Chapter 44:

Chapter 44 - A Beautiful Friendship


Roulette sat by the window fiddling with the flaps of her spade-shaped cuffs. She hadn’t slept, and it showed; the dark circles under her eyes were a dead giveaway. The gentle rays of the rising sun had done little to lift her spirits, and even the raucous sounds of mealtime echoing from the kitchen door barely registered in her worn-out, restless mind.

Morgan hadn’t come back last night, and she was the only one who seemed to care.

She couldn’t exactly begrudge Marka and Beretta for enjoying themselves anyway. Until last night’s tearful reunion, the two were in real danger of being lost to each other forever. She’d cheered along with the rest of them on the way back to the gunsmithy, and had watched with laughter in her eyes as the proud father spun his daughter round and round the forge (much to Anua’s dismay). The spectacle had done her heart good. It was so nice to see Beretta again.

…But, as always, she could never manage to get a clean win. It was always one crisis after another. While they all ate and joked in the next room over, Roulette sat alone, consumed with worry. She felt responsible for them–all of them. And she knew she wouldn’t feel whole until everyone was back together again.

The girl rubbed at the patches of bare leg that showed through her tights. One crisis, at least, had been averted: the nasty burns she’d been afflicted with back in the scion’s tomb. Beretta, bless her heart, had spritzed them away with her magic water gun the moment they got back from the testing ground. Nobody knew how the thing had refilled itself following Marka’s near-death experience, but now, after treating his chest wound, his dislocated knee, and Roulette’s burns, its interior had become as bone-dry as the Diflagrati. Even Anua couldn’t figure out the secret behind its mysterious, self-replenishing ways.

Roulette’s nostrils flared. Was that the smell of breakfast approaching? She turned her head to find Mimi standing there, one hand on her hip, with the other bearing a plate piled high with spiced eggs.

“Anua thought you might be hungry,” she mumbled, refusing to meet her eyes.

Roulette offered what she intended to be a gracious smile. “Thanks Mimi.” She took the proffered plate and fork in-hand and scooped a generous mouthful or two of the dish into her gob. She could tell Mimi was holding back the urge to criticize her table manners.

Instead, the girl surprised her by regarding her with what seemed like genuine concern. “You haven’t slept,” she observed. “Not that I really care or anything, but… Are you okay?”

Roulette’s eyes returned to the window. It was stupid, but she felt as though she might miss something if she ignored her view of the city for too long… Like a clue as to her partner’s whereabouts–or, better yet, the chance to see him stalking down the street grumbling about whatever setback had kept him away so long.

She heard a frustrated sigh from behind. “Don’t tell me you’re fretting over that idiot man of yours.” Mimi strode forward to lean at the window’s edge, peering outward at the hustle and bustle of Sebastopol’s early morning rush. “He can take care of himself, you know? Probably sleeping off a fresh infusion of liquor in a back alley somewhere.”

“He wouldn’t do that without checkin’ on us. On Marka,” Roulette insisted. “Somethin’s not right. I can feel it.”

Mimi sniffed. “You’re giving him too much credit. He’s a beast–did you hear those things he said to me back by the city gates?”

“Well, sure. You dumped his treasure all over the desert.”

“I did not! What kind of person do you think I am?” she fumed. “And even if I had, I wouldn’t have deserved to be on the receiving end of such foul language!”

Roulette rolled her eyes. “You cuss all the time, Mimi. You’ve cussed at me.”

“Well, of course. At the time, you deserved it,” she said. Mimi glanced at her, then, from the corner of her eye. Roulette got the sense that she was mulling something over. “...But over the last few days, I must admit I’ve begun to… Revise my opinion of you.”


“Don’t act so surprised!” she huffed. “I’m a very good judge of character, but even I can be thrown off the scent by a horrible first impression. And poor fashion sense. And an abysmal dialect…”

“You were about to say somethin’ nice, I believe,” Roulette answered drily.

“Right. Sorry,” Mimi replied, shuffling her feet. “I can be… A little difficult to be around. I know it. I have more rivals than friends. It’s just… Always been that way.”

She sighed again. “But I’m trying to change. I’m trying to be more… Open with people. Especially people who care. People like you.”

Roulette couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Was Mimi trying to be… Nice to her? The temptation to needle her while she was vulnerable was there; boy howdy was it there! But the girl was too tired to fight. Even with all the abuse she’d suffered at Mimi’s hands, it just felt like less fuss to let it all go.

Besides, she needed help. And she didn’t know where else to turn.

“I’m real glad to hear that, Mimi,” she said, purposefully ignoring the way Mimi’s nose wrinkled at her diction. “But I have to ask, what brought this on? I thought you hated me.”

“You care about your friends. You do your best for them. That’s all,” Mimi explained. “It reminds me of how I am with my master. That’s like… The one relationship I’ve ever had that didn’t crash and burn. So congratulations: we’re friends now. Don’t mess it up.”

Roulette cocked an eyebrow, prompting the stuffy blonde to look aside.

“...And I’ll try not to mess it up too. Okay?”

For the first time in many hours, Roulette felt herself smiling. She extended her hand in friendship, glad beyond words to be putting all the unpleasantness behind them. Maybe this could be the start of a whole new chapter for them?

Mimi winced at the offered hand. “...You’ve washed recently, right?”


“Fine fine okay…!” she said in a rush, giving it a quick shake. “There, it’s official. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go–”

“Wait,” Roulette interjected. “Now that we’re friends and all, I need to ask a favor.”

Mimi looked as though she wanted to jump out the window and run for the hills… But she made no move to excuse herself, so the girl continued with her request:

“I can’t stop thinkin’ about Morgan,” she admitted. “It’s not like him to run out on us. He did that once already, but he came back–and he was sorry for it. Somethin’ must have happened to him. I… I’m worried that Diallo might’ve got him.”

Mimi nodded her head, long locks glinting in the sunlight. “It’s possible. But what do you need me for? I can’t help you find him. I’m a Gunsmith, not a gumshoe.”

“You know the city. I don’t,” Roulette countered. “Please, Mimi. You said you’re warmin’ up to me ‘cuz I care about my friends? Well, I need you to do the same. He may have jilted you a little, sure, but he’s still a friend. And we can’t just abandon him.”

Her newly-minted friend squirmed in the face of that logic, but Roulette could tell she’d succeeded in tugging at her heartstrings. “Personally, I wouldn’t bat an eye if we found him floating dead by the pier,” Mimi scoffed. “...But if it’s so important to you, I suppose I can help. As long as you do most of the heavy lifting.”

“You can count on it,” she promised. Roulette rose from her seat by the window, putting the plate of half-eaten eggs aside; the prospect of hitting the streets and tracking Morgan down was energizing enough. “Now, where should we start?”

“He took off running down the boardwalk if I recall correctly,” Mimi replied. “That means he probably followed it around the curve of the waterfront. If I had to guess, I’d say he was trying to cut Diallo off at the opposite end of the harbor near the northern scaffold. We’re most likely to find something there.”

Roulette went for the front door, but Mimi stopped her with an outstretched hand. “Hold on. It’s really sunny out there–I have some accessories for just such an occasion.”

Mimi bustled off, then, disappearing into her bedroom. Roulette huffed and tapped her foot. “We’ve got no time for accessories! Morgan could be bleedin’ out for all we know!”

When Mimi returned with two pairs of shaded glasses in-hand, the girl rapidly changed her tune. She slipped her pair on eagerly, marveling at the efficiency with which they screened out the sun’s glare.

“I bought them back in Trigger City. Aren’t they so fashion?” Mimi bubbled. “I wish I’d remembered to bring them on our trip through the Diflagrati!”

Roulette humored her with a tiny half-smile. “Alright, alright. You won me over. This feels right somehow.”

Mimi giggled, ushering them toward the door and out into the harsh morning sunlight. “Glad you like them.

“Now, let’s roll.”

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