Holiday Cheer, Part Five - Dealing With It

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(December 11th)

“So, is Nadia talking to you yet?” Lucky asked sympathetically, passing Jhim a can of beer. Jhim took it gratefully, sitting back on the couch with a grimace.

“Not sure.” He said.

“How can you not be sure?” Lucky asked.

“Well, she locked the door to our apartment and then jammed a door against it, so I can’t get in to ask her.” Jhim said.

Lucky frowned. “Uh-huh… I think you can probably make an educated guess.”

“I don’t like to assume.” Jhim answered, taking a sip.

“Well, I for one don’t blame her. I’m kind of pissed myself.” Amber entered the room from the kitchen, her arms crossed. “It’s all well and good to say that we can take care of ourselves without you, Jhim, but bailing on short notice when you know you’re going to be leaving? Not cool. I have enough to deal with having to reshuffle the team every two months without you not giving me forewarning.”

“Sorry.” Jhim muttered.

Amber hesitated, then sighed. “I understand. Besides,” she added wryly, “if I start chewing out everyone who left the team on a day’s notice or less, it’ll leave me with… well, with me.” Lucky winced slightly, and Amber glanced over at him. “Not a dig at you, man.”

“Hm? Oh, I know. Just bumped my foot against the chair.” Lucky prodded the offending limb tentatively. “This really hurts.”

“You sound like you’ve never stubbed your toe.” Amber snorted.

“I haven’t!” Lucky retorted.

“What, never?” Jhim raised an eyebrow.

“Luck powers.” Lucky reminded him.

“Okay, but that’s a little odd, isn’t it? I mean, Crimson Sky was doing a lot of damage, but was that really –”

“We’re actually still talking about you, Jhim.” Lucky interrupted. Jhim sighed.

“It was worth a try.” He said.

“Not really.” Amber sat down across from them, considering. “Jhim, if you need extra time off for military training or preparations…”

“I don’t.” Jhim said. “I’m already military-trained, remember. Mostly, I wanted to spend the next four weeks behaving as though this war isn’t happening. If we can just forget about it – or at least pretend to forget about it – I would be really, really grateful.”

Lucky sighed. “I don’t know if that’s really healthy.”

Jhim shrugged. “Lucky, my world is on fire. I’m about to have to go and try to kill people. What about this situation is healthy?”

“Valid.” Lucky admitted. “Alright, Jhim. I still wish you’d told us yourself, but I understand. I won’t bring it up again.” He paused. “Although I’m still putting together a hell of a goodbye party for you.”

Amber nodded slowly. “You’ll always be part of the family. But if you want us not to discuss this… well, it’s your business. We’ll abide by it.”

“Alright, everyone! Glad you’re all here!” Nadia burst into the room like a ray of hyperactive sunshine, beaming at the others. Her arms were loaded down with papers, and she dropped them heavily on the coffee table to one side of the room.

“What… how did you even get in?” Amber asked.

“Lucky gave me a key.” Nadia answered blithely. Before Amber could follow that line of thought, she pressed on. “So I spent the morning looking this up, and I think I can do it. I have to talk to Dudeman, of course, what with the sentence and all, but I think he’ll go for it. It’d take about six weeks, which isn’t too bad, and we might be able to swing some reduced time and slip into the next set. I mentioned the idea to Powerblock over the internet – we’ve been chatting on and off, you know that right? – and he said that he wouldn’t mind covering for a few months, since everyone’s mad at him again anyway, so…”

“Nadia!” Amber all but shouted.

Nadia shut up. “Yes?”

“What in the name of God are you talking about?”

“Enlisting.” Nadia said, as though it were obvious. As the others stared at her in shock, she added defensively, “What? You didn’t think I was going to let Jhim go off without backup, did you?”

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