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if we crash this time

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It's a shiny night, bright bright, and Party's out hustling for some c's down at the Z5 robofights. Laying his bets, selling pills, picking the pockets of some Xecs outta Bat City, their wallets fat with flash and other, more interesting things. Juicy info, worth a pretty c to someone and Party's got the knack for matching intel to buyer.

It's a skill that keeps his boys in Power Pup and rebreathers and drugs to smooth over the jagged edges of rad damage. Party doesn't mind; he'll do whatever it takes to keep 'em safe. And if sometimes he lures a c-rich Xec into a dark alley with the sway of his hip and a flick of his bright red hair, well, a boy's gotta do what a boy's gotta do.

He keeps his stunner in his boot and always makes sure the bodies aren't easily found. Sometimes he sees the same Xec again, weeks later, but gets nothing but a blank stare. He shrugs. NBD.

The crowd screams for blood, it's bread and circuses all over again, BL/ind adverts and talking heads on the vidscreens going on and on and on about building a better you and we can fix you. Fuck 'em. Killjoys don't need none of what BLI is selling.

The music's loud, pounding in his blood, and thrumming to the beat of the Z's. It's a good night and the biz picks up; in less than an hour he's out of merch except for a couple of loose reds and a blue. He swallows the reds and it puts an up-curl to his mouth, a strut to his step and he's ready for action.

There's a vip party after the fight in a fancy Fuck You house, one bought and paid for with BLI c's. Party crashes it, looking up at the bouncer from beneath his bangs and slipping some c's into the dude's pocket with a cocky grin. Whatever works.

He doesn't fit in and it's obvious, from his fucked up hair to his dusty jeans to the dirt under his fingernails, but he don't care. Pretty little BL/ind boys and girls, perfect and clean and so fucking white; he returns their sneers with interest. He wishes he'd brought some paint. He'd dirty them up super quick.

He wanders, makes a couple of connections, and before long he's bored bored bored. Talking to zombies is not his idea of a good time, and with no merch, there's no biz.

Grabbing an unattended bottle of booze, Party lets himself out of the back door and leans against the brick wall, bracing one leg. He lights a pilfered cigarette, blowing out smoke that catches the moonlight in strange ways. When he looks up, the moon is huge, close enough to touch.

The night's not a total loss; it's been more black than red and that's all he can really ask for. He's still alive, still running, and the c's he made will get them food, water, gas. Pills. It's enough, for now.

He uncaps the bottle and takes a swig, eyes watering at little at the burn. It's real smooth, compared to the shit he usually drinks, homebrew and shine.

Party's sure there's a metaphor in there, somewhere, but he's too stoned to really parse it out. BLI and the Z's, Dracs and Xecs and 'Runners. "Fuck," he says.

"Never on the first date, baby," a voice says, and Party blinks at the guy who's appeared out of the shadows. He's wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night, and who the fuck does that except some pretentious BLI werker-b?

The guy's pretty, though, smooth skin and brown hair. He's a little too clean for the Zones, but he's got a touch of tangled and tousled about him that appeals to Party. His clothes are wrecked, torn jacket and worn jeans, but his boots are sweet. Party wonders if they would fit his own feet.

"Never?" Party grins. "Zat a hard and fast rule? 'Cause I got a rep for not following the rules."

"Do you, now?" He leans over Party, hand resting on the wall next to Party's head, close enough for Party to feel the heat he's throwing off. He looks Party over, licking his lips.

This guy is not subtle, but Party can work with that. "Yah." And suddenly, Party recognizes him. "You're one of the fighters!"

"Yeah." The guy pulls away a little, stiffens up, but not in the good way. "g3rard. You a fan?"

Party can't help the disdainful snort. "Not really my scene, g3r-ard," he drawls, lips twisting. He shrugs and straightens, moving into g3rard's space, trying to force him back, because suddenly he's too too close and Party's antsy.

g3rard reaches out and tugs on a lock of Party's hair, banner bright. "Didn't think so." His fingers trace the arch of Party's cheekbone and Party knows he should shove this dude away; he's got no business touching what is clearly not his.

But he doesn't; Party finds himself relaxing a little and breathing deep. g3rard's fingers are clean; it feels nice, different from the grit that gets into everything out in the Z's. g3rard shifts closer, and Party's eyes fly open.

"Pretty," g3rard murmurs, leaning down and pressing their lips together. Party fists the lapels of g3rard's jacket, intent on shoving, but g3rard makes a soft hungry sound and—

Party gasps, and with a breathy laugh, g3rard steals a taste. And it's like g3rard can't stay away; he presses a kiss to the corner of Party's mouth before moving in for a more heated touch. Party's stomach twists, because this feels like something known; recognition stirs his blood.

It lasts forever and Party can feel himself getting lost, hands sliding into g3rard's hair and holding on while the ground tilts under his feet. He breaks away, panting, and g3rard rests his cheek against the side of Party's head, so close. "Fuck," Party mumbles.

"First date," g3rard reminds him.

There's a thread of laughter in g3rard's voice, and Party smiles. "Killjoy," he says, touching the center of his chest. "Fuck your rules."

"Mmm." g3rard dips in for another kiss. "Maybe I can take you home, show you my trophies."

"Fucking worst line ever," Party says, pushing g3rard away. "Gotta try harder."

g3rard's smile is crooked. "Don't think so, baby." He turns and saunters down the street, not even looking back. "You coming?"

The smart thing would be to walk away. g3rard is nothing but trouble; it doesn't take a brain to see that. If Party's lucky, which he isn't, he'll only get his heart broken.

Party's never been smart, and he jogs a little to catch up. g3rard laces their fingers together and takes Party home.

And the weird thing is, g3rard really does show Party his trophies.

Party pretends to be impressed.