“I want you to do something.”
Jason smiled at Marlene. “For you, anything.”
“Not for me. For you.”
“What is it?”
* * * * *
Charlemagne Bascomb allowed her companion to remove her trench coat. He shook the rain off it and folded it over his arm. She took her wide-brimmed hat off and allowed the rain to roll off the brim. A low whistle came from one of the bar's patrons. Charley smiled.
Her companion looked at the notice hung on the wall reading “Accorded Neutral Territory”. “Someone's a Dresden fan,” he commented.
“Hey, Charley!” the bartender called.
“Hey, Bob. Ale for me. My booth available?”
“Sure is. Made sure it was empty. Anything for your companion?”
“No. He's just here to keep me out of trouble.”
Many eyes followed Charley when she walked. It wasn't just her seven-foot plus height that drew the eyes. She was a beautiful woman to behold.
The booth Charley headed to was spaced to accommodate a person of her build. One seat and table raised just a little bit higher than usual, with the other seat having a single step up to accommodate people of more natural builds. A seat already occupied by a platinum-haired beauty.
“Silver,” Charley said in greeting.
Looking up, Silver returned the greeting. “Titania. I'm here. What do you want?”
Sliding into the booth, Charley said, “I'm just here for an ale.”
“Then why call me?”
Hanging Charley's coat on a hook outside the booth, Pulsar took off his own coat and hat and disappeared them. Silver practically hissed when she saw him. “He wants to talk to you.”
“Damn, Charley,” Bob called out. “You brought a Guardian here?” Chairs scuffed across the wooden floor.
Turning to look at him, Pulsar stared and turned his attention to the notice. “Accorded Neutral Territory. Your place. Your rules. Anyone wants fight I will be more than happy to step outside first.”
“What do you want?” Silver snapped.
Pulsar slid in next to Charley. “Nice blouse.” Silver wore a silver silk blouse with several buttons undone.
“Didn't you do enough last time?” She held up her right arm, the cuff pinned closed.
Bob brought over Charley's ale and a wine glass for Silver. “Just keep it civil.”
Pulsar nodded. “Do you think I was somehow unfair to you at our last meeting?”
“You could have just killed me.”
“I could have,” Pulsar agreed. “But if you recall, I wanted you to deliver a message. And it seems that the message worked.”
“Then what is it you want? I have things I could be doing.”
“Someone... Several people, actually, think that I was excessive with you and feel that some reparations are in order,” he said.
Pulsar laid his hands flat on the table. “Keep in mind I could have simply killed you. Message would have been similar, but then we wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation.”
“Put your arm on the table, Silver. He isn't going to hurt you. This time,” Charley said.
Staring at Charley, Silver slowly laid her arm on the table. “If you need to fortify, now might be a good time to take a drink,” Pulsar said.
“What are you going to do?” Silver asked.
“I would like to say that this won't hurt, but experience tells me otherwise.” Pulsar unfastened the pins and unbuttoned the cuff. “It looks like it healed nicely.”
“Bob,” Charley called out, “You might want to bring her something stronger than wine.” Bob nodded.
Pulsar gently wrapped his hand around Silver's forearm. He locked eyes with hers. His power flowed.
While the healing was happening Charley turned her attention to her ale. She heard someone retching. “Don't watch if you have a weak stomach,” she called out.
While Silver's hand regrew, Pulsar's shriveled and turned into a claw. In time he released her arm. Bob delivered a double shot of whiskey. Silver downed it in one gulp. Pulsar's hand filled out and he stretched his fingers.
Silver turned her hand over, looking at the unblemished skin. “Don't think this makes us even.”
Pulsar snorted a bit of a laugh and shrugged his shoulders. He stood up and took Charley's coat off the hook. “I'll catch up in a sec,” she said. Pulsar headed to the bar.
“He doesn't think this makes the two of you even. Not by a long shot. Bauer still owes him for the woman you hurt. If you ever make a run at her again, or anyone like her, I will kill you, Silver. Don't ever doubt me for a second.”
Charley slipped from the booth and gathered her hat.
“Why did he do this?” Silver asked.
“Reclaiming a piece of his soul,” Charley answered without ever looking back.