He was mildly surprised to see that Nova was not on the couch. "Where is she...?"
He searched the rest of the rooms and found them to be empty.
Upon returning to the living room he noted that the bad she had brought her stuff in was open in the floor.
"Oh, she must've gone out. I may as well, though I really should clean that room for her."
He went to the room near his bedroom and took a key out from under his armguard. After unlocking it he went inside.
The room was rather small. A full-size bed was pushed against one of the walls, taking up a large portion of the room. Several different sized boxes were taking up any available space on the bed. The opposite side housed a built-in closet and a small desk and chair in front of one side. A wooden box was sitting on the desk, there was nothing else. The walls were covered with different posters of various types, some were of bands, others were animated shows that would interest a teenage boy.
Blaze slowly surveyed the room, tears shimmering in his normally hardened wine-red eyes. "Maybe later..." He closed the door.
Instead of cleaning the room, he made his way downtown to one of the local bars. There was only one that he ever really visited, the Downtown Lounge. The other places were filled more with the younger generations that just wanted to be loud and rambunctious with their partying.
Blaze's friend Yuri was tending to the bar.
The Viral sat down at the stool directly in front of Yuri.
The middle-aged sandy-haired man set down the glass he had been cleaning. "Hey there Blaze. You seen Nova yet?"
"I did, yes. You didn't really mention she was..."
"Oh, I didn't? Oops, slipped my mind. I just send people to her all the time. You didn't get any action?"
Blaze slapped the forehead of his helmet. "No, you numbskull. I didn't want that kind of company. You should know how I am."
"Right, right. Just forgot. The regular?"
"Nah, just a beer."
He handed Blaze a bottle of beer, looking mildly surprised. "That's different. What did you do with Nova?"
"We just talked, mainly. She ah...I'm letting her live with me for a little while."
A horrified look overcame the other man's features. "You what?! Do you even realize what you're doing?"
"What do you mean?"
Yuri lowered his voice as he moved closer. "She's a rather well known drug trafficer's daughter!"
Blaze blinked, taken aback. "She...she didn't tell me that."
"She doesn't even know. I never told her. She just knows him as having a large number of whores and he could or could not be her father. He doesn't actually interact with her or anything but keeps tabs on her. Which is why she was staying with that psycho guy."
"I don't care if she was a king's daughter. She doesn't deserve the abuse that guy was giving her."
Yuri sighed. "I know. I never liked him much. She always comes to visit when she has a chance to, looking worse and worse every time. You think you can protect her from anything that could happen?"
Blaze flexed his claws. "I'm a Bounty Hunter, for cryin' out loud, Yuri. I can handle some chump humans."
"Long as you don't go and get yourself killed, big guy. But ah...don't wear out poor Nova either." He grinned mischieviously.
"I ain't going to have sex with her any time soon, Yuri, she's my friend."
Yuri winked at him. "She's my friend too, but that didn't stop me."
Blaze gave him an exasperated look. "That's 'cause you're a creep."
"I'm just human."
"Yeah you humans are kinda disgustin'. Oh, speaking of Nova. You know where she ah...does her business?"
"Depends. She has a section of downtown just as hers, pretty much. Between first and third street. But if you wait long enough she'll probably show up here."
"Okay. I'll wait and see. If she doesn't show up in a couple hours, I'll check around."
He was silent for a short while before finally asking what had been on his mind. "Yuri, can you tell me something?"
"Sure, bud, what is it?"
"Does it actually mean much if Nova finds someone attractive?"
Yuri tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Well, she doesn't say that often. Why do you ask?"
Blaze rolled the bottle around in his hands. "She said she found me attractive."
Yuri grinned. "Well now! She hasn't even called me that, and I think I'm pretty damn good lookin'! She must've taken to you."
"Is that good or bad?"
"She's had a lot of problems growing up and been treated badly. It makes it hard for her to feel that she can trust anyone. For her to have allowed you to take her from that place and stay with you, that's a pretty good thing. Just treat her right and you'll have a loyal companion for as long as she lives."
"Really? I don't judge her for being a prostitute, but you know with how I was treated before, how little I trust women."
"Oh, I know, Blaze. She shouldn't cause any trouble. She cares for others more than she does herself. She'll do about anything to keep you happy, even sleep with you. But you should try that anyways, trust me. You'll find yourself feeling a lot better."
"Should talk to her."
"I already knows she wants to."
"She'd appreciate it if you ended up taking her up on the offer."
"I really don't know if I could bring myself to do it, is the thing. I only had sex with Rena twice. And she was my first."
"Well, you're gonna be dealing with an experienced gal, not some trampy wannabe."
"I know you didn't like Rena, but a tramp, really?"
"Hey, you can't tell me she didn't dress pretty awful, now can you?"
Blaze sighed. "I did always ask if she'd wear something less like she was trying to be eighteen instead of twenty-five. She'd just get mad and wear something skimpier."
Yuri looked up from Blaze. "Oh, hey, look who's here. Hey, beautiful!"
Blaze turned to see Nova walking towards them. He had to look away quickly when he saw what she was wearing: a jean miniskirt, a light blue low-cut tank top and black high heels.
"Hey, Yuri! Oh, Blaze what are you doing here?"
"I come here to see Yuri and hang out."
She sat down on the stool beside him. "I'm sorry for just leaving this morning but you were asleep and I didn't want to bother you."
"It's no problem."
Yuri poured a dark liquid into a tall glass and set it in front of Nova. "Here ya go sweetheart...oh, damn, Nova. What happened to your face?"
"Oh," She touched her cheek. "Nick disciplined me the other night."
"I see why Blaze took you away. That's the worst he's made you look, ever."
Nova smiled brightly. "Yes, it is quite nice being with Blaze instead."
"How was the clientel today?"
"I didn't have many. Didn't like my face being bruised, they said it was a rather turn-off. But I ran out of make-up so I couldn't cover any of it up. So I only made about a hundred dollars."
Blaze's eyes widened. "Only?"
Yuri shook his head. "Yeah, that ain't as much as usual."
"What?! How much is usual?"
"The range is usually between two hundred and five hundred. Depends on who it is and what they want, and how long."
"Oh. Damn. I don't have a clue about any of that sort, so I didn't know the pricing."
"It should suffice for now. If I can get the quota by Friday, then I won't have to worry."
"If you're staying with Blaze, who will take the money to Don?"
"Oh...I didn't think about that. I guess I can leave it in Nick's mail-box."
"Would work if he checks the mail."
"He does. He gets punished if he misses anything important. Blaze, can we go back to the house? I need to get cleaned up."
"Thank you for the drink, Yuri. Sorry I didn't stay as long as I normally do."
"No problem, darlin'." He leaned over the counter. "I do expect the usual payment though."
Nova giggled. "Of course." She gave him a swift kiss on the cheek before getting up off the stool.
Blaze cocked an eyebrow at Yuri as Nova made her towards the door. "What was that?"
"Ah, we just set up a payment system of a sorts. She gets drinks and I get a kiss for each. Makes both of us happy and doesn't leave her broke," He grinned. "You really ought to at least have a chat with her about what we talked about earlier."
"Yeah, yeah. Hold down the fort, I'll be back tomorrow."
"You got it, big guy."
Nova was giggling. "Hold down the fort?"
"Ah, I bounce here sometimes."
"I should have guessed. What with your scary looks and build, no man in that bar could take you."
"Nah. Though they love to try when they're wasted."
"So did you walk?"
"Ah? No. I rode Behemoth."
Blaze patted the leather seat of a rather large motorcycle. "He's right here."
The Viral smiled. "Say hello, Behemoth."
Nova jumped, emitting a small squeak when the motorcycle rumbled in response.
Blaze chuckled. "He said hi."
Blaze tapped on the side of his helmet. "Just in here, to me. It's a weird little telepathic type deal."
With a little help from Blaze, she managed to situate herself on the large motorcycle.
Blaze climbed on in front of her. "Put your arms around my waist. It'll help keep you from falling off."
Nova wrapped her arms around his middle, resting her head against his back.
The pressure against his skin made him shiver. "You situated all right?"
"Yeah. You okay? You're shivering."
"I'm fine, just a cold chill."
Behemoth revved up for a moment before pulling out into the street.
After Nova had a quick shower and a changed into what Blaze approved to be more decent clothing, the pair made their way downtown to go to the grocery store.
“Ooh, Blaze, can I go into the mall first?” Nova asked excitedly when she had spotted the small shopping mall ahead of them.
Blaze shrugged. “Sure. Can't go in there after shopping, we'll have too much crap to carry home.”
The young woman grabbed the startled Digimon's gloved hand and started pulling him with a force that seemed to not match her small physique. “Come on, you come to!”
“H-hey!” It took all of his reflexes to prevent himself from being knocked off his feet.
Nova released his hand as he pulled himself up straight. She put her hands behind her back and smiled. “Did I surprise you?”
“Y...no!...I just wasn't expecting it.”
She laughed and started running towards the mall.
“Nova!” Blaze took off after her. He managed to catch her just before she went inside. “Nova, you really can't run off like that, okay? I don't want to spend half my time trying to track you down in there.”
“Oh, sorry. I just was so excited!”
“Well I wanted to give you something before we go in. Just in case you want to go somewhere without me.”
She watched curiously as he slid a black leather wallet from under one of his arm-guards. Her eyes widened when he started thrumming through it.
“Now. I remember you said you didn't have any make-up...and I think if you get a chance to find some less skimpy clothes for when you go out...this should be enough.” He pulled out several pieces of paper bills and held them out to her.
“Wh...what? Bu-but that's like a two hundred dollars!”
Blaze shrugged. “I know female clothing can be expensive.”
“Blaze...I can't take your money, I didn't earn it.”
“Sure you can,” He grabbed her wrist to keep her from pulling it away and placed the money into her open hand. “There. Think of it as a housewarming gift for moving in with me.”
Nova clutched the money to her chest. “No one's ever given me money without me earning it...”
Blaze ushered her inside. “C'mon, inside now.”
The mall was not a particularly large one, it had two clothing stores, a video game store, a shoe store, a book store, and several small local food joints with one even being a fudge shop.
The pair had separated, Nova heading into the bookstore and Blaze into the video game store.
He was looking around, noting any games he found even the least bit interesting. He had picked one up and was examining the back when Nova came up beside him.
"Whatcha lookin' at?"
"Ah just a game I'd been looking for."
"Why don't you get it?"
"I will another time," He set the game down. "What did you get?"
Nova held a rather thick comic book up in front of her face. "Just this."
Blaze looked at it closely. "Uh. What is it?"
"A comic, I think. It has pictures so I can read it better."
Nova beamed. "Yeah one of the clerks suggested it to me. They were super nice."
"Good. Where else do you want to go to?"
Nova giggled. "Clothes I guess."
"What are you laughin' for?"
She shrugged, still smiling.
"Well let's go, one is on the other side."
They headed over to the other side of the mall to the clothing store.
"Ooh, isn't this just cute!"
Blaze turned around to see what she was talking about. "Uh..."
She was holding up a hanger with what seemed to be a dark blue spagetti-strap shirt. But when she held it up against herself to examine it, he found it to be some sort of lingerie, with everything below the cups being a sheer material with small designs in it. The lacey bottom ended just at her hips.
"You are definitely not getting that!"
Nova stuck her tongue out at him and laid the lingerie over her arm. "I'll wear pants with it."
She gave him a sly smile. "I'll just wear it to work."
She giggled. "No. I don't want it to get damaged or grimey. I'll just wear it to bed."
"I...don't see how that's any better..."
"Oh, it's just because you want to see me in it."
Blaze's face darked until it matched his red-wine colored eyes. "Tha...I..." He turned away.
She giggled again and walked off.
Blaze trailed behind her, trying to still his racing heart. "I say no skimpy clothes and she goes and gets lingerie! Is she really trying that hard?" he muttered to himself.
Luckily for Blaze, the rest of the clothing Nova decided to buy was more what he had asked: different styles of shorts and capris, and several non-revealing shirts.
The pair were just coming out of the store, chatting amidably with each other, when Blaze spotted someone who looked all too familiar.
A woman in her mid twenties was hanging off a man with a rather burly build. Dark blonde hair hung around her head in tight ringlets. She wore a skin-tight white blouse, a black mini-skirt and wedge-heeled sandals.
He went rigid, his eyes hardening as he watched the pair pass by.
The woman suddenly stopped and turned around. A contemptual smile crossed her brightly painted lips. "Well well, look who it is." Her gaze turned to Nova and her aqua-colered eyes grew wide. "What the hell happened to your face? Oh, I bet Blaze did that, didn't he?"
Blaze growled. "You know I don't harm females!"
"No...not physically, anyway." She flipped a few strands of hair over her shoulder.
"I never meant to hurt you, Rena."
"Well you did, so screw you!"
"Shut up. Just shut up. I already told you before, I don't want to hear your sorry excuses. I've heard enough of them."
Blaze looked away, knowing she was right. He clenched his fists.
Rena turned her attention back to Nova. "And who are you, anyways? His girlfriend?"
"What? Oh. No. I'm just his house-guest."
"House...Oh, haha...Blaze, did you really do what I think you have?"
"Depends on what you think I've done."
"You've gone and gotten yourself a little whore."
The muscles in his cheek twitched. "She is not a whore."
"But she must be. I mean, look at her face. Only whores get beat on like that. Or come in as house-guests to someone who can't even make the effort to stay sober enough to spend time with his girlfriend."
"She is not a whore!" Blaze said more forcefully. "And it wasn't like you were around that much, either."
"Only because you were too drunk to be around." She planted her fists on her hips.
"You went out and partied, there were times you came back too drunk to walk straight!" Blaze retorted.
Rena stamped her foot in indignation. "I did not! I went out and had a few drinks with my friends and danced. You were the one at the bar all the time!"
"Yeah well I was spending time with my friends! And at least I didn't sleep with someone else!"
Nova looked from Blaze to Rena and back as they argued, chewing on her bottom lip.
"I hate you!"
Blaze flinched as if he had been slapped but kept the straightest face he was able. "You may. But I still love you."
"Go to hell!"
"Already there, sweetheart."
"I am not your 'sweetheart' anymore. So don't call me that!" she snapped. She turned to Nova. "I'll give you a piece of advice from a woman who wasted time around this jack-ass. Keep as far away from him as possible. He may seem all sweet and caring now, but he'll just ruin your life."
With that said, she took hold of the man's hand and led him off.
Blaze watched her back until she disappeared into a sea of people. It felt as if his heart had stopped inside his chest.
Blaze shut his eyes. His entire body was trembling. He felt pressure on his side as Nova placed a hand on it. "Don't. Don't touch me."
She quickly pulled her hand away. "Blaze..."
He swallowed hard before speaking, his voice thick, "She's right...she's always been right. I'm just a drunk. I don't care about anyone else but me. Just...just stay away from me."
He set the bags he had been carrying down in front of Nova before setting off for the exit.
Nova was so stunned that all she could do was stare after her friend. She managed to snap herself out of her daze and gather up her bags before scurrying after him. "Blaze, please wait!"
"I said stay away from me, dammit!" He took off at a full run, knowing that there was no way she would be able to keep up.
He did not stop running until he had made it back to his home.
There he sat on the couch with his face in his hands, the events from earlier replaying in his mind.
In an attempt to drown his sorrow, he started drinking from the stash he kept in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.
After several hours, he was finally liquored up enough to feel tired and retired to bed.