Red Dragon

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I Still Know

Francis really needed to stop making the beginning of the day so eventful. It made the rest of it so drab and mundane in comparison. There was some excitement right at the start as he was pulled into Lilith’s office and chastised for his... removal of a problem. She tried so hard to throw on a good show, but he could immediately see through the piss. She didn’t care- no, she did care, but not in a negative sense. The succubus was almost... happy that the witch was put in her place, that she was killed for her “crimes”.

But she put on a good show regardless, gave him his slap on the wrist, then sent him off his way. With nobody truly any the wiser. In fact, Dixie met him at the steps and assured that they were having lunch. He agreed, but fought so hard not to laugh. Her face when she screamed bloody murder in that Eskimo get-up was truly a marvel, burned into his mind. And no one else's.

Johnny added to the mundanity and told them there would be a test Friday and that Wednesday and Thursday would be review days. Which meant he had two days to sit through things he learned far more in-depth than what he was trying to teach on the streets... Francis knew the incubus had to go with the pace of the rest of the class, that it wasn’t necessarily common sense, but it didn’t make it any less boring. Then again, that was school in a nutshell.

Thankfully, he actually had his phone that day... After the fact. He needed to hand it to Lilith: She knew how to fuck with people’s minds-

“Thank you.”

… In that it wasn’t as fast as he once thought. It was still fast, but he, also, was caught off-guard when Bridget exclaimed about the time. They actually had only five minutes to get through the fast food line and eat before he was considered late. She already was, so she ate as she ran across the parking lot, leaving him to indulge in it and take stock of what else was changed. His phone was one of them... His wallet was the other. Which was starting to to look quite anorexic.

He was running out of money, and he still couldn’t get a job to recoup his losses. Not only that, but everyone was still on his case about chilling and watching movies was not a date, so he needed to spend –at least try to spend. Even if they stopped him, it was the gesture that was important, and, soon, far too soon for his liking, he wouldn’t even be able to do that. And he still had two more months before he could even consider it-

No... That’s not entirely true, he thought, looking at a certain money-hungry harpy’s texts. She didn’t seem to care, and it would be an easy gig... That is, if she still needed that position open.

He sighed- and jumped as Carl coughed beside.

“Sorry,” he grumbled, drinking from a thermos. The first time he brought one. The lids laid off to the side, the screw marred by the thick, chocolate drink steaming out of the top. Class was winding down, everyone packing up, and the Fang’s notebook was closed, pushed to the front of the table for that tantalizing metal canister.

Carl must have caught him staring; he reached over and grabbed the “cup” of the thermos, filling it and handing it over.

“I’m not thanking you,” Francis said, taking it, and gulped it all down in one, smooth motion. Just as quickly refilled. “And I’m not thanking you again. Especially after you stabbed me in the back.”

“You’re not welcome, but how did I betray you?”

“The whole Nicole situation? You didn’t do anything.”

“We met and chatted. What was I supposed to do?”

“You were supposed to take her in the other room and fuck her brains out!”

Carl scoffed, scowling as he screwed back on the cap.

“Just meeting her, in your apartment?”

“Why not? Hell, you could have done it with her right in the kitchen.”

“Yeah!” Ben said, grunting as he thrusted his front towards them. “Get some. As a man, it’s how we do it. Any time, anywhere.”

“I mean, I would hope women are involved,” Olen said. “Otherwise-”

“Of course women are involved-”

“Then how is it a manly thing?”

“Because men initiate-”

“And why do you think that? Women can be just as wild-”

“Wilder, in my experience,” Johnny intervened. “Though it truly is amazing the difference between humans and himans in that respect. Back when I taught in Washington, the women were more verbal about it, but we had to break up the men dry-humping their ‘lovers’ in the hall far more. Here? Women are usually the ones sexually assaulting-”

“It could simply be the disparity by disproportional relativity,” Captain Kidd said. “There are far less men in comparison to women.”

“Even then, I hear most of your thoughts... and the women are far... far dirtier. Especially when it comes to you, Junior. You have thirteen simply waiting for an excuse to drain you of everything.”

“All in school right now, maybe,” he said, chortling. “Out of it, that number is a bit higher. Just a bit- ah! But there is my victim for lunch.”

He stood and sauntered over to the door... holding it shut. He leaned to its right, making sure he was out of view of the glass, and fought his laughter as Dixie twisted and rattled the door. The orc peeked through the glass, so puzzled, even more so as Johnny simply stood there, cocking his head and fighting to keep a straight face.

“Excuse me,” the dear called through, pointing down at the handle. “It seems to be stuck.”

“Try turning it the other way,” Johnny said, and a smirk slipped through- cracked as she did. Even Francis couldn’t hold his back any longer, as well as the small tirade of coughing giggles as she continued to rattle it. Johnny cleared his throat and walked over... giving the handle a few turns. He managed to get an inch before shutting it, stepping back. “Seems to be working fine.”

“Oh. Okay.” And she tried again, and Francis could no longer keep still. He roared with laughter as he walked out of the door’s blind spot, letting the handle go at last. The orc cocked her head, free of its line of fur for the moment- but her face grew red, her cheeks puffed as she put the pieces together. She scoffed, slapping the handle, and snorted. “Meanie! Actually had me worried.”

Francis shook his head, wiping his eye, and grabbed the door. He turned the handle, pulled that one inch...

The door wouldn’t budge any further.

“Uh,” he uttered, and shut the door again. He clicked it, undid the lock, then tried to open it again. Stopping at that one inch. He slammed it shut, and wrenched it- snapping it off its hinges. He fell flat on his back, the air pressed out of him by the metal escutcheon, holding him down. “Ow...”

“Serves you right,” Johnny mused, helping it off, and offered his hand to the fallen drachen.

“Yeah yeah,” he grumbled, taking it, and caught his breath as he rose to his feet again. Standing before the orc. Her face was streaked with worry... replaced by smugness when she saw he was fine. Her ears even flicked.

“Are you ready,” she asked, and wheeled about-

Squealing as Desiree slithered in.

“Oh hey!” The lamia said, holding up her deck. “Were you about to head out? I was hoping we could stop by Bea’s for a few hands. Maybe talk about our date this weekend.”

“Eh? Date?” Dixie said, cocking her head to Francis. “I thought you said you were busy with Cassidy this weekend?”

“Again?” Desiree shrieked, hissing as once more yellow scale cracked through her porcelain face. “Again!”

“She sprung it on me,” Francis explained. “Given the circumstances at the time, I literally had no choice.”

“Well that’s just fucking great! How about this: The weekend after. Us.”

“We can do that?” Ezra said, shuffling in behind the lamia. “I mean, I suppose that makes sense. Plan ahead of time so you don’t have to worry.”

“True,” Francis said... but sighed. “But I can’t really vouch for next weekend. Not now.”

“Oh?” Desiree exclaimed, more and more of that mask falling away, revealing the horrid, reptilian visage underneath. It wasn’t like a nagas or a lizan; a lamia’s was far more humanoid, flattened into almost undulating lines of scale, as if like veins or muscle underneath a regular human’s. Their eyes, too. Their eyes, once so sweet, so simple, now horrid disks with a squiggle down their middles, boring into Francis. “NOW you have a problem with it? NOW you have no time!”

“Yes. Because I plan to ask Beatrice for a job-”

“You know you can’t get one-” Johnny began, but was cut off by Francis.

“Fuck that fucking rule! I’m starting to get low on cash and she offered the week I started.”

“Eh? You’re running low?” The lamia said, her mask back in place. Thank God... She tittered, reaching for his hands. “That’s not a big deal, Francis. I can always give you another loan-”

“I’m not giving you my dick as collateral,” he grumbled, pulling his hands back before she could touch them. “Besides, I like having my money, thank you. My own money.”

“Fair point,” Lucas said, carrying Olen. “If you ladies wouldn’t mind, we are starving.”

“Oh. Sorry,” Desiree and Ezra said, stepping off to the left, and the fox and his bucket of fun as well as Captain Kidd and the Tinman and Carl took their leave. Francis hoped he could squeeze out at the end, but Desiree moved to block him in once more, her tail rattling. “Anyways, I don’t think Bea would have a problem. I’ll explain to her that you want Sundays off-”

“Shouldn’t that be up to me?” Francis said. “I mean, I’ll still be asking, but it’s my life. You’re just trying to be a part of me-”

“As I have been for the last two months! Let me in... let me in!”

“Not to rush you, but every moment we stand here is another that we could be at the cafe,” Ezra stated.

“Oh? You are going to the cafe? Then I can join! We’ll play there-”

“I don’t have my deck with me,” Francis stated... but held up a finger. “Tomorrow. We’ll do it tomorrow. I can promise that much.”

“If you’re lucky,” Ezra teased, but Desiree didn’t seem to hear it, already elated to hear she got ONE thing. ONE moment with him... If lunch was all it took to keep her off his back, for at least a time, he might have to consider it more. It didn’t work with Bridget, but age and the old biological clock was ticking with that.

Lunch with those two was... it was lunch. It was mostly him and Ezra talking about more sensible, normal things (like nuclear launch codes and how the world would be after a nuclear holocaust, what would actually happen to the few fertile women instead of what they try to show in Hollywood and how Francis was already the perfect Grand Father -the irony did not escape him on that-) while Dixie was sort of... there. She talked, sure. When she did, it added to the conversation and added new insight, but she seemed content with just sprinkling them in rather than suffocating the entire discussion. Which Francis could respect.

His phone buzzed, and he saw he had a text from Lilith... He would have been miffed on how she knew, but he knew exactly how she knew. Why she didn’t simply talk into his mind LIKE EVERY OTHER TIME TODAY he would never know, though.

You three are fifteen minutes late, the text read, then he read it allowed. Ezra didn’t seem too bothered, but Dixie’s face turned a brilliant shade of red. She slipped and slid on the road while Ezra kept her standing. Francis lumbered behind both, his belly nice and filled. But it was his mind that was satisfied; it had been a long time since he just bullshitted with others. Ezra alone before was great, but with a third-party adding their insight it added that extra bit of flair to really get it there... In truth, maybe it was Dixie, herself. Again, she might not have said much, but what she did add bolstered the topic greatly and allowed them to delve. Perhaps it was Dixie guiding them the entire way.

But, once again, he was in the classroom. The second “half” wasn’t any more exciting than the first, so he was on his phone. And looking at Beatrice’s archive once more... Fuck it.

Heyyy... So is that job offer still good? He sent, and, while waiting, decided to finally check his stalker’s messages. It was starting to get a bit filled; he didn’t bother to look into it the last few days and wanted to see how large that number could get. Sadly, it only said six before it added the dreaded plus sign after, but it was exactly as he expected. With the last few asking if he was ignoring her. What was her first clue?

However, as he opened it, they sent a new message.

I remember this morning.

He blinked, and huffed, shaking his head.

I know, right? I bet I was wild in your wet dream. I can only promise you it gets-

Before he could even finish (the irony), Destiny sent a follow-up. Which sent a chill down his spine.

I saw you rip Bridget apart.

“What the fuck?” He uttered. A bit too loud.

“Having problems following, Junior?” Johnny said, pointing at the quadratic equation on the board. There were twelve integers in play, all equaling a cascading variance –which, at a glance, Francis could see that the incubus was being, in the politest terms, a shit. He smirked and held a finger to his lips. “Or is it something on your phone?”

“You can read my mind. You know damn well what it is.” He was writing his text as he stated that. Whatever do you mean?

“He might be, but we aren’t,” Lucas said. “Come on... Let us in on the drama.”

“If you’re gonna have a show, the least you can do is keep us up to date,” Olen said. “Girl trouble? Finally get one knocked up?”

“Please! If he really wanted to, they’d all be impregnated by now,” Ben said, guffawing. “He isn’t that foolish... right?”

“Hell, I haven’t even fucked any of them. Yet,” Francis said, and his stomach dropped out as Destiny sent her destined text.

You know very well what I mean. You tore her head off first, then her arms, her tits, her upper body. You bit clean above your hand that was through her chest. “Nobody cares about clones.”

Who are you? Enough games!

I haven’t been playing. Btw, that show of power, of dominance... It turned me on. owo

You are one kinky bitch, aren’t you? Why don’t you introduce yourself for real, then, if you are so into me.

I already have, though.

Which harpy is this? Des, did you get another phone? Lupe or Luna- or even Victoria, I guess; does Mandy know you are doing this? This isn’t funny, Ali!

He rapid fired them, his thumbs clacking, echoing through the room, egged on by his growls. The fins on his arms and back started to raise, matching the hair on his nape, covered in a cold sweat. Destiny, though, didn’t answer. She simply waited, showing she was reading each... but letting it go. At last, he saw the bubbles, panting, and flames unfurled as he looked upon her message.

So many women, yet are you truly attracted to any of them? No... I’m someone who is a bit more... intimate.

Who the hell is this!

I’m your Destiny, of course.

“Piss off!” He boomed and slung the phone onto the table. The poor thing bounded across, sliding to then off the other side, clacking to the ground. The entire time, he didn’t realize he had bolted out of his seat... When he did, he took a deep breath, walked around, picked it up, then lumbered back to it, plopping down. He ran a hand through his hair, and looked upon the (thankfully still pristine) screen of the phone. Seeing she sent a new message.

In time. Until then, please, keep showing your anger, your strength. owo I love a strong man.

Oh. Look. A message from Beatrice.

Of course! When can you come in to sign the paperwork? Also, Des talked to me during lunch and said to give you Sundays off. I thought that was a no-brainer, but she’s excited for your guy’s lunch date tomorrow.

Well, it’ll mostly be with you. Kill two birds with one stone.

Again, Francis didn’t realize what he had done until after he sent it... and Johnny laughing. When he did, though, he couldn’t help but laugh as well as he slapped his forehead, shaking his head.

“Very poor choice of words,” the drachen muttered.

“Very, but amazing,” Johnny clarified, and cleared his throat. “Anyway, class is done for the day. Francis, if I were you, I would just head home and bury your head in the sand. It’s better than the grave you’ve been toiling away at all day.”

“You’re not wrong. You are not wrong.”

“Finally learning common sense, then?” Plank said from the door. “Truly you are a miracle worker, Johnny.”

“What can I say? I’m good at what I do.”

“I would have to agree,” Bridget said, making her presence known. She tittered, cocking her head to Francis as she elbowed her way passed the wizard. “Well? Are you ready, darling?”

“For the most part, but Penny was here first.”

“Oh, I know, but I thought I would live up to this morning. I said we would go to the cafe, but time got away from us. Why don’t we go now?”

“That’s fine. I went with Ez and Dix.”

“So I heard,” Ali grumbled, also pushing her way passed Penny. Then Bridget. Much to the witch’s disdain. Her wings buzzed, digging in that much more, stopped as she settled on Johnny’s desk. Sitting before Francis. “Can’t I go one day anymore without hearing about you? First it was the snake, the wolf pack and harpies, but now it’s every single person in that class. Even the professor –no offense, Miss Deckard.”

“None taken,” the redhead said, but her smile had already wavered. “What are you doing here, though?”

“Eh. I thought I’d stop by and pester Frankie boy a moment. We haven’t had a chance to hang out at all.”

“Maybe because the last time you did it became a penis auction,” Lucas stated.

“Not that any of us are complaining,” Olen interjected. “We all made some serious bank from him showing off free merch.”

“I wouldn’t call it serious-” Ben started to say.

“And not all of us,” Captain Kidd exclaimed. “In fact, this is the first time I’m hearing of a phallus bartering.”

“Oh. Yeah,” Francis said. “Remember that time the majority of us went to detention? She sold off my dick to the highest bidder-”

“The right to see it,” Ali clarified, chuckling. “It’s a big difference. She’s still fuming that it was only for looking, by the way.”

“Trust me, I know. She’s been making my life a special kind of Hell. Not unlike my stalker.”

“I don’t like what your tone is implying, so I’ll make it clear: I’m not your stalker. Why would I? I bet anything that I could just lay naked in your bed and demand you fuck me and that would be the end of it.”

“Only for the one he loves,” Bridget stated, emphasized, and pushed in between. “Come, Francis. I promised you a meal.”

“You did, but we can always save it-”

“I made it for today, and I hold to my word.”

“Can’t really argue with that.” He sighed, giving his hand to the witch, and nodded to the pixie as he passed. “You got my number. Don’t be afraid to use it.”

“I actually don’t.”

“Then ask around. It seems everybody does.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Penny grumbled- but stopped them as they passed, holding tight to Francis’s arm. She leaned in, lowering her voice. “You sure you’re okay going with Bridget?”

“Only for food.”

“At least you have your priorities straight... Call me crazy, but I sense some hostility. Don’t do anything rash, okay?”

“What are you mumbling, Penny?” Bridget said.

“Just telling him be careful where he puts his dick. Crazy is usually best to avoid.”

“I am not crazy, Penny Lowell-”

“I didn’t say you were. I was simply telling him to avoid crazy.”

“Sound advice, but the only one that is feeling his penis right now is me.”

“And true crazy,” Francis muttered- and his gaze had drifted to Carl during that. His Judas.

“That will be dealt with soon. I hope,” Bridget said, and whined as she tugged on Francis. “I’m starving...”

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