"You're..." Dom stuttered.

"A very unhappy birthday girl. Do you really think I'll tell you more than that?" The woman tightened her grip on  Sarah, the gun butting into Sarah's head. "Answer my questions."

Dom wet his lips. The fear in Sarah's eyes was getting to him. It was like staring into the face of a bunny. A rabbit set for slaughter.

"I... We... We're friends. Of Jeff's." The words tumbled over one another, scared to fall from his lips.

"Jeff...? Oh! Jeff. Yeah, him." The woman adjusts her posture, relaxing slightly as if realizing that the situation requires no more than the shiny metal object she holds in one hand. There will be no struggle. "So... this snooping," she waves her other hand through the air. "this is what friends do? Poke around in people's apartment while they're not around? Glad I've never had any of those, then."

"We're not snooping so much as... coming to find something! Yeah, that's right. Jeff wanted us to fetch something for him."

The woman snorted. "Of course he did. Because that's completely something he'd do. Send friends to his apartment to look for a mystery object. Right."

Dom flinched. He tried to stuff his shaking hands in his pockets. "Ah..." She was right. The amount Jeff told them about himself, there was no way he'd just casually ask them to 'fetch' something for him.

The woman sighed and Sarah shifted.

"Um... Excuse me."

"Yes? What is it Blondie?"

"Ah, you said," Sarah paused, taking a breath and straightening the words out in her head. "You said you were his sister. Jeff's. He's been looking for you. That's why he's here. We were beginning to think you were just a myth, though."

"Yeah? Sometimes I think I am a myth. And yet here I am, in the flesh." The woman's sharp eyes pierced into Sarah's fair skin. "You know my name, Blondie?"

"I think he might have mentioned it once or twice. Phoebe. I'm Sarah, by the way."

The woman chuckled. "Nice to meet you, Sarah. Very few are brave enough to talk with a gun to their head. Go on. Perhaps you can be more cooperative than the trembling idiot over there."

Dom was indeed quaking, his nervous system going haywire with the adrenaline of fear. It would appear he was not much one for guns.

"Of course." Sarah was gaining confidence. She hadn't been shot yet, perhaps, just maybe, it wouldn't happen at all. "We were looking for clues. Sorry, but we were. Jeff drove off in a panic and took our friend  Sammie with him. It was all very confusing and we just wanted to make sure that she was safe. That he wasn't just using her."

"Ah... so that's it then. Sorry to burst your bubble, Sarah, but ultimately, I doubt my brother was doing much more than just that. We do what we need to survive in the cutthroat world we enter daily. Using people is all part of the fun."

Sarah winced, tears beginning to pool in the corners of her eyes. She willed herself to believe that there was nothing to fear. That this was harmless. Just a little bit of playacting by their good friend Jeff. He'd hired this woman. The gun was just a toy. Much as she tried, the thought just wouldn't stick. It wasn't as convincing as the note of steel in Phoebe's voice, or the cold press of metal on the side of her skull. She couldn't make the scary thoughts go away, couldn't banish the nightmare.

"You still haven't answered my second question. Where's my birthday present?" Phoebe's playful tone could not hide her true intent. This woman was pissed. "A birthday's not a birthday if it doesn't come with a gift from a beloved brother."

"We don't know where your stupid gift is!" Dom had snapped. It was all too much. He threw himself across the room in a ridiculous attempt to do something, anything.

Phoebe fired.

The End

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