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chills dripping like acid rain, keep coming back cos it's you i crave

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“Are you romantically interested in our boss?”

“Huh?! What the hell do you think you’re asking?!” Zapp snaps. The question, coming from Zed, catches her completely off guard. They were alone in the office, with the man in question having just left a few moments ago, and the room was otherwise silent, until Zed decided to open his mouth and ask her a dumbass question like that.

“Am I wrong? I’ll admit I don’t have any real experience in that area, but sometimes when I watch the way you interact with him-”

“What?! Just what kind of impression do you get from it, fishbrain?” She’s defensive, but that’s only because he’s coming completely out of left field with utter bullshit. For the life of her, Zapp can never figure out what her partner is thinking, and she’s sure that all of this is just more of his culture shock bullshit, since he’s hardly had any human interaction before becoming a member of Libra.

“To put it bluntly, the way you harass him is almost reminiscent of a playground bully who has a crush on her victim,” Zed replies. “Or, so I’ve heard. Or...read, rather.”

“So you read some elementary school romance and now you think you’re the expert?”

“Not exactly, no, but I’m only saying that your behavior seems to be that, but on a greater scale. And if I’m being completely honest, Zapp, if anyone I’ve met would act like an elementary schooler around the object of their affection, it would definitely be you.” He delivers the final blow so decisively that their argument quickly turns incoherent, mostly on her side, as she struggles to figure out what to say, knowing only that she needs to shut this shit down before he gets any more weird ideas.

And Zed backs off after a little while, because he claims he finds arguing with her to be pointless, and that’s good enough for now. Seriously, what does he know, anyway?

~X~

Zapp Renfro doesn’t get crushes. She never has, and she’s been around enough men that she probably could have gotten with one whenever she wanted, but she hasn’t wanted to. Besides not getting crushes, she also has no desire for a real relationship, seeing no point in tying herself down when she’s on the all-important quest to have really great sex.

Though fucking is, at times, more about survival than anything else to her, it’s still become a hobby of hers in the years since she managed to escape the hellish nightmare that was her training. Sleeping around usually guarantees her a place to stay for the night and sometimes gets her free food or extra cash when money is low, and, if what her frequently changing partners say is true, she’s pretty damn good at it. So, as far as survival goes, sex definitely does its job.

But the truth is, her being good at it does nothing to save the performances of others, and sometimes, Zapp has to ask herself if that’s really all there is to it. Is this really the best she can hope for? She’s seen enough porny films- even starred in a couple, though that career never took off- in which the girl has the absolute time of her life, and she has to wonder if that really is all just part of some fantasy, or if she could someday, maybe, have a mind-blowingly fantastic orgasm.

How could she be stupid enough to fall for someone or tie herself down to one person, before she’s achieved something like that? It’s her own personal quest, and she won’t rest until goal has been met. Either that, or she’ll die trying, and they can really say that she died as she lived.

Even if she were to fall for someone, like hell she’d fall for someone like Klaus. Zed is completely out of his mind to suggest something like that. For one thing, he’s got that scary face and the only other guy she hangs out with that has such an unfortunate look to him is Zed himself, and he’s probably the only one who would be an even worse choice than Klaus. She’s fucking hot , so why would she bother going under her league like that?

For another thing, that’s still her boss, and that would be weird as hell. He was the first one she met when she came to the city and was still trying to figure out how to use the skills she’d learned- more like the skills she’d had brutally beaten into her out in the wilderness- to survive in this hellhole, and offered her work that didn’t involve sharing a different bed every night. With all that in mind, having a crush on him would be so weird , why would she ever even think about that?

The only thing he has going for him, she decides, is that he has really nice arms and is super shredded. Even if he isn’t textbook handsome, he’s got some qualities to him that she can admit are sexy, but he’s such a gentleman it’s not like he’s going to throw her over the bed and absolutely decimate her any time soon. The closest she’ll ever get to that is how he thoroughly kicks her ass every time she decides to challenge him.

He’s a nice guy, nice to a fault and not the sort of person who would ever want to get mixed up with someone like her. All in all, it was a stupid assumption on Zed’s part, and one that she hopes they can put behind them and forget.

~X~

“The thing about the chief,” she says, the next time she’s alone with Zed and can talk to him, “is that I don’t want anything with him, I just want him dead! You should already know that, that’s why I’m always going at him!”

“That’s an odd way to start a conversation,” Zed replies. “Last time we talked, you told me to never bring that up again, but here you are, bringing it up.”

“Because I don’t want you walking around with the wrong idea! So that’s why I’m trying to set you straight,” she insists, irritated that he’s pointed that out to her. Maybe she did say that and maybe she had resolved to forget about it, but she couldn’t stop thinking about it, so now she has to get all of this out there. “So, for once and for all, I just want him dead, and I’ve gotta be the one to do it. Obviously.”

“That’s...an interesting relationship to have with one of your friends,” says Zed, “and on top of that, a rather lofty goal, don’t you think?”

“The hell’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, ever since I’ve met you, I’ve never seen you come even remotely close to landing a hit on him, that’s all. You’re always defeated in a matter of seconds,” he says, and Zapp scowls at him.

“So maybe I just gotta train harder, so what?” she snaps.

“Ah, yes, perhaps if you trained at all ...still, it’s nothing to lose heart over. I doubt I would be able to take him on myself, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a reflection of your own failings.”

“Well, duh, you couldn’t take him out, I’m totally stronger than you,” she grumbles, and usually, this is the point where Zed would insist that they’re evenly matched at best, and scold her for not taking training as seriously as he does, what would Master think, blah, blah, fucking blah…

But instead, Zed looks at her intently and she squirms under his gaze, both irritated and intimidated as she struggles to understand what the hell he’s thinking. When he does speak, he says, “I just don’t know if that’s a good enough excuse for your behavior. Really, I don’t know why you feel like you have to make excuses. I’m not going to tell him if you do li-”

“That is not it!” she interrupts, wishing he would just shut up . “That’s absolutely not even a little bit it, alright? Okay, so maybe I think it’s kinda hot when we’re fighting and it gets really heated and all that, but that’s not a crush thing! That’s a fuck thing! So you need to get that through your head right now!”

“Ah, so it’s just a sexual attraction, not a romantic one,” he says, and she immediately regrets her words. She didn’t mean to admit to those feelings out loud; hell, she barely admits those feelings to herself, so telling anyone, much less a thorn in her side like Zed , was never on the agenda.

But as much as she does hate to admit it, that is how she feels. She can want to find Klaus unappealing all day long, and it doesn’t change the fact that those big arms and the way he can toss her around like she’s weightless really do it for her, and that she’s spent the entire time knowing him wishing that he would drop the gentleman act for just one night at least , and fuck her until she couldn’t walk again. Maybe then she would finally achieve her goal of having exceptionally great sex, and if it were with someone she knew so well, like Klaus, then…

Well.

The point is, she wants to fuck him, she knows that she wants to fuck him, and rather than doing anything about this, she tries to ignore it, and when she can’t ignore it, she gets pissed off. There’s no better way to vent frustrations than getting physical, and if that can’t be carried out in bed, then beating the ever-loving shit out of the man responsible is the next best thing. Except she has no chance against him and he always hands her ass directly to her after any confrontation, gentlemanly behavior be damned. She may be a lady- so he claims, but she’s never seen herself as a lady- but all are equal in battle. Honestly, she kind of likes that he takes that approach, and doesn’t mind getting her ass kicked nearly as much as she would have everyone else believe.

“Yeah, so it is,” she mutters, feeling even more pissed off now. “So just let it drop, and never talk to me about this again.”

“As long as you don’t bring it up first, that won’t be a problem,” Zed says, and Zapp sticks her tongue out at him, the only proper way to end such a conversation.

~X~

In the end, however, Zapp does bring it up to him again, because she feels strangely liberated after telling Zed about her secret lust. It’s not something she’s ever had the chance to talk to anyone about, and being able to verbally vent is a nice feeling. Zed wouldn’t have been her first choice for such venting, but then again, she didn’t want anyone to know, and she has a feeling he’s just socially clueless enough to actually keep it to himself and not know how to use the information against her, so maybe he was a good choice after all.

With that in mind, she has no choice but to spend more time with the fishy fuck, because who else is she going to talk to about this? Once it’s out in the open, it seems much harder to hide from, and she wants to be able to get everything out of her system. Since fucking Klaus is a complete impossibility, all things considered, she hopes that just venting it away might finally cure her of the sexual frustration, and all the while, she will continue to search for that elusive act otherwise known as having really great sex.

Zed is, predictably, put off by her desire to talk to him about such things, and tries to dissuade her from it, but he swears not to tell anyone and Zapp makes herself impossible to ignore. It’s funny that she would force him to be her confidant after spending so much time trying to avoid him, but at least the two of them are spending time together. They are supposed to be partners, after all.

~X~

Zed kind of hates Zapp’s newfound habit of seeking him out to vent her sexual frustrations. It isn’t that much different than their normal interactions, since she’s rarely not complaining about something, but these are more personal matters, for one thing, and for another thing, she can find someone else to vent to about pretty much anything else, but has, for whatever reason, decided that he’s the only one she can talk to about this.

He hates it, but he listens to her anyway, and he has no idea why he does that. At first, he tries to put a stop to it, but she’s persistent, and after a while, he stops trying and just accepts it, without understanding why. Maybe it’s because it’s the closest thing to a positive relationship they’ve had since he came to the city, and, despite greatly disliking how vulgar and brash she is, he wants to be able to utilize their complementary fighting styles to the best of their abilities. Before he met her, he’d been so curious about the student who came before him, and he’d looked forward to being able to work with her.

So that might explain why he allows her to talk about this, even though he knows nothing about romance and even less about sex, and despite all that still isn’t entirely convinced her feelings are just what she says they are. He hates to admit it, but this makes her seem a little more human to him, vulgarity of the topic aside, and it’s hard to completely hate her when he ends up spending so much time talking to her.

Another thing that he hates to admit is how much he admires her fighting style. It’s easy to trace it back to the source, but she is not a direct copy of their master by any stretch of the imagination, and has made it her own in so many ways. She’s agile and decisive, with a versatility that he has never been able to adapt into his own style, perhaps because he lacks the creativity that she does, and is altogether too serious and by-the-book. As irritating as it is to see her use her abilities outside of battle, she’s so creative with how she works her powers into her everyday laziness that he can’t help but be a little envious.

Beauty is a concept that he doesn’t spend nearly as much time thinking about as he did in the past, but for the majority of his early years, he dedicated quite a bit of time thinking about it. His former master was fond of discussing it, and Zed became better versed in poetry than he did anything that would benefit him when he began living life outside of a tank.

He understands what beauty is and the many forms that it can take, and Zapp would likely never fit into any definition of “beautiful,” subjective or otherwise. Even her popularity with men comes from something other than beauty, though Zed supposes that she is attractive, in her own way, but there is a roughness to her that doesn’t lend to her beauty. He knows all of that, but secretly, there is a part of him that watches her fight, watches the way she carries herself, and, even though he sees that she’s lacking in anything resembling gracefulness, he can’t help but think it.

There is something beautiful and there is something poetic in the way that she moves, and he studies her fighting style carefully, without letting her catch on. He admires from afar, while simultaneously hating her, and it’s nothing that he ever has to dwell on. At least, until she starts using him as her shoulder to bitch on, and he spends so much time with her that he has a hard time keeping his thoughts in check.

And sometimes she isn’t even venting and she’s just talking, and she’ll get excited about something and her eyes will seem so bright, and she has such a wide smile, and he wonders, before he can catch himself, if he was wrong in thinking that she wasn’t beautiful. That is always a bit harder to shake off, but he manages, usually because she’s switched tunes in an instant, and has already started making fun of him, so they can get back to arguing like they always do.

He doesn’t know why she wants to spend so much time complaining to him, but he decides that it’s not really a problem, so long as they can use this newfound closeness to benefit their battle strategy. That’s all that Zed cares about where Zapp is concerned, after all.

~X~

For the most part, Zed has the good sense not to bring up the Forbidden Concept again, but there are times when he hints at it, and Zapp has to harshly press on, ignoring any implications that she might have any deeper feelings. She isn’t talking to him to get his opinion on her lack of a love life, and the fact that he thinks he can weigh in really pisses her off.

And then one day he really does cross the line, asking her outright, “Do you really think an obsession like this can be written off as...well, how you describe it?” He doesn’t say it how she says it, probably because he doesn’t want to utter the phrase, “horny as fuck.”

“Uh, obviously? There’s not really any other way to put it, and don’t even say it, because I already know where you’re going with this,” she says. “It wasn’t that before, so it isn’t that now, end of discussion.”

“But it isn’t the end of the discussion, because you’re going to go right back to whining like I didn’t say anything,” Zed argues. “So, rather than staying on the same topic, we could actually make some progress…”

“There isn’t any progress to be made! Stop talking like you know it all when you don’t know anything,” she says. “Seriously, what experience do you even have?”

“You already know that I don’t have any. But even I can see-”

“Nope, I don’t wanna hear it. I’m more interested in your completely boring life now,” Zapp says. “So, you’ve never done anything at all, not even like...hit on a girl? Or anything?”

“Of course not, when would I have had the chance?”

“Uh, any time? We don’t keep you locked up in the office, dummy. If you don’t even know how to do that, then I don’t know why we’re wasting our time with all this .”

“And just what do you mean by that?”

“I mean, you’ve been listening to me bitch, and trying to have some input, even if your input isn’t helpful at all,” she says. “So, the least I could do is repay you some.” That’s only part of it; the main reason she wants to do this is for her own entertainment, and perhaps to get him off her back for a little while. Playing a saintly friend seems like the better option, though Zed would never fully fall for an act like that.

“Thanks, but I think enough payment would be leaving me out of your bitching,” says Zed. “How would you even repay me? I’m not sure I understand how any of this connects.”

“Isn’t it obvious? I’m gonna take you out and show you how it’s done! I’m gonna teach you how to pick up girls, and maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll even manage to get you laid before the night is through!”

Zed’s mouth hangs open in shock for a moment, before he’s able to properly formulate a reply, and even then, he stammers through it. “Y-you...what?! That’s the most ridiculous...why do you think I’d want that?”

“Cos everyone wants to get laid, fish brains,” she replies with a wave of her hand. “I know, I know, I’m pretty great for doing this for you, but as your senior, I guess it is kind of my responsibility. Don’t worry, you can thank me after it works. So, what time am I picking you up?”

~X~

Zed fights it with all he has, but he isn’t able to get out of going on a dinner date with Zapp.

~X~

She drops by the office the next evening, aggressively texting him to get his ass outside while she waits on her scooter, and then the two of them are off, to a restaurant a little bit nicer than their normal selection, but not so nice that they’re turned away for showing up in their usual clothes. Zapp hates the places that she has to dress up for, and she’s pretty sure some of those places might turn Zed away on principle.

The weirdest thing about the evening so far is how nice Zed is being. He hasn’t insulted her or picked a fight once since she got to the office, and didn’t even have anything to say about some of her nastier messages while she waited for him to come outside. It’s really unusual behavior for him, considering how rude he normally is to her, even when he’s polite to others.

“Just don’t let this go to your head,” she mutters. “This isn’t a date or anything, just dinner with a coworker. It’s just no one else could come, so it’s just us.”

Zed cocks his head. “Did you invite anyone else? I thought you said this was some sort of lesson for me, since you feel like you owe me for listening to you vent.”

“Yeah, that!” she snaps, not sure why she pulled out a bullshit excuse when she already had a reason for this, and even less sure why she felt the need to specify that it isn’t a date, when of course he knows that. Maybe it’s because he’s being so nice to her, and that’s throwing everything out of whack.

“Anyway,” she says, “tonight may be about you learning, but you better learn quick, cos I’m ditching you the first chance I get. Whether you get laid tonight or not, I’m sure as hell not going home empty-handed. If I’m lucky, I’m not going home at all.”

“You can spare me the details, Zapp. I really don’t have any interest in this, so if you want to ditch me, why don’t you just do it?”

“Cos then I might miss out on this free meal,” she replies.

“If this is to repay me, then why am I the one paying for dinner?” Zed demands.

 

Because a lady loves a guy who can really take care of her, so if you’re gonna impress anyone, you damn well better get used to spending money! Besides, I’m flat broke until payday, so if you don’t get this, I might starve,” she says, and he groans.

“Either way, I’m not sure where you expect us to start.”

“Well, we could start by figuring out what we’re looking for. What’s your type? What kind of girls do you like? Human, non-human, lil bit of both?” She raises her brows, and he shakes his head.

“I suppose I haven’t really thought about it that much. If she were pleasant enough to be around, I think I could fall for anyone, regardless of species, but my early upbringing certainly had a focus on human literature and whatnot, so I suppose if I had to have a preference, it would be humans,” he says, and Zapp blinks.

“You are so fucking lame. Seriously, you’re such a fucking dork , I don’t know how we’re going to make this work! Ugh, I’ve really got my work cut out for me on this one, don’t I?”

“You really don’t have to be rude!” he snaps, and it’s comforting, seeing him slip back into the personality that she knows. Polite Zed is not the Zed that she’s used to, and it’s all way too weird. “What kind of answer are you looking for, exactly?”

“Well, beyond what I already asked, I want to know your type . LIke, what you think is hot, stuff like that. I need something to start with,” she says.

“My...type?”

“As in looks! What kind of girl do you like? What would she look like?”

Zed appears to think on it for a moment, before he says, “I don’t really think I have much of a preference on that?”

Zapp groans, burying her head in her hands for a moment before looking back up at him. “How do you not even know that?”

“It isn’t as if I spend time with a lot of women. You’re one of the only ones I speak to regularly, you should know that.”

“Alright, so how about this. Me, KK, or Chain? Which one of us do you think is better looking?” she asks.

“Isn’t KK married?” he asks in return, and she wants to tear her hair out.

“I’m not suggesting you go hook up with her, dumbass! She’s just an example!”

“Even so, I wouldn’t pick her for that reason alone, even if she were the most attractive out of the three to me. It just doesn’t feel right.”

“Alright, well, I guess that’s some kind of answer. So, KK isn’t the top pick either way, so who is?” As she asks it, she realizes that, because she’s included herself in the list, it’s now a competition between her and Chain to determine who is more Zed’s type, and she has no idea how to feel about that. She has no idea why that concept feels so strange to her in the first place.

“I think you both have attractive qualities, but it’s hard to say that either of you are my type,” he answers, which isn’t really an answer at all. “It’s hard to base this just off looks. Maybe if I were, then…” He trails off, without finishing his sentence.

“What? Then what? Come on, we don’t have all night,” she snaps, sounding more irritated than she intended, but just about as irritated as she feels.

“Nothing, Zapp. I’m just saying that I’ll always go more off personality, and yours leaves a lot to be desired.”

“Better a bad personality than a freaky fish face,” she mutters, glaring down at the table. And then it hits her, something that she’s certain is wrong as soon as it occurs to her, because how could it not be wrong? But the thought still occurs to her, the realization that he was about to say something about how he would feel if he only went off looks, then proceeded to tell her he prefers personality and doesn’t like hers.

Which could mean that he would have chosen her based off looks alone, but chose not to say that.

Which she’s sure is wrong, or even if it isn’t, it can be nearly as big of a deal as she her pulse rate seems to think it is. In fact, it shouldn’t- doesn’t - matter to her at all, and she looks back up, choosing to ignore that he hasn’t commented on Chain one way or another. “That’s really no help at all. Seriously, you suck at this.”

“I don’t see why I have to answer all the questions.”

“Because you’re the one we’re trying to get laid tonight? But fine, I’ll bite. What questions do you want me to answer?”

“It just seems unfair that I have to answer questions about which of my coworkers I would rather date. Why don’t you give me your perspective?”

“Well, I don’t date, for one thing, but since we were talking about fucking to begin with, yeah, I guess I could. If that would really help inspire you to pick a type already so we could get on with it.”

“I already know pretty well how you feel about Klaus,” he says, “so what about...Leo?”

“Plain, shrimpy, probably nuts in point five seconds and then cries about it,” she says, waving her hand. “But he seems like the type to make you breakfast the morning after, even if it’s shitty breakfast.”

“That’s...some perspective. Hm, so what about Steven?” She doesn’t know why Zed is so curious, and doesn’t particularly like it. He’s probably just messing with her, to get back at her for her literal community service that he should be grateful for, but still.

“Asshole, kind of hate him, but he’s so good-looking that it’s criminal. He would definitely be one night stand worthy if it weren’t for all the baggage that would come with.” Again, she waves her hand.

“Dog Hummer?”

“Hottest man I’ve ever seen, Christ, I feel like that one should be obvious. He’s innocent as all fuck, though, not that that’s a bad thing. Plus he’s got the tagalong, not sure if that’s a bonus or a drawback, but he could coach the kid through it, and maybe even do some really freaky stuff, so-”

“Alright, I think I’ve heard enough of that,” Zed interrupts her.

“You’re the one who asked!” she snaps. “Just give me the next one, or whatever.”

“Alright…” He pauses for a moment, as if in deep thought. “What about Zed?”

“Fishy,” she deadpans. “Nice try, but you’re not gonna trick me that easy.”

“Trick you into what, exactly?” he asks. “You asked me how I would rank you, so isn’t that only fair?”

Flustered, she replies, “Well, yeah, but...but...that was so obviously you trying to confuse me! But if you want the honest truth, how am I supposed to know? I don’t even know if you have a dick or not. Or maybe there’s two, that’s a shark thing, right? Or is it really weird? These are the questions I need answers to!”

“Zapp!” Zed looks around, to see if anyone at nearby tables is listening in to the sudden topic shift to his genitals. Fortunately for him, no one seems to have noticed, and he says, “First of all, I’m not a shark. Second, I’m...mostly human? It’s a little bit...wait, that’s none of your business either way!”

With that, they’re able to fall into an easy argument, with Zapp harassing him and Zed growing more and more frustrated with her indecent behavior. Which is good, because bickering with him doesn’t take much thought, and Zapp is far too busy internally freaking out to put a lot of thought into anything right now. And why, exactly, is she so freaked out right?

Because she just now realized that she kind of wants to freaky with the merman sitting across the table from her.

It’s not a matter of wanting to know what he’s got going on below the waist, either; that’s just another part of the distraction, because, truthfully, it goes farther than just wanting to fuck him. She’s not just horny right now, and she knows she isn’t, because she’s only ever felt like this with two people- Klaus and, she’s realizing, Zed. And she’s always known that she wasn’t just horny and she hated it and she denied it and hated Zed for pointing it out, but yeah. Maybe she did have a crush on Klaus all along.

She did .

She doesn’t think she does anymore.

She doesn’t think she has for a while, because she hasn’t felt this combination of horny and something else around him like she used to, not for a little while now. But with Zed? Yeah, she’s starting to realize it’s been there, and it’s there really bad right now, and holy shit does she seriously have a thing for him? For Zed ? Naturally, there’s no other choice for her but to freak out, and try her damnedest to think of a way to make it stop already.

By the end of their date- Christ, she’s thinking about it as a date already- she has no answers, other than getting it out of her system. And so, Zapp decides that she needs to get it out of her system, not matter what the cost may be.

~X~

Zapp is irritable when he offers to ride home with her and walk back to the office on his own, rather than letting her drop him off, but she doesn’t resist as much as he expects her to. He feels like it’s the right thing to do, because even if tonight wasn’t a date, and even if Zapp is more than capable of defending herself, he still feels like he should make sure she makes it home alright.

He doesn’t know why he’s so concerned about her lately, but they soon arrive at her apartment, and he remarks on how this is a different address than the last one, and they’re arguing again, just like always. She gets evicted a lot because of her poor money management, he knows, and she gets sensitive when called out on it, and it’s hard to worry about his growing interest in her well-being when he’s too busy lecturing her about her spending habits.

“That’s not even the point, you know! Tonight’s not about why I should have a real bank account or whatever!” she snaps. “Tonight was supposed to be about you getting laid, and you didn’t even talk to any girls, not even once!”

“I talked to you,” he points out, even though he knows that that isn’t what she means. He doesn’t really know why he bothers saying it at all.

“That doesn’t count!” she retorts.

“Yeah, well, you also never ditched me,” he says. “What’s up with that?”

There’s a pause, one that goes on for a bit too long, and then Zapp is looking at him with a strange look on her face. Zed feels a little dizzy for a moment as she slowly smiles at him, moving closer and closer, and he feels powerless to step back.

“Fine,” she says, “maybe I can solve the problem for both of us, then.”

She kisses him.

Zed stands stockstill while Zapp Renfro, a look in her eyes that he just knows is what one would call “seductive,” leans forward and presses her lips to his face, and he completely forgets how to think. He lets her kiss him and his mind goes completely blank, and he is only brought back to reality when he feels the warmth of her body pressed against him. She hasn’t stopped kissing him yet, and at some point, without realizing it, he’s begun kissing her back, following her example since he has no idea how to do this on his own. That’s when it finally dawns on him, and he finally begins to understand what has been going on these past several weeks.

Oh, I see now , he thinks. I have a crush on Zapp.

He doesn’t know how long he’s liked her, but looking back, it must have been going on for a while, even before he started letting her vent to him and they started spending more time together. It was hate at first sight for the two of them, but even then, there was a strange sort of connection that he could never define, and his fixation with her fighting style, and his brain’s insistence that he think of her as beautiful. He never realized that he liked her because he’s never known how to like someone, and it’s always much easier to observe things in others than in yourself.

But she’s right; he has no experience in romance, and that’s why he was completely blind to his own feelings. Perhaps that’s also why he was too stupid to guard against falling for someone like her, a complete disaster that he’s sure will chew him up and spit him out, all while continuing to deny that she’s capable of any sort of feeling at all. His lack of experience must also account for why he decides, then and there, that he will see this through to the end, regardless of the outcome.

Zapp invites him in and he only briefly wonders about her feelings for Klaus, if any of that matters right now, as he follows her to his doom.

Which, true, is a pretty melodramatic way of putting out, but that’s how he feels as he follows her in and up the elevator, and then into her apartment, which is trashed, but not as trashed as he imagined it being. Her bedroom is slightly cleaner, probably because she entertains guests here- and Zed has to stop himself before he starts thinking about that too much. He is with Zapp , after all, and her behavior is no surprise. Which begs the question, why does he like her so much? Why does he want this so much?

Zapp carries on with stubborn determination, barely even looking at him as she locks the two of them into her bedroom and begins to strip, her clothes coming off in a blur that only further reminds him that this is something she does all the time. She’s facing away from him as she unfastens her bra, slides her panties down her legs, and he knows that he’s staring, but he can’t look away.

As if sensing his eyes on her, she looks back over her shoulder, smirking at him, and he feels like time stops for a moment, or maybe it’s just his heart. It’s getting harder to remember that this is still Zapp , the same Zapp he’s always known. She turns around fully, closing in on him while he’s helpless, gawking at her because he can’t tear his eyes away.

“You’re such a damn virgin,” she murmurs, reaching down to fumble with his belt, and a noise is trapped in his throat as he struggles to speak. “Come on, I’m dying of curiosity here, you’ve gotta let me see it.”

Pausing with his belt, she reaches a little further down suddenly, groping him over his pants, and no matter how baggy they are, it’s not enough to hide his erection from her. Her eyes widen and her smirk grows as she says, “Well, that feels surprisingly normal. Coulda sworn you always seemed smooth down there before, but you actually feel kinda big …”

“I-I,” he starts, but that’s all he can say. He wants to try to explain it to her, but it’s hard to find the words ordinarily, much less while she’s groping him, making it hard for him to even remember his own name.

He doesn’t quite understand it himself, but he is almost human down there, except for the general color and texture of his skin. Because he’s already hard, unbearably turned on since she first kissed him, she won’t be able to see at first that, when he isn’t aroused, it’s usually completely concealed, the other factor that makes him not quite human. It makes sense that he may have appeared smooth to her before, because when he isn’t...well, using it, there’s just a thin slit, something she wouldn’t be able to tell just from watching him swim, or whenever she’s been scoping out his genital situation. Which, he’s not sure how he feels about the fact that she’s apparently been doing that.

As for the how or the why of said genital situation, he doesn’t really know. Before he knew of life outside his tank, these were things that he accepted without question, and after the fact, he had no one to ask, and only vague sources to go off of, trying to piece together information from a variety of species, since he will never find anyone else just like him. His exploration of his own body has not been entirely clinical either; just because he has no experience with others, as Zapp has taunted him for, does not mean that he’s immune to such feelings, and from time to time…

Zapp is back to fiddle with his belt, and then with his pants, pulling them down and exposing him with one quick motion. She makes a noise that he hopes is one of approval as she studies him, so thoroughly that he feels like an exhibit in a museum, before he finally asks, “Well?”

“It kinda looks like something out of a bad porno,” she replies, before straightening up and looking him in the eyes with a grin. “Like, it kind of looks like they just painted a normal dick blue and maybe added some cheap special effects to make it look a little more fishy, but overall, not nearly as freaky as I was expecting!”

“I...is that a good thing?” he asks, not sure how he’s supposed to take this.

“Well, yeah, it makes it a lot easier for me to work with. At least I know what I’m doing, since you have no idea at all!”

He wouldn’t say that he’s completely clueless, but everything he knows comes from books, and if he tries to tell Zapp that he’s read things, she’ll just call him a nerd, so he keeps his mouth shut and nods. With that, Zapp quickly moves to her bed, flopping down on her back and gesturing for him to join her. Zed kicks his pants off the rest of the way so that he can do that, and he stands awkwardly beside her bed for a moment until she groans in frustration.

“Get on top of me!” she orders. “How are you gonna stick it in me from all the way over there?”

“Is that all you want me to do?” he asks, as he climbs on top of her. It’s a strange sight, having Zapp completely naked underneath him, and he aches from how badly he wants her. More than that, his heart feels like it’s twisting in his chest, and he feels like someone’s drained all the water from his tank and left him in there, expecting him to be able to breathe just fine on his own.

“What else is there?” She rolls her eyes. “You’ve never even done it before, so it’s not like I’m expecting miracles from you. This is just to get it out of the way for ya.”

Shouldn’t there be more to it than that? he wants to ask, but she’s supposed to be the expert. Or maybe he should just do some of the things that he thinks she might like, and hope that he isn’t making a mistake. He just hopes that this doesn’t end in her making fun of him for trying, but she makes fun of him all the time, so he supposes that he can take it.

She arches her back suddenly, pushed up against him, and he lets out a choked sound in surprise. Obviously she’s getting impatient, since he’s just sitting here thinking it through, and he decides to just get on with what she’s telling him to do, and worry about his own ideas later. At least, that’s what he thinks, but before he can actually do that, her impatience gets the better of her and she groans.

“Look, get off me, I’m going on top. I shoulda just done that from the start.” So there’s an awkward shuffle as they switch positions, and then Zapp is on top of him, and he’s pressed right up against her as she holds herself up. “Last call. You backing out yet?”

“N-no,” he gasps, “not backing out.” Honestly, he’s surprised whatever bit of impulsive behavior led her to this point has survived how hesitant he’s been through the whole thing.

“Good,” she says, finally starting to smile again as she sinks down onto him. For the first few seconds, Zed forgets how to think entirely, his voice breaking in a silent moan as she wraps herself around him. Even as he begins to come to, he can barely register anything beyond the pleasure of it all, and though he’s done things to pleasure himself in the past, more out of obligation than desire, nothing has ever come even close to comparing to this.

Zapp ,” someone whimpers, sounding breathless and far away, and it takes him a few seconds too long to realize that it’s him, and that she’s grinning down at him as he calls out for her. She’s good and she knows it, and with someone as inexperienced as him, she doesn’t even have to try.

He doesn’t want to just lay there and take it, thought. She says that this is just for him, so that he can rid himself of his virginity or whatever, but he doesn’t want to make her do all the work. He doesn’t want this to be one-sided, and he doesn’t want to leave her lacking. Even if he hadn’t just discovered that he may have deeper romantic feelings for her, he can’t imagine letting a partner do all the work, and though he likes the smug look on her face right now, he wants to see what she looks like when she feels even half as good as he does.

His hand is shaking as he reaches up, which is embarrassing, but he struggles to steady it as his rival and partner and apparent crush rides him. She watches him as he reaches for her, never questioning it, simply watching as his hand finally cups one of her breasts. For a moment, she looks proud of herself and sure of herself, but as he begins to draw his fingers forward to pinch, a look of uncertainty crosses her face.

He wonders if he’s doing something wrong, if she isn’t as sensitive as he thought she would be or if the sensitivity is actually unpleasant, but as he pinches her nipple between two fingers, she suddenly tips her head back, crying out in a voice he’s never heard before. Zapp bears down on him a bit harder when he does this, and he understands that this must be a good thing.

“Wh-wh...what the hell are you doing…” she mumbles, struggling to breathe between each word, the rise and fall of her hips becoming more erratic. She likes this a lot, it seems.

“I just want to make you feel good,” he replies, and though his voice is more steady than hers, that isn’t saying much.
All Zapp says in response is, “Don’t stop.” Zed has no intention of stopping any time soon, though he knows his body has every intention of betraying him if she keeps working her hips like that.

But he tries to hold fast, rolling her nipple between his fingers just so that he can see the way her face contorts with pleasure, and feel her beginning to tighten around him, making it all the harder to not just give in. He jerks his hips up without even thinking about it, thrusting into her, and she lets out a sharp cry, grinding down on him in response.

They only go back and forth for a little while before she freezes, tensing up so much that it is nearly unbearable, and he can hardly describe the sensation that follows, only that he previously had little idea of what an orgasm would feel like to the other party, but that now he knows that this is it. And, as it is, that’s more than he can take, and with one last thrust, he lets his own overtake him, groaning her name as he finishes.

Zapp lays on top of him for a little while after that, practically gasping for breath, until she says simply, “God damn .”

“Is...that a compliment?” he asks, and she says nothing, simply rolling off of him so that she’s next to him. He doesn’t take that too personally, considering he’s still dealing with Zapp , and she never has an easy time giving him compliments.

After a moment of silence, he realizes that her breathing has grown heavier and steadier, and he says, “Zapp?” softly a few times to check and see if she’s fallen asleep. He’s feeling pretty tired himself, so he can understand her falling asleep so easily, and he really should get back to his tank before it gets too late. Standing, he waits for a moment to make sure he hasn’t woken her, before pulling her blanket up over her shoulders, getting his pants back on, and leaving. He even borrows her key so that he can lock her door, dropping it back through her mail slot and sending her a text saying that her key should be on the floor, just inside the apartment.

And then he gets to head back for the office and his tank, where he can think about what’s just happened, and the fact that he might have accidentally fallen in love with Zapp Renfro.

~X~

Zapp wakes up alone, which is not only a rarity for her, but feels especially wrong today, though she’s so dazed the next morning that she doesn’t realize, at first, why that is. She just seems to recall not falling asleep alone, but then why is she, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit .

Scrambling out of bed, she finds her clothes discarded haphazardly around the room, and she searches for her jacket, pulling her phone out of her pocket. The only text she has is one from Zed, telling her where she can find her key. Because he left after she fell asleep. Because she didn’t fall asleep alone, because Zed was with her, because she had sex with Zed last night.

Because she’s an impulsive dumbass who thought fucking him would help her forget that she has a crush on him now, because she seriously has a crush on Zed now!

She didn’t even drink on their date last night. Like a complete idiot, she decided not to because she wanted to be able to focus on getting him a girl- not her , damn it!- and now she doesn’t even have the excuse of being drunk. No, she fucked Zed completely sober, and the worst part is, she liked it. She absolutely loved it, because even though he did really basic things that any guy should know, she’s so used to just laying back and letting stranger after stranger grunt and bob over top of her that she isn’t used to feeling good .

Christ, she can’t even remember having a better orgasm before that, and even if that turns out to not be the mind-blowing one that she’s questing for, she now has a horrified and sinking suspicion that Zed is the closest she’s ever going to have.

And she likes him.

She likes him, and fucking him didn’t make that go away, and in fact, probably only made it worse. Which means that her life is officially over, and she can never face him, or anyone else, again.

Ignoring the message from him, she sends Klaus a message instead- only briefly wondering when it is that her feelings, the feelings she forced herself to ignore, actually began to fade. Sick , she writes, prbly even dying, not coming back 2 work ever again. Goodbye.

Satisfied, she dives back into bed, determined to sleep until she dies, so that she can forget all of this ever happened. But her stomach keeps flipping and her heartbeat won’t slow down, and despite her panic and her rage at the situation, she keeps catching herself smiling.

~X~

“...so if you could go check on her, I would really appreciate it,” Klaus says. “I would do it myself, but the two of you are very good friends. I think she might like it better if you visited.”

Leo sighs. “Yeah, sure, I’ve got nothing else going on, I guess.” Internally, he wonders what the hell Zapp is trying to get out of this time, for her to send a final farewell message, claiming to be suffering from some fatal illness. He doubts very sincerely that she’ll be any happier to see him than anyone else, but considering Klaus never sees through any of her cons, it might be for the best that he’s the one to get to the bottom of this instead.

So he sets off for her current address, which he only knows because he somehow ran into her trying to get home early one morning, and she made him late to work after making him give her a ride. Naturally, she’d been out the entire night before. Today, he calls her when he’s standing outside, rather than trying to knock.

“What the hell do you want?” she snaps as a greeting.

“I need proof that you’re not dead yet,” he says. “Let me in.”

“What, you’re actually outside?! How do you even know where I live, you little weirdo?”

“You’ve made me bring you home before!” he retorts. “Come on, just let me in, alright? You’ve got Klaus worried sick, you know.”

“Alright, I’ll be out in like two seconds.”

“Please tell me you’re at least wearing clothes.”

“...okay, like two minutes.”

She hangs up on him, and he half expects to be left waiting for a while, and is just starting to wonder if he should give up after two minutes exactly or wait a little longer when Zapp throws open the door. Though she doesn’t look much worse than she does after a typical hangover, he does have to admit she looks kind of like death, though she’s never done such a melodramatic call-in for a hangover before.

He pushes past her into her apartment, pointing at the floor when he notices a key. “What’s that doing there? You’re gonna lose it.”

“None of your damn business!” she says, snatching it up like it’s something he shouldn’t see. It’s weird to see her care so much about a key on the floor when she definitely has a laundry basket tipped over, and that definitely has underwear spilling out of it, which is what most normal people would bother being embarrassed about.

“So, what’s the deal?” Leo asks, as Zapp pushes past him to head to her bedroom, determined to ignore him. But he didn’t come all the way out here to be ignored, so he follows behind her, standing in the doorway and sighing as she gets back into bed.

Knocking on the doorframe, he says, “Hello? Zapp?”

“None of your damn business,” she finally answers. That seems to be the only thing she’s capable of saying today, and Leo knows this is gonna be a tough one.

“Can you at least tell me what you’re allegedly dying of? I think Libra is probably the closest thing you have to next of kin, so if you die, we’re gonna have to handle all the funeral and obituary stuff.”

“It’s nothing!” she says. “Just know that I am dying, and that’s all that really matters! My life is as good as over!”

“What did you do this time? Seriously, it’d be easier if you just tell me. It’s not like I want to help you out of this mess, but I doubt anyone could stop Klaus, if he decided you were in some kind of trouble,” Leo says.

“Oh, gee, thanks, you’re such a helpful friend,” she says in a mocking tone, and he wonders if killing her while her guard is down is that low of a move. This is sadly far from the first time he’s thought this during a conversation with Zapp.

“You’re the one being difficult! Why can’t you just tell me what’s going on, so we don’t have to do this?”

There is a long pause, one that goes on so long that Leo is about to ask Zapp if she seriously fell asleep on him, but then she starts moving. Or, rather, rolling around in her bed and screaming. Except it doesn’t sound like she’s screaming, more like she’s...laughing. Zapp is absolutely howling with laughter, and that’s when it clicks that she’s actually officially gone insane.

“Was it drugs?” he asks. “Was it drugs that led you to this point? Or some weird magic, or did you just finally snap?”

Halfway through her laughter, she’s begun to wail, pulling her blanket over her head as she buries her face in her pillow. “I’m doomed, Leo!” she sobs, barely coherent. “It’s all over, man, I can’t ever face the world again! I’m going to die, don’t you get it?”

“Yup, she’s definitely lost her mind,” he says to himself, and Zapp responds with more melodramatic sobs. This is how things remain for a frustrating amount of time, until there is a sudden knock at her door.

Zapp suddenly bolts upright, looking absolutely panicked. “Don’t open that!” she commands.

“I’m gonna go see who it is,” Leo replies, turning around.

“Don’t fucking open it! Don’t let anyone in here!” she calls after him, but makes no effort to get up and stop him. She must be really worried about someone seeing her like this, and Leo wonders if he’s about to open the door to his own death. Still, he heads for the door, ignoring all of Zapp’s protests, since she never gave him a proper answer to begin with.

“Hello?” Leo calls at the door. “Who is it?”

“It’s Zed,” the familiar voice from the other side replies, and Leo squints through the peephole to verify that. Relieved that it isn’t whoever Zapp is worried about, he opens the door, wondering if Klaus sent Zed after her as well.

“Hey, what are you doing...here…” He trails off, noticing for the first time that Zed is carrying a bouquet of flowers.

“Well, I heard that Zapp wasn’t feeling well, so I…” Zed trails off as well, as if only realizing for the first time how strange this is, even for him.

“Yeah, she’s… well, she told me not to let anyone in, so she’d probably kill me if I let you back there to see her,” Leo replies.

“Oh, that’s no trouble. If she’s sick, then I won’t bother her, but could you give these to her for me?” he asks, handing them to Leo. “I wonder what she came down with. Was it food poisoning? We ordered the same thing last night, but I feel fine...well, anyway. I’ll be going, so just tell her that I hope she recovers quickly.”

“Yeah, sure. See ya later, Zed.”

Once the door is closed behind them, Leo marches back to Zapp’s room, flowers in hand, and flings them at her. She’s still sitting stiffly in bed, the same panicked look on her face, and she stares at them for a long time when they land on her lap, before letting out a loud, “Hah?!”

Now are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Leo asks, though he already has a pretty good idea. “And this time, just be honest, okay? Don’t exaggerate or make it about your life being over, just tell me.”

Zapp sighs, a defeated look on her face as she stares at her lap for only a few seconds more, before looking up at him with sudden sincerity. “It was the best sex I’ve ever had, Leo.”

“You know what, I changed my mind! You can go back to being vague again!” he shouts, because, wow , that’s a sentence to process. He sort of knew that was where this was going, yeah, but still...he supposes this is what he gets for expecting any sort of tact from someone like Zapp.

“You asked for it, now you get to hear all about it!” she snaps, looking close to tears again. He realizes that this is probably a little bit more than just Zapp making the poor life choice to sleep with Zed, and Zed making the poor life choice to go along with it, and he starts to feel a little bit bad for her. This is probably her first time experiencing a real, human emotion after all.

“Alright, tell me the whole story.”

So she does, and though some of the details around the beginning are hard to really get an understanding of, by the end, Leo knows the gist of what’s happened, and probably a little more than he wanted to, particularly regarding how mermen apparently are in bed. She and Zed started to get closer for some reason, until she decided that it was a good idea to take him out and be his wingman, but it instead turned into a date and they slept together, and she’s only just now realized that she has feelings for him. Well, she doesn’t exactly say that part, but Leo is able to figure that much out on his own, just based on how much she’s freaking out.

“So why don’t you just tell Zed that you like him?” he asks. “Wouldn’t that just fix everything?”

“How the hell would that fix anything?!”

“Well, you do like him, right?” She doesn’t answer, which is answer enough. “You should just be honest about that, so he doesn’t think you were just being sleazy with him. Clearly it meant something to him, since he brought you flowers and all.”

“B-but...but!” she shouts, with nothing else to back it up.

“And, anyway, you…” He hesitates, not really wanting the conversation to go in this direction again. “You liked it, right? If you were dating him, couldn’t you guys do that whenever? I don’t think there’s any disadvantage to telling him you like him. He probably likes you too, for whatever reason.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?! I’m great! I’m hot and I’m charming and way out of his league, so of course he likes me!” she protests.

“So, then, what’s the problem?” Leo asks.

“The problem is, why would he even like me?! All we ever do is fight, so I know he just hates my guts!”

“Wh- you just said he he has to like you because you think you’re too good for him! Ugh, Zapp, listen. You fight all the time, yeah, but you like him. Don’t you think that could mean his feelings go a little deeper too?”

“I don’t know !” she wails. “I don’t know anything about this, and now I’m getting advice from the biggest virgin of them all!” He chooses to ignore that, but he’s definitely getting back at her for making him suffer through all of this. “I’ve never done anything like this before, how the fuck am I supposed to know what he’s thinking?”

“Look. Zapp, I want you to just listen to me, and think about what I say seriously. I can’t make you do anything but...whatever happens, you need to talk to Zed about it. It isn’t fair to just leave things hanging and fake your own death, alright?”

“But…”

“That’s seriously all I have to say on the subject. Now, I’m gonna head out so you can do some thinking on your own. Best of luck!”

She calls after him, continuing to protest until he has her door shut behind him, but she doesn’t follow him, and he seriously hopes that she does think this through and follow his advice. Not only because he doesn’t want to have to deal with her acting like this anymore, but because they are two of his closest friends, no matter how odd a fit their group might be. He wants them to work this out, and if they do end up together...the idea seems right, even though they are a complete mismatch.

Still, he’s definitely getting Zapp back for this. She’s earned no mercy from him.

~X~

The worst part about the lecture from Leo is that he’s completely right, and she knows that he is. Zapp spends too long staring at the flowers in her hands, and the note that simply says, “Get well soon!” and has his signature. Who the hell does Zed think he is, bringing her flowers like they’re a couple or some bullshit like that?! And what the hell is wrong with her, that she appreciates it more than she can possibly say, that she’s happy about it?

It’s the first time anyone has ever given her flowers before. She doesn’t even own a vase, for fuck’s sake, and she has to find a cup tall enough that it won’t tip over once she fills it with water and puts the flowers in it. After that, there is only so much stalling she can do before she has to face her fears.

Can u come back over? Her finger hovers over the send button for several seconds before she squeezes her eyes shut and she presses it so hard that she has the brief fear that her screen will be cracked when she opens her eyes. But it isn’t, and the message is sent, and it only take two agonizing minutes before Zed replies that he’s on his way.

Now or never.

The first thing he says is, “Hello, Zapp. Are you feeling better?” He’s got that stupid polite tone from the night before.

“I wasn’t actually sick,” she mutters.

Zed sighs-intentionally, he never needs to sigh- before saying, “I...thought that might be the case, but I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. Still, I hope you liked the flowers. Leo did pass them on to you, didn’t he?”

That’s it. She can’t take any more of this polite shit, and she shoves him, yelling, “What the hell’s gotten into you?!”

“What do you mean?” he asks, remaining level headed, despite being pushed and screamed at.

“This...all this polite shit! You’re sending me flowers, which is weird enough on its own, but now you come over talking like some...like...I don’t know! Not like you talk to me! Not like you ever talk to me, so again, what the hell’s gotten into you, fishbrain?!”

“Well, I…Zapp, after last night, I realized...I’d like to try dating you, if you’d be willing to date me. I know you don’t ordinarily date people, and that was probably intended to be another one time thing for you, but I do care about you. And, well, if we’re going to date, then shouldn’t I make an effort to be more polite to you?” He says it all like it’s so simple, and that only frustrates her more. Zed just keeps proving that, even if she’s an idiot when it comes to relationships, he doesn’t understand it at all .

“No! No, you absolute dumbass !” she replies, her voice nearing a shriek. “If I was gonna date you, why the hell would I want you to act like that?! That’s not acting like you at all, and it’s just fucking weird! Like...I don’t like you because you sugarcoat every goddamn thing you say to me!”

“So...you do like me?” he asks, and she realizes that she’s trapped herself. Leo did tell her to confess, so maybe she hasn’t trapped herself, but…

“I guess!”

“And you like me because of how we normally are? Even though we just fight all the time? And you would prefer I treat you the same as always, if we were going to be in a relationship?”

“Yes, you idiot, you don’t have to spell it out so bluntly! You’re always so weird , I seriously can’t stand-”

Zed is the one to make the first move this time, pulling her to him and saying, “Then please just shut up. I can’t stand you either, you know.”

They do a lot more making out than talking about their feelings for a while, but that is at least something Zapp understands a lot better than feelings. She knows that she’s going to have to work her way through all of that, but that’s something she can worry about as it comes. Though she hates to even think it, she has to admit that the idea of having someone like Zed at her side through this is ideal, and if she’s going to end up with someone, he probably isn’t the worst choice. Far from it, in fact.

Later, when they’ve calmed down enough to actually talk, he brings up the subject that she knew was coming. “If you like me, then what about…”

“I used to like him, yeah. You were right, alright?” she admits. “I didn’t really get that was what was going on, and it didn’t really click until it was already over and I was already stuck on your weird ass, but yeah. Yeah, I was into him cos he’s a great guy and probably somebody’s ideal man, but...I never would have went for it. Not just cos I’m bad at that, but because I know that it was just...I dunno how to say it.”

“Just an ideal?” he suggests, and she nods. “I didn’t know I liked you before last night. I’ve noticed odd feelings around you for some time now, but it wasn’t until you kissed me that I understood.”

“Christ, you’re dense.”

“You’re hardly one to talk, Zapp.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

And that’s that. They don’t spend much more time talking because she has a lot of things she’d rather do with him than talk now that the important shit is out of the way. Things that involve trying to see how many rounds he can go for before he blacks out, seeing if she can get him to stay with her and out of his tank for just one night, and definitely not allowing herself to think about how she is probably, definitely, head over heels in love with Zed O’Brien.

~X~

The next morning, rather than hitting her with one of the usual insults, Chain decides on a new one, and exclusively refers to Zapp as “Mrs. O’Brien,” because of course Leo’s useless ass has already ratted them out. So much for keeping this lowkey until she had things more figured out. She’s definitely going to kill Leo for this, and then probably everyone else, just to keep her dignity in tact.

But what she hates the most is that every time Chain calls her that, for just a brief moment, before she flies into a rage some might call an overreaction, she can’t help but grin. Yeah, she’s still definitely, totally, and completely doomed.