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Iakob

Nasser’s man Iakob–the one whose knee was recently reconfigured by István’s claw hammer–would recognize Zach if he saw him. They met last week, when Iakob came to Littleford’s agency to hire a killer. He wasn’t supposed to get a good one. Nasser just wanted to pull Sara’s hair.

Now Littleford is dead, and Pál is dead, and Zach and Iakob are in tremendous pain. Nasser can’t tell Sara what she wants to know; Zach knows very, very little.

Nasser’s smile is cold and sweaty, the smile of a man whose reach exceeds his grasp. Hidebound doesn’t smile at all.

Zach

István leaves to go to the bathroom and Hidebound kills Pál with a knife. It’s that quick, so Zach is still staring at the blood and wondering if this is a prank when two scarred fingers drag him by the nostrils out of the safehouse.

“Ow fuck!” says Zach. Upon consideration, he adds: “Shit!”

“Whatever puppydog pity she took on you, be grateful for it,” says Hidebound, “because it’s the only thing keeping my fist out of your brains right now. How does it feel to be a hostage, Zach?”

Like so many things in Budapest, Zach reflects glumly, it hurts.

Zach

“She should really trust me by now,” Zach mutters.

István looks up, then down again.

“I mean, yes, I was trained and hired specifically to murder her,” Zach says. “But can I help what I am? I’m like the guy in that Grosse Point Blank movie, where he has to kill Natalie Portman’s dad but then they have sex. You know? That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, not sitting in a room with you two while she’s out–whatever!”

Bukta,” István sighs.

Zach frowns at István. Istvan frowns at Pál.

“Gin,” says Pál mildly, spreading a hand full of diamonds.

Zach

Once they stop shaking, Sara does noisy things to the roof door with her multitool. Zach scowls at shoppers in the mall below as she thumbs Euros down a phone, then leads him into an alley.

Szervusz,” says one of two enormous, shiny-headed men.

“You’ll never take us alive!” Zach says, trying to make his body peel off the wall and stand in front of Sara.

“Zach, meet István and Pál,” Sara sighs. “They’re friends. Friends of friends. Protection.”

“Oh.” Zach grins with relief. “I wish I’d known you had local security for yourself!”

“Sure,” says Sara carefully, “for myself.

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