Unlikely Ally

I glare after Small's retreating back.  I hate to admit it, but she's right: the last thing anybody in here wants to do is irk Olson.  I've gotten on his bad side more than once; I don't think the associated bruises will ever completely disappear.

I stay crouched in my little corner, ears piqued to catch anything our neighbors might say.  Nevada rolls over.  "What are you doing?" she sighs, but I shush her quickly.  Small's stopped to talk to Manuel, of course, but something seems off, and I want to know what's up.  Curiosity's clearly gotten the better of Nevada as well; she manages to soundlessly pitch herself from her bunk and slither up behind me, listening intently.

"Who's she...?" Nevada tries to ask upon recognizing Small's voice, but I silence her with my hand.  The tone's completely changed, I don't want to miss a thing.  A flurry of silent activity perks my ears... and am I hearing Manuel's cellmate as well?  Soon a metallic click bites the air, followed by the slide of rails.

No... it can't be, it just can't...

I motion for Nevada to back up a bit to further conceal ourselves, and I'm surprised she responds without complaint.  Tensely we watch an unusually-timid Small leading a usually-jumpy Manuel and his brutish cellmate past.  As they file down the hall it dawns on me.

And after I thought I had him in line, too...

Nevada picks up on my vibe and turns me around.  "You know something weird's going on, what is it?"

I look at my reluctant cellmate; there's a fire in her eyes I've never seen before.  It suits her.  Glancing over my shoulder I whisper to her, "Did that middle one look at all familiar to you?  The scrawny, jumpy-looking one?"

"Now that you mention it, he kind of did..."

"Does the name Manuel Simon ring any bells?"  A smirk flickers to my face as her eyes spark in recognition.  "He's convinced he's not rightly here, somehow you're related to the whole thing.  As soon as I figured out something was up, after you came in, I told him if he at all tried to run I'd tell you he was here.  I don't know the whole story, but he did not at all want you to know he was here."

"And you're sure he's running?"

I jerk my head to the apostrophic posse that'd just passed.  "Chiquita, have you ever seen Small look that freaked out?  Trust me, he's trying to make a break for it."  I glance at the bars, growling with a building fury; Manuel's running, and I can't do a thing about it.  I've to bite my tongue to keep from screaming in frustration.

But Nevada's mind's elsewhere.  "So Manny's here... and now he's running, is he?" she murmurs to herself, her eyes glittering feverishly.  She reaches back into her hair, approaches the bars, and with a quick glance to either side starts to fiddle with the lock.

"What're you..."

But before I can even finish wondering there's a click and she slides the cell door open a crack.  "After you," she whispers with a smirk.

"How did you...?"

"Hair pin."

"But I thought...?"

"They did at registration, but it's tough for even the best metal detector a state budget can buy to pick up plastic.  Now c'mon, they've enough of a head start as it is."

Hm.  Maybe I can get along with this chick after all.

The End

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