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First Meetings

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After poring over the small text and finally signing the contract, Captain Nikolai of R Corp's endangered Fourth Pack disperses the team leaders. Maxim's heavy steps thump against the floor tiles as he walks out of the meeting room crowing about getting beer or something pointless like that, followed by the lighter gaits of the Reindeer and Rabbit leaders, chatting between each other. 

The miscellaneous animals file out after them, leaving Nikolai standing next to her chair, alone save for one person: The beautiful guest.

Dias's smile is back to its wide, lighthearted look. "Captain Nikolai, I'd like to discuss something with you."

"About the contract? What, are you going to admit to screwing us over?" It was only half a joke. The Fourth Pack has no option other than to agree to participate in this oncoming war. As a royal pain in R Corp's side, it's little wonder extinction is on the horizon.

"No, it's not about the contract or the war," Dias says. She approaches her with long, certain strides. She stands at the edge of Nikolai's personal space, then takes an extra step in. Nikolai resists the urge to step away just in time to stop her foot from sliding back. "It's a bit personal... You wouldn't happen to have somewhere private to discuss?"

Dias's electric red eyes flash at her. Her hand pats Nikolai's shoulder, then slides off in a way that drags down her flank just lightly. Subtle implication, plausible deniability. "Is this room not fine?" Nikolai asks, cautiously.

"Well, anyone could walk in. It's not too important, so if you have anything pertinent scheduled I wouldn't mind meeting another day—or not at all. I'd just like to hear your thoughts on something." 

"Hm." She looks down at her. Dias is on the taller side, but Nikolai is still about a dozen centimeters—half a head—taller. From this angle, she looks even more like a fox. Nikolai digs around her pockets for a pen and paper. She finds a scrap and writes basic directions on it. "My quarters, then. I have room for an appointment today."

"Ah, excellent." Dias takes the slip and slinks back to a professional conversation distance. "I will be seeing you soon. Have a great day, Captain."

She watches her leave the room. A moment after she loses sight confirmation, Nikolai takes her hat off and breathes out. She wipes her forehead and hopes vainly that she didn't notice the way she fumbled with the paper. What the fuck is she even doing? The hell's wrong with her? 

She just spoke to this woman alone for a few minutes and her heart's hammering. 

Nikolai takes another deep breath, stabilizes herself, and puts her cap back on. She's too old for this. 


She paces around her room in a circle.

It's in a special zone of an R Corp dormitory, specially fortified for safety. Even in the residential area of District 18's Nest, the militaristic nature of these Packs means it's better to be safe than sorry. Soundproof, of course. Every inch of the hallways and every entrance is monitored with facial recognition, and it takes more than one key or clearance card to get in. And the security will only get tighter if-slash-when this war starts. 

That's not what Nikolai is thinking about, though. Much more banal than any of that. 

There's no color in this room.

It's all concrete, bulletproof glass, blast-resistant padding, cold stone bricks. It's never bothered her before, but suddenly she's reconsidering her Spartan lifestyle. Her bed is like a raised coffin, half-embedded in the wall. She has a standard-issue grey carpet on the floor. On the wall are some hooks set aside for her uniforms and a single winter coat. One closet, one desk, one chair, and a television set in the corner tuned only to news channels. The desk only has two ballpoint pens and a journal, which she writes in whenever she remembers to... Which usually amounts to twice weekly, but sometimes turns into twice monthly.

Past a glass door: a white bathroom, populated by a shower, a toilet, and a sink with a mirror. One bottle of body wash, one bottle of shampoo-conditioner, one tube of toothpaste. Some painkillers and cold medicine that she hasn't touched in years.

The whole room, despite belonging to the captain of the Pack, is rather small. Surely magnitudes smaller than whatever rich mansion Dias safely secludes herself in. She's not envious of her ivory tower. A house that large loops around to become lonely and uncomfortable. In Nikolai's opinion, a smaller cozier home beats a stained glass cathedral.

She stops walking and opens her notebook. Flipping past pages of two-line entries, she records today's date and writes: Contract signed. Meeting with Dias personally after: Red eyes, brown hair.

The description seems too basic. She scratches out the last bit, rewriting. Impressive pair of red eyes, dashing brown hair. Long hairstyle, gold filigree clothes. Affluent. Not part of R Corp. Overall, lighthearted air.

She isn't writing compliments like some kind of lovesick high-schooler with a crush. If she judged wrongly and Dias assassinated her here before her memory got updated, however unlikely that would be, it's important that the next Nikolai knows what happened. The journal is filled with descriptions like this. It's saved her from a few weeks of having to murder herself, but most of the descriptions are useless and obvious now. Several pages ago there's a passage like this:

New leader of the Rhino Team appointed. A man named Maxim, tall with a short beard. Dark brown hair.

...Hm. There is a difference in detail. 

Whatever. It's not like she doesn't already know her interests. She closes the journal after the ink dries, then stows it away in a locked drawer. If it were some years ago she would add something like I'm thinking of getting a houseplant or a painting to hang up . Now, she doesn't. It would only be a waste of her theoretical clone's time.

(Or more accurately, it's deeply unnerving to read. In a hatchery where it's life-and-death, it doesn't make a difference eating your own corpse. But, out in the world, knowing that some other you existed and felt things you don't remember, if only for a brief moment... She'd like to save herself the existential discomfort.)


Eventually, Nikolai hears a knock at the door. She stands, straightens her clothes out, and opens it.

"Hello, Captain Nikolai," Dias greets, with her light smile.

"Dias. Come in." Nikolai steps to the side. She closes the door behind her. "You wanted to discuss something?"

She nods, slowly scanning the room. Her expression doesn't reveal any particular opinion.

"Don't you feel warm?" Dias asks.

Now that she mentions it, yes. Nikolai detaches her jacket-cape and hangs it on a wall hook alongside her hat. Her hands hover over the buttons of her coat. She turns her head to look at her guest. Noticing a pointed crimson stare, she turns back. She takes off her coat, leaving her uniform tie, slacks, and dark grey dress shirt. 

"That's better, isn't it?" Even though Dias is the one who said it, she's not doing the same. Her hands haven't moved, and her regalia is still in place.

"I... I guess." Nikolai scratches the side of her face, at a pair of scar lines. She feels embarrassed, even though the only naked part of her is her head.

Dias approaches her, shoes clicking on the floorboards. Her hand touches her shirt—and presses on her abdomen below it. Nikolai swallows thickly. As if talking about the weather, Dias comments, "Very sturdy. You must train a lot."

"...Yeah," Nikolai replies. She kicks herself internally for the unintelligent way it comes out. Nothing about this situation should be new. She's done a lot in her many years. Dias too, certainly, but the extent is obfuscated by her clearly modified visual age. She could be far older, even. Hell, could be a hundred years old or more, you never know with rich folk. With the way she acts, it feels like she knows everything that has or will ever happen.

Dias's hand pushes her, lightly and then strongly, to the point Nikolai has to step back to avoid tumbling over. She could stand her ground and easily resist this minimal force, but that doesn't seem to be the "right" answer here. Step after step, she is guided into backing up, around her desk chair, curiously in a different direction than her glorified cot she calls a bed. 

Her back hits a wall. The pressure relents, but Dias's fingertips start to follow the contours of her body. Gently, like stroking a sleeping animal. Her nose is filled with the scent of star anise. 

"You look tough, but you're actually pretty cute, Captain Nikolai," Dias says, leaning below her ear. "Do you like titles, Captain?"

Her low voice sends a spark through her spine. Nikolai feels her face darken with blood, muttering, "Just Nikolai, please." She couldn't stand it if she developed some kind of conditioning to her official rank. Especially if they were going to work together in the future.

"All right, Nikolai. Then, I'd like to know... Are you all hard, or are there some soft spots?" Dias's breath brushes against her neck. It's maddening. Normally she'd have pulled her into a kiss or at least rested her hands on her hips by now, but for some reason her hands lie uselessly flat against the wall or in the air as Dias's arms hug her, feeling the seat of her pants. Her torso is pushed against hers, and through the layers of clothes, she can tell Dias's body is soft. "Softer in the front than in the back," Dias says. "I'm the opposite. Do you want to try?"

She almost asks "try what?" but it chokes in her throat when she feels her hips against her, and then a knee thrust between her thighs. Dias takes Nikolai's wrist and pulls it, inviting her. 

Obediently Nikolai feels Dias's ass. It's round, softer than it looks at first glance. Very nice. Dias breathes in as she does it, chuckling when her hand slips below the waistband of her pants. "Excited already?" she asks.

"A bit."

"Ahaha. That's a lie, isn't it?" Dias's knee slides up on the wall abruptly, getting a sharp nnf . "See."

Her words aren't helping matters. To punctuate her point she slides higher, grinding into her, forcing a noise from her throat. "I guess I don't have an excuse," Nikolai tries to say smoothly, but sounds more like a high whine. 

When Dias suddenly removes her leg, Nikolai realizes her own breath is trembling. "At this rate you might come before your pants are off," Dias says in a whisper against her ear. Her lips touch her neck. She can feel her smile. She continues, "Maybe it'll happen without anything to grind on either. Turn over."

She turns over to face the wall as she's ordered, her hands layered underneath her shoulders and Dias's body flush against her back. This experience as a whole is new, strange, and confusing. Not in a bad way, but also not necessarily in a good way... for her opinion of herself, that is. It's humiliating to admit its effectiveness. She's done something like this more than once before, but she's never been interested in being this particular side of it. Until now.

"Good. Bend over a little, you're tall." Dias says, expression no longer visible. She can feel some hot air against her neck, and then deft hands sliding up the front of her shirt. She bends her knees so they lean against the wall, lowering herself. 

Her tie is too tight. Her breathing sounds loud in her own ears as Dias traces the lines of her stomach, then lifts her bra. She rolls a nipple between her fingers. Nikolai's back arches into it, pushing her shoulders off the wall. 

"Good," Dias repeats. She kisses the side of her throat, sending a shiver through her body. With ease, Dias loosens Nikolai's tie and pulls her collar out of the way, before pressing her teeth into her skin. A sharp gasp turns into a moan. She's thankful she has more than one uniform. 

A bare hand rests on top of Nikolai's gloved one, threading their fingers together. It squeezes once reassuringly, disentangles itself, then follows the line of her arm, up to her lips. 

"Open."

She opens her mouth and takes in three of Dias's fingers.

"Very good." The purr of her voice vibrates through her. Nikolai shudders, running her tongue across and between her digits. She wants to hear a little more. That low growl, that feeling. 

She feels a pinch at a sensitive spot on her chest and groans. Dias's lips press against her neck, taking her time to leave a dark mark. She feels movement: A shiver running through Dias's body. Her clothes feel stiflingly hot.

"Are you frustrated?" Dias asks. Her hand slips out of Nikolai's shirt to rest on her hip, tantalizingly close. "A long time without any bedroom visitors?"

It has been some time since she's invited someone. Not many assignments due to the Fourth Pack's incompetence means not many people to meet. Long-term is basically impossible considering the company situation. "A few months," Nikolai answers, barely comprehensible around Dias's fingers. She's glad that she's so closely sandwiched against the wall that her unstable knees won't give way.

"That's not too long, in the grand scheme of things." Dias slides a hand into the dip where her leg and torso meet. Nikolai inhales sharply.

With practiced movements, she unbuckles Nikolai's belt one-handed. Her fingertips drag lines over the crotch of her pants, light, teasing, retreating whenever she tries to rub against them. It's driving her mad. She can feel hips against her ass. Dias opens Nikolai's jaw with the fingers in her mouth, saliva leaking down her chin. Her head tilts up and to the side, pushed against the wall and openly panting. She's close to the edge already. Her body is burning up.

"Beg." Dias's tone is cold. The sudden shift stuns her for a second. 

"Dias," she attempts. Her voice is faltering and it sounds more like E-has considering the position she's in.

"You can do a little better than that." It's a tone that says she'll absolutely wait until she gets a satisfactory performance. In contrast, her breathing starts to pick up. Dias is excited.

"I'm—Can you just fuck me already, I can't take this any..." 

"Oh?" Dias takes her hand out, using both to dig her nails into Nikolai's hips. The gravity slowly drags her slacks down. "You've had enough, Nikolai? I've hardly even touched you."

"I know," Nikolai grinds out, finally able to speak more clearly.

"Tell me what you want."

Oh, this is hell. She's the devil incarnate. "I want you to fuck me right now, Dias. I don't know what else you want me to say!"

"It starts with P."

"...Please."

"Good." Dias's tone softens. She kisses the back of her neck and strokes the side of her hair. "Your attitude is so amusing, Nikolai. Just a little teasing. I'll reward you for playing along so nicely." Her hand finally slides down. 

Her hips buck at the touch of her fingertips against her. She lets out a shuddering breath. 

Dias murmurs: "Excuse me."

She thrusts her pointer and middle inside, deep in one smooth, certain motion. Nikolai cries out sharply, nearly collapsing, leaning forward heavily for some measure of support. 

Right away Dias curls her fingers. Nikolai chokes out a weak whimper, scraping her gloves against the wall. They're long and thin, and the way they stretch her open—Her breath comes out in pants. Dias's teeth rake against her ear, punctuating a relentless pace. "Go on," Dias says.

It takes no time at all to hit a crest, with all of that agonizing earlier. Nikolai suddenly seizes up, her mouth opening silently, trembling with the intense sensation running through her. It's been a long time since she's been pushed this hard, curling in on herself around Dias's hand. 

When she finally unstiffens, she takes a deep, heaving breath. Dias pulls out and gently slides back, letting Nikolai fall to her knees. Her elbow leans on the wall as she recovers some semblance of thought.

Dias steps around her, leaning her body next to her casually. She looks down at her with a smile.

Nikolai's hair is mussed. Her shirt is loose, wrinkled, smelling of sweat. Her pants are rumpled, the open belt keeping them from sliding off completely but leaving nothing to the imagination. Dias, on the other hand, looks pristine except for the shine of her right hand. 

Nikolai wipes her mouth off. "How are you?" She asks.

"Oh, I'm fine here. You look like you could use some rest, Captain."

And a dry-cleaned uniform. Her underwear might as well go in the trash. "You sure?"

"I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on the matter I was interested in. That's all."

What a way to put it. "Alright then," Nikolai says.

Dias's smile grows. "Why don't you stand up?"

She tries to and finds that she can't.

"Would you like some assistance, Captain?"

Her ears, which were cooling down, feel hot again. Begrudgingly she sighs, "Sure."

Dias holds out her clean hand. Before Nikolai can grab it, it snakes forward and wraps around her tie. She forcefully pulls her up, bringing their faces close together. She can feel her breath against her cheeks as Dias quietly says, "Next time, you can visit me."

She lets go lightly, wipes her other hand off on Nikolai's shirt, and steps back. 

Nikolai watches her leave with an even, unbothered gait.