Notes: This is the sequel to my novella Chain and halfthewords's Christmas present. Takes place in an alternate universe where Egypt exists as a closed-off society led by a Pharaoh, relying on the old magic as the world advances around it. One thief fought to bring it down, and died for it; but now another has taken his place.
The room reeked of sweat and booze, heavy perfumes clashing with too much cologne. It wasn’t upscale, it wasn’t clean, and it certainly wasn’t where Otogi Ryuuji would ever be guessed to haunt - and that suited him perfectly. There were nights when he needed to be unknown for a little while, leaving his cell phone and his boss behind to just feel like the attractive, horny bachelor he was.
He sat some distance from the dancers’ stage. He didn’t want their brand of attention, and he wasn’t willing to give them his. Instead he chose a table and ordered rum shots from a waitress in a bra and a skirt that covered nothing. She had tattoos on the small of her back in the shape of a hawk with wings spread, and she called Otogi ‘hon’ as she brought him his drunks, but he didn’t pay attention to any of that. He really only noticed her when she stopped to talk to another waitress, with long brown hair that swished like Shizuka’s.
Shizuka Jounouchi – Otogi’s tender heart still twanged at the memory. Because of his excellent bone structure and come hither green eyes, most people took him for a player, but in his heart, Otogi had always been a one-woman man. Those green eyes had laid on Shizuka some two years ago during his routine travels to Egypt, and he’d been smitten since. Of course, there had been obstacles – her idiotic brother, for one, and a rival suitor – but in the end, Shizuka had been the one to reject him. At the time, Otogi had hidden his feelings and taken rejection with grace; but six months far from Shizuka and Egypt found him still trying to drown his broken heart in rum at a New York strip club. He was a pathetic wreck, and he knew it.
But there was that swish again, and hips that swayed in his direction; he didn’t know what the other waitress had told her, but now he had auburn’s attention, and she had his rum. She walked with all the curves of her body, then leaned over to reveal a few more as she set the shot in front of him.
“How about a dance?” she purred. Instinctively, Otogi began to refuse, but she silenced him with a finger on his lips. “Come on, handsome. I think you’ll find I’m a very talented dancer.”
To Otogi’s understanding, there was always a no-touching rule in strip clubs, but this certainly didn’t stop the waitress from sweeping her fingers lightly from his stomach up to his chin as she straightened, delicately turning his face towards her as she nodded to one of the private rooms in the back. When he met her eyes, his immediate thought was how they were startling blue, and so unlike Shizuka’s, but his second thought didn’t involve Shizuka at all, and his third didn’t involve clothing. Helplessly, he rose and abandoned his liquor to trail after her. She reached back and hooked her pinkie in his – a childish gesture that didn’t fail to intrigue him – as she led him, with a nod to a nearby bouncer, into a dark room made private only by a red curtain. Once they’d entered, she drew it shut, taking care to leave no gaps.
Otogi’s blood was pumping, and his brain was only functioning enough to ask the absurd questions: was he supposed to tip her? And where exactly would he put the money? She pushed him to sit in the chair provided (of which, he noticed, there was only one) and wasted no time straddling his lap, twisting and gyrating with more bodily contact than Otogi would have expected. She wasn’t keeping to the beat of the music pumping through the place – she had her own rhythm and her own pace. She met Otogi’s eyes and smiled at him and Otogi forgot where he was entirely. He reached out and ran his hands through her hair, fleeting longing in his chest, and that was all the invitation his waitress needed to lean in and kiss him firmly.
Otogi wasn’t usually a man to reject a kiss, even one so unexpectedly given, and it wasn’t long before he was caught up in the passionate affair, one hand resting gentlemanly on her waist as the other tangled in her hair. Apparently, this was all the distraction she needed, because the next thing Otogi knew, the cold bite of a metal blade was on his throat.
Half-hard and still a little dizzy from the kiss, it took Otogi a few moments to register that the girl straddling his lap had a knife to his throat, and that it was growing imminently difficult to breathe, let alone speak, without risk of cutting himself.
“What,” he managed breathily.
“Sorry,” said his waitress, and she actually looked it. “You were always nice to me, but I have to.”
“What,” Otogi hissed, with as little mouth movement as possible.
“I guess you don’t remember.” She almost seemed hurt, but the pressure she kept with the blade was unrelenting. “Well, it’s probably better that way. Please stop moving, or I really will cut your throat.” Otogi froze, his hands part of the way up to shift her away from him. She didn’t strike him as the killer type, but Otogi’s gambling habits stopped when his life was on the line. He was only aware in his peripherals and by the rustle of fabric that someone had opened the curtain.
“Help,” he hissed. The blade bit a little deeper.
“Everything all right, Anzu?” said the man behind the curtain.
“I’m handling it,” said the waitress, her voice tense. The man moved closer, and into Otogi’s line of sight; he recognized the bouncer from before who’d been standing beside the private rooms, and he cursed his bad luck. The man sneered at him, then pulled a cloth and a small bottle from his pocket.
“Don’t worry, Mister Otogi,” he said, pouring something onto the cloth. “Just go to sleep.” He pressed the cloth firmly against Otogi’s nose and mouth, forcing him to inhale something sweet and numb. The world slid away before he even had time to react, but his last thought before he slipped into emptiness was the impression of familiarity, that he’d seen those faces before; but then he was gone, and they were as good as ghosts to him.