September 24th
The doors slid open, and Curt looked out at the thankfully-empty Combat corridor – the recruits here were doing the same as the Field recruits: sleep, sex or breakfast.
Magnolia had Room One, as was tradition for an Aide. The quarters weren’t any larger than normal, they just had the significance of being Number One.
An image of Mags with Riker’s beard flashed through his mind and he smirked to himself.
He knocked on the door, and it swung open. Whoever had started the rumours about the Aide rooms being bigger than regular quarters had obviously never seen Mags’s room.
There was a single bed which pointed directly at the door, a small built in wardrobe to the left of bed, and a doorway through to the bathroom on the right-hand side of the bed, a slight depression into the wall forming a shelf that held papers and weapons and a few knick-knacks. On the wall above the shelf was a smattering of pictures, photos and swirly, painted designs of flowers painted onto the wall. No couch, no kitchenette, no desk.
Magnolia stood, gave him a neutral look, walked across to him, then turned her back to him. ‘Unzip me?’
He almost went to argue, then unbuttoned the flap of material that covered the zip on the fluffy black dress, and ran the zipper halfway down her back. She coughed, and he pulled it down to the top of her arse. He swallowed, then pulled his hand away.
Her back still turned to him, she grabbed the short sleeves, and freed her top half, then let it slid down her body into a puddle of ruffles and lace at her feet. Only a pair of black silk panties kept her from being entirely naked. Curt swallowed again. Given how little she cared about people, it was entirely possible that she had forgotten he was in the room.
‘Hey, Mags?’
She turned to him, and he let himself burn the image of her breasts into his mind before he resumed the pretence at being a gentleman.
‘I’ve been awake for thirty-seven hours,’ she said, her voice the same usual bored tone it was generally was. ‘I still have incomprehensible amounts of paperwork to complete, so under the circumstances, you’ll do, O’Connor.’
His eyes went wide. ‘What?’
‘That, or zip me back up.’
His mind raced to think as the blood was drawn elsewhere in his body. ‘You want me on your rotation?’
This brought an amused smile to her lips. ‘Don’t get ahead of yourself, O’Connor, we’ll see how you do this time.’
‘Yes ma’am.’
‘Strip already,’ she said. ‘Do you know the ground rules?’
He kicked his shoes off, and quickly got rid of his pants, letting the end of his shirt cover him for now. He paused when taking off his coat. ‘I’ve got the Rose Room app,’ he said, ‘if you want insurance.’
‘I know where you live,’ she said. ‘I don’t need it. Don’t fucking try and kiss me, that’s your first rule, I’ve got no interest in you as a person-’
He smirked as he loosened his tie, glad she’d let him keep his T-shirt on. ‘Come on Mags, I’m pretty interesting.’
She turned him and pushed him onto the bed, then sat on his chest. ‘If you keep talking, I’m less likely to keep you on the rotation.’
He ran his fingers up her leg, and brushed the over the fabric of the panties. ‘You might like my mouth,’ he said with a grin.
‘Don’t make promises you can’t live up to.’
He slipped his fingers inside her panties, and let them tease through her short hair. She looked down at him, bored, but he focussed on his movements.
‘You’re bold,’ she said, ‘points for that, most guys just lie back and let me fuck them.’
‘Well, if you were a nymph girl, I would, that’s just polite.’
She looked down at him, the edge of a smile on her face. ‘I fucking love fucking nymph girls.’ Wetness coated his fingers, and he slipped his index finger inside. She leaned forward, rested her hands against his shoulders and began to move against his finger. ‘So draining though,’ Mags continued, ‘I prefer the kind that stay the night.’ Curt felt her convulse against his hand, but she gave no indication she’d come. ‘You’re not as bad as I expected.’
The fact that she had expected anything was news to him – the idea that she’d spent any time considering what a fling with him made him harder. She was one of the strangest elements of the Agency – he’d assumed her fashion choices were a costume the first time he’d seen her. And the second. And the third. After a week, he’d seen her break a training construct’s neck, thanks to the range of motion afforded by the short skirts, and had immediately gained healthy new respect and fear for her.
He withdrew his hand and trailed his slick hand across her thigh. His moved both hands to cup her arse. ‘Mags, come here,’ he said, pressing his hands into the toned flesh. It was astounding – he had never counted himself as an arse man, and her skirts tended to hide the shape of her butt while showing off her legs, but it was exquisite. Another image, another feeling to think about in the shower.
She stared at him. ‘You think I’d let you-’
He tried to look cocky. ‘I’ve never had a complaint.’
She scoffed, then moved forward, her knees slid over his shoulders to rest on the bed beside him. He grabbed at her panties and required them away. One question was immediately answered – her white hair wasn’t contained to her head.
He pushed on his arse, and brought her in contact with his mouth. Most girls shivered, or shuddered, or made some acknowledgement of the touch, of the feel of a tongue against sensitive flesh, but she simply took it in her stride.
He flicked his tongue across her, and she gave no reaction. Longer, slower licks, however, made her move. He buried his tongue inside her, his hands moving to push on her, to bring her closer, his fingers slipping closer and closer to-
‘Do not even think of fucking me up the arse,’ she said, and he broke from his reverie for a moment.
He sucked in his tongue, mumbled an apology, and pulled his hands away from her cheeks, one reaching for a breast, one moving in, gently manipulating her as his tongue moved again.
This time, when she came, she sounded satisfied.
She pulled herself away from his mouth, and went back to sitting on his chest, knees against his sides. It would be an excellent position to stab someone. ‘You won’t be my first port of call,’ she said, ‘but you’ve made the roster.’
She turned and laid on top of him, her thighs buffering his face. Her mouth wrapped around him, and he seized at the sudden and strong contact. Her tongue probing the slit, and the suction made him buck his hips against her, wanting to move up off the bed, trying to follow as her mouth pulled away.
Her hand wrapped around him, and he felt as though he could burst. She gripped him, and after a moment, the pressure died, his body deflating as he came. She moved her hand, for a moment more, then let him go.
He couldn’t move. A smirk slid onto his face as he let himself relax into the soft mattress. She stood, her clothes already back in place, and sat at the head of the bed behind him. ‘Do you mind, O’Connor?’ A much smaller pile of papers appeared in her hands. ‘Thanks,’ she said with a quick smile. ‘Again, not as bad as I was expecting.’
He twisted and rolled until he was lying across the bed, facing her. He required his uniform back, acutely aware he was lying in the wet spot. He wanted to return the thank you, or to compliment her, but as the seconds passed, it seemed less and less like she expected him to say anything.
She signed a piece of paper, and it disappeared. ‘I’m pretty sure you didn’t come knocking on my door looking for a fuck,’ Mags said, eloquent as ever.
The afterglow vanished immediately, and everything came back. ‘I wanted to query policy, actually,’ he said. ‘And ask you a favour.’
‘You should really go to your agent to query policy,’ she said. ‘There’s certain-’
‘I can’t,’ he said. ‘Well, it’d be awkward considering- Where’s the Agency stand on gross negligence?’
Magnolia sat back against the pillows, her workbook forgotten. ‘This Agency?’ she said, and he nodded. ‘This Agency seems to swim in it. It’s pretty much mutually-assured destruction though, so nothing much gets reported. Why?’
‘Have you ever gone after Ryan?’
Her face went serious. ‘O’Connor, start talking straight.’
‘Ryan got one of the new recruits killed. He took her into the operation last night, and she ended up KIA.’
‘Who, negative-seven?’
‘Yeah,’ Curt said flatly.
‘Seems like a basic example of cause and effect,’ Magnolia said. She was quiet for a moment. ‘You’re not stupid, but- You understand this could lead to an execution, right?’
‘I’m more than familiar with how harsh Agency policy can be.’ He shifted uncomfortably. ‘I can’t do it. The Agency still views me as Solstice. I’m on probation. I don’t have enough pull for it to be taken seriously. You do. You’re the only Aide this Agency has. There’s nothing that can come back and bite Combat in the ass on this.’
‘Field Agent, Directorial override. Single-point decision for recruit placement and assignments. He would have been the one to actually shift her into the Field. How long did it take her to die? Five minutes?’
‘Sometime during the blackout,’ Curt said.
The workbook disappeared, and a tablet appeared. Magnolia tapped on it for a few seconds, then brought up a status log – the output from blue that techs saw to monitor a recruit’s condition. ‘You know how to read this?’ she asked.
‘Enough,’ he said. ‘I don’t spend that might time around techs.’
‘Blood pressure isn’t good. Adrenaline isn’t good. Heart rate kept spiking. There’s injury here, but minor stuff. The rest of it though – this basically reads as a recruit having a panic attack for two hours. Ryan would have had a readout of this. Any Agent with a conscience would have shifted a recruit like this back, and reassigned them to the scholars.’
‘Is it enough?’
‘Should be,’ Mags said quietly. ‘But you understand you’ll be in his firing line, right? I can bounce this up to Central, but it’s going to come back to you, and he’ll know that. And sometimes investigation is enough to make agents lose their shit. Of course, that means that the investigation was warranted, but the body counts can get rather high.’
‘There has to be some accountability.’
Magnolia laughed, and he didn’t blame her. ‘You’re an idiot, O’Connor, if you actually believe that.’ The tablet disappeared from her hands. ‘I think we’ve both been fucked by the Agency enough to know that.’
‘She didn’t deserve to die. He can’t just get away with it.’
‘Why do you even care? I’m trusting that your taste in women runs a little sexier than her.’
He deflated a little. ‘She reminded me of my little sister. With…everything that’s gone on, I haven’t had a chance to go back and see her. Hell, I can’t even leave the state without an agent escort.’
‘I’ll need more detail, and it’ll take a while to draw up the paperwork. I have my own work to do in the meantime. Come back at lunch, and-’
‘Can I help, I know how to do most of the paperwork, and-’
‘Quit while you’re ahead, O’Connor.’
‘Sorry.’ He stood, and straightened his suit. ‘I’ll leave you to work, then.’
‘Consider this,’ she said. ‘Who we get in Ryan’s place could be worse. This little fucked up Agency works because faults are acknowledged and ignored. Someone new to the situation won’t appreciate that.’
He considered it for a moment, then forced himself to shrug. ‘Change can be for the best.’
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