by H.P. Lovecock (力。下。愛ちんちん)
illustrated by Sly Sketcher
Moth-Boy #1: The Moth Takes Wing
“And now, in local news: a group of construction workers were saved by an eccentric costumed crime-fighter in an incident that is being investigated as sabotage.
“Workers at 1 Progress Place were trapped on the upper floors of the development last night when multiple explosions blocked stairwells and destroyed a construction elevator.
“As first responders were formulating rescue plans on the ground, witnesses describe an enormous winged creature sailing from the neighbouring condo building, connecting a zip line rope between the two buildings. The mysterious figure provided enough safety harnesses for every member of the trapped crew, assisting them to reach safety.
“In an e-mail statement to MetroTV, Monolith Development chief communications officer Lia Ralways explained: ‘… due to the sensitive nature of the Smart Building’s design, the rescued construction workers are not available for comment. However, we are thrilled these brave men and women are safe, and we thank an ordinary citizen doing the extraordinary to get them home to their families.’
“However, MetroTV spoke to the condo owner this costumed hero used to rescue the workers: ‘My wife and I were watching Netflix when we heard the explosions across the street. We were watching the smoke and the firetrucks when I heard a knock on the door.
“‘He was… maybe seven feet tall? Though it was hard to say with his… antennae? A big sort of feather cape wrapped around him, and two huge glowing eyes. I almost [beep] myself. He just sort of calmly introduced himself, Hey, how are you? I’m Moth-Boy. I was hoping I could use your balcony. He didn’t seem in any huge rush, and had this huge bag of, like, climbing gear and [beep].
“‘I would leave your balcony door open… and your front door too. And then he said he loved the show we were watching. He also… told us how to fix the leaky faucet in our bathroom.’
“The Moth-Boy then attached the zip line to a concrete pillar unique to certain units before leaping from the condo building’s 85th floor balcony, sailing to 1 Progress Place, where he scaled the building up to the 90th floor and rigged up the zip line.
“This isn’t the first time the Moth-Boy has made the news. He has previously thwarted a large-scale computer store robbery at the Eaton Centre, and interfered in muggings, assaults, drug and weapons deals throughout the downtown core. Metro Police Services deny working with the caped crusader, although officers led by Staff Sergeant Ian Wang were waiting with paramedics inside the condo building.
“1 Progress Place will be the city’s first fully integrated, mixed-use Smart City development; a collaboration between tech giant Leeland-Zhang Technologies and Monolith Development International in partnership with the city. While politicians believe the pilot project will usher in a new era of technological growth, local activists claim the lack of public oversight will lead to breaches in privacy. Mayor Moe Rahn is encouraging the Metro Police to consider extremist activist group ‘Save Our City’ as a prime suspect in the accident, although no group has claimed responsibility for the destruction.
“After the break: candlelight vigils are being planned for next week to mark the second anniversary of the shooting of Anton Ahmadi—”
The city stretches out before me, a living thing; the low rumble of countless vehicles, the soft inhale of rooftop HVACs, or the gentle susurrus of the twilit crowds alight by LCD rainbows far below. In 16K resolution the city shimmers with the vastness of a nebula, painting the overcast summer skies in dark, roiling purples and greens, the colour of a fresh bruise.
“I like this monologue,” Ajit says, snickering into my ear.
I huff, “You’re supposed to follow hailing protocols!”
“Oh, sorry. Archmage to Moth-Boy.”
“Acknowledged,” I mutter, steamed by his teasing.
“PAP’s getting some hits based on your parameters,” Ajit says as small green notifications pop up on my goggles’ interface. I start to scroll through them. A corp-owned condo compound in the west end… The new Rainforest, Inc. distribution centre campus in one of the suburban prefectures… a hospital server farm in the north… a manor in Rosedale… The list kept going; our Predictive Analysis Program has narrowed infinite possibilities down to countless.
“Pull up our data set,” I say, and a stream of raw data dances before my eyes as I manipulate my glove to maneuver the interface. I start to group the previous targets into two outcomes, data theft and burglary. The program begins to sort the predictions into two similar streams, although there were still a lot of missing data points, I observe.
“Corporate data security is way better than the police’s, or the city’s,” Ajit replies, I hear the crack of a cola can from his end. “Are we playing D&D this weekend or is LesbianSpoons still out of town?”
I ignore his question, watching as the groupings begin to narrow my options. “Archmage, what do you think would be more fun? Corporate espionage or stealing art objects from a CEO?”
I hear Ajit slurp his diet cola. “I mean, corp stuff is a long haul project, I have a feeling our friend steals from rich people to blow off steam.”
My guy says he’s right, so I set aside data theft and let the program continue to narrow down burglary targets.
“There’s a Boba Time on the way to Rosedale, yeah?” I ask, but already know the answer. I place my order and launch myself off the top of the high-rise I’d been perching on. My multi-colour wings shoot out and catch the air current of the warm summer evening, and I glide over a city that glitters beneath me.
Our “friend” is a cat burglar who dresses up like a cat. I guess I can’t judge.
He’s popped up over and over again over the past two years, mainly in a series of corporate data leaks engineered by the militant activist group Save Our City.
After a series of protests organized by Save Our City went south, including a tenuous connection to the shooting of a teenage boy on a streetcar, the Progress Place Project Director’s emails were leaked. In discussions with his chief of security, he discussed “making an example” out of Save Our City activists. There was never any evidence linking the email with the violent protests, or the shooting, but that’s all the anti-Smart City side needed to make the connection.
Next came an investigation over the friendship between the mayor, the chief of police, and the Progress Place Project director. Save Our City had a viral video showing pictures of the three together at various events over the years going back decades. The mayor’s response? A politically ambitious man, a high ranking police officer and a tech philanthropist seen together at city events, fundraisers and celebrations: call in Sherlock Holmes. Of course the three knew each other, and he’d always been very honest about his friendship to the two men. Who cares? But, again, the connection had been made.
We learned all of this in our investigations over the past couple of months. My interest was piqued when the cat burglar broke into Sarge’s home—a contact of mine in the police service. Sarge said that, strangely, the burglar didn’t burgle, but rather seemed very interested in his computer. I figured Tomcat was after access to sensitive police service information, specifically related to the Progress Place Project, since Sarge was the police liaison. He’d picked the wrong caped crusader’s friend to mess with.
So Ajit and I began to profile all the places the cat burglar hit, at least the ones we knew about. I kept trying to catch him in the act, but we always seemed to be two steps behind him. That was, until the Progress Place Bombings.
Islands of green in the city’s patchwork of concrete and steel. They call this the “old money neighbourhood”, well-heeled names stretching back generations, and it shows. Rosedale is bulwarked on either side by a protected, verdant green to the west and the stretch of the forested Don Valley below the forested cliffs to the east. Green buys green. Rosedale even has its own environmental control tower, weaved into the belfry of an old church that now serves as the city’s Department of Environmental Custodianship main office. If these walls could talk… homes outfitted as fortresses, weathering the Climate Riots of ’22, untouched by the poverty and crime all around them, private security forces- –
I choke on a tapioca ball that shoots up the straw and down my throat. I retch inside my mask, the pale slime of my jasmine milk tea coming out my nose. I glare at my cup before shrugging and bringing the straw up to my mouth to fight the last few tapioca balls out from the icy remnants of my bubble tea.
“You shouldn’t monologue and drink at the same time,” Ajit scolds me.
“Moth-Boy to Archmage,” I say, “any luck with the surveillance systems?”
“Paladin’s using a new encryption service. I’ve got some soc-eng on the go,” he leaves the line open for me as he puts on a thick Punjabi accent in his spoofed call to Paladin Security Solutions. “Yes, this is Rajinder, still here. So what you’re going to want to do now is authenticate your password change. You’re getting two step authentication? Very good!”
Once Ajit has talked his way into some poor sap’s account we have access to live feeds of the local outdoor cameras and we watch as PAP takes over, searching for security breaches.
“I’ve got one,” Ajit says and pulls up the live feed, a beautiful $5 million Victorian house owned by a real estate mogul, an upper floor window suspiciously propped open. A couple of cats dash across the lawn, another sits on the front entrance’s doorstep, licking its anus. Weird. The manor is in darkness, but thermal imaging shows a few minor signatures. Someone’s home. I watch Ajit cross reference city records with the owner and her family’s social media accounts in live time. “Either Ms. CEO forgot to close all her upstairs windows before her trip to the Bahamas, or…”
“Give Sarge a heads up,” I say. “I’m going in.”
I do a running leap from the ancient, crumbling St. Jamestown high-rise to the south of Rosedale and my suit plots a course, my feathery antennae picking up wind conditions and air currents, supplemented by my own hyper-perception. Even through my steelweave bodysuit I can sense the gentle buffet of a westerly wind, and feel the warmth released from the previous day’s sun-fall on concrete far below as if it were caressing bare skin. My mind runs trajectory computations alongside the computer, even offering slight corrections for a better landing. I make sure my wings are darkened so all I’d look like from below is a large, dark blur.
I soar over a canopy of green and pull up sharp and then drop onto the manor’s roof without a sound. My goggles switch from night vision to thermal imaging and I can see there’s someone inside on the upper floor, though the readings aren’t totally clear against the ambient backdrop of an old house with weird heating. I scramble over the side of the house and lower myself to the window, a little less gracefully than I would have liked, pulling my wings in behind me.
It’s a strange feeling, standing there in someone’s bedroom surrounded by such normalcy, though a couple of dozen tax brackets north of normal than I’m used to.
I almost leap out of my suit as I feel something brush against my leg. I look down and there’s an enormous, fluffy white cat staring up at me, eyes reflecting light coming in through the window. The cat chatters at me and I reach down to scratch her ear, but she dashes off into the darkness. Pulling up the location of the human heat source I follow.
I don’t have to go far. An enormous walk in closet leads to an antechamber that leads into a palatial washroom. I’ve never seen a washroom with an antechamber… I’ve never seen an antechamber. The fluffy white cat waits for me just inside the bathroom door
He has his bare back to me, up to his shoulders in bubbly bath water. His arms rest on the lip of the tub, his feet kicked up in front of him, lazily treading the water. The bathtub is enormous, the size of a small pool, raised up and inlaid into an ornately tiled marble top that comes up to my knees.
The young man himself is pale, slim, shoulders covered in freckles, long auburn hair tied up under an elaborate half-mask. The mask is an obsidian black that covers from his nose up, topped with two large triangles. I watched as the ersatz cat ears swivel around to face me. “Cat got your tongue?”
Moth-Boy #2: The Moth & the Flame
I almost jump back through the door, but as far as I can tell he’s naked in a bathtub, black catsuit discarded on the tiles, while I am fully suited. “I thought cats didn’t like water.”
“Common misconception!” he says, raising a finger, his back still to me. “A lot of domestic cats don’t like water, the theory is they evolved in dry, sandy places where they didn’t interact with big bodies of water.”
He pushes himself forward and then turns around, bracing his muscular forearms on the edge of the tub. He drops his chin gently to his arms, a coy smile on his face. His eyes are visible through cat’s eye slits in the mask, an amber glow of whatever tech he has within. His torso floats behind him, and I see his ass cheeks break the water. I flush red within my suit. “Large, wild cats, on the other hand, often enjoy the water,” he purrs, his gaze strafing me from head to toe. “I am a large, wild cat.”
“Maybe I should call animal services.”
“Only if they collar me,” he says, smirking. “And what are you supposed to be? Butterfly-Guy?”
“I’m a moth!” I cry out, but realize my statement of fact is whinier than I intended, so I clear my throat and drop my voice. “I go by Moth-Boy.”
“Boy?” cat-mask asks. “Are you old enough to be fighting crime?”
“I’m eighteen!” I exclaim, genuinely annoyed.
“Huh,” he responds, an enigmatic smile on his face. “Same.”
We lapse into an awkward silence, him just watching me, one of his hands reaching out to stroke the fluffy white cat’s back, perched beside the tub, eyeing the water cautiously. I fidget where I stand. He’s butt-ass-naked, so why do I feel vulnerable?
I clear my throat again, “You’ve been… busy! Jewelry, paintings, electronics, silverware… a pure-bred Ashera. Oh, and confidential data.”
“I only steal from people who deserve it.”
“Well, perhaps it’s time to learn a new trade,” I quip back, subtly manipulating the bolas launcher on my left wrist, and the taser on my right. I want to avoid the taser while he’s in the tub. I also don’t want to turn him into the cops butt naked and tied up.
… Okay, I shouldn’t have thought about him butt naked and tied up.
“I hear good things about the training programs run by correctional services.”
He sighs and pulls himself up out of the tub, water and bubbly suds streaming down his body.
“Mere tuttay choosla…” Ajit murmurs in disbelief into my ear.
I realize I’m staring and turn away, shielding my eyes as he reaches for a towel.
“Wait! Wait!” a very, very bisexual Ajit cries out. “Turn back, I wanna—”
I cut comms.
“Straight to the carceral system, huh?” cat-masks tsks, wrapping his towel around his waist and stepping out of the tub. He picks up his suit and brushes past me, back through the antechamber and closet, into the bedroom. I have no choice but to follow, vexed by the feline undulations of his muscular back, the subtle folds of skin on his thin waist as he walks, the wet towel clinging to his round, shapely ass that tenses and relaxes with every step. “I guess everyone who steals deserves to end up in prison?”
“Uh, yeah. We have these things called laws, you may have heard of them.”
He nudges a black equipment bag out from under the bed with his foot. I peer in and see… dozens of ancient weapons, like something out of Dungeons & Dragons. Arrowheads, daggers, a bow, an honest-to-goodness war club. “Rich white lady du jour is a collector. Actually it’s something of a family pastime,” cat-mask says as he turns his catsuit right side out. “Mohawk, Ahkwesásne specifically. She has all the certificates, appraised by a scholar who specializes in Mohawk peoples’ artefacts. A tradition started by her great-grandfather, they have a whole ‘Mohawk’ room downstairs, it’s super creepy, animal skins, paintings, a recreation ‘teepee’ for the kids, though that’s a bit of a cultural anachronism I think, I’m not an expert. All owned legally, I suppose. So are the repatriation calls from the Ahkwesásne, although she’s managed to avoid them so far. She’ll throw some money around, maybe to a faculty of indigenous studies, get a library named after her family. Time and ludicrous wealth heal all wounds.”
I snort, “I’m sure the Mohawk people appreciate you breaking into rich peoples’ houses to take bubble baths.”
Cat-mask grins, giving an exaggerated shrug. The muscles of his tight pecs shift hypnotically. I try to focus. “Oh, that bath is all me, I’m a sucker for a big, beautiful tub. Better if I have company though.”
He stands and walks over to me. I should take him down. I should at least pull away. But his hand slowly reaches between the folds of my wings, then down lower, then cupping my junk, which has been straining against my bodysuit since the moment I saw him in the tub, stroking me through the thin, almost skin tight material. “Tell me if you want me to stop,” he says, a sly expression on his face.
I gulp again, and say nothing.
He drops to his knees and dives into the folds of fabric, pressing his face against my dick, running his lips up and down my shaft, his hot breath making my knees weak. I can’t see him, my wings are voluminous, they need to be to let me glide, so I key in the command to release the magnetic seal and my wings flutter to the ground in a mound of proprietary smart-cloth. He’s looking up from me where he kneels, his face is pressed against my dick, eyes wide with lust, mouth open and panting just like in a dirty vid.
“Take off the towel,” I mutter.
He pushes me back, and I let myself fall into a stranger’s humongous, king-size feather down comforter. Every muscle in my body is telling me to run… every muscle except one. Cat-mask stands, slight, slim, freckled torso on display, then reaches down and tugs at the towel fold.
I’ve always heard the “carpet matches the drapes” line used as a joke. Now I understand.
His light auburn hair barely colours his legs, just a barely visible light golden-red smattering on his thighs. He’s well manicured, a small bush of hair above his dick, which is slowly plumping up, lengthening. As far as I can tell, his genitals are the only place on his body untouched by freckles.
“You can touch,” he purrs.
I guess that would only be polite.
He lets me explore him, first reaching out and taking his shaft in my gloved hand. He moans at the rough texture, helpful in keeping my grip when climbing. I reach under and cup his balls. He takes my other hand and leads it up to his chest, and soon I’m groping one of his pecs, then the other, he pushes my fingers together and has me tweak his nipples, which gets him groaning in a way that is… pleasing, so I keep doing it on my own.
“Please,” he sighs. “Tell me you’re willing to take the mask off. It’s intense to look up and see…” Cat-mask goes wide-eyed and then reaches up to mimic my antennae bouncing around.
I suppose he could’ve killed me already if that was the plan.
I deactivate the magnetic seal, and lift my Moth-Boy head off, a breathable, goggled, antennaed cowl that covers my entire face. It sinks into the bed and I glance up at him, feeling shy. A small, black raccoon-eye mask with an anti-facial recognition pattern is spirit-glued over my eyes in case I ever have to get my headpiece off in a hurry, while still maintaining some modicum of anonymity.
“You’re a cutie,” he says, climbing onto the bed, straddling me.
As he presses his lips to mine for the first time I have my taser gun pressed over his heart, but I can’t activate it.
He lowers his butt down over my dick and begins to grind against it as his tongue dances against mine. Perhaps he senses my… proximity to the conclusion… because he raises his butt up as his mouth leaves mine, leaving me gasping. “Oh no, you’re not getting off that easy.”
I make a very undignified noise.
Cat-mask climbs off me and reaches towards the bedside table. As he grabs the handle I roll off the bed and fall into a combat-ready crouch—very painful with an erection inside a skin-tight bodysuit—and raise my taser arm at him. He stands in front of me (a just-glorious, round, muscular, freckled ass at three-quarters turn eye level with me) and raises an eyebrow under his mask. He slowly, deliberately opens the drawer, reaches in and pulls out a bottle of KY.
I sigh and fall back onto the bed, covering my face with a pillow, since without my cowl he’ll be able to see how badly I’m blushing. I hope he kills me, at least I won’t feel so mortified at myself.
“First time jitters?” I hear Cat-mask ask through the muffle of pillow over my face.
“How do you know it’s my first time?!”
After a couple seconds with no response I lift the pillow enough to see him out of my right eye. He’s giving me the same dubious look as before.
I let the pillow fall back and feel him arrange my legs, now partially hanging off the bed. “Since you’ve managed to last this long and you’re still hard I’m going to use your cock for a bit. That okay? Suit.”
After a moment where I convince myself I’m going to bola Cat-mask and pretend this entire situation never happened, I key in the haptic release command on my belt and the magnetic auto-fitting zippers go loose. All Cat-mask has to do is tug the boots and the entire suit slides off. I’m more naked than him—the ratio of our face-to-mask coverage skews in his favour.
“It’s a dance belt!” I cry out from under the pillow as he peels it off. I feel a string of my pre-ejaculate follow.
He tsks, “Teasing. So sensitive.” I wince as I feel a cool, lube-slicked hand wrap around my shaft. Once again he has me almost at the edge within moments, but just as I am almost over he lets go, leaving my dick twitching.
“I promise I’m almost always safe,” I hear him say as he straddles me again. Only this time he grabs my shaft from behind and begins pushing it against himself. “I get tested regularly, and I’m not too worried about you.”
I feel my dick push into him, almost one swift motion, and I almost release. I have to use the pillow to muffle my groans, I’m afraid the neighbours will hear.
“Just breathe,” he grunts as he slides down the rest of me. He sits there for a moment, letting me calm down only slightly while he adjusts, taking slow, deliberate breaths. “You’re… mm, thicker than I thought you’d be. Damn dance belt.”
I thrust my hips a little, making him bounce on me. He groans, then snorts and begins to push down onto me. It takes all my willpower not to simply explode inside of him.
“Steelweave?” he pants. I pull the pillow off a little to look at him out of my left eye this time. The eyeful of his slim, taught, freckle-smattered torso, his semi-hard dick bouncing along with every time he impales himself on my dick, his thick, muscular thighs flexing and releasing with each motion, the way he bites his lip as he takes it does not help me try to maintain my composure. He nods over his shoulder as he fucks himself onto me and I glance at my suit, tossed aside like my judgement. “Your suit?”
“Uh… uh, yeah,” I moan as he lifts himself off and then plunges back onto me. I toss the pillow aside and writhe under him, grabbing at the down comforter, my head tossing from side to side.
“Mm,” he moans. “Mine too.”
“Meta?” I grunt. He suspends himself just at the tip of my cock and lets me play around with thrusting into him, tossing his head back. “You meta?”
“Huh?” he giggles, groaning all the while as my balls start slapping against his ass I’m thrusting so hard.
“Are you… close?” he calls out between groans.
“Uh huh! Yeah! Fuck! FUCK!”
As I writhe underneath him, my dick twitching inside of his ass, I watch as a thick string of pearl spurts out of his semi, coating my belly button.
“Holy fucking shit!” he gasps, then brings his mouth to mine. He pushes his tongue deep into my mouth, as if to fight mine, but I finally summon up the courage to give it right back to him, moaning all the while. Eventually we have to pull our mouths apart, both of us gasping for air. “Just gimme a second,” he says, as he lays over me, taking a moment to catch his breath.
The prison of carnality, the great equalizer. That something immaterial can hold such power over the hearts of the strongest of us, can make fools of the wisest, can lay low civilizations. All it takes is a touch, a look, a glance of skin and we lose all senses but the basest deep within, which takes control like the flip of a switch and suddenly we are out of our minds, entirely focused on flesh on flesh. That we are all too willing to give ourselves over to—
“Did you say something?” Cat-mask murmurs sleepily into my ear.
I feel like a pinball that’s just been slapped around, confused, drained, overstimulated and brow-beaten, though Cat-mask did nothing but initiate, and I did nothing but let him take the lead. Plus my powers; hyper-perception becomes hypersensitivity, I feel like I’ve just run some sort of sexual marathon with my genitals. I’m furious, but more at myself for going along with it. Guilt mixes with shame and also, worst of all, titillation. I want to do it again.
He raises himself slightly and brings his lips to mine again, a kiss more tender than I would have imagined after what just happened. “Thanks for that,” Cat-mask says in between slow, affectionate kisses. “I’ve been working too hard, needed some stress relief.” We pull apart when flashing red and blue lights flood the room. He raises an eyebrow at me, and I give a little shrug.
Finally he pulls himself off me, and I watch as a string of my… ejaculate drips down his leg. “Isn’t that messy?” I ask. He shoots me yet another Are you for real? look. He picks up a section of my wings and wipes between his legs with it before tossing it at me as he grabs his own. I sigh—I guess I needed to do laundry soon anyways—and begin to scrounge around the room for my dance belt.
“Jock-strap,” Cat-mask says as he steps into his suit. I frown slightly, confused, and he pulls his suit open from the zipper, showing me the lining. “With a cup. I find it gives me the support I need and still protects from impact, between the cup and the steelweave. Plus it makes my booty look bomb.”
He pulls on his catsuit, zippering it up the back. The thin steelweave material clings to his body. A small leather tie around his waist dangles over his back end and I find myself distracted. I don’t disagree about his “booty”.
Cat-mask grabs the bag of Mohawk weapons and leans in to kiss me one last time. I make no move to stop him as he heads for the bedroom window, his original point of entry. He leans down and scratches the fluffy white cat’s ear, thanking her for the help. The cat flops over on her back, belly up and begins to purr. “I’ll create a distraction,” he says as he leaps up onto the windowsill, the bag slung over his shoulder. “Use the kid’s room window, down that hall to the right.”
“Oh. Okay. Thanks, uh…”
“Tomcat,” he grins and then he’s gone in a flash of black steelweave and hot ass.
Moth-Boy #3: The Moth Catting Around
I meet Sergeant Wang down the street, illuminated by an ornate wrought iron lamp post. He’s keying something into his smartphone as I land around the corner behind a shrub, out of sight of the squad cars and Paladin Security vans.
“Was it our friend?” Wang asks.
He heaves a heavy sigh. Maybe it’s after what just happened with Tomcat, but I have an urge to take the handsome police officer in my arms and comfort him, promise him we’ll catch the perp soon—although part of that urge is in hope that he’ll reciprocate. Staff Sergeant Ian Wang is devilishly handsome: a killer jawline, warm brown eyes, tall, broad-shouldered, a quarterback build. And he gives off an aura of steely calm, just what you’d want in an officer of the law. I suspect half the reason why police services give him so many high profile investigative cases are in hopes that he’ll end up on TV, but his quick-wittedness and ability to command loyalty don’t hurt either.
“What was it this time?”
I describe the weapons, and my theory on the perp’s patterns. We’ve been after him for a month, longer, an increasing string of burglaries and data theft, and increasingly bold.
Wang nods, asks a few questions, takes some notes. He gives me an impressed smile when I tell him I almost caught the thief and my knees go weak. “How’d he get away?”
“Same way he got in,” I say, which isn’t a lie. “He had a leg up on me.”
I regret the phrasing immediately.
Sergeant Wang pockets his notebook and then steps forward, clasping my shoulder. This is a new development, he’s never initiated physical contact before, but we have been growing closer as we’ve worked together. I’ve even considered revealing my identity to him—fantasies of us fighting crime side-by-side. We share the same sense of justice.
“I really appreciate the work you’ve put in. You’d make an excellent detective.” My powers mean that, even through my suit, it’s like his bare hand is touching my bare skin… I’m glad I have the wings to cover my body, my hormones are raging. I almost faint, first from his touch, then again when he sniffs and laughs quietly. “I think it’s time to wash your suit, it’s starting to smell a little funky,” he sniffs a couple more times. “Like a locker room or something.”
“Dude, what the fuck happened last night?”
Ajit sidles up to my desk before homeroom, looking pissed. I’ve never cut him off before, and he has reason to be angry, because after 133 text messages and fourteen voicemails showing up on my suit’s interface, I finally messaged him back: “I’m fine. He got away. I’m heading home.”
I make up some muddled excuse about wanting to give Tomcat some privacy, which is bullshit, he clearly didn’t care about me and the world seeing him butt-ass-naked.
Ajit studies me, and then his jaw drops. “You’re not telling me… did you guys—”
“Did you analyze what I asked you to?”
He’s giving me a sly smile as he slides his tablet across the desk, “Check it.”
Even in the short time he’d been watching, Ajit had been running the quadrillion frames captured from my high def goggles camera through our facial recognition software, piggybacking off of several public and private databases—not, strictly speaking, legal, but we have rules and both have to sign off on utilizing it, which we do sparingly.
I flip through the dozen frames Ajit grabbed. In each of them Tomcat’s face is scrambled, lines shooting out at odd angles, jumbling the shapes that make up his face in each image.
He and I both study the images perhaps a bit too intently, especially the ones that Ajit captured as Tomcat stood up in the tub. We both leap to our feet, crashing against my desk, when our class rep calls for everyone to stand. Ajit and I call out in response, maybe a bit too loud, “GOOD MORNING!” garnering stares from the entire class.
He begins to text me as soon as class starts, bombarding me with questions about Tomcat, especially concerning some indelicate and extraordinarily specific physiological details. He’s also furious that I encrypted the data from our encounter. “You know I’ll crack it eventually.” And I do, but at least it’ll take him some time before he sees… everything. I tell him to pay attention to class and then ignore the vibrating in my pocket as I study the pics of Tomcat, both out of perverse curiosity, and a dawning uneasiness.
Tomcat uses the exact same anti-surveillance patterns as my auxiliary mask, almost down to millimetre. Sure, there’s plenty of places you can find patterns online, or buy these kinds of things wholesale, but this is a custom job, elaborate adversarial patterning that stops facial recognition tech from even picking up on a face. And I learned it from our academy’s very own tinfoil hat, anti-corp conspiracy theorist Ms. Gutierrez in fourth period, Advanced Social Engineering.
Which means Tomcat goes to our school.
Why is the moth drawn to the flame? It’s not the heat or even the light itself, but an inability to adapt. Moths have always navigated by the faint light of the moon, but when cities suddenly blazed with electricity moths found themselves lost in labyrinthine luminescence. They throw themselves at the harsh, blazing light and don’t even know why; a self-destructive compulsion hard wiring them to be trapped by nothing more than a lit candle. That’s why I prefer the darkness of night high above the city, the sparkling silhouettes of high rises and skyscrapers a pale suggestion of the myriad temptations below. Light illuminates, but it traps. We’re too distracted by what is illuminated, we can’t see what lurks in the shadows the light throws off.
“Ooh, that was good,” I mutter to myself. “I should write that down.”
“Are we doing this or what, dude? I have a date tonight.”
“Moth-Boy to Archmage,” I say. “Is PAP getting any hits with the new parameters?”
A couple dozen green notifications pop up and I start to sift through them. A lot of similar hits to last night, only based on his activity I have a strong feeling he’s not stealing for fun tonight. I set aside the possible burglaries and instead focus on data theft and corporate espionage.
“Moth-Boy to Archmage, you still there?”
“Mai! Tell Hira I’ll be down in a second,” I hear Ajit bellow on his end. “Dude, if you screw up my chances with Hira you’d better introduce me to your new boyfriend.”
I ignore him. “I want you to run pattern recognition on the top three highest probable hits.”
He sighs, that means gaining access to some viable live feeds through networked security, which means localized permissions, which means more spoofed calls and social engineering.
“What are we looking for? Slutty catboys?”
“No,” I reply, “just cats.”
We get it on the first hit, lucky for Ajit and Hira. A server farm in North York, four feral cats prowling the parking lot in formation. I leap-frog from high-rise to high-rise. This’ll be the furthest from downtown I’ve travelled by wing. I’m winded by the time I’m perched on a huge mall carpark, I’ve been hitting the gym with Ajit but I don’t have super strength. The resistance from gliding is intense, not to mention climbing up buildings, desperately scrambling up buildings and occasionally slamming into the sides of buildings. I’m almost a bundle of nerves by the time I reach my destination, but I stop along the way for a bracing jasmine milk tea at a neighbourhood Boba Time in midtown.
MedSecure is part of a large data park, cooling systems quietly rumbling atop sprawling warehouse space, nestled beneath an ancient highway. From what we could see security was pretty light—I guess some people put a lot of stock in barbed wire-lined fences—but it’s the cats I’m most worried about. As absurd as it is to think, if they see me I have a feeling they’ll warn Tomcat, and I need to catch him by surprise.
I calculate my trajectory, take a running leap, and soar.
I watch the cat patrol round the corner of the building at just the right time, and I catch a breeze that pulls me up, a dizzying exhilaration as I clear the fence. I pull up, falling out of my glide and feel my steelweave suit’s shock absorption frame tense up with me as I tumble into a roll. I’m furious Ajit isn’t watching, it’s one of the most graceful landings I’ve ever pulled.
Instead of following Tomcat in I take my own way, repelling down the side to a rooftop access door with an outdated key card reader. Once I have the brand all I have to do is find a crack online and transmit through my glove’s haptic node and I’m in.
What defines a city? More than its buildings, more than its monuments, more than its politics, more even than its people? Infrastructure. Roads, water, sewage, power, recreation, culture and, increasingly, data. More kilobytes of information pass through this facility every day, every hour, than the number of humans who are ever going to exist. And for what? To what end do we aggregate, analyze, compile, collate, share and suppress all this data? How can something so granular be, on its own, so worthless but legion can be worth more than gold? Ancient civilizations had oracles, this one has data, a trillion fractal stories told of probabilities that can change the course of history… or keep it repeating.
I remember Ajit’s not listening… dammit, that one seemed really deep.
MedSecure is like any other data facility, rows upon rows of towering computer servers bathing the facility in a cool blue glow, stacks of racks packed in black monoliths. Up above in the dusty rafter beams the glow comes up like sunlight through water, shifting and shadowing as this enormous artificial mind dreams infinity.
I follow the perimeter of the ceiling, keeping to the dark until I spot him. Tomcat is fully clothed, this time, hunched over a server bank’s diagnostic terminal.
Goddammit, the jockstrap really does make his booty look bomb.
I can see he’s installing a rootkit from a small laptop. That gives me reason enough to plot a trajectory leap.
I see, as if in slow motion, his mask’s ears swivel around and he leaps, planting himself. I pull up and slam into him. Tomcat rolls backwards with the momentum, tossing me further down the row of servers. This landing isn’t as graceful. I really know I’m in trouble when I scramble to my feet, and watch Tomcat, flat on his back, throw himself up back onto his feet in one quick motion. He takes a stance, low and with his side facing me, two fists out, the first two joints of his fingers and thumbs curled in not into a fist, but palm flat and fore-knuckles pointed at me.
He looks like a cat, wound up about to spring.
I raise my right arm to fire off my taser but he’s already closed the distance. He rounds his left elbow around and knocks my arm to my right, throwing me off balance before grabbing my arm with his right and throwing me past him as he lands a hit against my cowl with his left, leaving my right ear ringing. I stumble past him, crashing into one of the server banks, and manage to right myself, whipping my wings around, snarling in fury.
Alright, no more Mr. Nice-Moth-Boy.
I key in a command on my belt and feel my steelweave armour tense up. It’ll restrict my movement a little more but give me a little more protection and, hopefully, hurt his hands. I throw my wings one way as a feint while I go in for him, kicking off the server bank—feeling a teeth-grinding crunch of busted computer parts beneath my foot—and swing my leg. He comes for me again, but goes for my wings and only realizes my ploy as my leg right leg sweeps his left. He rolls into it, but it’s not elegant. Still, he turns into his fall and rolls, coming up and throwing himself at me. I try for a right hook but he’s so fast he lands a hit on my forearm, arm joint and neck before I even realize he’s attacking, like a cat swatting furiously.
I stumble back, coughing. Using his forefingers at the speed he can move, he could probably kill me with a hit to my neck like that if I didn’t have my cowl on.
“Butterfly-Guy!” Tomcat calls out, taking a step to his left. He’s trying to circle around back to his terminal. I’m tempted to destroy it, but I want to see if he’s accessed anything… and also want to see what kind of software he’s working with.
“Moth-Boy, actually! Tomcat,” I call back. “Or should I say seductress!” I feint again, throwing my wings to my right, towards his computer. He goes for my left but I’m bluffing as I swing an uppercut at him from inside the feint. He lands a couple of hits on my arm as he spins around me. Then I get in a decent left hook and he goes sprawling, grabbing his face, hunched over, trembling. I freeze, terrified I’ve punched his beautiful, stupid teeth in, but I realize he’s… laughing, wiping at a trickle of blood dripping out of his nose.
I kick out at him as hard as I can, but he easily swings his elbow and knocks me off balance, fore-finger-punching his way up my leg, numbing it even through my steelweave, and then bringing his knee up into my stomach. I bowl over, if I wasn’t wearing my suit I’d probably vomit, but even so I’m winded, choking for breath. He doesn’t give me a moment to recover, his fists batter my cowl, drumming, pounding until I’m dizzy and lashing out with my fists. Finally I managed to key in a command and reverse the polarity of my cowl’s magnetic seal. It shoots off and smacks Tomcat in the chest, not hard but enough fast to surprise him. I throw my entire body weight at him and the two of us going smashing into a bank of servers, sparks raining down on us as plastic crunches and metal groans behind him.
I have him by the throat with my right hand, my steelweave reinforced hand pinning him to the machine. He kicks out at me, battering my legs and hips, but his hands are slapping at the one I have around his neck. For the first time he looks scared.
“What did you do to me?!” I growl.
“Last night!” I snarl. “Is that your power?! Is it pheremonal?! Or do you have some sort of neural control?!”
He swings out and clocks me across the face, but the adrenaline is pumping through my veins, which means my heightened senses are especially numb to the worst of my pain. I throw him down as hard as I can into the scattered computer parts, and he lands on his feet but wobbles and then flops over, coughing and… laughing to himself, wiping at his bloody nose
“That’s what… this is about?” Tomcat gets out in a dry croak between a pained grunt and a barking laugh. “I was taking a bath… and you walked in on me and… popped a boner…”
Now that we’re not in the middle of it my body starts to reel from the pain and I stumble against the servers, releasing the steelweave reinforcement. My body sags.
“You seduced me!” I cry.
He struggles to his feet, pulling himself up to the diagnostic terminal. He’s the better fighter but doesn’t have the protective tech in his suit, and I landed a good few hits. He must be feeling it.
“Apparently… not difficult,” he spits. “A bootlicker like you.”
Tomcat smirks up at me from where he’s hunched over, wiping at the blood with his suit’s sleeve. “I saw you talking to that cop. It was cute. Does he know about your little crush?”
“Shut up!” I bellow, charging at him and slamming him against the diagnostic terminal, cracking the screen, sending his equipment crashing to the ground. I can feel his hot breath against my face, heightened by my powers. I can feel the heat radiating off his body as he squirms underneath me.
“You practically swooned when he touched you.” I feel flecks of bloody spittle hit my face where my auxiliary mask doesn’t cover it. “I bet you wouldn’t accuse the cop of seducing you. You’d probably get down on your knees and beg for his cock.”
“You’re screwed up!” I spit back at him. “You’re the… the pervert!”
But he keeps going, “You probably dream of him getting down and one knee and proposing. A fairy tale romance. You do his laundry and make him dinner while he goes out to beat up junkies and gun down unarmed black people!”
He tries to push me away, feebly, I grab his arm and swing him around, slamming him against the terminal, pinning one of his arms behind his back, although he’s stopped putting up a concerted fight. “What is wrong with you?!!”
“Wrong with me?” he laughs. “You’re the bootlicker. Wish I’d’ve known that last night, I don’t fuck copfuckers.”
The prison of carnality, the great equalizer…
I reach up with my free hand and fumble at the nape of his neck. I wrench down the zipper and he gives a spiteful laugh beneath me. Once I have it down to his waistline I release his arm, grabbing the two sides of the zipper and wrenching them as hard as I can. Even a thin layer of steelweave can be tough to tear, but the zipper forms an unavoidable material integrity flaw that I exploit.
Tomcat gasps and lets out a small sigh as the air hits his bare ass, which I find vexing.
The tear splits down to between his legs and comes away mostly clean, just a few thin, loose strands of steelweave hanging off. Suddenly, instead of two perfect mounds of ass cupped by a steelweave jockstrap grinding against me, I have two perfect mounds of ass bare naked grinding against me, just the lightest hint of light tawny hairs between his cheeks. Otherwise Tomcat’s back is as hairless and lithely muscled as his front. I run my hands over his pale, freckled, sweaty bare back, then pull my rough-textured glove fingertips down his spine and watch him squirm.
There’s a moment where I hesitate, my right mind coming back to me. Above the full barrage of concerns, chiefly in my mind are five words in huge, bold, bright red letters: THIS REALLY THE RIGHT TIME?!
But then I look up and see him glancing back over his shoulder, panting, nose-bloodied, letting out a subtle little gasp with every breath. “Don’t got it in you, huh, Butterfly-Boy?”
In one swift motion I key in the front opening in my suit’s crotch—convenient for urination for a caped crusader on the go, now convenient for something else entirely—wrestle my rock-hard dick out, grab his head and push it down onto the console, spit a couple of times, just like I’ve seen in vids, and then I push into him.
It doesn’t feel… good exactly. Spit is apparently a poor substitute for lube. I feel him push back against me, resisting. He cries out in pain from where his face is pressed against the keyboard, trying to control his breathing. I don’t care. I spit down again, feeling as disgusting as I’m behaving, and push into him until I can’t push any further.
“Holy fuck! Holy fuck!”
Then I pull out and start to thrust.
It feels violent, painful, raw. It feels strangely satisfying.
I can feel my cock fighting into his burning, abused hole, and I can’t hold in grunting from pain and pleasure each time I pump into him. I hear whimpering and I’m worried for a millisecond I’ve gone to far, but when I hesitate and go to pull out, he gets out in sobbing gasps, “Don’t you dare… fucking ruin… my suit… and not… get me off…”
I suppose I’m enough of a teenage boy that I don’t need to be told a second time.
The torn catsuit is getting in the way, so I wrench it off Tomcat’s shoulders, and he gets the hint and I watch him writhe out of it, shoulder blades undulating, hypnotizing. Once he lets go the suit slides down the console and falls off his hips down around his ankles. I’m so… entranced that I begin to buck into him wildly, barely able to control my anger as I punish him.
“Fucking… harder… I’m going to fucking…”
I fall over Tomcat, pounding into his hot ass with an animal fury, slamming him against the console with every painful thrust. He cries out each time I slide into him, but he keeps egging me on, telling me that I can’t fuck him harder.
I re-engage my suit’s reinforcements and show him just how wrong he is as the suit moves with me, turning my dick into a machine.
“Fucking… tearing me apart…”
I push my face against the side of his neck and bite. The salty-sweet taste of his skin takes on a hint of copper as I break the skin. He groans, pushing back against me, almost howling, which reverberates off the steel rafters of the server farm.
But I’m not done yet. I pull out and slam into Tomcat once, then again, and on the third time I pound into his hole and gasp as I release, falling on top of him, my dick twitching deep inside of him.
“I can’t… I can’t believe…”
I pull out of him and fall over backwards, recoiling from what I’ve just done. I notice a pearl-pink sheen covering my dick, and realize there was probably… tearing. What have I done?
Tomcat falls to the side, propping himself up against the bank of servers. He turns over so his back is against the machine, lowering himself into a squat, gasping for breath, naked save for the ruined suit around his ankles. There’s a roiling purple-red mark on his neck, and sweat and… ejaculate drip off him. I look over and see a mess of his… ejaculate all over the terminal I’d bent him over. We make eye contact, both of us trying to catch our breath.
I’m about to say… I don’t know what, when both of us realize something’s coming. I watch Tomcat’s ears swivel and we both glance over where a small tabby paces, skittish, tail puffed out.
Tomcat stands and starts to wrestle with his suit. “Someone’s coming.”
Moth-Boy #4: The Moth, Trapped in a Web
I close my eyes and focus my senses. Through the infinite ocean of humming computers, past the imperceptible wheeze at the start of each breath Tomcat takes and the nervous swishes of the cat’s tail, against the background white noise of the city, I hear the sound of a half dozen tires on cement, getting closer.
I key an emergency command into my suit’s interface and say, “Archmage.”
He picks up on the second ring. “This better—”
“I need eyes outside.”
Ajit doesn’t protest, hearing the tone in my voice. Just a quick, whispered, “You owe me.” Five interminable seconds pass as he accesses the feeds we’d been looking at earlier. He’d be quicker if he weren’t on his smartphone. “Tactical unit. Metro Police. You’ve got maybe thirty seconds.”
I share this information and Tomcat swears. He leaves his torso bare as he uses the upper part of his suit, tying it around his waist to cover up most of his ass, though I watch it peek out from the tear if he twists the right way. “Your cop boyfriend?”
“I didn’t call anyone…”
He ties off the suit, using one of the loose arm sleeves to mop up his issue. “You really did a number on this, huh?” We also did a number on the server banks on either side of row, there are busted pieces of glass, plastic and metal. I pick up my helmet and secure it in place. “I’m guessing the backdoor’s out.”
We hear simultaneous explosions as the locked doors on either side of the facility are blown open by small ordinance. The sound rings in my hypersensitive ears, and the pounding of footsteps doesn’t wait for the ringing to recede.
I make adjustments on my bolas launcher and aim up. An extended line shoots up and the single weight hooks around one of the beams.
“Can you climb—”
He’s already shot up the free hanging rope, climbing with a trained, superhuman athleticism. I get a fantastic view of his… well… His suit isn’t working very well.
“What about you?” Tomcat calls back.
“Right behind you.”
I close my eyes and listen as the tactical unit checks row after row of servers, choruses of “Clear! Clear! Clear!” Then they round the corner into the row. “I have visual, it’s The Butterfly!”
I give a frustrated sigh as my wings shoot up, and I light up the server farm.
Ajit may be the software man of the operation. I’m hardware. It took me a full year to work out my wings’ bioluminescent, synthetic chromatophores system, tiny light generating cells that can rapidly translocate pigment and shift around reflective plates within each individual cell. Handy for camouflage… or distraction display. I take my namesake very seriously: Antheraea polyphemus
Blazing light points all over my wings rapidly shift through a series of colours and patterns; enormous eyes, neon explosions, human shapes, shifting, moving, the flight of a thousand trick moths. The initial disorientation of seeing a single figure shift into a hundred has the men and women waving their rifles around in confusion, but it’s the afterimages of light that I use to my advantage. I spin around, semi-blinding all of the eyes on me as I attach my rope to my belt harness, engage my steelweave reinforcements, toss down a couple of smoke grenades and then shoot up into the air as the rope is mechanically retracted into my belt.
To my surprise, Tomcat is waiting for me at the top. He grabs my wrist and hauls me up onto the steel beam, and I follow him, leaping across the cavernous space to a large ventilation shaft. Shouts below and we know the tactical squad has lost us so, with a wink, Tomcat ducks into the shaft and I follow. I won’t say anything about my view as I crab-walked behind him, other than the tear in his suit kept gaping open as did… well… I’d have to encrypt this evening from Ajit as well.
We pass through a cooling system maintenance area and then out onto the roof.
“God, that breeze feels nice,” Tomcat says as he stretches in the cool night air. If we didn’t have an entire tactical squad behind us, and if he wasn’t covered in blood, his half naked body would be an enchanting sight. He leaps up onto a thick steel wire I’d missed that’s connected to the highway and runs along it with impossible dexterity. Once he’s cleared the barb-wire fence he leaps against one of the old highway pillars and free climbs down.
I sigh and hop up onto one of the jumbo cooling units. Without bothering to plot my trajectory or course my wings catch the blast of searing hot air blasting out of the server farm and I shoot a few dozen feet into the air before swinging around and flying towards him.
Tomcat’s waiting on the corner of Bathurst and Steeles, squatting down, fiddling with his phone, idly scratching the ear of a mangy grey cat that looks like it’s never bathed. He looks like a go-go boy who’s had a really rough night before being dumped on the outskirts of town—people give him a wide berth. I guess I probably don’t help in my moth mask and humongous wing cloak.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Waiting for my Lyft,” he says, as if I’d asked the stupidest question in the world.
“You’re getting an Lyft… like that?”
He looks down at himself, bare chest splattered with his own blood. Bruises forming on his ribs and back. God only knows what’s happening with his… downstairs business. “They all want those five stars, so most drivers don’t ask a lot of questions. That, and I tip them like a goddess.”
“Why did you bomb Progress Place?”
His gaze shoots up from his phone and he scowls, “You think I did that?”
“I saw you, I would have caught you, but I was busy making sure the people you tried to blow up got out okay.”
“Listen, Butterfl—” he stops himself, takes a breath. He stands straight and, with a single word, the cat’s tail flicks in irritation and it dashes away into the bushes. I wonder if it was one of his patrols. “Moth-Boy. You’ve got it all wrong. I broke in to stop the bombing, but maybe we got our facts wrong. Shit, maybe we were set up. I called it in and managed to escape with my remaining eight lives.”
“You and Save Our City?”
I’ve seen him look scared, happy, furious, turned on. This is the first time I’ve seen Tomcat look surprised. Nervous, even.
He catches himself, and he smirks, “Do you have a file on me? That’s adorable. I’m flattered. Well, this is me.”
He points over at a silver electric car that pulls up to the curb. The driver glances at us, but doesn’t even look phased. I guess in this city she’s seen stranger things than a beat up bottom in a cat mask and a guy in a giant moth costume.
I grab his wrist as he goes to walk past me, but he wrenches it out of my grasp. He still stops, looking at me impatiently.
He smirks. “And you call me the pervert.”
I make a strangled noise and try to apologize, but he waves his hand, “Believe me, you didn’t do anything to me I didn’t enjoy. Although I’ll be thinking of you whenever I try to sit down over the next few days.”
“What was tonight about? The servers, I mean.”
Tomcat nods, then leans in and gives me a slow, affectionate kiss on the side of my cowl. I find myself wishing I’d taken it off so I could feel his lips on my cheek. He steps back and places his right hand over his bare chest, where his heart is. “Look in here to find the answer.”
Then he ducks into the car and drives away, leaving me stupefied. I raise my hand and place it over my heart… and feel something.
He slipped a USB stick into a chest pocket in my suit. And even with my meta-human powers I’d never even noticed.
“Whoa! What the hell happened to you, Olly?!”
I grin up at Ajit from my desk, my left eye almost swollen closed. “You should see the other guy.”
He gives me a suggestive look, and I wave him off.
Ajit pulls his chair up and begins to queue up the data I’d sent him to decrypt. “Oh, how’d your date with Hira go?”
He gives a dejected sigh. “We didn’t even get to second base. She’s saving herself.”
I scrunch my face up. “Aren’t you supposed to, too? Like, sex before marriage makes you impure or something?”
He holds up a finger sagely, “My impurities and mercurial mind are between the Glorious Guru and I… Plus my family’s Reformed Sikh, so whatever, get off my dick.”
The MedSecure files Tomcat pulled were, surprise surprise, medical records. Although he seemed particularly interested in Metro Police medical reports. The dates of the files he was searching are from around two years ago, the summer of the Save Our City riots, and all the anti-police protests around the shooting of Anton Ahmadi, a sixteen-year-old from an Egyptian immigrant family, a student activist.
Ahmadi had been on his way home from one of the Save Our City’s anti-gentrification, anti-corporate, anti-surveillance protests that had gotten out of hand—graffitti, property damage, police rounding up protestors, messy stuff. This protest, specifically, had been in front of the future site of 1 Progress Place, the city’s pilot Smart City development. Somewhere between the protest and his death, Ahmadi had drunk alcohol and ingested drugs, which led him to draw a box cutter on a streetcar in some sort of breakdown.
Ajit drops his voice. “Sarge’s name came up.”
He shows me the medical report. I read in a concerned murmur, “Constable Wang sustained two dozen lacerations across his extremities attempting to de-escalate and provide medical assistance to the deceased.”
“Sarge was there,” Ajit whispers. “On the streetcar.”
I shudder. We flip through the rest of the files, standard injury and treatment reports.
Sarge sticks in my mind, especially because Tomcat paid him a visit two months ago. Anton Ahmadi’s death had been a rallying cry for Save Our City, who claimed that police were working with the Progress Place developers to “make an example” out of Ahmadi, like the project director had wanted. But that was ridiculous, videos had gone viral, disturbing clips showing the shooting on the empty, idle streetcar. A confrontation, shouting, a scuffle, nine pops of a handgun. A dead teenager.
Tomcat clearly believed there was more to it.
I turn to Ajit. “Time to implement Operation: Love Bite.”
I stumble into Ms. Gutierrez’s class. Suddenly two-dozen eyes are on me, and Ms. Gutierrez glances over at me from the smartboard, a quizzical smile on her face.
“Lost again, Mr. Ocasio?”
My eyes go wide and scan the room. “I’m sorry, I got my days mixed up.”
“I’ll see you in fourth period.”
There are snorts and giggles as I back out of the class, eyes still wide and scanning. I duck into my second period and Mr. Parker taps his watch. Ajit and I make eye contact and I shake my head no. Just like first period.
The same thing happens in third period.
“Another mix-up, Mr. Ocasio?”
More giggling teenagers as I back out of the class and then make it to shop just in time.
I’m not surprised when Ms. Gutierrez tracks down Ajit and me. We’re watching video game trailers at the third floor bench where we hide away from the casual terror of hoards of teenagers in the lunchroom.
“Olly, fourth period is after lunch,” Ms. Gutierrez says slowly, an amused smirk on her face. “Fourth period is when I have you for Advanced Social Engineering.”
My face flushes and I try not to make eye contact with Ajit, who’s trying to suppress his laughter. “I know, Ms. Gutierrez, thanks.”
She puts a hand on her hip and raises an eyebrow at Ajit, who’s choking on his leftovers, then to me. I wish I was in my suit so could hide deep in my wings. “Do you think I’ll be seeing you at the beginning of fifth period too?”
She nods. “I assume you have a good reason?”
“You teach another pre-post Advanced Social Engineering in fifth period?”
I nod back and try for a smile, but it probably comes across as a red-faced grimace. “Then I do too.”
I like Ms. Gutierrez. She’s an old-school flower-child hippy, third-generation, she brags. Her grandmother was at the summer of love; her mom took Ms. Gutierrez to the climate riots for her sixteenth birthday, and today she’s is the only teacher who openly criticizes corps, and the corp-funded education system. Her Advanced Social Engineering course is about reverse engineering all the ways we’re manipulated into living our lives under political (and corporate) social and technological pressure—she’s fiercely anti-surveillance, and kids are always snickering behind her back when she shows up to school in some outlandish adversarial patterning outfit. She’s almost gotten fired a couple of times, but a group of rebellious students always rally around her and kick up a stink, which the independent blogs love—Ajit and I don’t have the social standing to include ourselves with the rebels. The Academy gives her a slap on the wrist and she goes back to telling us all how her paycheque is corporate blood money.
Last time it happened was a few months ago, when she put up a “Save Our City” rally poster in her classroom. That was almost too far for the administration as Save Our City has become more militant, but they balked at her rattling off her freedom to peaceful assembly. Wanting to avoid ending up in another news cycle they just gave her a warning.
She’s about to turn away when I say, “Ms. Gutierrez, I have a weird question… did you know Anton Ahmadi?”
Our teacher turns around, eyes wide in surprise. “That is a weird question. You know he didn’t go to this school, right?”
“I know.” I gulp back my nerves. “But did you know him?”
“In passing,” Ms. Gutierrez admits. “He showed up to every single Save Our City rally, I met him once through one of my colleagues at Central Tech. I know he was friends with a couple students that go here, but they were all his age, not the grades I teach, so I didn’t have any of them in my class at the time.”
“Oh, okay, thanks.”
Ajit’s managed to cough most of the spinach out of his nose, so he pipes in, “Do you think the police killed him on purpose? Like, for the Project Place Project.”
For the first time since I’ve met her, Ms. Gutierrez stops and considers her words carefully. “There’s only one thing I know about his death, Ajit. It was completely senseless.”
I stumble into Ms. Gutierrez’s fifth period class and two-dozen eyes are on me. Ms. Gutierrez glances up again from the smartboard, raising her eyebrow.
“Mr. Ocasio, did you get your timetable mixed up again… Olly?”
I hear her words, but they don’t register.
I’ve locked eyes with a green-eyed boy sitting in the second row. He’s wearing a little eyeliner, although no other makeup, so his freckle-smattered cheeks are on full display. His auburn hair is tied up in a messy bun. He’d be impossibly attractive if it wasn’t for his swollen, bruised nose.
All other senses drop away as my eyes dart down to his pale, freckled neck, where a huge, angry, purple hickey has blossomed. I close my eyes and hear the imperceptible wheeze whenever he breathes in through his nose.
I glance back up and our eyes meet again. I know he knows. And I know he knows I know.
The city is a web. A web of streets, a web of data, a web of lives, a web of lies. Pull one strand and you see how interconnected they all are. Post a secret on social media and every time that connects to another person you close the gap between status quo and revolution. Truth is like a moth that sails unwittingly into a web. Sure, it’ll catch, it’ll stick, but the moth is going to do everything it can to break through. Even as the strands twist and conjoin around the moth, even as it seals its doom with every elegiac beat of its trapped wings, the moth struggles for freedom.
“All right, dude, you’re almost there. Sure you don’t want me to back you up?”
“I’ve got this. I’ll text you when I’m out.”
Nine Lives Cat Café and Rescue is an unassuming little storefront in the Annex, tucked in among naturopath stores and Koreatown restaurants. A giant cat lounges in the huge floor-to-ceiling front windows, leopard spots dappled by the late afternoon sun, licking his lips hungrily at passersby. Actually he’s not so much giant as… long, a smaller head giving him a weird disproportionate look.
A pale, auburn-haired, heavily freckled teenage girl is sitting at the front desk in a school uniform, leaning back in the reception chair with her feet kicked up, glued to her smartphone. She glances up and shoots me an annoyed look. “Dude, no outside food or drinks.”
I look down at the bubble tea in my hand and feel myself flush. I instantly regret not letting Ajit come with me. He’s my human interface. “Oh… I… uh… just… looking… uh…”
Suddenly a hand snakes around my waist and plucks the bubble tea out of my hand. I look up and Tomcat’s sidled up next to me, almost a head taller, sparkling greens giving me the worst cut-eye I’ve ever seen.
“He’s with me, Fiona,” he says as he leans in and kisses me on the neck, biting down, it’ll leave a mark. I shiver and almost faint. “Brought me some boba, I had a craving.”
Tomcat brings the bubble tea to his lips and takes a long pull, still glaring at me.
His sister grunts in disgust at the PDA and goes back to her phone, pointedly ignoring us. Tomcat grabs my wrist and pulls me past the desk and main café area towards the “Cat Room Door,” warning signs aplenty about making sure the cats don’t escape when entering.
“I actually didn’t bring that for you, I—”
I meet his eyes and his expression silences me.
Nine Lives is broken up into a public café espresso bar and, through another set of floor to ceiling windows, the cat room. You pay a cover to spend time with the cats, which goes towards caring for the cats and the rescue operations. Ajit and I did the research, looked up the public records. A vet clinic specializing in cats where Tomcat’s mom works on the second floor, private residences on the third. Occasionally the rescue side receives large anonymous donations from a mysterious benefactor with deep pockets… or, rather, unwitting rich people’s deep pockets.
The cats are practically breaking down the door and Tomcat has to fight a couple of them back in with his Converse. They circle his legs and bat at his shins, trying to crawl up him. I assume at first he has some treats on him, but he plops down in one of the plastic, easily cleaned cat-proof chairs—that the cats have still managed to gnaw on and claw up, impossibly—and they swarm around him, lounging all over him, forming a fuzzy throne around him. I can hear the chorus of purrs from where I sit. It’s like they worship him. The huge, long, leopard-spotted cat from the window, the Ashera, stretches in the sunlight and plods over. The other cats move to make room for this beast more than twice as large as the biggest of them, claiming a place of honour in his lap, eyeing me languorously.
I nod at the Ashera. “That the one you swiped from the corp condo complex on the East End a few weeks ago?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tomcat says, eyeing me up as cautious and watchful as the Ashera, “he was brought to us three weeks ago by a kindly old lady who couldn’t care for him anymore and promptly died. We have the paperwork.”
I can only imagine how he forged that paperwork.
“So, uh… what should I—”
“You can call me Finn,” he says. “But I guess you already know that. What should I call you? Moth-Boy? Olly? Mr. Ocasio? Daddy?”
We stare at each other. I’m sure he has just as much to say as I do, but neither of us are sure how to start. He gets the first word in, of course. “You’re cute without all that crap on.”
My stomach drops out. Of course he’d managed to immediately throw me off balance, I can’t even meet his eyes. “You too… I mean, you’re… just, like…”
He sniffs, proud. “I know.”
I glance up and see that he’s grinning. He’s teasing himself. I feel a little of the tension leave my core.
“I’m honestly impressed,” Finn says, pointing to the hickey on his neck. “This was intentional? You tagged me?”
“Yeah,” I admit. “There were other ways I could have found you but they would have been… invasive.”
He raises an eyebrow.
“Privacy-wise,” I correct him. “My… uh… operator and I could have looked into school records, photos, surveillance. But we don’t like to do that if we can help it.”
“Operator?” he snorts. “What, are we in the Matrix?”
“I think he has a bit of a crush on you,” I say, and Finn looks just thrilled at that.
His hand gently caresses the Ashera, who’s laid his head down on Finn’s leg, but still eyes me from beneath half-closed lids.
“We actually have a theory.”
“Oh, this should be good.” But he gestures to go on, and I do.
“You were an internationally competing gymnast for years. Your coaches even hoped you’d go to the Olympics. Then one day a couple of years ago you stop, cold turkey. You drop off the face of the Earth… uh, athletically speaking. You fade into the background a little, doing well at school, but not as well as you used to, just floating. Meanwhile you’re out almost every night cat burgling. Sometimes you steal for yourself, for fun, or for reasons you think are right. Steal from the rich and give to the poor.” I pause, and he nods. “But sometimes you’re working for something… bigger.
“A lot of your theft could be considered corporate espionage, data theft, data leaks, centering around corps like Leeland-Zhang, Monolith Development, the city; so the Progress Place Smartcity Project, especially after the summer of the Save Our City riots. I have a feeling you were the one who leaked all that proof of the mayor being tight with Leeland-Zhang and Monolith, but then when that didn’t accomplish much you started feeding Save Our City all those emails about collusion between the police and Progress Place. But you weren’t getting what you needed, so you paid a visit to Sergeant Wang. He’s the police liaison for Progress Place’s public security, so you hoped you could find more incriminating evidence. That’s what first really brought things together for us. Then we heard… rumours of rumours from Save Our City social media about the bomb plot… I don’t know if you knew what you were doing at Progress Place that evening, but it wouldn’t be the first time a cat burglar for hire got in over their head with a terrorist organization…”
“Outside of the pages of comic books, maybe,” Finn editorializes, but gestures for me to continue.
“And then there’s MedSecure; a company tasked with protecting medical records, with contracts with the city’s medical services, and the police. We found out that MedSecure’s retrofitting their facilities, and so the North York facility is an interim server farm. Perfect opportunity to break into an old building with minimal security. I’m not sure exactly what you were after, but you were pulling data around the police and the Save Our City riots. My guess is you’re putting together something bigger, something organized.”
“You’re in the right theatre,” Finn states. “But you’re watching the wrong show.”
“But the finale is coming up.”
Finn smirks. “Tonight, actually. Are you free?”
“To stop you from making a big mistake, sure.”
He smiles, and whispers something to the cats who scatter, all but the Ashera who lazes on his lap, eying me, licking his lips. “Think we have time for a quickie before?”
I sigh. More because against all my better judgement… I’m tempted.
Moth-Boy #5: The Moth Faces the Light
Nabonidus, king of Babylon, once dedicated a ziggurat, a great monument and temple built on the foundation of those built by former kings who did not see their work finished, to Sin; lord of the gods, god of gods, who lived in the great heavens. The Babylonian king hoped fear of divinity would keep his people from sinning against the king of the gods of heaven and underworld. What, now, do we dedicate our ziggurats to? The gods have left these temples, and instead another supreme power is worshipped high above. But do these new kings and queens in their ziggurats hope to keep their sons, their daughters from sin? And what of their people? “Your magnificent city, Father, and you, the brain of this city, and all of us in this city’s light… and where are the people, Father, whose hands built your city?”
“What’s that from?” Tomcat asks over the comm line from far below. “The Bible?”
“Metropolis,” Ajit cuts in quickly. “Ignore him, he just plays too much Civilization.”
“Comm protocols please,” I say as I take a running leap and soar from the roof of a high-rise. As I sail through the warm summer air, I see Tomcat below picking his way across rooftops with… well, feline agility. Nothing seems to stand in his way as he clambers up the sides of buildings, feet and hands finding purchase where there is none. “Moth-Boy to Archmage, status update at Progress Place?”
Ajit’s actually camped out at a hipster coffee shop across the street from the half-finished skyscraper, fed on a steady stream of decaf Americanos to keep the baristas from kicking him out—although I have a feeling he’s sneaking in regular Americanos, he’s a bit tweaked, he won’t sleep tonight if he keeps that up, but I resist the urge to nag him with Tomcat listening in.
“Street’s packed,” Ajit says, and we can hear the muffled callbacks of protest chants over the line. “But it’s peaceful. I think they’re going to start the candlelight vigil soon.”
“Police?” Tomcat asks.
“Present, but off to the side, mostly a traffic thing.”
I roll into my landing, skidding across the rough gravel rooftop of an office tower, the curved twin monoliths of city hall’s towers looming up in front of me above Nathan Phillips square, packed with summer crowds, and the silver-white spiral of 1 Progress Place glittering beyond. I key in a command and the comm closes to Tomcat on my suit’s interface.
I open the comm line back up.
I’m the first one to arrive at the Progress Place broadcast centre, the crown jewel of multifunctional smart-building. Even half finished the place looks like the bridge of a starship, all circular, open concept, smooth edges, consoles in shiny, spotless silver.
“You have any trouble getting in?”
I turn and see Tomcat stalk out of the shadows. “I had a little help from a stray who showed me an open fire escape door.”
Sarge steps out of the shadows, his uniform blues muted in the darkness of the room, only ambient light coming in from the city below. handgun raised on the cat burglar, “How convenient.”
Tomcat’s eyes dart to me. I’m glad I have my cowl on so I don’t have to meet his gaze. I walk over beside Sergeant Wang.
“A rendezvous with two handsome men in uniform, and I’m wearing this old thing?” Tomcat drawls as he takes a step back and sits against one of the broadcast centre’s consoles.
“Great job, Moth-Boy,” Wang says as he pulls a zip tie off his belt, I watch his hands, a pit of dread settling in my stomach.
“It is a special occasion, after all,” Tomcat continues, his voice nonchalant as Wang approaches him cautiously, though he makes no move to resist. “Happy two-year anniversary.”
“Of what?” Wang spits. “The shooting? You’re a pretty sick kid if you’re celebrating the accidental death of an innocent teen.”
“Oh, that’s not what I’m celebrating.”
Tomcat raises his right hand, his gloved index finger. Wang stops and plants his feet, both hands going to his pistol. “Freeze or I’ll—”
Wang’s body goes rigid and I hear him grunt, in pain or surprise, and then he falls over, stunned, the two wires from my taser launcher connected into his thigh, just below his bulletproof vest.
Tomcat sighs. “You idiot, he had his finger on the trigger. One wrong twitch and no more—”
“Your finale,” I state.
Tomcat presses the button, and half the screens in the broadcast centre light up, bathing the dark room in a cool LCD glow. I glance outside and see the reflection of the Save Our City logo on the windows of the condo building across the way, the broadcast centre’s huge billboard screens lighting up the night sky. It’s a talking head video, one of the activist group’s leaders starts to talk about the shooting of Anton Ahmadi, and the falsifying of police documents to make it seem like a matter of self defence, when really it was unpremeditated murder. They describe the barrage of new documents that they’ve made publicly available, like the police and the city should have been two years ago.
Tomcat walks over and picks up Wang’s gun and I tense up, my hands keying in the command for my bolas shooter. I don’t have to worry. Sergeant Wang, someone I looked up to, groans on the ground, swearing while Tomcat expertly disassembles his gun and tosses the pieces away, bullets scattering across the floor.
“I didn’t… even fucking… shoot him.”
“No,” Tomcat says, “but you watched. And you did nothing, and said less. Nine bullets.”
Tomcat turns to me. “You acted like I was after some big conspiracy. That the Progress Place Project was gunning for activists, that Save Our City was some militant terrorist organization I’d gotten in over my head with, that I wanted to bring it all down. I’m afraid its much more petty than that.” He jerks his thumb towards Wang. “He watched while my boyfriend got gunned down, and then lied about it to cover the asses of his fellow officers, and the Metro Police, which means he lied to cover his own precious ass. They didn’t even do it for a reason, they were just on cop-autopilot, doing exactly what they’re supposed to do. If you think there’s some conspiracy, it’s no secret. Rich, powerful white guys want to get richer and more powerful. There are no supervillains, or if there are they operate under the auspices of the law. They sit around board rooms, meet for lunch, for golf. They’re protected by the law. And they’ve got roaming bands of thugs to enforce it. Anton wasn’t one of them; he’s dead and they all get to live happily ever after. The police are, at best, a buffer between us and them or, at worst, tax-sponsored corporate protection with no oversight.”
Tomcat walks right up to me, his face inches away from my cowl, a cool, mirthless, empty look in his eyes. “What about you?”
After making sure Wang ended up safely in custody—I owed him that much for looking after me when he could have easily have arrested me for any number of vigilante-related crimes—I found Tomcat on the roof of Progress Place, legs swung over the edge, shivering in the summer night turned chilly up high above. I sat beside him and threw my wings around his shoulders, and we sat in silence for a few minutes, listening to the sirens far below, the swell of the rioting crowd. He has his mask off, which isn’t a great idea. There are powerful enough cameras he could get clocked, but I don’t say anything and take off my cowl—though I leave my secondary mask on.
“A good man who serves a great evil is not without sin. He must recognize and accept his complicity,” Tomcat intones.
“That’s… actually beautiful. What’s that from?”
He whispers, “Final Fantasy VII.”
I can sense him formulating the question, so I beat him to it: “His hands.”
“His hands? I was about to ask you if you wanted to get that quickie in now.”
I ignore him. “The medical reports said Wang received bad cuts to his hands and arms, but when I started thinking about it I realized he didn’t have a single visible scar.”
“Oh. Yeah. Cool.”
The wail of sirens carries up to us from below. I realize even under my insulated wings Tomcat’s still shivering.
“Anton was… I just… are you okay?”
He scoffs. “I’ve had a couple of years of therapy to deal with the worst of that, don’t you worry about me. I feel worse for what this will all mean for Anton’s family, all the things this will put them through all over again. He wasn’t out to them, so I never got to meet them. He loved my mom and my sister once he got to know them, though.”
“He must’ve meant a lot to you,” I say.
Tomcat shrugs. “We’d only been dating a few months. I was head over heels for him, sure, but I was sixteen. He was a better person than me. He actually cared about the world, wanted to change it. I just wanted to tear everything down, still do.”
“Well,” I try, “they won’t be able to ignore this. There’s too much evidence and it’s spread too wide.”
Finn nods. “They’ll do whatever they want to do. They always do. Anyways, that’ll probably be cool tomorrow. Tonight I’m just tired.”
I pull him in close and we watch the fires burn below.
Ajit and I couldn’t prove anything yet, but we had a feeling the Progress Place bombing was perpetrated by… someone involved with the project embarrassed by how behind schedule Progress Place was developing. Maybe looking to generate a little public sympathy for the smartcity, and antipathy towards Save Our City.
Of course that was small potatoes compared to the fallout of the Anton Ahmadi revelations. A huge public inquiry, fresh calls for disarming and defunding the service, which for years had dominated city budget, getting more funding than more than half the city services combined.
Although we could only follow this news in between studying; Finn, Ajit and I had pre-post-secondary midterms.
Finn and I meet at the board game café around the corner from his place. We hug and he gives me a kiss on the cheek, and we head inside. It’s packed but a table for two is easier than groups.
“I can’t believe you’re wearing a bowtie on your first date. You’re such a dork.”
Over lattes and board games—I trash him at a strategy empire builder, he gets me back with Bananagrams—we talk a little about our lives. I tell him about my uncle and how he’s taken care of me all alone ever since my aunt died in a burglary. He tells me about his mom and sister, and all his cats.
We end up back at his place making out on his bed, but I freeze up when he reaches for my belt buckle.
“You can’t tell me after what happened last week you’ve got nerves,” he laughs, “remember when you—”
“We don’t have to go over details…”
He climbs back up my torso, kissing my tummy over my shirt, pulling my collar down so he can nibble my collarbone and then his lips find mine. We make out a moment more before he lays his head down on the crook of my neck, and I breath in the dusty fragrance of his long auburn hair.
“It’s not that I don’t want to… it’s just… I… I don’t know…”
“I have an idea.”
The stars, cold and distant, struggle to compete with the purple-black haze of light pollution. The gravel of the rooftop crunches under my boots. The steel and stone feels deceptively permanent underneath my hands. A pungent, putrid smell drifts up from below on the sweet summer breeze. We often forget cities aren’t their people. Cities are a lot of things, concrete, steel, glass, services, buses, subways, streetlights, malls, parking garages, parks, high rises, skyscrapers. But those aren’t what make cities, what give them their character. Cities are something that stick in the collective unconscious, that form in the psyche of every single person who looks on the skyline. That’s how a city forms into an identity. That means they can be as many things to as many people. Where one person may see a city as a prison, another sees freedom.
I slurp away at my jasmine green milk tea. “Did you know they’re opening up a new Boba Time in the Annex?”
“Hailing protocols!” Ajit teases me.
“How’d things go with Yuvraj?”
Ajit sighs. “Like, one and a half bases. I almost had his fly open but he told me to stop. He has an arranged marriage for when he’s done post-secondary, he feels guilty. I’m like… get it out while you can! So… have you asked him yet?”
Now it’s my turn to sigh. “I’m gonna.”
“Ask me what?”
I turn and watch Tomcat balancing on the edge of the rooftop, only sixty or so storeys down to the sidewalk, no big deal.
“He’s still on our channel?!” I ask, indignant, but realize Ajit was probably hoping for some phone sex.
“You could just leave the feed on and I could watch,” Ajit whispers, but I say a grumpy goodbye and close the line.
“Dare I ask?”
I unseal my cowl and Tomcat lifts it off gently. He brings his mouth to mine, barely, teasing me, running his lips over mine, barely touching. I grow so… bothered by it that I finally grab him and pull him into a tight kiss.
“Archmage is…” I gasp in between kisses, “calling in a favour for interrupting… mm, his date last week.”
Tomcat nibbles on my ear lobe, then kisses down to my neck, not being particularly gentle. I guess he’s getting me back, I’ll never hear the end of this from my uncle. “What’s the favour?”
I lean in and whisper in his ear, and he giggles and then abuses my neck some more… the things I do for these boys…
I’m already straining against my suit, and Tomcat’s hand slowly, agonizingly massaging my shaft through the material isn’t helping. My hyper-perception doesn’t stop at my eyes or ears. All my senses are heightened to an almost painful state. I’ve had to wear noise reduction ear plugs, and either sunglasses or shaded contacts if I’m outside during the day time. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Although my hypersensitivity isn’t always a bad thing. As Tomcat reaches into my suit’s front opening and pulls my dick out, the night air hits the sensitive skin and I shiver and groan as he strokes me, my knees almost giving out.
Tomcat gets down on his knees and runs my dick over his lips, down, then comes back up with his tongue. Down again with his lips and he begins lapping at my balls. I’m practically falling over, the feeling is so intense, but I still manage to pull my phone out of a protective pocket and open up the camera app on my phone.
Tomcat looks up and sees me trying to aim the camera at him with shaky hands. “Wait! We can do better than this!”
He lets go of my dick, leaving it bouncing and twitching in the cool breeze at the top of the office building. I groan and whine in frustration, but only until he steps a few feet away, reaches back and unzips his catsuit. He lets it slide slowly down his body, teasing me with every inch of skin, before it falls off completely and he steps out of it. He bends down and picks it up, giving me a glorious view of his ass, his hole.
He probably catches that I’m snapping pics the whole time before I even realize I’m doing it. Click. Click. Click.
Naked and shivering, but more from the excitement of being naked on a rooftop within view of any number of buildings, his hardon bouncing along in the breeze, he lays his suit at my feet and kneels down on it, once again taking my dick in his mouth, this time not taking his time. Soon he has it all the way down his throat, and I throw my head back and let out a groan that could not be mistaken for anything other than what it’s meant to be. We hear a whooping from a nearby apartment building. However well they can see us, we have an audience.
Before I even realize it’s happening, I’ve got my gloves off and my free hand in Tomcat’s long hair, and I’m pounding into his face with abandon. He’s groaning onto me, the vibration making my knees weak. He pulls my dick out of his mouth, a string of drool connecting us for a moment, a sort of dazed, stupid, horny, happy look on his face. “Now would be a good time to take a picture.”
He reaches up and wraps his hand around my dick, tongue out running over my head. He arches his back so his ass sticks out behind him, looking irresistibly delicious, the same stupid-horny dazed look visible through the eye slits of his mask.
I snap a picture for Ajit, and then a few more for me.
Tomcat continues to blow me as I barely manage to get the picture off. It’s nothing Ajit hasn’t seen before… for awhile we were the only queer boys we knew, a fairly simple sexual equation. The addition of Tomcat is the favour he asked for. Ajit responds with a gif of an anime girl’s nose exploding with blood and: MORE PLS OLLY PLSSSSSS
I tuck my phone back into the pocket. “I hope you brought lube this time.”
Tomcat slips a packet of lube into my hand as he works my shaft with his hot mouth.
I reluctantly pull him up and when we kiss I can taste my own pre on his tongue. I reach down and stroke his dick, and he does mine while I pour the packet onto it as our tongues fight ferociously—his quick and vicious, mine slow and tactical. I turn him around and lean him against the rooftop railing, the city before us.
“This is,” he gasps, “the hottest place… I’ve ever had sex… and that’s a high bar.”
I don’t respond, I push into him.
We’re both boned up enough from making out earlier that it doesn’t take long—one of the downsides of my hypersensitivity I’d have to work on. I pound him against the railing, and with every thrust he pushes back onto me. Even with the lube I feel like I’m destroying him.
“Fuck, I love your thick cock!”
That’s enough to push me over the edge, and I collapse over him, my dick twitching deep inside of him, unloading shot after shot. I’d been saving up since our last… which also didn’t help the hypersensitivity. I notice something dripping down the side of the building and realize he came from me being inside of him, his come shooting all over the railing, likely raining down on the sidewalk below. Just thinking about that I groan and have something like an aftershock of an orgasm. The gulf of the city, alive and glowing before us, the cool breeze, somehow heightens every pleasure shock wracking our bodies.
“Archmage to Moth-Boy,” Ajit’s voice cuts in over the priority channel.
“Ack…nowledged,” I grunt out, and he giggles, but tries to keep his voice serious.
“I’ve picked up chatter about a heist going down at the museum on Bloor,” he says, “weird cult-y people in masks.”
“Sounds fun,” Tomcat groans as I slowly slide out of him. I watch as his hole twitches and my come leaks out of him.
“Give us a minute to… uh… suit up,” I say. “We’re on it.”
i really enjoyed the monologues and how they were peppered around the story. this was fun! the picture is lovely too, that sassy over the shoulder look lol
It feels like we didn’t get any cape stuff for the longest time, and now suddenly every few months a new example of said is ready to enjoy, and I can’t say it’s a bad trend. Staging the different sections of this story like “issues” was a really fun touch. I particularly enjoyed how this worked within the trappings of a superhero story without feeling like it needed to constantly sly-eye the audience and remind them that what they’re reading is just sooo dumb, isn’t it? We can see our hero monologuing (sometimes being ribbed for it, sometimes not) and get the joke just fine. At the time of this writing I haven’t read any sort of author commentary on this but I’d love to see more about the thought processes that went into creating this beastie.
I really enjoyed how the setting itself was presented in bits and pieces, from the descriptions of the city itself to the advanced technology on hand to metahumanity being a thing to the idea of having an entire high school course on cultural counterprogramming. Learning dazzle makeup from your art teacher makes me happy in a way that is difficult to describe.
Author here! Honestly, your extremely kind, thoughtful words made my day. Thank you so much for taking the time to share them. I wrote a bit about the genesis of the piece, if you’re still curious: https://www.shousetsubangbang.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Mysterious_Moth-Boy:_City_Lights
Oh this was a really fascinating read! I, too, loved the monologues and how it was set up in issue format!