Kiddo starred forward with red eyes, her lashes clumped by tears. Her anger remained in hurried steps past sleeping bums and drunken hipsters, her hands balled into fists with the gloves ripped at the seams.
Three blocks later she slowed and leaned against a store window of manikins in a winter setting. She took a liberal drag from a cig, the smoke curling from her lips upon gentle exhale. Kiddo stared at her gloves and tossed them into a trashcan.
The walk home resumed, hands in her coat-pockets, and head inclined.
* * *
The monorail stood a landmark of I-beams and art deco sculptures holding the tracks above the street. She ascended the winding stairs to the platform, the ground still wet under lamplight. It was not long before the bullet train arrived for Kiddo to board. The interior was well maintained with carpet floors, thick seats, and televisions in the headrests that played advertisements on a loop.
She held onto the railing by the exit, staring out to the town below crossed in greens, blues, and purples. In the distance stood the darkly Space Needle, dwarfed by the gargantuan spires in the city like a stump in a forest of giants.
Kiddo lingered on the landscape and looked to the side at a bum in a seat at the end of the car. He clenched onto a blanket over his many layers as he slept.
From a few cars down came two cops in black and blue; one human and the other Artificial. They wore helmets with transparent visors over their eyes and motorcycle jackets with armor in the chest, back, and shoulders. On their belts were combi-pistols and telescopic batons.
Kiddo watched them approach the bum. He looked up, the blanket and hoods revealing a face of synthetic skin and a hollow eye socket. The cops stood the bum up and walked to the exit. She made room, stepping to the side. Kiddo eyed the Artificial. He was large, built for brawling, the iron on his hip useless compared to his fists. When he turned she met his gaze, his featureless mouth forming a smile.
‘Evening, ma’am,’ he said, his voice laced with static.
When the train stopped, the cops walked the bum out before the doors shut.
* * *
Cicero lay on his back with Kiddo straddling Tak to the side. Her face was red, the pink strands of her hair disheveled as she held her razor to his neck. His hands were up and eyes wide as she rocked back and forth.
‘Give me a reason,’ she said through her teeth. ‘Give me a reason why I shouldn’t open your arteries, chertovski suka!’
* * *
Kiddo leaned to the side of the elevator console as she was taken up. It stopped with a lurch, bringing her to a dingy hall with half-working florescent lights. From her pant’s pockets she pulled a key and approached a door. She was quiet upon opening and closing, making it three steps in before a voice stopped her.
‘I didn’t mean to wake you.’
‘It’s okay,’ a lamp on the night stand turned on, revealing a bed with brass frames in the middle of a studio apartment, ‘I was waiting for you.’
Enzo was an Artificial with blue skin so dark he was black. His hair was blonde, the color of his eyes, and physically thin with pronounced muscles.
Kiddo took off her hat as she approached.
‘You didn’t have to; you have work.’
‘So do you.’
She perched her hat on the frame-post. Enzo got on his knees and embraced her with a long kiss.
‘I missed you,’ she said, her hold on him tight as she rubbed her cheek to his.
Enzo kissed her neck as he moved down, unbuttoning her coat to a spandex undershirt beneath. At her waist he pushed up the shirt and tongued her navel. Kiddo shut her eyes, holding his shaggy hair.
* * *
‘You’re job,’ said Takashi, ‘the money… you’re life? I’m keeping the Date from making this town look like Vancouver. Wanna lose any of that, Pink?’
‘You think I care about a thick wallet? You think I care if I’m alive? You people invest too much in shit that means nothing. You know what really matters in my book?’ He shook his head and Kiddo came closer. ‘A body-count.’
* * *
‘You need a bath,’ said Enzo between licks.
Kiddo waited to speak so he would not stop too soon.
‘It’s late… need to go to bed.’
‘It’s never too late for a bath.’ Enzo slipped out of bed and carried her. Some feet away he put her down and switched on the lamp over the tub. It was freestanding with a stool to the side and a sink against the wall.
Kiddo undressed, her undershirt sleeveless, while Enzo drew her water. Her prosthetics replaced both arms and shoulders with the rest of them covered by the shirt. As the tub filled he sat her on the stool and pulled off her boots.
‘What happened to your gloves?’
‘Oh. I punched this guy a little too hard and,’ she sat up to he could take her pants, ‘and they ripped.’
He moved down between her legs.
‘Aw, I’m sorry.’
Enzo parted the crotch of her panties and Kiddo pulled him closer.
* * *
‘I know how bad you wanna kill me, but you need to understand that clipping Cici prevented the deaths of everyone. It’s better than war—‘
‘You know what honor means? It’s not sneaking around your friends making shit deals; it’s challenging your enemy head-on in bloodshed. The Date have none if they use stoolies like you. What makes you think I’m going to work for them?’
‘You’ll work for me; don’t even have to see ‘em. You don’t have to see me neither. I’ll text you jobs and have a courier bring you cash. It can work, I promise.’
Her grip tightened on the razor, her face and eyes growing redder.
* * *
Kiddo’s breath was a steady rhythm as she sat naked on the stool, Enzo kneeling to the side petting her back. Her prosthetics were connected to her torso by clamps above her breasts, along her collar bones, and over her shoulder blades.
She gulped and nodded, squeezing her eyes shut.
Enzo held the bicep and pressed a button up in the armpit. Kiddo tensed, her lips curling as the clamps turned up and the arm went limp. He pulled, nervlink wires snaking from where her flesh-arm used to be. They came out, retracting into the arm, and Kiddo relaxed, breathing a sigh or relief. Enzo carried the limb to his workbench in the corner and laid it among a mess of tools before coming back.
‘Are you okay?’
She shivered and Enzo held her.
‘Fuck, that hurts.’
‘Old tech malarkey. These days you don’t need a hardwire… Sorry.’
‘Don’t worry about me.‘
‘But I want to.’ He kissed her. ‘Ready for the next?’
* * *
Kiddo paced at the front of the desk, holding the razor in a shaking hand as Takashi got on his feet, straightening his suit and correcting the chair.
‘It’s gonna get better—‘
‘Shut the fuck up and put him where he belongs.’
He bent down to Cicero and dragged him into the seat. She came round, sheathing her razor. Takashi kept his distance as she placed his hands in his lap and squared his head. She stared at him then eyes Takashi as tears poured down her cheeks.
‘If I see you in his chair again, I’m taking your fucking head.’
* * *
Kiddo laid in the tub with Enzo on the edge washing her leg.
‘I wish I could touch you;’ she said, ‘feel you with real hands.’
‘And I always say, you don’t need hands to feel.’ He traced his finger on the sole of her foot and she giggled. Enzo set her leg down, running his fingers up her slippery skin, and coming round behind.
‘I wanna show you something.’
He walked to the bench and returned with a tablet, swiping through the screens to a column of photos. He touched one and it enlarged with a profile to the side. He knelt behind Kiddo and held the tablet in front of her.
‘He’s 5.11”, brown hair, and blue eyes, but not as nice as yours. The rest of him looks acceptable for a pretty decent price. What do you think?’
She read a list of dominant/recessive genes.
‘We should meet him to make sure he’s not squirrely; that gets passed onto kids.’
‘…I wish he looked more like you.’
‘If only humans were mass-produced.’
‘We are. It’s called, unprotected sex.’
She angled her head and kissed him from behind. He reached to grip her breast. Kiddo stopped to catch her breath as bad news came to mind.
Enzo paused and held her in an embrace.
‘Oh, geez… I’m sorry babe. How’d it happen?’
‘Iron to the head.’
‘Did you find the guy?’
‘…I got him. Tak’s taking over the business.’
‘When’s the funeral?’
‘I don’t know. We’ll work it out tomorrow.’
‘Anything I can do?’
She sniveled and looked at him.
‘Take me to bed.’
* * *
Kiddo wore a towel in Enzo’s arms. The lights were off, but the one by the bed.
‘I need to adjust the servos in your fingers; they seized up over compensating.’
‘Can it wait for tomorrow?’
‘I have work, but I can stay in bed for a little bit. How long do you want me?’
As he came to the bedside, Kiddo brought her legs around, the towel falling off, and held onto Enzo between her thighs. Face to face she made a toothy grin.
‘Till I pass out.’
‘Not for you,’ she said before biting down on his shoulder.
Enzo squeezed her rear. He turned and fell back onto the bed, pulling Kiddo’s damp hair. She moaned and brought his mouth to her breast.