Music Lover's Alert: "Beekeeper's Daughter " by The All-American Rejects
Chapter 4 Dirty Laundry
Early the next morning, Sean gathered up his bed sheets and toted them down to the laundry room in the basement of the facility. When he got there, he found Penguin sitting on a folding chair beside one of the washing machines filing her nails with a pink emery board. Without saying hello, Sean swiftly approached an empty washing machine and stuffed the sheets inside.
"Who was it?" the bottle blonde asked casually without looking up from her nails.
"Excuse me?" Sean asked, playing dumb.
"You definitely did something with a woman last night. I can smell her a mile away," Penguin replied. This time, she looked up at him with her penetrating hazel eyes.
"How do you know I'm not washing these for a friend?" Sean said, crossing his arms.
Penguin put down the emery board, tossed her long bleached blond hair, and stood up slowly. She approached Sean like a cat stalking its prey. Sean took a few steps backwards, but he knew that running would only make things worse. Penguin stopped with her nose half a centimeter from his face. "What did you do, take the sheets off the bed with your teeth?"
Sean gulped. "Is there anything I can say that will convince you to keep this quiet?"
"I don't think so, but there is something you can do," Katie replied with lust dripping from her voice.
"I… I thought that you weren't into men."
Penguin's arms snaked their way around his hard abdomen, and she drew her lips close to his left ear. "Don't be silly! I'm just more into women because they do it better. However, it's obvious to me that you know how to please a woman, and I want you to please me next. Meet me in my room tonight, and I'll keep my mouth shut." Penguin extended her tongue and licked Sean's lower jar from left to right. A buzzer sounded behind her, indicating that her laundry was done.
Penguin drew herself away from Sean. Then, as if nothing had happened, she picked up her laundry basket and balanced it on her hip. She casually opened the washing machine, loaded everything into her basket, and walked out of the room swaying to some tune that Sean could not hear.
Sean blinked and stared at the empty door frame. He wondered why the girls at Rakitan Industries were suddenly so horny. Was there something in the water? Was it something in the air? Perhaps it was simply the fact that everyone in the community had been deprived of intimacy for so long that they simply could not take it anymore.
Sean gave up trying to solve the mystery for a while and did some one arm push-ups and other exercises while he waited for his laundry to finish. Then, he took out his laundry and brought it back to his room to dry. He stretched the sheets over the metal railing of his bed and opened his window so that they would be dry by evening.
Although Rakitan Industries had a few electric dryers, the residents were discouraged from using them in order to save the company money. Rakitan Industries was not exactly a legitimate business, so Tulip and his information team had to obtain money through hacking large corporate bank accounts. The more money Rakitan Industries stole, the more likely someone would launch an investigation into why the money had disappeared. Thus, the information team picked accounts belonging to people who had embezzled money in one form or other. Money that already had questionable origins was unlikely to be reported as stolen.
Sean finished setting up his laundry to dry and headed to the action room where he found his team already doing warm-up exercises. His eyes lingered for a moment on Tam as she stretched her long, lean limbs. She did not seem the least bit exhausted by last night's activities.
"OK team. Today we're going to start with some fencing. I have decided to randomize your partners today by assigning you all duel monsters cards." Sean took his deck out of a side pocket in his cargo pants and shuffled it.
Without even being asked, the twenty-odd members of his team lined up in an orderly fashion in front of him and accepted the cards that Sean distributed among them.
"Take a good look at your card, then hand it back to me." Sean chose a card for himself, and then collected the others. He shuffled them twice, and then drew two off the top of the pile. "Swords of Revealing Light and United Resistance," he announced. Tam and a black man with huge muscles named Pepper stepped forward. Sean sighed inwardly with relief. He did not know if he could function normally if he had to spar against the beautiful natural blonde.
Tam and Pepper grabbed some fencing equipment and went off to begin practice while Sean drew two more cards and read the names out loud. Pepper fixed an extra large plastron over his chest and said, "Don't you think it's kinda strange that he's using those old cards to match us up instead of pairing us by skill level like he normally does?"
Tam shrugged and flashed a little smile at him before she put a mask over her face. "I think it's a rather refreshing change, actually. I'm tired of having my ass whooped by him all the time." Tam raised her foil and cried, "en garde!"
With a feeble attempt at defending himself, Pepper succumbed to her superior agility. "That's… easy for you to say," he panted. Pepper was accustomed to dueling his white heteropaternal twin Salt who, although he had no other physical features in common with Pepper, had the same muscular frame of a champion bodybuilder.
"Think of this a chance to improve. I'll figure out what you are doing wrong and give you some pointers," Tam offered.
After about three hours of grueling practice, the action team members broke for lunch. They went to the dining hall where all the other members of Rakitan Industries joined them. Sean and his team heaped their plates full of food and went to mingle with the others.
Sean took a seat beside Joan and said, "Have you noticed that some people are getting a little… restless?"
Joan shrugged and took a sip of water. "Of course everyone is restless. We've been preparing to strike a blow against the empire for years, and we're just now pulling everything together."
"I mean…" Sean lowered his voice, "The anti-dating policy. People are starting to… you know."
"Could you please be more specific? Who? What have they done?" Joan asked.
"Well, it's not anything big yet. I just think you should relax the policy before it becomes a big deal and people go nuts," Sean understated.
Joan shook her head. Her long auburn curls swayed somberly around her face as she remembered her own past relationship. "No way. It's a slippery slope. People will be too distracted to handle the problem at hand."
"I was. I just didn't let it show. I should have listened to you from the start. Now I'm just asking you to take your own advice."
"But that's not even what I was saying in the first place."
"What exactly were you saying?"
"I was saying that you would be better off with me than with that lying asshole who left you."
Joan gazed into his chocolate brown eyes and saw how much he really meant what he said. She was tempted to kiss him and run her hands over his firm body, but she refused to give into her desires. She had put the rule in place for a reason, and she did not want to be the first one to break it. To the best of her knowledge, nobody in the facility had disobeyed her orders. "I'm flattered Sean, but I've learned from my mistakes. I'm not going to let anyone else make the same mistake I made."
Sean let out a short huff of frustration. "Not every relationship is doomed to end the way yours did."
Joan stared into the distance, remembering a time when she thought she would marry the man of her dreams. That had never happened. Instead, he had impregnated her and drifted out of her life when the baby was stillborn. However, Sean had a point. Many of the residents of Rakitan Industries had parents who were still together. Tam's parents, Sean's parents, and all three of Salt and Pepper's parents were still together. Still, Joan felt as if a knife was ripping through her soul every time she imagined seeing people happy together. "I'll think about it. You can go now," she said softly.
Sean nodded, gave her a squeeze on the shoulder, and left her to finish her meal in peace.
Closing Note: So, still no guesses yet. Well, here's a hint: the vows that Seto and Serenity "forgot" were prominently featured in the popular 1996 movie Independence Day. Not everybody says them, but it is important to make a conscious choice whether or not to say them.