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Coffee, or, Hugo Battaglia Sees Too Much

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On the particularly rainy Tuesday afternoon that things all went to shit in a more or less figurative sense, Chloe bought coffee.

It wasn’t like this was a particularly irregular occurrence, and it wasn’t as though there was anything particularly strange about the coffee itself. Fairly standard coffee. Maybe slightly subpar. She bought a disgustingly hipster sandwich with it- one of the ones with names that have twenty vegetables, only three of which are pronounceable, and occasionally come with free hummus or quinoa. The sandwich, as weirdly named as it was, didn’t turn out to be too bad. It actually could be considered halfway decent.

But only halfway.

The sandwich was halfway gone by the time she’d made her way from the trendy little shop with its catchy name- wait, could it be called catchy if she couldn’t actually remember the name?- to what could be considered downtown Acropolis, and the coffee had hit prime drinking temperature. If not for the fact that the sky was halfheartedly trying to rain, it would have been a fairly good day.

And that’s when she ran into the kid.

He was still little, clearly scared out of his mind, and soaked to the bone. He ran right into her, bouncing off and stammering an apology as he did so, and as he slipped around her she caught sight of the blood on his collar. He had a backpack on, a catchers mitt poking out from a pocket.

The kid darted away, and she took a long, slow breath, considering the sidewalk in front of her. She knew the face well. Hugo Battaglia, if she wasn’t mistaken. He had that supremely roman nose, same as the rest of them.

“Dammit,” she muttered, and watched as two men came around the corner. Her phone was out in an instant, and she was casually appearing to text when they brushed past her. They smelled of gunpowder, old blood, and unwashed man. Collective, then. Don Battaglia must have done something to bring down their anger. Snapping her phone shut, she turned and followed the men as they chased the boy, this time at a much more leisurely pace. The Battaglia was probably fairly competent, even for his young age, and she wasn’t wrong. By the time she turned into the alley, the boy had successfully brought one to his knees and was swearing up a storm. The other one was standing further back. Probably a good choice, since the boy had what looked like a rusting bat in his hands. Blunt, certainly, but it would do the trick, and he definitely knew how to use it.

“Fucking kids,” the one on the ground growled, trying to get back to his feet and failing miserably. “Think he fucked up my knee.”

Chloe made eye contact with the kid, pulling out her pistol. The men died quick and fast, neat shots to the head, and the kid didn’t even blink, tightening his grip on the bat.

“Not gonna hurt you,” she said, finishing her coffee and tossing the cup in a dumpster. “C’mon, kid, let’s get you cleaned up. Apparently it’s my turn to be a good fuckin’ Samaritan today.”

oOo

Hugo ate the rest of her sandwich like he was starving. They’d settled down in a coffee shop, with Hugo neatly hidden away behind a large, ugly bookcase. Chloe enjoyed her second coffee of the day, this one with uncomfortable amounts of cinnamon. The shop was bigger than the last one, loud enough to safely have a conversation in and bodies to hide behind in case of gunfire.

The silence stretched until finally the kid said, “Do you play Minecraft?”

She stared at him for a second. He stared innocently back, still chomping on the sandwich. “I killed two people in front of you and the only thing you want to know is if I play Minecraft.”

Hugo gave her a look. “It’s not like those are the first dead guys I’ve seen. I mean. I’m not supposed to see them, but I totally saw them. It was weird.” He licked his fingers off, the sandwich officially gone. “Minecraft’s fun.”

“I’m sure it is,” she said dubiously. “Anyone ever tell you you’re really fuckin’ weird?”

Hugo grinned at her. “Big brother does, all the time.”

“Your big brother’s right. Okay.” Chloe stood up, stretching and letting her back pop loud enough to make the table next to them give her a concerned and slightly admiring look. “Time to get you home.”

“Awww.”

oOo

It was only later that she found out Hugo Battaglia had been witness to the kidnapping of one of his classmates, and later still that she found out they were a distant Conti relation. The family was gone in a single day, in the space of time it took her to get up, buy a sandwich, and find what had to be a very shell shocked kid, even if he wouldn't admit it. For the most part, she put the memory out of her mind.

No point dwelling too much in the past.