BioQuest: Pickup

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She could see him waiting outside the Kashmir if she closed her eyes, blood speckled on his white suit jacket and something between fear and determination in his eyes.

At least he had the crossbow… And seeing him in her mind’s eye, even like that, was better than the Big Daddy that almost drilled into their bathysphere. Drastically better.

Elizabeth reclined against the bench, crossing her legs. If nothing else, she could appear more poised than she felt.

“He’s at the Kashmir Restaurant, I…” She could tell Booker about the gunfire that started right before she left for the labs. She could tell him that Jack was sure Fontaine was in there and he went to find him. But with Booker injured in a confined space at the bottom of the ocean, nothing to do about it but wait…

She pulled a kerchief from her pocket, reaching out for his hand. There was no need to distress him now. The bathysphere wouldn’t move any faster and Elizabeth could always tell him later. “I’m sorry I broke the flask.”

He scoffed, but Booker put his hand in hers to let her wrap it tightly. “Come on, Elizabeth, I said forget it.”

Yet somehow, he changed in a matter of seconds. When she would look up, he would look out at the lights or schools of fish passing instead.

No wonder he lost so much money on gambling.

“Jack won’t even notice, I’d bet. Just couldn’t stop mentioning that party.” Booker forced out a breathy laugh, but the smile was genuine. However slight.

“Speaking of which,” he cleared his throat, digging in an inner vest pocket with his good hand.

“Booker?” She’d finished wrapping his injury, and Elizabeth leaned back. She tilted her head and felt a smile she couldn’t fight any easier than he had. From his vest, he took out a dark blue matte velvet box with a thin pink bow keeping it shut.

“Happy New Year’s,” he almost whispered. “Figured it was about time I got you a new necklace.” He held the box back at first and she teasingly scowled at him, crossing her arms. Of course she had already guessed Booker would stall like that, but half the fun was humoring him. “Before you ask, Jack helped.”

As the bathysphere settled in, he held the gift box out to her.

A bullet whizzed between them, lodging into the thick metal frame of the window. They both reacted in an instant, taking cover, although Elizabeth hadn’t the slightest idea where the box went.

“That was ‘im,” a woman cackled, “Place’s gone to hell, but I’d know that pretty fella in any ol’ place.”

“Shut your hole,” a man hissed, somewhere to the northwest of Elizabeth.

She looked to Booker and he made two gestures, one after another. From their time in Columbia, she recognized them: go through the thugs or around?

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

– – –

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