Chapter 16: Captainship

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The deal with Mica did not, in fact, end in gunfire. Certainly there was some victory to be found in the fact that no one was shooting up the club.

But it did end with a little blood.

Finn could never deny how satisfying those three seconds were — the seconds after his fist drove sideways over Mica’s face in one decisive crack, and the bastard could only slump to the side, still locked by Finn’s grip at his collar. Blood smeared across the man’s face and he was utterly aghast. In that crystal-clear beautiful moment, Finn didn’t feel the splinter of pain in his fist and he definitely did not think about what could come next. Really, he felt rather like he’d achieved enlightenment. Was this how normal people felt about religion? he often wondered. After all, he couldn’t imagine anything as personally fulfilling as this kind of justice.

But those three perfect seconds of his life did have to come to an end. He still had a hand fixed around the man’s starched collar, ready to take another strike, but then the music from the club flooded back into his ears. He could see a nearby bodyguard unlocking a gun at his hip. The scene was coming back to him again and then Corra was pulling at his arm (“C’mon — let’s go, Riley!”) and although Mica was one single stupid fucking bully, he was not exactly without friends in this club.

Realizing that, there was only one last thing left to do: shove Callahan back into his own shiny leather booth (once more, for good measure), and then run for his life.

Later, Finn would barely remember how they got out of the club. All he knew was that Corra was pulling his arm, leading him through a panicking crowd, and then they were out into the cold night air, running down the strip amid yells from Mica’s body guards.

Minutes or seconds later, out of breath, they ducked into an alley, safely out of range.

“I can’t,” Corra breathed, eyes very round, “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Me either,” Finn admitted wonderously, slumping against a brick wall. “Always figured I’d be done with barfights by time I was 30.” He massaged his aching hand for a moment before dropping his wrists and deciding, “Got one more year to get it out of my system.”

Looking shell-shocked, Corra muttered, “Oh God. Callahan’s going to be furious, we — ” but Finn interrupted with a scoff.

“Why’s that? Just ‘cause I punched one of his more important clients? One of his oldest friends? In his own club?” He shrugged a shoulder. “Naaah … “

Suddenly, Corra clapped both hands over her face and took in several jagged breaths. For a terrifying moment Finn thought she was about to cry, but, thank god, she was overcome with a fit of something else. Something much preferable, and very unexpected after the night she’d had. Laughter. She was suddenly laughing so hard she could barely stand.

Well, that was one way to handle it. Finn started to laugh, too, sincere and confused. “You, ah, all right?”

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” she managed, before she was overcome with another fit of laughter. She pressed her hands to her eyes and mustered, between heavy exhales, “You didn’t have to do that for me, you know.”

“I’m just sorry one punch was all we had time for,” he sighed. “Imagine if we had some real time with that guy, eh?”

“I’d rather not. But thanks all the same.” She dropped her hands and smirked. With an air of bravado, she threw her wrist to her forehead like a damsel in distress, “For defending a poor lady’s honor.” She stepped forward and looped her arm in his. “Ain’t everyday I get the satisfaction of a good punch second-hand. Now let’s get outta here.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“There was blood everywhere,” Corra was saying, a satisfied grin on her face. “And the look on his face? Priceless. He was so shocked. Never saw it comin’.”

If Corra was upset by what Mica had said in the club, she did not show it now, as she sat in the captain’s chair with her feet propped up. They’d made it back to the Beacon safely, and Corra was happy to regale the story to their two-person audience.

“Good work, Finn,” said Addy as she leaned in the doorway to listen in to the tale. “That’s exactly what he deserves.”

Daelen, however, seemed more unnerved. “If you two are going to be flirting with violence in the future, might I recommend carrying a med pack of some sort?” He scratched his chin and moved his chair back and forth. “First aid at least…”

“Oh don’t worry, doc, nothin’ we can’t handle,” said Finn.

“Got the money, finished the job, everything’s good,” Corra said, starting to push herself to her feet. “Just gotta take the cash to Callahan and–”

Just then, the console screen near Finn’s seat flashed. An incoming call.

Well, speak of the devil. Finn had been expecting this — he’d just rather hoped he could take the call in private. In the corner of his eye, he could see Corra slowly lower back to the chair, looking startled.

With no choice now, Finn leaned back in his seat and flipped the dial, accepting the call.

“I suppose I don’t need to tell you who I just finished speaking to,” were the first stark words out of the speaker. Callahan. Of course. He was going to tear one or both of them apart.

Still, Finn’s voice was entirely relaxed when he answered, “Hey mate. Was just about to call you. Hand-off’s complete, and — “

“Yes, Finnegan, I am aware,” Callahan cut across smoothly. “Mica informed me of how your meeting went. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how little I appreciate calls from my clients complaining about the behavior of my contractors.”

Finn lifted his eyebrows, as if the whole thing was faintly amusing. It wasn’t, but for Corra’s sake he kept the act together. He could feel her staring at him in horror.

Callahan went on bitingly, “This is unacceptable. You do realize how this looks? That you and your crew cannot even handle my most simple assignment? You are incredibly lucky that I am familiar enough with the man to smooth this over. He wanted the deal revoked. I have never been more embarrassed in my life.”

“With all due respect,” Finn said curtly, “it’s Mica that needs to check his behavior. Yeah, I shouldn’t have punched him, sure. But I don’t suppose he told you what he said?”

“I don’t care what he said or didn’t say. If you can’t keep your ally girl under control, I will be forced to cut ties with you.”

In the corner, Addy gasped. Daelen shifted uneasily and Finn grunted, “She’s not ‘my ally.’ And it was me who hit him.”

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