Having showered and dressed, Selene and I made our way back to the little apartment we share, just a short walk - no more than ten minutes - from the Club. Indeed, it is the closeness of the Chromium Shaft Club to home that is one of the reasons we tend to use it as a kind of office or meeting-place, even if the facilities are available to us only because of Madame Maxine's indulgent whim. And even Madame's generosity, I suspect, has more than just a little to do with her friendship with - or at least respect for - Brandon O'Reilly, aka Dragon.

Selene and I scampered up the stairs to the second floor together, hand-in-hand as we so often are. The door opened at Sis's touch, the automation recognizing our presence instantly. I was pleased to be home, even in this rather modest space. The apartment consists of a single room, not particularly large, with a tiny bathroom adjoining.

Much of the floor space is occupied by a large and extremely comfortable bed - an oversize quilted futon on a low slatted frame - which can be folded to form a large couch, although we rarely bother, generally preferring to entertain our guests on the bed itself or on the second smaller couch that rests against the far wall. A couple of small closets, together with some drawers and a few genuine antique ornaments, complete our household furniture. It's not much, perhaps - particularly when compared with Dragon's grand residence or even Mom's spacious loft apartment - but it is a comfortable home for two people as close as we are.

I used to share this apartment with my very dear girlfriend Renie, of whom I remain extremely fond, even if I do not get to see her quite as often as I would like. Not so very long ago, Renie and Steve decided to move in together in a quaintly old-fashioned kind of way, but one which made me smile for all that.

We had been sitting around in this very flat, the four of us on this mattress, having fucked each other to the point of (temporary!) satiation and sipping some of the whisky that Steve sometimes brings with him. Steve had been expounding on the latest of the conspiracy theories he monitors so assiduously. He observed that there were more places to live in the city available at the moment - both in the downtown area and the suburbs - than people who wanted to occupy them.

Fueled by the whisky, Steve started speculating why this was so, suggesting that people were disappearing or even dying - surely not! - without anyone being aware of it, and without the PA reporting this even when questioned closely. Of course, the properties themselves were being maintained in a perfect state - just a normal part of the automation's function - or perhaps, in Steve's view, to conceal these mysterious disappearances.

I countered this position, more in the cut-and-thrust spirit of debate rather than a genuine desire to be contrary. People, I suggested, did not need a lot of space and, in any case, preferred to live with someone else, just as Renie and I did. We could just as easily have lived in separate apartments and perhaps much more spacious ones, if we really wanted to.

The direction of the debate brought Steve's attention - and Renie's too - to their own situation. To their own amazement, hey realized they had been sharing a bed - and each others' sexual partners - for very nearly a decade. I have known Renie for much longer than that - she is one of my most long-standing friends - but I knew that she and Steve did get on very well, spending more time in each other's company than anyone else, even me.

"Say, Renie," Steve drawled, feigning a casualness I feel sure he did not really feel, "Why don't we move in together. Come to my place."

A delighted Renie accepted with alacrity, kissing Steve full on the lips, and that was that. Of course, no-one seriously expects such a relationship to last forever, but it is not unusual for two old friends to live together - for companionship more than sex, although certainly not as a replacement for it. And for Steve and Renie, well, I felt sure that both of them would continue to find interesting sexual partners for them to enjoy, both separately and together.

Selene was already spending a great deal of time in the flat too, alternating between here and Dragon's mansion in the suburbs. Without asking, without us even discussing it, she simply spent more and more time here. These days, we are more-or-less inseparable; we only seem to visit Dragon's place - or anywhere else for that matter - in each other's company.

Part 2