The Art Of Corporate-Sexual-Psychological War
by Jennifer-Oksana

O-Ren has a new flavor of the week in from Los Angeles, a woman sent to congratulate O-Ren's accession to the place of power in the Yakuza. Sofi doesn't like her, though she recognizes that this one reminds O-Ren of Beatrix with the coiled danger just underneath luminous pale skin and American smiles. At the same time, Sofi also finds it insulting that O-Ren's latest friend is a tall, statuesque brunette who wears a lot of black and a cell phone. O-Ren doesn't need to send out for that -- and to show so much favor to the American is an oblique insult to Sofi that will become a direct insult to O-Ren if Sofi protests, so Sofi stays quiet and plots the American woman's death while following her everywhere.

Her name is Lilah Morgan, which is less absurd than Sofi Fatale or Beatrix Kiddo, but not by much. Go-Go is mysteriously fond of Lilah; Sofi suspects that Lilah collects assassins, and tried to listen when Lilah took Go-Go for sake without so much as a single bodyguard to protect her from Go-Go's fits of pique. But as far as Sofi can tell, Lilah has never killed for money, not the way O-Ren or Go-Go has. She's never worked for Bill, so there's no connection there. Sofi has spent the past two days feverishly trying to figure out why a mere lawyer from Los Angeles has enchanted her O-Ren so completely.

The door is open and Sofi waits outside of it, listening.

"Have you ever used a sword, Miss Morgan?" O-Ren is asking in English.

"I'm afraid I'm unversed in the fine arts of weaponry," the Morgan woman replies. "I tend to believe in guns. Or, of course, letting someone else dirty their hands."

Sofi smiles to herself. O-Ren would not approve of that philosophy. O-Ren believes one must know how to attack before withdrawing behind an army.

"That's risky," O-Ren says. "You never know when you'll have to fight a battle with no one to depend upon except yourself."

"How often do you engage in personal hand-to-hand combat? I find the exercise risky. If my enemy wants me dead, the last thing I want to trust to is chance," Morgan replies. "Of course one must be careful and armed, but there's a difference between knowing defense and fighting pointless battles."

"And yet you're so good at waging battles," O-Ren says. "Your name is well-known to us and you haven't even taken a true position of power Wolfram and Hart Los Angeles yet. Your skirmishes with this Angel..."

"I know how to bide my time," Morgan says and Sofi's hand clenches. "Choosing the where and when is a powerful weapon, O-Ren. On the right battlefield, the least gesture can lead to a surrender..."

Sofi presses her lips together and wants to interrupt what is clearly going on between O-Ren and the American woman by now. Her adversary knows the subtleties of making war and has waited until now to spring the trap.

And O-Ren enjoys pretending to lose, enjoys letting these all-American beauty queens think they've won by allowing them to seduce her. A manicured finger drawn across O-Ren's damning freckles; the smile of predatory intent as they undo the sash on her robe and cast it off O-Ren's shoulders; the slow crawl of hands and lips down O-Ren's bared body as O-Ren smiles with pleasure.

All of them play at war, but Sofi's mistress wins by being wise and knowing every form of battle. And after the games of war disguised as games of love are finished, O-Ren comes back to Sofi. Even after Beatrix, O-Ren returned to Sofi Fatale.

Sofi who wants to laugh at the thought of the wicked American kissing O-Ren, cupping her breasts in her long-fingered hands and whispering obscenities into her ear in a voice that's whiskey and velvet and jazz torch singers. Has she taken off the flimsy silk blouse she's wearing to bare her back for O-Ren's touch? Is she content with kisses and delicate touches for now in this exposed location? Lilah Morgan and O-Ren Ishii are powerful women constantly under scrutiny in a world fatally poisoned against them. To imagine either would indulge publicly in "unnatural" acts is a joke that isn't funny.

Yet neither has stopped embracing the other, and this is clearly visible against the door, a shadow play put on for Sofi's benefit.

"I want you," Sofi hears O-Ren say very clearly, and a muffled response from Lilah. "Yes, now."

A new game, then. Whose reputation is stronger? Who is more powerful? O-Ren Ishii is powerful enough to allow this American underling fuck her while her regular lover waits and protects the liaison from unfriendly eyes -- and quick as that, Sofi knows that O-Ren knows she's been eavesdropping, that she too finds the American woman desirable even while hating her, and O-Ren has punished Sofi for her straying while rewarding her for her loyalty.

It's hard for Sofi not to moan when she hears clothing fall to the floor. If she could join them...but that is not what O-Ren wants. O-Ren wants the pretty red-painted lips of this American lawyer pleasuring her; O-Ren wants Sofi to writhe in envy knowing that the two of them are grappling on the floor in a sexual battle as fierce as any violent fight O-Ren has engaged in.

"Oh," someone cries out, now merely a shadow against the door, entangled with her enemy. "Oh, yes."

Sofi breathes in quietly. Waits for the American woman to exit so that Sofi can take her back to her hotel, because that is her job, to take care of her mistress' people.

Sofi is loyal to her mistress despite her momentary lapses. O-Ren makes sure she stays that way, and that way, they can both be content. For now.


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