Calling 5-II

She Was Once Mine

In a flash, the duffel that Lis had left at her feet was on her lap, her hands disappearing inside its depths. I, on the other hand, quickly and carefully did absolutely nothing. I enjoyed having skin on my face, and I didn't trust my reflexes when the threat was only about three feet away.

"Ah, Lis," Edith said, "how nice to see you again." Her voice was calm and steady, but the little twitches in her hands and fingers told the real story. She'd never had great self-control, and I somehow doubted the last year and a half had helped. They definitely hadn't done good things for her constitution. When I'd known her, the old her, there had always been a softness to round out her undoubtedly sharp features. Now, it had been worn away, leaving nothing but edges and cold, predatory eyes.

"Unless ya want a hole in your face," Lis spat back at her, "I suggest ya leave."

Edith smirked, an unpleasant twisting of her beautiful face. "You haven't changed, have you? You won't fire in here, not with all these poor, innocent people. You won't risk it."

"You'd be surprised," Lis snarled.

"Oh, please, you haven't got that much better."

"You'd be surprised." And her hand didn't move an inch.

It was gone in a blink, but for a second I saw caution wash over Edith's face, and maybe a little fear. Then it was gone, and the mask returned.

She waved a hand, as if dismissing her. "I'll let you have your delusions."

We were starting to get a few odd looks from around the room. Nothing major, but it obviously looked like the situation had all the beginnings of something nasty. From down the bar, Daniel raised an eyebrow at me, questioning. I shook my head slightly, and after a second, he nodded in return. I didn't want anyone else involved in this.

"Look," I said, cutting in, "as fun as this little tit-for-tat is, how about you get to the point or leave?"

She laughed, and it was a little stab of pain in my gut hearing it. “Flint, I know you failed a lot of subjects, but I know you’re not that stupid.”

"Humor me."

You know what, this is getting pretty worn out, so let's just assume that any time I describe Edith doing something it's done in a vaguely unpleasant manner. She smirked. "You haven't changed much either."

I met her eyes, with an unflinching stare. "You have no idea how much I'd like to be able to say the same."

She stared back, and as much as the dead emptiness made me want to cringe away, I managed to hold steady. After a few tense moments, she looked away. “There’s a lot of things we’d all like,” she said softly.

“Like, mebbe, the reason you’re here. Pretty sure I’d like to know that,” Lis said sourly. “Or would ya two like to have more time for your weird nostalgia thing.”

Edith spun on her. “If I wanted you to speak, you fat piece of shit, I’d beat it out you.”

I winced. 

Very slowly, very calmly, Lis stood up out of her chair. One hand held up the straps to the bag, and the other stayed inside, holding firm onto the grip of her sniper. It would’ve looked silly if not for that last part, and to the rest of the bar, who didn’t have that information, it probably did it, because the number of stares we were getting had increased exponentially.

I doubt Edith would be fazed much, but I really wasn’t keen on the idea of started a superpowered brawl/gunfight inside a public space. Plus, there was the only ever-so-slightly humiliating fact that I doubted that Lis and I would win. In a large open space, maybe, but the only way Lis had gotten her the last time was with a surprise attack before she could react, and that wasn’t a luxury we were going to get here, in this enclosed space. “Alright, alright,” I said, standing up and holding up my hands, “how about we all just sit down and-”

Without looking away from Lis, she raised her hand and pointed it at me, fingers outstretched and slightly curled. It actually looked a little like someone casting a spell, except this would be less 1d4+1 and more ‘oh sweet Jesus my face’.

I made the wise decision to freeze.

“Enough of the games,” she snarled. “You are going to tell me where it is, and then you are going to take me there, or I will kill everyone in here.”

“And then you die.” I said slowly in a low voice. “Stop and think about it for a second. You do this here, a few blocks from the Tower, and you get the mighty fist of justice dropping on you like a ton of bricks.”

“They’ll try.” But she didn’t seem so certain anymore. Like I said, not the best self-control.

“And succeed, is the bit you forgot to include. So how about we take this outside, huh? Somewhere a little less public?”

“You’re just trying to lead me into a trap.”

“No, I’m trying to avoid a whole bunch of unnecessary deaths. Come on, E, you don't want to do this."

She twitched, as if straining against an invisible leash, and for a brief moment, I fully expected things to go to hell in a handbasket.

As soon as she moves, dive away from Lis. It's the only chance you'll have at surviving. You can't deflect the blast, because you didn't ready your power like an idiot. From there, grab one of the stools, and-

She lowered her arm, just slightly, so it pointed to the ground between us. "Fine."

I breathed out a long sigh. "See, was that so hard? Come on, Lis, that means you too," I said to my friend, putting a hand on her shoulder. Slowly, she let the bag drop to her side, her hand emerging empty.

We made to move, but Edith's hand shot up. I instinctively ducked away, but she wasn't pointing it at me.

"Not you," she said, brandishing her hand at Lis. “You stay here.”

She laughed scornfully. “Ya really are nuts, aintcha. Why the fuck would I just let ‘im go on his with you?”

I sighed. “Lis, the concern is appreciated, but I am not a child; I can take care of myself.” Truth be told, I’d actually have much preferred having Lis with me, but I didn’t want to aggravate Edith any further, not when she was so close to breaking. “Stay here, finish your drink. I’ll handle this.”

She frowned at me, actually showing concern. “Ya sure?”

I gave a tight-lipped smile. “Not in the slightest,” I admitted quietly. “If something goes wrong, I’ll try and stay alive long enough for you to come and save my ass.”

“You do that.”

I turned towards Edith, who rolled her eyes and snorted. “Sure you don’t want to confess your undying love before we go?” she asked snidely. I ignored her, moving towards the door, and she snickered to herself as she hurried to catch up. We walked out the door, snow and a wave of cold air blasting us in the face. I followed her as she started walking, keeping myself tense and ready for an attack 
which, surprisingly, never manifested.

After a minute or two, we came to an alleyway between two shops. She strode down it, and after taking a quick glance around, I followed her. About halfway down, where the shadows were deepest, she stopped and turned to face me. What little light there was cast her face harshly, accentuating lines and creases that I hadn’t noticed before, signs of wear that hadn’t been there the last time we’d seen each other.

The silence stretched between us.

“You wanted to talk,” I said at last.

“So talk.”