Lucatz

Lucatz let his shotgun drop and stared at me incredulously. I let go of the man I had grabbed around the neck and Lucatz let out a low whistle.

"Gavin," he said. "Well if that's not just about the last face I ever 'spected ter see again. Last I 'eard, ye was shipped off ter the old Arena."

"I was," I said.

Lucatz's yellowish eyes widened. "And ye made it out of there? No one makes it out of the Arena."

"It certainly wasn't easy," I said.

"Damn, Gavin," said Lucatz, shaking his head. Then he grinned and wrapped me in a one-armed embrace.

"Gavin what's —?" Kris began, but I touched her arm for her to be silent.

"And 'oo's this pretty lass?" asked Lucatz, leering at Kris. Kris shot him a glare that was nearly as searing as if she had used the laser she held in her hand.

"This is Kris," I introduced her. "Kris, this is Lucatz. He was — he is —" I hesitated, then decided that there was little I could do but tell the truth. "Lu is my brother, Kris."

Kris looked surprised and I couldn't blame her. Lucatz and I looked almost nothing alike. Lucatz was tall and scrawny, bordering on emaciated, with sharp features and odd, tawny eyes. In contrast, I was shorter, and although thin now, more muscled and healthy looking. Nonetheless, it was true, though Lucatz looked quite a bit paler and — if it were possible — even skinnier since I had seen him last.

"What the 'ell are ye doing down here, Gavin?" Lucatz asked, sitting down on the edge of a large box against the wall.

"Hiding," I said. "Sunry — the guy who owns this place — offered us the basement."

"What happened to Sunry, by the way?" demanded Kris, her eyes narrowed. She was still glaring at Lucatz.

"Worried about 'im, are we?" Lucatz grinned, showing rows of glittering metal teeth. I remembered when he had gotten those teeth; he had lost all his real ones in a particularly rough street fight years back. "Don't ye worry yer pretty little 'ead about it. 'E's upstairs in 'is room, fine but fer a largish bump on 'is 'ead."

Kris scowled. I noticed she hadn't lowered her gun yet.

"So what are you doing?" I asked Lucatz after a short silence.

Lucatz took a while to respond, first producing a cigstick and lighting it up. A foul-smelling fog began to billow from Lucatz's lips.

"The gang broke up years ago, Gavin, after that Kamarov affair. A man's gotta make a living for 'imself some'ow 'asn't 'e?"

He looked at me, daring me to challenge him. I didn't. He knew as well as I that neither of us had ever been especially scrupulous. He knew as well as I that we had both done far worse things than loot a few people's houses.

After an awkward, smoke-filled pause, Lucatz tilted his head and surveyed me with his catlike eyes. "So, er, what 'appened with that Kamarov affair? I never did get the full details . . . after the raid, I talked to a few of the other Hawks, though. They said you got the file."

I felt an uncomfortable prickling on my forehead as a clammy sheen of sweat broke out there. Not only did I not want to tell Lucatz, I didn't want Kris to hear about it either.

"Jeremy Wayne tracked me down afterwards. The govs confiscated the file when they captured me. I never did find the Raven before they locked me up."

This was not a lie, but nor was it the whole truth. I took care not to meet Lucatz's eyes, which was not difficult since the smoke from his cigstick was making my eyes stream. The scar on my palm became suddenly very itchy. I thrust my hand into my pocket and clenched my fingers over it.

"Listen, the police will like as not be here before morning," said Lucatz dropping his cigstick and squashing it beneath his heel. "Meaning you like as not don't want to be here. We can give ye a place to stay fer the night. It'd be nice to catch up on what's 'appened over the last few months."

I opened my mouth, unsure of what I was actually going to say, but Kris beat me to it.

"We're fine, thank you," she said evenly. Her tone was not hostile, but it carried as much steeliness and finality as a guillotine. "We have other places to stay. In fact, we were going to move tonight, to ensure that we're not tracked."

I admired how smoothly she lied, and how she was still able to maintain a cold and unyielding facade as she did so. Lucatz seemed to have been concentrating more on thoroughly examining Kris's neckline than on what she was saying, but he nodded vaguely and shrugged.

"Alright, well I'll see ye around, eh Gavin? If you need anything, just drop by the Canal District over on Bridge Street. Don't 'ave a lot of resources at the mo, but we're family, you know?"

He flashed me a glittering grin and gave Kris a swift wink. Then he turned, beckoned for his men to follow him, and trundled back up the basement stairs.

I took just one glance at Kris and could tell by her expression that a long explanation was in order.

The End

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