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    The rain sluiced down the windows of the latest fleabag hotel they were holing up in on the way back to the Vatican. Yumiko’s mood had seemed to darken with the weather and as the storm began to rage, her partner wilted like the most delicate flower petal. Heinkel was hoping the brood passed with the squall and had dutifully busied herself with cleaning her revolver. She heard Yumiko toss and turn in bed, turn on the TV, then off, on again, and off once more before she exhaled shortly. It almost sounded like a scoff.

                                            “Do you like her better?

   Wer ist das?1 Heinkel replied idly.

    Her partner made an annoyed sound and the bed sheets rustled as got up. The patter of bare feet over carpet was hushed and quick. A small, calloused hand slapped on the table to get her attention. Heinkel stared at it for a time, noticing the blood under her fingernails, before looking into Yumiko’s russet eyes.

     “Yumie!She proclaimed.Do you like her better than me?

    Oh god, this again. Not that she would know any better. Ironically Yumie had asked the same question after the German had slipped away from being pinned to a wall by her. It was no less easy to find the words the second time around, and Heinkel’s brow furrowed.

    “What’s bringing this on, eh?

     “You’re avoiding the question, Yumiko sulked as she slumped in the chair across from Heinkel.

    The blonde sighed and stubbed out her cigarette. With ease she began to put her gun back together as she spoke. “No…and yes. Es ist wahr2, I prefer Yumie on the battlefield, but that doesn’t mean I like her better. I don’t really favour either of you.”

    Yumiko appeared skeptical, crossed her arms over her chest, and pouted. “You’re beating around the bush. I mean, you like Father more than Maxwell, right? How is it any different?”

     “You’re my best friend and I love you, Yumiko, and I suppose I love Yumie too, though she sometimes frightens me, Heinkel shrugged.Some days you’re both insufferable, but if you’re asking if I’d change the situation…. She paused as she struggled with the vulnerability of her next words. These were for Yumiko. If it were just you, I’d still be by your side. Often, I wish Yumie didn’t exist, not because I don’t like her but because I know how hard it is for you, and you deserve better than that.

    Heinkel flushed hotly. The open confession made her feel more than just a little foolish. She just wasn’t used to exposing her emotions. Yumiko’s colour was just as high and Heinkel fumbling for a fresh cigarette. As she was doing so, she heard the other chair move and in the next moment, Yumiko was looping her arms around her neck and curling in her lap. Heinkel gasped but held her nonetheless.

    Yumiko’s head rested on her shoulder and she smiled sincerely for the first time all evening. Where have you been hiding those pretty words, Heinkel?

    “Hell if I know. My ass?

     The other rolled her eyes but her smile didn’t go away. Way to ruin a moment.

     “I do try, Heinkel chuckled wryly before lightly pushing Yumiko away. Now get off me you oaf.

     Yumiko hopped down with a light scoff. Who’s an oaf? Come to bed soon, ok?

1 “Who is this?”

2 “It’s true.”