Hard Boiled – Episode Two: The Roof is on Fire 1.69

Eddy could hear a voice… a voice he knew, but he didn’t understand what it was trying to tell him. Wait. The voice was speaking Portuguese. He had to switch gears. Damn, his chest hurt. He couldn’t react to the pain, though… he had to play dead… hear what the voice had to tell him.

{We had a deal.}

He knew the voice. It was silky, but strong. Just deep enough to be sultry, just high enough to be sweet; either as the situation called for.

{Nevertheless, my husband nearly died.}

There was an edge to her voice. Was she near tears over her husband’s pain, or was she simply upset at being double-crossed? There were too many variables.

{Yes, they switched on us, but your man should have pulled out when he saw his opponent. We had a deal!}

Apparently, there was no honor among thieves. Huh. Clearly, though, she didn’t want him dead. She seemed rather upset that he had nearly died, even though she’d tried to kill him on several occasions.

{You will leave him to me, or I will terminate our arrangement. And if that happens, I will assure that the information I have gets into the hands of my husband’s friends.}

So there was something. Eddy felt good that he’d known her well enough to know that she’d never enter an alliance without insurance. Of course, he had to die for it to be delivered to Blue and the Trust. But then, he’d been dead before.

{His life is mine to do with as I please. He gave it to me… twice.}

Once at the altar, and once in Brazil; he really needed to learn to watch what he said. There was a sound like someone slamming down a phone. He expected her to come straight in to check on him, but she surprised him. Instead of looking in on her dying husband, she stopped, moved something heavy, and then spun a small wheel, identifiable as the sound of ball bearings spinning in place.

A safe. She was checking on something. More than likely, she was checking on her leverage. That meant it was in the apartment somewhere. A door swung open with a squeak, and papers were moved about and shuffled. A zipper sounded twice, and a stack of papers fell with a slight echo. The safe door closed and the dial was spun. Did the important papers for back into the safe, or into something portable?

She walked into the room, her strong, warm hands gently brushing Eddy’s chest around the bandages. When allowed to focus his energies, he healed fast. She knew it, because he’d once allowed her to believe he was still severely injured after one of their battles to lure her out. It had worked, though she escaped his little trap.

He’d been impaled with a metal spike, nearly killed, and he’d be back on his feet in a matter of days. It didn’t seem fair to her that she’d had to train so hard for so long to even come close to being on even footing with him, all because of a freak accident caused by her father’s men. In a sense, her father had created her husband. He had, in fact, created his own executioner.

Eddy stirred, a grimace of pain on his face, a groan escaping his throat. “Lexa?” he asked, pretending to be unaware of his surroundings.

“I am here, Amante,” she answered, probably pretending to buy his act.

He opened his eyes, surprised with how blurred the world looked. Then he remembered that he’d left his goggles at Strategoi HQ. He reached over to the night table through a great deal of pain, but his glasses weren’t there. “Glasses?”

She smiled faintly, opened a drawer, and produced his glasses. Her face came into clear view as he slid them over his nose. Lexa was a thing of beauty, even this early in the morning — was it morning? – but he couldn’t let himself forget that, despite her appearance, she was a stone cold killer. “You really should consider laser surgery.”

“I’ve had enough psychos firing lasers at me,” he said, with a smirk. “I don’t need to pay one to do it. How long have I been out?”

“A little over a day.”

“Damn.”

There was a pause, and she looked at him. Her eyes betrayed that her mind was racing. He could guess she was probably going over all the variables: his near-death, the phone conversation, her tenuous alliance… so many unknowns. She didn’t like losing control of a situation. She had to have something under control, and he knew that that was why he was here.

“Do you still love me, Amante?” she asked, sitting on the edge of the bed. The question surprised him. “No games. We have been playing each other, and we both know it. We are mortal enemies, and we are lovers, so I must know.”

He looked her in the eyes. He could put this all behind him with a simple lie. She needed to control something, and he could ensure her failure with one word. She had one thing left in which she felt confident, and it would take only an instant to tear down her last point of order and throw her plans into chaos.

“Yes,” he said, his face losing all expression. He’d barely even realized he said it when he heard the word in his own voice. “I always will, Lexa. But I can’t love what you’ve become.”

She frowned, but he couldn’t tell if it was disappointment or anger. “I only followed the path you laid down for me.”

Despite his attempts to resist, his mouth curved into a wan smile. “I made you?” he asked, quietly.”Like your father made me, right?” He inhaled deeply, feeling his chest burn as his lungs expanded.

“Your father didn’t make me go to Brazil. He didn’t make me kill him. I made those decisions on my own,” he said, flatly. “Maybe they were the wrong decisions… maybe my life would be different now if I hadn’t followed that course. Maybe, just maybe, we could be happy.”

“But you did make those choices,” she said, her eyes averting.

He reached up and touched her cheek. “And you made your choices. And your father’s men made theirs. No one made us what we are. We did it to ourselves.”

She pulled away from him, took to her feet, and walked across the room. “No,” she said, opening a drawer in the table of her reading nook. “I asked you if I should kill you. It was your choice that led us here.” When she turned back to face him, she held a gun, long-barreled, and shining with a metallic-pink gleam.

“I had hoped that your love for me would be enough… that I could convince you to join me in my work,” she said, quietly. “That we could be a family again.”

Eddy frowned. “So this is it?” He knew it wasn’t. She wasn’t going to kill him, not after the conversation he’d overheard. Despite this ‘change of plans,’ she still had a use for him. “You have me re-stitched and stabilized so you can finish me off yourself?”

She smiled faintly. “The gun is not for you… not tonight.” Lexa crossed over to the bed and sat back down beside him. She softly, lovingly, kissed his lips and slid her arms around him, gun still in hand, for a gentle, careful embrace. After a moment, she released him and walked across to her closet, retrieving her working clothes. “I have business.”

“Anyone I know?” he asked with a smirk.

“As a matter of fact,” she said, letting the rest of the sentence go understood. “Alfonse Begnini,”she said after a beat.

“Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” he said, his eyes narrowing. “Just out of curiosity…?”

She smiled at him. “Why? He’s spoken to the FBI. There are some people who are afraid he might point fingers for a lighter sentence.”

“I’m one of ’em.”

“Then we are of like mind, Amante,” she said. “I will return soon.”

He watched her leave, his heart and mind in conflict. Begnini deserved it, he was certain of that, but if Alfonse was going to turn evidence against the Cartel, how much more valuable would that be? In any case, he was in no condition to go after her, she would certainly have someone watching the phones, and his comm unit was still with his uniform back in Strategoi’s infirmary. Besides, Eddy thought to himself, I’ve got more important things to do… like finding that safe.

Without a second thought, Eddy focused his energy on his injury. Concentrating, he pushed every ounce of strength he had into knitting the skin and muscle, fighting the infection, and redirecting the blood flow. After fifteen minutes, he sat up against his better judgment and pulled himself out of bed. He wasn’t fully recovered by any measure, but at least he wasn’t going to pass out from the pain.

Pulling on his jeans, which were neatly folded on a chair next to the bed, he set out to search Lexa’s suite. That safe wasn’t going to find itself.

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