The chime of a telephone directly over his head wakes Matt with the realization that he doesn't have a telephone on his headboard. Movement beside him, the rustle of flesh against sheets reminds him of yesterday even before the ringing stops and Cathy's melodious voice asks "Jabo?" A moment's pause. "Hi, Stangya. He's right here."

Matt gets his eyes open but the only thing he sees is his lovely companion. He's never seen anyone look so good in the morning, especially after the vigorous night just passed, but he accepts the phone from her, wondering what the appropriate early-dawn etiquette for this situation is. He doesn't care, he has his own ideas and they don't involve talking on the telephone.

"Hello, George." He's not too surprised at his friend's timing; and his partner is the only one who could possibly have known to reach him here. He is mildly disturbed about being disturbed so early – at all, in fact.

"Good afternoon, Matt." The greeting dispels the tiredness from his mind. He looks at his wristwatch: 1:47. Naturally it wouldn't be this bright this early in the morning. "I thought, though you called in sick this morning, that you'd like to hear the preliminary report on that kid. It was, after all, your collar."

"That wasn't necessary, George." But it is appreciated. His partner covered for him.

"'Hey, what's a Godfather for'?"

"Thanks. Shoot." There's a pause.

"The report?"

"No. Him!"

"All right. The device we thought would be a robann was purchased from an 'unidentified' Tenctonese male for $500. Though the description could fit any non-female Newcomer, it did include the mention of a tattoo in our language about the wrist."

"Kleezantsun." He's never been able to reproduce that popping sound, but this word doesn't need it – any more than 'Nazi' would.

"It was only one of several offered for sale."

Cathy, able to hear every word, sits upright so fast the blanket flies from her. Terror is etched on her face and Matt's reply is enough the sear the wires all the way to the station. He reaches for her; her shoulder is cold and he wonders if he should give in to his initial response and try to kiss her. Tenctonese don't kiss, though Cathy has adapted, but he doubts that it'll make her feel better.

He wonders if anything can now.


Best to concentrate on business, grim though that is, and then on the woman beside him. 'God, she's beautiful in the morning, and very good for the afternoon.' "The Overseers are trying to disrupt your people by giving punks like that bastard the way to rape and torture at will – and the Newcomers can't go to the authorities without fearing an epidemic."

"That is almost exactly what the Department has concluded. Sergeant Dobson and I are confident our perp knows where the Kleezantsun can be found."

"Good. We'll go in there with guns blazing."

"I'll call you when something breaks. Until then, stay with Cathy. There may be… aftereffects."

Seeing the haunted look in the woman's eyes, Matt knows exactly what aftereffects George refers to. He reaches up and hangs up the phone, then puts his arm around Cathy's bare shoulders. He draws her close, her head to his chest, his hand petting her temple.

She gently strokes the crisscrossing scratches she'd inflicted on his chest and stomach the previous evening, intending to ease any lingering pain as he'd done for her. It only sharpens it, makes him feel more alert, more….

After a few moments the tension in her seems to fade, and he gradually draws her down with him and closer, turns her to him, his hand stroking along her back, from neck to about where he thinks her spots end. He means the touch to be comforting, but if it can be distracting as well he won't mind. Her bare breasts against him certainly are.

Yesterday morning had ended abruptly. Too often there's been too much left unsaid between them. This time there aren't going to be any things left unsaid between them, no more misunderstandings or uncertainties. "Jelana?"

"Yes, Matt?"