Moxxi checked her reflection in the mirror. Hammerlock was standing with a young mechanic who leaned into him as he spoke, sharing hunting stories about killing creatures as tall as buildings. Moxxi smiled to herself, wishing she did not have inventory to do in the morning. A drink would have been something to stave off the restlessness she fought.
Mordecai had not returned her calls. Jack was dead. Her bed was too cold and large without someone to share it. She had a lot of power and influence but no one to share her bed at night who didn’t want something from her in return.
She was about to call last orders when the door to the bar threw open, ushering in a plume of sand from the desert night. His breathing was a tight mechanical hiss, filtered through the mask he wore in the field.
He had to stoop through the door, close to seven feet tall and three hundred pounds of striated mass. He was shirtless, with his skin burned and scarred to the consistency of animal skin that carried musk and leather with every movement.
It was such a shame he was a tailored psychopath.
He was mythology and rumour, refracted and diluted by time and distance. Moxxi knew the stories about him, and if there were survivors, their accounts spoke to an encounter that horrified and intrigued her. When he came back to Sanctuary, he never spoke more than a few words, nothing above a whisper and he never raised his hand to anyone.
She got out a glass, suspended in a gravitational field to keep it sterile and a chilled bottle of root beer. He sat at the bar, lowered his chin and pressed his fingers to either side of the mask. With a hiss, he wrestled it off his face.
Moxxi tried not to stare into his warm, brown eyes behind which a storm of feeling raged. He took the glass and the bottle, left a small stack of gold coins, flecked with purple chips of eridium and poured.
She slid the coins off the counter and into her pocket.
‘Thank you, Krieg.’ she said.
He grunted and took a long, slow sip. He closed his eyes and took pleasure in the chill, carbonated sweetness before he set it down and put another stack of coins on the bar. She smiled and went to cook for him. Two large thresher steaks, vacuum sealed and kept at the back of the chiller for him.
From the grill, she watched him drink. His nose, hawkish in profile and the soft, full lips that lent him a sensitivity of appearance at odds with his reputation and the cleft in his chin. His shaved head gleamed in the low light of the bar.
He finished the root beer and she set the plate of steak on the bar and another chilled bottle of root beer. He ate with an intense focus, chewing with his mouth closed and chasing down bites with sips of beer. When he had cleared the plate, he wiped his hands on a napkin and looked at her with a frankness that made her shudder.
‘Good.’ he said.
She held his gaze that time. The depth and intensity of his gaze was an unspoken question and as her heart thumped against her ribs, she sighed and let her body answer for her.
Hammerlock left with the mechanic and the other regulars made their own way out until it was just the pair of them. He sat there, his massive hands resting on the bar. Moxxi tried not to stare at them, imagining their touch and the unspoken hungers that hid beneath the flirtation and the business experience, stirred and breathed his name.
He looked up at her and her mouth went dry. She brought her left hand up and raised two fingers.
‘First, no coprolalia if you can manage it. You shouting ‘shiny meat bicycle’ kills the mood quicker than a bullet.’ she said.
He nodded without a change in his expression.
‘My safe word is Pandora.’ she said.
The corners of his mouth flickered upwards. He got up from his stool and lifted her into his arms with an ease that she experienced with an utter girlishness. She touched his cheek and he stared into her eyes, her soul and knew what lay within her. Her recognition of him held a weight that would be lifted from the both of them as he carried her into the night.