Idle's Hacks and the Devil's Plaything

02 - Pure Luck

by Scalar7th

Tags: #cw:noncon #Alteration #HypnoSports #mystery #scifi #suspense #ACAB #D/s #dentistry #dom:female #dom:male #dom:nb #exhibitionism #f/f #fantasy #sub:female #sub:male #sub:nb
See spoiler tags : #drug_use

I fell asleep I think?
Soft words
and pretty lights
n-not supposed to be there
but I can't stop listening
can't close my eyes
can't look aw—

Bard left the room at the same time as Idle and Tailor, in the other direction, heading back to the theatre. Midnight glanced nervously at the other contestant. "So, uh, you're SpinDoctor, huh."

Spin nodded and smiled, getting to their feet. "Midnight Rose. So nice to meet you in person."

"Yeah, I uh..." Midnight felt her face get hot as she stepped slowly across the room. "I kinda met your roommate out there and we're getting along really well."

Spin chuckled. "Yeah, so I see." Their voice was devoid of irony, just friendly and calm. They didn't move to meet Midnight, just stood in their place. Midnight felt uncomfortable being the only person walking, and so took her time, but didn't feel right standing still. "Fun that someone I know from the forums is close enough to hook up with my—I guess she's my student."

"Your friend," Midnight clarified, feeling the infectiousness of Spin's smile. She was halfway across the room.

"Yeah, my friend." Spin nodded. "Like you are, except that we've never really met casually."

"Until now."

Spin's smile broadened. "That's right, Midnight, and..." Spin took a deep breath. They seemed a bit nervous.

Midnight was within arm's reach. "And what?"

"Well, it just seems to me," Spin shuffled a little bit, "well, that we need to talk about nothing."

Midnight's breath caught. Spin seemed to dominate her vision, just for a moment, and nothing else could be in focus. She felt hands in hers, she felt a body moving her body, she felt herself being pulled into a seated position. She heard words, but they didn't really mean a lot to her. She was standing. She was walking. Someone was guiding her. She was sitting in a chair. There was a drink in front of her. Someone was still talking, and she realized that that voice hadn't stopped since... since she wasn't sure when.

There was a clock. It was counting down. There were two other voices. They sounded like they were arguing, but also like they weren't in the same room as each other, almost like they couldn't hear what the other was saying. They were talking over one another, and through it all, there was still that other voice, cutting through, despite being softer, and none of it was worth paying much attention to.

Until it was, as the clock crossed into seven minutes left, things started to come more into focus. There were five volunteers on the stage, sitting in Alteration chairs. The voices over the speakers were those of Idle and Tailor, talking to those volunteers. Spin was sitting beside her, rocking her left and right in her chair.

"Hey, are you okay?" they were saying quietly, though not with deep concern in their voice. "I think either Idle or Tailor's patter caught you out."

"Huh?" The clock read 6:25, had it really taken that long for her to answer?

"You slipped under listening to the two of them chatter on," Spin explained.

Midnight closed her eyes. Something about that seemed off.

"You're not the only one," Spin continued. "Most of their technique has been vocal, and a lot of people around have dipped a little."

Midnight nodded, slowly looking around. A few heads were resting in hands, a few bodies were slumped in chairs.

A blurry memory came back to her. "I was... last month... one time I volunteered... Tailor was..." she waved a hand at the booth on her right.

Spin nodded and smiled as if that made all the sense in the world. "Those sorts of memories can be potent, even if you don't remember them fully."

Midnight took a breath, shook her head slowly to clear it. "Has... have they been talking about forgetting a lot?"

Spin nodded. "It's been something of a theme for the past fifteen minutes."

Forgetting. That made a lot of sense, too. It was something that came easily to Midnight, and often, so hearing Tailor talking about it had had something of an effect, even if she wasn't being Altered right at that moment. And as Spin had said, the two Alterists' calming hypnotic tones had affected more than one person in the audience.

She felt herself get a bit warm. "Uh, sorry, we... must have been talking about something, but..."

Spin actually laughed, drawing a little attention to the two of them. "It's alright, really. It happens, you get used to it pretty quick when you do what we do."

Midnight looked up at the stage. "So, uh... who's winning?"

Spin shook their head. "Not a clue. The two of them've been talking almost non-stop. I don't really know who's got what going on. Idle likes to count on her luck a lot of the time, so she's just vaguely gesturing towards her colour and playing defence. Tailor's pretty amazing and somehow able to keep multiple hypnotic threads in her head at a time, but she's not as good at lighting fires as our gal is at putting them out."

Our gal. Midnight had only just met Idle, but that connection felt strong all the same. She'd never have used the possessive herself, but with Spin doing it, it felt appropriate. Still, Midnight still felt something like a giddy fangirl, and she resolved to do her best not to lose her head too much.

Her resolution proved to be a challenge the more she listened to Idle's voice on the speakers and realized just how much she wanted that voice pushing ideas directly into her mind. Idle's hypnotic voice was different from her normal speaking voice; subtle, smooth, seductive...

"Steady there," Spin said, giving Midnight another little shake.

"Huh? Oh, sorry, I guess I..." she trailed off. Spin clearly knew what had happened and there was little point in explaining. Ninety seconds left in the match, and there was no evidence of any clear leader.

Spin chuckled. "Not even put any gear on you, and she's already in your head, huh."

Midnight stayed silent, knowing that any denial would ring false, and just watched the end of the match, trying not to pay too much attention to the beautiful voices floating into the theatre. There were only a few seconds left anyway.

"She can have that effect on people."

She sure can, Midnight thought as the clock ran down to zero. They had five minutes to wait before the volunteers were awake enough to choose between Idle's green circle with blue polka dots and Tailor's purple-and-pink striped square.

"It's why she's the face of our little partnership," Spin continued. "I'm the brains, she's the beauty."

"I think you've both got those," Midnight said, distracted by the monitor screens as the noise level in the audience rose to a low hum.

Spin chuckled darkly. "She's smart, for sure."

Midnight turned her head. "Seriously, Spin. You look good, you know."

Seemingly a little surprised, Spin blushed. "I've don't really, um, think of myself..."

"But I bet there are people who do!" Midnight gave them a smile. 

It was Spin's turn to sit in silence.

"Even if you don't think that way about yourself or..." Midnight took a guess. "About anyone else?"

Spin nodded, then waved towards the stage. "The first volunteer is up."

And he was. With no hesitation he walked to the front of the stage and pressed the striped square, putting a tick mark on Tailor's screen. Polite applause ran through the audience as the second volunteer got out of her chair. Midnight felt a curious anticipation in the pit of her stomach that only got worse as Tailor got a second point. She had a laugh at her own expense as she applauded. Get ahold of yourself, fangirl!

"I guess we'll find out if Idle's luck is any good," Spin said, and their voice was unusually tense as well.

As it turned out, it was. The next three volunteers all chose dots over stripes, and Idle graciously accepted her victory. Midnight let out a deep breath and looked over to Spin. "Close one."

"I had confidence," they replied, although their tone wasn't so clear. "Tailor and Bard are up next, wanna watch them or...?"

"Well, uh, unless you two wanna watch them, I'm fine with hanging out for a bit."

Spin scrunched their face up in what took Midnight took a moment to realize was a pained grin. "I really don't like watching. I just wanted to see what my two next opponents will fight like."

"What about Idle?"

Spin shrugged. "She knows what she's doing, no matter how much she'll argue otherwise. I'm sure Idle'll be happy enough."

"Happy enough for what?" Idle said, walking up to the table as the next five volunteers were taking the stage.

"C'mon, champ, we're going to the lobby," Spin said, standing up. "We need a break from all this hypnotism."

Midnight also got to her feet, slipping her hand into Idle's. "Good job up there."

Idle shook her head. "Got lucky."

"You play to get lucky, and sometimes you do," Spin said.

For some reason, Idle seemed to bristle at Spin's comment. "Yeah, well..."

"Did you know that you were both using memory suggestions?" Midnight asked, cutting in, trying to break the tension.


"You and Tailor were both talking a lot about forgetting things, playing with the volunteers' memories."

"We were?"

Both Midnight and Spin nodded.

Idle shrugged. "Cool, I didn't really pay a lot of attention, I was just doing what came natural."

"And with none of the volunteers having a clear memory..." Spin trailed off.

"Okay, yeah, I can see why you'd be thinking that I'd be playing for luck."

Midnight thought Idle's tone was still a bit upset. She squeezed Idle's hand. "It messed with my brain a bit too."

Idle grinned. "Really?" She didn't sound surprised.

Midnight nodded. "Yeah, Spin can probably tell you, I zoned out pretty hard there."

"Well, it's probably just that you're up there being Altered so much..." Idle squeezed Midnight's hand back, sending a thrill through her body that she fought to keep from showing. "I mean, you'd probably enjoy just listening to me or Spin talk hypnotic language at you."

Something had changed in Idle's tone. She reminded Midnight of the voice that had come over the speakers in the theatre.

"You probably don't even remember walking out to the lobby," Spin added, their tone similarly breathy and mysterious. "I'll bet you forgot what we were talking about as we walked out here."

Midnight looked around. The three of them were standing in the deserted lobby. A clock on the wall showed that the third match of the evening was halfway over. "Am I... losing time?"

"Lots of it, hon," Idle said, turning Midnight half around to hold both of her hands.

"And you're not done losing it," Spin added from behind her.

"We're just getting warmed up."

"Practicing for our big match."

"Working you over, just for fun."

"Helping you to forget,"

"and relax,"

"and fall,"


Midnight lost track of which of them was speaking, or who was saying what, or even what was being said. She felt herself wrapped up in Idle's arms, but the onslaught continued. She felt her mind being pulled in a dozen different directions, and each of those directions was a different flavour of down. She imagined, and she knew she was imagining, that Idle was stripping her right there in the theatre lobby, but whether that fantasy was her own or if Spin or Idle or both of them were feeding it to her hungry mind, she had no idea.

She liked that she had no idea.

The fantasy ended not with a snap, but a little like coming up from a swim, with a feeling like water coming off goggles. Spin and Idle weren't there, but she could see them when she looked around. It took her a moment to realize that the two to them were in isolation booths. They were ready to work. Belatedly, Midnight realized that she was sitting at Spin and Idle's table in the theatre audience, which made sense if she could see the stage.

Midnight felt a little forgotten, which was silly—Idle had already promised to see her after she played the next two matches, and she had Idle's note right there in front of her, the one that Idle had...

... had given her. At some point. 

She looked it over. It took her a while to get her vision to stop swimming and the letters to stop dancing around the page enough to make sense of the text.

Hey sweetie, you just relax and watch me play.

It wasn't signed, but she knew it had been written by Idle. She didn't know how, but it didn't matter.

Relax. Watch me play. Midnight blinked. Idle's voice carried those words to her again, and again, as she settled back in her, really Spin's, chair, her eyes drifting automatically to the left of the stage where Idle sat. Relax. Watch me play.

The countdown timer was almost to zero. The game was about to start.

Relax. Watch me play.

Midnight obeyed.

Purple and black, Idle thought to herself. Perfect. Her target button was a pentagon, too. A better option than Spin's green-and-white crescent moon, definitely.

So you think I rely too much on my luck, do you? Idle said as the countdown timer reached zero. She looked over the indicators, the condition of the five volunteers, and trusted her instincts.

"Well, Spin, I'm feeling lucky," she said aloud, the booth absorbing her voice so no one heard it but Idle herself. "Are you?"

Volunteer Two. She highlighted just that screen. Male, mid-20s, about as chill as anyone could be. Almost asleep. Perfect. Five seconds into the match, she hit the 'Wake' command, then confirmed it, immediately locking her out of his controls.

"Let's see if I'm playing from behind."

Of course, it would be five minutes before she knew whether she needed to convince two or three of the remaining four volunteers.

And then Spin shut down Number Five.

"Huh." Idle gathered herself. "Well, alright. Eenie, meenie, miney..." And she gave the 'Wake' order for Volunteer Three. "This fight might be over in five minutes, then." She wondered what the audience was thinking about this introduction to the fourth match of the night. It would be very different from any other, to be sure.

Assuming fifty / fifty odds on each of the volunteers, then there was a one-in-eight chance that Idle had just won the match. And also a one-in-eight chance that she'd just lost it. Easy come, easy go. Three-in-eight that she was ahead two to one, three-in-eight that she was behind by that margin. She sat back in her chair, watching the reactions on the monitors. Spin wanted her to learn patience, she would be patient.

Apparently, according to her monitors, Spin was doing much the same thing. There was no evidence of contact with either of the volunteers that Idle had turned loose, or either of the volunteers still not in the waking process. I'm not the only one waiting, then. Unless you're talking to them. You've always been a good talker.

"When we can get you talking, anyway," she muttered to herself.

Fives had never really been her favourite game. It was too hands-off. The isolation booth was too quiet. There wasn't enough contact with anyone. She preferred to work face-to-face, if she could, and with Brainhack it was direct competition. Proxy wars weren't anywhere near as fun.

But it was, at least, relaxing. Recentering. There was a certain zen-like calmness to being so disconnected, to only interacting with a series of numbers while being forced to remember that there was a human being behind them. Forget that you're dealing with people, and you will lose the match. Forget that your opponent is human, and you'll probably lose then, too.

Maybe that was the lesson Spin wanted her to grasp. Maybe Anonyma at one point had been nothing more to her than those numbers, and that's why she hadn't stopped pushing at her nervous system.

She idly paged over to Volunteer Four's connection and played a little with his depth of trance, and was surprised to see the number immediately move in the opposite direction than she expected. Was Spin playing with her? She tried to lighten the volunteer's trance again and watched as again he sunk deeper into hypnosis.

That had to be Spin, working against her. Interesting tactic, though. Idle presumed that Spin was on the microphone, so that's the last place that she wanted to be; she'd more or less used up her mental energy for speech in her first match and wanted to take a little time to recover, and anyway Spin was a better talker than she was.

That would also explain why Spin wanted them to be deeper.

Well, alright. You want him hypnotized? You deal with him. Still connected to Four, Idle issued a third 'Wake' command, then immediately hooked into Number One, the only remaining volunteer she could direct.

And she flooded One with sleep cycle commands. For the first time in the match, Idle activated her mic. "Just breathe. Nice and slow. In and out. Calm. Simple. It's easy to let your mind go and relax. Deeper, and deeper. Block out every sound but my voice, every thought but my voice. In, and out, and in, and out. Deeper, and deeper, and deeper."

She thought about Midnight, in the audience, no doubt hearing her voice and following along. The image brought warmth to her chest, and dampness between her thighs. No getting distracted, now. I am in control. I am cold, I am ice. Brainhacking mantras came to mind as she continued to bring Volunteer One down deep into trance.

"No voice but mine. No thoughts but mine. Deeper, now. And deeper, still." Spin wanted hypnotism, wanted deep trance? Idle would give her a volunteer so deep in a trance that she couldn't be directed. "Deep in the warm, safe darkness, deep black and deeper purple, comfortable in the night."

Either Spin was also working on deepening Volunteer One's trance, or she was receptive to the sort of language that Idle was using. Whichever it was didn't really matter, it was working to Idle's plan. Which itself wasn't really a plan beyond just putting Volunteer One so deep that Spin couldn't separate the good feelings of the trance from the dark colours Idle was having her envision.

Two and Five were coming out of their trances, being steered towards the panel at the front of the stage, and Three was about to wake up. Idle allowed her attention to split, glancing occasionally over at the general tally screen while still focusing on hypnotizing Number One. She allowed herself a smile of satisfaction as the first two volunteers both pressed the black-and-purple button.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

Like she was sure she was about to do tonight.

The thought of Midnight distracted her more than Volunteer Three giving Spin their first point, and she could hear her own voice getting warm as she continued to talk to One about pleasure, and joy, and heat...

She pulled back from the edge. There was an audience. While Idle had plenty of time and ability to give her target an orgasm, there were, if not written rules, then at least matters of etiquette to consider. Volunteers knew what they were signing up for, but Idle didn't know if One was that sort of exhibitionist. The last thing she wanted was to have someone walk away with a bad experience—or a good experience in the moment that soured in the aftermath.

She'd had too many regrets that had seemed like they would be fun at the time to push someone else into that if she could avoid it. And she could avoid it.

Spin had noticed the direction that One's trance was taking, too, and was pushing back against the sexual thoughts that were being inspired, working to turn arousal into something else. Coach looking out for me, she said to herself with a grin.

Volunteer Four was starting to come up, Volunteer One was going deeper, and deeper. Idle started her patter again into One's ear—and into the audience. Talking softly to the volunteer, she knew at least one other person was listening almost as intently, and the idea that she (and others) might be falling into a beautiful purple-and-black trance was... thrilling, to say the least. It was hard not to picture herself at the head of an adoring crowd, talking about purple and black and soft warm words and comfortable deep relaxation, and slipping in some clever suggestions for afterwards...

Idle refocused her thoughts again. They were too much about Midnight, not enough about Volunteer One. And anyway, Four was about to get up from his chair, the game might be over. There would be a lot of time to think about Midnight later, if she read the situation right. She didn't let up her hypnotic patter, just checked it, making sure it was focused to this subject, this situation.

Only to find, a moment later, that the controls shut off as Volunteer Four chose Idle's button. The waking cycle automatically kicked in for the remaining volunteer, as Idle had won, mathematically. Poor Volunteer Number One wouldn't have a chance to make her choice. Idle and Spin came out of their isolation booths and acknowledged the crowd with a bow and each other with a hug, before heading backstage side-by-side.

"The fuck was that?" Spin asked her, laughing, when they were finally away from the audience.

"Me, playing to get lucky," Idle replied with a shrug. "Sometimes I do."

Spin sat down on the couch, shaking their head. "You're killing me, Richardson."

Idle leaned against the wall opposite, matching her roommate's grin. "Don't push it, I've got another match in ten minutes."

The stage manager walked in from the other door as the two were laughing, followed by Bard, looking tired, and Midnight, looking very confused. Without a word, Midnight stepped into the room and wrapped her arms around Idle, resting her head on the Alterist's shoulder. Idle blushed a bit and returned the embrace, as the other three in the room shared conspiratorial glances.

"I saw her drop," Bard said. "Just slumped down in her chair as you were talking. She was probably the first, but there were quite a few. If the match had continued, I think you might have had the whole audience under."

Idle's blush deepened at the fantasy of it. Midnight let her go, taking a step away. She had a dreamy smile on her face.

"She can stay back here with me, if it's okay," Spin said, and the stage manager nodded. "I'm not planning to go back out to the audience."

Bard moved to a chair and sat, waiting and watching. The stage manager paused, listening to something on his headset, then went back to the wings, presumably to retrieve the remaining volunteer.

"Uh, Spin?" Idle asked as Midnight made her way across the room to the couch. "Do you mind if Midnight and I just... get out of here after this next match?"

Spin laughed. "Yeah, of course, take a Popcar. I'll drive home by myself."

Midnight, meanwhile, turned and looked over at Bard with a goofy smile. "You're not a musician!" she said in the voice of someone who just figured out something that had been bothering her for some time.

Everyone looked at her. "Midnight, honey, what are you talking about?" Spin asked, concerned.

"He's called 'Bard,' but he's not a musician. I just got why. Just... Just look." She pointed at the older man's shoulders, at the patches on his nice shirt. "A black arrow. A bird. I'm... I bet it's a thrush, right?"

Bard looked impressed. "You're absolutely right."

"You're not a musician!" Midnight exclaimed with a childlike glee. "You're a dragon-slayer!"

Bard grinned and shook his head. "Haven't been doing much dragon slaying tonight."

"Do you have any clue what she's talking about?" Spin asked her roommate.

Idle shrugged helplessly. "I wasn't even sure she was in the same room as the rest of us. Now I'm not sure she's on the same planet." She looked over to Bard.

"Oh God I'm such a nerd," Midnight said, putting her hands to her face, a little more animated.

"I think we all are, here," Bard said kindly. "Nature of the hobby. It attracts nerds."

"Still lost," Spin reminded the others.

"It's from The Hobbit!" Midnight exclaimed, coming to life. "Bard the Bowman killed Smaug with a black arrow after a thrush told him where the weak spot was!"

Idle straightened up. "How the heck did you..."

Midnight grinned and took a little bow. "Didn't figure me for a reader, huh."

"Not of that sort of fantasy," Spin replied.

She nodded, talking faster. "Oh yeah, I love the classics. Audiobooks, you know, while I practice my steps and do my exercises? I listened to all of Tolkien like five years ago, and memorized like half of everything Ursula Le Guin ever wrote. Sci-fi, too. I love Octavia Butler, Robert Sawyer, Thomassa Garion—"

The stage manager chose that moment to duck back in to the green room. "Idle? Bard? The volunteers are seated. Got to get you into the booths."

Bard got up and offered his hand to Idle. "I don't breathe fire, I promise." Idle said, taking his hand firmly.

"You don't?" Midnight said with mock-disappointment. "Darn."

"Maybe if you ask her nicely..." Spin replied.

Bard and Idle exchanged a knowing look as Midnight giggled. "Best of luck, dragon-slayer."

"Best of luck, Idle."

The fifth match was starting. Ben shook his head. The outcome was all but inevitable. Bard wasn't anywhere in the league of the other three. But that didn't mean that Bard wasn't a good Alterist, far from it, just that he couldn't stand up to the others in a game of Fives.

Bard was older, by a generation, than the other three. Techniques, methods, concepts, understandings had changed in that time, and clearly he hadn't kept up with them. Probably not a professional, then, Ben mused. Perhaps he'd been someone, or had potentially been someone, a decade or two ago, but now his style made him seem washed up and scrambling.

Ben was determined that that was not to be his destiny. A generation from now, two generations, ten... They'd still be talking about Ben King, as a brainhacker, as a teacher, and then as a legend.

He would make sure of it.

"He doesn't stand a chance, does he," Midnight said.

"Not one," Spin replied. "Not even a little bit of one. He's badly out of his depth, and he knows it."

"What about you and Tailor?"

Spin wobbled their hand back and forth. "Eh... fifty-fifty. I'm a better Alterist than she is, but I think she's better at this game than me. Idle really did get lucky in their game together."

"She has a pretty voice," Midnight observed.

"She has a pretty lots of things," Spin agreed. "I'm a bit jealous of how effortless it all seems."

Midnight pulled a lock of pink hair in front of her eyes. It took hours to bleach it every time, and had taken several experiments to get the colour just right, a deep pink that didn't flow into purple. It was just about her only luxury, but she loved how it made her look—and how it made her feel. She felt like Midnight Rose when her hair was just right, which in her mind at least made her more confident, mysterious, interesting. She could almost forget who she was in real life, and just be Midnight Rose.

Winding the lock of hair around her fingers, Midnight said, "It probably takes her a long time to make it look like it takes her no time at all."

Spin's nose wrinkled as they made a face. "I wouldn't know. I just toss on whatever."

"You make it work," Midnight replied with a shrug. "Doesn't matter, so long as you feel good about it."

"I guess I do."

The two settled into silence. Midnight let her hair go and paced back and forth slowly, looking around the room. She'd been in more than one green room, and this was pretty normal, from her experience, much like the slightly bigger room on the other side of the stage where the volunteers waited. She'd been specifically in that room several times, but she hardly remembered those nights.

Of course, here she was in a green room again, waiting to be Altered. She smiled at the parallel. Even if they hadn't needed her as a volunteer, she was probably still going under. Not that she hadn't been under already. She turned to Spin.

"I don't think I had a chance to tell you," Midnight began, "but what you and Idle did to me earlier was, uh..." She stammered, at a loss for words.

Spin chuckled. "We could tell. It's alright, I had fun, and I know it was a good prelude for what you and Idle will get up to once she finishes off Bard."

Midnight felt herself get warm again. "I just... I wanted to thank you."

"You're welcome." Spin smiled warmly. "It's always fun getting to work with Idle, instead of just directing her, or fighting against her. Or messing with her." They gave a wink.

"You mess with her?"

"Sure, and she messes with me. It's just a thing when Alterists share living space."

"I just... I assumed..."

"That we weren't sleeping together?" Spin laughed. "We're not, don't worry. Idle and I are friends, roommates, and teammates, we are not lovers. Besides, I thought you had me pegged as ace about an hour ago."

"Oh, so when you said..." Midnight turned away, embarrassed. "Sorry, I'm making an ass of myself."

"Don't worry about it," Spin said, and her voice was warm and genuine. "Besides, if you're going to be sleeping with my roommate, there are probably going to be a few awkward moments."

Midnight started to fan her face, then realized what she was doing and stopped herself. Instead, she just knelt on the soft carpet, sitting on her ankles. "I guess there's no point in pretending..."

"None whatsoever." Spin chuckled. "Think it'll just be tonight?"

"Stop it!" Midnight laughed, putting her hands to her cheeks. "I don't know! Honestly, uh, I hope not? I mean, Idle seems like such an awesome person, a-and so do you, and... um I guess we'll see?"

Spin laughed with her. "I'm just teasing you, Midnight. I'm glad you and Idle get along so well."

"Yeah, that's one way of putting it, I guess."

"Tap tap. And the other way?"

"She makes me extremely horny," Midnight replied, then covered her mouth. She turned to fix Spin with an accusing look. "Hey! You've done something to me!"

Spin winked. "We've been talking a while, remember? You might just be inclined to open up a little more to the person who's been Altering you."

"Especially when they've put a suggestion in my head for me to do that."

"Uh huh, especially then." Spin chuckled.

Midnight put her hands on her knees. "So what else have you got in my brain?"

"Nothing we didn't talk about or agree to, you know that." Spin's smile was genuine, friendly.

Midnight nodded. "Yeah. Yeah I do." She let out a breath. "I guess I have to worry more about what Idle will do, huh."

"Hah, she's nicer'n me, in a lot of ways." Spin stood up. "It's almost time. You should stop thinking so much about me. Point those eyes at Idle, and forget about me for a while."

Midnight looked up at them with a grin. "Is that an order?"

Spin grinned back. "I guess you'll find out."

Midnight got to her feet. Impulsively, she strode across the room and wrapped the Alterist in a warm hug. She could feel their embarrassment at the action, but Spin nonetheless put her arms around Midnight as well.

"Thank you, Spin," Midnight said, stepping back. "It's been a great evening."

"Yeah, well..." Spin looked at their feet. "It's been fun. You and Idle should—"

Spin was cut off as the door opened and Bard walked in, shaking his head. "Oh-for-three tonight. Just my luck to be set up against such great opponents. Guess there's hope for the next generation." He grinned. "Spin, good luck with Tailor."

And then Idle was there. Midnight's breath caught, and her thoughts fell away.

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