Chapter Twenty-One | Fist City

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Perhaps the shortest person in the crew should not have been assigned the job of finding a lost Jontar. At least, so thought Gideon as she avoided knees and skirts in her search for Tate. She had run up and down every aisle of slot machines, finally dolling out losses as well as wins after Asimov's subterfuge was erased and rebooted. She stood on couch cushions in the entrance before the front of the stage for extra height, garnering snooty looks. She patrolled the balcony, snatching handfuls of fungus stuffed with cheese she could not pronounce. From this height she finally caught site of Tate's massive sparkly frame.

Gideon raced to the elevator and shuffled her feet to its corny soundtrack as she anxiously awaited the first floor. As the doors dinged open she raced out, through the foyer, and into the corner of the casino that housed the blackjack and roulette tables, making a beeline for Tate's bulk. He glanced at her as she arrived at his side.

"Friend Gideon," he said joyfully, "I lose much!"

Gideon looked at his hand, 19.

"Hit!" said the Jontar and Gideon smack her face with the flat of her palm.

"Do you understand the rules, big guy?" she asked softly from her place at his elbow.

"Say 'hit' until dealer gives money!" He smiled.

Gideon shook her head. "I think you've lost enough."

Tate dealt out and stepped away, lifting Gideon onto his shoulder so that she could see over the fray of the crowd. Gideon squeaked in surprise at the ride, had anyone but Tate tried it she would have scratched their eyes out. Her slight embarrassment was overwhelmed instantly by horror as she could now see clearly to the diamond stage in the center of the main foyer.

"Csy!" she hissed in a whisper.

The therian was center stage, flanked on either side by go-go dancers.

"What are they doing?" She wailed, wrapping one arm about Tate's scaly skull in distress.

"Singing!" Tate chimed enthusiastically, "Let's listen."

"No, Tate!"

Before Gideon could really protest the Jontar was lumbering toward the stage. Patrons stepped out of his way instinctually and soon there was no obstruction between them and the proverbial front row of Csy's performance.

The Therian had a seductively crooked grin spread across their cheeks, one hand on their collar bone. Their current mezzo-soprano tone spilled over the crowd, sweet as Alaran honey. The song was something about a woman going rogue on her husband but Gideon was too distracted by the excited flush of Cy's cheeks as they performed to really pay attention. There was a happiness on their features she had yet to witness anywhere else and they clearly derived some sort of pleasure from the adulation of the watching audience. Gideon could not relate. If you put her up there to sing a song she would have died on the spot. Csy found her and Tate in the crowd and beamed in their direction, giving a deep curtsy as the song ended, blowing a kiss toward Gideon that almost knocked her off of Tate's shoulder in surprise. Tate clapped enthusiastically.

Csy and Asimov quickly reappeared as a new act took the stage and Tate lowered Gideon back to the floor.

"What were you doing up there!" Gideon pulled on her ears in horror.

Csy smiled ruefully. "Performing, was that not obvious?"

"I thought it was good," said Asimov, his voice deep in his throat as he tried not to smile.

Csy shot him a flirty smile and Gideon's ears twitched.

"What now?" asked Tate.

"It's your turn to shine, big boy," said Csy slapping the Jontar on the back.

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