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A mobile’s repeated chirps and cries fell on deaf ears, with relish, if its owner did say so herself. And she did, as she flipped over an aggressively polite “thank you for keeping our rooms smoke free” sign and tapped her cigarette on the plastic. Badger sank against the mahogany headboard and flicked on the TV. A reptilian grin curled her wine-stained lips seconds later when a voicemail icon began to flash on the mobile’s screen. It’d be the same as the previous half a dozen she’d gotten, no doubt.

None of it fucking mattered, never would. Mrs. D couldn’t touch them, not from the rotting jail cell she should be sitting in by then. Revenge tasted even richer than the now empty bottle of imported wine on the bedside table. And it’d gone down just as smooth. Badger had slipped into the club and onto Mrs. D’s computer to wipe her bank account clean. They rang the police with an anonymous tip about “Jacob’s” kidnapping on a payphone and took off for the most expensive hotel they could find. The charge wouldn’t stick but they were bound to come up with something that would. Mrs. D lately had taken the route of subtly threatening the police who came close to the club, and that road only went one way, as she was hopefully finding out at present.

So there they were, Fox and Badger, laying low waiting for their flight to the Bahamas in the morning. Ezra might’ve been a scumbag but his advice was on the dot. Fox was convinced they’d be caught, pacing the room until Badger ordered them a whole cart’s worth of room service. With a bellyful of filet mignon, souffle, and wine, they passed out and Badger could finally relax. Or try to at least. The room was so clean , entirely free of threadbare carpets soaked with decades of dirt or grimy mystery-stained sheets. Its crisp white porcelain sink and down pillows conveyed a sense of safety Badger didn’t deserve. Not that she much cared. There was only one thing she bothered to care about presently - they were tucked into her side, cocooned in impossibly high thread count sheets and a plush monogrammed dressing gown.

Badger wasn’t accustomed to caring about anything, much less somebody she’d only just met. She might’ve likened herself to the smoke escaping her lips: only ever drifting by and disappearing before anyone could get close, leaving just a scant trace behind. She’d upset Fox when they asked why she kissed them because she didn’t have an answer other than she’d felt like it. Anyone else might’ve let it go right there, she wasn’t worth the effort. Fox fought her on it and got under her skin.

“Can’t let yourself feel anythin’ for anyone, can ya?” they’d snapped.

This froze Badger in place and seeped into her chest, chilling her to her core. Fox’s pointed rage robbed her of anything meaningful to say. So she didn’t say anything. Not with words, at least. Words were cheap and Badger’s tastes were expensive. A lip-biting kiss and a simmering sigh later Badger was shedding her snakeskin and slipping into bed with Fox, clinging to their heat. They’d melted and whimpered in her arms. Now fast asleep, Badger idly combed her fingers through their hair as she emptied the contents of her brain into late night telly. She suspected she might never have an answer that’d satisfy Fox but couldn’t resist feeding off their pure heart as long as she’d be allowed to.

Days into their escape to the Bahamas Badger thought she was in the clear and Fox had forgotten their question but when they asked again, “Why me?” Badger simply replied “Why’d you come with then?” She eagerly lapped up Fox’s frankly adorable indignance, which only made them angrier, shouting about whether their relationship (capital ‘R’, to Badger’s brief panic) was a game to her. Later that day they shouted about something different entirely, much to Badger’s eternal smugness.

It in fact was a game. Badger brought up the fact that Fox could leave any time they pleased, if they could bring themselves to leave the warmth and pristine beaches behind in favor of London weather. They went out and got a job at a little restaurant near a resort - entirely in spite. Badger’s move. Fair enough, she thought. Two could play. She went out and charmed her way into a dance instructor position for American tourists with too much free time and money. (Always the perfect combination for a customer, in Badger’s experience.) Fox would hitch a ride with a coworker to the resort Badger worked at and they’d walk home to the beat up shack they rented under the table. But it was theirs and they were strangely proud of it. Some nights Fox would sneak into Badger’s classes and steal a dance with the instructor.

Somewhere in the midst of their game of relationship chicken Badger’s goal shifted to making Fox smile. She didn’t care about the future at all as long as she could see that smile in it.