~ Past Is Present ~
by Zee

Top 25: Aug. 05, 2002
Hey all this is the part where I do the disclaimer so hold on tight till I get to the good stuff.

1). This is a piece of original/uber fiction.

2). This here be a love story (nothing too graphic) featuring two women. If that bothers you don't go wasting your time or mine by reading any farther. However, if you continue to read and it upsets you I don't want to hear about it.

3). Violence. Um, yep. There will be some and some references to child abuse. I like to think it all works as part of the story and none of it is over the top.

4). Those who are not 18 should not read this. Why? Dunno, probably protecting them from knowing about stuff there already know about.

5). To J, Bri, and Ar thank you all without you the story would never have gotten out of my head. You folks are the best.

6). Let's see anything else ... in order to ride the ride you must be this tall, have no heart problems and pregnant women should consult a doctor. Please keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times and enjoy.

Okay this is my first writing endeavor so please, please with a cherry on top, give me feedback. At zeeamy@gmail.com Thanks.

Without further ado on with the show -

Past Is Present
By Zee
copyright 2002

Part 1

Amanda stared at herself in the full-length mirror. She guessed she was dressed all right, but then again she wasn't really sure what one wore to a strip club. She sighed as she saw her biology and anatomy books spread out over her full sized bed. She really should be studying, but somehow her so-called friends had finally convinced her to "loosen up" and go out with them. She huffed, feeling annoyed, then turned back to the mirror. Hmmm... she didn't look half-bad. Long legs were encased in snug black jeans, a long sleeved blue silk shirt was unbuttoned enough to tease with a glimpse of full rounded flesh, and her long dark hair was loose, flowing down around her shoulders in inky midnight colored waves.

The doorbell rang, cutting off her self-observation. Opening the door, she found a smirking Heidi and Sarah. She motioned them inside.

"So girlfriend, you ready for your big night out?" asked Heidi as she sat down on the couch. Sarah sat on her lap, giving her a quick kiss.

Amanda rolled her eyes, "Could you guys stop being so cute?"

"Nah," Sarah said kissing Heidi again.

"So, you going to answer me? You ready?" asked Heidi.

"How did I let you guys talk me into this? I have a bio test on Monday. I should be studying."

Heidi shrugged, "So, you'll study tomorrow! My God, girl, you need to get out, date, dare I say it - get laid." Heidi said the last part in a stage whisper.

"Get laid! Who's getting some and why was I not informed sooner?" asked Sammy, walking through the door.

"Your roomy -- that's who! She needs to get some. She hasn't done anything but study, study, and then study some more since Toni dumped her."

"Heidi!" Amanda squeaked out.

"She's got a point A-girl. Toni and you broke up, what six months ago, and all you do is school, school, and school. You need to loosen up," Sammy said.

Amanda glared at her roommate, "You know, you can move out anytime."

Sammy just chuckled, "Save it tall, dark and dorky. Okay girls. All I have to do is change and then we're off to the Shady Lady."

Amanda tried really hard to act pissed off at them, but gave up. She grabbed her coat and sat across from Sarah and Heidi. Heidi was the taller of the two at 5'8" with short spiky blonde hair and blue eyes; she wore blue jeans and a white t-shirt. Sarah was shorter with long curly brown hair and blue eyes; she was wearing a simple flowing blue dress and sandals. It was kind of funny. Sarah might have looked the more feminine of the two, but she really wasn't. She worked as a mechanic at her father's shop, and was often driving Heidi nuts playing miss fix-it around the house. Heidi worked at a florist shop downtown and was one of the gentlest, kindest people Amanda had ever met. Those two had been so good for her. They had been there as she struggled with defining her sexuality, answered all her questions no matter how embarrassed or flustered she got. They had also been there for her through the whole Toni fiasco, and she had met her current roommate, Sammy, through them.

Sammy was a trip; life was not dull with the spitfire around. The girl stood 5' 4" with bright red hair and green eyes. Sammy had energy to burn, and being a poli-sci major with a minor in journalism, the girl was always putting her nose where it didn't belong; nothing was taboo. Amanda had already gone down and bailed her out of jail twice; once for protesting topless, and another for setting all the animals free from the science labs.

From the back of the house, Sammy's voice yelled out "should I go butch or femme tonight?"




"The femmes have it."

Shaking her head, Amanda turned and looked at Heidi and Sarah, "So tell me about the Shady Lady."

Heidi grinned; "Oh, it's not a bad place. This woman Dee owns it; it's pretty nice as far as exotic dancing clubs go, and since she's a lesbian, it's really gay friendly."

"I feel kind of weird doing this." Amanda said, fidgeting in her seat.

Sarah giggled, "Don't worry hon. We won't let any of the girls play too rough with ya."

"We're just going for a little bit, then we'll head down to the Night Creature to dance." Heidi patted her knee then yelled out at Sammy, "Hey short stuff what's taking so long!"

Sammy emerged wearing a tight black dress. "Hey I have to look good, my bouncer might be working tonight."

Amanda's eyes widened, "My, that certainly highlights your jiggly bits."

Sammy strutted around.

"What bouncer?"

Sammy sighed and mock fanned herself, "My bouncer is the cutest thing! My goodness, the body on that girl and, well, she has a tattoo, and you all know how hot and bothered I get over tattoos."

"It's not the tattoo, Sammy. You have a thing for bad girls." Amanda stated.

"Whatever," Sammy said with a sniff.

"Okay girls, let's go force fun down Amanda's throat." Sarah said, helping Heidi up off the couch.

- - - - - -

Cameron brushed shaggy bangs out of her eyes, then bent down and picked up a keg of light beer that Jason needed from the back. Shoulder and back muscles bulged, coming into sharp relief in the bright light of the backroom. Exiting the room, she settled her weight on her left leg then lifted her right till her heel caught the light switch and flicked it off. Heading back to the bar, she yelled at people to get out of her way.

"Hey hot stuff. Look at you being all butch and shit."

"Shove it Mario." She said with a growl.

"My, your panties are in a twist."

Cameron rolled her eyes. God, he was such a bitchy man. Why women swooned over the dancer surprised her. If they only knew how fruity he was.

Setting the keg down, she looked up to see the olive-skinned man watching her. "Shouldn't you be getting ready or something?"

"You know hot stuff, if you got rid of that nasty attitude of yours, we could find you a girl like that." He snapped his fingers for emphasis.

"Yes, Mario, but you love my attitude." She said with a purr, approaching the stunned man.

Hell, one did not work around dancers and not pick up a thing or two.

Before he knew it, two leather-clad legs were straddling him. Running her hands up and down his chest, she purred "Oh Mario! If you only had the right parts." Then she licked his nose.

The watching employees looked on and laughed.

"All right Cameron, leave the poor boy alone before his package crawls up into his chest," cried out a craggy voice.

"Awww Dee."

"Don't "Dee" me. Women and men pay good money to see that boy's endowments."

Laughing, Cameron scooted off.

"Shit, hot stuff, I can't believe you licked my nose."

She shrugged, "It's Cameron, not hot stuff."

"Not from what I hear from the girls in the back."


He giggled

"You know, Mario a man as big as you should not giggle."

He shrugged; "Peter likes my giggle, and that is all that matters."

"Go on, go get ready. I'll be back in a few to check on everyone."

Watching the large muscled man prance off, she turned to Jason. The small Japanese-American man looked up from counting bottles; "I'm good, Cam."

Nodding, she moved to see if Dee needed anything. Cameron moved silently, her posture tense and ready to react. It was one of the things that made her such a good bouncer -- that and her size. Standing 5'6", many people underestimated what a powerhouse she could be.

Dee watched Cameron approach; the girl was actually quite pretty, with shaggy short blonde hair and smoky blue eyes. Cameron wore black leather pants, and a tight black top that showed off the muscles of her arms and shoulders, the swell of her breasts; an odd mixture of strength and femininity. The thing that marred it was the broody scowl the girl wore on her face, but on the rare occasion one caught her with a smile, it was breath taking.

Dee smirked, remembering the skinny, starving kid she had found stealing out of her dumpsters late one night four years ago. Taking the girl home and feeding her was one of the best spontaneous acts she'd ever done. Her partner of eight years, Georgia, had thought her nuts, but the girl had never left. Four years later she was like a daughter to both of them.

"Hey, Dee what are you thinking?"

The older woman grinned, "I was thinking about some skinny street hoodlum I took home four years ago."

Cameron blinked, "Oh" a slight blush crept up her cheeks.

Dee laughed, "We about ready to open?"

"Yep, I just need to check on the dancers."


"You want me working the door?"

"Nah. I want you floating the floor, but be watching the stage. I've been having problems with frat boys trying to manhandle the girls."


The Shady Lady consisted of three pool tables near the entrance, a horseshoe shaped bar on the left wall, four booths on the right wall and a stage surrounded by tables. Out of sight were the dressing room, manager's office, and back storage area.

Cameron leapt on stage and walked past the velvety red curtain. She spotted Karl and Missy leaning against the black painted back wall. Karl was the back stage bouncer. He made sure nobody got backstage to mess with or harass the dancers. He was a huge man, standing 6'3". Built like a brick wall, the man was a walking square; he had no neck and had muscles layered on his muscles. His blonde hair was cut in a severe crew cut, he had hard brown eyes, and a god awful mustache was growing out of his upper lip. Cameron had frequently asked if he was aware of the small furry animal attached to his lip. Karl would just roll his eyes and tell her she wasn't funny. She suspected that he was ex-military, but never asked.

Missy was the backstage manager. She made sure the dancers ran like clockwork: right costumes, right music, right number, all going on at the right time. She was a tall skinny African-American woman with dark ebony skin and short curly hair. Missy was great, she didn't take shit from nobody, not from prima-donna dancers and not even from a cranky Dee.

They looked up from their conversation as Cameron approached.

"Hey, are the kids ready?"

Karl yawned stretching; "Everything is good to go back here. Where you been, short stuff?"

Cameron rolled her eyes, "Ha, Ha. Everyone's short to you, Jolly Green Giant."

Karl looked unimpressed, "Comments from the woman who cracks the exact same joke about my mustache every time she sees me."

Cameron blew him a raspberry and Missy tried to hide her smile.

"If you must know, oh large man with the rodent attached to his upper lip, I was working a couple of shifts over at the Creature."

"How' s the Creature doing?" Missy asked.

"Not too bad. David finally got rid of that cokehead DJ and a couple of the bouncers that were looking the other way. So I was working over there 'til he got some new people hired."

"Suppose Dee told you about the problems we've been having with the college boys?" Karl questioned.

Cameron nodded.

"We ejected two last night. I hope that cools their jets, or at least they take it to that dive the Golden Horseshoe."

"Hopefully." Cameron waved, heading back out front.

As she stepped out on to the stage from behind the curtain, she was hit with a spotlight. Wincing, she held up a hand to her forehead to shield her eyes. A voice came out over the loud speakers. "Ladies and gentlemen the Shady Lady is proud to present Cameron 'the lady-killer' Hayes who will now strut her stuff for you." The voice ended, and bad jazz music started up. She laughed as her co-workers yelled at her to take it off, she performed a little spin and did a bump and grind then jumped off the stage, laughing all the time at the wolf whistles.

- - - - - - - ----

The transformation the club made when the house lights went off and the doors opened was amazing. In full light, the club was polished and clean; however, in the inky half-light, the club became a seedy dive. It was like going from a butterfly to a caterpillar

In the darkness, Cameron moved around, watching the patrons. It was a nice mix of men and women, the men slightly outnumbering the women. The club never really got too rowdy, it had its moments but due to several factors, it never really seemed to have the problems other exotic dancing clubs had. Dee used both male and female dancers, which attracted more women and Dee was openly gay friendly. So, if women wanted to come watch women and men the male dancers, Dee didn't care, but if anyone started shouting slurs or harassing the patrons, she had them ejected on their ass. Cameron figured having more women in the club caused the men to act different than if they were at a regular titty bar. Plus, the gay men who sometimes came were a riot; most of the time they added a real mood of outrageous fun to the club.

Cameron shifted her attention to the front of the stage where there were two tables of young men who looked, for the most part, three sheets to the wind. She looked over and caught Chris's eye and then tracked her gaze back to the young rowdies. Chris nodded and moved closer to the two tables. They were between sets right now, but Meagan and Rachel should be starting their number any minute. Looking around, she noticed the lesbians were all in the back at the pool tables, "Figures," she snorted.

- - - - - - - -

Amanda watched as Heidi racked the balls on the table, Sarah was sitting on a stool smoking, and Sammy was off getting a new round of drinks. Looking up, Heidi asked, "What do you think?"

Amanda bit her lip looking around. "I...um...well, its not what I was expecting at all. I mean, well you know this is nice and I expected ..."

"A shit hole." Sarah replied helpfully.

"Well yes," She paused, "And, there are male dancers," she said with tone of surprise.

Sarah chuckled, slipping off her stool, "Well, Dee's pretty much equal opportunity around here. " Heidi wrapped her long arms around Sarah, nuzzling her neck, breathing in a mixture of her partner and the bar. Heidi grinned; "You want to break, honey?"

"Nah, let Amanda."

"Okay," Heidi responded absently, thrusting the pool stick in Amanda's direction.

Amanda rolled her eyes. She was glad her friends were a happy couple, but sometimes their open displays of affection made her realize how empty her life really was. She grabbed the stick and positioned the cue ball to her liking.

"Hey where is that good-for-nothing roomy of yours with our drinks?" Piped up Heidi.

Amanda shrugged and tried to break again, her hand moving forward just as Sammy emerged squealing, "She's here!"

Amanda's shot skimmed the edge of the triangle of balls, barely moving any of them. Glaring, she looked up.

"Ah. Oops." Sammy said giving a sheepish grin.

"Who's here?" Sarah asked grabbing her beer from Sammy.

"My bouncer, silly. Oh my God, she's wearing these tight leather pants and a tight black top. Oh my god, you can't miss her tattoo."

"Breathe, Sammy girl, breathe." Amanda said with a chuckle.

"Did you get her name?"

"Well no." Sammy looked at Sarah as if she were nuts.

"Oh for crying out loud..." Sarah was cut off by the stage lights coming on, which caused a chain reaction of whistles and cheers, that were in turn drowned out by the music.

Amanda's eyes jumped out of her head as two women came out and began to dance, occasionally coming together to dance or undress each other.

"Oh, my." was the only thing Amanda could croak out.

Heidi, Sammy, and Sarah were busting up watching Amanda's reaction. Amanda noticed her friends, and turned bright red.

- - - - -- -

Cameron was edging closer to the front of the stage. She had been getting a bad feeling as soon as Meagan and Rachel had taken the stage. The young men hadn't calmed down as the set started; instead, they had gotten rowdier. Suddenly, she saw two burly arms reach out grabbing Rachel and yanking the dancer off the stage and onto the table of young men. 'Goddamn!' she thought. Pushing through people, she rushed to the table. Chris was a moment behind and Chuck was coming from the front doors. Cameron jumped into the sea of beer smelling humanity, tossing people out of her way. The stench of alcohol was overwhelming, and idly, she hoped no one lit a match. The air itself might catch on fire.

Yelling out, she told Chris to grab Rachel. The big man reached over her and pulled a stunned Rachel into his arms.

"Goddamn Bitch !" A voice rang out slurred with alcohol.

She easily avoided the punch aimed at her, and shoved her attacker out of the way.

"Hey little girl, why don't you show us your titties,"

All anyone saw was a blur as her hand lashed out, smashing the speaker's nose.

"Fuck, my nose!"

Cameron felt a headache coming on.

- - - ----- - -

"Oh my god, one of the girls fell off the stage." Sammy gasped.

"No she didn't, some lunkhead grabbed her."

"What's going on?" Asked a shorter Sarah.

"I'm not sure," Amanda replied trying to use her height to see.

They all blinked as the house lights came on. Then bodies started pouring towards the front door. Four men staggered on their own and filed out, followed by three very pissed-off looking figures.

The three bouncers yanked and dragged more young men toward the door then started tossing the men out. One man tried to come back in after the blonde woman threw him out.

"FUCKING DYKE!" He roared out swinging punches.

They watched as she caught both of his failing limbs and then head butted him, sending him back outside to the pavement.

"Get out of here, before I call the cops on your sorry ass!" She yelled shutting the door.

"That's her, that's my bouncer." Sammy whispered.

"Damn, girl," Sarah whispered back, "I could use some of that."

"Hey!" Heidi said indignantly.

Amanda studied the young woman's back, the short shaggy blonde hair that was damp with sweat, the muscles that moved like silk under pale skin and a snug t-shirt that did nothing to hide the woman's curves as it met up with black leather pants. "Whoa," She thought, but something was nibbling at the back of her mind. The young woman seemed familiar for some reason. Shaking her head slightly to clear her thoughts, she sucked in a deep breath of surprise as the woman turned around and she was staring into moody blue-gray eyes.

- - - - - - - ----- - - - ---

Cameron grabbed her head, "Fucking shit!" She hissed out between clenched teeth. No more head butting, my god, that hurt. Rubbing her head, she mused that it always looked so cool on TV but, "Ouch!"

She heard a gasp of breath and looked over into piercing blue eyes. The house lights had gone back down, and the dancers had started back up, and still they stood staring. Finally, Amanda croaked out, "Cameron...Cameron Hayes?"

Cameron came back to herself thinking, "oh shit!" Slowly she willed her self -control back and focused on being cool and distant.

Amanda saw the emotions rage in those dark eyes, then suddenly it was like a blind being closed, and Cameron's face became a cold smirk as the blonde haired girl walked over to the pool table that Amanda and her friends were standing around. Stopping, Cameron stared at the four women, her eyes finally resting on Amanda. "Well if it isn't the high and mighty Amanda Walker."

Amanda winced at the cold tone, "Look Cameron. I'm not, I'm not like that..."

Cameron cut her off, "Look I don't care. That was a long time ago and I have work to do. Ladies, enjoy your evening." With that, Cameron walked off.

"What happened just now, and how do you know my Bouncer?" Sammy asked confused.

Amanda just sat down and sipped her beer; she didn't feel so good any more. Sarah and Heidi looked at each other, then at the sick looking Amanda and the fuming Sammy.

"Hey, why don't we get out of here and head on over to the Night Creature?" Amanda just nodded numbly and grabbed her coat.

- - - - - - - -

Cameron sat at the bar nursing a Coke. Moodily, she moved the straw around, swirling the ice. Her head hurt, and surprisingly, so did her heart. She had been fairly certain her heart had stopped working years ago, but damn if it wasn't sitting in her chest, aching. After all these years, Amanda Walker had come back into her life, bringing with her all those things Cameron had tried to forget. She felt Dee slide up to her at the bar and caught the worried look on the older woman's face out of the corner of her eye.

"Hey, kid, you okay?"

She smiled, "Yep, my head hurts though."

"Shouldn't wonder, saw you head butt that guy." The woman barked out with a laugh. "You need an aspirin?"

"That would be great, Dee."

The woman nodded then shouted at Jason to get her an aspirin.

"So, kid, something bothering you?"

Cameron sighed and turned and looked Dee in the eye. Dee saw hurt from old wounds reflected deep in those stormy-sky colored eyes. Never had Dee or her partner, Georgia, asked about Cameron's past. Never once had the girl ever spoken a word about it. Dee slowly reached out a hand, giving Cameron plenty of time to reject the gesture, but the girl never moved. She rested her hand on Cameron's shoulder, giving a comforting squeeze, "Why don't you take off early and go see David at the Creature, and maybe pick up one of those punk rock girls that you're so fond of."

Cameron blushed and squeaked out, "Dee!"

Dee just chuckled. Cameron finished her drink and went in back to get her jacket.

- -- - - - - - --

Much to the irritation of Sammy, Amanda still had yet to speak about how she knew the bouncer from the Shady Lady. 'Cameron. What a lovely name', Sammy sighed, thinking about the bouncer again. Sarah looked over at Amanda as the tall woman nursed her second beer. All around them, the club was packed with life. Techno and House music pounded through speakers, and couples and threesomes were grinding together on the dancer floor, caught up in the hypnotic beat.

"Okay, I want to know what's up with that bouncer chick from the Shady Lady." Heidi blurted out. Amanda just sighed.

" I haven't seen Cameron in around four years, not since I graduated from high school. Well, actually, she didn't show up for graduation. We met when we were sophomores in high school and we hated each other at first sight."

"Really, I find that hard to believe A-girl. You're so sweet everyone loves you." Sammy said, rubbing her friend's arm.

Amanda snorted, "Not then. I was different then. I was an overachiever." She smiled at her friends' muttered comments of, "Not you. An overachiever? Never."

"Alright smartasses, quiet down or I won't finish my tale of woe." Looking around she continued. "As I was saying. I was an overachiever, class president, straight-A student, played on the varsity basketball team, and I was dating a senior. Cameron was a first class slacker. She never showed up for class, smoked dope and was always fighting; she spent more time in detention than anyone. She was so angry at everything. She had a chip the size of Texas on her shoulder." She paused to sip her beer.

"And!" Sammy nearly screamed.

"Well let's just say through a series of events we got to know each other better."

"Like in the biblical sense?" Sarah broke in.

Heidi gave an, I'm sorry smile, and clamped a hand over Sarah's mouth.

"Um, no. We got to be friends. Then, our senior year, I needed an extra class so I took drama and Cameron was in the same class with me. We actually had a blast 'til Mr. Richardson decided our class should actually do something, he decided our class would do a play: Romeo and Juliet."

"Was she Romeo to your Juliet?" Sammy piped in.

"Nooo. Cam was the lighting tech but I was Juliet. So, anyway, Cam was really cool, coming over and helping me learn my lines and all that, but one day I was freaking out about kissing Justin Faustin on stage in front of everybody."

"Wait. Who's Justin?" Heidi asked.

"Is that really important?" Sarah said glaring at Heidi.

"Justin was Romeo."

"Oh, okay."

"Anyways, she told me to quit being stupid, that it wasn't like I hadn't done it before. That ticked me off and we started yelling and fighting then we just stopped. We couldn't have been more than an inch apart and I could feel her breath washing over my face, hot and moist. Then bam! We were kissing."

"Bam?" Questioned Sammy.

"Bam." Amanda confirmed.

Amanda continued, "It was my first kiss with a woman. It was wild and frantic, yet soft and wonderful, all rolled into one big scary overwhelming feeling, and it terrified me. I pushed her off and asked her what the hell she though she was doing."

"Oh Amanda, you didn't?" Cringed Sarah.

"Yeah, I did."

"What happened next?" Sammy asked eagerly.

"We started arguing again, shouting and shoving; next thing I know we're kissing again and I had her shoved up against the wall. Then I freaked out again, calling her a dyke, and yelling for her to get out of my house." Amanda paused, wiping tears out of her eyes.

"Shit, A-girl, that's harsh." Commented Sarah.

"All I can say is 'denial: it ain't just a river in Egypt'." Heidi said giving her two-cents worth.

"Well it was high school, what did I know?" she paused again, then stated, "Cameron stormed out and I haven't seen her again till today."

"That's some story." Sarah nodded in agreement patting her lover's hand.

"Well and that's just the cliff notes version." Amanda replied sipping her beer.

"No wonder she was all cold to you." Commented Sammy, idly looking around.

Then she asked "Think you could introduce me?"

Three voices shouted "Sammy!"

Startled she looked back at her friends.

"I was so mean to her." Amanda stated glumly.

"If it helps any, I know she digs chicks. I've seen her making out with one or two here."

Amanda just stared at the red head.

"What, did I just grow another head or something?"

"You don't really think before you speak, do you?" Heidi said with a glare. Softening her glare, she looked over at Amanda. "You know where to find her now. Maybe you can go and apologize."

"I don't know. She didn't seem that happy about seeing me."

The music shifted, slowing down, and couples took to the dancer floor swaying together. Heidi got all giddy, "Honey I love this song, let's go dance." Giving Sarah no time to respond, the taller woman yanked Sarah off her chair and onto the dance floor.

Amanda and Sammy stared at each other "I'm going to go work my charms on the brunette by the pinball machine."

"Have fun." Amanda turned her attention back to her drink, her mind lost in the past.

Amanda was on her forth beer and well on her way to being befuddled. Occasionally, she would look around for her friends. She caught brief glimpses of Heidi and Sarah on the dance floor.

She stared at her beer. Blinking, she realized she had finished it, 'oh man, no more for me'. Seeing the waitress approach, her resolved wavered, 'well, maybe one more'. Not trusting her mouth to work, she nodded her head when the spiky haired waitress asked if she wanted another. As the girl returned, she fumbled in her pocket for money but stopped as a low voice purred out, "I got it. Keep the change."

Amanda didn't look up as a body sat in the chair next to hers. She recognized that purr, she even remembered when it turned her on. Now it just made her skin crawl.

"Hey, sweetheart, you miss me?"

Amanda continued to stare into her drink, " No, Toni, I haven't missed you. Thanks for the beer, now go away"

"Come on now, is that any way to be." The woman said with a chuckle, resting her arm on the back of Amanda's chair.

"I think it's a perfect way to be."

"Come on, Amanda, I just want to talk to you."

"Why? Your new fuck not verbose enough for you."

"Look, I'm sorry about that. I've been doing a lot of thinking, and letting you go was the worst mistake of my life."

She felt Toni grab her chin, trying to push her head up to meet Toni's eyes. Angrily, she glared up, while Toni just smirked.

"Look, Toni, I'm not on the market."

"Yes you are. You don't do anything but work and school."

Amanda felt a shiver of fear race up her spine; Toni was starting to freak her out.

- - - -- - - - - - -

Cameron came down from David's office and headed for the bar: "Hey Terri, give me a Coke." The bartender just winked and got her drink. Turning she leaned up against the bar, surveying the club. The bass pounded and the lights flashed, cutting through the fog highlighting the dancing people in reds and yellows. She sipped her drink, then almost spit it out as her eyes fell on the woman who had been fuel for many a fantasy, Amanda Walker. The tall dark haired beauty was in conversation with another woman, 'Guess she is a lesbian. Must have been me', she thought bitterly. Looking at the other woman talking to Amanda, Cameron studied her. She was tall as well, with short light-brown curly hair, broad shoulders and a slim waist, she was wearing blue jeans and white button down shirt with the sleeves rolled back to expose powerful forearms. 'Hmmm... must masturbate a lot to get arms like those,' she thought with an evil chuckle.

As the woman shifted to put her arm on the back of Amanda's chair Cameron caught the woman's face, 'Oh shit Toni.' She recognized Toni from the Shady Lady; she had been barred from the club for harassing a couple of the dancers. Looking again, she noticed Amanda's body language. The woman was tense and angry, blue eyes were narrowed. 'God she's beautiful.' Cameron thought, then, realizing where her mind was going, she mentally pounded her head into the bar for thinking those thoughts.

Suddenly, Toni grabbed Amanda. In response Amanda stood up angrily trying to shake Toni off. Cameron saw Jay start toward the couple, but Cameron caught his eye and shook her head. Setting her drink down she approached the table.

- - - - - -

"Look Amanda I want another chance. Remember how good we were together?"

"No, Toni. Now please go away."

"You don't mean that."

"Yes I do." She started to get up, but Toni's hand snaked out, grabbing her wrist.

"Let me go!"

"No, not till you listen to me."

Amanda was really starting to get scared. She frantically looked around for Heidi, Sarah, or Sammy, but they were nowhere in sight. Startling her, she felt a warm arm wrap around her waist from behind, and a female voice ask, "Hey baby is there a problem here?"

Looking down, she found Cameron snuggled up against her side smiling sexily. Amanda's legs almost gave out when she saw that smile, her brain was starting to short circuit, and she croaked out, "No. No problem, Toni was just leaving."

"The hell I am! Who the fuck are you!"

Amanda grew uneasy as Toni's stance became more hostile, but she relaxed as she looked down and saw how unconcerned Cam was acting.

Ignoring Toni, Cameron shifted, moving around to Amanda's front, her head was now resting under Amanda's chin, her face was turned facing Toni. Amanda's head swam, smelling Cameron's shampoo, 'God she smells good. God she feels good.' She was very aware of Cam's body heat soaking through her clothes into her body.

Lazily, Cameron reached out grabbing Toni's hand where it still held firmly to Amanda's wrist. She dug her thumb and index finder into the fleshy webbing between Toni's own thumb and index finger, hitting the nerve. Toni gasped in pain and released.

"Listen, bitch. I don't know who you are but get lost. My girl and I were having a private conversation." Toni hissed out, rubbing her now throbbing hand.

"Ex-girl, Toni, ex-girl. We broke up," Amanda stated happily. To herself she thought 'Jesus what had I been thinking.'

"Oh, you're Toni." Cameron broke in, not missing a beat, "I know all about you Toni, we've had quite the laugh over you, haven't we baby."

Amanda felt a thrill go through her when Cam called her baby. Looking down, she was trapped in blue-gray eyes. 'Lord what did they put in my drink. This can't be real.' She thought dazedly. She managed to get out, "Uh...Yep, big laugh."

"You two are not dating! Amanda's been a fucking nun since we broke up," Toni stated. Amanda shivered at the intimate reference to her life. She got the eerie feeling Toni had been stalking her.

Cameron slowly rubbed Amanda's lower back, sensing the woman's fear. Through touch, she tried to reassure the woman that it was okay. 'What the hell am I doing?' she thought. Somehow, things had gotten out of hand, and she couldn't just sit back and let things take care of themselves. She had to rush in, play some goddamn knight to the woman who had ripped her heart out so many years ago. Oddly, it felt good to be wrapped around Amanda. She felt safe. Shaking her thoughts away, she focused on the angry woman causing a scene; many of the club patrons were now looking at them.

Feeling cheeky, she looked up at Amanda, "When we get home, honey, remind me to discuss your horrible taste in women."

"Umm, right. When we get home. Got it." Amanda was starting to get a glazed look in her eyes.

Toni was seething and confused. She was certain Amanda wasn't seeing anyone; yet, here this woman was, and they were acting like they knew each other very well.

Amanda was certain she had fallen into a parallel universe. Cameron hated her, right? However, the look on Toni's face was priceless. Figuring whatever was going on was a once in a lifetime opportunity, she wrapped her arms around Cam's waist, and leaned her head down and kissed the blonde woman's temple.

Cameron started, at that and gave Amanda a quick glare. Amanda just ignored the glare, pretending for the moment that her best friend had never left.

Cameron turned from glaring at Amanda to Toni. Giving the angry woman a bored look, she asked, "Are you still here?"

That did it! No small bit of a woman was going to treat her like that! Toni snapped, "You're so dead!"

Cameron twisted out of Amanda's hold like cat and she grabbed Toni's rapidly approaching hand, then, using the attacking woman's own momentum against her, swung her around. Cameron placed her forearm into the shoulder joint. Still holding Toni's hand, she pressed her weight into the joint. Toni had no choice but to move away from the pain and quickly found herself immobile over the table.

"Listen up. You're going to apologize to my girl. Then you're going to walk out and never come within ten feet of Amanda Walker again. Got it?"

When the woman didn't respond she added more pressure to the joint.

"Yessss." Toni hissed out in pain, "I got it."

Cameron released the woman.

Toni got up rubbing her shoulder. Not making eye contact, she mumbled, "I'm sorry," then quickly walked toward the exit.

Amanda looked on, stunned. Cameron went over and picked up the chairs that had fallen over and started to walk away.

"Wait!" Amanda shouted

Cameron stopped but didn't turn around.

Amanda found herself speechless. She had dreamed of this moment, this chance to redeem herself. "Cameron I'm sorry," she started speaking to the woman's back, "what happened between us, I was young and confused. I'm sorry. I was mean, cruel, and hurtful; and I'm sorry for the way I acted."

'Please turn around. Please.' She thought.

Cameron's shoulders slumped, and she slowly turned around. She looked into those blue eyes that haunted her dreams and fantasies. She saw sorrow and pain in those eyes and they reminded her of how her own eyes looked. Sighing, she wondered what could she do really? She had always loved Amanda -- maybe not at first, but later, and it had never gone away. After all these years, it was still there.

"Fine, I forgive you." and she started to turn around again.


Cameron looked back questioningly.

"Can I by you a beer?"


Amanda's shoulders slumped in defeat.

"I don't drink, but I'll let you by me a cola."

"I can do that," she said with a shy grin.

- - - -- -

Heidi looked over at Sarah, "They are too cute."

"Hey, you think she'll introduce me." Sammy broke in.

"Can it, Sammy." Sarah said smacking her up side her red head.

"Ow! Jeez."

"Let's leave them alone for a little bit." Heidi said.

"Fine, you guys can help me get the attention of that brunette at the pinball machine."



"You know that's a guy, right?"


- -- - - - -- -

They sat there at the table, life revolving around them. Amanda sipped her water and Cameron her cola, neither one saying anything.



The both started at the same time.

"Now what?" Amanda asked.

"We say goodnight and go our separate ways." Cameron replied wiping her mouth with a napkin. Oddly, she didn't want that to be it but as always, she and Miss Walker revolved in separate circles.

Mustering her courage Amanda said, "No."

"Excuse me?"

"No." Amanda repeated. "I don't want that. I want to see you again."

Cameron felt panic bubble out into her blood stream. "What do you want? You got to say your apologies. Let it go. It was the past. We're not 17 anymore."

"I want to see you again. I want another chance. I want our friendship back."

"You certainly want a lot of things. What if I don't want that?"

"Then why are you sitting here with me?"

"I, uh." Cameron stuttered. She didn't know why, but after a moment of reflection she realized that she did still care, 'Ah fuck me', she thought.

"I think you still care. So I'm going to give you my number. No pressure. When and if you're ready, you'll have my number and you can call me." Shakily she got up to go to the bar to get a pen and something to write on. 'Oh God,' she thought. 'What if she never calls?'

Returning, she handed the napkin with her number on it to a silent bouncer. Cameron took it, her hand slightly shaking and shoved it into her pocket. They stood there for a moment. Finally Amanda said, "Well I guess that's it." There was a sinking feeling in her gut.

As she turned to go, Cameron grabbed her hand, holding it softly, Amanda's eyes shot up, catching Cam's.

"I, you're right, I do still care. I'll call next week."

"You promise."

"I said I would and I will. Go find your friends." With that, she squeezed Amanda's hand and let it go, watching her melt into the crowd.

Part 2

* Flashback warning

* Child abuse warning

Day One ... No call from Cam.

Day Two ... No call.

Day Three ... There was a call but it was a long distance service wondering if they wanted to switch providers.

Day Four ... No call.

Day Seven ... Amanda began to over-rationalize why Cam wasn't calling. Maybe the girl had been hit by a truck and was lying in a hospital somewhere.

Day Nine ... Maybe Space Aliens had come down and snatched Cam.

Day Ten ... Sammy started avoiding her.

Day Twelve ... Sammy was taking bets. Either Amanda was PMSing really bad, or the normally sweet girl had been possessed.

Day Thirteen ... Amanda wondered briefly why Cameron's not calling her was affecting her so badly. It wasn't like they were a couple or anything.

Day Fourteen ...

Heidi and Sarah were in Sammy and Amanda's apartment sitting on a well-worn lime green couch, that looked like a refugee from the 70's. Sammy was lying on the floor, her feet propped up on the matching loveseat. They were watching Amanda streak back and forth tossing cushions, mail, and clothes.

"What's with her?" Sarah whispered loudly to Sammy.

Sammy just shrugged and continued to watch her roomie's frantic actions. "I dunno, she's been like this for two weeks."

"Cameron still hasn't called."

"Got it in one."

"Amanda, I'm sorry Cameron never called. Her loss." Heidi said, trying to comfort Amanda.

Sammy turned over quickly, making silencing motions with her hands. When she realized Heidi wasn't paying attention, she groaned and let her head drop back to the floor.

"Cameron! Who's Cameron? Obviously, I don't know any Cameron because I don't see one here." Amanda responded tersely.

"Whoa. Someone needs to switch to decaf." Sarah said, ruffling Heidi's short blonde hair.

"Has anyone seen my Bio homework?" Amanda yelled out, hands on hips.

Sammy snickered "Did you try your backpack?"

"Oh.... ummm."

Checking her backpack, Amanda found her bio homework stuffed inside her biology book. "See you guys later." She shoved her stuff back inside her pack and tore out the front door.

Sarah looked at Sammy and Heidi.

Sammy shrugged, "Give her a minute, she'll realize it's Saturday."

A moment later, Amanda came back through the front door looking sheepish. "It's, ummm...."

"Saturday. We know."

"Shit A-girl, go talk to her, you know where she works."

"I don't know who you are talking about."

Sammy rolled her eyes turning back to the WNBA game on television. Amanda puttered around the apartment for a while letting out loose, long, heartfelt sighs every five minutes or so.

After repeatedly asking if everything was okay and getting a pitiful, "everything's fine," from Amanda, Sarah was well past her last nerve. Standing up suddenly, she told Heidi to grab Amanda and Sammy to get the car ready.

Sarah and Heidi proceeded to chase a screaming Amanda through the house. Finally they trapped her in the kitchen. With Sarah cursing and threatening to hog-tie Amanda if she didn't co-operate, they wrangled Amanda out of the house. Amanda quickly promised to be good. Sarah watched her partner walk with Amanda towards the door.

"Ummm, honey? Remind me when get home that we should play warlord and peasant girl."

Amanda, slung over Heidi's shoulder, looked up making a face, "Ewwww. Way too much information. Now put me down!"

"Go on honey, take her out to the car. I just need to grab some duct tape."

"Sarah, you wouldn't? Sarah!"

Sarah just grinned evilly.

They put Amanda in the back seat. Sarah sat on one side and Heidi on the other. Sammy sat laughing in the front seat, ignoring her roommate's glare.

"Driver, to the Shady Lady if you don't mind."

"Right-o Guv," Sammy replied in her best cockney accent.

"You guys, no, please. Sammy, stop the car." When nothing happened, she responded, "I hate you guys."

"Zip it, Amanda. Don't make me break out the duct tape." Sarah said with an evil grin, while twirling the tape on her finger.

Amanda made an "Eppp" noise and eyed the tape.

The white Subaru sat in the parking lot with four pairs of eyes staring at the brick front of the Shady Lady.

"Okay A-girl, go ask my bouncer if she's brain damaged."

"Your bouncer?" Heidi reached up and smacked Sammy on the head.

"Owww! Would you people stop smacking me on the head?"

"Only if you stop saying stupid things." Sarah said. "Okay Amanda, go get the girl."

Amanda sat unmoving with her eyes downcast.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Heidi said, wrapping an arm around Amanda's shoulders and giving her a squeeze.

Eyes looked up, two shiny liquid pools of blue that nearly broke Heidi's heart.

"She doesn't want to be got. Or at least not by me." Amanda's voice little more than defeated whispers.

"Come on, stop this feeling sorry for yourself crap. If she doesn't want to see you it's her loss. Come on, lets go see what her lame ass excuse is."

Amanda looked at Sarah, "Really, let's just go home."

Sarah locked her gaze with Heidi's then blurted out, "Grab her."

Heidi pulled Amanda from the car and with Sarah's help pulled the dark-haired woman into the club.

As they entered the club, they squinted, letting their eyes adjust to the new light level.

"We're not open. Come back in three hours." A raspy voice called out.

Standing uncomfortably, the three women shifted from foot to foot.

"Go on." Sarah whispered, nudging Amanda forward.

"I'm looking for Cam, um, Cameron Hayes."

"She ain't here. She has the night off."

"Oh, well in that case." She turned to flee.

"Wait. You Amanda?"

"Err, yes. Yes I am."

"Figured. She said you were a hottie."

Amanda felt a blush rise on her cheeks as the older woman looked her over.

"She said that if I were to see a hot looking woman who was built like an Amazon, with dark hair and blue eyes, named Amanda, I was to either give you her number or send you by the house. She's at the house if you want to run by."

"Great." Heidi said with a grin. She loved it when things worked out.

As they turned to go, the older woman called out.



"Don't you need the address?"

"Oh, yeah."

- - - - - -

"Okay, Amanda, go up to the door and talk to the girl."

They had been sitting in front of the pale yellow house for almost 20 minutes.

"Okay, I'm going. You guys will wait right here, Right?"



"Amanda, you're not moving."

"All right I'm going."

"Amanda don't make me have Heidi drag your ass up there. Besides, what kind of impression would that make on Cameron?" Sarah threatened.

"Fine. Just so you know, I hate you all."

Sarah just blew a raspberry in response.

As she walked up to the front door, Sammy took off in the car. Her mouth hanging open, she plotted their deaths.

"I was wondering how long you were going to sit out here."

Startled, Amanda turned to find an older woman watching her from behind the screen door. The woman looked to be of Hispanic descent with warm chocolate eyes and tan skin. Her brown hair was beginning to turn gray and she had generous laugh lines around her face.

"Oh, hi." She stated weakly. "I'm Amanda, is Cameron here?"

"Yes she is. Come on in."

She stepped into the house. The warm, comforting smell of cinnamon quickly invaded her nose.

"Hmmm. Don't take this the wrong way, but you don't look like one of the girls Cameron normally has over."

"What kind does she have over?" She asked, her curiosity tweaked.

"Well, I don't see any visible markings or piercings."

"Well, my bellybutton."

The older woman waved her off as if that was a very minor thing to some of the things she had seen.

"Your hair color the one you were born with?"


"And polite. I bet you have goals for life."

"Yes ma'am. I want to go into physical therapy."

"Oh, no need to call me ma'am, the name is Georgia."

They shook hands. Amanda found herself liking Georgia. She seemed the total opposite of Dee. Dee had, quite frankly, terrified her, Sarah, and Heidi. If she could intimidate Sarah, the woman had to have the look of death down.

"Well, Amanda, she lives in the basement. Just go on down those steps."

"Thank you."

Georgia watched the tall woman walk down the stairs thinking that Amanda might be a nice change.

- - - - - -

Cam absently wandered around wondering what she was going to do with her day off. Bleary eyed, she absently scratched her ass. She wondered if your ass itching meant anything. Like, if your palm itched, it meant money; if your nose itched it meant, hmm, probably that you had inhaled a bug; and your ass itching probably meant that you should use a moisturizing soap. She grabbed a granola bar. Her blood sugar was getting low; her brain was going off on weird tangents.

It had been two weeks and no sign of Amanda. It was probably for the best. She was so stupid; she should have put the number right in her wallet. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments and she had blown it. She had no way of finding the woman. She had looked up Walker in the phonebook. There were 40 Walkers, no Amanda's, and of the 9 A. Walkers she had called, none of them had been Amanda. It was okay, she thought. She was a big girl and had been doing fine with Amanda out of her life, so if she never heard from the tall dark-haired beauty again, no big loss. Yet, the thought of never seeing Amanda again gave her a twinge of pain. Needing to distract her brain, she decided some violent, shoot 'em up video games were in order.

- - - -- - -

Amanda walked down the worn wooden steps, unsure of what to do. What would she say? How should she act? She worked through some opening lines in her head: 'Cameron, so nice of you to call.' 'Hey, how's it going?' or 'What the hell is the matter with you? When a girl gives you her number she expects a call within a day or two.' Nothing seemed just right.

Her thoughts stopped as she entered the main room. It was a nice size room with small windows near the ceiling, at ground level with the outside world, letting in the afternoon sunlight. The carpet was beige and fake wood paneling covered the walls. There were various posters of rock bands she never heard of: Social Distortion, Fugazi, Sleater-Kinney, and Heavens to Betsy. Facing away from her on an orange flower patterned couch was Cameron. Her blonde hair was sticking up at strange angles and it looked like she was playing a video game on a large television. She grinned at this. Four years later and Cam still like her video games. She wondered if she was still a Scooby Doo freak.

Amanda stood silently, watching Cameron and remembering that in high school the downtown arcade had been Cam's little hideaway. If life got to be too much, the girl would take a handful of quarters, skip class, and go kill things for the rest of the afternoon.

- - - -- - -

Amanda was stalking down the hallways of the school looking for Cam, her blue eyes flashing in anger. She had been sitting in the library for a half-hour now waiting for Cameron to show up so she could tutor the girl for chemistry. At the rate Cam was going she was going to flunk out. Turning the corner she spied Timothy grabbing books out of his locker. Timothy was a long time friend of Cam's; he would know were the girl was.

"Hey Tim."

Tim squeaked, dropping his backpack, and whipped his head around, his long hair whipping around his face. Once he saw Amanda he dropped his gaze not looking her in the eyes, and backed away toward his locker.

"Amanda, what's going on?"

"Tim, have you seen Cam? She's late for our tutoring session."

"I saw her earlier, but not recently. If I see her I'll let her know you're looking for her."

"When did you last see her?"

"I..uhh, well, ummm." He nervously backed away.

She stepped forward until she had him practically sitting in his locker. She smelled the acidic, tangy smell of marijuana.

"Tim, look at me?"

He shook his head, his long stringy blonde hair shielding his face. Tim knew how Amanda felt about drugs. He wasn't stupid.

She reached a hand out and tilted his face up to look at her. She felt her blood pressure rise seeing his glazed and blood shot eyes.

"You two got stoned during lunch." It wasn't a question.

"I, you're, you are jumping to, well, yes." He squeaked out.

"She blew me off to get stoned. I'm going to kill her." She turned her full glare on to Tim. He jumped and tried to find room in his locker.

"Where is she?"

"Amanda, she needs some alone time. She can't, umm, deal."

"Where is she?"

"The arcade at 10th and State, downtown." The scared boy blurted out as fast as he could.

- - - - - -

Amanda entered the brightly lit neon filled building; various machines pinged, blipped, and played crude electronic music at her as she passed them by, scanning the rows for one player in particular.

Unaware, Cameron grinned evilly as she lightly tapped her joystick: back, back, and forward/punch sending the nasty harpoon weapon out into her opponent's chest. She followed with a six-punch combo then went for the special finishing move. She chuckled, "Sorry Vince, maybe next time."

The lanky youth with hazel eyes scowled, "Cam, I know you cheat. Next time, chica, you're going down."

"You and what army, this is my game Vince. "

"You spend too much time here. Shouldn't you be in school?"

"Look who's talking. You're going to be repeating your junior year again."

"I still can't figure out how they let you pass so you could be a senior."

She just shrugged. Hell if she knew.

"You've bled me dry, Cam, see you around."

"See ya. " She said, distracted. She had already moved into the game. She didn't have to think or feel -- just move her character through the opponents.

Amanda rounded the corner bumping into a tall dark haired boy. "Sorry." She mumbled out.

"Hey, don't worry about it chica, you can bump into me any time."

She rolled her eyes. "I don't think my boyfriend would like it if I made a habit of bumping into you."

"He's not here." Vince said stepping closer.

Amanda backed up bumping into a pinball machine behind her. "I, " she spotted the back of Cam's head, "I've found who I was looking for."

Turning his head, he followed her gaze back to Cam, "Oh. Well, if you change your mind, I'm much friendlier than Cam."

She gave a weak smile and walked toward Cameron. By the time she reached Cameron she was seething. She had skipped last period, wasted her study hall when she should have been tutoring Cam, and been hit on by some scary Mexican. "Are you purposely trying to fail your senior year?"

Startled, Cameron screamed and jumped about three feet in the air. She twisted around bringing her hands up to defend herself.

Not noticing her reaction, Amanda started in on Cameron, yelling and gesturing wildly with her hands.

Cameron caught the flash of dark hair and blue-eyes, 'Fucking great. Just what I need right now is Amanda getting on my case.' She thought to herself. She turned back to her game, hoping Amanda would just go away.

Amanda clenched her jaw, "Are you blowing me off again? You haven't heard a word I said."

"Vince isn't Mexican, he's Italian, but I will give you the fact that he's scary." Cam grunted out while trying to do the special move.

Amanda sighed, "Cam what is so bad that you went and smoked up with Tim and then blew off our study session for a video arcade? I thought we were friends."

Cameron felt warning bells going off in her head; she was entering into a sensitive girl chat area. Being friends with Amanda was so hard sometimes. She was such a girl, and from the nice part of town. The rules she was used to just didn't apply. Like, apparently, personal space as Amanda was resting her chin on Cam's shoulder watching the video game. Cameron felt a warm pull in the center of her stomach as she inhaled, breathing in Amanda's perfume, causing her stomach to flutter. She stilled, momentarily caught off guard, and on the screen her character received a bloody end.

"Eww. This is a gross game Cam."

"Sorry. I didn't know you'd be joining me today."

"Don't think I didn't notice that you failed to answer my question.'

Cameron's eyes darted around, trying to think of something to change the subject. "Hey, why aren't you in advanced chem.? Did Amanda Walker, the sweetheart of Polk High School, skip class?"

"Well, I..." Amanda stumbled out, blushing.

"Hey, don't sweat it. I think I'm actually proud of you. You're starting to loosen up a little."

"Oh, you." She said, slapping Cameron on the back playfully. "You're just a bad influence."

Cameron winced and her eyes filled with tears as pain raced through her when Amanda slapped her on the back. What Amanda couldn't see were the large black and purple bruises covering Cameron's back. "Well, that's my purpose in life. To corrupt you." Cameron croaked out.

"Well, you're doing a fine job. Look. I've already started skipping class."

Cameron, getting the pain back under control, turned, wiggling her eyebrows at
Amanda, "Welcome to my world. Let's introduce you to the wonderful world of the State Street Arcade." She grabbed Amanda's hand and lead her to the skee-ball game.

- - - - - - - -

Amanda came back to the present. That had been one of the best days of her life. They had spent hours at the arcade playing games and goofing off. She never had really done that sort of thing before. She remembered that in the back there had been a lovely, old-fashioned carousel with shiny horses, elephants, tigers, and rabbits. She had shyly admitted that she had never ridden on one before. Shocked, Cam insisted that they would go for a ride that very minute. Even though it wasn't operating at the moment, Cam went and talked to the owner. He had come back smiling, saying every child no matter how big should ride on a carousel.

So she had chosen a black stallion standing proudly, and Cam had chosen the snarling tiger next to her. They had giggled and ridden it around and around. She sighed, staring at the back of Cam's head.

Cameron had the strangest sensation that someone was watching her. As she fired, taking out another zombie, she turned. Looking over her left shoulder, she caught sight of a person standing behind her. Startled, she screamed launching the video game controller into the air. "Holy shit, Amanda! You scared the crap out of me!"

Amanda laughed.

They stared at each other, each one unsure how to start. Cameron frantically searched her brain for something to say. She'd only been up for an hour and now she wished she had showered instead of turning on the Playstation. Well, at least she didn't bring that girl home from bar. She thought that would have really been awkward.

"I, well, Georgia told me to come on down. I hope that was okay?" Amanda asked shyly.

"That's fine, no problem here, I mean, that I'm happy, I mean glad. Yep glad you came on down," Cameron babbled nervously. She wished the couch would swallow her at this moment. "Come have a seat." She patted the couch next to her.

Amanda gulped, moved around the couch and sat down. As she looked at Cam, she laughed. Cameron was wearing a white t-shirt with Velma and the word 'Jinkies!' printed boldly on it. "Still a rabid fan of Scooby, I see."

Cam blushed, "I, I, I" she stammered. Damn, where were the killer couches when you needed them. "I sure am." Trying to settle herself, she breathed in and out focusing her thoughts. Okay, Amanda Walker is sitting in my living room, on my couch not more than a foot away. I can act like a human being. Conversation, words, she could do that. "Umm so how you been?" She cringed. Someone shoot her. God, that sounded lame.

Amanda's brow crinkled and her mouth formed a small frown, "How come you never called? I had to go to your work and have some scary woman tell me how to find you." Amanda watched as Cameron's face went blank and the shorter girl got up off the couch. 'Shit', she thought, 'she's going to tell me to leave.' Amanda felt the panic settle into her stomach and she thought she might get sick. Cameron never said a word, she just disappeared down a hallway and then, a minute later, reappeared holding something in her hand. Amanda was momentarily distracted from her panic attack by all the leg being shown off due to the fact Cam was only wearing bright yellow boxer shorts. "My, those are awfully yellow." She remarked, unthinking.

Cameron heard the statement and looked over at Amanda, then noticed where Amanda was looking. She fought the urge to tense the muscles in her thighs. "Amanda, I would have called but, well, here." She thrust a piece of paper at Amanda.

Amanda recognized the cocktail napkin as the one she wrote her number on for Cameron. However, the number was nothing more than a blue smudge.

Cameron looking sheepish. "I was so nervous, I was sweating so bad that it made the ink bleed everywhere."

Amanda started laughing. She had been a pissy, emotional wreck over something totally innocent. Then she felt a silly smile break out on her face. Cam had been nervous. That was good, right? "So you would have called."

"Of course. You know me, Amanda, when I say I'm going to do something, well, I do it."

Amanda started laughing even harder, "Except show up for my chemistry tutoring sessions."

"You remember that. God I hated chem. Actually, I hated school in general."

"I know. Trust me, I think the whole faculty nearly exploded when it looked like you were going to graduate." Amanda frowned. "Look Cam, if you're not showing up to graduate had something to do with... with."

Cameron cut her off. "Amanda, that was the past. We really don't need to go there."

"I just want to know what happened to you."

Cameron looked over at Amanda, "Short version is that I ran off, lived on the street. That's where Dee found me. She took me home and I've been renting out Dee and Georgia's basement and working at the Shady Lady." Looking over, she saw that Amanda wasn't satisfied with that answer. Sighing, she said, "Look. Maybe someday I'll go into it with you in detail, but not today. Okay?"

Amanda still didn't look happy but she nodded. Cam hated those sad puppy dog eyes Amanda had down so well.

"So, what about us?"


"Cam, I've really missed you, I would like to be friends again. I mean, do you, would you like." She trailed off.

Cameron felt her heart sink a little in her chest. She'd just been given the 'just friends' speech. Mentally, she pounded her head into the foot locker/coffee table. What the hell, she hadn't seen the woman in four years. What did she think was going to happen? They'd go right to having hot, wet, monkey sex? She had to stop thinking about fantasies 5 through 21 for a while.

"I'd like that." There, that wasn't so bad.

Amanda released a breath in relief, "I'd like that too."

"Uh, I have the night off. You want to go grab dinner and see a movie or something?"

Amanda smiled, feeling slightly giddy. "That sounds wonderful. Do you think you could give me a ride home when we're done? My friends kind of stranded me."

"No problem. Let me go shower and change, then we can go." Looking around, she handed Amanda the remote. "Feel free to use the TV or look around."

- - - - - - -

Amanda wandered around the basement apartment. There was the main room, then a small nook off to the side with a washer and dryer. Moving down the hallway, she came to a door that was slightly open. Poking her head inside, she saw an unmade bed, a bookshelf, another shelf with a small stereo and clock and more books. As she entered, she saw clothes scattered everywhere on the floor. Examining the bookshelf, her eye caught sight of two pictures in small sliver frames. One was of her and Cam at the county fair. It had been taken two weeks before Cam had disappeared. The other picture was of a young girl with long blonde hair. She was wearing red shorts, a black tank top, and boxing gloves were hanging from her shoulder. Standing next to the girl was a short, stocky man with blonde hair and green eyes. His eyes were warm and he had had a proud smile on his face. It had to be Cam and her father, she guessed. The girl couldn't be more than ten. Amanda realized that Cam never talked about her father or her family at all, even in high school. Thinking back, she realized that she had never been to Cam's house or heard her talk about brothers or sisters. Shaking her head, she was amazed. Had she really been that self-centered? She made a mental note to try and ask Cam about her family.

Cameron closed her eyes and let the hot spray hit her. She tried to organize her thoughts. Oh God, she was going out on a date with Amanda. No, wait, not a date, um... Whatever it was, she was going to spend time with Amanda. She felt her knees go weak and she slumped back against the cool tile. Crap, she was going to have to make conversation; use those word things. Taking a deep breath, she reached for the soap. She could do this. She could be charming and um, charming. She had been out on dates before. Sure, they never made it off the couch, but she could do this. She leaned her forehead on the tile. Why did this feel so different? Because Amanda is important to you, dumbass, she lightly banged her forehead on the tile. She knew what the other girls had wanted from her, and in the morning they were gone. But with Amanda? She had no idea what Amanda wanted, hell she didn't even know what she wanted. She groaned. Now, if she could just get the 'Amanda sex fantasies 5 through 21' out of her head, all would be good.

Amanda moved down the hallway stopping at the closed door. She heard the shower running and guessed that was the bathroom. The image of Cameron naked and wet flashed into her mind and she groaned, leaning on the door. Considering their past, she knew jumping Cam would be the wrong way to approach whatever tenuous connection they had. Cam had shown little to no interest in her in the sexual sense, in all honesty, in any sense.

She moved on down the hallway to the last room. Looking in, she saw a weight bench and a rack with some free weights. Hanging near a corner was a punching bag, and on a shelf was a small radio, jump rope and gloves. Great, now she was getting mental images of a sweating Cam. She turned and raced back to the main room hoping the television would distract her now one-track mind.

Cameron emerged from her room clothed in baggy worn blue jeans and loose fitting black t-shirt.

"Hey, you ready?"


Amanda reached over and shut off the TV, "I'm starved."

Cameron's stomach growled in agreement. Looking down, Cameron blushed, "Guess I am too."

They headed up the stairs.

"Georgia!" Cameron shouted.

"Don't yell in the house. I swear, you and Dee have no manners."

Cameron followed Georgia's voice. She found the woman sitting in the living room reading. Amanda hung back, waiting in the kitchen.

"Hey, can I borrow the jeep? Amanda and I are going to grab something to eat then maybe catch a move."

Georgia looked at the girl and then looked around her. Spying Amanda in the kitchen, she looked back to Cameron. She lowered her voice, "Look here Cameron Maria Hayes."

Cameron felt a sinking sensation at the mention of her full name.

"I want that girl to be dropped off to sleep in her own bed tonight. She's too nice to be one of your one-night stands. You understand me, Hayes?"

Cameron gulped and nodded vigorously as she felt the weight of Georgia's stare.

"Good, I'm glad we understand each other." She said as she gave Cameron the keys to the jeep."

Unknown to both of them, Amanda had excellent hearing and had heard the whole conversation. As they got into the Jeep and buckled in, Amanda turned to Cameron with a glint in her eye. "So, how many one-night stands are we talking here? 10, 20, 36?"

Cameron's jaw hit her lap and she almost took out the mailbox. "I, I, I, you heard that."

Amanda nodded and then began to laugh at the embarrassed flush on Cam's face.

--- - - - - -

Amanda watched as the Jeep pulled out of the driveway and waved as she entered the apartment. She tried to be quiet since all the lights were out and she wasn't sure if Sammy was asleep or out. As she crept toward the kitchen, the living room light switched on, startling Amanda. Freezing, she turned and looked at the three smirking figures.

"Ah." She started, only to be tackled by over enthused Sammy.

Having the advantage of surprise, Sammy quickly straddled Amanda's hips and pinned her arms to the floor.

"Okay, start spilling A-girl."

"I didn't know you cared."

"Don't get cheeky or I'll tickle you."

Amanda tried to twist out of Sammy's grasp only to be tickled.

Laughing, she begged for Sammy to stop.

"As much as Heidi and I are enjoying the floorshow, we want details Amanda."

Amanda lay on the floor gasping, trying to get her breathing under control.

"So, did you guys have sex?'

"Sammy! Somebody smack her upside the head." Amanda cried out.

Sammy ducked her head. When nothing came, she sat up straight only to have Sarah smack her.


Getting up, Amanda sat down on the lime-green couch. "We talked, had dinner, and saw a movie. Then she brought me home, end of story."

"What did you talk about?"


"Where did you eat?"

"This Italian place by the Cineplex.'

"Italian, romantic." Heidi nodded in approval.

"Not romantic, convenient."

"Comedy, romance, tragedy, horror, or action?"

"Romantic comedy.'

"Amanda had a date. Amanda had a date." Sammy sang.

"We're just friends."

"Uh huh. You just keep yourself in denial."

"It was not a date." She said to Sammy's smirking face.

- - -- - - -

Cameron walked around the house to the back entrance that led right down to her space. She saw a single light on coming from the living room and knew that Georgia was up waiting for Dee. Cam mused that is must feel good to know someone was waiting for you at home, someone who loved you enough that no matter how strange the hours you worked was waiting for you at the end of the day to connect with you.

After dropping Amanda off she briefly entertained the idea of going out, but decided that it wouldn't kill her to get some sleep. The whole evening with Amanda had been fun. There had been no games, no drama, and no tension about how the night might end.

Amanda had been so cute at dinner. She had been slurping up spaghetti noodles and one had gotten out of control. Snapping up, it had splattered her nose and cheeks with sauce. For a moment Cam, was tempted to slide over and lick the sauce off, and had very nearly done so. It had been touch and go for a few minutes. She had to remind herself that it was not a date, just old friends getting reacquainted. The movie had been near torture. Unthinking, she had put her arm up over Amanda's seat and nearly jumped a foot when the woman leaned into her, resting her head on her shoulder. By that time the words, "this is not a date" had become her mantra for the evening with a few, "she is just a friend's" thrown in for good measure.

Entering her room, she turned on a small standing lamp that dimly lit her room. She kicked off her shoes, followed by her pants and shirt, letting them lay where they landed. She absently grabbed for her yellow boxer shorts and Velma shirt. She paused while putting the shirt on, her fingers lightly tracing faint scars on her abdomen and ribs. Grimacing in distaste as bad memory flickered through her head, she jerked the shirt over her head. She turned off the light and crawled into bed.

Cameron sighed into the darkness. Trying to get comfortable, she twisted and wiggled until she found a position she liked. Lying on her back, her hands tucked under her head, she closed her eyes and concentrated on her breathing; in and out, in and out. In, a flash of dark hair. Out, blue eyes dark and hooded in passion. In, red lips puffy and swollen from being ravished. Out, tan skin soft as silk spread out flowing into the swell of a breast.

Cameron's bored right hand snuck out from the pillow and crept down and under the shirt, the left, now lonely, went to go see with right was up to. The right was busy punishing a nipple by pinching and squeezing it, the left thought this was a great game and joined in and started to punish the other nipple. Cameron groaned softly, in her mind she hovered over a sweaty, naked Amanda. Slowly, she licked the sweat off of Amanda's neck, following the soft curve of it up so she could nibble on her earlobe.

Cam's right hand, bored now with the nipple (it had given in too easily), slowly slunk down to the waistband of the bright yellow boxers. She groaned out Amanda's name making it eight syllables. Idly, thoughts floated around her brain. Who knew Amanda would become such fuel for her "alone time" fantasies. Considering how they met, it was amazing that they hadn't killed each other. Her mind flashed back to the day they met, and everything stilled. 'Well that was a mood killer,' she thought. Huffing in frustration, Cameron rolled over onto her side, letting her mind go where it willed.

- - - - - - - -

Cameron was unsteadily weaving in and out of the human traffic in the school hallway. She was desperately trying to reach the Holy Grail that was the candy machine. Everything was kind of fuzzy around the edges; this thought made her giggle. She had a raging case of the munchies due to the pot she and her friends had smoked three periods ago. It was so worth it to be comfortably numb, even for just a little while the shit in her life didn't matter. The candy machine gleamed in the distance, God she could almost kill for a Snickers.

All around her, students milled around moving in a living sea, all swept up in the currents flowing to lockers and classrooms. Cameron zagged when she should have zigged and ran into a blue covered backside. She bounced back a little and looked up, the word 'sorry' freezing in her throat as she had to look up and then up a little more into angry blue eyes. Then she noticed that the tall, angry girl was covered in a dark brown liquid, a crushed fast food cup in hand. The liquid covered the girl's face and shirt, and because of that, two perfectly round breasts were now very much highlighted by the wet shirt. Cam wondered how any girl could have such nice looking boobs in high school. Hers were certainly not as umm...round.

"Watch where you're going, freak."

Cam rolled her eyes. So what if she dressed in all black and her hair was dyed fire engine red, like she hadn't heard that before. Jesus, didn't anybody pick up a thesaurus anymore?

"Yeah, watch where you're going." Another girl, a groupie of some sort, broke in.

She could feel them closing in like sharks on the scent of blood. Feeling way too much stimulation in her current situation, she shrugged and tried to take off toward the candy machine. A meaty hand clutched her shoulder as she tried to make a break, slamming her into a locker.

"Fuck." She hissed out.

Cam looked at the hairy beast trying to pass itself off as a teenage boy; her thoughts drifted away thinking about the scary stories her father had told her about Big Foot when she was little. Her head bouncing off the locker again brought her back to reality.

"Owww! Fuck."

"I said apologize to my girl."

"I don't think she can speak. So far she's only said the same word over and over." Said a whiney, high-pitched voice.

"Why can't they ship these freaks off to a special school?" Said someone else

"Why would anybody date Big Foot?" Cameron mused out loud, only to get herself slammed back into the locker.

"Oww." Staring up into the girl's cola splattered face and cold blue eyes she mumbled out, "Fuck, I'm sorry."

"Listen freak, if I even catch you looking in the general direction of my girl I'll hurt you."

Cam rolled her eyes again, "Wow, you spoke a whole sentence." This got her
slammed against the locker again.

"Hey!" Screeched a high-pitched voice, and Cam caught sight of her friend Tim running up to them.

"Get your hands off of her, you bully!"

Even Cameron wanted to laugh when Tim said it, because the boy had not an ounce of manliness in him.

"Shut up, faggot." Said the large Big Foot boy reaching out a hand and swatting Tim to the ground.

Cameron saw red; there was no reason to do that to Tim. Grinning evilly she reached up and grabbed the collar of Big Foot boy's shirt for leverage and brought her knee up in a fast movement to the boy's groin. There was a moment of silence in honor of the boy's crushed manhood as he silently slumped over and passed out on the ground.

"Miss Hayes. Causing trouble again I see, hmm? Assaulting a fellow student? This does not look good. Come with me."

"Assault! It was pure self-defense Mr. Chambers."

"Not the way I saw it."


"No buts. To my office, now! We have a phone call to make to your mother."

Cameron grumbled, "Yeah, like she'll be sober enough to answer the phone."

"Now Miss Hayes."

Cameron shrugged past the pack of girls, giving them a blood shot glare, and at the tall dark haired one, she bit out, "Bitch," as she passed.

"I hope they kick her out of school. What a freak."


"You okay, Amanda?"

Amanda Walker stood, slightly sticky as the cola began to dry, watching the shorter red haired girl stomp away. She didn't feel nearly as angry as she had moments ago. She had been slightly scared by Nathan's display. It seemed way over the top. Her thoughts scattered at the sound of her boyfriend moaning in pain, and she rushed to help him.

- - - - - -

Dusk was settling in and, like a make-up artist, it covered over the cracked and broken down buildings, masking the depressed state of the area. In inky pools of shadows were piles of garbage, debris, and in a few, the homeless were trying to find shelter for the night.

Cameron slowly walked down the street toward her apartment building. Her shoulders were hunched, and on either side of her walked Tim and Stacey.

"So, did Mr. Chambers talk to your mom?" Asked Tim.

"Of course he did! Why do you think I've been wasting all this time on the way home?"

"Man, Cam, your file must be as thick as our Math book by now."

"Hmmm, probably, " Cam said, distracted, as she tried to see if there were any lights on in her apartment. "Looks like she's out or passed out. I'll see you guys on Friday."

"Why Friday?"

"I got suspended for two days."

"Why'd you get suspended? Nathan was the one being the bully."

"It's my word against his and Chambers'. The only reason I'm not in Juvi is that Big Foot Boy would have to press charges and that would mean admitting he got beat up by a girl."

All three giggled.

"All this just because you bumped the high and mighty Amanda Walker."


"It's been agreed before now that we hated her by pure word of mouth. Now its personal." Tim declared and they all giggled again.

She had, of course, disliked Amanda before; her whole group of friends did. She was everything they despised: smart, popular, rich, and an over-achiever of the first class. The girl was in all advanced classes, played on the Varsity basketball team as a sophomore, and was their class President. As a rule, Cameron disliked anybody who put forth any effort in High School. Shit, it was only a moment in one's life. It couldn't last forever... well, at least she hoped High School couldn't last forever.

"Well, I'll see you guys later." She said as she took off for the steps to her apartment building.

She entered the building, no longer seeing the chipped paint and cracked plaster. She no longer smelled the scent of vomit and garbage that nearly overwhelmed the hallway. The building was a symphony of screams. It was a cacophony of babies hungry or wanting comfort, couples fighting, and children fighting. All sorts of different screams echoed through the building. The weight of despair was almost crushing. The people who lived here had given up. They knew nothing better was coming and that this was it. Cameron did her best to fight it off, but it got harder and harder not to just give in to it and except that this was it her life.

When her father had been alive, they had lived in a rented house in a better area of town. It was still lower middle class, but it had been a house with a yard. Her father had built her a tree house there, and in the garage, he had set up his old boxing equipment and taught her and her older brother Josh how to fight and protect themselves. It was odd. Even then, her mother hadn't been a big presence in her life. All that was before, before her father had been killed in the construction accident, before her brother had run off, and before her mother had learned the joys of the bottle and the one-night stand. Each in their own ways her bother and father abandoning her to deal with a mother who didn't care if she had food or clothes that fit, a mother who didn't care if, in a drunken rage, she or her boyfriend for the night slapped her around. Some things couldn't be helped, and Cam felt like she was one of them.

Resigned, she stood in front of her door listening for signs of life. Not hearing anything, she placed her key in the lock and went in. There was a single lamp dimly lighting the living room. She failed to see her mother sitting in the shadows at the kitchen table holding an empty whiskey bottle.

"You are so much like your father."

Confused, Cameron froze, seeking out her mother's form in the dark.

"You look just like him, blond hair, short size, and you like to beat up on people. That's what he did, he beat on people." Her mother's voice was getting louder and louder.

"He was a boxer, of course he hit people. It's what they do. Unlike you, who just likes to beat on me."

"You ungrateful bitch!" Her mother screamed, launching the bottle toward her daughter.

In the dark she couldn't see the bottle and it smashed into the wall near her head. The bottle, like their relationship, shattered. Glass shards flew everywhere and Cam felt a sting on her forehead and cheek. Stunned, she stood there.

"You ungrateful waste of space, get out!"

Unthinking, she ran for the door and bolted down the stairs. Outside, she paused and gulped for breath. Touching her forehead, she felt something warm and sticky coating her face. Looking at her fingers in the harsh florescent streetlight she could see them colored with her blood. Shaking her head angrily, she stomped off to find a safe place to crash for the night. Anger that had no place to go sunk deep into her belly to join the large ball of rage which was already cold and dark sitting inside her.

- - - - - - -

Memories were funny things. Good or bad, the emotions they caused were as sharp and clear as the day that they occurred: joy, anger, bliss, excitement, and fear. Cam lay in the dark and curled around her pillow where no one could see her facade crack and break. Where no one cared if she wasn't quiet, calm and tough, she cried for a pain that was as vivid today as it was over four years ago.

Part 3

There was a horrible electronic chirping noise coming from somewhere. It shrilled throughout the house with its urgent cries until a hand snaked out from under a black comforter. The hand picked up the shrilling object and slammed it repeatedly on the wooden table while a voice huskily whispered out, "its too fucking early." The phone was then gentle placed on its cradle. The hand slipped back under the covers.

5 minutes later the phone rang again only to meet with the same violent results.

"Damn it I'm sleeping here." A husky, sleep-roughened voice mumbled out.

Five minutes later, the phone obviously into S and M, rang again. There was a pounding on the wall, "Fuck! Amanda it's your psycho father, pick up the phone."

Grumbling was heard, " I have it Sammy."

"Dad it's," she blinked trying to read the numbers on her clock, "it's really early." The red numbers swam into focus, "DAD, it's 5 o'clock in the morning!"

A gruff, yet very awake voice came over the line. "How's my pumpkin doing? You still one of those queer girls?"

She sighed rubbing the bridge of her nose, "Yes dad I am still queer."

"Good, glad to hear it. I gotta tell you I am so against that 'Don't ask, don't tell policy'. When I go into a fight I like to know who I have on my side and well, damn! Those queer girls sure know their stuff in a scrap."

Amanda banged the back of her head lightly into her headboard, "Dad was there a reason for your call at this ungodly hour or did you just want to debate the virtue of queers in the military?"

"Not queers, honey, queer girls. I'm not fond of those Nancy boys handling weapons."

She wanted to scream. How many parents were proud their only child was gay, revise that, how many retired Army Generals were bursting with joy that there only female child was a lesbian? "Dad is there a point to your call?"

"Well of course pumpkin. Bunny is going to be having a Masquerade party here at the house and she wanted me to call and invite you and your friends to come -- oh, and that girlfriend of yours too. Um, Soni was it?"

"It was Toni and dad we broke up six months ago."

"Oh well good, I wasn't really fond of her and her beady little eyes."


"Well, it's true. She wasn't good enough for my pumpkin. So, do you think you can make it, to Bunny's party?"

"When is it?" She fumbled for a pen and paper to write down the date and time.

"I'll be there. I'm not sure if anyone else will be with me."

"Well fine and why don't you come on Friday and spend the weekend. We never get to see you anymore now that you're at the University."

"I'll see what I can do about spending the weekend."

"Good, Good. So pumpkin anything going on in your life you want to tell your old man about."

Amanda paused. Great all she wanted to do was go back to sleep and try to capture that dream again, but, no. Her father was feeling chatty.

"I ran into an old friend of mine from high school." She blurted out. She blinked in surprise. Where did that come from?

"Oh, really. Anyone I know?"

"Do you remember Cameron Hayes?"

"Oh ya, a real spitfire, that one. She would have made a damn fine soldier except for that whole attitude of hers."

"Well I ran into her the other day and we started hanging out..." She faded out, not sure where she was going with the conversation.

"Well, pumpkin, why don't you invite her up for the party?"

"I'm not sure if it's her sort of thing, but I'll ask."

"Good, and pumpkin be careful. I remember how torn up you were when she took off and disappeared."

"Thanks Daddy, I will."

"Okay, I'll talk to you later."


She hung up the phone and crawled back under the sheets throwing the covers back over her head. A minute later a hand reached out, turning the ringer off.

- - - - - - -

Cameron's fist crashed into the heavy bag causing it jerk and dance on the chain that suspended it. Rotating her hips and planting her right foot her left shot up in a smooth motion snapping out in a round house kick that caused the bag to jump back. Air moved in and out of expanding lungs. The beating of her heart was rapidly moving oxygen-rich blood to overworked muscles, and the sweat covered her pale skin was her body's attempt to cool overheated flesh.

In her mind, there was no past and no future, just the here and now. Her pinpoint of narrowed reality was comprised of the unthinking calculation of balance, foot placement, and the location of her center of gravity. There was the contraction and relaxation of the muscles under the skin. Her eyes moved, tracking the bag as it moved in response from her last jab. She sneered, as her eyes followed the bag's movement. She imagined an opponent, an attacker, rushing her. As the bag moved forward, she glided to the side, lashing a foot out in a side-kick to what would have been the ribs if her opponent had been real and not a bag. Her leg, still poised in the air, hooked and then snapped back in another kick to the head, letting her momentum swing her around she followed it up with a back kick. The bag jerked sharply, causing the chain to jangle.

Breathing heavily, she grabbed her water, she took a couple of small sips of liquid into her dehydrated body. She grabbed a towel, running it over her face and arms. Her breathing was starting to return to normal as she leaned on the wall watching the bag slowly swing back and forth, bit by bit coming to a stop.

Idly, her mind shifted gears. Thinking about Amanda she wondered what the woman was doing. Looking at the clock, she decided that Amanda was probably in class. She had four hours till she had to be at the club to help open. Grumbling, she wondered what the hell was she going to do for four hours? It was Tuesday, and she hated Tuesdays. It was fifty-cent draft night at the club, and that meant every low-life alcoholic loser showed up at the club on Tuesdays. Of course, she thought with an evil grin, she normally got to toss a few people around and out on their ass on Tuesdays.

Unwrapping the tape from her hands, she started losing clothing on her way to the shower. Maybe she would go check out the campus on her way to work -- never mind the fact it was out of her way. It would be character building being around all that knowledge and academic bullshit. Plus, college girls were sexy in an intellectual sort of way. Oh yeah, and there was one brainy college girl in particular she wouldn't mind an all night study session with. She groaned as she realized where her thoughts were heading. They were headed down a seedy back alley in her brain toward the catholic schoolgirl fantasy. Stepping into the shower she vowed no more visits to the adult section of the video store.


Amanda sat on a bench letting, the late morning sun hit her face and absorb into her skin. Fall was beginning to paint the trees in reds, yellows, and oranges, but it was still warm out during the day. She leaned back on her hands stretching her long legs out in front of her. She had three hours until her next class. Maybe she'd wander over to the Sub and grab a cup of coffee and do some homework. She felt the back of her neck itch, like some bug skittering over the surface of the skin. Shifting her weight she brought her hand up to rub her neck. Narrowing her eyes behind her sunglasses she looked around. Was someone watching her? Not seeing anyone, she shrugged it off as just being paranoid.

Brown eyes squinted in the sunlight from the shadow of a building as she watched the woman across the way stretch out in the sun. Eyes narrowed in anger as men and women walked by, and slowed down to check out the dark haired woman who was oblivious to the glances. The bitch was such a tease, but she'd fix that, oh yes indeed.

Amanda was starting to freak herself out. She didn't like the feeling she was having one bit. She grabbed her backpack, intending to walk to the student union building when a hand tapped her shoulder. Eyes going wide she whirled around, ready to scream. Her tense body loosened as she saw Lisa from her biology class.

"Amanda, I'm so glad I caught up with you."

"What's up Lisa?" Amanda became aware that Lisa still hadn't taken her hand from her shoulder. Amanda glanced over at the hand, and Lisa's eyes followed blushing as she realized that she hadn't moved her hand. Quickly, Lisa moved her hand away.

"I was wondering if we could get together sometime before Monday to study for our Biology test." Lisa said hesitantly, her heart beating a rapid tattoo in her chest.

Amanda looked at Lisa. Was the girl hitting on her? No she had to be imagining things. "Sure Lisa, I'd like that. I could use all the help I can get."

"You? You're brilliant; you'll be doing me the favor," Lisa stuttered out, her heart fluttering at the smile being directed her way by Amanda.

"Hey I was just on my way over to the Sub for a cup a coffee. Want to join me?"

"You want me to, yes. I mean, yes, that sounds good," She said trying to act casual.

Dark eyes cold and hard with rage, followed to two women as they walked off.

- - - - -

This had to be one of the stupidest ideas that Cam had ever had. She knew absolutely nothing about Amanda's school schedule or even how the college was set up. Yet, here she was hopelessly lost and trying to figure out the large campus map before her. 'You are here', was proclaimed proudly highlighted by a large helpful red arrow. Yeah, but where the hell was here? Plus, if she did find Amanda, what would she say? 'Funny meeting you here, just out for a walk on my way to work. Can I buy you a cup of coffee'. Well, okay maybe that wasn't half-bad. She sighed, running her hands through her short hair, making it stand up in odd angles.

Okay, Amanda was studying some sort of physical therapy stuff, so her classes would be where? The gym? Maybe the science building? She studied the map a finger tracing the lines her eyes darting back to legend trying to decipher the information in front of her. The science building was about two buildings back and to the right. Well she'd go give it a shot. If worse came to worse, she could head over to the Sub. The legend said there was a sandwich shop there.

- - - - -

Amanda's skin was still crawling and she was fighting the urge to turn around and see if she was being followed. Next to her Lisa chatted on and on about stuff. Amanda tried really hard to follow what the other girl was saying but her instincts for self-survival kept overriding everything else. As they rounded the corner of a building, she craned her head to look behind her, and she thought she caught the glimpse of someone darting from the shadows of a building entrance. Not paying attention to what was in front of her she ran into someone coming around the same corner. Falling, she heard someone grumble, "Hey watch where the hell you're walking."

Blinking up from the ground, she looked into the scowling face of Cameron Hayes. The scowl melted off the face and into a sheepish sorry look,

"Oh, shit. Amanda I'm sorry. I, I, wasn't paying attention. Jeez, here."

Cameron stooped over, holding out her hand and grasping the taller woman's hand. She pulled harder than necessary, and accidentally pulled Amanda up and into her body.

Amanda felt herself rapidly pulled off the ground, and realizing she was going to crash into Cam, she put a hand up to minimize impact. As they stood a half-inch apart, time seemed to slow down. Nothing seemed more important than this single moment. She had a brief flashback to high school, and as Cam's breath washed over her face, her heart began to pound in her chest and Cam's breath seemed to scorch her skin. Her right hand rested in the valley between Cam's breasts connecting them and holding them apart at the same time. Fingers twitched moving slowly back and forth on the soft cotton shirt. She could feel the heat from Cam's body flowing through the thin fabric burning the tips of her fingers as they moved. Then she felt the pounding tempo of Cam's heartbeat; her fingers stopped moving and she paused to savor the feeling. Cam's heartbeat was fast, racing very much like her own, and the knowledge that she was having an effect on Cam collided in her brain. She was almost giddy as the insight struck her; hope blossomed in her chest.

Cam felt like kicking herself. First she knocks Amanda down, and then she nearly pulls the poor girl's arm out of the socket. Then she felt like the wind had been knocked out of her when she realized how close they were standing. Her eyes widened when she felt where Amanda's hand was resting. She felt the fingers slowly move rubbing the soft cotton against her skin. Her pulse started racing, and she snuck her tongue out to moisten her suddenly very dry lips. The air around them seemed heavy and full with sexual tension. Muscles in her neck rebelled and strained upwards to kiss waiting lips.

A polite cough jerked everything askew, and time started back up. Cam's head jerked back and looking around, she caught the glare from a woman standing slightly behind Amanda. They pulled apart slowly, looking everywhere but at each other. Lisa glared at the two magnetized bodies, but even in her anger laced brain she knew she was no competition for the chemistry these two had. It wasn't fair; the minute she had worked up the courage to talk to the striking girl, her plans were thrown back in her face.

Amanda came back to reality, "Uh, Lisa this is an old friend of mine Cameron. Cameron, this is Lisa; she's in my Biology class." The two girls took each other in, and through narrowed eyes, each began to check her rival over. Amanda, oblivious to the posturing going on, picked her backpack up and slung it over her shoulders.

"Hey Cam, Lisa and I were just on out way over to the Sub for a cup of coffee. Want to join us?"

Taking her eyes off her rival, Cam grinned, "Sounds lovely."

Walking over to the Sub, Lisa was beginning to feel more and more like a third wheel, "Um, Amanda?"


"Hey, look, I forgot I was supposed to meet a friend of mine, I'll call you later and we can set up a study time."

"Oh, okay. I'll talk to you later."

Lisa sighed dejectedly as she crossed through the parking lot toward the parking garage. All that time spent prepping herself in the mirror to talk to Amanda -- only to have it be snatched away. 'Figures,' she pouted. Slowly, she dragged herself up the flight of stairs to where her car was parked. Walking toward the beat-up Toyota, she fished in her pocket for her car keys. Standing by the driver's side door, she caught the warped reflection of a person in the window. Before she could turn around, she found herself rammed into the car with a bone jarring intensity. Keys tumbled from nerveless hands and jangled hollowly on the cement. As she was pulled away from the metal, she sucked air in to her lungs only to have rush out as she slammed into the side of her car again. She whimpered dully as she felt something pop. Then, her right side was engulfed in red-hot pain.

"You stupid slut. Stay away from my girl, you pathetic little whore."

"What, who?" She babbled out.

"You know who, you fucking whore."

The voice was low and dark filling up her ear. She whimpered trying to break away. Her hair was grabbed in an iron grip and her face was smashed into the window of her car over and over again. The glass cracked like a spider's web, and blood crawled down the window to the car door. It dripped slowly on to the black cement. Hands released her as she bonelessly slid down, following the trail of her blood to the cement. She could taste her own blood running down her throat choking her. Everywhere, there was pain poking her with its fiery touch. Thankfully, the blackness was coming for her, washing over her mind in soft waves. The last thing she heard was, "Stay away from Amanda Walker, you spineless bitch."

- - - - - - - -

"Hey, I'm sorry if I intruded on anything here." Cam spoke up as they walked across the campus.

"What? No, we were just going to hang out and talk about class."

"You sure, I mean well if you two wanted you know, just to hang out alone together." She trailed off awkwardly. She'd been happy at first when the other girl had begged off but then that had changed to guilt, and she had started to doubt her motives. What if Amanda wanted to spend time with the girl? She shouldn't be getting in the way of Amanda's life.

"No you're fine, trust me."

Cam just shrugged; suddenly she was feeling very self-conscious. She felt like a fraud. She wasn't any academic egghead, so what the hell did she think she was doing? She didn't belong here. She was following Amanda like some weird stalker. Maybe Amanda was just being nice, humoring her. Maybe Amanda didn't want to be seen with her some uneducated idiot who never even graduated form high school.

Cam's face began to darken, and formed into a scowl.

"Um, look I'm sure you have more important things than waste time with me. I'll just catch up with you another time."

Confused by the sudden change in direction, "Hey, whoa, time out."

Amanda looked over at Cam noticing the tense body posture, she had an image in her mind of Cam bolting. She wasn't sure what had brought on the mood swing but there was no way in hell Cameron Hayes was running out of her life again.

Amanda pulled them off the sidewalk and on to a wooden bench. Cam seemed agitated her eyes darting around. Finally, unexpectedly, she reached up and removed Amanda's sunglasses. This act seemed to put her more at ease, and Amanda resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

Cam grinned sheepishly, "I, uh, feel better when I can see someone's eyes when I talk to them."

Amanda decided to ignore this statement but filed it away to examine later. She spoke, hoping to put Cam at ease once more, "I'm really glad I ran into you today Cam. I thought I might have to wait whole week till we could hangout together again. So this works out really nice because on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have about a three-hour break after my class gets out at 10:40 and normally I just hang out and do homework. So this is a nice surprise for me, and I don't have to wait until next Saturday before hanging out with my favorite blonde."

Smiling in relief, Cam asked, "Oh, and who's your favorite blonde?"

"You, you dork." Amanda replied, lightly slapping Cam's arm

"You sit around for three hours just doing homework. My god girl did you learn nothing from me in high school?" Cam said in mock horror.

"Maybe you need to give me a personal one on one refresher course." Amanda said. Then her face turned pink as she realized how sexual that statement had sounded.

Cam looked shocked for a second, then threw her head back and laughed. "I think that can be arranged but first woman you need to feed me, I'm starved. Then, your lessons in how to slack off Cameron style may commence."

They moved off the bench toward the Sub at an easy unhurried pace. "So Cam, what are you doing on campus? Are you a student?"

Cam laughed again, "Me, a student? Oh that's a good one."

"Then, why are you here?"

"I, well, I..." Cam looked sheepish, "Iwaskindoflookingforyou." She spouted out in a hurried breath.

"What? And could you repeat that in English please?" Amanda said with a laugh. Her eyes grew large as her brain translated the words. "You were looking for me?"

"Well you know, I've been here for four years and I've never been to the campus and I thought, what the hell? I have some free time today before work, and then there was the off chance I might run into you."

Amanda barely heard what the other girl was saying; she had a goofy grin on her face. Cam had come to the University looking for her, even though she had no idea where on campus she might be. That was so sweet in an absurd sort of way. Then she realized that since she'd run into Cam, she hadn't felt like someone was watching her. She thought briefly that maybe it had been Cam, but the girl had come from the wrong direction. She shrugged it off.

They sat in the grass outside the Sub. Amanda slowly sipped her coffee while Cam inhaled a large turkey sandwich.

"How can you eat that?"

Cam paused, looking up, her cheeks bulging with food. Amanda had to laugh, "You look like a chipmunk."

Cam scowled and stuck out her tongue.

"Ewww, could you at least have swallowed first?"

"Nope, no fun in that."

"Just finish that disgusting sandwich."

"What is your beef with my sandwich? Are you one of them tree huggin veggies?"

"Yep, a card carrying member."

Cam choked on a bit of turkey, "Well good for you." She coughed out.

"Do you have any idea what they do to those poor animals before..."

Cameron cut Amanda off, "Hush, you. I have no desire to know such things. You just keep those strange veggie ways of yours to yourself or there will be no lessons on how to slack off. Got me missy?"

Amanda snickered but nodded her head, while Cameron made a great show of eating her sandwich.

Sucking a bit of mustard from her thumb she looked over at a smiling Amanda. "What?" She questioned.


"Nothing my ass." Snorting, she got up and threw her trash away. Coming back, she helped Amanda up. "It's beautiful out. I can't believe you were just going to sit inside and study for three hours. What, are you some sort of a masochist?"

"A what?"


"Come on, tell me."

"You know what we need on a day like this is a Frisbee."

"What? Are we have a conversation here or are you just talking to yourself?'

Her mind was already distracted by other matters. She watched a group of girls playing football in the quad.

Amanda followed Cam's gaze and eyebrow quirking.

Amanda's eyebrow remained quirked as she asked, "and how pray tell will we get a Frisbee?'

"But lacking a Frisbee we can join them." Cam said pointing at the sweating girls.

The other eyebrow rose to join its twin.

"I'm not sure. I mean, I'm wearing nice clothes." Amanda hedged.

"Are you wearing a T under that shirt?"

"Well yes, but.."

"Come on ya wuss! Weren't you the big old basketball star in high school."

"Fine. What are they doing?"

"Feeling each other up.'


"They're playing some sort of football. Basically, it gives a bunch of lesbians an opportunity to grope each other in public."

"Great. How do you know they're lesbians? Just because they are playing football doesn't mean they are lesbians. That is such a stereotype.'

Cam raised an eyebrow of her own. "See the large dykey-looking girl with the short spiky blonde hair?" She said pointing.

"Yes. I mean that is such another stereotype.'

"Hush, she dated one of the strippers at the club, and well, I'm familiar with one or two others out there."

"I probably don't want to ask how well you're familiar do I?"

Cam turned red, rubbing the back of her neck in a nervous gesture. 'Great Hayes just throw it in her face what a big slut you are' she thought.

Amanda wanted to laugh; Cam was so cute when she was all embarrassed.

They walked over to where the eight girls were playing; and stood off to the side until the play came to a stop.

"Hey, Chris." Cam shouted out.

A large meaty girl looked their way. Seeing Cam, a large toothy grin broke out on her face. "Well, if it isn't my favorite bouncer." The girl trotted over, looking Amanda over and dismissing her. She gave Cam a hearty handshake Amanda thought the smaller woman might get lifted into the air.

"What's up?"

"Can my friend and I join up?"

"I dunno. It's kind of members only."

"Oh she's a member -- don't worry."

"Really." The girl said surprised, "My gaydar must be broke. She ain't even pinging on it."

"Trust me. She's a card carrying member."

Amanda felt like most the conversation was going over her head.

"I get it, she's your flavor of the week."

Amanda got that. Her eyes flashed dangerously and she stepped into Chris's personal space staring the other woman down.

Chris backed away nervously, making a mental note not to piss off the tall dark haired woman. "Uh, ya. You two can join us. No problem."

"Um, my team will take Cam, " she said not wanting the other woman near her "and you guys get the tall one."

Amanda unbuttoned her oxford exposing the white T-shirt underneath; she folded up the oxford and placed it on top of her backpack. Moving out to the field, she passed Chris whispering, "The name's Amanda and just for your information, Cameron's my flavor of the week." She almost started laughing as the other girl's jaw tumbled open. She heard a slight snicker and turned to catch Cam trying to hide her smile. Huddling up with her team she asked, "So what's the point of this game?"

Four pairs of eyes turned and stared at her.

Cam sucked in a deep breath as she watched Amanda throw her head back, her black hair whipping around over her shoulder. The woman was a goddess. After a rough start, Amanda had gotten into the game. Using her height to its full advantage, the girl was a superb passer. Cam watched as those blue eyes scanned, looking for an opening, a tanned arm tensed moving backwards then forwards to throw the ball.

"Hey Cam, get your mind out of the gutter and into the game. I should have taken the femme girl, I swear."

"Shut up Chris." She retorted back.

She watched as the ball was snapped into the air, headed for a girl who had broken open. Cam darted back. Running along the side, she leapt up snagging the ball out of the air inches from the other girl's hands.

She heard a muttered, "What the fuck?" As she sprinted away laughing and dodging hands and feet.

Amanda was stunned, Cameron had come out of nowhere to steal the ball. The girl was amazing. She was like a contortionist twisting and bending her body to avoid getting caught. As a larger girl flew through the air to tackle Cameron. Amanda's breath caught, but Cam merely laughed and leaped over, tucking her feet up as the girl fell under her. Shaking her head, she realized Cam was coming her direction, and she smiled evilly.

"Bring it on Cam. You aren't getting by me, short stuff."

"You and what army?" Cam taunted back. "And I am not short, I have a perfectly normal height," Cam said faking one way, then spinning around to sprint in the opposite direction. Amanda slid, nearly losing her balance. Then, regaining it, she took off after the blonde.

As Cam could felt Amanda coming up behind her, she spared a brief backwards glance. Damn, girl must be all leg. Amanda was rapidly eating away her lead. She tried zigging, but Amanda was not about to lose her prey, and Cam felt the girl's hands on her hips pressing down, exerting pressure to stop her. She tried slapping the hands away, but they stayed firm.

There was a warm breath in her ear, and Amanda's voice asked, "You wanna do this the easy way or the hard way?"

"Bite me, Amanda! It isn't over till I'm face down on the ground."

"That can be arranged." With a burst of energy Amanda caught up more space and wrapped her arms around Cameron's waist. She hugged the shorter woman into her body and threw them both to the ground; they tumbled over the grass smearing green streaks on Amanda's white shirt. Somewhere in the distance the other girls hooted.

When she came to a stop, Cameron was face down in the grass, the football tucked under her right arm. Her back was covered in a warm weight, and she could feel Amanda's arms still encircling her waist. Panting, she looked up spitting grass out of her mouth, a trickle of panic worming its way out of her gut. The weight on her back was no longer pleasurable.

"Get off." she snapped.

Amanda felt the muscles under her stiffen and she jumped up, thinking she'd hurt Cam. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." Came the short reply.

Amanda watched as Cam got up, brushing herself off, her eyes going everywhere but in Amanda's direction. Cam got herself calmed down and turned to see Amanda looking at her worried.

"I'm fine, sorry I snapped at you. I, umm, the football was digging into my side, it wasn't you."

"Are you sure?"

"Yep." She lied. trying to be reassuring, she gave a little grin.

"Awe, Cam why don't you kiss her and make her feel better? Come on you wuss, pick up the ball and lets play." Chris said running up to the two.

Cam picked up the ball and jogged over to Chris. She grinned and pinched Amanda's ass on her way past the girl. Amanda jumped, then laughed at the cocky grin on Cam's face.

- - - - - - -

Amanda pushed the front door open and set her backpack down with a heavy thump. Closing and locking the door, she smelled the spicy sent of food wafting from the kitchen.

"Smells good." She called out.

"I'm glad you think so." Sammy replied coming out from the kitchen. "Whoa. What happened to you?"

"What are you talking about?"

"You look like you've been trampled."

"Thanks Sammy."

"Well shit A-girl, you're normally so well put together. I think you have a few hairs out of place."

Amanda shrugged, "Cam talked me into an impromptu football game during my three-hour break."

"Back up a minute. Cam and football, how did this come about? And start from the beginning."

Amanda retold her day to Sammy, following the red head into the kitchen. She grabbed a carrot out of the fridge and crunched on it as Sammy stirred a red sauce on the stove.

"That's so sweet! She went to the University just to look for you. It must be fate. I mean, what are the odds of her actually finding you? The campus is huge. So you guys kiss yet?" Sammy asked slyly,

"Sammy!" Amanda said shocked almost choking on the bit of carrot she was chewing.

"It's not like that. We're just friends."

"I don't know Amanda. From what I heard, you guys have some serious 'lets go have wild nasty sex in the backseat of the car' vibes."

"Sammy if I wasn't so sore I'd smack you upside the head."

Sammy rolled her eyes, "Go shower or something. Heidi and Sarah will be over in a few for dinner."

"Don't those two have any food at their house?"

"I'm sure they do, but the can't resist my traditional Italian spaghetti."

"Sammy you're Irish."

"Fine. My traditional Irish spaghetti."

Amanda strolled out of the kitchen munching on her carrot, thinking maybe there was more going on between her and Cam than she thought. She paused as Sammy called after her.

"I'm going down to the Creature later for the drag show. You want to join me?"

She thought about it, but she really did need to study. Since she had spent her break goofing off with Cam, she hadn't gotten her normal study time in.

"Nah, I'm going to pass, but thanks though."

- - - - - - -

Unknowingly, Cam was whistling a jaunty tune in the back as she pulled beer to stock the front bar. Worried employees of the Shady Lady stared at the open door in an abstract fear. Cam was supposed to be snarly, broody, and dark humored -- not this whistling, smiling and light humored pod person that had come to work in her place. At the bar Jason crossed himself certain that the Second Coming was upon them. Dee didn't give a rip. Well she did, but she wasn't going to make a fuss about it. That was Georgia's department. Mario sipped his water, trying not to giggle. Miss Tough Stuff and gone and stepped in love.

Exiting the back, she noticed eyes staring at her. The tune she was whistling died on her lips. That's when she realized she'd been whistling. What was even more shocking was the fact that she didn't whistle, and what was even worse was that it had been a Disney song. Her face darkened, and eyebrows drew together in a fierce scowl, "What?" She bellowed out.

The room seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief at this; all was good in the universe again.

Mario giggled as he watched Cam restock the beer in the fridge in the bar; she was whistling Zip A De Do Da again. "So, tough stuff. Who's the lucky lady?"

"What are you talking about Mario?" Cameron replied, not even looking up.

"The girl who has you so worked up you're whistling a Disney song?"

"I am not whistling." She said with a growl.

"Of course you're not, miss butch thing."

Cameron returned to the task at hand but was startled when a voice began singing out. "My o my what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine." Cameron's head snapped up. "Don't you need to go get ready?"

"And miss out on teasing you? I think not."

"Lucky me." She responded and went back to stocking the fridge.

Mario sat studying the young woman, "You don't even realize you're in love do you?" He asked, slowly counting to ten waiting for the explosion.

Cameron tensed at Mario's question, and leaned her head forward to rest on the cool glass. Love, the word rolled around her brain. Love was fists and slaps. Love was drunken rages and empty promises. Love was something she had no stomach for.

"Go away Mario. Before I start whistling 'it's a small world'." She said emptily.

"Tough stuff there's nothing wrong with being in love. You won't lose butch points."

"Now, Mario! Get the hell away from me."

Mario started back. There was the eruption he had been expecting.

She got up, reached over the counter, grabbed his shirt and pulled him in close to her face. "Listen up Mario. I don't give a rip about my butch points, and I have no use for love and all its bullshit and lies."

He gulped. Then she was pushing him away.

He stumbled away, slightly shaken. She hadn't been there. He'd looked into her eyes, and she hadn't been there. He didn't know where her mind had wandered, but he had no desire to follow her to whatever dark memory held her trapped. He shuddered again. Especially if she was going to start whistling " It's a Small World." That was just... he shivered, not finishing the thought.

They were getting ready to open the doors and let in the desperate dried out sponges that masked themselves as people into the bar. Cam grinned. Time to kick some ass. She was mentally putting herself into bouncer mode when Dee yelled out, breaking her thoughts away.

"Cam, get your skinny butt over here."

"What?" She hurried over to where Dee was coming out of her back office.

"I need you to take your bad little bouncer self over to the Night Creature."

"What? Why?"

"A couple of David's guys are out sick and they have a drag show tonight. He needs all the help he can get. I figure you're as good as three or four bouncers, so I'll just send you and call it good."

Cam grinned. Working a drag show was definitely more fun than tossing drunks out on their asses. "I'm all over it," She said grinning.

- - -- - -

Sammy stood near the dance floor staring out at the feather-clad figure gyrating to the music being pumped through the speakers. She had been slightly miffed that Amanda, Sarah, and Heidi had all begged off coming with her. Now that she was here at the club, she didn't really mind. She had run into some bar friends and she had sat with them whispering and talking about the other people in the bar swirling around them until the show had started. Then, she had politely slipped away to stand next to the dance floor.

The strange creatures that bounced, flounced, and twirled their way across the floor fascinated Sammy. A part of her realized it was wrong to view them as some alien being under glass, but they were so very much the embodiment of the other. While a select few could be viewed as female, most were an odd combination of the masculine and feminine wrestled into a sequined gown. Strong jaws, towering heights, broad shoulders, soft curves, bulging cleavage, pouting lips and large hair. It was the reverse of what she appreciated in women. She liked butch women who had an edge of masculine strength screaming out of their feminine softness. Queens of the club had feminine softness oozing from their masculine hardness. She was attracted to the vessels that balanced within them the essence of both sexes.

She was sure that in another city, in another club, there were probably drag queens who could wrap themselves more securely in the shroud of painted on femininity and fool even the most red-blooded of American males. She liked the ones she saw here once a week at the club. The illusion was there, but she couldn't get lost in it, and in truth she, loved how they embodied the male and the female. It was like a guilty secret she was too scared to share with anybody else. That and the fact she got turned on by the sex scenes in Queer as Folk. Really! What self-respecting lesbian would admit two men getting it on was hot?

She stood there watching the feathered Amazon prance from the floor sipping her rum and coke. As the next act started up, she noticed her bouncer; she almost ducked her head in anticipation of a smack upside the head. Shaking her head at her actions, she revised her thoughts. She noticed Cameron standing next to the bar chatting with some pierced punk-rock-looking girl. Cam was hot, she admitted. The bouncer was wearing black leather pants and a tight black shirt with the words "Night Creature" in shiny silver letters on the front. Sam felt herself getting angry. Amanda had, had a wonderful day filled with heavy moments of near bursting sexual tension with Cameron, and said girl was here picking up somebody else.

Sammy marched up to the bouncer, an angry glint in her eye; she stopped when she was half a foot away from where Cam leaned against the bar. When she had Cameron's attention, she hissed out, "Have you no shame? You spend most of the day working my roommate into knots of sexual tension that you do nothing to help relieve. Then later that same day, you're hitting on some other poor girl. You make me sick."

Cameron stood there stunned as some small slip of a woman verbally beat her into the ground. The redheaded woman seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn't quite place her.

"Excuse me. Do I know you?" She said starting to bristle.

"The name is Sammy O'Brien; I'm Amanda's roomy, the one who will be sending you to the doghouse."

Cameron's brain began to click, putting two and two together. "You're Sammy?"

"Yep, all feisty 5'4" of me." She said with a glare.

"It's nice to meet you."

"Don't try playing nice to me. I'm on to you, and your cheating ways."

At that moment, a sandy-haired young man broke through the crowd. Coming up to them, he swept up the punk rock girl in his arms, giving her a breath-stealing kiss.

With a smirk Cam said, "Sammy this is Monica. I work with her at the club, and this is her boyfriend Brad."

Sammy could feel the blush work its way up her neck, "Oh, you mean... its nice to meet you both. Ah, so, you're a stripper huh?"

Monica laughed, "You're roommate is very lucky to have such a loyal friend looking out for her. Trust me. You need to keep an eye on this one." She said pointing at Cam.

"Hey." Cam said indignantly.

"Brad and I will let you get back to work. See you later, and Sammy, it was refreshing to meet you."

Cam watched her friends depart and turned to stare at Sammy. She was amused and disturbed. This little spitfire had come at her like a mama bear protecting her young, yet it was disturbing to think how easily she could have been guilty of what Sammy accused her of. Shaking her head, she snorted thinking, 'Amanda and I are just friends', but there, out in the open again was the idea that they were on a level above that of friends.

Sammy wished there was a rock handy that she could crawl under. Man she had really stuck her foot in her mouth this time, and she'd probably need a crowbar to get it out. She hoped she hadn't ruined anything for Amanda, but looking at the silent woman in front of her she found it impossible to read her expression.

"Look, I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions, about you. I'm sure you're a very good, um, friend. I so need air." With that, she turned around and made a beeline for the door.

Cam stood stunned again as the slightly smaller woman took off. Twice in ten-minutes that was a first. Briefly she thought about taking off after Sammy but shrugged the idea off and returned her attention to the activities going on inside the club.

- - - - - - -

Sammy leaned up against the side of the building, letting the coolness sooth her as it seeped through the back of her shirt. She rubbed her arms. It was getting colder at night. She wished she would have thought to grab her jacket on the way out. It was silent outside the club. Everyone was inside watching the show; she could see the shadowy shape of the bouncer just inside the door, his head nodding in time with the music. She didn't think she had messed anything up between Amanda and Cameron. The blonde bouncer hadn't looked upset with her, but then again, girl was pretty hard to read. She rubbed her arms to warm them up and moved off the wall to go back into the club.

An odd noise, soft and delicate, floated on the breeze into Sammy's ear. It wasn't a normal downtown near midnight noise that should have been floating around vibrating on the air currents. It was the sound of lungs trying not to exhale oxygen, and it was the noise of muscles in pain; it was a sigh, a gasp, and a whimper all joined as one.

Sammy stood still. Had she imagined it? Was it any of her business? Alone in the night, was it right to go looking in even darker places? Turning she went down the side of the building till it ended and looked down the dark alley behind the club. At first there was nothing. Then, next to the larger looming shadow of the dumpster, she spotted movement.

- - - - - - -

Cam ran a hand through her hair yet again re-arranging the already messy spikes she had caused not five minutes earlier. She couldn't stop thinking about her run-in with Amanda's roommate. She should go after the girl make sure that they were cool. She didn't want to cause any problems for Amanda. Briefly she wondered when she started giving a shit, but shrugged it off. She began walking toward the door she had seen Sammy exit a few minutes before. If the girl was gone, oh well, but she should look.

She nodded at TJ as she walked out the front. Looking around, she thought it was quiet. Then she heard shouting coming from the alley, 'Fuck' she thought and pounded on the door to get TJ's attention. Not waiting to see if he followed, she sprinted off into the alley.

- - - - - - -

Sammy leaped onto the smaller of the two men attacking the woman. She shouted at him, "You fucker! What gives you the right to beat on people?" All the time she pounded her fists into his head.

"What the hell? Get it off, get it off." The man bellowed out.

She was spun around and was then tossed off into another figure, and they both crashed into the ground. In a daze, Sammy thought that as alleys go this one was fairly clean. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a bloodied face. In front of her two men stood cracking knuckles and grinning wickedly.

"Hey look! We got ourselves a new playmate. Think she's a he or just some dyke in need of a fuck?"

The other just shook his head, stupidly hanging on his buddies every word, "Don't know. Let's find out."

Sammy stood up on wobbly knees but placed herself in front of the woman they had been using as a punching bag till she had shown up and thrown herself into the fray. "You piss poor excuse for the male gender. Why don't you runaway before I really get pissed?"

"How cute. We got ourselves a real raging bull dyke here." The taller one said laughing. "Shut up bitch, and maybe I won't hurt you to bad."

"Well even if you do shut up, I'm still going to leave you broken and bleeding on the ground." Came an angry voice from behind them.

The two men turned, "Oh and what are you going to do, little girl? Sprinkle fairy dust on me?"

Sammy felt instantly better knowing Cam was there, "Nope. She's going to kick your ass."

"Is that right?" Sneered the shorter man.

"Sammy, if I asked you to be quiet, would you?"

"Hey, are you going to save us or what?"

"Well I don't know. You kind of ruined my dramatic entrance."

"Oh, jeez the badass bouncer is pouting. Would you commence with the ass kicking already."

"Well fine, but you don't have to treat me like some pet here to do tricks on command."

The two men stood confused. The taller one spoke up finally, "Would you two bitches shut the fuck up?"

Cameron turned on him, glaring, and before he knew what happened he was bleeding on the ground, his nose a bloody fountain, while Cam's leg retracted from the kick. The shorter one stood, stunned, then charged Cam, side-stepping as she brought her leg up in a hook kick smashing it into his back and increased his forward momentum into the wall. Sammy watched as the taller one got up to grab Cameron from behind. She rushed him, knocking them both down. He pushed her off, landing a hit to her face.

"You're going to get it now, you little bitch."

Sammy raised her arms to protect her head; suddenly a well-manicured hand lashed, out landing a solid right hook to the man's jaw. His eyes rolled up and he crashed to the ground.

Sammy stared up into the hazel eyes of her savior, grasping the hand as the woman offered it to her.

"Thanks." She offered.

"No problem. Thank you for coming to my rescue. Not many people would."

Sammy felt herself flush, "Well I'm just glad Cam came when she did."

"Yes that's some friend you have there. Oh, my name is Nikki."

Sammy took the hand again shaking it, "I'm Sammy."

Sammy took in the woman. She had a split lip and a black eye, but even with the rapidly swelling eye the woman was beautiful, she had hazel eyes, red lips and was slightly taller than Sammy with broad shoulders and a tapering waist. Warning bells were going off in Sammy's head.

"Oh, oh, you're a drag queen."

Hazel eyes looked hurt, "Is that a problem." The husky voice turned cold.

"No, no, I well... " Sammy really wanted to make the hurt look go away in those eyes, "No Nikki, it's not a problem." The hazel eyes defrosted slightly.

"You kids okay here?" Asked Cam.

"Yeah, I think so?" Sammy turned a questioning glance to Nikki, who nodded in agreement.

"Good, the cops are here they want to take statements and then I'll take you guys to the emergency room to be looked at."

"I'm fine."

"Sammy um, it could be the adrenalin, but in case you haven't noticed you have a black eye, a cut on your forehead and have scratched the hell out of your hands."

"What?" Sammy stared at her hands in wonder. She had no clue she'd been hurt at all. That's when she fainted.

'Shit!' Cam thought as she caught Sammy before she could impact with the ground a third time.

"Quite some hands you have there." Nikki said with a smirk.

"Hush you." Cam said with a brief glance in the other woman's direction.

All the time she was thinking that if anything happened to Sammy, Amanda would never forgive her. Musing out loud. She asked, "Who knew the little spitfire couldn't stand the sight of her own blood?"

Continued In Part 4.

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