White Lily

Even Closer

Written By | Series: So Close

Notes and Disclaimers: All of the characters below are owned by Columbia Tristar and Jeff Lau, and probably some other people that I can’t find listed on the credits.

This story is a fanfic based on the movie So Close, originally released in Hong Kong as Chik Yeung Tin Sai, starring Karen Mok as Kung and Vicky Zhao (Zhao Wei) as Sue. This is a really kick ass HK action flick – strongly recommended for action fans and yuri fans alike.

There may be a sequel in the works, so if you want to see more of Kung and Sue, please let me know atyuricon@gmail.com.

Suport Yuri in the only way that really counts – visit the Yuricon website and buy yuri manga from ALC Publishing!

And, as always, “Worldshaking” Fanfic supports the Fanfic Revolution, because fanfic doesn’t have to suck.

 

Even Closer

 

Prologue

It had been a long time since I’d last thought about it at all.

About her.

I mean, you don’t. You move on, knowing that it’ll just become another memory eventually. I guess there are people that don’t move on, but I’m not one of them.

After the case was closed, it was obvious that I’d never go anywhere in the police force again. I’d made myself too important to get rid of, but there was no one on the force that’d ever work with me. I even had Siu Ma transferred, just to protect him from the stigma of being my partner. He was such a cute kid, so eager, so pliable – it was obvious that his career would be over if he stuck around with me…so I got rid of him. Told him that he was incompetent, insulted his family and ordered him out by morning. Poor guy didn’t know what hit him. Last time he came to visit me, I could see that I had been right. He looked good, well fed, happy, and the ring on his left hand proclaimed his maturity clearly. Yeah, he needed that career. When he left after an awkward few minutes, I felt better about him, at least.

So, after it was all over and everything had settled down, I returned to work, did the paperwork, closed the case, and spent the next few years doing what you do when you’ve given up your career and all you have left is a job.

I did my job.

Stayed at my desk, filling out other people’s forms, making deductions no one listened to and, occasionally, when they needed someone smarter than they were to turn a case around, they brought me out to be brilliant then shoved me back into the basement as fast as possible. It wasn’t my name that appeared in the papers when they made the bust, either, but I didn’t care about that.

I didn’t care about much, I guess.

I was in the hospital recovering from a bullet wound from, of all things, a bank robbery. It was so stupid, I wasn’t even in the bank for any particular reason – just a feeling that made me wander in and look around. When it all went down, I was able to bring the leader of the gang down, but not before I took a bullet in the leg. It hurt like hell, but I wouldn’t let them drug me up. I couldn’t sleep even with the drugs, anyway – I’d just lay there, reminding myself to breathe and trying not to think about things. And then the box came.

When the nurse delivered it, I was needing a cigarette, but the nurses didn’t look kindly on patients smoking in bed, so I was sitting there, practicing martial arts in my head and singing, because it annoyed the other people in the room.

The nurse came in with a big smile and a chirpy greeting. She looked relieved that I had finally gotten some kind of acknowledgement of my injury. Everyone else in the room had had a steady stream of visitors, cards and flowers. I had had Siu-Ma for about fifteen minutes and that had been about it. So she plopped the box down with an admonition to not get too excited and flounced out, looking pleased with herself.

I looked at the box with surprise and some trepidation. I had worked pretty hard to forget it all, put the Computer Angel case behind me and move on. But there that box was, sitting on the end of my hospital bed, making me remember everything.

It all came back to me in a rush. The Computer Angels – Lynn and her sister, Sue, who had inherited her father’s genius, but not his complacency. Lynn’s fighting skills, Sue’s technological wizardry, the rush of adrenaline as I chased them down, and ultimately threw away my career to avenge Lynn’s death at the hands of a corrupt corporate megalomaniac. It felt totally unreal, even though I had lived through it myself.

I remembered the first clue I found that made me aware of their extraordinary skills – a hole two inches deep in the ceiling. It hadn’t taken me too much to guess that it was from a high-end and spectacularly fashionable shoe. Not one of the cops I told seemed to understand that what had meant. A heel-print. In the *ceiling.*

Later, after I had seen Lynn fight – had fought her myself – I realized that I was in the presence of genius. At the time, though, all I knew was that this case was different.

The computer records had been the second clue. The entire system had been hacked – even the radio frequency that connected the security guards. It was like the so-called “Computer Angel” had been able to see where everyone and everything had been, like pieces on a board.

And then I had met Sue, and seen through her electronic eyes and I understood that behind this crime lay a completely different type of genius. It might have been their father’s work, the ability to access any close-circuit camera anywhere, but it was Sue’s analytical abilities that enabled Lynn to slide in and out of a place like she was invisible.

And, although a long time had passed, and Lynn was dead, and Sue had promised to lay the Computer Angel myth to rest, and I had spent a very long time trying to forget everything that had happened, there was a white box at the end of my bed and it all came back to me in one huge, overwhelming wave.

So, there it was and there I was and I was losing the staring contest. The box had no trouble just staying where it was, while I wanted to jump up and pace and poke it with a stick to see if it would explode.

But I knew it wouldn’t. I knew what it was and who it was from as soon as I saw it in the nurse’s hand. I knew what was in it – and why it was sent.

I struggled to sit up, grimacing at the pain in my leg, and wondering what I should do with the box. I wanted to open it. I wanted to call the nurse and tell her to get rid of it.

I had just made up my mind and reached out to pull it close when my phone rang. I jumped so hard that I almost knocked the box off that shelf on wheels-thingy the nurse had put it on, but ended up grabbing the shelf to steady myself and ended up pulling it closer after all.

“Speak,” I snapped into the phone, assuming it was another call from internal affairs.

“Well?”

I hadn’t heard that voice for years, and it was only one word, but I knew who it was immediately.

“Well what?” I answered, trying to keep my cool and not pant into the phone, despite that fact that my heart was racing out of control.

“Did you open it yet?”

I stared at the phone in surprise. “Can’t you…I mean, you know I haven’t.”

There was a moment’s pause and the softest sigh – I could almost feel the breath move against my ear. “No. I can’t see you.”

“Oh.” I had no idea what to say. What *do* you say to a person who has lost something so intrinsic to themselves, so much a part of who they are and what they do, that it was hard to distinguish where they began and the system they used took over?

“I told you – don’t you remember – that day. Computer Angel is gone forever.” She couldn’t hide the sadness in her voice. She probably didn’t try. “So?”

I tucked the phone under my chin and opened the box. As I suspected, it contained a small, delicious-looking cake. I stuck my finger into the icing; a little sorry that she didn’t have her closed-circuit eyes at that moment, and stuck the finger into my mouth. It was exquisite. Smooth, creamy, light – this was a cake to savor. I smiled into the receiver as I licked my finger clean.

“Delicious,” I said. “But you knew that.”

“Mmm,” she sounded distracted for a moment, then her voice was louder, if not clearer. Through a mouth full of food I could make out “Mine’s good too.”

I laughed out loud, because in my mind’s eye, I could see her stuffing her face full of cake and grinning at me.

“So?” It was my turn to ask. I was pretty sure that she didn’t just call to see how I was doing.

“So,” she said enigmatically. “I could use some help.” I could tell that the admission wasn’t easy for her, but there was another note in her voice, something anticipatory and when I answered, I could hear it in my voice too.

“Yeah? What’s up?”

There was silence again and the sound of a finger being sucked clean of icing. “When you get out, look for me. You know where.”

And then there was the silence that comes from being hung up on. I snapped the phone closed and buzzed the nurse. After an increasingly heated argument about the use of hospital flatware, I pulled my pocketknife out of the side table and sliced myself off a piece of the cake. It was goddamn delicious.

 

Chapter 1

I was still walking with a cane when I left the hospital, but it wasn’t a big deal – more for balance than anything, since my leg was still a little questionable on turns. It still hurt like hell sometimes, but I tossed the painkillers down the toilet as soon as I got home.

My supervisor had eagerly offered me leave for a few weeks until I recovered, but I was betting that while I was gone, they were cleaning out my desk and packing up my things in preparation for my early retirement. I thought about it for a while, trying to decide if I was upset, but I guess that’s the price you pay for killing an important guy with his own sword…even if the fucker deserved it.

I had a few weeks off to look forward to and was already bored and fidgety. I paced the apartment slowly, leaning on my cane, ignoring the pain and wondered what I’d do with myself for the next month.

I stared out the window for a while, watching the people walk by all in a rush, running around like insects, and I wondered what it was like, when she had had all her eyes, all those cameras, watching all the time, everywhere.

Pulling back from the window, I knew I had made up my mind. I turned the lights off in the apartment and walked out.

***

The bakery was mostly empty. That was all right – they did a steady business, not a crazy one. This shop wasn’t the cheapest, or the flashiest – just the best.

I leaned on the counter, looking down at the cakes, and trying to give my bad leg a break. It throbbed with exhaustion and all I had done was walk a block or two. Or three. Whatever. I was feeling a little sick with the pain and the cakes weren’t helping. The sugary smell of the shop turned my stomach. I glanced up, but there was no sign of her, and it wasn’t like this was a place you could hide, so I turned to leave when my phone rang.

“Speak!” I said out of habit.

“Turn around,” she said, her voice heavy with irony. I whipped my head towards the window and she smiled back at me from the street, lifting her hand in a gun shape and “shooting” me. She thought she was so clever, turning our positions around from the last time we had met here. I wanted to be pissed off at her, I really did. Hah. Hah. But instead, I stopped the smile that was forming on my lips and just nodded in acknowledgement. I snapped my phone shut, then limped out of the bakery, feeling a little dizzy.

She was there when I made the street, and it was her arms around me that I felt as I began to slip into a slithery sort of blackness that was really, really compelling.

 

Chapter 2

“You’re awake.”

I squinted through gummy eyelids and made a gurgling noise that meant, “Obviously.”

“Don’t move yet,” Her voice came closer and I could feel cool fingers brush my forehead. Something was lifted from my brow, and after a moment, a cool, wet cloth was draped across it. I lifted a hand to brush the sleep away from my eyes, but found myself holding her fingers instead.

“I said don’t move. You hit your head when you fell on the pavement. How do you feel?”

“Like shit,” I mumbled. “My name is Kung Yat-Hong, of the Hong Kong Police, rank…”

“Shut up.” She laughed and brushed my hand away from hers. “You don’t have a concussion – just a nasty cut where you hit the curb.” I could see her shape move and just about made out her smile. “Or do you think you’re being interrogated?”

I smiled with my mouth shut at that. “I guess that’s up to you.”

She stood and started walking away, but I put a hand out to stop her. “Don’t go.”

“I’ll be right back with some tea.”

I made a face. “Do you have something stronger? I could really use a drink.” I closed my eyes. “And a cigarette.”

“Here’s an idea,” she said, coming closer again. “How about you eat something first, then we see whether you can handle a drink?”

I shrugged. “Whatever. What about the cigarette?”

“It’s a nasty habit – you should quit.”

“Yeah, yeah…” I reached out a hand, searching for my coat, but all I found were crisp white sheets in a clean room, with a vaguely floral scent. I looked around a little, noted that my head hurt, but only on the outside, and then looked around some more. “Nice place.”

She was holding a dish of rice, but her hands went a little limp – just for a second, then she recovered. When she spoke, her voice was light. “Thanks. I’ve been here…for a while.” A second or two later it dawned on me that she probably moved in here after her sister was killed. I would have felt shitty about saying anything, but I already felt shitty on my own, so I just added it to the list.

I must have been feeling somewhat okay, because at the sight of the food, my stomach grumbled audibly. I reached out for the bowl and managed to get my body upright. There wasn’t any dizziness, or confusion, which was a small relief.

“Damn I’m hungry.” I said, after the first mouthful. I looked up to thank her, but her head was turned and her bangs covered her eyes. “Hey,” I said gently. “Thanks.”

When she turned to me, her face was happy again, but I could see that sad thing in her eyes and I though that it was impossibly attractive. She spun away, smiling, and plopped herself into a chair while I ate, spinning around in a circle, singing something to herself.

After a few mouthfuls, I stopped and shot her a hard look. “I hit my head?” I asked. Without stopping her spinning, or singing, she nodded. “You’re getting slow,” I said and turned my attention back to the bowl.

“And you’re getting fat,” she shot right back at me without a break in her motion. I tried to watch but it made me dizzy. I could see that she was smiling, now.

“Okay, I’m finished,” I said, struggling out of the bed a little slowly, because the pain in my head had made me forget the pain in my leg and moving was a whole new revelation of the kind of hurt I could feel. “Now let’s go get a drink.” I hobbled over to the chair where my jacket hung and grabbed it up. “And a smoke.”

 

Chapter 3

We found a bar in the neighborhood and got ourselves a table. Well, I say bar, but it was really a trendy clubby type thing, where all the women wear shoes that cost more than my entire wardrobe. I felt out of place in my wrinkled linen jacket and hospital-issue cane, but I was used to that. Sue, on the other hand, looked right at home. Her suit was Armani, her shoes were the latest fashion and her hair looked like she had just seen a stylist that day. It was all very creepy – she didn’t much look like the girl I remembered, lost in grief for her murdered sister and looking for someone to hold on to. No, this woman was independent, cool, mature, tough. It looked good on her.

“You look nice. What’d you do, dress up for me?” I smiled wryly to let her know I was joking, but when she looked up at me through dark eyelashes, the smile slipped.

“I did, thanks for noticing.” Her eyes caught mine for a second, then moved off to catch the waiter’s attention.

“So,” I tried to belay my reaction to all this by being all business-like. “You said you needed help?” I took a deep breath. “I assumed you meant professionally.” I turned away, just for a second, ostensibly to find a cigarette, but really to give myself a moment away from those eyes.

She looked at me sharply, a little hurt. “Yes, and it’s all legit.” She smiled brightly at the waiter and tucked into her drink as it was placed on the table in front of her. It was another minute or so before she even looked at me again. “Sorry,” she sounded contrite. “I…I just wanted….” She sighed. “I don’t know what I expected, but I hoped to….oh, hell.”

I watched her suffer alone for a moment, not because I’m cruel or anything, but because I was sitting there suffering too. I had no idea where to begin with her and now that she was right in front of me, I was flailing around, desperately trying to figure out where to start. I wondered if the head wound was making me dizzy, but it might just have been her perfume. The problem was, and always had been, that we didn’t live in the same world. When we met, I had been a cop, she had been a bad guy. Now I wasn’t anything and I didn’t know what she was. I just had no idea where we might find common ground.

“Sue,” I said, just as she said my name. We smiled awkwardly at each other.

I gestured, “You first.”

She shook her head. “No way. You first.”

“No…look,” I shook my head and stared at my drink. “You called me.” My head had started to pound a little with the loud music, so I didn’t feel too bad about the petulance creeping into my voice.

Sue sucked at the straw in her brightly colored drink and disappeared into her own mind. I could see her eyes get far away and her face just shut down. I watched as something passed through her mind, something that she didn’t want me to have to deal with – or didn’t know how to share.

“I’m legit.” She sounded just as petulant as I had. The hair had fallen in front of her eyes again, but her mouth was pouty – all of a sudden she looked exactly the way I remembered her looking, back when we first met. “I promised you…and Lynn.” She opened her mouth, then snapped it shut and reached down for her purse. After a second or two, she pulled out a business card and slid it across the table. I looked down at the small beige piece of paper and read.

“Private Eyes, on- and offline security specialists.” I looked up and met her eyes. “Security?”

Her face split into a lopsided grin which made her look sixteen. “Keep reading.”

I dropped my eyes, and my jaw followed suit. “Vice President?”

“Here.” She slid another card across the table, her eyes down. “Now read this one.”

I did and jumped back in my seat. “What?” I demanded. “What on earth?”

Sue lifted the card in between two fingers and waved it around. “Just what it says. I want you to come work for me.” She slapped the card down and I looked at it again, tracing the words with my eyes. Kung Yat-Hong, Director of Offline Security.

“But, what does it mean?” I asked. “Offline Security?”

Sue sat back with a small smile. “I handle all the network security for our clients. Basically, I hack into their systems and make them pay to get me out.”

“And that’s legitimate?” I asked, one eyebrow raised.

“Completely. We do the same for offline security.” Her voice was a challenge, and I looked up at her once more.

“You do the same…?” The seconds ticked away while I processed what she had told me. “You want me to break into a client’s building?”

She crossed her arms and smiled. “All completely legal.”

I looked at the card she held between two fingers, then back into her eyes. I found my face mimicking hers, our smiles widening at each other’s reaction.

I laughed and took the card from her hand, breathing in a lungful of nicotine, then exhaling with a smile. “I’ll think about it.”

Sue was already bouncing in her seat. With a quick movement, she got up and dragged me by the arm. “Let’s dance,” she said suddenly. “I feel like moving.”

I tried to resist, but my balance was shot because of the bad leg, so I found myself being dragged along onto a dance floor obscured by flashing lights. The music was so loud, I couldn’t think at all, so I watched Sue move while I basically stood still and nodded my head and moved my arms a little.

She moved nicely, which was no surprise to me. I had seen her fight; seen her quick, precise motions, her fluidity. She hadn’t been as smooth as her sister, or as graceful, but what she lacked in grace, she had made up for in raw energy. On the dance floor, that raw energy was even more visible. Men and women moved up to her, trying to cut in on her dance, but Sue danced alone, never further than an inch or two outside touching distance from me. Her eyes were closed, and her face moved from side to side with the music, but all the same, she was dancing for me and after a while, everyone knew it. When the crowd moved a little away from us, Sue moved closer to me, one arm on my elbow, holding me steady, even as her gyrations continued. I found myself staring at her openly, watching the way her hips moved, the curve of her back, her chest, and when her hair passed across my face, my hand followed its motion.

At some point, my arm slipped around her waist and her body moved against mine. When one of her thighs brushed my own, Sue’s eyes opened and she smiled up at me through her bangs. It took everything I had not to kiss her right there, but I dug deep and found one last pocket of resistance within me. I dropped my arm from around her waist and stepped away, then turned and limped in the general direction of the exit.

About four steps off the dance floor she caught up with me and spun me around. Looking right into her eyes, I said, “My leg aches.” Then I pretended not to see how badly I had hurt her.

I left her alone in the club, called a cab – a rare and expensive admission of my weakness. At home I took a glass of cold water and poured it over my head, popped an over-the-counter painkiller and went to bed.

 

Chapter 4

I woke feeling worse than just my leg could account for. My head hurt, my stomach felt sour and worst of all, I woke feeling frustrated and over-stimulated. I guessed that I had had some pretty hard dreams, too, because even my skin felt over-sensitive to the touch. I checked my temperature, in case I was coming down with something, but that wasn’t it. I stared at myself in the mirror, pulling down my lower eyelid and checking my tongue…my liver was a little undernourished and maybe my kidney was a little too yang, but I attributed all that to the crappy food I had to eat at the hospital. I was running too hot. Yeah, no kidding.

After a healthy breakfast, I put on some running clothes and forced myself out onto the street. Running was out of the question, but if I didn’t use the leg, it wasn’t ever going to get better, so I took as brisk a walk as I could to the pharmacist. Mr. Cheung was in and he had a look at my tongue, took my pulses and wrote me out a prescription. I thanked him, shook his hand and went over to the counter to have it filled.

It was while I watched Mr. Cheung’s assistant ran around and gather the herbs for my medicinal tea that I finally started thinking about the night before.

I kept replaying in my mind what Sue had done, what I had done, what I had said…and not said. And standing there, with my nose full of the bitter smell of herbs and my eyes peering through the mirky lighting, I couldn’t for the life of me think what the hell I’d been thinking when I left her behind in that club.

“Do you have something for curing stupid decision-making?” I asked the assistant, Hong.

He smiled at me, his tongue visible in the gap where his two front teeth were missing. “If we had that, we’d be rich, right?”

I smiled back and took the package he gave me, paid, and left with a wave. On the main street once again, I checked my phone, but there were no messages. With a sinking feeling, I realized that I was going to have to grovel if I really wanted to make it better between us.

But, did I?

My life was a lot easier this way – less complicated, certainly. By myself I only had one person to answer to, one job to do. If I called Sue, then that would all be over. I’d have a new career, maybe a new lover, a whole new self. I closed the phone and put it back in my pocket.

I just wasn’t sure that a new self was what I really wanted.

****

It was immediately apparent that someone had broken into my place. I could see that the door was standing open from the street. Of course, I didn’t have my gun. I berated myself for a solid sixteen seconds, then knocked on a neighbor’s door and asked to be let in. Old Mrs. Tsao was as crazy as a loon, but her heart was good and her mind sometimes kicked into a kind of lucidity.

“Mrs. Tsao,” I spoke pleasantly, so she wouldn’t get upset. “Can I leave this package here?” I stuck the bag of herbs into one of her kitchen cabinets, sliding the revolver that sat in the back forward as I made the exchange. She nodded vacantly and asked if I wanted some tea. I shook my head and told her that I’d be back to pick it up in a little while. She patted me on the shoulder and told me I was a good girl, then walked me out into the street.

I stuck the revolver I had pulled out of the cabinet into the back of my pants. Everyone in the building knew about the revolver – Old Mr. Tsao had brought it home with him from the war, and kept it clean, but when he died, Mrs. Tsao had just kind of forgotten about it. The cabinet was way too high up for her to reach, and she had no reason to use it. Every once in a while, I’d sneak in and clean it, then clean the old lady’s kitchen up, as a kind of rental fee. She had no idea why, but she told everyone what a good girl I was, and everyone just nodded in agreement, then winked at me behind Mrs. Tsao’s back.

I walked up the stairs slowly, trying not to make any noise, then slid my back against the wall and stalked closer to my apartment, pulling the gun out of my pants. The doorway was dark, but it was daytime, and I wouldn’t have seen a light inside anyway. Just out of reach of the door, I stood and listened for noise, but couldn’t hear anything. Not that that meant anything – If *I’d* been waiting inside, I’d keep quiet too.

I slipped around the corner, the gun held out in front of me now. There was no one in the door, or the hall and I stepped into the room, with a quick motion from right to left, covering the area in a single motion. I swept the room, and lifted my gun up, then dropped it down to my side as I stared into my apartment in annoyance.

 

Chapter 5

“Took you long enough,” she said, after swallowing an overlarge mouthful of sandwich. She had made quite a variety of sandwiches, and had eaten at least one other, since the crusts sat on her plate like gnawed bones. She gestured magnanimously to my only other chair. “Have some lunch.”

I stuck the gun back into my waistband, but made no move to join her. “What are you doing?”

“Eating lunch.” She rolled her eyes like I was a complete dunce. “Obviously.”

“I don’t mean that and you know it.” I watched her take another bite. My stomach grumbled, and she laughed. I took a seat, but made no move to eat anything. For the next few minutes, Sue methodically chewed her sandwich, then drank a glass of iced tea, and I watched her, while neither of us gave an inch.

When she was done, a second set of bread crusts laid to rest on her plate, she sat back with a sigh and patted her stomach. “Ah, that was good.” She glanced at me, gesturing to the remaining sandwiches. “You really ought to have one. I made them and everything.”

“What are you doing here?” My hand ostentatiously moved towards the gun at my back. She just rolled her eyes again.

“I’m not your enemy,” she began. “There *isn’t* any enemy, Kung. You’re going to have to learn how to function during peacetime, if you want to survive.”

“I’m a cop,” I answered. “There isn’t any peacetime.”

She gave me a sharp look, but didn’t respond. She stood and walked over to the refrigerator, opened it and poured herself another glass of iced tea from my pitcher. “Help yourself,” I said ironically, as she swung the fridge door shut.

Once she had seated herself, Sue pinned me with a hot look. “Look,” she said, her voice firm and a little sharp, as if she were scolding someone who ought to know better. “What happened last night was the kind of thing that could kill anyone’s friendship and I don’t want that to happen. You’re much too tough to ever say you’re sorry and I shouldn’t have to, since I was the one being honest, so I thought I’d just bypass the whole thing and pretend it never happened.” She took a long drink from her glass. “And this way we can start over. All the way over.”

I blinked at her, totally surprised by this little speech – I’d never heard anyone ever talk this bluntly before, except me, and that was always to avoid getting hurt. Or involved. Or even close.

Once before I had found myself getting too close to someone. Once, when we had first met, Sue had come right out and asked if there was any chance that, if she wasn’t a bad guy and I wasn’t a cop, there might be something between us. I hadn’t ever answered her.

And now, she wasn’t a bad guy and I probably wasn’t a cop. And I was even closer to losing myself than I was the last time.

So, now the ball was in my court. Part of me wanted to pick at the wound from the night before, make it bleed and drive her away. Part of me wanted to start from scratch. And part of me wanted to go back to bed, to just run away from making any decision at all. I scratched around the stitches in my leg as I thought, and Sue just sat there watching me, offering nothing, not even a look I could try and misinterpret. If I was going to cause a fight, I was going to have to do it all by myself.

I chewed my lip for a while and the silence just grew and grew, but she never even shifted. After about five agonizing minutes, I gave in. “Okay, we’ll start over.”

She shot me a tight smile and slapped her hand on the table. “Here,” she said, and stood. Putting her empty glass into the sink, she walked out of the room. Right before I heard the door slam, she said, “Call me.” Then the door closed and I was alone in my apartment, staring down at a little beige business card inscribed with my name, and possibly my fortune.

After a while, I ate a sandwich.

It was terrible.