Sixty-Three - Ira

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"No, no, no," Stuart said, leaning back into the couch. "That's not a good idea." He finished the rest of his coffee and I could tell that he was anxious for another.

"We don't have a lot of options, Doc," Thierry countered, turning the map around so that it was the right way up for him, but he didn't look at it. He spun it around on the coffee table, making swishing noises with it until Linkin weighed the map down with a fist. His plan had been to go there, kick ass and I'd never rolled my eyes so indulgently. "Out of those options, there is no good idea."

"They would have noticed that Celestia is missing by now," I reminded everyone, crossing my legs. I fought the urge to smile at the thought that Celestia was in the damp and rotting building, tied up and having to beg for water. "We need to come up with the next step."

"Maybe we should disappear again," Linkin suggested quietly, curling up against Thierry. "We're messing with the government here."

"We don't know that for sure-" I stopped before I could embarrass myself. Even though we only managed to find traces of evidence that led back to the US Government funding Kathryn Dunn's program, it made sense. There was no way that a covert project of this scale would be wholly private, and no one else would have as much use for genetically enhanced people as the military that Doctor A was once a part of. I sighed and rubbed up and down the bridge of my nose. "Okay. We need to be careful." While I said that, my thoughts drifted to the bulky rifles stowed away in the basement.

Linkin looked at me sadly, and I bit my lip realizing that I just revealed that I wasn't going to take no for an answer. The pressure to plan was weighing heavily on all of us. We had no experience in anything like this; we were all just survivors trying to breathe for one more day. Our window to keep living was narrowing by the minute.

"Tea break?" Stuart suggested, and the tension in the air crashed down within a second. Everyone, including Thierry, was smiling with relief. Linkin stood up and dragged her feet to the kitchen and opened a cupboard to where she stashed her new European tea set. Stuart stretched his limbs, standing up before kissing me on the forehead. "I'll go help."

"Sounds good," I said absently, finding his warm hand to clasp for a second before he left. When I looked up, Thierry was looking at me funny, the corners of his eyes crinkled. "Yes, Thierry?"

He shook his head. "You two... Very interesting. No one would ever think of it, but somehow it works."

"Thanks?" I supposed he had a point. I knew exactly what he was talking about, and at times the same thought worried me. If we could all make it to a point where we didn't have to run, didn't have to hide, then I would be more lost than ever. I couldn't remember a time where I didn't have to look over my shoulder and tell lies, and I wasn't ready to think about whether Stuart would still want to have me around then. "You and Linkin look great, by the way. Though I was surprised she didn't fry you when we came back."

"I am a lucky man." Thierry grinned proudly, and was about to add something that I was sure would ruin the moment when Stuart came back empty-handed.

"Tea and poker?" he suggested, smiling uncertainly.

"What a terrible idea," Thierry said but pushed himself off the couch. "Terrible idea, terrible people, terrible situation - perfect."

"Who drinks tea while playing poker?" I muttered, but no one heard me. Not that anyone would have changed their minds if they did.

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"So, boat?" I asked, fighting off fatigue and irritation. The more we talked about going back to Dell Island, the less any of us felt like committing to a plan. There'd been good ideas going around the table - breaking into the labs, destroying all the files, leaking the atrocities to the public, have backup on hold if we were successful to get the people on the surface proper medical help - but now that we were up to how to get there, we were all quiet again. It was past dinner time and I had to hide my stomach's growls by clearing my throat every few minutes. "Come on, can we settle on something for the day?"

"Boat," Thierry seconded, while Stuart and Linkin nodded unenthusiastically, pale in the face. "Seems to be our best bet. Celestia is out of the way, too, so there won't be trouble in the water."

I looked at the big red X where we marked the spot of Dell Island on the world map. I was about to push for more decision but sighed. Stuart and Linkin looked uncomfortable, and Thierry was already whispering something comforting to Linkin. Boats held bad memories for all of us who had escaped from the island. I leaned over Stuart's legs to grab the red marker and drew a wobbly line from the X of Dell Island to the south-west coast of Mexico. Looking between Stuart and Linkin, I put on my best enthusiastic grin. "Fiesta with Miguel before we go there and kick ass?" I raised my eyebrows at Thierry.

"I need a siesta," Linkin said with a yawn, making Thierry chuckle and ruffle her long hair. It made me realize how exhausted I was, too.

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