Red Dragon

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Hell Night

Francis indulged Bridget that morning and let her shower with him. She was spent; there was no real threat of continuing... or so he thought. How she pouted as she raised his member, stroking it, cleaning up with such zeal... only for it to fall back down, bouncing against her belly then thigh. She tried, again and again, to get it to rise, growing more frustrated with how it simply fell.

“Trust me. That’s a good thing,” Francis clarified. For the ninth time since they entered. But that didn’t stop her from trying, all the way until they were out of the shower and she needed to excuse herself to go to her apartment, returning in something more than one of his towels.

He was in the kitchen, preparing one of the dishes Nicole taught him in between... punishment. That morning he decided he wanted some sausage (in no small part thanks to Ezra), and decided to saute some medallion rounds with bell pepper and onion in a tomato sauce. The fairies were kind enough to gift him a pack of hoagie rolls for it. It smelled so succulent, so savory... violated as she returned. With her coffee. She was in a tan suit that day, her black blouse accentuating the jacket and longer skirt, positively glowing as she waltzed into the kitchen.

Before crying out as Penny knocked her aside.

“Sorry! Didn’t see you there,” the wizard said, snorting at the air. “I thought I smelled something amazing over that flowery shit.”

“This? It’s nothing,” Francis said, but already pulled out a plate and two rolls for Plank. He stepped back, allowing her wide berth to jump over the small puddle of “coffee” that had seeped into the tile, but then loaded them and handed it to her at the table before preparing Bridget’s. She started to leave, but he held out the plate to her. “Don’t worry about it. I’m more than awake.”

“Oh? What did you two do?” Plank said, gnashing into a roll.

“What a couple usually does in the morning,” Bridget mumbled- and the poor wizard almost choked on that.

“You two? A couple!”

“Oh, no.” She leaned toward Francis, smirking. “At least not yet.”

She tittered... but sighed, holding up the mugs.

“I’ll go get these filled real quick. It’s the least I can do, but you go on ahead and eat. I’ll be back in two shakes, darling.”

She kissed his cheek and skipped off... leaving him to partake in her plate. He sat across from Penny, munching into the first –and was surprised by how well he balanced the vegetables. The peppers were a bit too crunchy for his liking, but he wasn’t sure how thin he needed to make them. Onions were spot on, but he could never get enough of th-

“Are you really banging her? Really?” Penny grumbled, shaking her head.

“Not really... at least, not yet-”

“The fact you say ‘yet’ is-”

“I’m not gonna lie... She’s perfect. For me. She has that perfect body, just enough give but enough strength behind it. Caring, doting, witty, simple, stubborn-”

“So, a mom.”

“I guess? I never had one.”

“Oh. Right... Sorry-”

“For what? You might be right; maybe I do have a mommy complex because of me not having a mom. Doesn’t change what I like, and daddy fucking likey.”

“I mean, are you sure you like it? You-you are sure?”

“Yes, me-me likes what I-I like-like. God, I know you don’t like her, but you don’t need to poison the well; her coffee does that well enough.” He said the last part in a hushed tone as he heard a door close in the distance. He finished off the first roll -which the sausage was a bit too tough as well; maybe next time he’ll actually remove it from the plastic, but he had a hard time seeing the difference between it and the casing- when Bridget returned. He felt the smile split on his face, watching her enter-

And slip on the coffee before.

She entered too quick, turned on her heel too fast, and that poor, black stiletto snapped as she plummeted. Francis lunged, and caught her head before it slammed into the counter. The witch, her eyes shut fast, shuddered... but... slowly, opened her eyes, seeing him.

“First time on your feet,” he asked, and helped her stand –outside of the coffee puddle. Thankfully (or sadly) the new mugs in her hands did not spill, so it didn’t grow. It was, also, a good thing he was in black sweats that day for they were soaked as he straightened, helping her to the table, letting her take his seat. He returned to the stove, reached above, and pulled out another plate, preparing it for her. “I knew you were in a rush to see my pretty face again, but give some consideration for those little things.”

“I know. Sorry,” Bridget said, chuckling. Though it was sheepish, he felt something else with it. Pride? Admiration? She was beaming at him as he turned to the table, and scooted over one seat to let him sit before taking the plate. She still didn’t eat then, waiting until he was seated to steal a kiss on his cheek before finally indulging. “You’ve outdone yourself, darling. This is delicious.”

“It was okay,” Penny said. “Smelled better.”

“That’s rather rude. It was his first attempt.”

“And I’m being honest. The sausage was too tough-”

“That would be because I left the plastic on,” Francis said.

“You mean the casing? That’s meant to... be... You actually mean plastic, don’t you?”

Bridget gulped, and reached in her mouth, pulling out the evidence, letting it plop on her plate... She cleared her throat, and took another bite, though Francis noticed both women were now picking around those pork medallions.

“It’s still delicious, darling,” Bridget stated, and shot Penny a dirty look as she scoffed.

“‘Darling darling darling-’ Anyone tell you that gets annoying? And I’ll give a hint: It doesn’t take too fucking long for it to get annoying.”

“Francis told me, and I’ve been dialing it back.”

“Not enough, apparently.”

“It’s an improvement. Believe me,” Francis said, and sank his teeth into the next roll. “And I thank you for the compliment, Bridget, but I know I fucked it up. I can list nine different things in this one bite that are wrong.”

“Yes, but it’s still quite good for a first time,” Bridget insisted, and patted his head. “Cooking takes time to master. I will gladly eat whatever you make.”

“Me too,” Jessica said- JESSICA SAID.

“When did you get here?” Francis exclaimed, glaring at the manticore at the other end of the kitchen. She leaned against the arch, tearing into a few hoagies of her own, her purrs louder than her rips and snorts.

“A minute ago,” she stated, and pulled her face away long enough from the plate for him to see. “It’s almost Halloween, you know. I’m off my period, too.”

“That’s a bit... inappropriate during breakfast to say,” Bridget said, but didn’t seem to perturbed as she ruffled Francis’s hair, lulling him into her arms as she stared at the manticore. “Why is that important?”

“Well, that’s between the two of us. He knows what I’m talking about.”

“Between the three of us, actually,” Penny said. “He told me yesterday.”

“Then I am the odd one out,” Bridget whined, and sniffed. “Darling, can you tell me what this is about?”

“‘Darling’?” Jessica said. “You two dating now?”

“We have been. All last week and this Sunday.”

“Damn, you move fast, Francis. But I guess when you are desperate for it- after all, you almost fucked Penny.”

“That is behind us now. All of us... So what were you hoping from Francis? What did you two have in mind?”

“Nothing now, I guess... I’m still taking your food, though.”

“Now now. Let’s not rule anything out,” Francis said. “Halloween is still a good bit away-”

“It’s only two days.”

“Yeah. A good bit away. Have you lived the last couple of months? They dragged on forever. Every day at that school feels like an eternity, and, as we all know, given enough time, something will get fucked up. We have two eternities to go through before anything is concrete.”

“Francis,” Bridget whined, and tugged on his ear. “Darling. What is this about? What could be messed up?”

Jessica huffed, tossing her plate into the sink, and belched.

“Good shit. You use extra thick-casing sausage? How did you know I love it thicker?”

“Intuition,” Francis jumped on it, before Penny could laugh or Bridget could correct. And, on that note, it was time for everyone to head to class. For his own sake, Francis went with Plank. The first part of the day went exactly as it did before... save for a smirking incubus handing Francis a fresh packet. Which had that day’s lesson, as well. For the best; his phone was too busy blowing up from so many sources. Surprisingly, Destiny was quite vocal that day.

Are you really considering Bridget? She’s a bit old, don’t you think?

Age is not a factor with her, he sent, and looked out towards the hall. As if expecting someone to be there. Call it a hunch, but he always felt a bit... murdery when eyes were upon him. And, right then, he could feel them boring into him.

You made a strong point yesterday about the other girls being like children, but surely you would prefer someone closer?

And you are?

I am twenty-six.

Ah. A child, as well.

I am no child. I assure you. I have seen Hell, have gone through more than most people would ever know or want to know. You might have lived off the streets, but it was in the U.S.

Well, yeah. Where else would we be?

I have been many places in my life. I have lived so many lives, walked so many paths. Even the worst life in the U.S. Is better than the best areas in Africa or the Middle East. I would sooner live out of a dumpster than ever return to Kuwait or Libya or even Egypt.

Egypt? Really? But they have all those wonders.

Ancient history. The current day it’s more akin to Biblical times with how fucked it is.

So how did you get there? What sort of life did you live to allow for such travel?

Not a good one, and that’s all your eking out of me on that.

Might not have given her enough credit, he thought, chortling as he prepared the next message- snapped back to reality as Carl cleared his throat.

“What?” The drachen grumbled. “Finally starting something?”

“No?” The Fang said, putting his pencil away. “I was holding that in until Johnny was done.”

“Eh? It’s already lunchtime?”

“Yes. Yes it is.”

“Damn. I wasted the entire morning sexting my stalker.”

“Stalker?” Olen said, picked up by Ben. Captain Kidd and Lucas already left, while Mordred took his usual, smoldering place behind Francis. “Do tell.”

“It’s nothing really. You guys don’t want to hear about it.”

“We insist,” tall, dark, and brooding stated, grasping both of his shoulders.

“Oh man! Is it time already? Another guy lunch?” Ben said, grinning wide. “Are you sure the cafeteria is ready for our presence so soon?”

“Yeah, no. I don’t advise that at all,” Penny said from the door. “Ready, dumbass?”

“That’s not very nice, you know,” Cassidy stated, scooting through. The rest of her flock wasn’t so fortunate, squabbling at Penny as she blocked the way in her “plate” armor. It was little more than starched cloth, but at a glance gave the illusion of hardened metal. The harpy fluttered up to Francis, but, with each flap, her body shook more, her face reddened. “So... hey... I heard from Professor Deckard that you are planning on a date with her this weekend after meeting my dad... So... if it’s alright, I was wondering if you would like to have lunch with us- me- us... yes.”

“Really? Now?” Francis said.

“Oh, I knew I shouldn’t have asked-”

“No no. Stop that, by the way. That’s not what I’m talking about... I’m actually surprised you didn’t try asking sooner. Or any other woman EXCEPT Ezra.” He shot Johnny a look, who was trying to look inconspicuous. Trying, but failing. “Then again, I’m not at the same time... Sure. I’ll go to lunch with you girls.”

“Really?” All the harpies... and Penny exclaimed. While the harpies cheered, though, Penny slapped her forehead and shook her head.

“You’re just a glutton for punishment, dumbass,” the wizard said, and stomped away, allowing that blur of feathers through, enclosing on Francis.

“Let’s go! Let’s go!” Melanie trilled, tugging on his left arm.

“Be gentle, dummy,” Cassidy said, pushing her away... while doing the exact same. “We have the perfect spot out in the courtyard! Oh! Right. I forgot to mention we prepared a picnic basket.”

“So what would have happened if I refused?” Francis said, raising his arms so that the harpies can squeak under, giving him the wings he sorely desired.

“Then little Cass would have cried,” the raven one said, sniffling. “Poor Cass, being turned down twice in a week even though SHE’S HAD TWO DATES-”

“Oh shut it Isabelle,” Melanie shrilled. “You never even talked to him. You or Eliza.”

“And whose fault is that?” The peachier colored one spat out, squawking. “Whenever we tried to get close, you two would back us off.”

“Which, by the way, nice blocking yourself, Mel,” Isabelle said. “You haven’t even had a chance.”

“Hey! That’s right,” Melanie exclaimed, and shoved Cassidy. “This whole time-”

“Silence!” Mordred boomed... and, once more, there was that hint that struck Francis, that made his mind go into overdrive yet stall at the same time. What was about it his voice? What was catching him off-guard. Mordred seized Francis from those harpies, and shoved him towards the door. Where Olen and Ben... and Carl waited. “Fly. You fool.”

Francis didn’t have to be told twice. He bolted for the door, and heard the harpy scourge behind rise into a wail. His feet crashed with each fall, ten, fifteen feet with each until he reached the rail. He didn’t have the muumuu this time to help him glide but that didn’t mean he couldn’t at least make it out the door. Concrete shattered as he landed, off to the side of the stairs, which he rolled down four after before finding his feet, continuing to run RIGHT TO PENNY’S car.

She blinked at him, in a stupor as he ripped the door open and slammed it into place behind.

“Drive,” he said... and growled. “Didn’t you hear me! DRIVE!”

He raised his foot and slammed it on her side, right on the gas pedal. The engine roared... but didn’t move. Still in park. Penny blinked thrice... then spluttered and laughed as she moved his foot off, taking her time to put it in reverse and back out. She savored how he ducked under the console, watching as those harpies exploded out of the Academy and circled overhead, looking for him. Suddenly, he was very thankful for Johnny, and would never question his choices ever again.

“So... karma finally biting you?” The wizard said, pulling out towards the bridge. “Hope you don’t mind, but we’re taking an extended lunch.”

“Sounds fine by me...”

The rest of the day was a dull blur, leading to him spending the night at Bridget’s and not seeing his door at all. The witch gave him another... lovely treatment, and even ran to his apartment for him to grab a new pair of sweats. She refused to grab him a tank top... and, instead, handed him a red-and-black striped polo shirt.

“I wanted it to be a surprise for our date,” she stated, biting her lip as he buttoned the top two. She was still naked, but at least washed up. The room wasn’t as lucky, the bed saturated in their love. Her bed was significantly different than his, an actual water bed in the shape of a heart, but the rest of the room was the same –nothing new at that point. She cooed as she straightened the collar... and nipped his neck. “You look good in it. I knew you would.”

“I guess... By the way...”

“Hmm?”

“Don’t you think you’re going a bit... fast?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“Well, if you are hunting for ‘Mister Right’... Do you really think it wise to ride every guy you have the hots for?”

She reeled back from that, holding her cheek as though he slapped her.

“I take insult to that,” she said. “I don’t ‘ride’ every guy. Only the ones I feel... confident with.”

“And how many has that been... well?” She mumbled it at first... He cupped his ear and leaned in. “What was that?”

“One,” she repeated, and looked him in the eyes. “You.”

“... Wow... I’m... honored.”

She giggled- and stole a kiss, her cheeks burning so bright.

“I can’t help it. You make me feel... complete. If I am going too fast, it’s because our five dates have shown we complement each other. Our time together during your dates with Cass were more fulfilling... and now, this weekend, it’ll be us... So will you tell me now what you and Jessica were going on about?”

There was a knock at Bridget’s door. Then slamming.

“Ah know ye in there, laddie!” Nicole shrieked through it. “Ye should have at least stopped at home and told me ya were shacking up with another woman, ya div!”

“You told her?” Francis hissed.

“I didn’t have a choice,” Bridget said, wincing as the door continued to shudder in its frame. “Why is she upset?”

I have a few ideas, he thought, a cold line of sweat running straight down his spine, and only grew thicker as the door continued to shake.

“At least come and say goodbye to me, wee barra,” Nicole said. “Ah won’t be back when you get off school.”

She always knew how to sound so innocent... yet threatening at the same time. Francis heaved a shivering sigh and lumbered to the door, opening it for the pint-sized goliath. She smirked up at him, but the flames in her eyes made his blood turn to ice.

“There ye be,” she said, and handed him a lunchbox. “Ah made you a special meal last night, but ye never came in. Ah prepared a portion for you to enjoy and froze the rest. Ah’ll see ye Friday... and Bridge? Take good care of him. Ah worked him hard for you to enjoy.”

She winked at the witch, but Francis felt the true spear behind it, and how deft it was at piercing at the witch. The goblin turned around and hummed as she skipped up to the third floor, leaving the two standing there... Francis opened the lunchbox, and saw it was some kind of pasta in a white sauce. Because of course it was white... He shuddered to what Friday brought for him. All Saint’s Day was meant to be hallowed for spirits, but, if he wasn’t strong, he would most likely be joining them.

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