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*Twice Bless’dThe quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath; it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown ...
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest gods
When mercy seasons justice... consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
Fear me you lords and lady preachers
I descend upon your earth from the skies
I command your very souls you unbelievers
Bring before me what is mine:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sister I live and lie for you.
Mister do and I'll die.
You are mine; I possess you.
I belong to you forever.
"Kind words are more than coronets,”
She said, and wondering looked at me:
“It is the dead unhappy night, and I must hurry home to tea."
“So here's the thing I don't get.” Faith put down the now-empty shot glass in front of her, upside down. “If we're in a universe without vampires, what do they need a Slayer for?"
Tara let loose a gentle sigh, but otherwise gave no sign of frustration. That was the most annoying thing about the witch; it was so difficult to get her riled up. Didn't mean Faith would stop trying. “You're the Chosen One, Faith. You have a destiny.”
“Look, Tar. I appreciate you playing Al to my Sam Beckett like this, but the guardian angel shtick is getting sort of old, you know?”
Tara just smiled guiltily. “I don't make the rules.”
“I know, I know." The empty glass was calling just a little too loud, and Faith scanned the room for something to take it out on. “So what exactly am I supposed to be doing in this world without vampires?”
Tara gestured across the room. “You see that table?”
Faith looked. Four women and three men were seated around the table with drinks in their hands, laughing and talking. Or talking and laughing. Whatever. Anyway, they were four very hot
women and three just-as-studalicious men.
“I'm seeing.” Faith ran her tongue over her lips. “Liking it so far.”
“They're the crew of a Firefly
-class transport. Serenity
, it’s called. A pirate ship, really.”
Faith looked at Tara carefully. “Space pirates.”
The witch nodded, deadpan.
Faith shrugged. If she had learned anything, it was how to go with the flow. “Okay, whatever. How do they fit all that hotness on one ship? God, sign me
up to be a space pirate.”
“Faith,” said Tara gently.
“No, seriously,” Faith continued, not taking her eyes off the crew. “You think they have communal showers? Or, y’know, orgies?”
“Faith,” Tara repeated.
Faith reluctantly turned back to Tara. “Okay,” she said. “So what do I need to do? Save their lives so they can go on to save the universe? Stop 'em from destroying the universe?”
“You see the woman in the cheongsam?”
Faith looked back at the table of hot space pirates. “Chong-what?” she asked.
Tara's lips quirked, like she wanted to smile. “The fancy Oriental dress.”
“Oh, yeah. Why didn’t you just say that?” The woman was tall and slender and the sleek red dress nicely accentuated her curves in a way that made Faith wonder what the woman looked like without
the chong-whatever on. Or anything else, for that matter. Yeah, given the chance, Faith would do her.
“That’s Inara Serra,” the witch explained. “She's a registered Companion. You're scheduled to meet her in her shuttle at eighteen hundred hours station time for her to, well, entertain you.”
A smile slowly grew across Faith’s face. Apparently she would
get the chance. Given the chance, I’d stop this silly universe-jumping and go back to Earth,
she thought quickly, just in case what ever wish-granting Power had smiled on her still happened to be listening.
Nope. There she was, still sitting in the bar of some space station that wasn’t even in her own universe.
“So let me see if I get this right. You're telling me that my mission, if I choose to accept it, is to let myself be fucked by a high-class whore?”
For the first time in the conversation, Tara looked pained. “She’s a Companion
, Faith. Promise me you won’t call her a whore. It was hard enough to erase the meddling you caused in the last timeline. The Long affair?”
“Hey, those twins were hot. And, y'know—twins
Tara gave her a pointed look. “Please?”
Faith held up her hands in mock-surrender. "Okay, okay. I get it. I'll mind my manners this time.”
Tara looked unconvinced. “All Companions put their potential customers through an intensive screening process. Do you have any idea what we had to do to convince her to accept you as a client?”
Faith made a show of looking offended. “You mean she wasn’t begging for a chance to jump this hot bod?”
“I’m sure that was a factor in her final decision.” Tara gave her a mischievous smile. “I mean, who could resist you
“That’s what I’m saying.” Faith stole another glance at the woman she would apparently share a bed with that evening by order of the Higher Powers. Yeah, she could think of worse ways to spend a night.
“So what’s the catch?” Her eyes were fixed on the Companion, but she could feel Tara watching her. “Because, if you’re gonna tell me that the Powers were just feeling generous, I gotta tell you—I’m not buying it. Since when did they care about my sex life?”
Tara didn’t answer, and when Faith turned back, the witch had vanished. As she was wont to do. Faith poured herself another shot, ignoring the mild burn of methyl on the way down.Well – here we go again.
* * *
“This is very good tea.” Faith found herself wondering whether or not she was telling the truth. Giles would have known.
Inara smiled. “And yet, I suspect that you aren’t really appreciating it.”
Uh-oh. If Faith messed this up, Tara was probably going to make sure the next place she was sent was a hell dimension or something.
“No, really.” She tried for a sincere smile. “It’s good.”
“The Companion Greeting Ceremony is a ritual with centuries of tradition behind it.” Inara's voice was gentle, and luckily she didn't look too offended. “There are reasons for the way we do things.”
“I’m down with it,” Faith insisted. “I really am. Tea is . . . just great.”
“As I said, there are reasons for the way we do things.” Inara continued. “Rituals serve a purpose, fill a human need for constancy and meaning. In this case, the tea ceremony serves to make a client comfortable with her Companions, to forge a connection between two human beings. To some people, the tea ceremony has become so firmly associated with Companions that it functions as a psychosomatic aphrodisiac.” She placed her teacup on the platter in front of them.
“But when rituals serve no purpose, when they communicate no meaning, then they represent nothing else but wasted energy.” She rose, untied the sash holding her robe together, and in a single gesture slipped it off, hanging it on a rack on the wall.
“Everything happens for a reason, Faith.” Inara stood before her, hiding nothing, and her naked body was all that Faith had imagined. “Every client I take is special in their way, has something to teach me. Tonight is no different. I believe it was a higher power that brought us here. That we were meant to share this time together.”You have no idea,
“Do you know why I chose you as a client?”Because a bunch of Higher Powers suddenly took an interest in my sex life?
Faith didn’t say.
“Because you have passion,” Inara answered. She knelt and opened a small chest by the bedside, pulling out a red silk scarf. “You have a sort of strength that I've never seen before. Most men and women are content to sit back and let their Companion structure the experience for them. But if I'm not mistaken, you prefer to take control. And sometimes it’s a relief to let someone else be in charge.” She wrapped it around her head, covering her eyes to make a blindfold. “For our time together, my body is yours.”
“You're just . . . going to let me do whatever I want?” Faith was dumbstruck. “How do you know I won't hurt you?”
“Sex is always about trust.” Inara stood before her, hiding nothing, head held high and proud. “You're giving up an intimate part of yourself to another person, no matter how many times you might do it. It’s one of the first things a Companion learns. If she doesn’t trust her client, then she can’t do her job correctly. At best, she’ll be capable of a crude, animal act.”
It was probably the word animal
that pushed her over the line. Faith stepped forward and easily lifted the lean Companion, eliciting a quick breath from her. She set her down on the bed so that Inara’s back rested on the mattress of the bed, with her ass just hanging over so that Inara still had to hold herself up with her legs
She gently spread apart the Compantion's legs, relishing the feel of the smooth skin against her palm. Her hand gripped Inara's thigh almost too tightly, the other finding one perfect breast. This body had been offered up to her, and now lay before in her blind submission. She gave Inara’s nipple a quick pinch before letting go and taking a step back to appreciate the sight.
She looked around, seeing what she could use for the next stage. A professional hooker had to have some decent toys somewhere, right?
She rummaged through the chest out of which Inara had extracted the silk blindfold, found at the bottom of it three carved wooden phalluses—
She swore. When she couldn’t call a dick a dick, even in her own thoughts, she knew she'd been hanging around Tara way too long. (Not that she had had a choice, really, but still.) Didn’t matter if it was made of wood or the real McCoy, a dick was a dick.
Placing one hand on her forehead and the other on her chin, Faith opened Inara’s ruby lips, slipping in the slimmest of the three dicks. As if by reflex, the Companion’s tongue slid up and down it right before she encircled it with her lips, giving a blow job to the inanimate piece of wood. Within a minute she was taking it fully into her throat, and it was everything Faith could do to take her eyes off the way Inara’s mouth worked the wood.
She slid one finger into Inara’s ass and worked it slowly until she slide in two fingers, then three. She used the Companion’s own natural juices—the Companion was already flowing freely—to lubricate the wood dick, then slid it up into her ass. Inara's entire body tensed and relaxed as Faith worked in the last inch before tightening once more, leaving it firmly in place.
Faith gave each of her ass cheeks a not-quite-gentle pinch, surveying the sight before her. She looked at the last piece of wood, sitting in her hand. Not yet.
She grabbed the teapot from the bedside table, poured some on her arm. It was hot, but no so much that it would burn.
Faith brought the teapot with her as she returned to Inara’s bed, and slowly tipped it over just inches above the Companion’s breast, causing her to gasp and squirm as the hot droplets landed on her nipple. Faith watched in triumph, gripping Inara's thigh to keep her from moving too much. She poured some more on the other breast, then leaned over to lap it up, her tongue sliding across the breasts beneath her. The luscious belly button on display was too much to resist and she filled that as well, letting the hot tea trickle down one thigh, glisten in the immaculately trimmed pubic hair.
Her fingers found Inara's pulsing lower lips and Faith repeated the process, working up to three fingers. The Companion's hips rose to meet her as she brought the last dick into play, teasing at the quivering flesh before plunging slowly, inexorably, to the hilt.
If there was anything that Faith knew, it was how to get someone off. With every involuntary spasm brought on by Faith’s deft workings, the tea in Inara's navel would spill out across her bare stomach, and Faith would stop just long enough to refill it before going back to fucking the Companion. Inara’s moans, muffled at first by the piece of wood that played an intruder in her mouth, grew louder until Faith had to pull it out, just to hear her scream. The sublime, Tara would have called it: the point where pleasure and pain begin to blur into each other. The home of the sacred.
Inara gave one last shudder as Faith watched her climax, then fell back into the bed.
Faith smiled. I’m not done with you yet/
She leaned down to lap up the remaining drops of tea; moved her tongue slowly upwards, sliding it over stomach and chest, pale skin turned red in spots from the hot liquid. The dick that had sullied the Companion's mouth still lay between her breasts, and Faith retrieved it, continuing to lick across Inara’s neck and chin.
She finally reached that gorgeous mouth, and for the first time that evening, gave in to a kiss. Inara's response was eager and immediate, but Faith pulled away with a smile, reinserted the wood dick instead. The one in Inara's ass had fallen out during her spasms, and Faith took her time replacing that one.
Finally she slid the last one back in as well; grinding it deep, in slow, gentle circles. The point this time would be to draw it out as long as possible, and when it came time for her
to get off, it better be at least as good.
Or Faith was going to demand her money back.
* * *
She was sitting on Inara’s bed with the Companion’s head between her legs, when she realized the shuttle was rocking a little too
violently. Inara raised her head and Faith stood up, suddenly tensed and ready for battle.
“Can I assume that’s not part of the entertainment?”
Inara frowned. “Whatever it is, it’s not good.”
Faith pulled on her pants and ran out of the shuttle, leaving her shirt lying on the bed behind her. Most of the crew was gathered right outside, on a metal platform overlooking the cargo bay. The ship's walls resounded with violent clanging sounds, making it difficult to hear.
“They’re just folks,” a tall bearded man was saying. “They shouldn’t cause us no—” He broke off, suddenly seeing Faith and being distracted by her bare breasts.
“They’re folks with weapons,” interjected a grease-stained young brunette in a jumpsuit. “Might not be fancy weapons, but even a wrench could hurt Serenity
if you hit her at the right spot. And we ain’t ready to take off yet, neither.”
A barefoot girl in a sundress stepped onto the hanger. “Me and her,” she said, looking at Faith. “We can do it.”
One of the men shrugged. “If you think you can do it, I’m liable to trust you.”
The girl smiled. “Aye, aye, captain,” she said and did a back flip off the platform, landing on both feet on the cargo bay floor below. She hit the red button on the nearby console, looking up at Faith.
“You coming?”Aw, hell.
Faith never was one to pass up a fight. She repeated the girl’s move, performing a flip off the platform.
As she landed, the cargo bay doors began to heave open. Faith could hear the loud screaming of whoever it was outside beating on the hull of the ship.
“Hurry,” the girl insisted, hitting the button again. The doors began to close again—having never been actually fully opened—as the girl raced towards and through them. Faith followed, jumping out just before they fully closed, and they landed in the midst of a mob of angry men.
Just how she liked it.
Faith usually turned to sex after slaying, but the reverse combination wasn’t all that bad either. She spun around, blocking attack after attack, not letting a single one land no matter how many people she was outnumbered by. They were just folks, and she was a Slayer. Piece of cake.
She gave in to the discharge of energy as she and the younger girl deftly circled each other, fighting off their attackers, trying when possible to injure rather than kill. They moved faster than the speed of thought, warrior instincts taking over as bodies that were made to kill slipped into action. Soon, all the men had either run off or were lying helpless on the ground.
The young girl's face was covered in sweat, dust and blood, and her smile as she gazed at Faith was a thing of beauty.
* * *
“Well, I figure we’re much obliged for your help, Miss—”
“Faith.” The Slayer shrugged. “Just call me Faith.”
“Well, thank you kindly, Miss Faith.” The guy was clearly making a point to look her right in her eyes and not check out her exposed rack. As opposed to the bearded man, who was making no effort to hide his leering. The pretty boy—their doctor, apparently—had left with the girl as soon as the two of them had gotten back inside the ship. “I’m Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Mal to my friends. You ever need the favor returned, you just let us know.”
“How ‘bout a ride?” Faith smiled, swinging her hips just enough to drive home the double entendre.
The captain's brow twitched. “Any particular destination in mind?”
“Where you headed?” When Tara needed to find her, she would. Faith knew that much for sure. “Don’t have anywhere I need to be.”
“Well, then welcome aboard.” Mal inclined his head, in sort of a bow. “Next stop’s Salisbury, and after that I reckon we’ll be headed for Persephone. Seems we always end up back there sooner or later. I’ll show you around the ship.”
He took her back to Inara’s shuttle, where she somewhat reluctantly put her shirt back on; showed her the passenger quarters, where she chose a room by pointing at it since she didn’t have any actual luggage to drop off. Besides, if she ended up sleeping alone, she was going to be sorely disappointed.
They finally ended up in the kitchen. A nice homey affair, even if the floral design on the walls was a bit much. “Need something? Reckon you might have worked up quite an appetite with all that fighting..”No thanks, I just ate,
she thought about saying, but decided that was a bit much even for her. “Got any tea?”
Mal nodded and opened a drawer, pulled out a silver package, and threw it to her. She caught it in one hand, checked out the label. Tea bags of the future didn't look too different.
“So.” Mal started her water heating, looking over at her again. “Girl like you, what’re you doing with whores in the first place? I’m betting there’d be willing boys and girls lining up around the block.”
Never in the same universe long enough for them to line up, Faith reflected sullenly. “That an offer?”
“Could be,” Mal answered noncommittally. “If you ask me real pretty.”
“I'm not very good at asking.” Faith reached over and grabbed Mal’s shirt in her hands, ripped it off. “I’m better at taking.”
* * *
Faith woke to a presence in the room. Then she remembered and relaxed: it was only Captain Mal Reynolds, the latest boytoy in a long line of conquests, and if her memories from last night could be trusted, quite a capable one at that. She lay next to him, feeling the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed in and out, when she suddenly realized that in addition to his prone body on her right, there was another somebody to her left.
She opened her eyes and there was Tara, sitting on the edge of the bed.
“Anyone else know you’re here?” Mal shifted beside her, and she lowered her voice. “Gonna be kinda hard to explain how you just appeared on a spaceship in the middle of space.”
“River knows,” Tara answered simply. “I’ll be gone before anyone else notices.”
“Time for me to quantum leap again?” Faith gave a mocking sigh of resignation. “Done my good deed in this universe, time for the next?”
Tara laughed. “Did you really think it would be that easy?”
Faith looked offended. “Hey, you call five orgasms in twelve hours easy
Tara looked discomposed for a minute, then regained her equanimity. “You’ve slept with two-sevenths of the crew now. Don’t you think that’s going to cause some problems?”
“Only figurin' out how I’m gonna do the other five.”
“Salisbury’s six days away,” Tara pointed out. “Persephone’s another eight. All of this time, you’re going to have to interact with these people. Eat with them, hold conversations even. Are you sure you can look them in the eye?”
“Love ya, Tar, but you can be a real downer sometimes.” Faith looked away, watching Mal's sleeping face. “S’just skin.”
“Are you telling me that, or yourself?” Tara paused, her eyebrows rising. “Five
Faith just shot her an evil smile, turned over and wrapped herself around her studly captain. Still, she didn’t go back to sleep immediately, even after she felt Tara’s presence fade from the room.
Damn it, the witch was right. It wouldn’t be easy, interacting with Mal and Inara on a daily basis. She couldn’t just use them and throw them back, because there wasn’t anywhere to throw them back to
; she was one out of only eight people who were all stuck together on a ship in the middle of outer space. She was going to have to have relationships
with them, even if they ended up not being sexual.
Faith had gotten sort of used to flitting around the multiverse, never spending too much time in one place. She hadn’t really had to deal with people that way.
But she could do this, she promised herself. She could play friends with seven other people, get along with them. Not go crazy and kill everybody aboard. Not only could, she would, seeing as it seemed the Higher Powers didn’t seem to be in any hurry to retrieve her this time. She’d make nice.
So how hard would it be to get that pretty engineer and her doctor boyfriend to agree to a threesome?Fin