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Nikki's Week

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[Yar]

Nikki and Egor are both still asleep. Interesting. You know Kitten has always been a night owl, but yesterday and the last time he was here he slept through the night… which is strange. His inner clock must be off. The girl's deal is clear, at least on the surface: classic innocent soul dragged into a world where it's nigh impossible to keep your innocence. However, things are a bit different with this one - she has a little extra biological arsenal to keep herself safe, and Kitten is friends with her. You'd never imagine him taking an active interest in someone like her. Guess it shows how little you really know him.

How would things have worked out if there was no Egor? If it was just Nikki and yourself? Let's say you find her in some dark alleyway in whatever kind of distress. Initially, you believe, she'd be too timid to join up, yet too scared to leave your side in any other way than at gunpoint. Too... girly to leave an impression on you and too naive to not think you can be trusted just because you helped her once. Not unlike Egor in some ways, yet far too different in others. Kitten has always been a cynic, for one, so instant trust was out of the question…

Mental illness would be a better explanation than none. Or simply neurodivergence? You don't think she's autistic or anything like that - there isn't enough evidence to support that yet, considering you've only just met her. Not that it would change your opinion of her, but at least some things would be explained. The much more likely option is that you're such a narrow-minded asshole that your mind immediately starts searching for some kind of "condition" to justify when people don't act the way you're used to thinking is regular. And Egor, being all sweet and shit, apparently cares for the girl and clearly has no intention of leaving her to fend for herself, her perculiarities notwithstanding. Hmph.

Last night you were legitimately too tired to think of a better way, but that's hardly an excuse for the test you pulled off, though you think it was one of your best yet - you could almost hear the gears shuffling around in your Kitten's brain. Your only regret was making the girl cry - it's not your first time, but it's never a pleasant feeling, being an unruly dick to someone weaker than you. You hope it'll be the last time you gave this particular girl a reason to turn on the waterworks, at least. Speaking of waterworks…

Too much coffee is the problem now, you're standing over the toilet for a good twenty seconds before you splash water on your face and check yourself in the mirror. This stubble is getting too long. You scoop up the razor, but... nah. You should wait until you need to shower, or at least until the other denizens are awake. Nikki is tossing and turning on the living room's couch with beads of sweat on her forehead and her... tentacle or whatever the hell it is beating against the couch. She's murmuring like she's havng a nightmare; you leave her to it and head back to your own room, hoping to wake Egor.

He sleeps peacefully on the carpet with his razor claws pinned in to... anchor himself if he rolls over? He better not be pulling any threads loose. And even if he isn't, you're not crazy about having him here. No, that's not right. Him alone is fine, but Egor is apparently a package deal now. The girl's in mourning, but there's no reason these two should just lay around and eat your food for an undetermined period of time. Plus you've still got questions about Nikki, mainly her mutations and blood-stained eye. Egor will have to provide.

"Hey, Kitten." You nudge him on your shoulder with your foot, and he blearily opens his eyes to face you.

"Yar..." Is there something on your face? Why is he looking at you like that? You touch your cheek but find nothing out of the ordinary there. Maybe you should have shaved after all. "Yar... uh. Morning, what is it?" His face becomes unreadable and voice goes stern as he sits up.

"You want a job? Say no, and I'll kick you out." He scowls and lets you help him to his feet. Guess he didn't get that you're joking. "I get the feeling you'd want to help out anyway. There's a bunch of magazines to swap out with better ammo, with the three of us it'll probably take an hour or two. We can check the news and see if your girl's friend made it."

Egor replies with something you should have considered:

"I don't think Nika should be involved with that, is there any regular cleaning for her? I don't want her to wallow in misery."

"Ah, sure. Just wake her up and-"

"She has bad nightmares, I might have to sit with her for a second." You cross your arms. "I think it's from trauma; you can tell she's never hurt anyone."

"...That's fine, just wish you told me earlier."

"I didn't think her being a killer or not was important."

"It tells me she's the most vulnerable girl in the building. Come on." Egor stretches and mumbles that you need a better carpet as the two of you walk to the front room of your apartment and wheel a big storage unit filled with loose ammo and the occasional gun barrel into the kitchen. You stand next to it and make some sandwiches as you overhear Egor carefully waking up Nikki in the next room.

"...uh...Ah! AHHH!" It's an awful, petrified shriek matched with a sob.

"Calm down, it's just me. Egor. We're at Yar's apartment. Remember last night, when you showed him your hands?" Kitten sounds calm and collected. Probably even bored. Guess it's not the first time he wakes her like this?

"...Egor?" She's out of breath.

"I'm here. Are you hungry?" Good thing you're making sandwiches.

"No... I need the toilet." Nevermind then.

"Come with me." You catch a glimpse of Egor leading the girl down the hall, and you move the big tool box thing into the living room, sit down, and turn on the news. Nothing of interest is there, but it's not like you actually expected a fresh murder to make it that fast, even without one of your people actively working on keeping it on the down-low. Word will get out, of course - neighbors will gossip, landlords will talk, the local law enforcers are sure to slide in a report. But things should be fine as long as the corpse is taken care of and all the signs of other mutants in the apartment where it took place are removed or muddled enough so they won't be possible to trace back to Egor... and Nikki, of course… but mainly Egor. That's all that matters.

Now, if only there was a way to make 100% sure that the murder was a one-off thing and whoever did it will move on to someone unrelated to the dead woman... Speaking of, where are these two? Just how long does it take for a girl to piss?

You find them both in the kitchen, ending a conversation and munching on the sandwiches you prepared. Nikki has emptiness behind her eyes as she looks down and doesn't show much enthusiasm for the food, kneading bread crumbs on the table's surface into a small ball with one finger and absent-mindedly holding a half a peanut butter-slathered piece of bread in her other hand. Egor, for his part, is a picture of a healthy appetite. He is halfway done with his sandwich and is eyeing the one his friend is neglecting. Looking at the girl, you suddenly have a thought.

"Nikki?" She doesn't look up. "Nikki?"

"Ah!" She snaps out of her funk at once and drops her food. It hits the edge of the table and lands on the floor, butter side down, of course it does. You can hear Egor's heavy sigh and know without looking at him that he mourns the wasted food right now. "Oh God, sorry, I'll clean-"

"Egor will get it. Come with me, if you are done eating. I have a job for you. And you," catching Egor's eye, you nod at the table. "Clean up and wait for me here."

Initially, your plan was to get the girl saddled up with cleaning duty while Kitten would sort your stuff, but it occurred to you that your den doesn't need tidying at the moment, so whatever you could task her with cleaning would have to be down at the bar, or maybe communal areas on other floors. All of which are open to your crew. Naturally, most of them are out and about right this moment, and those who are in are too occupied with their own things to pay attention to your guests. Still, you don't think exposing Nikki to any more people first thing in the morning would help her state.

She climbs out of her chair and her land drapes over Egor's shoulders before she walks away and follows you to the main room.

"See this box?" You point at the stuff you've prepared in the living room. She looks over it like it's going to bite her. "It's all a mess that I just can't get round to. Think you could help me with sorting it? There is a notebook at the bottom - ignore the filled-out pages and write down how many of which we have."

"Wh... how do I know what bullets are what? I'm not really used to... guns." She looks mainly hesitant and frightened but her eyes show some eagerness to do her share and - just like you hoped - slight intrigue. You shrug:

"For now I just want you to focus on putting the identical items together. Pile them up, stack them like Jenga, tie them together with rubber bands or frilly little ribbons with bows, I don't care." Your attempt at lightness goes over her head. "Anyway, Egor will join you and help with what goes where and which size bullet fits in what barrel, I'll look over the whole thing later and then it's onto the next job."

"I never played Jenga… I just match the identical things?"

"Yes. It's quite easy." She stays silent, swaying on her feet. Hopefully she wasn't asking you to clarify Jenga instructions.

Eventually she realises she hasn't said anything for a minute and shakes her head to clear it.

"Yeah, I... I think I can handle that. What do I do when I'm done?"

"Treat Egor as your supervisor. I'll tell him to introduce you to my men - there is always something that needs to be done, and I suspect they'd be happy to dump part of their workload on you. Just remember that you can refuse anything they offer. And I mean anything. If someone tries to mess with you when Egor is not around, I'd like to know." You turn to head back to the kitchen and add in an afterthought: "Not that it's likely to happen. They know better." Nikki wraps her tentacle thing around her thigh and sits down on the couch, reaching down with a gloved hand to open the drawers.

In the kitchen, Kitten meets you with a questioning expression. You sigh and joke:

"Let the girl play around with firearms. What could possibly go wrong, right?"

He silently shrugs, apparently not thinking the matter was worth discussing. You add, feeling the urge to justify yourself for some reason:

"And it could be useful to her. Educational. Even if she doesn't want to learn how to fire a gun, knowing the specs couldn't hurt. Or how to do maintenance."

"Naturally."

"Now, that's real chatty of you, I'm surprised I even could get a word in edgewise."

"Ass." But there is no real heat behind the word. He shakes his head and explains:

"I guess the whole mess is just starting to... how do you say it, catch up with me? I have a ton of things on my mind that are either likely scenarios of how things could and probably would go wrong, or..."

"Kitten." You interrupt, and he bristles at the name, as always. You shift aside the smug feeling at his reaction to enjoy it later and suggest:

"How about you focus on things that definitely would go wrong if nothing is done about them? Are there any?"

"For one... Nikki. Her tail." He sighs and looks to the side, as if embarrassed, and finishes: "Your people. Loose lips."

Ah. Makes sense.

"Well then, what'll your girl do in terms of hiding it?"

Egor sighs.

"I loaned her money and she bought some form-concealing clothes. Would've saved it if I knew all this would happen." He waves his hand around the kitchen. "Now I'm out another few hundred."

"A few hundred?! Tell me she drained herself first." He shakes his head and digs out his wallet. You glance down at the faux leather while Egor passes you a folded white scrap of paper.

"I wouldn't let her. Read this, she made it."

"‘Dear Egor, let this paper scrap declare that IOU 263 Ohio dollars. Please keep it on yourself until I replace it with real money and don't loan me anything else until I can tear this paper up.'" You flip the paper over and pass it back to him. "Shit, she's serious about owing people. Girlie is more broke than you."

"At first I thought she was trying to be cute, now I realize she meant it." Egor slides his wallet back in his pocket. "I wish everyone I'd lent money to was the same as she is now." You laugh, and he squints at you." Forgive me for having a soul. Nika would have died without-"

"No, no I don't mean that. You don't keep a record of who owes you money?"

"Of course I do; the people I lend to are another story. See here..." Egor pulls out his phone and messages you a list of names, locations and money owed. It's surprisingly comprehensive and well put together. Almost better than your own lists, maybe that can be one of his jobs. "You want me to pay rent? There's your money." Kitten laughs to himself and you mention you're gonna go find him something to do, lest he has too much fun, then leave the den, promising to be back "some time later".

Down at the bar, you nod to some of the overnight crew and exit out the front door. Egor was joking but you don't care - you're getting your rent.

 

***

You press your finger over the peephole in the door and sigh when you hear a chain rattling inside. Truly, the hallway that you're currently standing in shit, and so is, you suspect, the entire building. The door looks like it was cut out of cardboard. You don't even know why you bother knocking. Not like them not wanting to open would change anything. You did take your time to check for any extra security measures, obvious or otherwise, and were utterly flabbergasted to find none. A small part of your brain still suspects that you missed something. Just a peephole, for real? Couldn't even bother with a camera? But, if you pause to think about it... How many people actually need security as outrageous as you and your peers have? There is safety in being a nobody. Who would take notice enough to go after you or your shit? Who would think you even have shit worth taking? Knocking again, you continue covering the peephole until the man inside is forced to open the door a crack to satisfy his curiosity. There is a chain in place, at least. Not that it could possibly keep you away.

"You... You're Egor's mate." He seems plenty intimidated already, maybe they'll all be this easy. You exhale and shift your weight from one foot to the other. Then look him dead in the eye and squint.

"So you know me, good. And I know you. I also know that you have something of Egor's that needs collecting."

"...How can I-"

"Robert. You owe my partner $431 for a bad call at the races. Don't make this difficult." He scampers off and you listen carefully for any signs of a window opening. Eventually he returns and passes you $200. You glare at him and crunch the notes in your hand. "Robert. Jog my memory, how much do you owe?"

"I-I‘m a bit light." You reach forward and snap the chain without trying, making the door swing open. Robert backs up and raises his hands. You're almost bored. "That's all I got. Honest."

"That's all you got? That's a damn lie." You don't consider yourself a debt collector, but breaking shit is fun. Robert watches you turn his couch inside out and eventually you realize he's leaning against a countertop. Knocking him to the floor, you pull out another few hundreds from a drawer and bid him farewell. "Pay him next time. Do svidaniya." Robert flinches at your words, but at least you won't be back and he knows it.

 

***

The morning goes by fast; you accumulate a good chunk of money and only one other person needed to have their shit broken before they caved in and coughed up what they owed Egor. You hardly even needed to drive around - it's unsurprising most of his loans are in the same neighborhood he lives in, not to mention Interstate. Before you know it, you're counting his bills for him in the back room and most of your crew is laying down wiring and insulation like normal. At the top of the stairs, you slip some light notes into your pocket for yourself. Better just outright gift him his money without bringing up rent. After you hang up your jacket you hear some quiet talking in the main room.

"...loved you very much."

"I know... I know."

"Are you in any pain?"

"My… t-tail stings and aches and I feel like I need to throw up sometimes. My eye is hurting and my hands…" Can you hear light crackling? "They burn. I feel like I need to laugh and cry and scream and work it all off but… I just feel flat." At this point you round the corner.

"You'll be okay, Nika. Sit with m- Yar!" Egor stands up, and Nikki winces, she looks like she's been crying. "Where the hell have you been?! Hours have passed and neither of us could leav-"

"I was collecting your debts." You stick your hand behind your undershirt and pull out an envelope, tossing it on the table. Money spills out of it. Egor looks at it wide-eyed, and Nikki dives down to scoop up some that landed on the floor, then puts it with the rest.

"I-I don't mean to steal any! Some fell on the floor and I just wanted to make sure... make sure that... um." Nikki is smart enough to catch the tense energy between you and Kitten and shuts up.

"...This is all the money I've lent to others?"

"Plus or minus some people I couldn't get a hold of. That Alice girl, and a guy called Mel."

"I... This is so much..." Nikki tentatively stretches her arm out to drag her hand over the notes, fiddling with what's probably the most money she's ever seen in her entire life.

"Yar..."

"You're welcome." He bends down and picks up a $100 note, passing it through his fingers like it's a stress toy. A very expensive stress toy.

"Thanks." He tosses the note back on the table and almost shoulder-checks you while walking past, mumbling that he'll meet you in the front room. You instead decide to sit with Nikki on the floor, just to touch base.

"So, how'd you go with the bullets? They all tied up and written down in the book?" Nikki looks sideways at you. Her red eye glowing through her eyelid would be awfully intimidating to someone unaware of her personality.

"We got them all done. Egor helped me get the hang of it but it was stressful at first." There's a tiny smile on her face like she's proud of herself, then it fades away like she's realised how dumb she must seem, intimidated by a bunch of inanimate objects rolling around in a tool box. Then again, those objects can be deadly in the right hands... notably yours.

"And yourself? You're all fine?" There's probably more subtle ways of asking this but you get the feeling she'd miss the intentions overall. She rubs her nose with the back of her hand and looks over at all the money again.

"...I guess I could be better." And you guess the city could be a better place to live. You keep the thought to yourself. "I'm a mess in every sense of the word but... at least I'm still here, right?" She looks down at her bare hands and curls them both into fists. More crackling. "A week ago, I never thought..." She stays quiet until you stand up, and she jumps like she forgot you were there. "Uh, sorry for kind of just dropping myself on you. Egor said th-"

"Bah. You're fine." It's been a long time since you've had to console someone. What would a girl like her want to hear? "You've been dealt a bad hand, nothing wrong with accepting help from the people who care about you... namely Egor." Hopefully you don't sound like an ass with that last part. She shuffles herself back onto the couch and tucks her knees up to her chin, nodding a few times and holding back tears.

"I guess... heh." She wraps her arms around her legs and there's yet another crackle. "I've been dealt the worst hands of all." She murmurs a laugh and a cloudy tear falls out of her red eye. The girl can joke. Good. You turn around and slowly walk off to give her a chance to notice you're leaving, she then calls out 'Bye!', and you hit your normal pace until you find Kitten in the front room, deleting the list from his phone.

"Kitten. How's your newfound riches?" He frowns and puts his phone back in his pocket.

"Fine. I can buy a car if I wanted to."

"See? Aren't you glad I sorted your debts for you?" He squints at you like he's trying to figure out the ulterior motive, but you don't let him see it.

"If you didn't need to brutalise anyone, yes."

"Just their places. Robert lived in a cardboard pigsty anyway, and Anthony is now missing a window. Surely that isn't an issue?"

"It is when you live on the first floor and have no lock on your door to begin with." Egor squints at you again.

"Oh, come on. You should be thanking me."

"...Thank you. How is Nika?"

"Could be better, what's wrong with her eye?" He hisses at you to keep your voice down, despite the fact she's at the opposite end of the flat.

"I wish I knew, her electricity, maybe? Don't ask me about her tail."

"You've never seen them on anyone else before?"

"No!"

"Fine then. What about this girlfriend I've had Ajax clean up? Is she off the table too?" Egor rubs his eyes like he's frustrated, then exhales like he's queasy.

"Before, Nika was a quiet loner with night terrors. You scared her half to death with your bounty at her work, and this was even before she knew she was a mutant. Her work friend drags her away, takes her viginity, turns her into a drugged-out sex fiend, then gets murdered on the same day she and Nika become an item officially. I fear her mind can't take much more, so please, for all our sakes, go easy on her. Do not bring up anything that might set her off."

It's fair enough. If only this new girl bunking with you could hold her own on the streets, at least when not in mourning. A new girl staying in your private den alongside Kitten... you can't help but feel some resentment towards him for dropping this new problem in your lap.

"Ok. I'll decide what you owe me later." He bristles at your words, but you keep eye contact and shake hands with him, and he exhales when you squeeze his palm. "Egor."

"Yar." His face contorts like he's just had a bad thought and lets go of your hand. "Shit..."

"What?"

"Nothing. No... I've just remembered something. Nika will be missing Dot." He is definitely omitting something, but now is probably not the best time to push for answers.

"Dot is the girl?" Egor pulls out his phone once more and opens his messages. You see an empty grey square amongst some green text, and he swears again, tucking the phone back into his pocket and looking up at you.

"I'm going to talk to Nika, and she'll certainly start crying again. Is there somewhere you need to be?" He phrases it like a question, but you know you're being dismissed. Shugging, you pull out your own phone to check for texts you might have missed and see that Ajax is requesting you meet him downstairs.

"Yes, there is. Good luck." He says the same to you and you pass by each other. He heads to the living room and you head out your door and down the stairs. Scanning the bar, you see Ajax is occupying the very same booth where Kitten and you were sitting when he got his black shakes attack. Wasn't that a sight. You push aside the unbidden memory and take a seat, fixing the big guy with a stare.

"Well?"

He chuckles - mirthless, dry sound.

"That was something, all right. And I don't mean "good" something. Amateurish shit. What he's done to the body, I mean. No rhyme or reason to how the bits and pieces were arranged, completely random, ghastly and disturbing just for the sake of being so. Sick, pointless, no imagination, not even remotely inspired..."

"Ajax, your experience is showing."

He shuts up, looking somewhat sheepish.

"Right, sorry. I had enough time to remove the obvious signs that your guy was there, but the best part is tenants in that building are an apathetic bunch. Nobody was in a hurry to come investigate what the ruckus was about, and by the time the landlord caught wind of what happened I've already called one of my law girls to come check the scene. She brought some friends, of course, but guess what? I know these guys. No love lost between them and Tower. One even has a grudge, if I'm not mistaken. Wonder what that's about."

"And the body?"

"Gathered... whatever they could and sent off to be cremated. My girl - Tish, by the way, do you know her? She seems to know you. Blonde, short, very ugly scar on her neck?"

"We've met."

"So, she said they could make arrangements. The urn with the ashes, all of her shit that was in the apartment... Her girlfriend will have to take it off their hands in person, no way around it, but they'll hold onto it for now, no need to rush. They won't dump it or anything. The apartment, however, is a no-go. It has Sunday still paid for, but then that's it, so the landlord will have it scrubbed and rented out as soon as, if the current tenant doesn't show up. Which everyone understands is unlikely. He does want her belongings out of there before anything, though."

"I'll have her contact him. That's not important right now. Any signs of Tower?"

"A couple of ladies showed up shortly after I left, according to Tish. And she was using the term as loosely as possible. Looked bored as fuck. Took statements, pictures of what was left, made tasteless jokes. Tish is pretty sure nothing will come of it. The worst part is that they didn't look surprised or shocked or anything like it. Either due to the fact that the victim was not human, or because they've seen worse? I wasn't there to judge, and Tish was pretty affected, so her recollection was quite colorful. Bleeding heart case."

"And that's all? They only took photos and no samples?"

"Samples were taken, but only the blood. Tish swore on her mom's grave they were as sloppy and unprofessional as could be and in a hurry to get out of there. So unless they managed to sneakily scrub off something else, only the dead girl's DNA should be processed."

"Hmm." You scratch the table with a fingernail and ponder what happens next. No chance in hell for a random slums apartment to be 100% sterilised by its landlord. Nikki's fresh mutant DNA is still there, but as long as Kittens spew is all gone... he should be okay. Ajax looks at the concentration on your brow and adds:

"I wouldn't worry. Your girl may have a big apartment but unless she was licking the doornobs, Tower won't catch anything."

"Sure." It's not Nikki you're worried about.

***

She passes the phone back to you.

"Well?"

"Tish said the... ashes and my things can be sent here but-"

"I'll sort it out."

"...Thank you. And my stuff... it's just clothes and maybe some food? I'm okay if it's tossed out or sold." Nikki seems a bit hesitant with her words but if she doesn't want the items, you're not gonna turn down free shit for your crew.

"What will you do with your apartment? Don't forget Sunday's still paid for."

She sways on her feet.

"I don't know much about stalkers or anything, but this place seems infinitely times safer than mine... if you'll have me, of course."

"I don't see why not." She nods a polite thanks and walks back to the kitchen to wrap up dinner. You lean against the couch and fiddle with your phone until you hear yawning and Egor appears in the doorframe of your bedroom.

"Kitten. How was your nap?" He stares at you out of the corner of his eye.

"I'm getting back to my normal sleep schedule."

"Good. From what I hear, these past few days have been mania."

"Something like that. I have to look at you all the time."

"Is that really so bad?" You smirk at him, and he tries his hardest to maintain a scowl. Nikki appears around the corner and softly calls out ‘I'm done.' You both head to the kitchen and check over the table while she packs things up; she's made the same sandwiches you did this morning.

"I don't know what you all like so I just made... hm." She waves her hand over the table and you all sit down.

It's clear Nikki is desperate to make herself useful but due to your lack of supplies, she didn't have much to work with. Some are sloppy with butter on the outside and it's clear her mind was in another place, but Egor wolfs it down all the same. You nod to her after your first bite and she exhales like you're the head judge on a cooking show or something.

"That's good, I only ever eat white bread and the..." She stays quiet for a second, then frowns and picks up the one sandwich she made for herself. "I need to stop obsessing over small things, it's gonna get me killed."

Egor quietly sighs like he knew this was coming.

"Nika, we may be in danger but you can still be yourself." She drops her food on her plate and starts, her voice bordering on whimpering:

"This is all just so new to me. I can't remember the last time... I don't even know."

"We can teach you how to live now?" Kitten shoots you a harsh glare, and you ignore him. "Toughen you up a bit, show you how the whole ‘gang leader' shtick works? I got my best man right here." You slap a bristling Egor on the shoulder, and Nikki almost smiles.

"Really?"

"Really. Let's start with those bullets you both sorted..."

The three of you end up talking for over an hour, mainly teaching Nikki how some people don't just work a 9-5 to make their living. How some people cheat, lie, hurt others to make ends meet. She gets a bit uncomfortable when you mention ending lives, and Kitten cuts you off before you go too far: ‘She doesn't need to hear this.' ‘How did I find you, huh?' Eventually Nikki can't keep her eyes open any longer and she turns in for bed, leaving you, Egor, and dirty plates in the kitchen.

"So, it was a good day. Productive."

Egor cringes at your exaggeratedly optimistic comment. Just what you were aiming for.

"Yes. Productive. Mind if I ask you not to bother the rest of my debtors, at least for now?" You weren't exactly going to, but fair enough. "Especially Alice. She is... special case."

Another special girl? Just how many of those does he have? You shake your head and probe:

"Special like... what? Another Nikki?"

He snorts at that:

"Thank fuck no, not even close. She is a working lady, for one. Can handle herself, but still needs helps from time to time. The kind that I don't mind providing."

You stare at him in amazement.

"Working girl? How the hell did you even meet? I don't think you're the type to hire-"

"I'm not her client, but it's not relevant right now. Just keep her name in mind. I couldn't care less about Robert or Mel or pretty much everyone else on that list you've seen, so long as they are alive and not too roughed-up. Alice gets kid gloves treatment no matter how much she owes, understand?" Pausing to think for a second, he frowns and adds:

"And if the name 'Inga' ever comes up... just be careful with her. She is not exactly friendly kind of contact, and she's yet to ask anything of me, but Alice depends on her, so..."

"Seriously, Kitten. You and your women..." You're more amused than upset with him, but you've long since noticed a pattern when it comes to him dealing with the opposite sex. This conversation just confirms it. Kitten has a soft spot for ladies, and some of them know it and are all too happy to take advantage. Which is too fucking sad considering you're very sure that he never takes advantage of them back. He should. You know you would in his place.

"There are no "my women" to speak of. I just happen to have some friends that don't have dicks." He appears to be offended at the implication, somehow. Maybe you misinterpreted something here. You decide to let it go for now, to avoid digging yourself in further, and suggest:

"Neik Ed is organising a game night down at the bar. Something about modern day vampires. June is definitely playing, and some of the others expressed interest. Want to come with? It could be interesting."

He perks up at that, taking you by surprise with sudden enthusiasm:

"Vampires? I think I know what this is about. He's been sad about his regular play group falling apart due to some kind of drama, I think. Maybe I'll try making a character, too? But even if I don't, observing would be good anyway."

And here is another thing you didn't know he was into. You don't know why, but the thought is aggravating. As if it's your job to know every last thing about Egor, and you're failing at it. It's a weird feeling.

You rub at the back of your neck, push down the odd emotions and follow him down to the bar, determined to make the most of this collective hangout.