War and Peace: Chapter 49

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Chapter 49

"Think he'll go along with it?" Alicia asked.

She sat on the floor, back pressed against the bar, knees pulled up and arms wrapped around them. Stoic, but it didn't take a mentalist to see that she was scared.

No surprise. James was terrified and the immediate threat wasn't even directed at him. All he could do was sit beside Alicia and pretend not to be bothered.

"He will," Donald said, helping himself to his fifth pint. "Laskowitz is an asshole. He's got self-interest first, second, third, and last. He'll be just as screwed as us if he don't do what he's told."

After Daisy's ultimatum, Laskowitz had immediately vanished, allowed to come and go to arrange what Daisy wanted. He had yet to return. Daisy was also nowhere to be seen.

Julia was standing in a corner, gazing up at some tacky reproduction art on the walls. Kanade sat on the edge of the bar, dangling her legs, occasionally letting the heels of her sneakers thump softly against the wood. Sara stood against the wall nearby, looking exactly like always, which was sort of a relief somehow.

"I'll be so pissed if I die this way," Alicia said.

Her expression said she meant it. James smiled. Thunder and Spite to the end. "What do you mean 'this way'?"

"I'm only mixed up in this because I'm his stupid daughter." Alicia smacked a palm against the floor. Not hard, but there was rage in it. "I thought I left that shit behind."

"What happened?"

"Long story. How much you want to know?"

"Whatever you want to tell."

A soft breath of amused air escaped Alicia's nostrils. "You're a nice guy." She knocked her head back against the bar. "I hate nice guys. I don't like things I don't understand."

"Is that why you like Kerrigan? You understand him?"

"Hah! Yeah. That dumbass just loves a fight. He's like something right out of Berserk."

That gave James a second of pause. "You know Berserk?"

"Yeah. Why? Got a problem with a girl liking manga?"

"I'm half Japanese, you know."

Alicia's eyebrows crawled up her forehead. "With a name like James Kirkpatrick?" She squinted. "Actually, I sort of see it."

"Kerrigan is just like Zodd."

"Gahahaha! Exactly!" Alicia slapped her knee. "Battle this, battle that, worthy opponent blah blah blah. I don't mind that kind of idiot."

James smiled. "Me either."

Soft footsteps, audible only because his mentalism was tuned up with tension: Kanade had gotten down off the bar and made her way to them.

"Can I join you guys?" she asked, strangely timid.

Alicia waved a hand. "It's a free country. Well, supposed to be. Prisoners gotta stick together."

"Thanks."

Kanade sat on the other side of Alicia in the same posture James had found her in under the tree that day in the park. Seemed like yesterday. Seemed like a million years ago.

Alicia rolled up the sleeves of her sweater. "You've seen, so no point hiding it." She pointed to the discolorations up and down both arms. In some places there were raised knots of scar tissue. "Lot more on my back. A few of 'em were actually me. Like that one." She indicated a large slash, horizontal across her wrist. "Cut wrong. You have to cut between the tendons. They called it a cry for help. Hah. Said I needed a change of environment. Sure as hell that was true."

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