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I knew how to pick the lock on Rafi's handcuffs, of course - nearly as well as I knew how to pick the lock of the pair I would probably never use in my stage act, given that the memories that were attached to it now would likely as not give me an erection, which was never a good thing when you were on stage and in need of all your wits.

I even knew how to pick it blindfolded and single-handedly. Tom Wilke had been very thorough, if not, perhaps, quite thorough enough to foresee all possible circumstances under which I might have need of my lock-picking skills.

Need being a bit of a relative term here, naturally.

"Remind me, Fix." Rafi stretched lazily, his body just a few inches from mine. "What were the terms of our little bet again?"

"I haven't lost yet." I as good as had, though, and we probably both knew it. Rafi did, anyway; me, I might still feel a glimmer of hope of coming out on top.

That glimmer was the reason I'd taken the bet in the first place, even knowing that Rafi never made bets when he thought he might lose - unless he wanted to lose.

"Well. I suppose I could go for a walk and come back in, say, half an hour?" He reached for his pants.

He would do it, too, I knew. Likely as not, he'd stay away a good bit longer than half an hour; possibly, he wouldn't bother coming back at all until early next morning. If I was lucky.

(If I was not so lucky, someone else might find me before that. That would surely do wonders for my reputation, such as it was.)

"Fine," I said, and then, because Rafi was a cruel bastard and pretended that he took this to mean he should get his shirt, too: "You win." As always.

He smiled and put his shirt back down, and five minutes later, I wasn't sure why I'd made such a fuss over the whole thing, anyway. That, too, was par for the course with Rafi, naturally.

Besides, I figured there'd be plenty of time for regret when he actually called on me to hold up my end of the bargain. Rafi might be able to charm his way through life among the living, but he might find the dead to be slightly less easy to wrap around his little finger.

Or not. I supposed we'd find out soon enough.