Killing Time OST – 11a – Deception

<< 10c – Dance

We got back to my place around three am and not a minute too soon. Vexx’s cold shoulder annoyed me. I didn’t crave his attention but I expected him to protect our cover. He didn’t have any trouble at the beginning of the evening so why had things switched after the waltz. It couldn’t possibly be about the meaningless kiss, could it?
Grow up!
We managed to avoid suspicions for the most part but my dad did pull me away after dessert to ask if everything was okay. Our conversation was interrupted by the beginning of a tango song. I jostled to Vexx – an attempt to show I had listened to him earlier and mend the weird distance – and ended up having to remind him that he built a freaking chip so he wouldn’t miss the tango. I didn’t usually have to insist to get someone to take me up on the dance floor.
Painful. Just painful. So painful I almost risked asking the FBI guy for a dance – thanks paparazzi for dissuading any such endeavor.
And the limousine ride home wasn’t any better.
Vexx spent the entire trip fiddling with his PDA now hopefully full of juicy information. I had asked him to share and got the monosyllabic rebuttal of someone too deep in thoughts to care. By the time I exited the car, I was pissed. Nevertheless, I knew paparazzi would be spying and if we showed couple troubles, they’d smell ‘picture of a teary heiress’ and swarm like moths to a flame. So for the sake of my peace of mind, I huddled to the door with my arm around Vexx’s, hoping his blatant disinterest for me would come across as him taking care of some urgent business I understood and respected.
The door still rang with the force of my slam when I reached the stairs going to the basement. I needed my punching bag to blow some steam. If I didn’t do it, the anger would turn into nightmares for sure. I stripped out of my dress as I walked, eager to slip into leggings and training bra. Vexx was still slowly making his way across the lobby so a sense of modesty was unnecessary.
I shouldn’t have allowed him to boss me around for three weeks. He’d apparently grown used to it and I didn’t like the result. My punching bag suffered from it. At least, it never complained nor required medical attention. My bad mood slowly receded as I dug my knuckles in the leather-covered sand.
After half an hour of violence, I took a shower, washing away the layers of sweat and make-up. My skin breathed anew which eased my irritation too. Maybe I didn’t need to break Vexx’s jaw to remind him of my existence. When Merrilyn Tech was concerned, the crusade wasn’t just mine. And he did catch me in a situation of failure, completely blind to my enemy’s growth. Since I needed Vexx’s information and he needed my basement for another six months, I had to find a way – a middle ground – and cooperate on this instead of one of us taking the lead.
Gosh, I was so bad at ‘gray’.
Maybe the kiss had nothing to do with it.
The thought rang clear in my now anger-free mind. Vexx was highly unstable when I met him, addicted the tech and obsessed by his employer. He had kept a backdoor into Merrilyn’s system after I specifically asked him not to. Actively acting against the company could have flipped a switch. His closing up might have nothing to do with me.
Maybe.
“Okay,” I told myself as I slipped on some slacks and a t-shirt. “Me versus Vexx won’t cut it this time. Gray. I gotta find gray.” A croak came from the door. “Hey Frogster!”
I grabbed the frog and perched it on my shoulder. Vexx loved his toy; showing up with Frogster might help find the gray. I activated my music chip, had it play Pachelbel’s Canon and stepped into the lab after taking a deep breath.
Vexx had uploaded the content of the PDA to his computer and sifted through the hologram. He didn’t acknowledge my entrance, which I expected. I forced myself to take relaxed steps until I stood by his side.
“What are we looking at?” I asked with as tensionless a tone as I could manage.
“Complex tech stuff.” His muttered answer implied that I neither cared nor had the capacity to understand. My fists tightened. I was trying!
“Do we have enough to hatch up a plan?” My voice quavered a bit as anger fought its way back into my humor.
“Tell you when I have one.”
For at least fifteen seconds, I concentrated only on the music in my head. This might have nothing to do with power play, I repeated myself. He might just have regressed five months in the past.
“You shouldn’t do this alone.” The words came out with more compassion I thought I could manage. Maybe I could do gray after all.
But then Vexx shot me a dark glance.
“You’ve got to be kidding.” He growled. Well, at least he was looking at me and talking in full sentences now. I shrugged. “You think I’ve snapped. How dare you?” And the last three words boiled with an anger that kindled my own.
“How dare I?” I barked. “You act like you expect me to say ‘Fine, champ! This is your op. I’ll just be the muscle.’ Pulling away from those who care like a good little addict.”
“So what? You get to act like a dick, no questions asked but when I keep a few things to myself I’m obviously on the road back to my death?”
His voice rose even louder than mine. This wasn’t good. This wasn’t gray. If we kept going, I’d knock him out cold or kill him. As if sensing the threat, Frogster jumped to the closest counter.
“Time out,” I said, stunning us both. If Frogster could develop a survival instinct, I could do this. We took a deep breath, squarely facing each other. “Talk to me.”
“The shrink look doesn’t suit you.” The sentence enraged me until the left corner of his mouth rose. “There’s nothing going on.” He looked me in the eye but the nagging feeling something fishy remained unsaid wouldn’t leave me; he knew if he turned away I’d call his bluff.
“You have no clue how close you got to eat my fist.” I smiled and we both turned back to the screen. This wasn’t over.
“If we don’t have everything we need, we’ll have the keywords for my worm to dig out what’s missing.” So I might have failed at ‘gray’, but ‘we’ was definitely progress.
“Good!” I faked a yawn. I needed to sleep on this. “I’m going to bed. We can look at this tomorrow. It’s not time-sensitive, is it?”
“Nah. I’ll turn in too.”
The goodnights were a bit too tense from my liking. I’d have to wrestle his secret out of him eventually. But for now, my feet ached from a night of dancing in stiletto heels.

11b – Deception >>

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

7 responses to “Killing Time OST – 11a – Deception

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