Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Never Special," Confrontation, pt. 5, 486 words

And she's clinging to the far side of the rim, glancing back over her shoulder at me. She looks soaked to the bone, her hair plastered to her head and her clothes sodden and heavy, and she looks pissed off. Not at me, no. And she's unhurt, but... pissed off. I look down at the liquid rushing out of the hole in the tank, for the first time pay attention to my sense of smell, and then finally descend to cup a little in my hand and taste it.

Water. Hot water. Not even boiling, but like a bath.

God damn it, I'm an idiot.

Now that the water's draining out, Lucila's clinging to the side of the vat, having to hold herself up over its swiftly-emptying depths. I float to her side, silently offering a hand if she wants to take it. She doesn't have to, knows that I know she doesn't have to. Her slender frame doesn't admit to her true upper body strength, and she could get out on her own if she wanted to. I'm just offering something a little easier, if possibly a little harder on the pride. She takes my hand anyway.

It's warm -- human warm, not from the hot water. It comforts me more than it does her, to hold on to her hand and help her out. I help her up to a nearby catwalk, and she rubs her sore wrists and arms a little once we get up there.

"Are you okay," I ask quietly, my voice lost in the huge room, the swirl of water flooding down there and draining out somewhere. "Did he—" I don't really want to ask, but at the same time I need to know.

"No, he..." She shrugs. "It was an accident, really, that he kidnapped me." She sounds almost amused, despite everything.

"An accident?" I can't really believe it. It sounds too preposterous.

She nods. "I don't think I was ever at any risk from him, actually. He was something of a gentleman about it all, in his own crazy-ass way. I felt more at risk from his pet bimbo than him or his other minions."

His pet bimbo. Good name for her, whoever she was. I'd only seen her in the few seconds of footage she'd been in at the bank robbery, but I'd immediately gotten a sick feeling in my gut, looking at her. I wonder if he's slept with her, if he was going to sleep with her tonight. Celebrate his triumph in making a fool of me. More distance.

"What are you two to each other, anyway," Lucila asks, sudden and sharp, an ambush. One I really should have seen coming.

I stammer a moment, trying to cover my surprise at the direct question, and finally say, "We- we're just nemeses."

She makes a noncommittal hmmm and just says, "He said the same thing."

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