"Requiem" - Part Two

20 October 2042 - Five days later
11:12:27 PST

I was standing behind the bar pouring myself another steaming mug of motor-oil thick coffee when Revell set down the plastic tray of pint glasses on the bartop.
"No Mouse yet?" he said in his Russian-tinged basso.
"Nope," I said and took a long pull of the coffee, felt the warmth slither down my throat. "Still buried under her covers when I left the room."
"It has been five days."
"I know."
"She has eaten something?"
"Some of the leftovers in the fridge are gone," I said. "I know I didn't eat them. Must've been when I wasn't there."
"At least she is eating." He came around the bar, picked up the tray, and stacked it beneath the bar. "And you are okay?"
I cradled the mug in both hands and leaned against the back counter. "As okay as possible, I guess. Considering."
"He was good man."
"Helped me and Murphy many times on runs. Even stuck neck out for us one time."
I blinked. "Eddie?"
Revell nodded. "We had to bring Eddie with us for run. Closed network. Had to be onsite. We got what we needed but ran into problems. Eddie ran interference while Murphy and I got out."
"What kind of interference?"
"Grabbed Murphy's Remington," Revell said with a small grin, a wistful expression creasing his bearded face. "Started screaming, shooting at secteam, and ran off down other hallway. Gave us time to get out."
"How the hell did Eddie get out?"
Revell gave a chuckle-snort. "Jumped out of second floor window."
"Holy shit," I said.
Revell nodded. "Landed in bushes. He was lucky to only get broken ankle, broken arm, and lot of bruises."
"Damn lucky."
"Da," said Revell. "He stuck with friends. With colleagues.  He was to be trusted."
I nodded, blinking away suddenly clouded vision.
"This thing he did,” said Revell, "at Double-Deuce..."
I thought back to the call from Eddie that night, felt a small twinge of nausea in my gut that quickly vanished, and let out a long breath. "No choice," I said finally. "They had him by the shorthairs. Just wished there'd been some other way."
"Doc told me," said Revell. "Was too risky to try removal. Especially if they were monitoring."
"They," I said, "will pay."
"Speaking of pay," said Revell. "Have you heard more from Specs? About runs?"
"Earlier this morning," I said, feeling a knot begin to clench in my gut.
I made a face. "Nothing yet. But he says he has some more good leads."
Revell quirked a bushy eyebrow at me. "Leads that dry up at last minute are not good leads."
"I know." Took another big swig of coffee, sloshed it around my mouth, swallowed. Then I dumped the rest in the bar sink, rinsed out the cup, and left it. "I'll wait to see what Specs comes up with. Then make some calls. If it comes to that. Meantime, I'm gonna finish in the office."
"I will order lunch," said Revell. "Then you"--he clapped a bearpaw-like hand on my shoulder--"will check on Mouse. Da?"
"Da," I said.
He gave me a toothy smile. "Horosho."

*   *   *

One hour later

With the Twins, Bonnie and Clyde, now cleaned and oiled and snug once again in my double-holster shoulder-rig, I took my toolbox cleaning kit back up to the arms locker in our shared flat about the Red Dog.
When I opened the door and stepped inside, Mouse was sitting on the edge of bed, her back to me, facing the still-shuttered window, sporting a week's worth of bed hair, and staring at something in her lap.
"You're awake," I said.
"Three hundred," said Mouse, "and seventy-five."
I closed the door, set the toolbox by the wall, and turned back to her. "Three hundred seventy-five?"
Mouse held up a data disc in a small clear jewel case, her back still to me. "Movies," she said. "Three hundred and seventy-five of them. One per disc."
A memory struck.
"The pile of cases on his workstation," I said, then stopped short.
Mouse said nothing but half turned, and tossed the case onto my bed.
It landed with a muffled clatter among the sheets.
I went over to my bed and looked down at the case. Saw the note attached to the case cover, hand-written in block letters.
I wish we could've watched these together.
Heard myself suck in a breath through my nostrils, and the middle of my chest knotted, and for a moment I couldn't breathe, and my vision blurred, like water cascading down a window, then it sharpened, and then I was staring at the note again, and at the data disc inside the case.
One among three hundred-plus.
Blew out the breath that had been sitting in my lungs, long, slow, heavy, then folded my arms across my chest, and looked up at Mouse.
My partner. Fellow ronin. Friend.
My knuckles brushed against the worn leather of my holster rig and an image of Murphy flashed across my mind, square-jawed with a day's worth of stubble, face beaming as he handed my the velvet-lined mahogany box with the Twins inside, and then another image of Murphy again, now tossing the keyfob for the Shelby, and again the smile.
And then the image vanished.
The Twins. The Shelby.
I stood, silent, arms still folded across my chest, watching Mouse as she sat on the edge of her bed, still facing the window, still looking at something on her lap, surrounded by a few stray shafts of sunlight.
"Kat?" she said after a while, and her voice was low and gave a slight flutter.
"Yeah, Mouse?" I said.
"Eddie," she said. "Those people. We're gonna find them, aren't we."
Statement. Not question.
"Damn right," I said. "I promise."
"Good," she said. "And Kat?"
"I get first dibs."


NEXT TIME: "Devil's Night"

Part 1

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