There is an interlude that she treasures, always, when she rolls off him — pulse hammering, cheeks aflame. She closes her eyes; takes three measured breathes. His stickiness catches in a thousand places on her hands, her mouth, her thighs. She exhales; lets it begin to cool, to waste its heat on the air of the tepid classroom. Surrenders to entropy’s caress.
Quill does not know to whom she is indebted for this seldom grace. The Prince lacks either the wit or the volition to have arranged it. Perhaps she is being caretaken by the Time Lord, or micromanaged by EverUpwardReach. Perhaps the Captain, with his smile and his broad shoulders and his Brick Lane hipster period military clothes, comes to these trysts for reasons of his own. (He did not tell her what brought him to her door the first time that they did this; he will not tell her today, when he is once more up to conversation.) Quill hopes that this does not hint at the presence of another set of players. Coal Hill is complicated enough without kibitzing.
Quill opens her eyes, and inspects the ceiling tiles. These are still mottled with brown stains from the time, a month ago, when Tanya had a moment of madness with a Diet Pepsi. It is a mystery to Quill why the Governors are thus indulgent to the Michelangelo of carbonated beverages. The slightest evidence of other malfeasance, anywhere on the grounds, always disappears by the following morning. Even Quill finds that ablation disconcerting.
Still, it means that she never has to mop up the Captain’s blood.
This is the loophole of the Arn — one which Rhodia never knew, and which its last scion, if Quill has any say in the matter, will not find out. Quill cannot initiate violence against another creature. But if she knows, with utter certainty, that she cannot do a creature permanent harm, well…
That’s another story.
A great gulp of air at her side declares its coming — the indifferent miracle of his resurrection. Quill has learnt little about the Captain, but she knows this: life enough lurks in that frame to cram a thousand Cabinets to bursting, to burn the Shadow Kin entire a hundred hundred times. Life enough, somewhere; Quill cannot find it. And she’s looked.
Quill steels herself, not quite yet ready to meet again those eyes, that smile, to be again the eternal victor in a game that the Arn would not let her play, if she could ever really win. Not quite yet ready to wonder again who would pimp himself out as a murder whore just to keep the last Quill tractable and sane, wearing that endless, perfect smile. To ask what is the hidden end to murder, that puts an end to talk.
Quill rises to a crouch, and balls her fists.