Jupeter and 15 for the mini fic meme?
15. things you said with too many miles between us
A/N: I ended up taking liberties with the figurative sense of this prompt
You’d think after getting the same bad contact twice that I’d have learned my lesson. It just goes to show that the universe has a good thing going with lady luck, because they’ve taken their wicked sense of humour out on me too many times to count.
But I hadn’t expected this kind of cheap trick from Alessandra Strong, someone I assumed knew how to do a thorough background check on her associates if nothing else. This’ll be the last time I take over a case for her, because what do I get for my trouble? A eyeful of lean, confident thief wrapped up in a suit that costs more than a month’s rent and inviting smile directed at our mutual client.
“Ah, Detective Strong, how nice of you to finally join us…” He doesn’t quite sound finished, but the thought must die, along with my appetite and any previous humour on his face, when he looks over his shoulder to find me in the doorway. He recovers quickly, and less than a second later he’s smiling again, this time with all his teeth.
I recover too, and take a few steps into the room. “Detective Strong got a little tied up but she got me up to speed. I’m Juno Steel. Looks like we’ll be working together.” I have to swallow a lump in my throat when I hold out a hand, because even though he does shake it, the contact is brief. Like I’m contagious.
“Janeth Verity. It’s wonderful having you on the case, Mr. Steel.”
“Do you two know each other?” Ms. Organa pulls my attention back to here and now, like getting a stubborn cat off your lap. Nureyev’s standing with her between us in a way that’s too tidy to be an accident.
Nureyev… Janeth just shakes his head, returning his attention to the client with that warm smile of his. “Only by reputation. Steel is a little hard to ignore in our line of business, but I assure you that he’s one of the best.” I can’t tell if he means it.
He’s as much Peter Nureyev now as when he was Rex Glass. He stands tall, keeps his hands tucked neatly behind his back, leans forward while he listens to Ms. Organa. His eyes crinkle a little at the edges and I wonder if he can see a damn thing without his glasses, if he bothered to get contact lenses that were right for him or if he just grabbed the first pair he found. I wonder what he’s seen since the last time he was on Mars. I wonder if he’s going to look at me again, or if if that was a one-time accident.
The next time I tear my eye off him, Organa is saying, “Right this way, gentlemen,” and leading us deeper into the house.
I fall back to walk beside Nureyev, and he falls back futher. By the time I finally find a place next to him, the knots in my chest have worked themselves into a tangle that can only be dissolved by a lot of booze. “I can go, if you want. Tell Alessandra I got pulled in on something else.”
“I can’t imagine why you’d do that, Mr. Steel. We’ve hardly begun here,” he says, with far too much friendly distance in his voice. Friendly, but not familiar. He talks to me the same way I’ve smiled at creeps at the bar.
“Fine, then let me buy you a drink later–”
I’m cut off with a dismissive wave. His voice is low enough that Organa can’t hear him up ahead, but the message comes in loud and clear across the chasm between us. “No, detective, I think you’ve given me enough of a headache to last a life time without adding a hangover.” He’s glacial one moment, then the next he’s calling a question up to our client and hurrying ahead to leave me treading the water behind him.
I wonder if he’ll ever look at me again.