Exit Strategy

by London Lampy

Chapter 25

I only find the square because I can see the angel statue standing high on his column above the buildings. Coming out of the telegraph office I somehow make a wrong turn, but by heading towards the winged man I find the square, although ending up on entirely the wrong side of it, and it takes me a few minutes dodging through the crowds until I get back to where I'm suppose to be. When I do get there Quint is leaning on the low wall by the steps watching me approach.

"Sorry, I got a bit lost." I say by way of explanation, running my hand over my face to get the sweat out of my eyes.

"You bought a newspaper?" He asks me questioningly.

I've completely forgotten I'm still carrying it, I look down and notice my hand is now covered in black inky smudges."Um...yes, I did." I say, wiping my hand on my trousers, then holding the paper out to him.

"No, it's all right, you keep it. Have you been behaving yourself?"

"Yes." I reply, looking away and down into the square.

"Good, and you weren't tempted by the local insect delicacy's?"

"No, I had a pastry though."

"Sounds like a safe choice, lets go." He starts to head back towards the road.

"Where are we going?" I ask following.

"Shopping, you need something to put on your feet other than those horrible boots." He looks down at them. "And there are some other things I want to get for you too."


"I'll tell you when we get there."

I leave the shoe shop with a new pair of shiny black brogues, the street we are in is full of stores selling different kinds of men's clothing, one specialises in hats, another in belts and braces, one sells nothing but hand stitched shirts but it's the tailors with a display of suits in the window that has me staring longingly into it.

The Captain stands beside me and slips his arm around my waist. "That's an excellent tailor, one of the best in the city."

"I had a suit back..." I almost say home. "...in Parnell."

"Would you like a replacement for it?"

I don't need asking twice.

The tailor is a small fussy man wearing an obvious wig who seems to enjoy measuring me slightly too much.

"Legs not that long but muscular eh?" He addresses this to Quint. "Nice tail too." He says patting it.

"Hey!" I protest, stepping away from him quickly, while the Captain glares at him. The man just chuckles.

"Now what fabric would you like?" He lays out a set of samples on the counter, reaching across me to do so and brushing his hand across my chest, deliberately I'm sure. I move to the other side of the Captain to avoid him doing this again.

"You've measured him now, keep your hands to yourself." Quint says, shooting the tailor a threatening look, who simply smiles in return and holds his hands up in mock innocence..

I choose a very dark grey with a subtle stripe in it, and for the lining the captain points out a fabric that looks black but flashes blue when the light hits it.

"Like your hair." He says, taking a strand between his finger and thumb.

Once he's paid a deposit and arranged to pick up my suit next time he's in Kipp we move on. To my dismay we are walking towards the small street that is home to the stuffed animal shop and the drug shop, both of who's owners ended up threatening me earlier. I thank the gods when we don't turn down it however, but stop at the restaurant on the corner instead.

"I think we should have some lunch before our last stop." He says as we go in.

A waiter shows us to a table and hands us a pair of menus, there's not much on it that I recognise but chicken soup looks like a safe bet, and Quint orders the food for both of us, him choosing some kind of shellfish stew, along with a bottle of red wine. When the wine arrives he pours me a glass and I take a large mouthful.

"Try and drink a little slower than Topher normally does please, this is good wine and it's not for gulping." He says watching me.

"Yes Captain. Why didn't you let him come into the city with us? He's going to complain at me endlessly over it."

"Because of where I'm taking you after lunch."

"Where's that?" I ask.

He grins at me. "You'll find out when we get there."

The food takes a while to arrive and despite being told to drink slowly the wine bottle is empty before it arrives. He orders another before the waiter leaves, and by the time I'm half way through my soup I'm feeling decidedly drunk.

"You and Topher seem to be getting along better, you appear to have moved on from outright hostility to just teasing each other, if I'm not very much mistaken." Quint says, pouring me another glass of deep red wine.

"Yeah, I kinda got used to him, even don't mind him calling monkey so much now." I eat a mouthful of bread roll and think for a moment. "I worked out he doesn't really mean much of what he says, it's just sorta the way he is." I take a sip of wine and carry on. "I quite...kinda enjoy setting him off now, it's funny."

He raises an eyebrow at me. "Just so long as you don't start another fist fight, you're both far too pretty for black eyes and broken noses."

I've finished my food now but there's still wine and I pour myself another glass. "Yeah, I'm glad his nose went back to...you know, how it was before, I like how he looks."

Quint picks up the bottle and tips out what's left, it fills about a third of his glass. He looks at me as if considering something, and is about to speak when the waiter comes back over and asks if we want anything else.

"We're out of wine." I say, picking the bottle up and turning it upside down to show him, a small trickle runs out onto the tablecloth, staining it pink.

"No thank you, we don't need anything else." The Captain says quickly, taking the bottle off me and setting it back down on the table. "Just the bill please."

When the waiter has gone Quint shakes his head at me. "It's a damn good job Topher normally does drink everything in sight, you really can't hold your liquor, can you?"

"No." I say grinning happily at him.

Once he's paid we stand up to go and I realise just how drunk I am. Quint ends up steering me towards the door to stop me walking into the other tables, and once we get outside he looks at me and shakes his head. "I've only got myself to blame." He mutters, then gestures for me to follow him.

"Exit, try to walk in a straight line please." He orders after we've gone about thirty yards.

"Yes Captain." I say and giggle, leaning against a lamppost.

"For the gods sake, I am never letting you drink at lunch time again, come on." He grabs me by the hand and pulls me through the streets.

Eventually we arrive at a shop with blacked out windows, and the words "By Appointment Only" etched into a brass plate attached to the door, I squint at it for a moment then turn to Quint.

"You're not taking me to buy drugs are you?" I ask worriedly, remembering the unpleasant experience I had earlier.

"No, why would you think that?" He questions me as he knocks on the door.

I shrug, trying not to give anything away, and before he can enquire further the door is answered by a very large man dressed all in leather. He has pale skin and a short black beard, and very thick silver hoops through each of his earlobes. Him and Quint greet each other like old friends, and the large man leads us inside.

I'm relived to see the inside of the shop looks nothing like the drug one apart from the fact it's lit by lamps due to the blacked out windows. In the other shop everything was kept behind a high counter, here all the available space is filled with, well, things. Things made out of leather and metal with straps and buckles, like the stuff you put on horses and I wonder if for some reason he's brought me to a riding shop, there's even a display of whips and crops that seem to confirm this, until I notice the next shelf is full of objects that I can't imagine have anything to do with horses, at least I hope not. It has a collection of butt plugs on it, some of which are in eye wateringly large sizes.

"Harry, this is Exit." Quint says, introducing me to the bulky man, then adds. "I'm afraid he's a bit drunk at the moment, my fault."

"Hello." Harry says, holding out his hand to me, which I take still glancing at the plugs.

"Do people ever buy the really big ones?" I ask, pointing at them with me free hand.

"Not often." He laughs. "A few do, you want to try one?"

"No! Thank you." I say quickly, and he laughs again.

"We need to go upstairs for the fitting." Harry says, I'm about to ask what's being fitted, but they head off up a small staircase leaving me to follow a little unsteadily behind.

Upstairs is at least lit by natural light and looks to be some kind of workshop. A bench with tools and cut pieces of leather takes up the space under the windows and in one wall where a fire place would normally be there's an unlit forge which I go over to and investigate. I pump the bellows a couple of times experimentally until Quint comes over and drags me away by the arm.

"Exit, leave that alone. Sorry Harry, I let him drink far too much at lunch."

"It's all right mate." The big man replies. "It would only be a problem if it were lit."

"I'm not that drunk." I protest.

"Just stand there and don't touch anything else." Quint commands, pointing to the centre of the room.

Harry picks up a tape measure from the workbench and turns to me. "Lets see what size you'll need." He says, and for a moment all I can think about are the giant butt plugs, so when he takes the tape and wraps it around my wrist I'm extremely relieved. He checks the measurement then asks me to take a boot off so he can do the same to my ankle.

I try removing it standing up but end up falling over sideways and so do it sat on the floor, while the Captain sighs. I finally get it off, lie on the floor and wave my leg in the air so he can measure me. Once he's done I shut my eyes and the room starts to spin, so I rapidly open them again, to see Quint staring down at me and Harry gone.

"You may as well take the other boot off while your down there, Harry will need to fit both ankles."

"Am I getting cuffs like Topher?" I ask, unlacing my remaining boot.

"Yes, that's why I didn't want to bring him, he'd only sulk."

The Captain offers me his hand and I stand up again, stumbling into him as I do so. He catches me and wraps his arms around me, bringing his hands down to my ass and squeezing as he does so.

"You are rather irresistible when you're drunk you know." He says.

"So are you." I say, pushing my body against his.

"I'm not drunk." He points out, biting the top of my ear.

"But you're fucking sexy." I hear myself saying loudly, at the same time as Harry renters the room.

"Well thank you." The big man says as I untangle myself from Quint. "Although I'm afraid you're not really my type."

"Oh." I say feeling slightly offended. "Don't you like tails?"

"Tails I have no problem with, it's what round the other side that's the issue."

I try to figure out what he means by that.

"He's talking about this." Quint says, putting his hand between my legs and cupping my package. "He likes girls."

"These should fit." He holds out a pair of silver bangle like cuffs identical to Topher's, they have a hinge on one side and are currently hanging open. Quint takes one off him and fits it around my wrist, snapping it shut. Harry passes him a small screwdriver and a silver screw which he fits into a hole on the side opposite the hinge and tightens, he does the same to my other wrist and than has me lie on the floor again and fits a slightly larger pair around my ankles. The metal feels strange against my skin and I experimentally twist one of them around.

"You're not to take these off without my permission, understand?"

"Yes Captain." I say, as he helps me up off the floor.

I suppose they're not too bad, they almost look like jewellery, and having them will be one less thing for Topher to lord over me. It's not forever, only until I get home, then I'll get them taken off. I've got used to the ring in my navel, and a lot more besides, I'm sure I can get used to these too.

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