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Rats' Waltz

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‘The Lady in Red’ played itself out and Petra let her arms slide down from Billy’s shoulders. His eyes darted nervously and he clasped a hand around his opposite wrist, throttling it. She wondered what was going through his mind. She’d always thought she’d known, before, but it was so different with him here in front of her. His words, the way he’d said he loved her, were easy to brush off; dismissing Billy and everything he was… that would be impossible after they’d danced, holding each other like that. If she wasn’t careful, he was going to figure out that she had a heart after all.

“How do I look?” she asked, watching his face steadily as his gaze zoomed down the length of her dress and shot back up to her eyes. It was mercury in a thermometer plunged into boiling water. It was the last ride on a condemned rollercoaster.

Billy’s laugh came out mostly through his nose.

“Like a princess.”

Petra pinched his bicep, hard, and he flinched away, almost dancing again, but more like the frantic, mosh pit shit that he and Lex practiced. The kind of dancing that god intended the populous to headbang along to.

“We could burn it off,” Billy suggested excitedly, fishing from his back pocket the lighter that had recently unleashed Lex’s pyrotechnic mayhem on the sky over Kings.

“Ah,” Petra halted him. She laid a soothing hand over Billy’s jittery one. “Good in theory, but I’m pretty sure one of those Sweet Home Ala-bitches got me with a blast of hairspray, and I’d rather my head didn’t go up in flames.”

She raised her hands level with her temples and made an exploding gesture, complete with sound-effect. Billy lowered his chosen instrument of chaos and Petra watched his nimble fingers push it deep into a front pocket of his pants. His hands were nice; she hadn’t really noticed that before. Then again, the chunky cast on his forearm generally arrested the eye.

Billy shifted, jumpy and overactive, and let out a giddy laugh.

“Me too, unless it’s metaphorically. I support your punk-given right to be a rage monster.”

Petra offered a tender half-smile.

“You had that handled tonight. You stood up for me.”

“It was retribution,” Billy said, sounding psycho-tough and stabbing a pointed index finger at the floor.

“It was anarchy.” Petra grinned. “And it was beautiful.”

He jerkily shrugged his shoulders.

“What’s a Rat got ‘cept other Rats?”

She nodded.

“You look out for your own. Your own,” Petra repeated, fainter, and reached up to cup Billy’s cheek.

He was too soft―not his face, though she doubted he’d ever shaved out of necessity―believing that she wouldn’t yell sike! or pull some other shit to punish the trust in his eyes. After she’d already hurt him, hurt him on purpose at Shabnam’s party. She was clearly bad for him and he was bad for her, a bad alliance in a place like this, not exactly hell, but maybe the clammy space between hell’s toes.

She kissed him because that seemed like a better idea than waiting to see if he’d do it first.

Billy pulled her back in, following her with his mouth when a breath snuck between them. Petra could feel him shaking, but she didn’t exactly know how to touch him. Damn green-mohawk’d livewire. He was so the opposite of casual.

“You’ve done this before, right?” she checked, drawing her face back from his.

This this?” He puckered his lips to demonstrate kissing. Petra’s eyebrows lifted. “Oh,” Billy said, “this. Yep.” His vigorous nodding told Petra he’d caught on.

Yes, she meant sex, and yes, she knew he wasn’t a virgin. The way she’d asked probably made her seem like she didn’t know, but shit, it was supposed to have come out ringing with mockery, not soft and insecure. Ugh, she sounded tragically preteen.

“Aren’t you going to ask me?” she snapped at him.

Billy’s jaw tightened and Petra felt the whole scene teeter at the edge of a cliff she hadn’t known they were on. He’d say something about Viktor and then she’d get defensive and shut him out and then he’d get frustrated by the ineffectiveness of the way he always tried to break down her emotional walls with a battering ram even though this had never worked in their entire history and then―

“Do you… have something to contribute?” Billy asked, rocking on his heels.

Petra got her nostrils to un-flare from her pre-emptive surge of anger.

“I haven’t,” she said shortly. Less words meant less room for feelings to leak out of the corners of her mouth like drool when the dentist took too long prodding at your molars. Jesus, when had she last been to a dentist?

Billy’s features showed exaggerated confusion: forehead rumpled like bedsheets, eyes wild, etc. Petra sighed.

“Done this,” she clarified, her eyes careful on his. “Not with anyone who mattered.”

“Viktor was…?”

“There. He was there. Frankly, I’d rather get the taste of him out of my mouth sooner than later. Metaphorically,” Petra added when something caught fire behind Billy’s eyes.

“Look, we can forget all about what I said before, ok?” His confession at Shabnam’s was what Petra took this to mean. Billy laughed awkwardly, self-consciously. “Things don’t have to be that intense between us, but I also don’t wanna be mouthwash.”

“It came out wrong,” she admitted, inexplicably pissed at herself for having to apologize for something. “You wouldn’t be mouthwash.”

“Well… good,” Billy decided. “I’m a person, Petra.”

“You’re a cold-blooded lizard-man if you don’t shut up and kiss me again soon.”

“Shit,” he laughed, hesitantly cupping the sides of her head like he thought she might knee him in the nuts. Honestly, it still wasn’t completely off the table. “I know you’re not exactly overflowing with emotions, but there is this thing called romance.”

“I don’t do romance.” She hoped her eyes hadn’t just gone as wide and dreamy as it felt like they had. Fuck.

“Guess that’s all on me then.”

As his face tilted towards hers, Petra anticipated a kiss that came down hard and hungry, like the one she’d given him. Apparently, that wasn’t how things went when Billy led. She should’ve learned from the dancing.

His lips brushed hers and something deep inside her jerked loose like a vending machine dropping a soda. Petra felt fizzy. Their mouths hadn’t fully connected when Billy’s tongue skated slickly along her lower lip. What the hell. She could feel this getting her wet; normally it took several minutes of her chosen paramour’s determined fingering (post- several minutes of her determined instructions) to do that. It was her body throwing her words back at her, a reminder that no one else she’d messed around with had mattered. What a disturbing revelation though. Not only did she have feelings for Billy, she was also hot for him. The hits seriously just kept on coming.

Moaning was inevitable when Billy’s tongue stroked fully along hers and dragged it back into his open mouth. Petra half-mourned the fact that the Nazi she-devils hadn’t played dolly right down to her underwear, because the ones she was wearing were still her own and they were going to be a bitch to hand-wash with bulk-bought soap in the communal ladies’ room. A soft “uh” sound found its way out of their interlocked mouths and her hands gripped the front of Billy’s shirt. Instead of pulling back the way Petra dreaded he might, he moved his hands down from her hair, rubbing the back of her neck. Thank god he hadn’t given her some innocent startled face. Not a good complement to how badly she wanted to ride his thigh.

Petra stayed close, pressing both palms to his chest. Well, what a pleasant surprise―this skittish little skateboarder had the gentle swell of non-steroid-enhanced muscle under here. Lean but firm. Felt like his body had adapted after so many rounds of combat class, even if his brain hadn’t. (Petra rarely saw him win a bout. He just wasn’t great at anticipating his opponents.) As she ran her hands across his chest over his t-shirt, Billy dropped his straight to her ass. Kind of amazing that he could find it under the fucking puffy dress. Petra assumed the credit went to some inherent ass-finding skill only present in teenage boys.

He pulled her in, which was when she felt his erection. Again, the dress had been deceptively puffy because, against Billy, all that fluff compressed in a manner usually only observed in spray-cheese. Petra’s heart thrummed and popped like a bassline.

“We can’t get caught,” she said, drawing back to give him a dead-serious look.

Billy rolled his eyes.

“No shit.”

“After the poisoned darts tonight, which we are definitely getting nailed for at some point, we can’t afford any more trouble from the Man.”

“Yeah, babe, talk socialist to me.” He chuckled, kissing her neck, but Petra pried him off. “Ok, ok! You’re right.”

“We can’t stay here,” she said, beginning with the obvious. “Somebody’ll be back to clean up once they get those lowlifes medical attention.”

“Can’t go to the dorms. Roommates.” His grasp on her ass loosened as he thought; it was kind of cute how Billy looked when he concentrated. Ugh, god, no. Focus on the problem, Petra.

“Plus someone would hear us and either go for snitching or blackmail.”

“Oh yeah? You think you’ll be loud?” He grinned.

“I may have left my weapons in my other ball gown, but I can still break you, Bennett,” she warned.


Petra grabbed his hand and yanked, heading for the door. She stopped short of dislocating his shoulder, but she knew Billy got the message.

“So, where we goin’?” he hissed as they glanced left and right, slipping out into the hall.

“The Rats’ Nest.”

Dumb name―the bastard offspring of their group’s label and a ship’s crow’s-nest―and it had stuck since whichever Kings’ class hooligans had invented it. It was a room on the roof, where all the Rats hung out. Not a stairwell or storage, the rooftop shed was their pinnacle, their dirty confessional, their canvas for graffiti practice. Mostly, it was where guys got their first blowjobs and girls got their first sour taste of the patriarchy. It would do.

“Grim,” was Billy’s assessment. Petra wouldn’t and couldn’t argue, but it was what they had.

“Yeah, I won’t be lying on that floor. Hope missionary’s not your favourite position.”

“Have you wondered?” he asked sleazily as they climbed the stairs to the roof.

“No.” Yes. “But then again…” Petra glanced at Billy over her shoulder. “…everything about you screams ‘submissive,’ so maybe not missionary.”

He bounded up to get ahead of her, swinging the door open.

“Is that what you want?” Billy let the door close slightly so that she was delayed right next to him.

“What?” She was confused and it was better self-defence to wrap that confusion in barbed wire and come off irritated instead.

“Do you want me to be…” He glanced down, practically jumping in place as he bounced on the balls of worn sneakers. “…submissive? Is that what you like? Petra,” Billy said, suddenly staring her right in the eye, “tell me what you like.”

Her eyes widened in discomfort, almost giving her a headache, and she pushed past him, stepping out onto the roof. Clear night tonight. Not even a lingering hazy of smoke from the boys’ cheap firecrackers.

“Fuck off.”

“Ooh, you’re so scary.”

Billy danced around in front of her, walking backwards as she strode ahead.

“Why do you want both of us to feel like shit?” he prodded. “Downstairs… we were… We were getting somewhere, dammit. What do you want from me? You want me to like you, then hate you, then like you, then hate you! Do I have to say it again?”

“Just get in the Nest. I’ll blow you if you’re lucky,” she said dryly.

Billy backed into the little room’s door and crossed his arms.

“No. I love you.”

Petra sighed impatiently.

“You wanna get laid or not?”

“Be a bitch all you like,” he said. “I’m still going to make you see this is worth something. That’s why I want it to be good. You’re not helping yourself by putting that mask back on.”

She clenched her hands into firm fists, but when she went to hammer one into Billy’s chest, all the force went out of it. Her knuckles just barely dug into his skin. His heart pounded back from underneath. They didn’t stare at each other long before Billy surged forward and kissed her.

“I love you, Pet,” he mumbled against her mouth.

“A light touch,” she offered, meeting his eyes as he drew his face back to look at her. “I’m tired of being used and abused.”

“Light touch,” he confirmed. “Got it.”

Petra took one last look at the stars, then reached around where Billy had leaned away from the door and yanked it open by its stiff handle. They entered and he found a box filled with broken bottles to keep the door ajar for the luxury of late-night, city sign light and fresh air. It still smelled like beer and something even funkier, though thankfully not like urine as the only Rats nasty enough to piss up here (all males, go fucking figure) considerately did so off the edge of the roof, hitting the occasional unsuspecting pedestrian.

Billy was watching her and Petra felt insulated with him for the second time tonight, though the first had only been an illusion provided by the music.

“This is a good idea,” he told her.

“The best.”

They were kissing again and Billy was up to his old tricks, getting every little bit of feeling out of her lips and doing it as tenderly as possible. She was insane for liking him this way, Petra realized, because only liking him was going to make her life hell. It would torment her days, find her in her sleep. He’d be kissing her like this in her dreams, the prick. She knew he would.

His hands were gentle too. Clutching at her waist, but moving eagerly to her breasts when Petra tugged the top of her dress down. (Her attackers had declared that the black straps of the bra she’d had on completely ruined this wedding cake vision they’d made of her. Like the rest of her other outfit, she bet the bra was currently bobbing in a toilet bowl.) She wondered if guys could really be like this, on the condition that they were sufficiently surprised to be getting what they wanted…

Nah, they were trash. But not Billy. His hands were warm on her as they dug inside the dress and cupped her boobs. Petra inhaled sharply through her nose when his rough thumbs circled her nipples with inhumane slowness. Her breath came loud in the small space. It felt as though they were miles from the school, or anything.

Billy gave her a last, firm kiss on the mouth, then continued pressing them into her yielding skin; up under her jaw, down her throat. Her heart beat hard. Like a total amateur, Petra gave herself away by grabbing the back of Billy’s mohawk when he smoothly licked over her nipple, but he didn’t get aggressive. He was the perfect gentleman, if that’s what you called the spastic boy you took to the blowjob spot. He was her new definition, anyway.

“Touch me already,” she blurted.

He laughed.

“Just trying to do what you said.”

“I said light, not slow.”

“That’s part of the romance,” Billy informed her, hiking up the hem of her dress.

“It sucks.”

“Thank you.”

He ran his palms up the outside of her thighs and she got goosebumps. Trying to stay calm, Petra put her hands on his shoulders―a stabilizing gesture.

“You seem taller,” she said nervously. Billy just smiled in confusion.

His hands brushed very gently over her hips and the ratty black lace of her underwear. They were a little old, but Petra hadn’t seen any she liked as much as these, and she wasn’t just going to steal cheap ones. She had standards. Better standards for what went on her body than who went in her body, most of the time. But then, tonight, she was getting it on with Billy while wearing something so truly hideous that Petra would’ve tried to murder herself if she’d been someone else and seen her wearing it.

“You look really beautiful. Nothing to do with what they did,” Billy clarified, palms rubbing over her hips, dress frothed up outrageously between them, “just… your face.”

She exhaled as he snagged her panties around hooked fingers and dragged them down.

“Lift your feet,” he requested.

“Why?” she asked, already doing it.

“Well, it’s not like the ground’s spotless and these…” He bent and retrieve them as she stepped out. “…cover a pretty sensitive area.”

It was bizarrely intimate to see Billy holding her undergarments and Petra glared so as not to blush. Prick.

“What am I supposed to do with them now? I’m lacking the over-teased heap of chemically-enlarged hair that I assume Brandy uses to solve feminine problems such as these.”

Billy shrugged.

“I’ll keep ‘em,” he offered cheerfully, stuffing her wadded up underwear into the back pocket of his pants.

Her eyes narrowed.

“Just for right now.”

“Or longer.”

“For as long as you last,” she taunted.

“I will give you the opportunity to renegotiate possession after you’ve seen me last.”

Petra let out an exaggerated, sarcastic gasp.

“Gosh! Really?”

He smiled and then leaned into her, pinning her firmly to the wall. She was pretty sure Billy felt her smile when they kissed, so she bit his lip to balance the scales. Once again, he somehow knew she didn’t mean it and was not deterred. That was how Petra realized she hadn’t broken Billy’s heart properly back at the party. Or maybe she had and he was just a quick healer. The rough cast pressing into her shoulder was a decent reminder.

“When do you get this off anyway?” she asked, touching the cast, then grazing her fingers up the black sleeve covering his arm above it.

“You almost sound like you care,” he accused, grinning and raising his eyebrows. Petra gave him an acid look.

“I’m asking for the sake of my own comfort, dweeb. If we do this again, I don’t wanna feel your plaster digging into me. Shut up,” she said to his awed expression. “I said ‘if.’”

Billy smiled and went back to kissing her. Petra kept her mouth tense and unyielding, but only for a couple of seconds. If Frenching was the kind of thing they graded at this wacko school, this idiot might actually come top of the class. She gave up on just going through the motions and fully gave back to him everything he was giving her, her arms folded around the back of his neck. Billy moaned a little and tilted his hips into her.

“Go ahead,” she panted, breaking away.

He pulled his face back just far enough that her eyes didn’t un-focus when they looked into his. Lowering one hand, then the other, he bunched the skirt of the world’s ugliest dress back into position. She could feel the texture of his pants against her thighs, but he kept his hips back now. Staring steadily into his eyes, Petra leisurely unwrapped her arms from around him and caressed down the front of his army-green T-shirt. Billy shivered and she smirked a little. She popped his button and unzipped his fly without glancing away from his face. He, meanwhile, was doing an exemplary job of not ogling her boobs. The heat from his crotch was practically enough to toast a marshmallow by, but Petra didn’t touch him yet.

“You first,” she dared.

With a visible swallow, Billy fisted the material of her skirt in one hand and slipped the other beneath it. Tentative fingertips located the poke of her hipbone. She didn’t know if he was aiming high and right on purpose, or just curious about her. Petra wondered, for a second, what it would be like to have her entire body touched by him. She wondered how it would be to touch his. The Rats’ Nest was no place for total nudity, unless you wanted to see what kind of diseases you could contract.

She stepped one foot outward, then the other. Billy took a shaky breath and inched his fingers down to cup her. It nearly killed her―worse than being stabbed, poisoned, strangled, or any of the other shit that had been done during real fights or just over the course of gaining the stellar education Kings was supposedly providing. This absolutely asshole! With his unhurried tenderness and goddamn reverent expression. Petra’s head knocked back against the concrete wall. He hadn’t even done anything yet. This was all the mere fact of his hand’s position; feeling it and knowing it was there.

The large studs on the cuff around his wrist were cold when they made contact with her abdomen, but she was pleased to have him holding her closer, more securely. It was almost like claustrophobia―this light-headedness in a small space―as Billy’s seeking fingers spread arousal over her clit. Petra thought he might mock her for being so wet (it was something she might have done, to pierce the atmosphere choking her with meaningfulness). He didn’t.

If it was up to her to play the mean card, she’d have to make a crack about how hard he was already, how desperate. Except it wasn’t funny, even in a make-fun-of-him way, when Petra gripped Billy through his underwear. He let out a shuddering exhale, clamping his eyes closed and flashing them open again a second later.

“Could you lay off that for a second?” he requested, sounding a little lightheaded himself. “This is kinda already too good to be true, and I don’t want to prematurely ejaculate all over our, you know―”

“Romance,” they said at the same time. (His tone was a little less sarcastic than hers. Ok, a lot.)

Billy grinned and kissed her with a swift peck that bumped Petra’s skull against concrete. This was still Billy, after all. But then, yes, he did have some surprises.

“I hope your hands are clean,” she said seriously as she moved her fingers to his ragged belt loops and he rubbed a little faster across her clit.

“I went to the bathroom right before we stormed the dance, and I always wash my hands. I’m a classy guy.”

Petra snorted out air, but her inhale was all moan. He was hitting her just right. She hadn’t… she hadn’t even told him what to do. If he’d just stroke the tiniest bit to the left. God, he did it.

“What’s your secret?” she gasped.


She shook her head to tell him nevermind, because she was coming, stretching up on her toes in the stupid shoes that were the only things between her feet and a dirty needle or ancient glob of gum. Billy rubbed more forcefully―and swore significantly more forcefully than that―to pull her through the orgasm and out the other side. Petra didn’t specifically remember closing her eyes, or letting her head slump forward to rest on Billy’s shoulder, but evidently, those things had happened, because here she was, breathing his scent off his T-shirt.

Slowly, he removed his hand, wiping his fingers on the ass of his pants. Petra’s eyes were wide now, staring hard at nothing as she kept her head down for a minute longer, mentally getting a hold of herself. He’d touched her lightly, like she’d said. He’d paid attention to her response and adjusted his technique (though it truly baffled her to think of Billy having a technique for anything―except maybe rolling a joint) accordingly. What could she do… what could she say to that?

“I lied,” Petra admitted. She raised her head and pushed her hair the correct amount off her face.

“Well,” Billy began, smoothing a hand down her arm, “if it’s about something that’s gonna tear my heart to pieces, could you maybe save the truth for later?”

“I like rough and fast,” she said, holding eye contact. “In the past, I’ve tended to be the dominant partner because guys see the black hair, and the black clothes, and the black makeup, and that’s who they want to think I am because they don’t give a shit about who I actually am. But I’m not some Goth fantasy who wants their sexual experiences to revolve around teasing out some asshole’s kinks―a surprising amount of time literally involving their assholes. And I hate light touches,” Petra added. “Usually. Except not with… I guess not with you.”

He was staring at her. He wouldn’t quit staring at her. She was going to have to drive the heel of her horrible shoe into the top of his foot. Then he did something worse than the staring. He said her name, softly.


She wrapped her arms around the back of his neck like she had when they’d danced and kissed him. He held her―tight, then tighter. Something was surging inside her and it wasn’t the desire to maim that she constantly felt around almost every person inside the building they were standing on top of. This whole thing had been a very dangerous fever dream.

They were kissing fiercely and it terrified Petra, but it was a horror she wanted to wrap herself around. She tasted it, her tongue twined with Billy’s, and nothing had ever been sweeter. Restless, she twisted with and against him, getting her hands to his hips. They broke the kiss wetly and abruptly. Petra stretched the band of Billy’s underwear away from his abdomen, then yanked them and his jeans downward. He leaned back―just his upper body.

“You want me, take me,” she said. “I want you to.”

Billy nodded rapidly and Petra found herself nodding back. She was turning in his arms as he quickly lifted her heinous skirt again. His hand came around, feeling her waist, then dove down, seeking her from the front as his hot erection prodded from behind. With less reluctance than she would’ve had not high on lust, Petra slapped her hands to the well-tagged wall and tilted her hips back. Billy quickly drove in. He was blunt and spontaneous and he started to say something, but Petra reached back and covered his mouth. No apologies necessary for giving her this. She returned her hand to the wall as he dragged back out.

“Oh, Jesus, Petra.”

His breathing sounded shivery. He bucked forward and she stretched into the feeling. Finally, Billy gave up on keeping her dress out of the way and grasped her hips with both hands.

“Please,” whipped out of her mouth before she could press it into her arm. Arms were useful tools for self-defence, physical or verbal, but she didn’t want the first kind and the second had just failed her.

Billy thrust harder and Petra’s eyelids closed briefly as her eyes rolled back. On the next forward swing of his hips, she met him in time and they released an obscene duet of pleased moans. God, they’d circled each other for so long―him: bouncing up and down, her: still and largely silent. Now, Petra considered that she shouldn’t think so harshly about his neglect to anticipate attacks. She’d been blind here. Blind, blind, blind.

She struggled to keep her eyes open. Her nerves were catching and sparking like exposed wiring, hands tensing into fists before she flattened her palms back out on the wall. Billy was in the grips of his desire. He had one arm wrapped firmly around her waist, holding her body to his, and the other making the descent to her clit, which was not so easy now that he was pounding into her, shaking them both. Petra felt his hip bones when he thrust inside and held himself there for a long second. It seemed like he was pushing as hard as he could, feeling all of her, every time. Her spine felt like he’d scratched a match straight down the length.

There was a desperate noise, a needy whimper, and Petra couldn’t place it.

“I know,” Billy told the sound. “I know, I know.” His voice cracked into a groan of craving that made her squeeze around him greedily. “I can’t… much longer.”

Petra dropped one palm from the wall and fumbled for his hand, settling his fingers optimally on her clit. He scrubbed violently and she came in seconds. Yes, he listened, and no, he did not fuck around. The orgasm left her reeling and quaking. She couldn’t tell if she was hot or cold, up or down. Billy kept stroking at her until she moved his hand away. Somehow, their fingers stayed tangled together as he tucked this arm around her too, hugging her from behind. The texture of the cast didn’t matter so much now.

“No condom, I’m guessing,” Petra said as dryly as she could while he continued to do things to her that made her jump and angle her hips for more.

“When am I ever ready for anything?” he panted, laughter just underneath.

She thought quickly as Billy’s thrusts grew shallow.

“On the dress,” she said.

“Don’t mind if I do.”

He pulled out and Petra turned quickly to face him, smoothing the skirt down for a change, to ensure it received the most coverage possible. She was less prepared for watching Billy jerk himself off, and apparently, so was Billy, his eyes a little wild and afraid. Petra slowly looked him up and down, then reached out and slid his t-shirt up his stomach to see more skin. He didn’t stop stroking.

“You look good,” she said, holding his gaze carefully.

Billy’s eyes clamped shut and his forehead crumpled. Petra guided his free hand up to her breast; he gripped. She felt a wave of flush go over her skin as he released in a jagged jet along the skirt. The top was undone anyway, so Petra wriggled out of the rest of it while Billy leaned into her, then hauled him close. She was naked, apart from her shoes.

While her hands climbed up his back under his t-shirt, Billy hiked his pants up and delicately tucked himself back in. Then he fell against her the last tiny bit of the way, his weight pushing her to the wall. Petra laughed and stroked the back of his mohawk flat, then clawed it back the other way with her fingers.

“How long are you gonna let me hold you?” he asked after a minute, speaking into her hair.

Petra turned her face to his shoulder and smiled.

“Until I think of some other way to cover myself. I’m not putting that dress back on.”

“Oh!” He let go of her. “Hang on.”

With a twitchy motion, Billy shrugged out of his black button-down shirt. It got hung up on his cast, so he rotated his arm while tugging the sleeve; Petra stood there, arms crossed over her chest. Shyly, he extended the shirt to her and she slipped into it, noticing him completely turn his head to look away. She buttoned it up. The fact that the shirt would cover her ass solved part of the problem.

Billy’s gaze squiggled over her quickly when he faced her again. His mouth tensed, probably trying to contain a smile. With a steady hand, Petra touched his cheek and lightly kissed his lips.

“I know how we get you out of here,” Billy said, his smile appearing slowly, at the same speed his eyes opened as she drew back.

He reached an arm back and hooked the neck of his t-shirt from behind, tugging it awkwardly over his head. When he got his elbows trapped and started to flail, Petra assisted his escape.

“How is this helping?” she checked, unconsciously clutching his shirt to her stomach.

“Streaking, Pet!”

“Oh god,” she groaned, but as she thought about it, she knew it would work. Mr. ‘I Climb Over Tables Instead of Walking Around Them’ was good at attracting attention.

She gave a half-nod, but Billy was already yanking his pants down, too committed to his harebrained plan to think about her agreeing or not. He caught her looking as he lowered his underwear.

“Next time,” he informed her, “we’re doing my favourite position.”

Petra was still trying to deaden the look in her eyes and keep her gaze over his left shoulder. She sighed heavily for effect.

“Fine. What is it?”

He grinned.


Startling herself, Petra let a laugh burst out and shoved Billy by the shoulder, almost toppling him as he idiotically attempted to remove his clothes without taking his shoes off. (Not that she blamed him for keeping protective footwear in place. Fucking Rats’ Nest.)

“You’re not serious,” she shot back.

“You’ll find out.” He waggled his eyebrows at her and straightened up. “Uh, can you hang onto these for me?”

She accepted the rest of his clothes, wadded into a sloppy ball.

“The panties, uh…” Billy floundered.

“You’ll get them back with everything else,” Petra promised. What the hell.

He grinned again.

“Also, next time, condoms.”

She raised an eyebrow. Not at his second use of ‘next time’ though. For Petra, that had been decided before she’d hit the first orgasm. Maybe even before they’d gotten up to the roof.

“You’re not actually going to buy them, are you?”

Billy scoffed, swinging his arms, naked apart from his sneakers, already almost in motion.

“What do you take me for? Some capitalist dupe? I’ll steal ‘em like a good boy.”

“What a relief,” she said.

“What is?”

“Just, you.”

He blushed.

“’K, if we ever wanna do this again, I gotta run.” Billy sprang forward and kissed her on the cheek. “Love you, Petra. Gimme a head start.”

She stood in the Rats’ Nest doorway, holding Billy’s clothes, and watched his bare ass as he bolted for the stairway. He flung the door open and pounded away down the stairs screeching ‘London Calling’ at the top of his lungs.

Glancing at the dress she’d intentionally walked across on her way out, Petra smiled wickedly at the thought that she could come back up here and burn it. Maybe bring Billy.

Quietly, she hopped the box of broken bottles and ran to the stairs, heading for her dorm. Billy’s voice was echoing everywhere. She wondered what trouble she was going to have to help him fight his way out of when Master Lin picked his punishment. Moron just had to be a hero.