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It Must Have Been Your Eyes



The odd thing about it, the really odd thing about it, is that he could live in a town as small as Kismet and never notice that his wife was married to another man in the same town. So she was cheating on him, he knew that, no big deal. Married? A bit more of a surprise, but still no great shock. What surprised him was that she could actually be married to someone he knew, and he would never have noticed if there hadn't been a few small clues ...

a) A wedding picture of Meg and her other husband in her lingerie drawer, under the red and black crotchless panties with the sequins that she'd worn that one night on the Iridian Riviera;

b) A message from her other husband on Meg's personal comm, asking if Meg was planning on picking up milk on the way home.

Combined with the fact that Meg frequently traveled on business, yet didn't seem to have a job; with the strange articles of men's clothing that appeared from time to time in their closet; with the kids' occasional references to Daddy as being someone other than him; well, Frank was no rocket scientist, not even close (obviously), but he was starting to get a glimmer of a picture forming here.

"I should have been more of a family man," he said, staring down his hands -- one hand holding a bottle of Galactican Comfort and the other a Rhys-Madsen Sixty-Six.

"You were the best family man there ever was, Boss."

"I shoulda spent more time with the kids. Hell, I should have talked to Meg every once in a while. Maybe she would have talked about it to me."

"About how she was boffin' another guy, Boss?"

"No. About her life. Her hopes. Her dreams. Who she was. Maybe that's why she ran to him ... because I didn't give her what she needed."

"She's a broad, Boss. She don't have those dreams and all what you said. You ask me, you shoulda just made her stay in the kitchen and none of this woulda happened."

Frank looked up.

"Guido, you're not helping. You are, in fact, so deeply unhelpful that I must ask you to leave the room or I will shoot you." His hand twitched on the Sixty-Six.

"Right, Boss. Call me or Seymour if you need anything, Boss." Guido backed out and almost fell over himself slamming the doorplate closed.

Frank stared at the whiskey and the gun with eyes that kept unfocusing.

She couldn't do this to him, dammit! He was a Bernetti! The Bernettis were -- the Bernettis were -- well, the Bernettis were hat salesmen and hoverjet repairmen, mostly, but Frank was ... different. Frank didn't take this kind of insult lying down, oh no. Not like his cousin Arnie, who'd been divorced four times and was currently chasing a sixteen-year-old girl in a ten-year contract to some offworld genetic developer. Not like his Uncle Joe -- the one who'd gotten himself reprogrammed after kicking his pregnant girlfriend down the liftshaft. No, Frank didn't just kick pregnant women off high places, dammit, he didn't get caught.

Luckily Meg wasn't pregnant, that he knew of, so there wouldn't even be any problem there.

He started to swig from the bottle, found it was empty and pitched it over his shoulder. Being shatterproof, it just bounced off the Earth-marble fireplace and rolled across the floor to settle, dribbling, on a priceless Gaian rug.

He might not even need to kill Meg. Just scare her a little. Coming home and finding her so-called husband bleeding, headless, all over the living-room carpet -- no, better, on their bed (their quote-unquote marital bed!) missing not just his head but his arms as well -- no! great idea! in the bathroom, headless, armless, and legless, with a nice trail of limbs leading to his body (heh heh, body, literally) -- or better yet, not in the bathroom but all the way down the street, kinda like a scavenger hunt -- he could start using fingers when he ran out of limbs -- entrails would be useful for writing cryptic and darkly humorous messages -- still need to find a suitably ironic thing to do with the genitals --

Frank reached for the bottle and discovered that it wasn't there, spent a frantic second or two looking for it.

Oh well, he didn't need alcohol, he had a gun. Need to remember to pick up a knife on his way out.

He started to go out the front door and then remembered that Guido and Seymour were out there. He needed to do this alone, and had few expectations of leaving the house without an entourage. Not that Guido and Seymour weren't great guys. For breaking fingers and dislocating knees, none better. Hell, even for having a drink or two after work. Great guys. But killing and dismembering your wife's other husband was something a fellow really needed to do by himself.

Frank rose from his desk, graceful as a cat even when drunk. He went to the green marble fireplace and reached in, pressing the stones in the back of it, so that they parted and slid back to admit him.

Guido and Seymour, he assumed, did not know about the back door, although it was necessary to attribute to them an IQ slightly less than a potted palm to assume that they hadn't noticed he had a tendency to disappear from the room without coming out the front door.

The tunnel joined another and Frank unerringly took that one, emerging eventually behind a grate in the street outside. The town of Kismet was riddled with tunnels like Frank's and almost wholly unmapped -- partly because it was tough to map a place that was mostly below-ground and built like a sprawling three-dimensional mess, and partly because of people like Frank who paid to make sure that parts of it weren't mapped.

He came out of the tunnels just outside a row of boutiques in the classy neighborhood where he kept his primary residence. The other husband lived several levels down, in the working-class part of town.

One advantage to having his soon-to-be-ex-wife marry someone of his acquaintance ... at least he knew where the guy lived, and would have no trouble finding his place.

Damn, he thought as he headed for the nearest tube station. Forgot to get a knife.




Shelley Fleetwood was reading the paper on a hand holo when the knock came at his door.

He reacted in his usual fashion -- jumped a foot in the air, whipped out the gun hidden behind a nearby couch cushion and dived behind the couch itself, all without losing his place in the article he was reading on Ten Ways To A Healthier You.

"Who is it?" he demanded.

"Your worst nightmare."

"Oh," said Fleetwood, "c'mon in, Frank." He straightened from behind the couch, though he kept the gun at hand. "Door, open."

Frank Bernetti rolled through the door into a sniper's crouch, Rhys-Madsen in one hand and, in the other, the closest thing he'd been able to find to a knife -- a rolled-up hardcopy of the Kismet Epitaph that he'd found in a gutter. He was more than just a little drunk. His long black hair hung in his eyes and over his shoulders; this combined with the wild light in his eyes to give him the appearance of a crazed backwoods prophet.

"Morning, Frank," Fleetwood said.

"Morning, Fleetwood. Hope your life insurance is current. No, on second thought I don't, because then you'll leave your heirs destitute and starving to death in a hovel in No Man's Land. You're about to die horribly, by the way."

"Not meaning to be obtuse, but any particular reason?"

"This is for you, Meg!" Frank screamed, shooting (respectively) the couch, bookcase and a frame Wynniscant print on the wall, which smoldered and nearly burst into flames under the Rhys-Madsen's beam. Fleetwood eluded it without trouble.

"Okaaaay, it's about Meg, then ..."

"My wife!" Frank shrieked, incinerating a geranium.

"And mine," Fleetwood agreed.

Frank was stunned momentarily speechless. "You knew?"

"That I was married to her? It hadn't escaped my notice. Oh," he said, dodging another blast that took out a row of houseplants, "that she was married to you. Yes, I knew. Oh, dammit, Frank, not the rhododendron, please."

"Didn't it bother you that your wife was married to another man? Just a trifle?"

"Why not? It's not as if it's illegal. Figured it was her business."

"What the hell did she see in you?" Frank screamed. "What have you got that I haven't got?"

"Must be my eyes." Fleetwood easily eluded Frank's lunges.

"Your what?"

"My eyes. Women say that they can't resist my eyes." Fleetwood placed the couch between himself and Frank, his gun dangling idly from his fingers. "Where are the Siamese Twins, anyway?"

Frank pursued him around the couch, his hair hanging in a tangled black curtain, breathing heavily. "I don't need Guido and Seymour to help finish off the likes of you. When was it, Shelley?"

"When was what?"

"When did you marry her? How long have you been sleeping with my wife?"

"Those are two separate questions with very different answers," Fleetwood pointed out, retreating up the stairs as a smoking streak appeared across the wall where his head had been. "You're getting too close. Lights off," he added, ignoring Frank's shriek of rage.

They were plunged into twilight, illuminated by the faint glow of the windowscreens. Fleetwood darkened those with another word.

"Lights on!" Frank shouted.

Nothing happened.

"Come on, Frank, it's my house," Fleetwood's voice said from near the stairs. "It has no idea who you are."

"Get down here and fight like a man!"

"Is that what you came here to do? Fight me for Meg's honor, or some such thing?"

"Hell no. She hasn't got any. I came here to kill you slowly and distribute pieces of your body over most of Kismet."

"Oh, is that what you were trying to do. Frankly -- Frank -- I don't think your heart's into it, unless you were trying to talk me to death."

A beam from the Rhys-Madsen lit the room like a flicker of scarlet lightning.

"Missed," said Fleetwood. "Again. Look, Frank, you do realize that I could have shot you easily at any point after you came through the door? Not to mention the booby traps."

"Booby traps?"

Frank jumped as something whistled though the darkness next to his left ear.

"That was a glass needle dart impregnated with poison from the leg sac of the Iridian skunk roach," Fleetwood said. "The trigger is an infrared sensor in the flower of the calla lily by my right hand. Or else I just threw a credit card at you; take your pick. Do you trust me?"

"You have been married to my wife for God knows how long--"

"--Two months, actually--"

"--and you want to know if I trust you? Like hell I trust you."

"Good decision," Fleetwood said. He sounded faintly amused, and tired. "You know what I think, Frank? I think you've relied on Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber for much too long. You have no idea how to defend yourself or how to attack someone anymore. I remember a time when you were actually dangerous. At the moment killing you would be like killing somebody's grandmother."

Frank couldn't think of a better comeback than a feeble "Hey!"

"Not that I wouldn't." Fleetwood's voice moved; Frank could tell that he was descending the stairs. "Don't make me shoot you, Frank; I really don't want to, but I'm very attached to my skin and you've come close here and there to damaging it. I could kill you in a minute in any of oh, fifteen or sixteen possible ways."

Frank laughed. "That's the most pathetic bluff I've ever heard. Not surprising coming from a guy wh--ow!"

He dropped the newspaper to slap at the sudden sting in his thigh.

"Something wrong, Frank?"

Frank ran his spread fingers over his leg. The fingertips found a small, hard prickle midthigh, like a splinter of ice spreading cold needles through his veins.

"What is this?"

"That was another dart," Fleetwood said. "You've just been poisoned."

"You're lying."

"I did tell you not to trust me, didn't I? But in this case I'm telling the truth. Don't you feel your leg tingling? Like it's falling asleep?"

"No," Frank snapped, shaking his leg vigorously.

"Don't move too much. That'll spread the poison. Aren't you going to ask me if I have an antidote?"

"Of course not. You're the most unconvincing liar I've ever met in my l--"

Frank's leg ceased to support him and he stumbled off some unseen item of furniture and crashed to the floor.

"Now are you going to ask me if I have an antidote?"

"It's not lethal," Frank said between his teeth, from the floor. "You've hit me with some kind of paralyzing concoction and you're trying to make me beg for my life. Well, it won't work. I wouldn't take your antidote even if you had one."

"Frank, you're not the sharpest spatula in the drawer, are you?"

"Huh?"

"You heard me. Fortunately for you, I never keep a deadly poison in the house without having some way to neutralize it. Too many nights of stumbling in drunk at four in the morning and walking right into my own traps. Hang on a minute." Fleetwood's voice retreated.

"Where the hell are you going?"

"To get the antidote."

"There is no antidote because there is no poison!" Frank's voice was starting to assume a falsetto edge of panic, due largely to the fact that he could no longer feel either one of his legs.

"Frank--" Fleetwood's voice sounded muffled; he was in a bathroom or closet, and Frank heard rummaging noises. "I may yet wind up having to kill you today, but I don't intend to do it yet. Ouch! What's that doing in there? Dammit, all these bottles feel alike in the dark."

"Why don't you turn on the lights?"

"Yeah, right. If I do, you'll shoot me. You're just stupid enough to do that. While I'd enjoy the irony of watching you drag your increasingly unresponsive body across the carpet, inch by inch, toward the crushed vial of antidote leaking out of my lifeless hand ... I'd be dead, and that takes most of the fun out of it."

Frank heard drawers being opened and closed, and Fleetwood said, "Aha!"

"Aha? Aha what? Oh God," Frank said, as Fleetwood's footsteps approached him. "You're going to inject me with something, aren't you? Something you just pulled out in the dark? Do you even know what it is?"

"Of course I do. It's the antidote."

"How do you know?"

"I can tell by the shape."

"You said they all feel alike!"

"Would you just shut up and hold still?"

Holding still wasn't a problem. Holding still was getting easier and easier, in fact. Moving was the problem.

Fleetwood knelt beside Frank in the darkness and Frank could hear the hissing of an autoinjector being filled.

"Fleetwood, if you-- Fleetwood, don't -- Fleetwood, I swear if you touch that thing to me, I'll cut your hands off!"

Kind of an empty threat at the moment, even leaving aside the fact that he still didn't have a knife. He had the gun, but wasn't sure that he could lift it. His lips tingled and there was an odd, metallic taste in the back of his throat.

Goddammit, that little weasel really had poisoned him...

He felt the cold muzzle of the 'jector on the back of his neck and writhed away to the extent that he was still able.

"Damn it, Frank, hold still."

"Shelley, this had better be what you think it is." Frank discovered to his own horror that he could barely shape his lips around the words. His voice emerged thick and slurring.

"Don't worry. It's okay to trust me now."

The autoinjector hissed and Frank felt the cold area on the back of his neck suffused briefly with warmth. Then that sensation, too, began to fade. Frank tried to focus on the gun in his hand and realized that he couldn't even tell if he was still holding it.

"Feel any different?"

"Can't ... moof my lipth... you thon of a bitsch..."

"That's odd," Fleetwood said. "You really should be feeling something by now. It's fast-acting. There should be no residual damage from the toxin; it's a nerve blocker, it doesn't actually harm you in any way, except when it starts interfering with brain-stem activities, such as breathing. Are you having trouble breathing, by the way, Frank?"

"No shit...geniuth..." His chest felt like something was pressing down on it. In the darkness, unable to feel the carpet under him any longer, he had a brief surge of overwhelming vertigo. He couldn't tell which way was up or down. Even his eyebrows felt like they'd been Novacained.

"Crap," Fleetwood said thoughtfully.

"Turn..the thtinking lighth... on!"

Frank's world went from being black to white. To his immense relief, he discovered that his pupils still responded to light, and shapes began to swim back into his vision.

Fleetwood appeared briefly in his narrow sliver of view and disappeared again. He heard more rattles and clicks, and Fleetwood said, "Oh, there it is. I could've sworn..."

"I'll...be thwearin' in a minute...if you don't..."

Frank totally lost the thread of what he was saying. His lips wouldn't move anyway, so he couldn't have said it even if he could have remembered it.

"Hang in there. This time I've really got it."

Like hell you do, Frank thought hazily. He heard the autoinjector hiss but this time he couldn't feel a damn thing. The room swam in and out of his vision.

"Frank?"

Fleetwood was shaking him.

Frank opened his eyes. He was still staring at the carpet, but when he tried to twist his head, it moved. He dragged one of his arms around and stared at it for a while.

"That was it," Fleetwood said.

With some assistance, Frank got up onto the couch. His entire body felt shaky and unresponsive, but at least now it could be made to cooperate. Sort of like conscientious objection rather than full-fledged rebellion.

"Sorry," Fleetwood said. "I meant to scare you, not kill you."

Frank flexed his hands and discovered that they were both empty. He raised his head to glare at Fleetwood, who looked unrepentant.

"Where the fuck's my gun?"

"Don't worry, I'll give it back as soon as I'm sure you aren't going to shoot me." He offered Frank a glass of water. Frank took a few sips. His stomach was doing occasional flip-flops, and he still felt dizzy.

"Any side effects I should know about?"

"Not really. Like I said, a nerve blocker, not really a toxin at all. You'll be weak for a little while, but it should go away."

"What did you give me the first time?"

"Dunno. Obviously not lethal, at least not immediately." Fleetwood looked at the label on the bottle, and his eyes widened slightly. "Oops."

"Oops? What the hell do you mean, 'oops'?"

"Never mind. It's not fatal. Not in this case, anyway."

"Not fatal? Is that supposed to be comforting? What do you mean by 'oops'?"

"You'll find out in a few minutes, trust me." Fleetwood slipped the bottle into his pocket, and edged slightly away from Frank on the couch.

"What does 'oops' mean?"

"Calm down. Deep breaths."

Frank lowered his head and breathed deeply. His heart was racing and his skin felt cold and damp. Every sound in the room seemed magnified a hundredfold; he could hear Fleetwood breathing, and when he shifted his weight on the couch, each touch of his clothing on his skin shot through him like little electric sparks.

Frank looked up to see Fleetwood watching him with an odd mix of curiosity and amusement. The feature that arrested his attention, though, was Fleetwood's eyes. He'd never noticed them before. They were green, deep green shot through with fine filaments of brown, and gold flecks drifted in them like leaves upon a forest pond. Everything else faded away as he found himself falling into the bottomless pools of those eyes.

Fleetwood shifted somewhat further away.

"Frank?"

"Fleetwood," said Frank in a dangerously quiet voice. "What did you give me?"

"You aren't going to like this."

"You're going to like it -- a lot less --" He had to keep catching his breath. The warm, tangy scent of Fleetwood's skin surrounded him.

"It's ..."

"What? It's what? A hallucinogen? I feel really strange."

"An aphrodisiac. A, uh, rather powerful aphrodisiac."

Frank knew that he should be insanely angry, but he felt too good to be angry. His whole body felt like a live wire, energy coiled and alive inside. He was floating on a wave of euphoria and he had to keep taking shallow breaths because one deep lungful of oxygen might send him over the edge.

"It's a good one," he said.

"I thought so," Fleetwood agreed. "I normally save it for, erm, special occasions. Should make a note not to store it next to the poisons from now on."

"You do have the most amazing eyes."

"Wow. So do you," Fleetwood said. "Your pupils are almost completely dilated. Never seen anything quite like it before."

Frank found himself captivated by the smooth curve of Fleetwood's cheek, soft-looking and fuzzy with two or so days' growth of stubble. At the moment everything in his environment seemed incredibly sensual. The curves of the couch hugged his buttocks like a lover's embrace. He wanted to caress the slightly scorched leaves of the rhododendron behind the couch -- so lush, so deep green, like Fleetwood's eyes.

"I'm seeing a vision," Frank murmured.

"Oh dear," said Fleetwood.

"You. Me. Soapy water and a bucket full of whipped cream."

"I could really have gone all day without that picture."

Frank stared into those captivating, faintly panicked eyes. "I never noticed ... that little hollow between your lips and your nose..."

"Everyone has that, Frank."

"Yes, but on you it's incredibly sexy."

"Want a cup of coffee? A tranquilizer perhaps?"

Frank leaned forward on the couch, mesmerized by Fleetwood's curling brownish hair, by the soft curve of his upper lip.

"I want you."

"Yes. Now that we've established that ..."

"I really, really want you."

"Don't forget I have a gun, two actually, counting yours."

"You're bisexual, aren't you? You told me that."

"Uh, yes. I happen to be married at the moment, though."

"To a slut."

"Who is also married to you. Yeah, that's right. You're a married man, Frank!"

"Not for long," Frank murmured. "Playing hard to get, are you, you little vixen."

"Try impossible to get, Frank."

Frank reached out a hand. Fleetwood ducked it several times.

"Don't make me break your wrist, Frank."

Frank finally got him in a headlock and drew him in for a kiss.

"Well," Fleetwood said, gasping, "that was intense. Well, if it was good for you, it was good for me. See you later, Frank. Have a good l--"

Frank kissed him again, more passionately.

"Okay, so you're a halfway decent kisser. You must h--"

Frank kissed him again, lingering, and broke away, staring deep into his eyes.

"Wow," Fleetwood said. "You do have nice eyes. I never noticed.."

"Kiss me, dammit."

Fleetwood did.




Frank woke up.

My head hurts, he thought.

Funny, Meg never used to have a hairy back, he thought.

"Fleetwood!"

Fleetwood rolled his head around. "Oh, hi, Frank. Wait! Don't move a muscle!"

The alarm in his voice froze Frank in place. Fleetwood jumped out of bed and fell headlong on the floor, twined in a tangled mess of sheets. "No! Don't get up!" He made it to the wall, stark naked, and hit a few keys on the keypad there. "Okay. It's safe."

"What the hell was that all about."

"Forgot to turn the alarm clock off. Sorry."

Frank raised an eyebrow. "A bit jumpy, are we?"

"You obviously have never seen my alarm clock," Fleetwood said dryly. "I sleep deeply, you see. Not a morning person. It's something I cobbled together from a few old laser cannons and the soundtrack to the holovid Bloody Corpses of the Innocent. Suffice it to say that when you wake up to hear screams and laser fire, do not sit up in bed."

"You are insane," Frank said. "I also would like to state, for the record, that I have very little respect for myself at the moment, and none whatsoever for you."

"There was free will involved," Fleetwood snapped.

"For you, maybe."

"Oh, don't give me that. The drug lowers your inhibitions; it doesn't make you a mindless automaton."

"Married to Meg for two months, and you're already cheating on her."

"So were you," Fleetwood snapped. "Cheating, that is." His eyes took on a faraway look. "I wonder if this would be considered double cheating. Maybe triple."

"Where are my clothes?"

"Uh, downstairs, I think. Most of them. Is it safe to give you your gun back, by the way?"

"I don't kill people after having sex. Bad form," Frank said.

"Shh!"

Fleetwood was staring up at a red light that had just come on over the door to the bedroom. "Someone just came in downstairs," he said.

"Oh really?" The thought crossed Frank's mind that, paranoid as he tended to be, he had a long way to go before he could compare to Shelley Fleetwood.

"The only people who have unrestricted passcodes to my door are myself and M--"

Fleetwood broke off. The two men looked at each other.

"Shelley?"

At the sound of that familiar voice, both froze in place.

"I guess this looks a little incriminating," Fleetwood whispered.

Frank stiffened. "A little?"

Light footsteps on the stairs. "Shelley!"

Fleetwood was hopping on one leg, trying to get his pants on, when the door opened and he fell again, ingloriously half-naked. "Dammit," he muttered into the carpet.

Frank hadn't even tried. "Meg," he said conversationally, seated cross-legged and nude on the bed.

Meg Renata-Bernetti stared back and forth between them. "Frank," she said. "What," she said. "Shelley. Frank."

"I believe you can consider this a breach-of-contract," Frank said conversationally. "Of the non-fatal variety."

"Frank. You--"

"Merely returning the favor," Frank said, and grinned like a jackal. "Doing unto you as you've done unto me so many times." He shot Fleetwood a glare that would have curdled milk. "Though if I'd had options, I wouldn't have picked him."

Meg stamped her foot. "Shelley!"

"What?" Fleetwood said from the floor.

"Are you going to let him get away with this?"

"Let him get away -- huh?" Fleetwood squirmed into a more comfortable position.

Meg's mouth dropped open, then snapped shut. "This was your idea, wasn't it," she said, her eyes narrowing. "You only married me to screw with his head."

"Now that's not true," Fleetwood protested. "Not entirely true," he admitted, earning him another lethal look from Frank.

Meg placed her hands together in front of her chest, and her face smoothed out, becoming calm. "Oh, well," she said.

"You're not mad, right?" Fleetwood asked hopefully, arching his body to pull on his pants without leaving the floor.

"No," Meg said. "Not at all. How could I possibly be mad at you when you're BOTH DEAD!"

There was nothing in her hands, but she brought them up, fingertips pointed out. Frank yelled, "Christ, her implants!" and dove for the safety of the floor as Meg's fingernails scorched the bed.

"Meg?" Fleetwood said. "Yo, Meg?"

He'd managed to get to his feet, both legs still in one leg of his pants, and was standing by the keypad on the wall.

"Duck, honey," Fleetwood said. "I just set the alarm."

Meg shrieked as a piercing third-party scream cut through the room. Meg and Fleetwood followed Frank's example and hit the floor. Genuine laserfire sizzled overhead, accompanied by a tinny but very loud soundtrack of cries for help and reverberating explosions.

"Note to self," Fleetwood murmured. "Need to get a new holovid. This one's gettin' old."

Frank, meanwhile, had rolled on top of Meg. He straddled her back with his bare thighs and twisted one arm behind her back, his head bent low enough that his long hair brushed her neck.

"Hey, babe," he muttered into her hair.

"Fuck off," she snarled.

"Already did. Not with you."

"Why are you being so horrid to me, Frank?"

"Oh, baby. Let me count the ways."

"I was a good wife to you!" Meg bit out into the carpet.

"Except for, let's see. Marrying another man? Generally getting it on with an average of every single person you see, including insurance salesmen? Spending my hard-earned money? Ignoring -- uh, Meg?"

She was crying silently into the carpet.

Fleetwood rose, safe from laserfire against the wall, and quietly shut off the alarm. Neither Meg nor Frank noticed. He worked his way into his pants and went downstairs.

He was lying on the couch, slogging once again through the newspaper article, when he heard footsteps on the stairs behind him.

"Seen my shirt?" Frank said.

Fleetwood pointed over the back of the couch.

"Thanks. Seen my gun?"

"Keeping it," Fleetwood said without looking up. "I'm sure you have others."

"Bastard. That's a genuine '49 with a synplas grip. Do you have any idea how much that cost?"

"Yes, and you were going to shoot me with it." Fleetwood looked up at him, expecting to find him with his arm around Meg. Instead he was alone, shrugging into his lacy dinner jacket.

"Where's Meg?"

"Upstairs, in your bedroom."

"I hope you understand, Frank," Fleetwood said quietly. "If you killed my wife -- cheating bitch or not, your wife or not -- I intend to kill you. With your '49 synplas Rhys-Madsen, and right between the eyes, no messing around."

"Are you always this tense after getting laid? Of course I didn't kill her. She's the mother of my children and co-signer for many of my assets. She is, however, your problem now. The slut is tied to your bed with her hands pointed toward the ceiling, where she can't point her fingernails at anything but your upstairs neighbors. Do you have upstairs neighbors, by the way?"

"Yes, but they're used to that sort of thing."

"In any case, you're welcome to have her. I certainly don't want her anymore."

"Thanks. And thanks for not killing me, by the way. Appreciate it. As a point of curiosity, should I watch my back on the street for the next few days?"

Frank thought about it and shook his head. "No. Heat of the moment. I'm not a premeditated kind of guy."

"You didn't call in any contracts in the heat of the moment, did you?"

"No. This was family business." He shrugged. "As far as I'm concerned, my business is done, and Meg is no longer family."

"You applying for breach-of-contract?"

"Applying, nothing; I'm getting it. I happen to know a few people. One guy in particular is late with this month's payment. I think we can work out a deal."

"Protection money?"

"Blackmail, actually."

"You're an entrepreneur, Frank."

"You have no idea how hard it really is to make ends meet in this town," Frank said, frustrated. "Everything's legal. The competition's a bitch. Everybody's trying to get into the business. Only so much money to go around."

"Guess you should get out there and start breaking kneecaps, then."

"I dunno. Just not feeling into it today." He leveled a glare at Fleetwood. "What were you thinking, anyway, marrying my wife? Are you mad?"

"I told you before, Frank: I figured it was Meg's business who else she was married to. I've always let my lovers handle their own affairs. If she didn't see anything wrong with what she was doing, neither did I."

Frank kept staring at him, and finally shook his head. "I don't know why I haven't wasted you long since, Fleetwood. I really don't."

Fleetwood grinned. "I dunno; it must be my ey--" As Frank's hand went for the solid-looking lump in his décolletage, Fleetwood smoothly changed gears in midsentence. "--eyyyyyyy--ice cream."

Frank raised a sculpted brow. "Your ice cream, Fleetwood?"

"Not many things start with eye."

"Such as IQ, something which you obviously do not possess." Frank shook his head. "Fine. This round goes to you, Fleetwood. I'll concede it. You pulled that one over on me very well. Next time, it'll be your turn. You owe me something for this one. You owe me something very painful." He grinned, showing all his teeth. "And I always collect my debts."

"Maybe I'll install that twelfth lock I've been thinking about," Fleetwood said thoughtfully.

"It wouldn't help," Frank said. "When it comes to revenge, I can be very creative. Right now, however, I think I need a cup of coffee. Feel free to join me if you should so desire."

"What about Meg?"

"What about her? She's not going anywhere."

Fleetwood thought about it, and grinned. "I'll get my jacket. Oh, and Frank?"

"Yeah?"

"Don't touch the calla lily on your way out. I re-armed it."



Author's Notes: This particular story has an amusing little history. Having run across the concept of slash fanfic, I'd decided to write the most goofball possible Kismet slash story. Fleetwood has always been bisexual, but the idea that he might have slept with Frank had never even crossed my mind until writing this for a lark. This was never meant to be canonical. At all. But I finished it and really liked the concept, and on top of that, I actually *could* see it happening. So, yes. It's canon. And Frank really *is* that dumb, with maybe just a teeny bit of willful ignorance thrown in.

Also, I know this is date rape, though I'm not entirely sure the characters do.



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