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Secrets and Other Confidence Games

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"You teach me your secrets and I will teach you the secret ways of my people to make a man fall in love with you," Dureena said - Galen scoffed, as she had expected, but there was a moment's glimmer of interest in his eyes, too, the eyes of a man who is entirely aware that he is being conned and yet will still buy what you're selling, because he wants to believe otherwise.

"What need would I have of such a thing?"

Dureena smiled and cocked her head. "So you're not interested?"

Galen eyed her warily - a mouse smelling the cheese, seeing the cheese. Sensing the trap. "I didn't say that. Still, all the secrets of the technomages in exchange for some barbarian seduction rituals? Hardly a fair exchange. No offense intended, of course."

"I'm sure the technomages have some very civilized, very advanced seduction rituals of their own," Dureena said, her tone soothing. Galen scowled; she smirked. "Fourteen words to make someone fall in love with you forever, wasn't it?"

"Yes. Quite. I hear Matthew's been talking about me behind my back." Galen looked half-annoyed and half-pleased. In the end, Dureena decided, he was just as much of a man as any other male on the crew. A bit smarter, perhaps, sometimes.

"I hear a lot of things, Galen," Dureena said. "Things about you. Things about Gideon."

"What sort of things?" Galen asked, then looked like he wished he'd kept quiet.

"Oh, just things," Dureena said, dismissively. Whet their appetite, but don't give them an actual taste unless you absolutely have to - that was the way to go. "So. Do we have a deal?"

"I think ... not," Galen said. "If you'd heard just a little bit more, you might even know why." He smiled. "Good try, though. Nice sales pitch. Well, goodbye."

"Wait." Galen wasn't - well, he implied he was, but there was no way he could - not without anyone knowing about it, talking about it. The 'Excalibur' wasn't that big. "Are you saying - ?"

"A gentleman, and so on," Galen said.

Dureena stared at him. Galen offered her a small shrug, a smaller smile.

And then he was gone, leaving Dureena to say: "I don't believe you," to an empty corridor.