Lindsey was trying to remember the scent of orchids. It wasn’t easy while lying in the next stall over from an ox. Orchids were the first gift he had ever given to her. He remembered that. They were exotic and expensive and The Woman liked to believe she was both. Lindsey said his name aloud so he could remember the sound of it. He would be punished for speaking if anyone heard him, but there was so much he’d forgotten over the years. Like the smell of orchids and her hair. The smell and feel of her hair had been incredibly good. Now he’s a cow and all he can smell is cow shit.
He had been full of it when he had shown up at her door the first time: full of shit and full of himself. He’d expected win over the former cheerleader with expensive flowers and gifts. That was what senior partners wanted: The Vampire’s seer distracted and ultimately away from AI. The Woman had seen right through him. She didn’t throw the orchids back in his face. She politely accepted the flowers and made a show of putting them in water; just as she accepted all the flowers that came after and later the blue boxes from Tiffany’s. It was like paying homage to a queen. Even the eventual dinner dates weren’t personal at first. She needed to eat and he was someone willing to pay for the best. The dates always ended at the door; often without even a peck on the cheek.
The first time she did give him a peck on the cheek, his face got wet. It was an anniversary for her, and all he had done that entire night was listen to her talk about another man. All evening, he silently cursed the other man; but just let her talk. Then, she kissed him. The kiss was brief, but it left its mark: a lipstick print and a tear he wiped away with his silk pocket square. His face had been wet the first time he kissed her, too. He had called to cancel their date that night; a pipe under his sink had sprung a leak, and even the employee of an evil law firm couldn’t get a plumber on a Saturday night. When she showed up in overalls, take-out in one hand, and a monkey wrench in the other, he just had to kiss The Woman. His face was wet then from the leak. Maybe the barn roof was leaking because his cheek was wet again. He wiped it with the ragged tail of his shirt.
Lindsey couldn't remember the first time he held her as she quivered her release. He couldn't remember what she looked like when she came. What he can remember is how she shuddered when he caught her the first time she fell when a vision hit. He remembered vividly how with each vision, the pain increased, and how eventually, it became his own; hurting them both more every time. The Woman became his because she claimed him. She didn’t let him buy her or turn her dark. She wouldn’t be distracted from the mission; even those times when The Vampire was. When he knew she wouldn’t survive the pain much longer, he told her friends they stole the Bracken DNA and forced the geneticist to change her enough so that she could remain. She finally let him change her when it was the last thing he wanted, but there was no other choice. He wonders if it worked, if she’s still alive.
When the senior partners found out, they sent him to this place. Each day when no one was around, he said his name out loud. It was important to remember his identity. He had a name. He wasn’t just a cow. He had been poor and hungry before, he had lost things that mattered before, but he wouldn’t lose his name. He wouldn’t forget the senior partners, either. They did this to him, and when he got home to L.A., he would get revenge. He wasn’t sure how he would get it done yet, but he would because he promised The Woman he would come back to her. The Woman’s pain had become his own, but she didn’t blame the men that changed her, so how could he blame her for this? He said his name out loud, and the collar around his neck sent the pain into his head that traveled everywhere. The overseer called him a lazy cow and told him to get back to work. He didn’t blame The Woman for this; he only wished he could remember the smell of orchids and her name.
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