Automatically, once he entered the flat behind Grey the door closed and bolted, keys and wallet dropped into an odd, dark metal box on the table in the entry way, and he did a quick round of the antiseptic metal, leather, and electronically furnished rooms to make sure everything remained as he left it. The habit ignored the duties of a host to his guest, but then the situation never before had arisen. Peter Morland did not entertain guests. When filial devotion rose up within him, he would take his mother out, or visit her in the house of his childhood. His was a three bedroom flat, but one room contained his library and study, the second held his meditation circle and electronics workshop, and only the last contained the bed.
When he returned to the living room, Morland was forcibly reminded of his ‘guest’s’ presence. Her duffel sat open on his deep black couch. The latex pants were draped over the back. Her boots sprawled upon the floor behind it. She stood facing the ever-so-wide television screen. She could not have seen it, though. Her top paused at that moment over her eyes as she shifted her grip to finish pulling it over her head. Fortunately for Morland’s gravity and sanity, she quickly covered the only remaining article of clothing she wore, a V-back in a surprisingly somber shade of blue with a mannishly cut flannel shirt in dull green and cream which hung past mid thigh before she turned to face him.
Ignoring Morland’s incipient explosion, she asked, “Does your unknown visit you every night? Obviously I will have to stay awake, or at least aware, as I monitor you and even such as I can’t go more than a week or so without sleep and stay sharp.”
Her business like tone robbed his indignation of its impetus. Morland sighed his reply, “He began the night time visits once every week or so. Of late, it has been a nightly occurrence. I become aware of him as I begin dreaming. Though I am, by nature and training, a very lucid dreamer, while he remains I cannot wake and search for him.” Barely a hint of his fear and frustration touched his face. Grey, thoughtfully, ignoring that hint.
“I do not know your usual mode of night time apparel, but for my purposes, I must ask that you leave at least your upper body bare. Of course, complete nudity would be better.” Deliberately, she turned to pack away discarded garments before finishing the statement, giving Morland the chance to regain his composure before speaking.
Still, his breathing came a trifle faster when he spoke. “I do not think you understand, Dame Grey among other things. I am a contact clairvoyant, and I no longer have complete control of the talent. Much skin contact between us, or even that well-worn shirt you wear, could send me into a wash of visions from which I can surface only when released. In such a state, my antagonist could burn this building down around us, and I would remain unaware of it.”
Grey’s mouse eating grin crept out of where consideration had hidden it, touched with a decided superiority. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s get to work.” She patted one black clad shoulder as she passed and asked, “Your bedroom’s this way isn’t it? I assume you sleep in the master, and so many of these flats are laid out the same.”
Morland was not quite silent when he asked of an uncaring universe, “What the hell have I allowed myself to get caught up in?” But still he followed her, unbuttoning his cuffs.
Reluctance must have slowed his steps. When Morland entered his room, Grey already sat at the head of his wide bed. She leaned her back against the wall, legs bent, knees wide. The shirt he just unbuttoned and pulled free of the confining waist band gaped no more widely than hers. Morland paused, staring, one shoulder uncovered, and Grey scowled at him.
“Don’t worry I am not making a pass at you. Like yours, some of my talents work more strongly through contact. I have a fairly good idea of what’s been haunting you, but in order to make sure I’m going to have to walk your dreams. Besides, you would probably like to know who sent it and why, and that can’t be done without confronting the whatever-it-is.” He still stood frozen and Grey sighed. “Don’t worry about your visions either. The other reason for this is to keep you out of contact with the shirt. I am less than half-human and more than capable of keeping you from accidentally wandering my past. The thong is new and machine made. Strip as far as you’re going to and come over here. The sooner we get this begun the sooner you pay me and I go away.”
“I am not sure I will be able to sleep. I am unaccustomed to sleeping in company.” Morland said with stiff dignity. Calmly he shucked all but a pair of commonplace cotton boxer shorts, in spite of the curious way Grey watched him. He knew his figure was not match for Grey’s youthful athletic curves, but it hardly stood to scorn for a man of 35. He wondered what she thought of the scars and other marks of old violence he saw no sign on her skin. Some trick of her mixed genetics must include super-human healing. Theirs was not a sedentary or uneventful profession.
Only a little tentatively, Morland took his place between her legs to pillow his head on her lower stomach. When visions came, some of the tension flowed out of him. Gentle fingers moved into his range of sight to trace the parallel scars running from the back of his shoulder down to his upper stomach from bottom to top. “These look like cat claws, but they’re too clean.”
He answered the implied question, “It was robotic.”
Morland felt her shift slightly and inferred a nod. He heard a slight, quick exhalation and the lights went out like blown candles. She rested her hands lightly on his pectoral muscles, and stretched her legs down his sides. “Go to sleep, Peter,” she whispered, and he did…