The whistle rang and the conveyor belt slowed, stopped, signalling shift change. Jester put his tools in his box, nodded shyly at his replacement and headed for the locker room. He'd only been working the conveyor belt for a week. A promotion. It even meant a little more money. It was hard, though, coming into a new place. He took off his overalls and hung them in his locker. He didn't talk to anyone, just gathered up his lunch box and his book and headed to the line for his pay.
He worked it out slowly in his head, adding the extra amount per day and trying to work out how much would come off for union costs and mandatory future health payments. There should be twelve more notes. That would pay for new boots for Rinia and some meat for the stew. And then there would be twelve more again next week.
"Your code?" The voice that spoke to him was low, rich; the Super's black eyes shone down his long beaked nose at Jester. "Oh, our new boy. #AT2380, yes?"
He cleared his throat. "Yes, sir."
The Super handed Jester’s chip to him. "Your reports have been excellent. Good job."
Jester smiled up at the tall man, pocketing the chip. "Thank you. Thank you very much."
"You're welcome. Enjoy your end of week. A lot of the boys meet at Lester's for caf or beer, if you're at loose ends." Oh, that voice was lovely. Sure. Strong.
"I should get straight home, but thank you. It was very kind of you to offer." Jester smiled again at the Super, searching his mind for an excuse to linger.
"Oh, you have a wife at home?" The question was teasing, gentle, the Super handing out the last few chips to those in line behind him.
He blushed. "Oh no, I'm not married. I still... " His blush got deeper. "I live with my family."
"Oh? I lived with mine for many years until my sister married. Now, I have a suite of rooms of my own."
"A whole suite? All to yourself?" Jester snapped his mouth shut, realising he'd been rude, but he didn't even have a bed to himself, let alone a room and it seemed... like a dream.
"Yes. Three whole rooms above the club I belong to." The Super's black eyes glittered at him, the man not looking upset at all.
"A club?" He didn't know why he was pursuing it as he needed to get home and he was sure the Super wanted to go as well, now that he'd handed out all the chips.
The Super nodded. "A men's club -- parties, a bar, places to dance and relax. It's a nice place."
"Lester's?" That was the name of the place the Super had said people met at for caf or beer. Maybe... maybe he would go next week. If nothing came up, he had twelve extra notes and he could have a meal and maybe a caf, or he could try a beer.
"No. My club is called the Velvet Glove. It's up in the highway district." The Super gave him a warm smile. "You ought to come to supper sometime. I can have a guest."
Jester blinked. "Me? You'd like me to come to supper with you?" Why? The word was almost spoken, but he closed his mouth in time.
"Of course. Why not?" He got a grin and a quick wink. "You do eat, don't you?"
"Oh. Yes, I do." He beamed at the Super. He'd never been invited for supper before, especially not at a club. "I'd be honored."
"Tomorrow night? Say six bells? We can share a drink in my rooms first." A thin virtcard was handed to him with a picture of the Super, a map, and a contact cred. Hawk Blackwing. Oh, wow.
"Thank you. Thank you very much. Oh, I'm Jester. Jesterasialk Tcherristrav." Jester held out his hand, pulled it back to rub it along his pant leg and then held it out again. Oh, he wasn't used to this fancy stuff.
"Hello, Jester. I'm very glad to meet you." His hand was taken and held, the grip warm and easy. "I'm Hawk."
Oh. Oh, Hawk's hand made him feel a little funny. Like when he didn't eat for a few days, only without the headache and belly ache. "Hi, Hawk."
His hand was turned over, the pulse point in his wrist gently stroked. "Hi."
A shiver went through Jester, his eyes wide, watching as Hawk touched him. No one had ever touched him like that, so softly, as if he were precious, as if it were a pleasure to touch him.
He looked back up into Hawk's dark eyes. "Hi," he repeated, almost whispering, breathless.