I was practically skipping while walking down those halls, Joleen leading me every step of the way. Ok, maybe saying I was skipping was a bit much, there were certain parts of my anatomy that were still far too sore for such exuberance, but nonetheless I was fucking thrilled. Oh seren-ah-you, oh seren-ah-me, I'm gonna get me some serenity, I sang in my head.

Few things make a druggie happier than his drug of choice, what can I say. Not to mention I had actually pulled this shit off. That's a pretty impressive thing to add to the resume, if I say so myself. Not that I could really spread the word around about it too much, not for awhile at least. I didn't know what Gordo wanted this treaty for exactly, but I sure as hell knew that he'd look down upon anyone who blabbed their mouths about it. And seeing as how I liked not having to walk with a crutch, I think I'd keep it that way.

You've got a fine ass in front of you, a bag full of serenity just waiting to get smoked and cash that you'll be flushing down the drain in a matter of hours. Sure, these perhaps weren't the best things in life, but they were damn well close. But despite the fact that I was salivating at the thought of the junkie's paradise I'd soon find myself in, I had to admit that something about the whole situation seemed a bit off.

The halls were rather empty besides me and Joleen, something that never happened in Dreamer's Paradise. You'd always find a cloud full of narcotic smoke and a crowd of grinding bodies in every nook and cranny in the place. Sure, this piece of information might be important for Gordo, but would he do something as drastic as shut down the whole Club just to get something like this? Didn't seem to fit his style. Gordo was an arrogant bastard, no doubt about that. For him to take such precautions… I shrugged to myself. Focus on the tail, the drugs and the cash, Eddie and you'll be fine. Leave the big thinking to the people with the head to do it.

After a few turns and a couple more minutes of keeping myself occupied by staring at Joleen's ass (which was quite exquisite with how she walked, I have to say) I found myself in front of (according to the sign at least) The Boiler Room. Joleen turned, smiled at me and gave me a low bow, which allowed me to see that as great as her ass was, her tits were even better. Oh baby, baby.

"If you'll come in right this way, Mr. Marshall-"

"Please, toots," I said, feeling a bit more arrogant then necessary, "I thought I said call me Eddie."

She smiled again, Oh goddamn, nice smile, wonderful tits, great ass. God, honey, you almost make me wish I was a date rapist. "Sorry, Eddie. But if you'll come in right this way, Mr. Strilvenzi's associate will finish your deal."

"Associate?" The word struck warning bells in my head. Gordo never trusted anyone but his own fat ass with personal business. I was far from his favorite person in the world, but I'd done business with the porker often enough to know that much. If he wasn't handing this personally, something or somebody had fucked up. My thoughts went to Inquisitor Balthazar but brushed him away without a second thought. Sure, he was a member of the Wisemen but for him to guess that much, that quickly. Hell, even the Inquisitors weren't fucking psychics.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, SHIT. Ok, keep your cool, Eddie boy, I told myself. You're just a junkie wanting his fix. Keep up the act and don't say anything incriminating. Worst thing happens is that you get a slap on the wrist and sit in the detox tank for a few weeks. Not a pleasant experience, I knew from having been there twice. Prison itself wasn't a scary punishment for me. Hell, I'd be willing to bet that the cells in the City Prison had better accommodations than my apartment. No, the true punishment would come from my mind trying to rip itself apart to reenact a Serenity high. Shit had almost killed me both times and that was when I'd been a far lighter user than now.

I coughed once to cover up for my pause, flashed Joleen another smile and then walked past her. Ah what the hell, I'll probably be getting locked up pretty soon anyway. With that thought in mind, I was sure to give that exquisite ass of hers a nice fine pat. She shot me a sour look, but I got the impression she was used to worse treatment. "Sorry," I shrugged, "couldn't help myself."

Keeping the bag close to my chest, I walked through the dingy doorway into 'The Boiler Room' which was a bit fancier than one would expect from outside appearances. A fine scarlet carpet covered the cement floor and a row of monitors that showed everything the security cameras caught hung from the lime-lit ceiling. I avoided sneaking a peak at them, though admittedly it wasn't hard.

My eyes were all on what was on the table. Oh Jesus Christ, Savior Above, I could smell it from here. Serenity. Wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous, intoxicating serenity. Three divine ounces of serenity that I could almost taste lingering on the air. All thoughts of trouble and possible problems evaporated like the rest of my common sense at that odor. Oh, I am such a sucker.

In fact, I was such a sucker that I had nearly dropped the bag the moment I realized what I was looking at and had to fight every instinct not to do a flying tackle at the desk and attempt to light it right then and there. In fact, my drooling must have been obvious because before I had taken more than five steps toward it, a cold female voice snapped me out of my revelry.

"I'm not sure what exactly you think you heard from Gordo Strilvenzi," the way she said that name was another thing that brought me a further step back. Anyone who said Gordo's name like that in his hearing would be eating their next month's meals out of a straw. Trust me, if anyone should know, it would be me. "But in this field of business, Mr. Marshall, we get the services paid for before you get your reward."

"Of course! Of course! Got it right here." I pulled the roll of paper out of my bag and dropped it on the table. Following that came the mini-map that Gordo had hooked me up with and the disk I'd needed to insert into the safe to give the Hacker entrance into the security system. I tried to avoid rubbing my hands while staring at my wonderful companion. We'd been apart for far too long. It was about high time (haha, even while knowing I was walking on thin ice I still manage to notice a pun) we'd be back together again.

I tore my eyes away enough from the small bundle of glory on the table to look at the woman who I assumed by now had killed Gordo. Really, there wasn't anything else for me to believe. Gordo wouldn't take shit like this, not from an old hag like her, anyway. Don't think about it, Eddie, I kept reassuring myself, if they don't know that you know you'll probably get out of this.

See, while I'll be the first to admit that being a Serenity junkie has its downsides, one benefit is that no one ever considers you a threat, whether in a witness box or in a street fight. We're notorious liars and pussies. So as long as I played along that I didn't know anything, no one would have any reason to suspect me of being smarter than would be good for me.

I looked up from the bags on the desk again, trying to fight that damn constriction in my chest that meant I really should smoke some and soon. Hurry up, bitch, I thought. She was taking her fucking time going over the stupid piece of paper. My fingers started to errantly scratch the sides of my arm, my feet refused to keep still, any more of this and I'd fucking go nuttier than I already was.

"Everything seems to be in order," she said with a smile, a witch with a brand new fat kid in the oven. "You'll find your full payment in Serenity on the table, Mr. Marshall. You will be given the cash on your way out." My hands moved faster than bullets snatching the Serenity off the table. HAHAHAHAHAHAH, YES!!! I roared inside my head in exultation.

And then a horrible thought struck me.

"…Uh, anyone got a pipe?"