"Just when I thought today couldn't get any more fucked-up." Otto scowled at Dale's unconscious body and shook his head.
"This still surprises you? Really?" Shakira chuckled and closed the door behind her.
"Surprises me, no. Disappoints me, yes." Otto crossed the room, sank onto the sofa, and placed his duffel bag on the floor. "Maybe we should roll him onto his back to increase the chances of him choking to death on his own vomit."
Shakira snort-laughed and shook her head. "He's not worth the prison time."
Otto shrugged. He took a slow look around and sighed. "At least we missed the party."
"Yeah, we definitely dodged the bullet. I'll never forget the last time we came home when the party was still in full swing -- and I've been trying, believe me."
"Oh, so have I. The sight of that guy walking around with no pants is forever burned into my memory."
"Yep. One of the worst things that's ever happened to me -- and I'm including the day shrapnel ripped half of my face off."
Otto winced. He'd seen it firsthand and didn't need to be reminded of it. Fortunately, he was suddenly distracted by laughing and giggling from upstairs.
"Uh-oh," Shakira muttered. "Sounds like we got home at just the wrong time."
"Or the right time, depending on how you look at it."
"You can probably guess how I look at it." She plopped down beside him on the sofa. "The walls in this house could do with a little soundproofing."
Another burst of laughter came from upstairs and Otto chuckled. "Yeah, I can see how that'd get … distracting … after a while." He shrugged. "But they're having a good time, so ..."
"Fair enough. They've been through a lot in the last few months. And it's nice to see Jack finally loosening up a little. He's a lot less angry than he used to be, thanks to Corona and Taura."
"That's true." Otto dug his laptop out of his bag and powered it up. "Though you wouldn't be able to tell, given how grouchy he was on the mission tonight."
"In a way, I can't blame him, since the confusion of the whole thing was probably frustrating for him. But on the other hand, at least nobody got shot at."
"True. And things seemed to turn out pretty well with Shadow and the guy she met."
A sudden roaring sneeze smashed the quiet, followed by the shriek of metal bending and twisting. Otto's heart pounded and Shakira launched off the sofa and spun toward the stairway. In the corner of Otto's eye, Dale jolted awake and stared blearily at him and Shakira.
Goddamn it, he's awake! Otto turned to stare into the kitchen. "Is that someone breaking in?"
Shakira called up the stairs. "Guys, is everything okay up there? That wasn't a good sound."
"Fine," Taura said after several more seconds passed. "We just, uh, had a bit of a mishap."
"No shit," Shakira said. "Sounded like someone trying to tear the roof off or something."
"Nothing as dramatic as that," Jack said. "Corona just … well … bent the bed in half." In a softer voice, he said to Taura, "Come on, let's take those cuffs off."
Handcuffs, eh? Otto headed for the stairs, glancing at Shakira on the way past her and wondering if the images going through her mind were as wild as those in his. He heard her following him up the stairs and found Jack and the girls stepping out of their room. Corona zipped her vest up and her face turned a little darker as she followed Jack and Taura down the hall.
"We're gonna spend the night somewhere else, then order a new bed in the morning," Jack muttered.
Otto peeked into their room before Taura closed the door and caught a glimpse of the bed. He turned to Shakira and arched an eyebrow.
"The bed's shaped like a Frito."
Shakira burst into laughter as the trio hurried down the stairs. "What the hell were you doing in there?"