Author's Note - I've never tried to write fic based on written word before. I appreciate that this is a tiny category and no one shall ever read it, which makes me feel more easy about giving it a try.
Win's appearance at the door of Myron's office came without a knock or a word of warning. It also interrupted the second straight minute of withering sarcasm directed towards Myron from his other associate, Esperanza Diaz. Neither of those things, the unannounced entrance nor the sarcastic diatribe, were at all unusual in Myron's life.
It wouldn't even have been worth noting if it weren't for the reason Win apparently came down to visit.
"You need to come to the club tonight."
Myron groaned, nice and deep and heartfelt. "I don't. Tell me I just don't."
The Club, which in Myron's non-WASP non-wealthy mouth would have had to be Capitalized, was one of Win's latest methods of amusing himself. Richstone Parlor, it called itself, example of the latest craze among the super-rich to try to create the country club atmosphere in the heart of bustling, dirty Manhattan. It had the usual elite upper-crust sitting rooms, a cigar bar, a restaurant where they printed a fresh menu with a fresh imported chef's name on it every day. It also had a couple of tennis courts, shuffleboard, backgammon, and an upper floor with vaulted ceilings (in a building that took up half a city block, mind) reserved for a putting green.
Win and his blond and blue-eyed whitebread chic fit in at The Club. Hell, it was made for guys like him, though since Win was Win he didn't go to enjoy it as much as to observe the movements of his brethren with his usual aloof bemusement.
Myron did not fit in at The Club. The one time Myron had bothered trying, he had approached it the same way people approach TSA lines at the airport – confident that he had done nothing wrong but just as confident that he was going to be discovered and handcuffed for some crime he wasn't aware of committing. Gloves would be donned. Holes would be probed.
Win had that gleam in his normally placid eyes, though. A gleam that meant he was up to something and needed his partner in crime to be there with him.
"You do," he answered, Exeter-accented voice flat and bored with the world as usual, only that damned eye-gleam giving him away. "And wear the suit, Myron. My name can only influence the doorman so much."
Myron made another face. The Suit. Some kind of Hugo Boss number that simply appeared on Myron's bed in their shared apartment, after Win got tired of debating the issue of fashion with Myron. As was Win's style, he simply bought something without Myron's input, broke into his locked bedroom and left the garment bag on his bed.
"And where's my invitation?" Esperanza drawled from her seat across from Myron's desk. She barely glanced back at Win, eyebrow cocked.
Win flashed his thin, didn't-fool-anyone, just-for-manners smile. "Would Her Highness care to join us at the club this evening?"
And, just like they all knew she would, Esperanza shuddered and sank lower in her chair. "Jesus who is the lord, no."
Win looked back at Myron. "Seven."
Myron scowled. He could never get away with refusing that way. Sometimes he hated Esperanza. No, he didn't. "I still don't buy into the general premise here. Why, exactly, do I have to drag my shapely Jewish ass to your ridiculous Club?"
Win smiled, a touch more sincere. "That's a long story, and it's easier if you just shut up and do what I say. But fine: last night I hired a whore, and-"
"Oh, goody." Esperanza twisted to face Win as if suddenly captivated by his presence. "I get a front row seat for today's episode of Misogyny Theatre."
Win smirked. It wasn't a secret that he had absolutely no respect for women as people. Well, women who he slept with, anyway. On a generous day he might allow that they were human beings, but for the most part they were simply too irrelevant to form an opinion on. Females in general he could consider people – Esperanza herself was a good example of this – but that required that they A: find some way into the incredibly exclusive circle of people whom Win actually cared about, and B: didn't have sex with him.
Still, he chose not to go on with the story, casting his smirk over to Myron. "Does it really matter?"
And it didn't. Win's whims could be serious or absurd, but either way Myron was usually along for the ride. Of course to make up for that Myron tended to get Win involved in some hairy life or death situations. Then again, those situations made Win inexpressibly happy.
Myron scowled harder. "You realize that our friendship is starting to skew in your favor, don't you?"
Satisfied, Win just sent a parting smile to Esperanza and turned, heading out the door.
Esperanza clucked at Myron's long-suffering sigh. "God, to have to go to an exclusive club and eat and drink fancy crap on someone else's dime. I don't know how you resist jumping out the window right now. Is it too public, is that it? Because I could bring you a knife, or a gun. Something you could use right here in the office."
Myron peered at her. "'Jesus who is the lord, no,'" he quoted back at her.
She grinned. "I liked it, myself. Vehement, yet effective."
No arguing with that. Myron sat back in his chair and sighed again, loud and gusty.
And yes, fine, the suit was actually completely stylish and well-cut and perfectly tailored to show off Myron's not-inconsiderable attributes to their fullest. The drinks were cold (though he really needed to talk to someone about the lack of Yoo Hoo in The Club refrigerators), the food delicious, and the price of it all not coming from Myron's bank account.
Still. It was so damned stifling.
The high, wood-paneled walls, the rooms as deep and echoey as cathedrals, the others around him ridiculous with their money and their whispers and their way of looking through him as if he wasn't even offensive enough to acknowledge.
Myron had been a visitor in Win's world off and on since they roomed together at Duke. He was no more used to it than he was all those years ago. Sure he could manage more sharp and stinging sarcasm than he would have dared a decade ago, but even that required that someone actually talk to him. Which didn't seem to be in the cards that night.
After about an hour of suffering through a club soda and shrimp appetizer and a veritable mountain of Rich Person Indifference, he made up his mind to leave.
Of course the moment that he stood to go was the moment that Win snuck up on him.
"There's a foie gras dish on the menu that will absolutely change your opinion about the torture of ducks," Win said as he appeared from some black hole and moved around Myron and the small table he'd claimed, pulling out a chair and sitting with a snifter of cognac already in his hand.
Myron glared at him but sat back down. "I could be at home eating poptarts and watching Starsky and Hutch."
"Yet you don't sound grateful to me for sparing you that. Puzzling." Win grinned. "There's someone coming in I want you to meet."
"You couldn't bring them by the office?"
Win shrugged. "I like public spectacles. More fun. Besides, I'm holding off on telling this person that you're the individual to whom I'm introducing them."
Myron's eyebrows lifted. Curiouser and curiouser. Not a potential client then, since Win played games with everyone except the people who trusted him with their money.
"I'm listening," he said, interested despite his mood.
Win glanced at his watch (a rare steel Patek Phillipe) and glanced towards the door (ten foot tall carved Macassar ebony), then settled back in his chair and lofted his drink. He swirled the snifter in that irritating way that people do when they care about more than how their drink tastes, which just seemed like a ridiculous waste of time to Myron.
"Very well. As I started to tell you earlier, last night I hired myself a little company."
Myron nodded, used to Win's nocturnal hobbies but interested in how hiring a hooker – something he did four or five times a week on average – led to an introduction at The Club.
"Long story short, the young woman refused to perform the services I was paying for." Win smiled at that, vague and bemused, though Myron knew better than to think that he was interested in a prostitute's motivations.
Myron whistled, low. "Exactly what was it you were asking her to my god don't even begin to answer that, I don't want to know."
Win smiled and shrugged. "Nothing out of the ordinary," he said, unembarrassed as ever. "We really hadn't even gotten down to the details yet. I simply introduced myself."
Myron's mouth quirked up into a grin at that. "Oh my God, don't tell me your reputation has started to precede you even with working girls?"
Win gestured a hand airily between them, one of those completely unselfconscious gestures that Myron never would have been able to pull off. "I give my companions nothing to complain about, assuming that they don't expect coffee and conversation in the mornings. They're well-paid, I'm attractive and I'm not cruel. It's the best they can expect."
Ego, yes, but Win had the galling kind of ego that came from truth. He wasn't unattractive – he had the porcelain, perfect features of something that might have been sculpted, not imperfectly born like those around him. And his callous attitude towards women aside, he wasn't impolite to them. They didn't matter enough to muster up rudeness. Myron was pretty sure that a woman who had to sleep with strangers all the time would take Win's handsome coldness over most of the other men who paid for her services.
Of course Myron might not have been the best guy to ask about the motivations of high-priced hookers.
"Shockingly," Win went on dryly, "I don't simply accept rejection, especially from someone whose services I am paying for. I refused her refusal."
Myron leaned in, ignoring the possibility that this story was going to a darker place than he imagined. Win was lethal, cold, a killer, a man who many people legitimately believed to be insane or close to it, but he was also extremely moral. In his own way, of course, and most people might not agree with his morals, but in Win's mind black was black and white was white.
And no one forced sex on another person.
"I raised my voice a bit," Win went on, drawling a bit as if bored with his own story, "then tried the quiet approach." He shot Myron a smile, aware and amused that people got nervous around him when he was simply being quiet and cool. "I even threw in a little Les Miz."
Myron thought about it, lyrics sifting through his mind. He chuckled suddenly. "'It's not for the whore to say yes sir or no sir. It's not for the harlot to pick or to choose...'"
"Mmm." Win enjoyed those games, lyrics and musicals and actors and other tidbits of trivia. Much like Myron, he even played when he was dealing with strangers, just for his own personal amusement.
"She left," Win answered. "And right before she left she said, and I quote, 'even a whore who has gone to the bad won't be had by a rat.'"
Myron laughed. A prostitute with a working knowledge of the lyrics of Les Miserables. Interesting.
Win apparently thought so too, in his vague and aloof kind of way. "The woman simply despised me too much to stay, it appeared," he said, unbothered by the words. If there was a man who was used to being instantly hated, it was country-club-poster-child Windsor Horne Lockwood III.
But normally it didn't phase him. He was so used to it he hardly seemed aware of it happening anymore. Win had no use for people who judged him so thoroughly without so much as speaking to him.
"The things I miss when I go stay with my folks," Myron commented. "So what does your run-in with a disagreeable prostitute have to do with me schlepping my ass to this place tonight?"
"I wanted to test out a theory," Win said, sipping from his glass. His eyes went to the door again idly. "I hired her again."
"I hired her again," Win repeated with that touch of sharpness he used when he had to speak words that he thought were redundant. "Triple the pay, no sex involved."
"For what?" Myron couldn't help but ask.
Win shrugged. "Testing out a theory," he said again. "She didn't despise me until she heard my name."
Myron blinked suddenly, glancing towards the door that Win kept looking at. "Wait, is she coming here?"
Win grinned. "I told Amanda to instruct her to dress nicely."
"You invited your recalcitrant prostitute to this repressive little hell of a building just to test out a theory," Myron summarized dubiously.
Win shrugged. His eyes were gleaming again. "I've been bored."
Myron rolled his eyes. So hard. "Some people play Scrabble."
Since Myron didn't have to worry about repercussions, he was content to settle in and enjoy the show. Pretty Woman this would not be, he had no doubt, so he was curious to see what happened when Win's whore showed up.
They made small talk for a while, discussing clients, debating the similarities between Batman and the Green Hornet. Nation-changing conversation. Win ordered a second drink and the aforementioned foie gras dish that would apparently turn anyone pro-animal-torture. Myron contented himself with another club soda and a reuben, though Win and the waiter both rolled their eyes at his order.
"'I am what I am,'" he quoted at Win with a sniff as the waiter left, but of course Win immediately identified the La Cage Aux Folles quote and had to follow it up with speculation about how Myron might look as a cross-dressing showgirl.
Myron wasn't looking at the door, but he could feel the exact moment when Win's second guest of the night arrived. It was dramatic as any record-screeching bar entrance in a movie: conversation stopped dead around them, and there were audible gasps from some of the women. Myron even spotted an old, wrinkled bird sitting against the window clutching at her necklace. Scandal at Richstone Parlor.
Win sat up, eyes going to the door, mouth curling up on one side.
Myron finally looked over as well to see what all the fuss was about, already grinning in anticipation of a woman of the night dressed in whatever today's hookers considered to be fancy dress.
But the grin faded, and his eyebrows lifted, and he had to swallow back another whistle.
She was brown, which must have been the source of the reactions around them. Olive-skinned, as dark as Esperanza at least. Her nose had the unmistakable slope of Middle Eastern genes, her hair dark black and thick and worn loose, framing large, dark eyes and a full mouth. Her shoulders were bared with just the thinnest spaghetti straps holding up her dress, which was tight and not exactly modest, but a pale coral pink that glowed on her skin and seemed elegant despite the immodesty. She carried a strapless little bag in her hand – a clutch or a grab or whatever – and her shoes were the same slate gray as the bag. Cosmo magazine might have called her overweight, but if she had extra pounds they were the curving, lush, mouth-watering kind that Myron's college girlfriend used to have. Marilyn Monroe pounds. The kind that made a man's fingers itch to touch.
She could have been a deposed Arabian princess walking among commoners. Beautiful, exotic, and even if she didn't look like she belonged on a street corner she sure as hell didn't belong among the upper crust WASPs at The Club. Which Win knew perfectly well. It was probably the reason why he invited her here of all places.
If she knew why she was standing among the wrinkled white elite of New York, she gave no indication. Her eyes scanned the room before stopping on Win and Myron's table, and she instantly made her way over, looking at no one else, by all appearances not even noticing their stares.
Myron stood as she got close, and a moment later Win followed his lead.
The woman – hard to think of her as The Hooker anymore – ignored Myron and approached Win, which might have made Myron jealous if not for the flash of distaste in her expression as she reached him.
"Am I here just to scandalize your rich friends?" she asked, her voice soft with the trace of an accent. Arabian princess. Disney got it alllll wrong. "Because I have more appropriate outfits for that sort of thing."
Win didn't extend a hand, and she didn't seem to expect it. "Not at all," he said calmly. "I wanted you to meet someone."
Myron couldn't help but get a little flushed as he remembered that, yes, Win had invited her there strictly to meet Myron. It was Myron's time, baby.
He did hold out a hand, ever a gentleman compared to his cold best friend. "Good evening," he said. Myron Bolitar, king of unforgettable greetings.
Win cleared his throat as the woman turned and eyed Myron's outstretched hand before reaching out to accept the greeting. "I didn't catch your name last evening, forgive my manners."
The woman's hand was soft and small and warm and she gripped Myron's hand just tightly enough. "Sarayah," she answered Win, though her dark eyes stayed on Myron. "Don't bother asking last names, you wouldn't be able to pronounce it."
"Very well." Win sounded amused, though Myron didn't take his eyes off their guest long enough to confirm that. "Sarayah, this is my oldest friend, Myron Bolitar."
It was a sudden, drastic change. A wall slammed behind her dark, glittering eyes, turning them instantly cold. She jerked her hand back, her eyes going to Win and then back to Myron, her expression intense. There was nothing in her face but pure unadulterated loathing.
"You sick piece of shit," she hissed, seeming to encompass them both. She backed a step away from Myron, who had to fight the urge to drift in her wake. Her hate-filled gaze went back to Win. "I'll tell you exactly what I told you last night – keep your money. I'll make sure Amanda knows never to send me to you again."
Win just looked at her, head tilted ever so slightly to the side. "The money was just for showing up," he said calmly. "You've done that, and so I'll pay-"
Her eyes flashed and she sliced him with a look cold enough to freeze hell over. "Don't." Her tone left no room for debate.
Surprisingly, Win didn't even try.
She turned on her heel, chin lofting higher as she seemed to remember the assorted horrified rich people in the room around them. She strode towards the door, the same wounded royalty amongst commoners that she had been before, just in a hurry this time.
Myron watched her go with a slight whimper of loss. But under that, quickly gaining volume, was a voice of reason looking past that angrily-flouncing derriere in the tight pink dress and turning back on the short introductions.
He had no doubt, whoever that woman was she absolutely loathed Myron and Win. Anger that strong came from something, something deeper than the usual disliking of privileged rich WASPs or charming hustler sports agents. That kind of anger was personal, intense.
But he was positive that he had never laid eyes on the woman before. A woman like that stuck in a man's mind.
The heavy wood of the clubhouse doors opened and then shut behind her, and she was gone.
Myron stood looking after her, and finally managed to have himself a witty, concise, dazzlingly clever reaction: "Huh."
"Mmm." Win came up beside him, gazing at the door before turning to Myron. "It's rather interesting, wouldn't you say?"
Myron nodded. Interesting was definitely a word he would use.