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why don't you ask?..

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The rain pours heavily and although her umbrella could have possibly covered at least three more slim people, her hair is messy and wet by the time she places herself on the passenger seat of old Toyota. All at once, she feels the weight of a tight quick embrace around her shoulders, a casual kiss pressed to her left temple. Within and despite all the years, hug and peck both are still so warm and comfortable and she doesn’t let herself to exhale, holding the intimate scent inside her lungs for a couple of extra seconds. The subtle notes of nutmeg, vanilla and cedar, so damn good.

“Hey, take it easy. I’m right out of slammer”, she mumbles carelessly as Lou pushes herself away.

“I thought you’d just changed your number”, she throws back with a slight smirk, returning her hands on the steering wheel and driving them from the cemetery.

The car radio babbles some familiar melody but the sounding is so quiet and the raindrops drum on the rooftop, so Debbie cannot make out the words. They both watch the road through the windshield and although Debbie doesn’t understand how she can see anything through that impossibly long bangs, Lou seems to be relaxed and unconcerned. But only seems because in the corner of her eye Debbie catches how her hands grip the steering wheel a little bit tighter than they should have, how the small sparks jump in her icy blue eyes, warming them somehow, how she barely shifts in her driver’s seat, almost unnoticeably, her long fingers banging the rhythm of the rain on the wheel. Lou is overexcited and quite soon Debbie can sense the electricity in the small space of their old car.

“Tell me you know he’s not dead?” the blond blurts out, a wide and sincere smile appearing on her face. She has changed a bit, Debbie admits to herself: her hair is longer and sloppier than she remembers, its colour much lighter and colder, not to mention that overlong quiff which covers her eyes partly, entangled with her fluffy and deeply black smoky eyelashes. The tiny thin wrinkles touch the corners of her eyes just a little, but then again, doesn’t Debbie find the same lines dancing by her own eyes now? But that smile, so bright and so “for-you-only”, is the same, warming Debbie’s self-defensive heart. “He is absolutely alive and you know how I know it? Because everybody were whimpering like bitches at his funerals four months ago and I almost died myself when he just gave us a visit about a month and a half within.”

Us… Debbie was prepared for that. She has been preparing herself for that damned five years eight months and twelve days. And yet. And still. That stabs unexpectedly strong. Strong enough to accelerate her heartrate twice and to make her throat dry as a desert in August. Unconsciously she swallows dryly and straightens herself on her seat. Only a slight movement but Lou notices, of course she does, and locks her concerned eyes on Debbie’s, her brows most definitely frowning under her bangs.

“You won’t even ask, will you?” she utters almost under her breath, her voice low and urgent, her eyes shifting between the road and her friend.

Debbie clears her throat, after all, being the one between the two of them who has always managed to really stay, not to seem only, cold-blooded, the words, jumping from her tongue, are clear and imperative. “The job first, then pleasantries, Miller. Wasn’t that the first lesson I taught you many years ago?”

“Oh…”, the only sound Lou squeezes out of herself, her face straight now and her eyes, averted from Debbie and concentrated on the road, cold and aloof in a matter of second. Of course, it’s about the job. When it is about Deborah Ocean, the whole world could have collided, but against all the odds, job always had to come first.

“You know how the fckng lame excuse that sounds to be?” Lou emits through the almost clenched teeth before to throw one more peek in Debbie’s direction.

“I know. I know…”, she sighs indifferently, her freshly manicured nails drawing the patterns on the fogged up side window.

Lou’s perfect instantaneous and impenetrable poker face is a masterpiece carved by Debbie herself and she would have admired it with the complacency of an artist if only not that cursed question, burning her inside like hell.