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Runner, part 3

A board dedicated to fan written work about Pandect. Includes poetry, original song lyrics, and short and serial stories.

Moderators: Sihaya, Metanaito

Posts: 3532
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 5:02 pm
Location: Belgium, Europe

Runner, part 3

Post by Sihaya » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:02 pm

They sat at a bar lounge, drinking increasingly heavy liquor. Noah supposed they had to get their kicks somewhere - in meatspace over half of them were probably not allowed to drink just yet. The place was an exact VR replica of the Mariner’s Lounge, a famous cybercowboy haunt where one could run into legends and never realise it. The owners knew everyone and everything and sold most of it to whoever was willing to pay their rates. Noah did business with them often and over the years they had struck up something of a friendship, though his affiliation with Zurich Orbital was not something he’d revealed. Ceasar and Ice had refused to get him in touch with the Gecko or his acquaintances directly - ZO was not popular and any self respecting decker did not point out one of their own with such a beautiful rep just like that. But occasionally Ceasar had pointed out someone worth chatting up, or Ice had let him know which conversations were worth sitting in on.

It had taken weeks, but tonight Noah might finally get to meet the infamous Gecko. He was surprisingly nervous about it.

“Nervous, Diamondback?” Daku laughed, slapping him on the back. “He’s not going to eat you.”

“When is he coming?” an all-too eager voice called from the other end of the bar.

“Gaia, him again,” Waka grunted. Daku’s counterpart was the quiet one to Daku’s big mouth, but also the more vicious of the two. Noah was actually considering recruiting them for ZO.

“Why is it Cherokee hackers always pick the most ridiculous handles?” Daku muttered before shouting over the bar: “Velcro! Who let you in here tonight?”

“It’s the strangest thing!” the young hacker explained, oblivious to the menacing tone in the other’s voice. “There was this ‘invites only’ code up for the lounge tonight, and I had to spend over half an hour to break it!”

Noah felt like bashing his head into the bar.

“And you didn’t bother taking the hint?” he asked.

“What hint?” Velcro deadpanned.

“Half an hour? You are such a morron,” Waka bit. “I should send my ICE after you.”

“He wouldn’t survive,” Noah muttered, too softly for Velcro to hear.

“That would be the point,” Waka grunted.

“Am I going to ask Ice to throw you out or will you have the good graces to log off on your own?” Daku said.

“Log off? But I hang with you guys all the time!” Velcro said, still oblivious to the threat in Daku’s voice.

“Not tonight,” Daku growled, finally losing the last thread of patience. “Now get out before I flatline you.”

Velcro turned deathly pale and logged off. All of the invited persona’s present mumbled appreciatively.

“Thanks,” a soft voice said. “I wasn’t in the mood for any hero worship.”

All heads turned and the veterans immediately got up and welcomed their comrade. Daku slapped him on the shoulder so hard the Gecko’s knees nearly buckled.

“Come over here, man, there is someone we want you to meet!” he shouted, and then Noah was shaking hands with him, with the Gecko, the man he’d been chasing for two months now, who he had touched inside the ZO mainframe, who’s scent and feel had haunted his magic fuelled dreams ever since.

It was undoubtedly him. Noah told himself his heart only raced because he’d finally met his mark. It had nothing to do with the fact he looked... beautiful, and vulnerable, as if he’d need someone to protect him... He immediately shook that thought out of his head.

“It’s very nice to meet you. Daku’s told me a lot about you. Your latest stint over at ZO was a work of art, or so I’m told.” Not exactly how Kouros put it.

“I bet he made their eraser cry,” Daku snickered.

Cleanup specialist, Noah though. And no, I did. He realised he was still holding the Gecko’s hand.

“The pleasure is all mine, I’m sure,” Edgar said, feeling a little lightheaded. “I’m Edgar.”

“Noah,” Noah heard himself say. What are you doing? Don’t tell him that! Let go of his hand! But they still held on.

“Something wrong?” Waka looked at them, frowning. Edgar didn’t usually react quite like that when he met a stranger.

“‘s Fine,” Noah managed. Where is that adept eloquence when you need it. Edgar smiled. They let go.

“Why don’t we have drinks and you guys can tell me what you’ve all been up to the past two weeks. Feels like I haven’t been here for ages!” Edgar said, and immediately Daku slung an arm around him and started talking.

Noah spent most of the evening just looking at Edgar, who spent a lot of it looking at him while talking to everyone else. Was it the connection they’d made that night in the mainframe? Or was it what some mages called ‘compatible aura’s’? Maybe he should ask Abel if they were somehow meant... What the hell is wrong with me?

“I want to show you something...” Edgar whispered in his ear. “Let’s go somewhere else...”

Noah hurriedly said his goodbyes. Edgar’s fingers entangled themselves with his and immediately they were somewhere else - no logging out, no hopping nodes, no programs or ARO’s buzzing around.

“Amazing,” Noah gasped. No wonder Venus was jealous.

“You have no idea,” Edgar said, sitting down on what looked like a head of the white cliffs of Dover overlooking a city that looked suspiciously like the Matrix persona of Europort. “I’m not usually this... adventurous,” he added.

“Are you telling me you taking me here is a first?” Adorable Edgar actually blushed.

Noah sat down next to him. “I’m honored.”

They sat for a while, just looking out over the city.

“Beautiful,” Noah finally said.

“It really is,” Edgar said, turning to look at him, “There is no city quite... like...” He trailed off, noticing Noah hadn’t actually been talking about the city. He looked away hurriedly.

“I feel a little awkward asking this but... Could I maybe... see one of your sprites?” Noah asked, fervently wishing he could use his awesome adept powers of persuasion to ease Edgar into agreeing. “I’ve never...”

A tiny blue-and-white gecko appeared in his lap, looking exactly like its owner did with its colours and vivid red eyes. It scampered about, sniffing the air, exploring its surroundings. It didn’t seem to have any specific purpose. Noah picked it up and it crawled up his sleeve, looking for warmth.

“All my sprites are animals,” Edgar said.

“Amazing,” Noah said, running every program Venus had given him on the tiny reptile made out of living code. He could just picture her face as she was getting the data. And as hoped, Edgar didn’t seem to notice. As soon as the diagnostics were done, Noah extracted the gecko from his shirt and handed him back to Edgar.

“You can keep him... if you want,” the technomancer said shyly. “I made him to materialise when your persona comes online. He’s sort of like a pet for your icon.” He glanced up to judge Noah’s reaction.

The adept couldn’t help himself. This was his mark. He was supposed to capture this man and drag him up to Zurich Orbital where he would be forced to work for an institution he hated. It would net him and his runners a million Nuyen - each. Edgar had no business thrusting him, had no business giving him a part of himself and he, himself, had absolutely no business being ecstatic about it.

But he couldn’t help himself.

He leaned in, wrapped a hand around the back of Edgar’s head and kissed him, long. Edgar made the tiniest of noises when they parted again.

“Thank you,” Noah whispered. Edgar kissed him again as if he wasn’t sure how to. Noah was happy to show him.

“I don’t know why I’m doing this,” Edgar said. “I don’t know you, we’ve never met and yet I...”

“Me too,” Noah said. Eloquence, remember what that is?

Edgar moved a little closer and Noah locked him against his chest, ran his fingers through that out of this world hair, over soft skin, perfect lips.

I wonder what he really looks like.

He kissed him again, hungrily, drawing him in closer. Edgar’s fingers carded through his hair, clutched at his back. Noah lowered him, laying him down in soft grass and crawled over him, kissing him deeply, hands roaming all over the other’s body.

“It’s like I can’t stop...” he muttered, tongue dipping into Edgar’s mouth again.

“I’ve never felt like this before,” Edgar swore. “Do that again...”

“I could do this forever,” Noah said, working Edgar’s shirt open and sucking on a nipple.

It must be the link. There’s no way I’d get like this otherwise, right? It’s just this link... It’ll be gone as soon as I log off... Just log off...

But Edgar arched his back and moaned and it might just drive him nuts.

A million Nuyen, remember? Focus on your job for all of five seconds already.

“I want to meet you, Edgar. Can we please see each other? Edgar...”

The technomancer flinched, drawing away from Noah. “Y... You mean out there? In meatspace? Why... I mean, we’re seeing each other now, I...”

Noah kissed him to shut him up. “It’s not the same,” he begged. “I want to see your face, I want to touch you, really touch you, Edgar.” Just so I can do my job.

Raw panic shot through the technomancer. “I can’t... I don’t, I mean, I never...”

Isn’t this good enough? his eyes begged, You can have all you want of me here, in the Matrix, where it’s safe...

“This doesn’t feel right,” Noah pushed. It feels exactly right. “I don’t feel right doing this with you here, where it might as well be nothing more than our imagination.”

“But...” Edgar started, and Noah kissed him again, aiming to wipe all coherent thought from the technomancer’s omnipotent brain. It seemed to be working.

And then Noah caught his fingers wandering off to dangerous places and he had to force himself to pull away. Only the link.

“I’m not ready to take my chances and meet you out there,” Edgar whispered. “But can’t we meet again here? I need to see you again but I just can’t...”

Well done. One or two meetings and you’ll have him. This is just a job.

“Of course we can,” he whispered, crushing Edgar to him. “When can we meet?”

“One of the boots at Mariner’s is always reserved for me. I’ll give you the codes and we can meet there tomorrow, same time,” Edgar suggested.

“That’s perfect. I’ll be there,” Noah promised. Venus can get her feelers in place beforehand.

“I... think I’d better go now...” Edgar stammered.

“Yeah... I’ll see you tomorrow,” Noah said, and watched the Gecko vanish without leaving a single trace - except for the blue and white lizard crawling over Noah’s shoulder.

Venus went on and on about the sprite, analysing it until even the curious little thing itself got bored of it. Teddy kept urging them for a location while Abel insisted they take their time, and Kouros kept himself busy sorting through Matrix buzz.

Noah just counted down the seconds until he would meet him again.

He had lectured himself sternly, coming up with a plan of action for that evening, determined to get a general location out of the hacker at least, or some clue as to his actual identity. But when he logged on, accessed the Mariner’s node and found Edgar already waiting for him in their private subnode he dove on top of him and kissed him like it was the only thing that would keep him from drowning. Edgar kissed him back just as desperately.

It has to be the link...

They had each other half undressed when Noah decided to push a little.

“You drive me absolutely crazy... I want you, Edgar, I want you so badly... You too, right? Please tell me you want me too...”

“Me too, Noah... I need you so badly... I don’t know what you’re doing to me but I don’t want it to stop...”

“Meet with me,” Noah begged. “Tell me where you are and I’ll come to you and make all of this real...” He trailed his fingers along the waistband of Edgar’s trousers.

“Why?” Edgar managed, arching up, begging to be touched.

Noah denied him. “An act this physical should be done in the flesh, Edgar... I want what we have to be real. I need to know that what we have is real...”

He allowed a little desperation to bleed into his voice, ghosted his fingers over Edgar’s groin.

“Oh, Noah, touch me, please!” Edgar sobbed, overwhelmed with new sensations that would surely drive him out of his mind.

“Not like this,” Noah repeated, as much to himself as to the technomancer, “I can’t do this...”

“Alright,” Edgar whispered, clinging to him and kissing him desperately. “Come to Europort. I’ll send you the specifics when you get there. I’m free whenever you are, just please...” He licked his way up the column of Noah’s neck. “Please don’t take too long to get there...” He palmed Noah’s erection through the fabric of his jeans. “I want you just as much as you want me. I’ve never done this before, outside of the Matrix. I just need you to understand that this is...”

Noah grabbed him with all his might and kissed him. If Edgar finished that sentence it would end him. It was too easy, it wasn’t fair and it would break the technomancer’s heart.

“You can trust me,” he whispered. “You’ll be safe with me.”

“I trust you,” Edgar replied, trembling with nerves. Noah almost took him right there.

“I’ll be there tomorrow,” he swore. “I can’t wait to see you any longer than that.”

“Yeah,” Edgar managed, hiding his face in the crook of Noah’s shoulder. “Hurry.”

He vanished. Noah logged out and ran straight for Venus’ apartment.

“Tell everyone to get here in 2 hours. Whatever they’re doing, tell them to drop it.”

“You have him?”

“We have him. He’s in Europort. I’ll tell you all about it when the others get here. I need you to do something else for me first.”

She took in his exasperated expression, the mess his hair was in, his apparent concern about something.

She sighed.

“My quiet night is over, isn’t it? I’ll go get us some coffee.”