The Shadow

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Target Practice

PART II

Caeli

“Could you remind me why I have to do this again?” Syrus asked as he looked away from the target to meet my eyes.

“Because, even after being around me for the better part of a year, I have seen no improvement with your gun skills and I want to find out why,” I answered bluntly, gesturing to the target that had two shots on it. However, they were on the white area, not the silhouette of a human torso and head. “You’ve taken twelve shots and hit the actual target a grand total of zero times. You’re the worst shot I’ve seen in my entire life.”

“I can shoot in a real-life situation, you’ve seen me do it.” Syrus tried to defend himself, I looked back to the target and started laughing. A genuine laugh was something I wasn’t capable of often, but it always seemed to be around him and his idiocy. “How is that funny?” he asked, annoyed at my amusement. I took a deep breath and looked at him with a broad smile present on my face.

“You can’t hit a stationary target without an enemy coming back towards you, there is no way you could shoot a moving target. Especially with your shooting technique.” I replied before I turned back to the target. “If you’re going to keep working with Vince and I, especially with our next heist planned and its notable level of danger, you must improve. Judging from past performance, it’s going to take longer than expected to get you up to scratch.”

“So this one is going to be dangerous...” He trailed off, I nodded as I bit my lip with concern.

“It’s not just about the treasure, it’s about my image and my alter ego resurfacing in the crime world. People will be after us, bad people, and you must be able to shoot them because they will undoubtedly be able to shoot us.” I told him. I was getting worried about it all, but also excited.

“What are we going after?” He asked, and in response, I smirked.

“You will have to wait for my big reveal for that information, dear Syrus, neither your sister nor Vince know either, but no one gets to know until all four of us are ready,” I told him.

“Who are we waiting on?” He asked, his eyebrows furrowed.

“You,” I replied bluntly. Before Syrus could retaliate and ask whether I was joking, I pointed to the target. “Shoot the target, it’s not that hard.”

“Can you show me why I should take shooting tips from you and not Vince?” He asked, I sighed and took the handgun from his hands, putting in a new clip.

“Want me to prove that I can hit the target while you can’t?” I asked, pointing the gun to the target, “Watch closely, what will happen from here may confuse you.” I said with a smile before I emptied all twelve bullets onto the target, but there was only one visible hole between where the eyes should have been. The perfect headshot.

“There’s only one hole, you only hit it once,” Syrus stated, laughing, I just placed the gun down and leant on the bench with a bored expression on my face.

“Try again,” I told him. He stopped laughing and looked back at the target, realisation dawned on his face.

“That’s not possible…” He trailed off. He locked his eyes on the hole that all twelve of my bullets had gone through.

“I thought you would have known I am capable of many impossible things by this point, but you should be glad I don’t expect that of you. However, you should be able to clip the silhouette with all twelve shots for your own safety if nothing else.” I told him, crossing my arms as he put in a new clip.

“How much am I going to do this until I get it right?” He asked me next, leaving the gun on the bench while looking me in the eyes.

“Depends on if you plan on listening to me or not... and if you can focus on what you’re doing,” I told him. He nodded slowly.

“Alright, what have you got for me?” He asked, so I smiled.

“You’ve been holding the gun with one hand. Why?” I asked, and he looked at me with an eyebrow raised.

“Movies, TV shows-”

“All visualise a form of stylised violence. Holding the gun with one hand decreases your chance of hitting the target, holding with two reduces the force of the shot and increases your stability and therefore your accuracy. So hold it with two.” I explained, he just looked confused.

“How am I supposed to hold this thing with two hands?” He asked, I just shook my head.

“For the love of God, why do I have to spoon-feed you literally everything?” I asked rhetorically, which he picked up on, as I stepped to right next to him, the side of my body touching his. “One hand here,” I stated, grabbing his hand and placing it on the right spot underneath mine. I then took his other hand and placed it for optimum stability, making sure it was sitting where it should be before I spoke again. “The other one like that.” My voice was quiet as I still held his hands against the weapon.

I was too close to him.

I could feel his breath on the back of my neck, making my hair stand on end, I was far too close, but I didn’t want to move away.

“And that’s how you hold a gun with two hands,” I stated before I stepped away from him. My face was warm...

“Are you... blushing?” Syrus asked, and I touched my cheeks.

Shit.

“Do you like me, Caeli?” He asked in a playful tone, a childish smile on his face.

“No,” I answered bluntly and, mostly, truthfully. I didn’t like Syrus, but he was attractive. But he was just a friend, as we had grown to be since working together. “I just...” I didn’t know what to say.

“That’s the closest you’ve been to somebody without intending to kill them?” He asked, and I took a deep breath.

“No, but it has been a while. I might be craving some human contact.” I replied, far too honestly.

“Then let’s get you laid, I, personally, am very free at the moment so say the word and-”

“Oh, God, no. I’m not into casual sex, and whoever I’m with next in that way, I want it to be meaningful and caring and beautiful. It takes a lot for me to want to be with someone romantically.” I told him, running a hand through my hair as I spoke. Way too much. I was letting him know way too much about myself.

“Oh...” he trailed off, looking away from her for a moment. “It’s been a while for me too, and I guess I’m after the same thing. But it’s hard to find that in this career, isn’t it?”

“Hard, but not impossible,” I replied. He turned to look at me. “There’s no glue that holds people together better than being co-instigators of crime.”

“Point taken...” he trailed off again, looking carefully at the target. “Shall I shoot again? This conversation is getting heavy for the atmosphere of a shooting gallery.” I took a deep breath and nodded. There was the implication that we would pick up this conversation later, and that terrified me. I hated being vulnerable, having people know who I am...

Syrus shot the target. His accuracy far improved when shooting with two hands, as I had shown him. After another half hour, we went back to the hotel where the Dawsons shared a room while I shared with Vince. It wasn’t half bad if you ignored the mould in the bathrooms and focused on the fact Vince got two double rooms for the price of one.

“So, how’s their shooting coming along?” Vince asked once I was back, I nodded slowly at the person I viewed as my father over the years. I secretly hoped he thought of me as the daughter he never had...

“They’re improving, Ny is picking it up quicker than Syrus, but that’s probably because she’s younger. Syrus is listening to me, which is nice for a change, so he started hitting the silhouette, which was a big step in the right direction.” I told him, sitting on my bed.

“So, how long until we know why we’re in Spain?” Vince asked to which I tilted my head in an innocent facade.

“We have a few more days... The Dawsons shooting has to be acceptable in four days max. We don’t have more time than that.” I told him with a smile, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion at my statement.

“Why not?” He seemed almost scared of what my answer would be.

“Something happens on the night of that fourth day, something we have to prepare for. Two days and their shooting should be up to scratch. Two days will be plenty to prepare for what we need to do, especially since I have the plan ready. If this doesn’t work, I have a backup. However, I don’t want to have to use that backup if I don’t have to,” I told him. It seemed to make the man more confused than before. A feat I regularly pull off.

“Caeli, what happens in four...” Vince trailed off as he realised. He would have known about the event before, so he must have felt at least slightly stupid for not picking up the connection earlier. “What do you need from there? It’ll be dangerous.”

“Vince, if the Dawsons shooting isn’t where I want it to be in four days, we can discuss this further, whether I go in alone or whether we got to the backup plan. For now, just trust me, please.” I told him. The man sighed and shook his head.

“Alright, kid. But let’s make it three days, not four. I’d prefer a little more time to sort out an alternative plan if needed.” Vince told me, and it was a reasonable rebuttal.

“Three days, they’ll be ready, or they wait until they join in on my plan,” I stated to show my agreement. Three days should be enough as long as the Dawsons keep listening to me and following my instruction.

But Syrus was already losing interest in training, so I would have to step it up to keep him on track. What was something we could do to make him interested once more? What did he need to improve on?

I smiled as I realised exactly what we could do.

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