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The Oxford Handbook of English Prose Oxford: Oxford University Press. Variations de l'Utopie. The American Political Science Review. Texas Studies in Literature and Language. Ramiro In Aviles, Miguel and Davis, J. Utopian Moments: Reading Utopian Texts. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Utopia and Community in the Ancient World. Archived from the original on Retrieved Fiction Studies, 3 3 : Two Hundred Years of American Communes. Syracuse University Press. Acta Neophilologica. The Earthly Paradise. Obscure Press. And too prolonged.

Pablo had to look away. He didn't need messages like that. He shivered, then blamed it on the cold by clamping his arms to his sides. He wouldn't even make light of it. He gave Nicholas a direct look. And I'm committed to him. So don't think I'll be sniffing around you tonight. It's because I like you that I wouldn't do that.

I appreciate it. He could hardly blame Nicholas for whatever attraction existed. Hell, at least he accepted himself now, and that acceptance had pulled him off the road to ruin. Every time Pablo admonished himself to ease up, some other form of liquid oblivion appeared in front of him. He drank slower and danced more, trying to sweat out as much intoxicant as he could. He got a kick out of it, though, and so did everybody else. He danced mostly with his friends but did give a couple of polite strangers a try.

The second, a blond and slender young man, turned out to be not so polite after all. The first warning was the hard ridge in his pants. As soon as he tried frotting against Pablo's crotch, Pablo left the kid stranded in the middle of the dance floor. The young guy simply started rubbing against some other guy's ass. Snow The lights weren't too bad at Jango's—not nearly as eyeball rattling as they were at some clubs—and the music was an adroit mix of volumes and tempos. The technolicks were pleasant too: shadow dancers that slid from walls to artistically designed waterfalls; an occasional, refreshing cloud of mist; tac-ribbons that floated from the ceiling like lethargic shooting stars and set off a pleasant tingle in the skin.

Pablo laughed a lot. Jon and Artie were great storytellers, a talent Pablo envied. Lily was her usual teasing, good-natured self, and her neon hair extensions seemed more flattering and less garish as the evening wore on. Nicholas remained true to his vow not to get flirty with Pablo, and they instead indulged in satisfying conversation. One thing Pablo learned that made him swell with pride was how pleased his friends were with the revamping of the Givers Agency.

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Win, Tole, and Zee were responsible for that. Assigned Service was now optional instead of mandatory; Vips and Pros no longer had power over Regenerie's whores. In addition, givers could easily transfer to different posts in the Overcity. And they were no longer expected to work in bad weather. And they could leave the Agency for any reason at any time. If Pablo hadn't applied for that job in the Undercity and impressed the Triumvirate, it was unlikely these changes would've been instituted.

That achievement combined with the gift that was Win made the past fourteen months seem like a sojourn in heaven. Pablo couldn't imagine a better way to have spent his time. After a while, he was aware of having drunk too much. How long a while, he didn't know. Several hours, maybe. His eyelids grew leaden, his legs became unsteady, and he had trouble concentrating on what people were saying.

Even the tac-ribbons couldn't coax a response from his anesthetized body. He'd had a wonderful time, but he was fading. He had to get home. He strode around the largest of the Wanderers Caves, his voice echoing, as elves scurried from chamber to chamber. He was right on our heels. He should be here! For what reason? He's an orphan! I found him myself, in the Frostlands surrounding the Erblinger clutch, and brought him to Bildezir. He tentatively held Ormegen's gaze.

He could determine such things. Ormegen's instincts were considerably more carnal. He was born and bred a warrior. Ormegen stared at him with narrowed eyes. Snow Chapter Seven The darkness broke. Pablo's eyelids fluttered as somebody jostled him awake. Sluggishly, his brain got up to speed. He opened his eyes and let them focus on the figure standing over the bed. Pablo pushed himself to a sit. He smiled as best he could, but sleep still weighted every muscle in his body. The inside of his mouth felt like a warehouse for wool blankets.

His head throbbed faintly. Win gripped his jaw and jerked his head to one side, then the other. He nearly tipped Pablo over when he pulled his hand away. Win's chin was quivering ever so slightly, as if an insect were twitching its fragile legs beneath his skin. You smell like an alley in Xanandru. We went to a club in the OC. I had a few drinks.

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That unmistakable look of scorn was still on Win's face, and Pablo had no clue what had put it there. I'm talking about your reddened lips and the whisker burns on your face. And the scratches on your chest and thighs and probably on your goddamned ass. And this. It bounced off Pablo's sternum and landed between his legs. He lifted it to study it: a little silver hoop. An earring. I found it on the nightstand. It hit his chest with a gelatinous smack and tumbled to the floor.

Pablo leaned over and stared between his feet. A translucent red condom, knotted at one end. And loaded with freight at the other. Pablo blinked at it. Can't be. Forehead furrowed, he bent over and gingerly lifted it with the tips of his thumb and forefinger. Distended by the weight of its deposit, the sheath swayed like a pendulum.

After gaping at it, thunderstruck, and waiting for a flash of realization that never came, Pablo turned his wide eyes to Win's face. He'd never seen it so hardened. The dangling rubber slipped from his fingers and hit the floor with a muffled plop. Win's gaze followed its quick descent, then rose again, cold and grim as clouded ice. You popped some E's, got liquored up, maybe ingested other shit.

Then you brought some cowboy home, and either he fucked you or you fucked him. But somebody sure as hell fucked somebody or did something to rub off a wad. Because I seriously doubt one of our neighbors sneaked in here while you were gone just to blow white lava in our bed. A different explanation. It did look like something a man would wear. It definitely wasn't one of Lily's. Snow He realized he had no explanations, except for the towel. He'd beaten off the first night Win was gone and tossed the towel on the floor. After that, it was out of sight and out of mind, so he'd never thrown it in with the dirty laundry.

It was still flat…yet packed with consequences. He again searched his memory, but a good part of it was alarmingly blank. In fact, he wasn't even sure how he'd gotten home last night. What was worse, there was always the thinnest thread of a possibility Win was right.

Pablo had never handled alcohol very well. He'd gotten loose before when he'd been intoxicated. Pablo thought of Nicholas—that shocking kiss, the longing in it. Had Nic been wearing an earring? Pablo didn't know; Nic's hair was kind of long. I know the phrase that's running through your mind. That's what Win was thinking. Pablo was sure of it. But no, it wasn't possible he'd brought someone home. He loved Win too much. He valued his job too much. All the booze and drugs in Regenerie couldn't make him want another man. Nicholas had kissed him, but Pablo hadn't invited it.

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He'd danced with some men. Both could explain the stubble burn on his face. But nothing had gotten out of hand. Win finally spoke again, his voice lifeless. It was as if a part of someone else's life had dropped into his while he slept. Still stunned, he clambered off the bed and nearly tripped on the tangled sheets. Once he got his footing, he lurched at the man who'd already turned away and taken two steps toward the door. Pablo made a desperate grab for Win's arm, felt Win's whole body stiffen beneath his touch.

I'll get this figured out. Don't you know that? Soon, the building's side door opened and slammed shut. Pablo shambled back to the bed and dropped onto it. Elbows resting on knees, he pressed his palms to his forehead and curled his fingers over his hair. His head buzzed. He fit the heels of his hands into his eye sockets and rubbed.

Trying to conjure a clear recollection was futile. At some point last night, before he'd left the Overcity, Pablo's brain had simply stopped registering what was going on. His bleary gaze shifted to the nightstand, where Win had allegedly found the used skin. The other stuff there had come from his pockets, which he'd obviously had the presence of mind to empty before shucking off his clothing. But what the hell had Win meant about something happening at 86?

Pablo mustered enough volition to walk to the bathroom. He had to clean himself up before he went anywhere. Guilt chewed at him for his self-indulgence, although he still couldn't believe he'd done anything to betray Win. Before shaving and taking a shower, Pablo studied his face and body in the mirror. The skin around his mouth did appear a little chafed, although it was hard to be sure; a twelve-hour growth of whiskers shadowed his upper lip, jaw, and chin.

He touched his mouth. It did feel slightly tender, as if he'd been kissed repeatedly and hard. Most disturbing of all, there were light scratches on his torso and limbs. And yup, on his ass.

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Maybe Irinia, the cheetah shifter who fancied Win, had sneaked into the room last night… 42 K. She'd know the difference between him and Win. And she sure as hell wouldn't have worn and filled a condom. And he sure as hell couldn't have worn and filled a condom if he was in a drunken stupor. As confused as ever, he cleansed himself of his party-boy taint and got dressed. He heard a tapestry of voices…and simultaneously pulled up short.

As soon as he set foot in the kitchen, he knew what Win had been talking about. Some of it, anyway. Pablo's incredulous gaze moved from the kitchen to the dining area to what little he could see of the living room beyond. There'd always been stuff piled and scattered about, but a hidden logic had ruled the chaos. Sometime last night, that logic had been disassembled, shuffled through, and strewn around. Drawers and cabinet doors hung open. Piles of oddments on tables had been reduced to rubble. Pablo could only imagine what the men's bedrooms must look like, and the thought made him slightly nauseated.

Zee sat at the dining table, an array of portable computers in front of him. The Triumvirate had countless computers of different sizes for different purposes, but they were all part of the vast, intricate network that kept Regenerie running. Zee didn't even bother to look up when Pablo walked in. It wasn't like Zee to ignore him. It wasn't like Zee to ignore anybody. Pablo stared at him in despair. He wondered if he should say something. He wondered if he should apologize. Am I really responsible for this?

His guilt ballooned. Closing his mouth, Pablo blinked and looked in the direction of the voice. It belonged to Hildie Ketterman, a woman who often worked with Reynolds. He felt numb. First that mind-bending confrontation with Win. Now this. With one thumb, she keyed information into a palmer. He didn't care who answered him. I'll meet you there. We have enough people milling around in here. He cast a final look at the house's interior and saw Tole speaking with somebody—another investigator from the OC, probably—but he still didn't see Win.

Trying to control his turbulent feelings, Pablo exited the kitchen and returned to the adjacent building. The door to his apartment was only several paces from the back door of 86, yet nobody had vandalized his place last night. Then again… It was impossible not to wonder if that evidence of a stranger in his bed was somehow connected to the break-in. Pablo just couldn't imagine what the connection could be. He didn't have to turn on any lamps. The Undercity's simulated sunlight burst through the windows of his suite—an appropriately sharp winter sunlight to match that in the Overcity.

The gleam was, Pablo thought, like a Com trying to pass himself off as a Vip just by dressing the part. It supposedly made the transition from down here to up there, or vice versa, easier on Regenerie's citizens. Today it was cold in the subterranean neighborhoods. If real clouds in the real sky began disgorging snowflakes, the Undercity's precip generator would spit some out as well. Restless and troubled, Pablo wandered to one of his actual windows. His rooms had a couple of virtual windows too. There wasn't much to see; his apartment was at the rear of the building.

The walls of neighboring houses monopolized his views, although slices of the street were visible from two vantage points. Snow He shoved his hands in his pockets, took a deep breath, and let it out as he turned back to the apartment's interior. One of Win's mobiles dangled from the ceiling. Pablo made a point of not looking at it. He tried not to let anything trigger memories of the time they'd spent here together. Even the decorative and practical items he'd brought in himself—paintings and pillows and throws, vases and sculptures and wineglasses—could too easily remind him of Win.

After brewing some coffee and pouring himself a cup, Pablo sat at the small dining table. Good thing he didn't cry easily. Reynolds blew in without knocking. They should just fuckin' keep it temperate. Win, Tole, and Zee. Don't get up. My arms work. Pablo called him Sir Burly or His Burliness. To this day Pablo wasn't entirely sure what Reynolds did, but he was always summoned whenever something out of the ordinary happened or the Triumvirate had a special need that required prompt attention.

Looking like a general in a suit, Sir Burly joined Pablo. He slapped his beefy hands on the table as soon as he sat down. So far, no luck. Of course. Did you ask Tole if any other safeguards were in place?

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He didn't fully understand them and had never needed to. He just knew they existed. Things have been going smoothly in both cities. Hardly any crime. Plus, they figured that between you and the neighbors acting as deterrents, and the fact very few individuals know who they are, who'd bother targeting some crappy little Undercity shack? Nothing was forced. I'm hoping we'll find out more when we study the surveillance equipment.

The camera and the Scavenger should give us plenty to go on. From its fixed position near the front door, it did hourly sweeps of 86 Guardian Station and read a random sampling of the biological bits scattered about the house—hair, skin cells, specks of urine on the toilet, molecules of moisture left by exhaled breaths. Creatures deposited parts of themselves, however microscopic, wherever they went. The Scavenger homed in on that detritus and transmitted its data to a central computer, which developed DNA profiles.

Thus far every profile matched an individual who either belonged in the house or was invited in. Zee checked the database every week against the Triumvirate's visitor log. Reynolds put his hands behind his head and leaned back into a stretch. I'm guessing whoever got into Eighty-six didn't realize this building was related to it. They didn't have anything to do with this! I'm not going to let Regenerie's interrogators make me a pariah with my own friends. Reynolds screwed his mouth to the right and tapped on the table.

Then one or two of your OC buddies made sure you got wasted, escorted you back here, and…took advantage of the situation. But he wasn't. What he'd just done was cross the line from inquiry into implication. It tipped Pablo's mood. Indignation ripped through his pall of self-recrimination. And Win can kiss my ass too. I used to be a giver. You think we're all felonious guttersnipes? Is that it? He quietly rose and left. Pablo dragged himself over to the long, wide, obscenely luxurious couch Win had bought just for them.

He fell onto his back and draped an arm over his eyes. All thought spun away down some mental drain. Pablo felt bled out and hung up to flap in the wind. Before he started packing, he needed more sleep. He fell into a deep slumber for just over an hour and woke on his own. The first thing he did was call Lily. She would know if he'd left Jango's with or without somebody. But she didn't pick up. Pablo left a message for her to call him. Immediately afterward he stripped the bed. The linens along with that supposedly incriminating towel and the clothing he'd worn last night went into the wash-and-dry.

He grabbed his things off the nightstand—wallet, a few drink tokens, and a small box of Likkers, a product that served as a breath freshener as well as a hangover preventive—but he left the unopened two-pack of Elysoria behind. It was his way of proving he hadn't been gulping pills—a weak refutation of one of Win's assumptions, but a refutation nonetheless. He put the silver earring in his pocket. Moving around his apartment like an automaton, Pablo gathered clothing and toiletries and other essentials.

He threw them onto the bare mattress, where his old backpack and a newer piece of luggage waited to be filled. Pausing at his desk, he ran a finger over the writing instrument Win had gotten him for his twenty-fifth birthday. It was called a fountain pen.

Pablo had no idea where Win had found the pen or the bottle of ink meant to be used with it. He'd probably had them specially made. The accompanying notebook was obviously handmade. Each leaf was a different kind of paper, its color and texture uniquely beautiful. Wrenching his attention away from these gifts, Pablo brusquely grabbed up his cheap, mass-produced writing materials.

He refused to think about what he'd be leaving behind. They were, after all, only things. Whatever meaning he'd assigned them, he could take back. Or so he told himself. People were a different matter, though. It was much more difficult stripping people of their meaning in one's 48 K. Snow life. So Pablo tried to concentrate on the negative meaning rather than the positive, on Win's accusations and implications. He tried to nurture his resentment. It didn't sit well. The knot of pain in his gut kept growing and tightening.

Love resisted being reshaped into anything other than what it was. A couple of knocks at the door made Pablo utter a curse. He was tempted not to answer. Staying on task was imperative if he had any hope of making a clean break from this place. But whoever was out there didn't seem to care about his privacy or his mental state or his intentions. The door eased open.

Win walked in. The sight of him nearly shattered Pablo's resolve. After a cursory glance that he hoped betrayed none of his roiling feelings, he headed back to the bedroom. He haphazardly jammed things into his suitcase.

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Phrases rolled through his mind to bolster his sense of purpose. Or hold him and break into tears. Instead, without looking at Win, he went into the living room and sat on a recliner. He fixed his gaze on a corner of the coffee table and tried to ignore the thumping of his heart. He glanced up when Win, head lowered, entered the room. Win sat on the couch and hunched forward. His gaze moved up to Pablo's face. Pablo couldn't maintain eye contact with Win. An occasional, swift glance was all he could manage.

Even vindictive. Maybe I am. There's so much going on, I can't seem to think straight. He wasn't even sure how he felt about Win's change of heart; he didn't know what had prompted it. I know you don't have another place to live. I know you don't have another job. Pablo met the explanation with an upsurge of rage that made his jaw clench. His gaze flew to Win's face. I may not remember everything that happened last night, but I'm sure as hell going to find out. In the meantime, I'll be damned if I'm going to suffer your knee-jerk judgments and then…then some simpering, bleeding-heart concern that other people had to leech out of your conscience.

Win, who looked stupefied, also stood up.


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Just as he opened his mouth to speak, Pablo strode into the bedroom. His whole body trembled. It felt like a sack full of snakes that was tearing at the seams. Blinded by grief and fury and the same indignation Reynolds's statements had sparked, he snatched up the backpack he'd brought with him that first, hopeful day of his stay. After holding it to his chest for a moment, as if it were some precious memento that brought him solace, he set it back down.

Win grasped his arm; Pablo jerked it free. Some wayward impulse made him snatch a bottle of massage oil off the mattress and pitch it at a wall. I won't have a problem finding a place to live, and I won't have a problem finding a job. I'll get my old one back. Because I was good at that job. I was one sizzling, sought-after commodity. I knew how to please. And I still know. His reaction was enough to pull the veil from Pablo's eyes. He saw shallow pools of tears, a face that looked awash in misery.

Snow After a fleeting moment of vicious satisfaction, Pablo wanted to throw up. He knew he'd gone too far. And he knew he'd rot from self-loathing if he had betrayed this beautiful man's trust. Picking up the bottle Pablo had hurled, Win limply tossed it back on the bed and walked out of the room. Pablo closed his eyes and fought to calm his breathing. One way or another, he was going to get to the bottom of this mess and make things right with the only man he knew he would ever love. Win followed. He felt like dead, hollow wood. Tole kept eyeing him.

He couldn't abide their sympathy or suggestions, much less their interference. I could feel…I could feel his presence…receding. I think we should try to find him. He closed his eyes as the fibers in his body again contracted. He felt like shit in every aspect of his being. For hours he'd been straining to prevent a shift.

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