Molly had never been woken up with a kiss before, but that changed the morning she woke up next to a naked Raider. With a jolt, she sat upright and began to paw at the wet patch on the side of her face, as the darker girl giggled and clutched her bare sides.
"Why did you do that?" Molly demanded pathetically, trying not to let her eyes wander over Raider's glistening bronze skill for too long.
"It only seemed polite," Raider shrugged as she flung herself from the bed and began to pull her clothes on. "I hope you're hungry - Russ always knocks up kippers for breakfast on Sundays."
Rubbing her eyes and slowly coming to her senses, Molly wriggled free of the blanket and felt around for her clothes. Even with the morning sunlight streaming through the narrow window, the room was almost as gloomy as the night before. As soon as she was decent, she turned to Raider, who was sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling her boots on.
"Thank you," Molly said, joining her hands together and bowing her head. "I.... I can't imagine what would have become of me last night, if you hadn't...."
Raider waved a hand through the air. "Stop. You'll only embarrass me. And yourself."
Molly's face burned. This girl was making her question everything she had learned about the world over the past year, and they had met less than ten hours ago. "What did you mean last night, when you said.... that there are some people after me?"
Raider sighed and stood up. "I'm not the best person to tell you. Come to breakfast. I'm sure you won't be confused for much longer."
Outside of Raider's tiny room, there was a dingy, windowless corridor. Spiders dangled from glistening threads and the occasional roach scurried past as Molly followed her tall, tanned rescuer past several other doors. When she came to the last one, Raider pushed through, and voices and laughter suddenly rushed into Molly's ears.
It was a tavern; not a nice one, like the ones that Dr. Meriwether used to take her for Sunday lunch, but a tavern all the same. The spider colonies hadn't restricted themselves to the corridor, and Molly could practically taste decades worth of smoke and dust with every lungful of air she breathed.
A dozen men and women of various ages dotted the room, three sitting at the bar with their faces pressed against the counter-tops, the others huddled around a table that was definitely only intended for four people, even though there were plenty of other tables free. A delicious aroma wafted through the air; the Sunday morning kippers that Raider had promised, which Molly presumed were being prepared by the one she'd called Russ. One of the dozing young men at the bar stirred and snorted, wiping his cheek in a puddle of his own drool.
Raider clapped her hands together, and Molly wished that the ground would swallow her up as each and every head turned to face them.
"Great news, everybody!" Raider exclaimed. "We've got ourselves a new renegade!"
Her words hung heavily in the air as the room processed them, until one girl hopped up from the table and rushed over. She was short, about a foot smaller than Molly, with shiny blonde ringlets and rosy cheeks. Lydia would have loved her. The bouncy little girl flung her arms around Molly and squeezed her. Molly gasped. The girl had more muscle that she'd originally have suspected!
"I've heard all about you. I'm so glad Rai found you before something terrible happened.... I know we're going to be the best of friends, I just know it!"
"Snooper!" Raider snapped, giving the small blonde's shoulder a shove until she released Molly from her death-grip. "We've had a word about boundaries." Molly raised her eyebrows; this was the girl who had taken her clothes off within minutes of meeting her, and she was lecturing somebody else about boundaries?
"Oops!" The girl sprang back, still beaming warmly at Molly. "I'm sorry. My name's Snooper, by the way, but everybody calls me Snoopy. Well, everybody except Rai." She teasingly poked her tongue out at Raider before returning her attention to Molly. "Welcome to the circus!"