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Margot was lashing at Konichiwao, sipping a tall pink drink and wondering who she might fib to see if anything more interesting was going on somewhere else. The club was soso, but a bit too dead for her mood. There was more holoaction here than real - around the room were slender columns, each topped with a far-too-beautiful dancer dressed in the latest fash. So we know what we're supposed to look like, she thought cynically, bending her head over her straw.

"'Scuse me," muttered a young man to her left, bumping past her and hunkering down at the base of the nearest pillar. "Sorry, gotta get at the aster, this one's fect…Margot?!" She actually looked at him for the first time and realized who it was.

"Tse-3, holy shit! Haven't seen you in forever!"

The tall, lanky young man unfolded from his crouch and ran a nervous hand through his hair. "It's just Bryce now, no one's called me Tse-3 in… well, forever," he said with a shy smile.

"You work here?"

"Well, kinda. I programmed the dancers, do some haxing for them now and then. This one's acting frooked, so they called me in for a consult," he said, pointing up to the voll little brunette creature on the platform.

Following his finger, Margot noticed that the dancer seemed to be caught in a loop of about five seconds in length, spasmodically twitching and gyrating. "I see what you mean," she said, watching the frenetic display. "Look at that for too long and you'll have a seizure or something."

"Struth. Anyway, I got her code now, I'll scan it and see what's wrong." He pressed a subtle pressure-plate on the holodancer's base and instantly the malfunctioning image flicked out. "So, um, what're you doing these days? Piloting like you always wanted?"

"Yeah. It's just skep-work for now, but it's still pretty splash."

"That's great," Bryce said sincerely. "I mean, you wanted it, you went and got it. That's huge."

Margot shrugged, eyeing her childhood friend. He'd turned out not half-bad, she decided. Tall and still kinda skinny, and the faux-ironic propster t-shirt was utterly quare, but he was definitely a far cry from the awkward, pimply-faced boy she'd known. "How long'll it take to fix?" she asked, nodding her chin back in the direction of the disabled holo.

"Huh? Oh, just to run it through the diagnostics'll take about an hour. After that, depends what the problem is and how hard it is to fix."

"You have to stay here while it's diagnosticking?"

"Uh, no, I guess not. It's my fib doing the work at this point, not me."

"Great, let's vam and, you know, catch up. What's it been, like seven years?"

"Well, since the end of Upper System, so yeah, seven years," said Bryce. "Sure, I guess I can go for a while. Where to?"

"My place?" suggested Margot.

Bryce blinked, then nodded his agreement. A short ride on the Zoster later, they were in Margot's quarters. "They're tiny, I know," she apologized.

"Hey, so're mine. The chos get the mansions, it's us grunts who keep the damn station running who get stuck in the cells," he said without too much animosity. "It's nice what you've done with it, though. Kinda cosy."

Margot chuckled. She could certainly have had larger quarters if she'd wanted them, courtesy of her parents, but at present she was pleased to be able to get by on her own, even if it meant living in a space smaller than one of the bedrooms in Isidorus's old home. "Here, sit down, I'll get you something. You want a drink? Stims? Anything I've got, you can share."

Bryce settled into the tiny couch as comfortably as he could manage. "What've you got?"

Margot surveyed the meagre contents of her kitchen. "Water, vim-stim and beer is about all in the way of drinks. Pharms… I've got spire, soma - Nary must've left that here, I don't even like it - and some eleija."

"Just a beer sounds fine."

She opened two beers and came to sit on the couch. Even though she was small, she had to squeeze in beside him. "Cheers," she said, clinking their cans together.

"Yeah, cheers." He took a long swallow. "Margot, I wanted to tell you…"


"I know I was a complete depp back then. I didn't mean to drive you away, I just didn't know how not to…you pish?"

"Sure. You didn't drive me away, anyway, we just… drifted after school ended. It happens." She shrugged and took another drink. "I was kind of a depp back then too, just in a different way."

"I'm really glad to see you again."

"I'm glad to see you too," Margot said with a smile. "I…" she began, then laughed.

"What?" he said, tensing up slightly. "Was it something I said?"

"No, nothing like that. I was just going to say, I always wondered how things might've been different, if we'd hooked up back then."

"Oh," Bryce said, blushing slightly.

"I knew you wanted to."


"Well, it was pretty obvious, especially in retrospect. I just wasn't in the right headspace to go for it then."

"Yeah, you went more for the tough guys and the prettyboys."

"Well, like I said, I was kind of a depp. Teenage girls generally are, you know!"

"So are teenage boys!" They both laughed. "Margot, I…" he hesitated.

"I noticed that holo… she kind of looked like me."

Bryce's blush deepened. "Maybe she does, a little. Not as voll as the real you, though."

Margot smiled and wrapped one hand around the back of his neck to pull him down towards her for a kiss. It was sweet, though a little bit awkward due to the close quarters. Bryce twisted around to face her, brushing a strand of her hair back off her face, and kissed her again. "I was going to say," he continued a little while later, "that I should have tried to fib you, but I couldn't ever figure out what to say."

"Hey, the fib goes both ways. I'm not mad or anything, it's my fault too. I'm just glad we ran into each other so we could, you know, get over ourselves. Listen, do you think we have time for something a bit more… interesting?"

"Uh. Like what?"

Margot pushed her hand up under his shirt and squirmed into his lap. "Like this?" she said mischievously, grinding her hips against him in an incredibly distracting way.

"Oh, my god… Margot, I want to, really I do. But…"

"But what?" Margot didn't pout, exactly, but it was clear she was disappointed.

"But…" Bryce was now blushing more than she would have thought was humanly possible. "But I've never actually… done it before - not, you know, for real - and… I'm kind of nervous. That's all."

"Oh!" Margot was surprised - a twenty-three-year-old virgin, it was like some silly comedy vid! - but she smiled at him. "We can go slower, if you want."

He nodded. "Just… just a little slower," he added hastily. "I'm not asking to stop!"

"Okay," said Margot. She slid off his lap and stood before him for a moment before she unfastened her jumpsuit and stepped out of it. She wasn't much taller than she'd been as a teenager, but her body was curvier than he'd remembered. Offering him her hand, she led him into the flat's tiny bedroom. It really wasn't much more than a closet with a single bed in it. She kicked a few clothes strewn on the floor out of the way and quickly cleared off the bed, except for the pillow. "Sorry for the mess," she said.

"I honestly hadn't noticed," Bryce said, still staring at her half-naked form. "What should I do?"

"Well, it's kind of traditional to take off your clothes."

"Oh, yeah. I knew that much," he said, smiling goofily as he began to undress. "I just meant, let me know if there's anything you want me to do."

"Will do." She lay down on the narrow bed and held out a hand to him. "Come lie down with me for starters."

"On top of you?"

"Sure, I won't squish." Margot parted her legs slightly to let him lie between them, running her hands over his shoulders and down his back, pulling him down on top of her. She could feel his erection pressing against her thigh, stiff and warm. Plenty of time for that, she told herself, kissing him again, more deeply this time. After a few minutes of that, he seemed to have relaxed, at least a little bit, so she figured it would be safe to go a little further. "Sec," she said, and wriggled out of her bra.

"God, Margot," Bryce murmured, cupping one of her firm breasts in his hand. "I never thought I'd get to do this… I mean, I figured I would someday, with someone, but it wouldn't be with you, and then the right person never actually did come along, and…"

Margot smiled. "Shush," she told him, guiding his mouth to her nipple. He sucked it until it stood out, firm and puckered, then switched to the other without her prompting. For all his protestations of innocence, he did seem to have some idea what he was doing. Probably seen lots of vids, Margot figured, or done it sim-wise in Mir, or whatever game he was playing these days. Didn't matter, it still felt good.

At any rate, he was soon busily licking his way down her flat stomach. She hoisted her hips to let him pull off her panties, opening her legs more widely once they were out of the way. She heard him say something under his breath, and asked if there was a problem.

"No. I was just saying how beautiful you are."

Margot smiled at that. "C'mere," she told him, pulling him back up beside her. The bed was narrow, but they were both slender enough that they could lie side by side, though not entirely comfortably. Margot put her hand over Bryce's. "I'll get you started," she said, and brought his fingers to the cleft between her legs. She was already more than a little worked-up, wet and eager for his touch, so it didn't take much for him to make her moan. Seeing the effect he could have on her seemed to encourage him, and he tried moving his hand a few different ways. Margot made sure to let him know which ones worked best, twisting against him and gasping each time he touched her clit.

She was a little worried about doing too much to him - she had the distinct recollection that guys, their first time, often finished too fast, though she wasn't quite sure whether that would apply to someone as old as Bryce. Nevertheless, she decided to risk stroking him in return. His cock was rock-hard, and twitched beneath her touch, seeping slightly from the tip. "Like that?" she asked him slyly, and was rewarded with an incoherent noise and a blissful look on his face. It was about time, she concluded, and rolled over so she was on top of him, both of them breathless with excitement.

She straddled him, letting her slick pussy rest against his groin, and planted her hands on his chest. "You still want me to go slow?" she asked.

"Don't know if I can take 'slow'," Bryce replied, gritting his teeth. "Let's just go for it."

Margot moved into a good position and eased her way down onto him, letting him push back up to meet her halfway. She couldn't get enough of the look on his face, like he was just so damn grateful and happy to be there with her, inside her. Guys didn't look at her like that nearly often enough, she decided at that moment. She pushed up slowly with her thighs, then lowered herself back down again. "Good?" she asked unnecessarily - his expression told her that it was, but she wanted to hear him say something, anything.

"Perfect," he gasped, thrusting back into her a third time. "Better than perfect."

Smiling, Margot rolled over onto her back. There was a brief emptiness as he slid out of her during the transition, but soon she was filled again, with Bryce on top of her. "You can go faster," she told him, "as fast as you want. It's okay." He nodded, unable to articulate much of anything at that point, and delivered five or six more pounding thrusts before collapsing on top of her, wrung-out and speechless with pleasure.

"Fuck, I'm sorry," he said once he'd recovered.

"For what?"

"Not doing better? I don't know," said Bryce bashfully. "I mean, you didn't come… did you?"

"No, but it's okay, you did fine," she told him honestly. "You just need more practice, is all. Girls don't always come that way anyway, not like in the vids," she couldn't resist adding with a teasing smile. "You can use your fingers again, help me off that way."

"Okay." He slid his hand down her sweat-slick skin, over her short-cropped hair, and down between her legs. She was drenched with his cum as well as her own juices, and his fingers moved over her clit with an easy smoothness. Margot gave him a few basic instructions, but it was mostly his own work that finally brought her off, with a scream she didn't bother to stifle.

"I gotta go," he told her a few minutes later. "Stupid work." He kissed her damp forehead.

"Yeah, I figured," she said. "But now you know where to find me, I'll see you again soon, right?"

"Soon as I can." He sat on the edge of the bed and consulted his fib. "Looks like it'll be a pretty quick fix, nothing complicated. An hour?"

"Sure." She kissed him on the lips. "Go make your holo-me dance."