This story picks up immediately from where this drops off.
Bud watched with his hands casually slid into his pockets, a pipe stuck between his teeth. The sub-car rolled through the final stage of dry dock, and one look at Louise’s face and fists behind the wheel told him it was about to get hot.
Ben was in the passenger side. When he and Bud locked eyes, Ben just cocked an eyebrow. It was an old code. Play it dumb, play it safe, play it soft, because the road ahead would be bumpy.
Something went sideways.
The doors swung open, the two climbed out. Bud took his pipe from his mouth. “Back from the outside world. I trust the world is short one more evil bastard?”
“Nope.” Louise replied, directly. She popped the trunk, and with a tug pulled the hogtied and gagged Major Quill to the wet floor. He grunted as he jerked, his face a swollen mess. “Not yet.”
Bud put his hand to his face. “Louise…”
Edelman popped. “Don’t you fucking ‘Louise‘ me, goddamn it! You haven’t been straight with me!”
“Hey, hey.” Ben put his hands out. “Both of you, let’s just roll it back a couple clicks, here…”
Bud wasn’t having it. “Ben, come on. Why the hell would you bring him here? The play was you knock him off, make it look like a crime of passion by a secret boyfriend. Get him dead, then shamed in the press post mortem, then blacklisted. That wasn’t that great an idea in the first place, but you figured you had to do it to get Louise to give you the time of day. Now it’s a disappearance. Now they could figure it’s the Reds, now we’ve got a damn act of war. How could you do that?”
“Order of the Scorpion, Bud.” Louise spit the words out like expletives. “Quill sold my sister to the motherfucking Order of the Scorpion. Did you know that?”
Bud exhaled and looked away. Louise slapped leather on her sidepiece, leveled it right at him, her finger on the trigger. Ben jerked his own piece from his waistband holster, pointed it at Louise’s thorax. “Cool it, Louise.” Ben said.
Bud’s expression was blank. “Alright, Louise. Alright. Buzz was right. I didn’t know for sure until just now, since Quill couldn’t know about the Scorpion thing unless it was real.”
‘Did you know what happened to her? Did you?” Louise’s lip curled as she said the words.
Bud swallowed, took a second to speak.
“I loved Anna, too.”
Ben’s eyes darted back and forth between the two of them. If she squeezed that trigger, he would have no compunction with ending her straight away by driving a hole through her chest.
Turned out, he wouldn’t have to. Louise did something Ben never contemplated, even though Bud had: She began to cry. She lowered her arm and then crumpled on the floor.
Bud put his pipe in his pocket, then squatted down and held her. His eyes were reddening, his face was wet. Ben put his rod back in it’s holster, buttoned his jacket, averted his eyes, and walked out of the dock.
“I’ll see myself out. Merry Christmas.”
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