Sixty - Ira

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"Answer the goddamn question," I growled. My gun was in my lap, and I was more than happy to point it at Celestia, had Thierry not already pushed his into her back. I was sweating under my oversized hoodie, but I didn't want to take it off in case my trembling would be obvious. Keeping my breathing regulated was a struggle already.

"I c-can't," Celestia said in a small voice. She timidly looked behind her at Thierry. "I can't focus, w-when I'm about to be shot p-point blank."

I sighed. Maybe Celestia hadn't changed as much as I'd first thought. "Thierry, back up." For the first time in years, I craved a cigarette. I felt like my nerves and emotions were about to burst an artery, and I would stomach the disgusting smell just to feel calmer.

Thierry reluctantly backed away a few steps, making it clear that he didn't like where this was going at all. He raised the gun in line with the back of Celestia's skull, but she kept her gaze locked on me. Was there a trace left of the friend I once had? I had no clue.

"You weren't this nervous when you were killing me or my innocent acquaintance." I clamped my mouth shut so I wouldn't launch a tirade of abuse at her. Thierry had given me a look when my temper first flared up.

"Ira, I fear for my life," Celestia said, her gills gliding against her skin. "Do you think I want to be here?"

Thierry tilted his head to the side, the tendons in his neck clearly visible.

"Just answer the question," I told Celestia. "Who sent you to look for me?"

Celestia looked hurt that I didn't follow the topic of her wellbeing. Her dark brown hair was in clumps, her fringe sticking up in places. "Doctor A. She gave me the details of where you were and sent me to New York."

"Kill order?" Thierry spoke up.

"Yes." Celestia nodded a lot more than necessary to get the point across. She licked her chapped lips and her eyes began to glisten. "She's ruthless. You don't know. I thought I could run after I said yes and finally got off Dell Island, but she had eyes on me. She h-has eyes everywhere. I was forced, Ira, forced to drown you, and when I didn't, one of her men almost choked me to death."

I felt a pang of sympathy for her, but I swallowed it immediately. I didn't know who Celestia was anymore. She could have been told by Doctor A to rehearse numerous lies, over and over until she believed them herself. "And that time on the boat?" I spat. "You were forced into tipping us over, too?"

"Y-yeah, I was told that there was a boat following me and ready to shoot me-"

"Come on, Celestia." I was disappointed to the point of disgust. "We were going to let you on the fucking boat. You were meant to come with us..." My thoughts went to the gunshots that killed Jaysen. I didn't see what had happened, but Linkin and Stuart had described it to me after I finally woke up in Mexico, crying from pain and delirious from painkillers. He had floated still on the water, not moving, as his own blood coloured the ocean. I'd lost a friend just like that and I might as well have lost Celestia.

"I know," Celestia croaked. "I never wanted any of this to happen. I'm so, so sorry, Ira." Her bottom lip quivered and tears started streaming down her face.

"Give me a reason to believe you." I gritted my teeth.

"What is Liana Atteberry's real name?" Thierry demanded. He must have seen the look on my face when all the memories came flooding back.

"Kathryn Dunn," Celestia said nervously, spelling out her first name with a few stutters. "I'm not lying. I want her out of my life as much as you do. You can look her up. She was a military doctor."

Thierry raised his eyebrows at me, and I pointed my gun at Celestia. Thierry crossed over to my half of the room and opened up a small laptop and began to search for Doctor A's identity. "Kathryn Lilliana Dunn, reported missing in action. Blonde hair, grey eyes. October 2nd, 1970."

I shuddered as I remembered those grey eyes framed by the light blonde curls. I knew that Celestia gave us real information before Thierry showed me the picture and pages of information that he had pulled up on Doctor A.

"We need more names, Shark Girl." Thierry narrowed his eyes at Celestia.

Panic washed over her face and she tore her gaze away, looking at the dusty concrete floor instead. "Ira, a-am I going to d-die?"

Instead of appealing to my sympathy, Celestia's question flipped a switch in me. I stood up to my full height and pointed my pistol right between her brows. "You have the fucking audacity to ask about your life? Well, let me tell you something. You're fucking weak. You don't deserve to live. Try apologizing to all those people you killed or died because of you. Guess what? It's not going to work. It won't change a fucking thing." I unclicked the safety of my loaded gun, baring my teeth. "So shut up with your questions. We are the ones asking. Your life is in our hands, and you're going to give us what we want."

"Ira, don't shoot," I heard Thierry's voice next to me. I breathed through my teeth, feeling the night air uncomfortably cool my gums. Shaking my head, I stepped back, hot blood still roaring through my body. Out of one of my ears, I could hear Celestia sobbing.

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