By Max Fauth and Rob Rutherford

Note: This occurs after "Hidden Truth, Apparent Lie," before "Where Do We Go From Here?" and around events in"Won't Be Fooled Again."

Kami looked Gem up and down one more time, before singing open the door to her apartment. "Come on in," she said, making way for her. Gem simply nodded and wandered in to the apartment. It hadn't changed since she was last there, although she was seeing it in a far better light, given the circumstances.

Kami closed the door behind her, then suddenly grabbed Gem from behind, hugging her tightly. "Geez!" Gem called out in response. "Will you... just... get off me!"

"Oh all right. Its just so much fun at times." Kami giggled a little as she let go of Gem. "It's just so much fun".

"Only for you," Gem replied. Kami sighed in response, and couldn't help but smile at her friend. Gem blushed in embarrassment, not for the first time that day.

Since they had left Korey's house together in the morning, they'd had a rather busy time of it. Kami had already swung by April's place and picked up Gem's shopping. She had brought it with her, and made it very clear to Gem that she'd been through the bag's contents and looked forward to seeing them again.

Once they got into the zone, Gem had insisted on finding Zenshou. They'd gone to her hotel room, only to find it occupied by a strange, one-eyed man. They'd barely managed to avoid shooting, and Gem found out that he was in fact 'One-Eyed Jack,' the man Zenshou had been searching for. Gem had asked him to let Zenshou know that she was alright, and would be looking her up... soon.

Something inside her didn't want to go back to Zenshou quite yet. She didn't trust herself to stay with Old Man for a while, so she'd asked Kami if she could spend a while with her. Kami found it hard to refuse 'anyone looking so cute.'

That of course, was the major embarrassment. Before they had left, Korey had told Gem that her clothes were in the wash and, since Kami liked it so much, she could keep the sailor suit. So the pair of them had ridden half-way across Neo York with Gem in a school uniform, and finally made it back to Kami's apartment.

Gem stepped further into the apartment, looking over it. "Thanks again for letting me stay here," she said.

"No problem," Kami replied.

Gem wandered out into the room and stretched out. "So..." she began, "Is April here?"

"She's in her room, with Keiko." Kami had a curious look on her face.

"Keiko? Don't know her," Gem replied. "Who's she?"

"She's rooming with us as well." Kami sighed.

"And you don't sound too happy about it," Gem added in a deadpan voice.

"It's okay, she's not a problem or anything."

"But..." Gem prompted.

"But April really wanted her to move in," Kami concluded.

Gem nodded. "So I'd be better off not asking what they're doing in there."

"Actually, they're probably still sleeping," Kami replied.

Gem wandered into the kitchen, glancing around and re-familiarising herself with the apartment. "So does Keiko work with you two?" she asked.

Kami nodded. "Yes, why do you ask?" Gem didn't reply, and instead just rolled her eyes. "It's an improvement over what she used to do," Kami added, and wandered into the kitchen with Gem.

"Which was?"

"Call girl," Kami uickly replied, looking for Gem's response.

Gem sighed. "I guess it's an improvement," she added unenthusiastically.

"All things considered, she didn't have much of a choice at the time."

Gem nodded. "Now I gotcha. Poor girl."

"No kidding." Kami leant against the bench. "I got to off one of her favourites on our interesting night out. She was really grateful."

"So grateful she came home with you?" Gem asked.

"More like grateful she didn't have to worry about him killing her any more. April was the one who invited her home."

Gem nodded towards the cupboard. "Do you have something to drink?"

"Sure, what do you want?" Kami wandered over to the fridge.

She shrugged. "Dunno. Beer maybe, if you've got it."

"Gotcha." Kami opened the fridge, and handed Gem a light beer. "Sorry all we have is domestic light."

"It'll do." Gem popped the bottle and took a hard swig from it.

"Believe it or not her boss was the one who let her go." She got herself one as well.

"Now that's a surprise."

"That's what we thought when he did it." Kami opened her own beer, and took a swig." She eyed Gem cautiously, wondering if their last date was a fair example of how she handled her liquor.

Gem nodded. "So now she's staying with you two?" she asked.

"Pretty much, she didn't have anyplace else to go." Kami sighed.

"And you and her..." Gem left the question hanging.

"Feh, she wishes," Kami replied with an angry stare.

Gem held her breath for a few seconds, before simply replying "Good."

"Hmmm?" Kami said quizzically.

"Just..." Gem shook her head. "Never mind. Nothing."

"Ahh okay." Kami went back to nursing he beer. Gem swigged hers, drinking deeply. "How did the job go?" Kami asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence.

"Good, good. It was... Awkward at times," Gem replied, and a brief smile crossed her face. "I found I have quite a bit in common with this girl." She indicated to her sailor suit.

"Really?" Kami asked, moving back to the living room.

"A bit more personal than that, actually." Gem smiled broadly.

"How so, if you don't mind my asking?" Kami said, motioning Gem to join her.

Gem followed Kami out into the living room. "Well, her dad decided it was time to have 'that talk' with her." Gem took another swig, then glanced at Kami. "About her and another girl, that is." Kami nearly choked on her beer. "It was quite a shock, let me tell you." Gem sniggered to herself. "So I had to bluff my way out of it. He wanted to know if Korey was my new girlfriend."

"Eh?" was all Kami could say.

"Being honest, it seemed all a bit too familiar to me." She gave Kami a serious look, then took a seat on her couch.

All along, Kami had been somewhat disappointed. Although Gem was moving in, she figured she wasn't going to get any real action. Then she started adding up her previous discussion with Angel, and now this little tidbit... "Really?" she asked her friend.

"Yeah..." Gem sighed deeply, and leaned back into the couch.

Kami sat beside Gem, and turned to face her, looking thouroughly confused. "Sounds like her father knew she liked girls." Pausing from a moment, she added "And you?"

Gem looked up at Kami. "I don't really know anymore. I went a bit... I don't know, a bit crazy while I was with Angel. It was like I wanted her, but I knew I didn't."

"Angel has an interesting effect on people," Kami said thoughtfully.

"I'd like to say it was all her fault." Gem mused. "Oh, and I met Michelle."

"Really?" Kami said nervously.

"Yes," Gem said in a cool tone. "And I found out about you and her."

"She was my best friend when we were growing up." Kami seemed to relax a little, "She was the one I got into trouble with."

"So what is she to you now?" Gem asked with an edge in her voice.

"I dunno," Kami replied. "I sent her into shock when I killed a few mooks in front of her." Gem nodded. She turned away from Kami, gazing out the window. "I think we'll always be friends, I just don't think that things will ever be the same again."

"She's with Angel now," Gem said. "I'm sorry to tell you that they're quite close." Despite her sullen tone, unseen by Kami, a lopsided grin crept across her face.

Kami smirked, "No surprises there. I think she's more Angel's type than I am." Kami seemed nonplussed by the news.

Gem turned back to face her, the grin vanished. "And you're happy with April now, anyway."

"It's a bad idea to go jumping to conclusions about what people are feeling."

Gem took a deep breath, clearly steeling herself for something big. "So what is the story with you and her then?"

Kami looked at Gem. "That's between her and I, for now. I really can't say much more." Kami gave April's room a glance.

"And me?" Gem suddenly asked.

Kami looked serious now, "I really don't know. One minute you're really friendly, the next you're like, 'don't touch me.'"

Gem looked away from her. "I just don't know what I want. And quite frankly, it seems like you don't care who you're with."

"I may be easy, but I do have standards, and most of it's just messy fun anyway. I'm really picky about who I have relationships with."

"So what category did I fall into?" Gem asked bitterly. "I keep thinking all you wanted was a one-time fling."

"That's how it started, but after the encounter in the alley there was the possibility of something more," Kami replied.

"I'm sorry... I just didn't know."

Kami looked squarely at Gem, "Is that why you keep pulling back everytime you start to get close?"

Gem sighed. "That's part of it, yeah."

"Let me guess," Kami replied, "The other part is that you're still not sure whether or not you really like girls." Gem nodded quietly. Kami sighed. She really wasn't sure what to do about the situation.

"It's just... I'm not sure I can describe how it works."

"Why don't you just give it a try?"

"Okay..." Gem pondered for a second. "Look, when you were younger, were you attracted to guys?"

Kami thought for a little while, "Maybe, I'm not really sure what I was attracted to. I know that I liked certain guys, but I don't know if I really like them, or only liked them because it was stylish or something to like them."

"And if you suddenly found yourself drawn to a man today?"

Kami shrugged. "I dunno, It's not something I've thought about."

"Well let's just say I never gave other girls a moment's thought until now." Gem sighed again. "I don't know how better to put it."

"Best I can say is, what do you want now?" Kami asked with a smile.

Gem looked her in the eyes, a sorrowful expression weighing her face down. "Can we start at friends, and see where it takes us?"

Kami's expression was still serious, "That's fine, just don't expect me to sit around in celibacy hoping for something that might or might not happen."

"I know." Gem sighed again. "I've never felt needed like this. You're the closest I've ever come to someone who loves me like that, and I don't want to do something wrong."

"Thanks." Kami's expression softened as she sank down into the couch.

Gem leaned forwards and wrapped Kami up in a gentle hug. "It means so much to me," she said, her voice wavering slightly.

Kami returned Gem's embrace and said nothing.

The door swung open and Keiko carefully stepped inside. The apartment was dark and quiet, as she'd expected. It had been a very slow night at the Underground, and they hand't needed the three of them their. Being the newest and least experienced, Keiko Keiko was given the night off.

She dropped her handbag by the door, suddenly noticing a shopping bag she hadn't seen before. Curiousity getting the better of her, she knelt down and started looking through it. She giggled to herself as she took in its contents. "What's this?" she asked herself as she stood up and turned around, holding a set of leather straps.

Just then she noticed Gem emerging from Kami's bedroom. The two had been briefly introduced the previous evening. Keiko grinned, holding them up to Gem. "These look like fun," she said with a giggle.

"What are you doing there?" Gem asked cautiously.

Keiko jumped. "Are these yours?" Keiko blushed with embarrassment.

"Um... yeah..." Gem said glancing at the nightmare of leather and straps. She looked the girl up and down, noticing she was about the same height and build as she was, although notably bustier. "But I don't think it would fit you," she bluffed.

Keiko looked a bit dissappointed. She then lowered the set of leather straps, and gave Gem a confused look, but seem to shy to ask who it was for. "So... just what are you doing going through my stuff?" Gem asked.

"This was your stuff? I'm sorry" She quickly stuffed it back in the bag. "I saw what was on top and though it might be April's."

"Uh, that..." Gem blushed furiously. "That's... well it's..."

Keiko looked almost pleasantly surprised, "Really?"

"That's for me, you see." Gem walked over to Keiko and looked down at the bag, then back up to the girl. Keiko looked a bit sceptical, seeing that they were almost the same size. "Well, it's not for anyone specifically..." Gem trailed off. Keiko tilted her head, a pleasant smile on her face, seemingly prompting Gem for more info. "Its for me," she finally admitted. "Look... It's private, okay?" Gem added.

"That's okay," Keiko replied. "You just didn't strike me as the type who liked being tied up."

"Never tried," Gem replied, and almost immediately regretted it.

"I think you'll like it." Keiko gave her a knowing look.

"Uh... No. Thanks."

Keiko giggled a little, "I was referring to with Kami... even though I could hope."

"So you and her..."

"I wish." Keiko sighed.

"Ah," Gem nodded, somewhat relieved. Keiko looked down, studying the wear patterns in the carpet. "I didn't mean it like that," Gem replied. She sighed, and looked away. "I mean, you seem to be a nice enough girl."

Keiko looked up into Gem's eyes, saying "Thank you."

"I don't know what she seems to have against you," Gem said, leaning against the couch.

" Only the fact that I was an ex-yakuza geisha."

"Ex, that's the thing," Gem replied.

"I'm not sure that she believes that anybody ever truly leaves the yakuza."

Gem shook her head. "Maybe I could talk to her about that."

"I'd appreciate it, but once you start dealing with those kind of people, leaving is nearly impossible. Look at how they dragged Kami back in for the assassination."

Gem snorted in amusement. "She's not the only one who knows them."

"Then you understand the difficulty."

"I understand her suspicions," Gem said. "That doesn't mean they're automatically right."

"That doesn't mean they wont try lure me back, and her with me."

"Not if you're careful."

"I know. I don't want to go back. Its just they're good at things like that." Keiko sighed.

"Who was it?" Gem asked.

"Huh?" Keiko looked confused.

Gem shrugged. "Who was in charge of you?"

"Inoue-sama himself, but because of my age, I was kinda of at the bottom."

Gem leaned back on the couch, thinking to herself. "I doubt he'd try and get at you if Kami was out of the picture, though."

"I don't know, I think that he actually liked me, and would like to have me back." Keiko looked a bit confused.

"Okay." Gem sighed. "If anything happens, come to me. I know how things work with them." Keiko nodded in return, not really knowing what to say. Gem shrugged. "Past experience."

"Thank you for understanding." Keiko replied.

"Hey, the three of you are good enough to put me up. I might as well try to pay my way."

"I'm in the same position too." Keiko blushed. "If it weren't for April's generosity, I wouldn't be here at all."

"Aaah," Gem said, realisation dawning on her face.

"I feel really bad, about it too." Keiko left things hanging.

"I just think the two of them need to sort a few things out between them."

"I guess so." Keiko just sighed.

"In the meantime..." Gem trailed off, trying to think of something to say.

"We could have a little fun together?"

Gem blinked. "What?" Keiko only giggled. "Oh no, no way," Gem said, backing off.

"I had to try." Keiko stuck her tongue out slightly.

Gem gave her a foul look. "No offence," she said, "But I don't like girls."

"What?" Was all Keiko could say.

"Sorry, I'm just not like that," she replied.

"What about you and Kami?" Keiko was thoroughly confused.

Gem did a double take. "She told you? I mean, about us? Not that there is an 'us,' but about what we did?"

"Told?" Keiko replied, "Why else would you to be together?" Gem blinked again, then turned bright red, realising she'd just given herself away.

"Oh, god..." Gem said, reddening even further.

"What do you mean?" Keiko finally asked.

"Um... I thought that you thought that we were just friends, and that she hadn't told you, only you knew and I didn't know you knew and I didn't want you to know because then you'd think... I was..." Gem wound down to a stop, looking rather small and ashamed.

"Think you liked girls? Here you are living with two beautiful lesbians, why wouldn't I think you liked girls?" Keiko admonished.

Gem hung her head. "I'm sorry. Look, Kami's my friend. I don't usually sleep with women, but she... Well..." She trailed off, searching for words.

"She's incredible."

"It's not that." Gem wandered over and sat on the couch. "She made me feel needed. I've never felt like that before."

"Really?" Keiko seem confused, "Please don't take this wrong, but I don't see how. She's intelligent, strong, beautiful, and has who knows how much money. You know, perfect, if a little temperamental. I don't see how she needs anybody."

"You happy here?" Gem suddenly asked. "Living this life, here in the zone. Are you happy here?"

"I'd love to leave the zone, but I don't know what I'd do once I left." Keiko looked at her quizzically. "Why do you ask?"

"But you look happy enough here," Gem replied.

"I'm happy here because I don't have to sleep with men anymore." She paused, considering her words. "I'm happy because I can choose where I want to work."

"But not happy with this lifestyle. You see, I don't think she's as happy here as you imagine she is."

"Well, I'd be much happier if I didn't have to worry about getting robbed, raped or killed every time I walk outside. That's the only reason why I want to leave the zone."

Gem smiled. "Everyone needs someone, Keiko. I only just realised that recently."

Keiko sighed, "I guess so, but what's she looking for? I mean she loves the freedom of the zone, and she has a SIN, she can leave anytime she wants to."

"Not until she turns eighteen. She told me herself."

"She's not 18?" Keiko looked shocked.

Gem shook her head. "She's an upgrade, so she appears more mature than she is."

"But April's also an upgrade, and doesn't seem like that."

"I don't know how it goes," Gem replied.

"Kami's scary. I mean you're a street Sam, and I can tell; plugs, spectacular physique... Kami's build isn't nearly as impressive as yours is, and she doesn't even have plugs!"

Gem leaned back and let out a hollow laugh. "She's not scary." A crooked grin crossed her face. "She's like I was, until I grew up."


"Yeah, I used to be so much like her. Wild, free-spirited, not a care in the world. Do whatever I want-" she shot a hungry look at Keiko, "-without worrying about the consequences."

"Ahh, I see." Keiko replied, seeming to not notice the look Gem gave her.

"You know, on second thought..." Gem's grin took on a certain predatory look. Keiko finally took notice of Gem's expression. She had an interesting half-smile as her heart started to race a little. "Forget what she said," Gem replied, leaning closer to Keiko.

"Mmmmm," Keiko replied, pleasantly surprised by Gem's change in attitude. She reached her arms out to Gem's shoulders and leaned back on the couch pulling Gem with her.

Gem looked down at her, examining her dress. It was a white, one-piece spandex mini-dress with strategically placed cut-outs. Gem pulled away from Keiko and sat up, straddling the younger woman. Keiko simply laid back, her arms up with her wrists even with her shoulders.

Gem sat still, her grin gone, replaced with a rather bored expression. "That's it? You just give up and let me do it?"

Keiko looked a bit surprised. She then got a wicked, but playful look. "Alright," she said, and reached up, took hold of Gem and tried to roll over on top of her. Gem flung herself to one side, bringing both of them crashing to the floor, Keiko piled on top of her.

Sitting atop Gem, Keiko took hold of Gem's arms trying to pin her to the floor, at the same time leaning down trying to steal a kiss from Gem's lips. She eagerly received Keiko's mouth, and hungrily drank from her lips. Without breaking the kiss, Keiko began removing Gem's jacket as quickly as possible.

Gem reached her hands up to grab Keiko's breasts through her mini-dress. she broke the kiss only to gasp at Gem's touch. She then resumed kissing, and began working Gem's t-shirt up for better access. Before she could get it off, Gem surged over and tipped Keiko onto her back. She rolled over and straddled Keiko once again.

Keiko too advantage of her new position and finished removing Gem's t-shirt. she then began to caress Gem through her bra. Gem however slapped Keiko's hands aside. She then seized the mini-dress through one of it's cut-outs and tore it open.

Keiko gasp in shock at Gem's aggression. She continued tearing the dress apart, leaving its split halves lying by Keiko's body. Keiko was stripped to her white G-string. But she was going to have another go at Gem, she tried to reach up and tear Gem's bra off.

Gem turned her attention to Keiko's breasts, groping and fondling them. "Ohh," Keiko moaned. She pulled at Gem's bra a second time, this time removing it and exposing Gem perky breasts. She then began caressing them and tweaking Gem's hardening nipples.

Gem leaned down and nipped hard at Keiko's neck, then bit hard, drawing blood. "OWW!" Keiko screamed, string to scramble out from under Gem. Gem kept her weight on Keiko, trapping her and continuing to work on her neck.

Under the Yakuza Keiko had been subjected to tortures, humiliations, and even rapes. She firmly believed times like that were over. Now her last night with Tomoyasu was beginning to come back, except this time with a girl. "No..." she cried as she continued squirming to get out from under Gem.

Gem reared up and slapped her. "Shut up!" She yelled. "This is what you wanted, isn't it?"

Keiko put her hand on her face where Gem slapped her, "N-Not like this".

Gem froze, her face falling from a snarl to a horrified gape. She silently rolled of Keiko, staring in horror at the girl. Keiko crawled away from Gem, and scooted to the end of the couch. She then sat up in an almost foetal position rubbing the sore place on her neck where Gem bit her. Gem grabbed up her shirt and bra, and held them across her chest.

Seeing Gem sitting there, Keiko scurried into April's room and locked the door. She knew there was no way she could stop The sam if she changed her mind again. She sat there thinking about the events of the evening, and hoped that April and Kami would get home soon.

Gem eventually got up and knocked on the door to April's room. "Keiko? I'm sorry about what happened," she said, and waited for a reply.

Keiko hesitated for a few moments."If she really wants in, she thought, this door isn't going to stop her. She then half-heartedly replied "Thanks," hoping Gem heard her.

She sighed loudly. "I told you how I used to behave like Kami. Sometimes - I don't know why - I start acting like that again. And when I... When I back then..." Gem paused, lost for words.

Keiko got up and unlocked and opened the door, hoping it was safe now. She was still only wearing her G-string, but she covered both her breasts with one arm. "Wha, what do you mean?"

Gem looked her straight in the eye, her face etched with sorrow. "When *she* was refused something, she just went berserk."

"What do you mean *she*?" Keiko took two steps back.

Gem sighed again. "I'm so different to who I was... It's almost... It's like I'm two different people sometimes. And I don't want to be her anymore."

"Was that what you were like when you were with Kami?" Keiko was hesitant about asking questions like that, but Gem seemed like she was willing to talk.

"Just like that," Gem replied.

"And she took it?" Keiko had trouble believing what she was hearing.

"She fought back. We struggled against each other a lot, but I think she was letting me get my way."

"There's no way I could match either of you." Keiko began examining the carpet, "I'm not even as strong as April is."

"Could you do me a favour?" Gem asked?

"I guess so." April had a feeling she knew what Gem was going to ask. She began rubbing the bite mark on her neck with her free hand.

"Could you not mention this to the others?" Gem looked almost scared as she asked Keiko.

"O... Okay." Keiko answered. There was still a lot she didn't know, and she didn't want to cause any trouble for the others.

"I want to make it up to you, however I can."

"Thanks. Mind if I ask you a personal question?" She looked back up at Gem.

Gem nodded. "Go ahead."

"Earlier you said that you didn't like girls, do you not like girls because she does?"

"Yeah... Back then... I mean, she would sleep with anyone and anything. So I just don't go near anyone. When I do..." Gem trailed off.

Keiko nodded her understanding. She rubbed the bite some more, pain flashing across her face. Gem suddenly looked up, her expression a mixture of embarrassment and relief. "I'll take care of that for you!" she suddenly blurted out.

"Thank you," Keiko replied. She cautiously let Gem into the room, and the pair headed into the bathroom to clean up Keiko's neck.

Gem stepped into 93U, rubbing her eyes. It had been a long, hard and strange day for her. First the meeting with Raven had shaken her up, then in her wanderings she'd encounter Shion and Marta Nys, a truly mismatched pair. Somehow they'd wound up at a club in Hong Kong where it seemed she'd given away more about herself than she'd ever intended. Then of course she'd met Marta's partner...

The strange thing was, she felt they connected somehow. The day had left her feeling oddly lonely. Raven had essentially talked her out of her revenge plans, making her admit what she had long ago realised. And her time with Marta made her realise there was more to live for. So she found herself at the one place in the zone she knew she could still find friends.

She ordered herself a drink and made her way to the floor. It was easy enough to find a secluded chair and watch over the audience and the stage. She could easily make out Kami and Keiko working on the stage, but couldn't seem to find April anywhere.

"Heya," a cheery voice said, breaking her out of her reverie. April stood before her, barely dressed. "You wanna buy a dance?"

Gem grinned, but shook her head. "No, that's not what I'm here for," she replied.

April pouted at her. "Would you prefer the Puma sisters?"

Gem giggled to the girl. "No," she said with a smile.

"I'm gonna make you wait for Silver," April whispered, if you could call anything a whisper in Underground.

Gem shook her head. "I'm just checking up on you girls," she replied.

"Alright," April replied with a wink. She quickly departed to talk with some other customers.

Gem leaned back in her seat and kept her eye on the stage, occasionally letting her sight wander to check up on April. The night was fairly quiet, so April found herself with plenty of time to spend with other customers. She slowly sipped her drink, keeping her eye out for Kami and Keiko who had both left the stage.

Kami eventually made her way by Gem's booth, and dropped down into Gem's lap. "Hiya, everything okay?" she said in her cheery, 'Silver' voice.

Gem looked up at her with a smile. "Sure," she replied cheerfully. "Just checking up on you all."

"Thanks. Were you wanting to go out and do something a little later?"

"I'd like that," she replied.

"Kami will meet up with you as soon as were done here." She looked as if she wanted to lean over and kiss Gem, but instead she stood up, and straightened what little of a dress she was wearing.

"I was hoping to go out with Silver," Gem said quietly. She looked a bit surprised, then glanced down at Gem and smiled. "If you like."

"I think that can be arranged," She replied.

Gem nodded. "I just wanted to get away for a night. Interested?"

"Sure," Silver beamed back.

"We'll get the girls home first, of course."

Silver nodded. "I'll see you in a little while then".

"Great to hear." Gem leaned back, and glanced at the stage. "I'll let you get back to it." Silver nodded as she headed back to the stage.

Steve was pissed. First that bitch had killed Terry, then she somehow managed to beat the extraction team. On top of all that, she'd somehow gotten his in too much trouble to be believed. Now he was going to finish the job the old fashioned way: hire a real Street. So he dropped by the store, picked up a pistol, a shotgun, and an armored trenchcoat, and made his way out of the arcology

Now he was in the Zone. Getting in was easy; the cops just let him through the checkpoint with no questions. As he looked around he was surprised at the vegetation. He was expecting the zone to be all burned out buildings and cars, and street sams who were walking killing machines. But instead of being black and dead there was grass and other vegetation growing out of almost every crack possible.

"Where do I go first?" he asked himself. According to Tony, he first ran into the girls at the infamous 93 Underground. That would probably be a good place to start, except he didn't want to be recognized and tip Eve off. Nor did he believe that he actually stood a chance against somebody who could take down a puma as fast as Tony described.

Now that he thought about it he was really confused. Sure Eve was an upgrade. Sure she knocked him out and broke his jaw with one punch. But a puma? Man if the strippers were that tough, he could only imagine how tough the street sams were. He grinned, thinking of the results. That little whore would be toast.

But where to find a somebody like that? He thought back to all the vids he'd seen. A bar, but the only one he knew about was 93U, and he already ruled that out. But where? Then he saw exactly what he was looking for, a Bar - "The Edge of Night"! Awesome, he thought to himself. Any bar called The Edge of Night, had to be the kinda of place he was looking for. Steve gathered his bravado and headed for the club.

After checking his weaponry at the door, he made his way into the club. He was kinda surprised; he figured everybody in these places would be armed to the teeth. It was the first place he'd been to where they didn't check his ID. Then he had a brief flash of brilliance; Zoners didn't have IDs. Those were reserved for real people. He began looking around the club for a suitable street sam. Wow, he thought, this place must be tough. They even have a puma serving drinks.

He watched as the puma wandered over to him. "Sir would you like a drink?" She asked, then hesitated.

"Brittany?" It took Steve a few moments to recognize his brother's former bodyguard. She was in a short skirt and a small tight t-shirt and carrying a rack of shots.

"Master!" Brittany immediately got down on her knees and started sobbing. "I'm so sorry! I tried to go home but they stopped me at the gate and I didn't know what to do."

"I thought you were dead along with Terry!" Steve was outraged that the bodyguard was still alive and his brother was dead.

"T-T-T-Terry's dead?" She looked up at him and let her rack fall to the ground.

"You didn't know?" Steve fumed.

"N-N-No." She sobbed.

"How could you have not known?" Steve fumed.

"S-S-She came out of no where, I tried to fight back but she was so strong, I-I-I didn't have, a chance." Brittany shuddered in fear. Steve raised his hand to strike her, only to have his wrist grabbed and himself lifted off the ground.

"Nobody hits the staff around here, even if they are just a skinjob," the bouncer said in his ear. Looking down and seeing the sobbing puma with spilled shots, he quickly made up his mind. "You're outta here." The bouncer then grabbed Steve's free hand, pulled it behind his back and carried him out of the bar.

Steve was too paralysed with fear to even struggle. This was exactly the kind of person he wanted to hire to off that bitch Eve. Before he could start to make the offer he found himself being tossed bodily onto the ground outside the club. Almost as he landed he felt the pain of being kicked in the ribs by the bouncer.

"Wait!" cried Brittany behind them.

The bouncer stopped in confusion and turned to look at the waitress. "Why don't you want me to beat the crap outta this punk?"

"B-B-Because its my duty to protect him." Brittany raised herself up to full height.

The bouncer looked at him. "I see." He had no intention of fighting a puma, even if it was just Brittany. Ever since he met her she was just a timid waitress, now she was starting to act differently; she was staring to act like a real puma. With that he walked back in the club.

She ran to his side. "Master, are you okay?" she asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine" He began to stand up, with Brittany helping him to his feet.

"...and if you need anything, room service details are right here," the bellboy finished. Gem tipped him and sent him running, as Kami stepped out into the room. 'Luxurious' was the only way to describe the hotel room Gem had hired them for the night, and she had to admit, they didn't come much better than this.

The night had been a whirlwind of activity. A quick dash over the bridge and past some very bored cops had lead them to what had to be one of Neo York's hottest nightclubs. Gem had somehow gotten the pair entry. Inside was an almost bewildering array of sights and sounds. The pair had dined, drunk and danced through the night, with Gem leading the way.

Kami smiled as she remembered how eager her friend had seemed; a far cry from the withdrawn and surly girl she'd taken to the Edge of Night. From there, Gem had lead her to this place; the Neo York Hilton, and specifically its penthouse suite. A massive living room stretched out in front of her, tastefully decorated and well furnished, without being cluttered. She took particular note of the lit fireplace with an inviting rug laid out in front of it and the glass doors that lead out to the suite's private terrace and swimming pool.

"What do you think?" Gem asked from behind, breaking her reverie.

Kami twirled around as she entered the room. "Its wonderful" she excalimed to Gem. Kami's expression was beaming ever since they left the Zone. Now she reached out her and to Gem and encouraged her date to join her in the room.

Gem nodded her agreement and walked into the expansive living room. "It's quite a place, alright," she commented. "It's got pretty much everything we could want up here. One night only, sorry."

Kami faced Gem her amber eyes were glowing with excitement, "Don't apologize this is wonderful!"

She shrugged in response. "I just thought, you know, we needed a night away from it all."

Kami wrapped her arms around Gem and showed her agreement by giving her a passionate kiss.

Gem returned the kiss briefly, then pulled away. "Do you have to be so quick about it?" she asked, smiling.

"No, " Kami replied coyly. She had a mischievous grin.

"Anyway..." Gem carefully pulled away from her. "I thought we could go for a swim first. You know, just cool off."

"Sounds fun. I haven't been swimming in years."

"Me neither." She turned her back on Kami, walking over to the balcony. She glanced back over her shoulder, smiling and asking "You did bring a costume, didn't you?"

"Sorry, swimming wasn't something I planned on doing."

Gem nodded. She slid open one of the doors, and indicated to the rooftop pool. "You first," she said. She held up a small backpack she'd brought with her, adding "I've got to get changed."

A few minutes later, Gem emerged from the bathroom and stepped out onto the rooftop, wearing a simple black bikini. She saw Kami already immersed in the pool up to her neck and smiling at her.

Gem blushed a bit as she walked to poolside. She sat on the edge of the pool, dipping her feet in the water. "So what did you use in the end?" She asked.

Kami smiled. "Why not come on in and find out?"

"Alright," Gem replied with a smile. She slipped into the pool, shivering slightly. Kami reached up to help Gem slide into the pool.

"So let's see..." Gem said, glancing down at Kami's body. From her angle Gem could now see that Kami had decided not not bother at all with a swimsuit. Smiling, she shook her head. "Why am I not surprised?" She asked.

"You shouldn't be." she giggled. Gem pushed out from the side of the pool, swimming into the deeper water. Kami leaned back and pushed off as well, her breast barely submerged below the water.

Gem quickly turned around to face Kami, stopping right in her path. Kami slowed and turned to face Gem. "Can you do me a favour?" Gem asked.

"Sure, What do you need?"

Gem giggled slightly as she replied. "If I start to get depressing again, stop me. I'm here to have fun."

"Certainly." With that Kami reached out and tickled Gem, just a little.

"Hey-ey," she replied, suppressing a laugh. "Not so fast!"

Kami pulled Gem in close, "Just practicing."

Gem giggled, and wrapped her arms around Kami. "You're incorrigible. You know that."

Kami nodded, "That's exactly what my shrink said".

"Somehow I doubt you visit one regularly." Kami just giggled her response.

Gem pulled herself out of Kami's grasp and leaned back, trying to float on the water, but constantly slipping below the surface. She emerged again, spluttering. Kami reached over to help Gem, "Are you okay?" she asked.

"Just a bit too heavy to float, I'm afraid."

Kami positioned herself just behind Gem. "Here lean back, I'll hold you." Gem nodded, and carefully leaned back into Kami's arms. She held Gem's back and compensated for her lack of buoyancy and started slowly floating Gem around the pool. "How's that?" she finally asked.

"Mmm, perfect," she replied. She slowly kicked her feet to keep her legs up, and relaxed further into Kami's arms.

"Good," with that Kami extended her gentle grip around Gem, and let her direct their movement.

She slowly paddled around the pool, eyes closed, feeling the warmth of Kami's body against hers. "I could stay like this forever," she muttered.

"Mmmm, hmmm." Kami leaned back a little and put her cheek next to Gem's. In response she ran her hand gently along Kami's cheek. Kami said nothing she simply enjoyed Gem's presence.

The girls floated together for what seemed like an eternity of bliss. Kami finally muttered softly to herself. "What's up?" Gem asked, turning her head slightly towards Kami.

"I think I'm starting to shrivel," she said quietly, not wanting to break the mood.

Gem giggled. "Sure, I can take a hint." She carefully broke away from Kami, and headed for the side of the pool.

Kami followed very closely behind Gem. "Lets grab a quick shower." Gem nodded her agreement.

Kami ran her hand gently down Gem's arm. Looking closely, she noticed that Gem's skin wasn't wrinkled at all from their time in the water. "You have a really beautiful complexion," she told her friend.

"Thank you," Gem replied. She watched as Kami climbed out of the pool. "You know... I never actually told you just how beautiful you really are."

A slight blush came across Kami's glowing smile. "Why thank you."

"No, really. You keep saying all these nice things about me, but I've..."

Kami giggled, "No getting depressed," she said, and started tickling Gem.

"Hey, okay! Okay!" Gem gasped between giggles.

"Very good." Kami nodded. "No to the shower!"

"To the shower," Gem replied, laughing. The two girls quickly slipped out of the pool

The bathroom was like nothing Kami had ever seen before. The shower recess was enormous, with two separate shower heads, and the bathtub clearly served as a hot tub.

"I say we start with shower, then check out the hot tub," Kami said with a rather hungry look on her face.

"Your call, then." Gem turned her back on Kami to start the shower running.

Kami carefully adjusted the temprature. "Gem, does this feel okay to you?" she asked.

"Feels great," she replied grinning. She stepped in under the shower, keeping her back turned, and carefully removed her bikini top.

"Here let me help you." Kami ran her hands over Gem's back, working at the strap.

"You couldn't help it, could you?" She replied, looking over her shoulder. Once removed, she handed it over her shoulder to Kami.

"Nope." Kami replied while hanging the wet top on the towel rack. Kami then reached up and began massaging Gem's shoulders.

"Thanks," she replied, stepping closer under the stream.

"You're welcome," Kami replied as she opened the shampoo. "Here let me help."

"Do I get to do anything myself?" Gem replied, chuckling.

"Sure, you get the unenviable task of washing my hair." Kami whispered in Gem's ear. She nodded her approval. Kami poured some of the shampoo into her hand. But before she started on lathering up Gem's hair, she gave Gem a kiss on the back of her neck. Gem shuddered in her hands, but remained still and let her work.

Kami thoroughly worked the lather through Gem's hair. When she was finished she turned her friend around to rinse. As the water started to run clean she leaned over puckering up for a kiss. Gem put a finger against Kami's lips. "Not yet," she said. "Now turn around.

Kami gave Gem a pouty frown and turned her back to her. "Cripes..." Gem said, glancing up and down at Kami's hair. "This will take forever." Gem failed to notice the amused smile that came across Kami's face. "Oh well..." She sighed and went to work, massaging shampoo into Kami's mane.

"Ohh that feels so good," Kami moaned. She kept working on Kami's scalp, before finally letting it rinse through her hair. As her hair finished, Kami turned to Gem and picked up another bottle, "Now for the conditioner."

"Then turn around again."

"Your's first." Kami smiled. She could tell from Gem's hair that the young street sam didn't use conditioner. Which wasn't a surprise, showers were tough to come by in the zone, with shampoo being a rarity and conditioner being a rare luxury.

"Alright, alright. Although it's going to take a lot more to save my hair." Gem turned around and leaned back, almost into Kami's arms.

"That's okay, it just needs some attention and it will be fine."

"A lot of attention," Gem said, laughing.

"Alrighty!" Kami began massaging Gem's scalp Gem moaned in pleasure, relaxing back against Kami's chest. Kami eventually moved Gem's head back under the stream of water, caressing deeply as she rinsed the conditioner from Gem's hair.

"As much as I hate to give this up, it's your turn."

"We can keep this up for a little while longer."

"I've got to do yours first. So turn around."

Kami slowly turned around. She apparently rather enjoyed having Gem leaning back against her. Gem quickly rubbed the conditioner into Kami's hair, letting her fingers run through its long strands. "Say, Kami?" she suddenly said.

"Hmm?" Kami purred.

"Do you reckon I should let my hair grow like yours?"

"I think you should wear your hair which ever way is most comfortable for you." she said. "Long hair is really a disadvantage for a street sam, that's why I keep mine up under the beret most of the time."


"Sorry I can't be of more help. Taking care of my hair is really a chore, in case you haven't noticed."

"No, that's fine. I was just wondering how it would look."

"I think it would look fine. and if you're not happy with it we can always cut it."

"Sure...." Gem's hands slowly wandered downwards, eventually resting on Kami's chest. She leaned back into Gem, who leaned back against the wall, bringing them both under the spray of the one nozzle and drawing Kami closer to her body. Kami relaxed into Gem's arms.

"Hot tub?" Gem whispered in Kami's ear.

"Sure" Kam breathed.

Gem pulled away from her and stepped out of the shower. She started the water running in the tub. Kami turned off the shower, then looked over at Gem seeing that she was still wearing her bikini bottoms. "Somehow I feel a bit under dressed."

"Give me a sec, and I'll fix that problem," Gem replied.

Kami sat down on the side of the tub. "Here, let me help." Kami put her hands on Gem's hips.

"Not quite yet," Gem replied, and slipped into the tub. Kami slipped in beside her and put an arm around her. She leaned in close, pushing Kami back, and bearing down on top of her, a hungry, lopsided grin on her face. Kami looked up at Gem, reached up and put her hand on Gem's hips. She batted away Kami's hands and held them down by her side.

"Mmmm," Kami growled.

"Shut up," Gem said fiercely. She straddled Kami's body, gripping her wrists painfully tight. Kami licked her lips in anticipation. "You're not meant to be enjoying this," she said in a flat growl.

Kami gave Gem a 'Rember my turn is next' look. She them moved her arms so the Gem was flat against her.

Gem's face dropped suddenly. She pulled away, frowning at Kami, and leaned against the other side of the tub. Kami looked over at Gem, clearly confused. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to press you like that."

Kami moved across the tub to Gem. "It's okay to get a little kinky"

She shook her head. "I don't want to do it like that... I just want to be myself."

"I'm not sure I completely understand." She put an arm around Gem.

"You know how, well after that night, I said I felt like I used to?"

"I remember the conversation, but I'm not sure exactly what you meant."

Gem sighed. "I used to be a... different person, really. And I don't want to be her any more." She gave an awkward smile. "I just want to be me."

"I want you to be you too." Kami smiled.

She nodded. "And that's something that, well, *she* would do."

"I think I see where you're coming from." Kami put her hand out for Gem to hold.

"Yeah." Gem gripped her hand tightly. Her face shook, on the verge of tears. Kami put her other hand around Gem and brought her in close. She leaned on her friend's shoulder, crying softly. Kami gently stroked the back of Gem's head.

The two leaned against each other for a long time. Gem eventually stopped crying and dried her eyes. She nodded to Kami, and they both stepped out of the tub. Kami took a towel from the rack and wrapped it around Gem. "Thanks... Well, for understanding," Gem replied.

Gem suddenly squealed out "Hey!" in surprise as Kami carefully pulled her bikini bottoms down.

"I can't dry you off if you're still wearing those now can I?" She teased.

Gem giggled to herself. "I guess you're right," she replied, and complied by stepping out of them. Kami ran her hand all the way up Gem's smooth legs, over her now completely bare hips, over her waist, and up Gem's side. She then leaned in to kiss her now completely naked friend. Gem returned the kiss, but pulled away quickly.

Kami rubbed the back of Gem's neck with her free hand, and rubbed Gem's petite nose with her own. "Eve..." Gem muttered to her friend, running a hand through her hair.

"Yes?" she responded quietly.

"I'm still not sure that I can trust myself," she continued.

"That's okay. We can just keep trying, and one day it will be second nature." Kami's voice was soft but confident.

"Thank you," she replied, a gentle smile crossing her face. Kami moved in for another kiss. Gem met her lips, and kissed her passionately in return. Kami pulled Gem in tightly and caressed her back.

When Gem pulled away, her smile was her own; warm and gentle, not the hostile, hungry half-smile she'd become afraid of. "You're beautiful when you smile like that," Kami told her.

"Thank you... Thank you so much..." Gem said and held her friend tightly, leaning her head on her shoulder.

"You're so welcome." Kami moaned as she leaned her head on Gem's shoulder in return. They stood for a while in silence, then Gem pulled back. She looked into Kami's eyes, and kissed her once more.

Kami returned the kiss with a renewed passion. After kissing once again for what seemed like an eternity she eventually broke the kiss. "Why don't we finish drying off and head for bed?"

"Yeah..." Gem replied enthusiastically.

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