The two little girls hunched earnestly over the board game, faces serious, concentrating intently as they counted out the number of steps their players would be needing to move. One child was blonde, perhaps six or seven years old, pale and freckled with stringy limbs joining a narrow torso. The other child was more solid-look"ing, darker and rather pretty, with dark brown hair and a round, anxious face.

It was the dark-haired child's turn at the game, and she took the dice from the other little girl, shaking it up in her small hand before letting it fall.

"Three," she announced, picking up blue playing piece and beginning to move it along. "One, two, three... oh no, darn it!"

"Ha ha, you gotta go down the chute!" the other child chortled, grinning gleefully to reveal a missing front tooth. "I'm beating you now, Paloma!"

"It's only a little chute," Paloma said defensively, looking from her playing piece to the other girl's hopefully. "I can catch up to you, maybe."

"No you can't," the other child said decisively. "I'm too far ahead, you'll never ever beat me. Give me the dice, Paloma."

And she grabbed it before the little girl could hand it to her. Paloma frowned as the other child shook the dice in her hand vigorously before releasing it.

"Oops, doesn't count," the girl said carelessly as it scattered off the board near Paloma's knee. "Went off the board."

"Hey, you never said that before," Paloma said suspiciously. "You're only making that up, Jodi. You just now did."

"I did too say it before," Jodi insisted, leaning over the game and knocking Paloma's piece over in the process of snatching the dice back. "I get to roll again."

"You're just saying that because you only got a one," Paloma accused. "That's cheating, Jodi. You can't do that."

"Yes I CAN," Jodi said fiercely, narrowing her eyes and scowling at Paloma, "that's how you PLAY."

She rolled the dice again, as Paloma furrowed her eyebrows in consternation. Jodi smiled again as she read the number out loud.

"Six! Ha ha, I got six!"

She began to move her piece quickly, counting out loud as Paloma watched her closely, frowning. Her eyes widened indignantly as Jodi moved her piece SEVEN places- skipping the place where she should have landed, a place with the longest slide in the game. The slide would take her all the way to start, way behind Paloma. And Jodi had just skipped it!

"Hey! You skipped a space, Jodi!" Paloma cried angrily. "You're supposed to go down the chute!"

"No, I'm supposed to be here," Jodi said in an infuriatingly smug voice.

"NO, you're not, Jodi! You got a six, so you land here!" She jabbed at the space with the slide. "You started here, so see, it's one, two, three, four, five, six! Right HERE!"

"Nope," Jodi replied blithely, smiling arrogantly as she pointed at the space one before her true starting point. "I started here, Paloma. So I ended up here."

Paloma went red, so angry she was unable to speak for several moments. Jodi watched her, smiling nastily, seeming to get great delight from Paloma's ire.

"That's CHEATING, Jodi Anne Franklin," she exploded. " You're a liar and a cheater!"

Jodi shrugged, still grinning. "So?"

"SO? You can't do that! You put that where it's supposed to be!" Paloma ordered.

Jodi sneered, pushing her face close to Paloma's. "Gonna make me?"

Paloma grew redder still, scowling with fury; the child was so enraged that she shook.

"I'll make you start over, that's what I'll do!" Paloma almost yelled. "I won't play with you when you cheat, Jodi!"

"Gosh, Paloma, you're such a baby," Jodi said mockingly, rolling her eyes. "Get all mad and won't play just because you're losing. You always get mad when you don't win. Know what my mom would say? She'd say you're a fair weather friend- you don't want to be friends when you don't win."

Paloma's eyes nearly bulged from their sockets in fury. She knew Jodi was cheating and lying- here she was twisting her words around to make HER seem like SHE was wrong!

"I'm not any stupid fair weather friend, Jodi Anne Franklin!" she hissed. "YOU'RE the fair weather friend! You only want to play with me if YOU get your way, and you cheat and lie- and-and- you're always bad, Jodi, you're always being bad! You push me down when we play tag if I tagged you, you cut in front of people in line- you- you always look when we play hide and seek! You even try to copy my papers in school! You're always cheating, always lying, and I won't let you anymore, you can't do it anymore!"

She was breathing harshly, her hands knotted into fists, as she glowered at the other little girl. Unperturbed, Jodi shrugged.

"Yeah? How you gonna stop me, Paloma? You can't do anything!"

"Oh yes I can, Jodi- I can too!" Paloma hissed.

Turning around abruptly, her eyes scanned her small room, coming to rest on the papers, crayons,and scissors on the floor by her bed. She and Jodi had used them earlier to cut out paper dolls. Paloma snatched them up, holding them out threateningly.

"I can too, Jodi, I can make you..."

Jodi's grin wavered, then disappeared as she took in Paloma's trembling body, her ferocious expression, the scissors in her hand.

"You wouldn't," she said uncertainly. "you wouldn't hurt me, you little baby..."

"I would too!" Paloma hissed, and suddenly her little arm shot out at Jodi, slashing her cheek. Jodi yelped in pain and shock, grabbing her cheek and starting to cry as blood began to dribble from the cut, which appeared deep and bloody to have been made from a child's pair of scissors...

Paloma slashed out again, raking the scissor blade across Jodi's small wrist. As Jodi howled, Paloma knocked her to the ground, holding one hand over her mouth as she sat on her torso, scissors poised to come down on her again.

***************************************************************************************

In their bedroom, only two doors away from their daughter in the apartment, Paloma's parents tensed when they heard the noises coming from down the hall- muffled to be sure, for their apartement had thick walls, a necessary trait they had looked for before renting their current home. Both valued their quiet and privacy, particularly at night, as Paloma slept.

Glancing at each other hurriedly, they stood, Paloma's father close behind her mother as they went to their daughter's door. Both her mother and her father were tall and slim, attractive, perhaps 27 years old.

"Paloma? Jodi?" her mother called, rapping on the door lightly. "Are you girls arguing?"

Both adults listened, receiving no reply. Her father looked at his wife meaningfully, then without further warning opened the door.

Paloma looked up quickly, her small chest heaving with her ragged breathing. She looked at her parents blankly, as if she could not quite remember who they were.

But it was not their daughter's facial expression that caught their attention. For her playmate was limp and bleeding beneath her, unmoving... gashes marked her face, her arms, her chest and throat, and she was struggling, choking for breath- on her own blood...

And in their daughter's hands was held a pair of bloodstained scissors.

Paloma's parents stared, their eyes wide and stunned as their six-year-old looked back at them blankly, her dying classmate trapped beneath her.

Finally Paloma's father managed to speak. "P-Paloma!" he stuttered. "Oh jesus... what the- what is this?"

"Calm down, just calm down," her mother told him quietly, putting a hand on his shoulder. "She's only six, she doesn' know any better..."

Turning to her daughter, she said, "Paloma, she's still alive. If you're going to start out this early at this, you can't begin with torturous, slow deaths. You're not experienced enough, baby. You have to kill her right away. Go ahead, finish it off quickly..."

She watched, kneading her husband's shoulder as Paloma obeyed.

"Very good, but Paloma, your slashing technique needs work. Daddy and I will help you later. And you'll need a better weapon then scissors. But considering that this was your first time, you did an excellent job, didn't she, Gavin?"

"Yeah, you did, Paloma," Gavin agreed somewhat reluctantly. "But Mommy and I didn't expect this. You're still so young to-"

"But I'm not!" Paloma interrupted. "I can do it- I understand! I had a good reason like you always say- she was always cheating and lying, all the time! She was bad and mean!"

"That's fine, Paloma, but you have to be careful," her mother continued. "Daddy's right, it's very easy to make mistakes when you're young. See, for instance you aren't wearing gloves, and so youre hands are bloody and there are fingerprints on the scissors. Now we can wash your hands and throw the scissors away, but you're going to have to learn not to do things like that, honey."

"Rikarah, her parents," Gavin said. "We need to come up with an excuse, get rid of the body before they come."

"We can hide the body under the sink," Rikarah replied. "for now. They won't look there, and the body is small enough to fit. Now Paloma, this is the kind of thing you'll have to do, come up with excuses, now that you're homicidally active. Can you think of a reason why Jodi might disappear?"

Paloma bit her lip, thinking. "We can tell her mommy she got mad because she was losing our game and said she'd walk down the hall to her apartment," she said finally. "And we don't know where she is a bad man got her."

Rikarah turned to Gavin, saying, "See, don't worry so much, Gav. She's young, but she's smart. She's a prodigy- she'd have to be with us for parents. That's exactly what we'll do, Paloma."

She turned and looped her arms across him, hugging him tightly with her cheek against his chest, then stood to tiptoe, kissing his lips briefly and then nipping his cheek. Gavin put a hand to her head, holding it there for several seconds, before taking a deep breath and releasing her. Turning to Paloma, he said, "Now, you see why Mommy and I buy rugs to go overtop the floor carpet? We'll have to roll this up and throw it away. But first help me carry your victim's body, okay?"

Paloma, beginning to smile, took hold of Jodi's feet as Gavin took her shoulders and upper body. With her father giving her instruction, they began to carry it down the hall. Rikarah smiled as she watched, pride swelling along with sentimentality in her chest. Paloma was such a precocious child, a credit to them both...

*********************************************************************************************

In their bedroom, lights dim and shadowy, leaving their faces dusky and concealed partially, Gavin and Rikarah Berwin lie together, entangled in each other's arms. Gavin nuzzled his cheek atop Rikarah's head, and she pushed her face into his neck.

"Jodi's parents didn't seem to suspect," he said softly. " Paloma is a good little actress for her age. More natural than I would have figured."

"Of course she is," Rikarah replied, squeezing a splayed hand across his chest. "We've taught her well by example, Gavin. I never would have thought you would ever worry about such a thing as murder. It's not like we haven't ever done such a thing before."

"I know," Gavin murmured back, kissing and then nipping at her ear. "but everything changes with marriage, and especially parenthood. I'm getting weak- loving," he mumbled, and his grip on Rikarah, the tone of his voice, sounded anything but. Rikarah held him harder as well, digging nails into his flesh.

"Soft," she whispered huskily. "Not weak... never weak..."

He raked his nails slowly down her body, hard, from her naked shoulder to the length of her back. Rikarah shuddered in pleasure as his nails left marks on her skin, and she clutched him more tightly, her nails leaving similar marks on him.

"Don't worry," she gasped, "Jodi- was the bratty- kind of kid- who pulled crap like that. No one- would doubt- our Paloma. She's very smart. Very- viscious..."

"Oh, I'm not worried," Gavin said throatily, "not anymore. I was concerned at first, her being so young- but now I see- it's a good thing. Her destiny. She needs all the practice she can get to live up to her genes..."

He cut himself off by covering Rikarah's mouth with his, kissing her with a passion that seemed hungry, possessive. Rikarah returned it in kind, biting, sucking, then cramming her lips in rhythm with his... the brutality of their touching reflected the violent passion that the two- now three of them would continue- indefinitely...

the end

The two little girls hunched earnestly over the board game, faces serious, concentrating intently as they counted out the number of steps their players would be needing to move. One child was blonde, perhaps six or seven years old, pale and freckled with stringy limbs joining a narrow torso. The other child was more solid-look"ing, darker and rather pretty, with dark brown hair and a round, anxious face.

It was the dark-haired child's turn at the game, and she took the dice from the other little girl, shaking it up in her small hand before letting it fall.

"Three," she announced, picking up blue playing piece and beginning to move it along. "One, two, three... oh no, darn it!"

"Ha ha, you gotta go down the chute!" the other child chortled, grinning gleefully to reveal a missing front tooth. "I'm beating you now, Paloma!"

"It's only a little chute," Paloma said defensively, looking from her playing piece to the other girl's hopefully. "I can catch up to you, maybe."

"No you can't," the other child said decisively. "I'm too far ahead, you'll never ever beat me. Give me the dice, Paloma."

And she grabbed it before the little girl could hand it to her. Paloma frowned as the other child shook the dice in her hand vigorously before releasing it.

"Oops, doesn't count," the girl said carelessly as it scattered off the board near Paloma's knee. "Went off the board."

"Hey, you never said that before," Paloma said suspiciously. "You're only making that up, Jodi. You just now did."

"I did too say it before," Jodi insisted, leaning over the game and knocking Paloma's piece over in the process of snatching the dice back. "I get to roll again."

"You're just saying that because you only got a one," Paloma accused. "That's cheating, Jodi. You can't do that."

"Yes I CAN," Jodi said fiercely, narrowing her eyes and scowling at Paloma, "that's how you PLAY."

She rolled the dice again, as Paloma furrowed her eyebrows in consternation. Jodi smiled again as she read the number out loud.

"Six! Ha ha, I got six!"

She began to move her piece quickly, counting out loud as Paloma watched her closely, frowning. Her eyes widened indignantly as Jodi moved her piece SEVEN places- skipping the place where she should have landed, a place with the longest slide in the game. The slide would take her all the way to start, way behind Paloma. And Jodi had just skipped it!

"Hey! You skipped a space, Jodi!" Paloma cried angrily. "You're supposed to go down the chute!"

"No, I'm supposed to be here," Jodi said in an infuriatingly smug voice.

"NO, you're not, Jodi! You got a six, so you land here!" She jabbed at the space with the slide. "You started here, so see, it's one, two, three, four, five, six! Right HERE!"

"Nope," Jodi replied blithely, smiling arrogantly as she pointed at the space one before her true starting point. "I started here, Paloma. So I ended up here."

Paloma went red, so angry she was unable to speak for several moments. Jodi watched her, smiling nastily, seeming to get great delight from Paloma's ire.

"That's CHEATING, Jodi Anne Franklin," she exploded. " You're a liar and a cheater!"

Jodi shrugged, still grinning. "So?"

"SO? You can't do that! You put that where it's supposed to be!" Paloma ordered.

Jodi sneered, pushing her face close to Paloma's. "Gonna make me?"

Paloma grew redder still, scowling with fury; the child was so enraged that she shook.

"I'll make you start over, that's what I'll do!" Paloma almost yelled. "I won't play with you when you cheat, Jodi!"

"Gosh, Paloma, you're such a baby," Jodi said mockingly, rolling her eyes. "Get all mad and won't play just because you're losing. You always get mad when you don't win. Know what my mom would say? She'd say you're a fair weather friend- you don't want to be friends when you don't win."

Paloma's eyes nearly bulged from their sockets in fury. She knew Jodi was cheating and lying- here she was twisting her words around to make HER seem like SHE was wrong!

"I'm not any stupid fair weather friend, Jodi Anne Franklin!" she hissed. "YOU'RE the fair weather friend! You only want to play with me if YOU get your way, and you cheat and lie- and-and- you're always bad, Jodi, you're always being bad! You push me down when we play tag if I tagged you, you cut in front of people in line- you- you always look when we play hide and seek! You even try to copy my papers in school! You're always cheating, always lying, and I won't let you anymore, you can't do it anymore!"

She was breathing harshly, her hands knotted into fists, as she glowered at the other little girl. Unperturbed, Jodi shrugged.

"Yeah? How you gonna stop me, Paloma? You can't do anything!"

"Oh yes I can, Jodi- I can too!" Paloma hissed.

Turning around abruptly, her eyes scanned her small room, coming to rest on the papers, crayons,and scissors on the floor by her bed. She and Jodi had used them earlier to cut out paper dolls. Paloma snatched them up, holding them out threateningly.

"I can too, Jodi, I can make you..."

Jodi's grin wavered, then disappeared as she took in Paloma's trembling body, her ferocious expression, the scissors in her hand.

"You wouldn't," she said uncertainly. "you wouldn't hurt me, you little baby..."

"I would too!" Paloma hissed, and suddenly her little arm shot out at Jodi, slashing her cheek. Jodi yelped in pain and shock, grabbing her cheek and starting to cry as blood began to dribble from the cut, which appeared deep and bloody to have been made from a child's pair of scissors...

Paloma slashed out again, raking the scissor blade across Jodi's small wrist. As Jodi howled, Paloma knocked her to the ground, holding one hand over her mouth as she sat on her torso, scissors poised to come down on her again.

***************************************************************************************

In their bedroom, only two doors away from their daughter in the apartment, Paloma's parents tensed when they heard the noises coming from down the hall- muffled to be sure, for their apartement had thick walls, a necessary trait they had looked for before renting their current home. Both valued their quiet and privacy, particularly at night, as Paloma slept.

Glancing at each other hurriedly, they stood, Paloma's father close behind her mother as they went to their daughter's door. Both her mother and her father were tall and slim, attractive, perhaps 27 years old.

"Paloma? Jodi?" her mother called, rapping on the door lightly. "Are you girls arguing?"

Both adults listened, receiving no reply. Her father looked at his wife meaningfully, then without further warning opened the door.

Paloma looked up quickly, her small chest heaving with her ragged breathing. She looked at her parents blankly, as if she could not quite remember who they were.

But it was not their daughter's facial expression that caught their attention. For her playmate was limp and bleeding beneath her, unmoving... gashes marked her face, her arms, her chest and throat, and she was struggling, choking for breath- on her own blood...

And in their daughter's hands was held a pair of bloodstained scissors.

Paloma's parents stared, their eyes wide and stunned as their six-year-old looked back at them blankly, her dying classmate trapped beneath her.

Finally Paloma's father managed to speak. "P-Paloma!" he stuttered. "Oh jesus... what the- what is this?"

"Calm down, just calm down," her mother told him quietly, putting a hand on his shoulder. "She's only six, she doesn' know any better..."

Turning to her daughter, she said, "Paloma, she's still alive. If you're going to start out this early at this, you can't begin with torturous, slow deaths. You're not experienced enough, baby. You have to kill her right away. Go ahead, finish it off quickly..."

She watched, kneading her husband's shoulder as Paloma obeyed.

"Very good, but Paloma, your slashing technique needs work. Daddy and I will help you later. And you'll need a better weapon then scissors. But considering that this was your first time, you did an excellent job, didn't she, Gavin?"

"Yeah, you did, Paloma," Gavin agreed somewhat reluctantly. "But Mommy and I didn't expect this. You're still so young to-"

"But I'm not!" Paloma interrupted. "I can do it- I understand! I had a good reason like you always say- she was always cheating and lying, all the time! She was bad and mean!"

"That's fine, Paloma, but you have to be careful," her mother continued. "Daddy's right, it's very easy to make mistakes when you're young. See, for instance you aren't wearing gloves, and so youre hands are bloody and there are fingerprints on the scissors. Now we can wash your hands and throw the scissors away, but you're going to have to learn not to do things like that, honey."

"Rikarah, her parents," Gavin said. "We need to come up with an excuse, get rid of the body before they come."

"We can hide the body under the sink," Rikarah replied. "for now. They won't look there, and the body is small enough to fit. Now Paloma, this is the kind of thing you'll have to do, come up with excuses, now that you're homicidally active. Can you think of a reason why Jodi might disappear?"

Paloma bit her lip, thinking. "We can tell her mommy she got mad because she was losing our game and said she'd walk down the hall to her apartment," she said finally. "And we don't know where she is a bad man got her."

Rikarah turned to Gavin, saying, "See, don't worry so much, Gav. She's young, but she's smart. She's a prodigy- she'd have to be with us for parents. That's exactly what we'll do, Paloma."

She turned and looped her arms across him, hugging him tightly with her cheek against his chest, then stood to tiptoe, kissing his lips briefly and then nipping his cheek. Gavin put a hand to her head, holding it there for several seconds, before taking a deep breath and releasing her. Turning to Paloma, he said, "Now, you see why Mommy and I buy rugs to go overtop the floor carpet? We'll have to roll this up and throw it away. But first help me carry your victim's body, okay?"

Paloma, beginning to smile, took hold of Jodi's feet as Gavin took her shoulders and upper body. With her father giving her instruction, they began to carry it down the hall. Rikarah smiled as she watched, pride swelling along with sentimentality in her chest. Paloma was such a precocious child, a credit to them both...

*********************************************************************************************

In their bedroom, lights dim and shadowy, leaving their faces dusky and concealed partially, Gavin and Rikarah Berwin lie together, entangled in each other's arms. Gavin nuzzled his cheek atop Rikarah's head, and she pushed her face into his neck.

"Jodi's parents didn't seem to suspect," he said softly. " Paloma is a good little actress for her age. More natural than I would have figured."

"Of course she is," Rikarah replied, squeezing a splayed hand across his chest. "We've taught her well by example, Gavin. I never would have thought you would ever worry about such a thing as murder. It's not like we haven't ever done such a thing before."

"I know," Gavin murmured back, kissing and then nipping at her ear. "but everything changes with marriage, and especially parenthood. I'm getting weak- loving," he mumbled, and his grip on Rikarah, the tone of his voice, sounded anything but. Rikarah held him harder as well, digging nails into his flesh.

"Soft," she whispered huskily. "Not weak... never weak..."

He raked his nails slowly down her body, hard, from her naked shoulder to the length of her back. Rikarah shuddered in pleasure as his nails left marks on her skin, and she clutched him more tightly, her nails leaving similar marks on him.

"Don't worry," she gasped, "Jodi- was the bratty- kind of kid- who pulled crap like that. No one- would doubt- our Paloma. She's very smart. Very- viscious..."

"Oh, I'm not worried," Gavin said throatily, "not anymore. I was concerned at first, her being so young- but now I see- it's a good thing. Her destiny. She needs all the practice she can get to live up to her genes..."

He cut himself off by covering Rikarah's mouth with his, kissing her with a passion that seemed hungry, possessive. Rikarah returned it in kind, biting, sucking, then cramming her lips in rhythm with his... the brutality of their touching reflected the violent passion that the two- now three of them would continue- indefinitely...

the end

Author note: One of the many Gavin/Rikarah stories