Chapter 41, I Will
[BY OWEN RHODES]
“Hey, it’s no fair! Why does Owen get to practice boxing and I cant!” Kelly whines. Her hair is tied smack on top of her head and I really can’t take my sister seriously with her short copper hair looking like a fountain.
We’re sitting at the dinner table like we do every night. As usual, the cook really outdid himself with tonight’s meal and the maids have kept the house in such an orderly fashion, one might mistake our dining room as the VIP section at one of our many luxury hotels. There’s candlelight supported by copper stands and a fresh batch of white roses adorning a large half of the table. You wouldn’t say that just an hour ago, the expensive white embroidered table cloth was stained with my kid sister’s crayons.
“That’s because your brother just turned fourteen. You’re too young to be fighting anyone, Kelly,” Dad laughs. I watch him take a bite of the steak before taking another sip of his water. He’s still in his business wear, but he has a different shirt on than the one he wore this morning. I know something probably happened with the gang... Though I know the basics of everything, I’m still yet to be taught how to take over after he retires.
“I’m seven and a half, thank you!” Kelly continues to protest. “And I kicked Owy’s butt plenty of times before.”
“Watch your language, Katherine,” Mom says from where she’s quietly eating her food, “A young lady doesn’t speak like that.” Unlike Kelly’s unruly hair, mom’s hair is pinned into a perfect bun, showing off the expensive earrings Dad got her for their anniversary.
I watch Kelly tense up. Whenever Mom uses our second names, she gets serious. Nevertheless, my firecracker of a sister doesn’t give in. “I’m not a lady!” she blurts.
“No kidding,” I laugh, “All the boys at school avoid you.”
“Shut up, Owy!”
“Katherine. William. Stop.”
My sister and I both immediately stop with the banter and look at Mom with a bit of fear. Dad laughs it off and changes the subject - talking about when we should head for our vacation home in East Ends this year. Kelly sticks her tongue out and me when nobody’s looking and I return the favor before acting a bit more proper again.
The rest of the dinner continues on like this. Dad trying to talk about important matters while Kelly and I banter and mom keeping us as much in line as she can. Kelly and I really do fight a lot. During the day it looks like we hate each other’s guts but at night...
I’m in bed, staring out at the window opposite me. The moon is out tonight - washing my room in shades of blue. Why hasn’t Dad told me about what happened with the gang today? If I’m to take over, surely he should tell me about the troubles we’re facing? It has to be the West-side. Those shady guys and their drugs should really back off. I mean, I know the East doesn’t really have any moral high ground, but drugs have the potential to hurt kids. What we do is just for adults and we aren’t hurting anyone.
The thought of Kelly doing drugs... Getting exposed to those kinds of things? I really want to clean this town up. Even for just the sake of my kid sister.
As usual this time of night, I hear the door creak open. “Owy?” Kelly asks in a whisper.
“Get over here.”
Kelly scuttles over to my bed and quickly gets under the covers. She’s in her blue car-themed pajamas and still has her hair looking like a fountain on her head.
“You can cry if you want,” I joke.
“No way! I’m not a baby. I won’t cry over anything.”
I laugh at my stubborn sister. It’s true I’ve only seen her cry once and that was when I went away for three days with Dad. The girl bawled her eyes out until I got back. I teased her about it and now she refuses to cry over anything. She’s been on a winning streak for a while. Didn’t even shed a single tear when she broke her arm last year.
“What was it this time?” I ask my sister.
Kelly sighs, snuggling up to me and I can feel her small body tremble a little. “I don’t remember much anymore, but I dreamt I was alone... Mom and Dad were gone and you left as well. I was alone with strangers and I didn’t know what to do,” she sniffs.
My heart genuinely breaks at my sister’s trembling lip and teary eyes. She’s spirited during the day, but it gets lonely for her at night. The house can seem a bit too big sometimes.
“That’s such a dumb nightmare, Kelly,” I chuckle while going to hold on to my sister even tighter. “It’ll never happen. I’ll always be here. As long as you don’t kill me during one of our fights that is.”
Kelly laughs a little at that. “No promises,” she says.
I hold onto my sister for a little while longer. “But I do want to make a promise, Kelly,” I tell her, “I promise you won’t ever be alone.”
Kelly closes her eyes, letting out deep, regular breaths. “You better keep your promise, Owy,” she sighs before going into a peaceful sleep - finally able to calm down.
Before I fall asleep as well, I kiss my sister’s head - right on top of that fountain on her head. “I will,” I whisper.
“Owen? Owen, wake up,” Someone says.
“Hey cripple, stop snoozing on the job,” another adds. Daniel no doubt.
Fuck, I wish I had Blake with me on this mission. I mean, I was explained why Blake had to be let go, but... I really need a friend or just anyone that’s on my side.
I sit up in the car and look around. It’s still the same as an hour ago. Daniel and Paul are in the front of the car while Hotchkiss, Browning, and I are in the back. It’s night time and a nostalgic moon keeps watch over us while we keep an eye on the building in front. I’m pretty sure Nessa’s team is close by as well. We’re all taking note of who comes in and out of the warehouse.
“I just dozed for a second,” I say, suddenly awake and keeping my eyes peeled.
“You were snoring dude,” Hotchkiss laughs. I send the baby-faced guy an unimpressed look and he quickly goes back to watching the warehouse.
“I don’t blame you,” Browning says. He fiddles with the lighter in his grip - flicking a quick flame on and off. “We’ve been out here a couple of hours now and I haven’t had one cigarette yet.”
“Stop complaining! We have an important mission tonight!” Daniel says from the front. The North’s charmer looks a lot more stressed than I’ve ever seen him. I’m damn stressed myself, but his cow-licked hairstyle seems a little more ruffled up, his turtle next too tight around his throat and those brown eyes of his seem to be scanning for something beyond the warehouse.
“Hey, Daniel, you okay?” I ask. If anyone here should be on the verge of a panic attack, it should be me, but I know staying calm is the best approach for the plan to work. Panic won’t save my sister. As hard as it is, I have to keep a cool head.
Daniel shakes his head - dismissing me before he grabs the walky-talky. “Bagpipes, how are the twins doing?” he asks.
The radio makes a snowy sound before Nessa replies. “Aye, Manwhore, the twins jus’ finished makin’ a virtual 3D replica of the buildin’ with the blueprints and satellite-thingies. With the notes on where the girls should be kept, Ryan one and Ryan two should be able to guide us,” she says.
“Copy that. Have they hacked into the security cameras yet?” Daniel asks.
The walky-talky goes inaudible for a second. “Ey, ye beetroots, hows the camera’s?” she asks a little away from the device. A small pause follows before she replies, “Naw, nothin’ yet, but they jus’ need a wee bit more time. They’ll send Mancandy the file as soon as they get it.”
“Hey, I said I don’t want to wait in the car!” I remind Daniel.
Daniel glares back at me. “What are you going to do? Wheel over those fuckers? Don’t be stupid, Owen. You’ll be our visuals and warn us where everyone is while the twins guide us. We’ve gone over this a million times now. Nessa, Paul, and I infiltrate. Hotchkiss and Browning are getaway drivers and you and the twins are our eyes and ears. I don’t want to hear any more of this.”
This guy is really starting to piss me off. I can’t help I’m in a fucking wheelchair. I’ve tried everything I can by now... I’ve really tried walking, but I’m just too fucking useless and no matter how hard you wish for something, it doesn’t always happen. I bite down on my tongue when I feel my eyes sting. Goddammit, Daniel could be nicer about all this. It’s my fucking sister in there!
“Alright, I’ll head to the Porche then. Smoke while I make my way,” Browning sighs. He gets out of the Jeep and I watch him disappear into the night.
I hear a notification from the closed laptop on my lap and open it. Sure enough, Ryan and Bryan have pulled through. “I got visuals,” I sigh.
“Good,” Daniel says, “Take these.” Daniel hands me earphones and a mouthpiece that we’ll all probably communicate with.
When everything seems to be ready, Paul gets out of the Jeep while Daniel makes his way out as well. Hotchkiss climbs over the seats to get into the driver’s seat and he looks way too trigger happy about it for me to relax. I have to remind myself that the Shortshit is older than me and not a pubescent teen driving for his first time.
“We’ll meet up with Nessa and go from there,” Daniel says before turning.
Why’s he leading us? Nessa’s the second in command...
“Hey, wait!” I call out, opening the car door. If I wasn’t limited, I’d jump out and grab Daniel by the collar, but instead, I stay in the Jeep and send Daniel a glare. “What’s your problem? We have to clear whatever we have between us. Besides, shouldn’t Nessa lead this mission?” I demand, “Who made you the boss and why are you such an asshole about it?”
For a moment I think the North’s jokester is about to punch me in the face, but then suddenly his shoulders sag, the tension leaving his body. Daniel’s eyes go from scorning to... sad. What the hell? He sighs, runs his hand through his gelled hair, and looks up at me with almost empty eyes behind his dark lashes. A little tired, Daniel walks back to the car and gets a bit too close to me.
“You don’t know anything do you, Owen?” he asks.
“What do you mean?”
“Have you ever even asked her? You’re so busy feeling sorry for yourself but if you really loved that girl like... If you truly cared for Nessa you would want to know everything about her and quite frankly, you don’t know anything except the mask she puts up to the world,” Daniel explains, “That girl... You have no idea how broken she was when she joined the North. Xavier gave her life and made her the way she is today, but you would feel a lifetime’s worth of disgust and sorrow if you knew that... that amazing woman’s real story.”
“What does this have to do with Nessa?” I ask. Aren’t we here for my sister?
Daniel scoffs. “I’m taking the lead today because Nessa wouldn’t be in the right mind for today’s mission. The group we’re attacking tonight? It’s the one organization that got away from her and Xav’s wrath. The one group that managed to avoid us after all these years.”
I look at Daniel in anticipation and somehow already feel my body tense up because I know what’s coming.
“Dolls? These people here tonight? They’re the group that stole Nessa away from her country before selling her off,” Daniel says and suddenly, I feel the world go a little darker.
I’m such an idiot.