in turn making a loud crisp creak of fabric.

"You all are the ones I would send out for this, before anyone else - however," another sharp intake of smoke, "...if any of you would like to recommend a fellow soldier, now would be the time..."

They all seemed to shift their eyes to one another, unsure of who should speak first - if at all. Cerberus watched them all, smelling the second hand smoke from the cigarette burning against his forearm as he cupped his elbow.

One - Eugene - rose a few fingers, eyes down but quickly lifted. He stuttered at first but cleared his throat and continued, "W-what...about Samael?"

"No.", Cerberus declared harshly. Gwyn would flip a gasket if he let Samael on this convoy, despite how much of an asset the man-ghoul-child would have been. "Anyone else have a suggestion?"

Surprisingly Harriet was the one to step forward, still behind one ghoul, but everyone turned to her as she spoke with confidence laced in her quick suggestion, "What about Aser? He seems like a waste of skill sitting in that shop, doing nothing." She shrugged with eyes shut for a second before staring into Cerberus' as if she hadn't just passed spit with him a few minutes ago.

Cerberus couldn't help but grin at her bold move. He'd heard from Gwyn last night about her visits to Aser...and the pinwheels - though after the little moment in the common room it hadn't bothered him anymore - so why should it bother him now? He took another drag of his smoke and let his grin fall into a smirk.

"I'll see if he's still as feral as I remember. If so, fine." He stubbed out his cigarette and light another. "Anyone else?"

No one made a sound; no more shifty eyes either, just dead stares as if they were just counting down until the meeting was over. Since they all knew there'd be no spilt blood tonight he understood their lack of patience.

"If any of you get your heads together and think of anything, find Gwyn and let him know. We'll all meet again here at the same time tomorrow. If anyones late I'll find someone else to take your place - I'm sure I'll have no trouble finding a ghoul who wants to slice a hoods throat around here. So be on fucking time."

When they all remained planted in their spots he growled and waved a hand, sprinkling ash across the floor as he did. It took a few more seconds for everyone to start filing out; some grumbling and others making loud sighs of either disappointment or relief.

As he smoked - bending one knee to lean further on the panel - he saw Gwyn hesitate as the ghoul noticed Harriet linger back against the wall. She was waiting for everyone to leave, and honestly - Cerberus couldn't wait. He eyed Gwyn as he paused at the door - the dark ghoul was eyeing both of them with a badly hidden glare.

When Gwyn took longer than he should to leave, Cerberus growled sharply, "Don't push your luck Gwyn."

Gwyn didn't, but left with one last glowering stare over at Harriet - who gave it back to him with a near snarl. The idea of sending them both out started to just sound like an easy way for one of them to murder the other. He'd have to have a talk with Gwyn later tonight, just to set things straight.

Harriet stared with dead-pan eyes as the door slipped shut into its metal latch.

After a few seconds of silence he cleared the air, "What was it you wanted to talk about that couldn't wait 'till later?" He pushed off the console, straightening out his leather jacket and left shoulder piece with the smoke sagging between his lips. With eyes off her as he adjusted his armor - he chose to ignore how she pushed off the wall and started walking towards him. Cerberus needed to play it safe - he couldn't act like the tick that stuck itself too her constantly, nor could he play cold asshole either. He had to go for the middle-ground, but when she invaded that space, stopping only when her jacket brushed against his arm - he couldn't keep his eyes off her.

"Talking was code." Her voice...that voice...

He stiffened, trying to look past her calm eyes and into her squishy brain. "Code for...?"

She didn't answer him - just placed her hands on the belts across his chest, slowly and methodically undoing them as her eyes narrowed.

What was she getting at...and why? It didn't feel right. He didn't see much passion behind her eyes...though when he stopped to think - after ripping his eyes off hers to stare down as she unhooked the last clasp - that hadn't been bothering him lately, so why did it now.

The sound of his metal armor falling to the floor made her jolt against him, but he only stiffened further. She was now pulling down the zipper at his chest; eyes no longer on his but on the task at hand. He should stop her; prove to her that this wasn't the only thing he wanted from her...but the further she went - as she started unhooking the belt at his waist with rough yanks - he couldn't think past getting her clothing off as well.

With a feral snarl he grasped her jacket and thrust it down her arms, making her gasp. Her shirt came up with the same brutal force and before he could second guess his intentions he had her thrown on the control panel with his hips between her legs, thrusting his tongue into her mouth.

It was hard to concentrate on anything besides her legs wrapping around his waist or her wet mouth gliding against his - especially when it was something as miniscule as the door behind him opening. She moaned and he couldn't hear much else but that, especially when her hand slithered between them to grasp the stiffness in his pants. It was happening, finally, and it hadn't been him to instigate it either.

He'd been half-way to logical thought but her hand squeezed hard, making him grunt out any chance of thinking.

Cerberus...

He slid his mouth off hers, teasing the skin under her jaw with his teeth as her hips thrust against his, jostling her hand harder against his groin - it hurt, but it was the best pain in along time.

"C-cerberus..."

When she moaned loudly - almost fearful - he grinned against her throat, growling out a string of muffled expletives as his hands found the edge of the panel and her hip, bringing her further into him, relishing in the painful contact as he thrust against her and the console.

"Charon!"

Quickly, like a snap of lightening he turned when her voice demand just as her hands did on his shoulder that he look behind him. What he saw was Eugene...the obedient ghoul with his hands clasped at his chest, looking as if he'd just walked into a room of armed hoods - and he might as well have.

"What the fuck is so important...", he scowled, feeling anything but embarrassment and everything relating to anger for the scared man in the door-way. "...that you wouldn't just turn and leave after opening that god-damn door!"

Literally, Eugene began to shake. His shoulders shook and his fingers twitched so badly that for a slit second Cerberus forgot his rage.

"I- its...its Gwyn. He...Samael. He stabbed Samael!"

Still between Harriet legs, with her hand still trapped between them - slowly loosening her grip on his covered erection - he stared dumbly at the still shivering Eugene. Anger turned from Eugene straight to Gwyn. A flash of murder flew across Cerberus' eyes as Harriet squirmed against him, wiggling him backwards until her feet landed on the floor. Gwyn had been out of line recently, and this; this was the last fucking straw. Not only did he commit violence against his fellow soldier, but he was now the cause of the unattended stiff cock between Cerberus' legs.

"Gwyn...", the bastard was going to pay.


R&R if you like the story and have the time. Will try and get the next chapter up soon.

Let me know if the plot if moving to quickly...or too slowly, or if your thinking "What fucking plot?". Need your feedback. :]