Pistil shrugged, and sandwiches coming from the servo distracted them. They ate in silence, hungrily. Pistil opened a ham sandwich and slathered it in the ketchup and mayonnaise on the table—“Free fat and sugar, anyone?” he offered the condiments around.
Stamen shuddered a bit, and Thorn shook a slight, bemused no.
Stamen gestured with a fry at Potent, Thorn’s hermit crab now swallowing the last of the lettuce and swinging antennae around in search of other things to munch. “That isn’t why you look at your backpack that way. There is something else in there. “ She turned to Pistil. “I still want it.”
Thorn slipped Potent a slice of tomato, leaned back, shoes tipping the chair back almost to the breaking point, hands never leaving the pack. The crab tore into its tomato, red juice dripping down and into the side of its claws, seeds sticking to its shell. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
Without even an excuse us a sec, Pistil pulled Stamen aside, moving toward the coffee refill station on the other side of the deserted diner. As they went, he whispered, his s’s hissing into bites: “Look, which do you want more, that pack or help for me entering the Spark Prize? You know we can’t touch a port to enter—the brass would be on us so fast they’d melt their own tails. And that drop we were going to use—dropped out on me today. The deadline is next week, baby doll, and I am ready for it. I can do this now, Love. Thorn could be our ticket, our entry into fame and fortune, dollface. Please. Leave the pack, leave his Spark out of this. We’ll get you a Spark later. Something will show up. But I gotta get this in now, please, huh, love, babydoll?”
Lips pursed together, Stamen struck a dramatic pose, her lithe arm twisting over the top of the coffee maker like a celebrity greeting her fans. “Tell me again you love me.” She said, loud enough for Thorn to hear across the room. Pistil traced the letters on to her arm and said their litany, a bit more softly, so that Thorn would have to strain to hear at all:
L: I love and care for you, more than anyone else in the world.
O: you are the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me
V: I will get you anything you want, anything at all.
E: Now and forever more, baby doll. You and me together from now till eternity.
Her neck arched toward him, she leaned over to purr against his shoulder like a cat stretching into its muscles. “Ok, she said. I’ll wait. You have first shot, then. See if you can get yourself entered into that Spark Prize—and get us all the fame and the fortune we can handle. But then, since you love me now and forever and always, then you gotta help me get my own Spark.”
Pistil nodded, and they continued to talk on the other side of the diner.