AN: Obviously the character and world are property of their creators and the Borderlands Franchise. And also obviously this is not my normal story or my normal world to write in, but instead of using my free time wisely, I have been playing this delightful game and had to write something. Might turn into more later on, might not, the usually drill. Reviews are very welcomed.
Cecelia was use to dust and blood covered travelers entering her small tavern looking for a drink and a bed. The few settlers that had scraped together a living on Promethea were use to the rugged and dangerous sort that ventured there of their own free will rather than being a part of the military. But no matter the type of men that came to their desolate wasteland for whatever reason, it didn't change that basic human drive to seek solace through the comforting burn of whiskey or gin. And, hell, Cecelia was going to be there to make her own fortune through giving that comfort.
The tavern wasn't much, in fact it could hardly be called a tavern with its rickety walls made of rusted metal and rotting wood. The tables were nothing more than large crates the military had used to transport weapons and the beds in the smaller second room were nothing more than pallets of straw and sand covered with moth-eaten blankets. But what did anyone need with anything more? It was enough and the weary adventurers, mercenaries, criminals, and soldiers were more than willing to pay a fine sum for the little luxuries her tavern provided. Well, as fine of a sum as one could expect on Promethea.
Looking out over her crowd, she gave a thin-lipped smile to a few of her regulars that lived in the small settlement they called home. She, of course, was one of two women out of the twenty that had banned together to create a quasi-society in the middle of the harsh terrain. Lindy had taken the course of a common hooker, using her sandy blond hair and full curves to secure her plenty of gold to retire early on a much nicer planet. Cecelia, on the other hand, had the mind of a businesswoman and the looks of one too, that suited her purposes just fine. There was nothing special about her short brown hair, narrow face, and hard brown eyes. Perhaps if there were she would have done the easier work of lying on a bed and moaning. Though this was more of an excuse than anything else as in a place like Promethea if you really wanted to do that kind of work, having the right parts really was all that was needed. Still, she was content with the number of strangers that had wandered through those past few days, filling up two of her beds while a third slept off his booze with Lindy.
"Keep drinking, boys," she muttered to herself with a small smile at quiet conversation that mixed with the soft static of her radio. "Give me enough gold to get to Themis or Eden-6."
It appeared to be nothing more than a quiet night, free of military lock down or a half-planned attempt by local bandits to infiltrate their walls. Just like so many nights over the past few years. Perhaps that's why she didn't notice him walk in. Or maybe it was the stupidly dim lighting her two single-bulb lamps provided that shadowed his approach, but no matter the reason just as she found herself drifting into one of her daydreams she felt the hair on her neck prickle and her body tense moments before he spoke and made her consciously aware of his presence.
"A room for the night."
She blinked at him for a moment, her body recovering from its instinctual survival skills while her mind pushed away the fog of her thoughts. A room for the night. His voice was clear and strong through a strange elongated mask with an iridescent red plate covering the front. It was hard not to stare at its peculiar design as masks were not often worn and those that were generally were more for gas exposure than anything else.
Letting her eyes drift down, she was surprised to see that every inch of his body was covered by a strange dark colored leather-looking suit leaving no openings to reveal his race or ethnicity. Still, even without knowing the most basic aspects of his appearance, she couldn't help but appreciate his height and lean frame. He wasn't massive, like so many of the over-bulked jarheads in the military. Nor was it the malnourished wiry look of many of the men that passed through. There was something distinctly strong and agile about his narrow shoulders that angled down to a small waist. It was intriguing.
"It's a common room," she heard herself say as her eyes moved from his body to the sniper rifle and blade hanging from his back. A sudden shimmer of red light at her words pulled her eyes back to his masked face. Swallowing a gasp of surprise, she stared at his faceplate that was emitting a sort of holograph in the shape of symbols she hadn't seen or used since her teenage years sending notes to her old friends. Yet the years of disuse did not cause her to forget the simple computer emotes, making his _ easily understandable.
Frowning, she felt a sudden discomfort at his lack of words and masked face that she hadn't before. It was as if the use of a mask to communicate had drawn away any of the curiosity she felt and replaced it with a higher dose of her normal reservation and wariness. "It's all I got. So if it's not to your standards I don't need no trouble. You can have yourself and drink and find your way out."
The stranger's mask fell blank for a moment before another hologram appeared. "…"
Cecelia waited and watched as the image sparkled eerily out from his mask while he thought. She didn't dare look away, though her hand had somehow found its way to the gun she always wore at her hip. This man is dangerous.
After what seemed to be an eternity, the man's mask went blank, leaving only the slight bob of his head to show that he decided on a bed and nothing more sinister. Pulling a few bills form a pocket on his suit, she couldn't help but notice that he only had four fingers on each of his hands. But whether it was by birth or an accident, she couldn't tell as he moved towards the adjoining room with beds just as fast as the money hit the table in front of her.
"I don't know who or what you are," she muttered to herself as she watched him disappear into the darkness, "and I don't very much care as long as you don't be causing any trouble in my tavern."
The warning, of course, went unheard by the newest addition to her crowd that night, but it made her feel better to say it anyways. It was pretty hard these days to cause her senses to go on high alert, but in a matter of a few minutes, he had made her hair prickle, her heart beat wildly, and her hand to tense around the worn handle of her gun. It was an omen, surly, of what this man's purposes were on Promethea; Danger, death, and money. And she didn't quite trust that this masked man would discriminate between his purpose and people that he viewed as an annoyance.
"The sooner he's out of town the better," she muttered sternly, nodding her head at her own wisdom. Yet despite her misgivings and innate suspicion, the night passed on quiet with darkness being fully descended by the time her last patron left for his bed. In fact, it had been so quiet that she had been able to push the stranger from her mind as she completed her nightly routine of locking away her valuable earnings and do as good of a job at cleaning as the dirtiness of the planet allowed. She didn't even bother to draw her gun as she turned out the lights of her tavern and walked the familiar path to a hatch hidden away in the back corner, concealing the entrance to her small room.
Opening the wooden door, she dropped down into the cool darkness of the one place she kept solely for herself, filling it with a small bed and her few personal possessions. She was sure most of the residents of their settlement knew where her living space was, but it was hidden just enough that those passing through would have to be looking for it to find the entrance. Not that it mattered if they did. She had little of value, but she did enjoy her privacy at night, especially the kind that came from the complete darkness of being underground.
Following her routine, she let the darkness swallow her as she secured the hatch so that no one could open it from the outside while she slept. Hearing the lock grate into place, she began to feel calming sense of safety mixed with the weariness of her day when she suddenly had the feeling that something was not quite right. She had the urge to run or to scream, but before she could do either of those things a gloved hand found her mouth while another wrapped her arms.
Immediately, she began to thrash against the lean body that held her tightly, causing the grip to grow stronger. She cried out, but even to her own ears it was muffled and inaudible, the hand effectively gagging her.
"Shh," the owner of the hands whispered in her ear, the feeling of a hard mask against the skin of her face revealing who her attacker was.
Tears crept to her eyes as his hand holding her arms moved to her side and removed her gun from hits holster. Few began to trickle a hot path down her dusty face as he forcefully spun her to face him, his hand holding her mouth adjusting to maintain its position while the other pushed her body into his. She could feel his chest rising calmly as he moved her in the direction of her bed. It was almost soothing the rhythmic rises and falls as he moved so that her legs pressed against it.
If he's going to kill me, I hope he makes it quick, she thought blandly to herself, feeling defeat and acceptance relax her fighting muscles and slow the impulses of adrenaline. She was trapped by an opponent much stronger than herself and there was no way for her to get out of this situation unless the masked stranger did something stupid to give her an opening or chose to let her go. She doubted either would happen.
A few more tears left her eyes as they stood their in complete silence, the darkness surrounding them feeling heavy and suffocating. "Bor-ed, bor-ed, bored," he muttered suddenly, making her body stiffen once more at the unexpected sound of it. "Bored bored bored bored bored bored bored. I am really BORED!"
She held her breath as his words died, the silence falling around them again. She could hear the beating of her heart in her ears as the seconds passed until he spoke again, his hand loosening its hold ever so slightly over her mouth. "I site here and wait. So eager to move onward. But it's all in vain."
"What are you waiting for?" she asked quietly, her voice remaining even despite the nervous contractions of her muscles. His own responded as she felt him move his head to look down at her. A sudden red glow filled the room, causing her eyes to painfully constrict as a hologram of a question mark floated in front of his faceplate.
Cecelia craned her neck to stare at it for a moment before moving past it to his mask. "Who are you?"
The man made a small noise before the light suddenly went out, his body and grip instantly disappearing. For a moment she stood there dumbfounded, unable to understand what had just happened. The room felt empty, the man was gone. The only trace of him was her racing heart and quick breathing. Was it a dream?
Just as the thought passed through her mind, she felt the cool metal against her face again. "And I disappear; A ghost amidst the darkness. Waiting for something."
"What are you waiting for?"
Again, the question mark flashed from his faceplate, lighting the room in faint redness. He moved next to her, sinking down on her bed without a word. For a moment she thought about running to the hatch and trying to open it before he could move from his position, but she knew that that would be impossible to do. She then thought about using the advantage of her standing to strike him over the head with something, but there was nothing in her room that was close enough to her to act as a club. So instead she just watched him, the red question mark floating listlessly in front of his downturned face, making him look more pitiful than dangerous.
It seemed like an eternity she stood there, not moving and silent before he finally sighed and the light disappeared back into his mask. Shadows of the red light danced in front of her eyes as they adjusted to the darkness, her ears following the quiet sounds of the stranger moving onto the bed as if he were lying down to sleep. What is he doing? She wondered as she heard a strange clicking noise, followed by a clunking noise of something falling to the ground. Then came a sound she created herself each night by securing her gun and putting it on the ground next to her bed.
I might live through this, her mind whispered hopefully, ignoring the thought of what his strong hands alone could do to something vulnerable, like her throat. In an attempt to feed her hope, she strained to hear what he was doing, listening to the sliding sound of leather being pulled across skin followed by its unceremonious dropping to the floor. She couldn't help but wonder if he was naked in her bed or if he still had some clothing on underneath his suit. She assumed he didn't just for the fact that it would be stifling enough without an extra layer of clothes, but then what did he look like? Was his face scarred and mangled from whatever it was that he did on Promethea? Or was it smooth and fine due to the protection the mask provided? Did his ribs poke out through his skin like many of the men she had seen naked on the planet, or did the armor really show what was underneath? Was he muscular and lean and strong, like a man should be?
Just as the thoughts crossed her mind she stopped them, anger filling her at wondering about her attackers body when he still only lay a few feet away. You should run, she told herself sternly, but her feet wouldn't move. This is stupid, you should get out of here and get a gun.
Still, she remained where she was, watching the darkness while her ears tried to determine what the strange man was doing as his movements stilled. Silence pounded through her ears, her heart adding its own rhythm to the nervous song filling her head. She waited for a sign of what was to come. Was it her doom or was it nothing? Was the man deranged, or merely looking for a solitary place to sleep? He hadn't harmed her. In fact, other than maybe leaving a bruise or two with his grip, he hadn't even attempted to touch her. It was as if she had ceased to exist to him, or maybe it was he had left again, disappearing into the darkness like magic or, as he said, a ghost.
You should go, she told herself again as the silence became unbearable when suddenly a soft patting sound brought her acutely back to the room. Holding her breath, she listened. It sounded as if he were beckoning her to the bed where he surely was still laying. Is this a choice?
The question swam through her head as the noise stopped and silence again fell between them. She could easily go the hatch and leave. She knew where it was and would have no trouble navigating the dark of her personal space, but would he let her? Was he letting her go to choose if she wanted to stay in what was by all rights a room she should be in control of inviting him to stay or not, or was he merely directing her to what he wanted in a non-violent way?
Only one way to find out, she thought, clenching her jaw tight and turning from the bed. It only took ten steps to reach the hatch, but there were no sounds of him following her or rushing after her to make her stop. She knew he was watching her, or rather, listening to her every move. It would be impossible for him not to know that she meant to leave. If he wanted to stop her and force her to stay for whatever purpose, now would be the time. But as she stood on her tiptoes, reaching for the latch he never moved. He was silent, laying in her bed naked, allowing her to leave. Why isn't he doing anything? Isn't he going to stop me?
As if to answer her question, the stranger let out a small sigh that was almost too quiet to hear. It almost sounded like disappointment. Or boredom, she thought blandly, a feeling of empathy filling her as all of the tiresome nights of travelers and bandits, soldiers and mercenaries swam through her mind. It was all so boring, day in and day out. Gunfire no longer held any suspense other than the momentary adrenaline of what usually turned out to be a sad attempt by bandits. Nor were the men passing through any better. They all had the same stories, with the same motivations. Blood, money, violence, and fame. That's what they all wanted and that's what they all got to some degree or another. Hell, they even looked the same, with their big muscles and scrunched faces, or starved bodies and crazed eyes. It was boring.
But as she ran through all the reasons she should leave and ignore the overwhelming urge of curiosity and excitement, her feet carried her away from the hatch and back to the bed. She didn't even acknowledge what she had chosen to do until she felt the roughness of her sheets against her exposed forearms as she stretched out on the bed in nervous anticipation.
The man must have been surprised, too, by her choice as his breathing increased enough that she could hear its quick inhales and long exhales. She almost dared to believe that she felt the bed move ever so slightly with his body stiffening. For what was an eternal few seconds, they seemed to hang in the balance. Each waiting for signs of what the other was going to do in the pitch-blackness of her room. Cecelia felt her body shiver as her mind anticipated what his skin would feel like and how he would touch her. All at once she could see him grabbing her and exploring her small curves roughly, giving her body the shocking stimulation it desired, while on the other hand she could picture his hands slowly tracing along her skin, making every nerve fire in succession as he teased her before letting her feel him and the sweet pressure he would fill her with.
A small sigh escaped her lips as the excitement of her own thoughts made her blood hot and her skin tingle. A shift in the bed made it worse, her senses dying for a touch that seemed to be just moments from coming and yet would never arrive. Next to her, she could feel the coolness of his breath as he still lay on his side of the bed, his body just inches from hers. Please, she begged silently. Please, just do it. Please!
The anticipation built as her body warmed and tensed, her pulse dancing through her veins in an uneven, speeding pace, while her mind thought of every possibility of what would happen when she felt his hand on her forearm. The world seemed to stop as her mind raced with the warmth of his touch, the roughness of his palms, and the strangeness of his four fingers wrapping her around her. She waited, her mind wondering what he would do next all the while begging for him to touch her more, to discover what her softer areas felt like and make her feel like a woman instead of just another piece of Promethean scum.
He moved again, the bed making a creaking noise as he shift his weight so that he was right next to her, the heat of his body pulsing through her clothes. Cecelia closed her eyes, listening to his barely detectable movements as the bed made small noises that gave him away. She could feel her heart against her chest as his hand moved from her arm up towards her neck, tugging at the vest and the collar of her shirt with obvious instruction. Without a second thought she reached for the bottom of her dirty shirt and quickly pulled it over her head, taking the vest with it. Laying still again, she waited to see where he would go, what he would touch next.
The stranger breathed deeply next to her, his body moving to be as close to hers without touching. She could feel his palm hovering over her stomach, as if unsure where to touch or if even to touch her when he suddenly came up to her face, his fingertips lightly brushing their way towards her ear and down her neck. A shiver ran through her as the trail he made seemed to burst into flames, making the rest of her body crave more. She couldn't contain a ragged breath as he continued his path along her clavicle and between her breasts, coming to a stop at the edge of her pants, waiting for her to make the next move.
Cecelia didn't waste another second. Quickly she moved to pull off the offending clothing, kicking off her boots and socks so that she was completely exposed to the darkness of the room, her hair on her skin standing up at the sudden coolness. She waited for him in what had quickly become a game of senses, craving for his fingers to find her skin again.
She didn't have long to wait, as the stranger seemed barely to contain his own desire, his hand moving to her stomach, his palms and fingers moving across it's smooth expanse in swirling motions. A familiar need began to fill her as he let his hands move up her breasts, brushing them gently as he passed only to circle his way down to as far as he could go without touching her most sensitive area.
A strangled moan pushed against her lips as he felt her, her mouth barely keeping shut to smother the noise. The masked man stopped, his hand pushing against her she felt what she thought was him staring at her. She felt herself begin to form the words that her body screamed at her to say, her tongue began to move to beg him to keep going and not to stop when he suddenly was on top of her, his lean body pushing against hers so that she could feel his hardness against her ready opening. Electricity seemed to course through her as she felt the strong muscles of his stomach against her softness, his hands entwining hers and holding them above her head as he pushed into her, releasing the pressure and desire that had been building inside of her.
She moaned, this time unable to quiet it as his breathing became ragged and he jerked in and out of her, his thrusts hard and deep at first and then slowing so that they teased at her, making her legs shake and her hips to move. The darkness soon became filled with the sounds of their heavy breathing, skin hitting skin, and a few unintelligible noises from each of them. He let his body slowly lower on to hers, so that she could feel his chest move against hers as he thrust, his face buried in her hair near her ear. Her hands gripped at his back, pushing him to her, urging him to keep going, to move faster and deeper as her body neared the edge. With each thrust his breathing got shorter and louder, his lips moving to her ear and gently kissing them before taking it into his mouth and sucking. The sensation was too much for her, as she felt a wave of bliss move up her body, her face burying itself into his shoulder as a small noise of satisfaction left her.
Her body stiffened as her grip tightened around him causing him to push into her faster and hard until finally he let out a small gasp and stopped save for a few small strokes. Collapsing on her, she savored the feeling of his breathing, his chest pushing against hers, his hair sweaty against her hot face. It was a long time before either of them moved again, but finally the stranger pulled away from her, moving back to his side of the bed without a word. Grabbing the covers, Cecelia covered them both before rolling over and letting herself drift off to sleep.
She knew it was morning by the sounds of movement above her head. As always, Jack, one of the settlers she was closest to, opened up the tavern in the morning and made some noise so as to wake her. Rolling to her side, she reached out to feel her companion from the night before, but felt only emptiness beside her. Confused, she sat up and quickly reached around the floor for the little flashlight she kept handy for when she didn't bring a lamp down with her. Flipping it on, it was clear immediately that the man had left and had taken all signs of his being there with him.
"What did you really expect?" she muttered as she pulled herself out of bed and quickly dressed. She wasn't sure if she was disappointed or relieved to have him be gone already, but she did know that she felt the best she had in months, maybe even years. Slipping up her ladder, she smiled at the unlatched lock before climbing from her room and out into the tavern.
Jack gave her a smile and a nod, moving towards the door of her establishment as he always did. "Thanks, Jack," she called, making her way to the bar when she noticed a folded slip of paper lying on a nearby table.
"Not a problem," her friend called back, leaving her alone as he went to focus on his own day.
She waited until he had left and the door had shut behind him before moving to paper and carefully unfolding it. Looking at it, she couldn't help but laugh at her own fortune and misfortune and everything in between as she stared at the picture of the strange masked man, the words Wanted Dead, The Assassin Zer0 lining the top, while the bottom held the largest bounty she had ever seen. $32,000,000,000. And with a small laugh filled with disbelief, she wasn't sure that knowing that all the money to her problems and dreams had been laying next to her would have made any difference one way or the other.