High Octane

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Chapter 10- Picking up pieces

“Alright, brother, we’re here. Take your time. And good luck. I’ll be waitin’ here for you.“, Krypto told Hugo. He simply nodded as he stepped out of the Dodge Conqueror. As Hugo left, Krypto threw a listening device onto Hugo’s jacket as he tuned into a specific frequency on the car’s radio.

Hugo trudged into the Emerald Palace bar where he and Lillian had their first date. It hadn’t changed one bit since that day. The pool tables were still out. Same sky-blue LED lights. Same glowing jukebox. It was even playing the same record- the song of fate’s love for irony.

Sure enough, Lillian was sat at the bar. Head down on the counter. Surrounded by three empty glasses and a bottle- labelled Marsblast. Hugo stood behind Lillian. She looked up slightly.

“What the hell do you want?“, she asked scornfully- with a faltering, weak voice.

“I just wanna talk”, Hugo responded cathartically as he took a seat next to Lillian. She kept looking straight. Not even taking a peep at Hugo. Krypto sat forward in the driver’s seat and began to listen attentively- like a soldier taking orders.

“You look like you haven’t slept.“, Hugo pointed out- trying to ease Lillian into the touchy, difficult conversation.

“I haven’t. Not one bit.“, she responded bitterly. Her voice was full of fire and spite. Venom, even. “Why are you even here?“- as if Hugo’s name blistered her tongue whenever it was ushered.

“You been drinking?“, Hugo asked with the clearest tone of concern.

“What does it look like? People turn to alcohol to forget, so I figured... why not?“, Lillian answered. She was already destroying herself 3 days after she ran away. Must’ve been one painful heartbreak- as if the entirety of The Spire had shattered into microscopic shards.

“So... how’s the criminal lifestyle going? Y’know, the one you promised to give up?“, Lillian asked. The words sent an agonizing shot across Hugo’s already broken heart. Lillian’s words stung like a 3rd degree burn.

“I didn’t come here to talk about that. I came here...“, Hugo began- still hurting from Lillian’s poisonous words. They tripped his voice up mid-sentence.

“To do what? Because, right now, I feel like I shouldn’t even give you the time of day. Not after what you’ve done.“, Lillian continued- her voice dripping with scorn, hatred, and anger. Despite those powerful emotions, her voice was still weak and faltering from pain.

“I wanna say sorry. For everything. So, just hear me out. Please.“, Hugo pleaded. Lillian glanced at him briefly.

“Go on, then. I’m all ears.“, Lillian responded- much to Hugo’s surprise. Her voice was still venomous, although to a less corrosive degree than before. Krypto’s ears seemed to perk up underneath his mask. He crossed his legs like a child about to listen to a story.

“I don’t wanna lose what we had, Lillian”, Hugo began, “I can remember so many perfect little moments; ones which I don’t wanna forget. Ever.“. Krypto could hear the ache in his voice.

“But, what I did... I lied to you. And I’m entirely at fault for that- no doubts, no questions. It’s my fault. I fucked up big time. And because of all that... I hurt you. I broke your heart- and mine broke in the process.“, Hugo continued- his voice withering from regret and pain. Lillian now looked up at him with bloodshot eyes.

“Now, I’m not tryna justify what I did here, but I didn’t understand the effect my decision would have on us. But, that aside, I wanna say... I’m sorry for what I did. And I fuckin’ mean it. No lies. No equivocation. That’s a fact. I regret what I did. And I am whole-heartedly sorry for it, Lillian.“. Krypto felt like he was listening to poetry. His throat became sore with tears. Hugo was slowly pulling it all together again. Like a true master mechanic.

“But just know... I still love you, Lillian. And if you ever find in your heart to love me again, I’d welcome you with open arms. To prove that to you, I’ve got a plan. One to commit to that promise I broke.“. Krypto’s suspicions were heavily aroused immediately. Sirens, lightbulbs, and flags began pinging madly in his mind. He leaned in again to listen deeply.

“And what’s that?“, Lillian asked bluntly. Her voice contained little venom this time. It contained more hope.

“I’m gonna sabotage the next job.“, Hugo responded- ignorant to the fact that Krypto heard every single word that came out of his mouth. The kid jolted up in his chair. Cursing under his breath, furling his knuckles, and breathing heavily- attempting to contain himself- Krypto considered calling Mr Voodoo. But there wouldn’t be any time. How the fuck would he solve this one? Krypto continued to listen in a panic.

Lillian sat staring in front of her for a long while. She practically zoned out in deep thought- gazing into deep space. Beyond that, even. She then smiled. Widely and beautifully, before throwing her arms around Hugo tightly and burying her face in his shoulder. He seemed taken aback. But, in a flash, his heart had been pieced back together- as if time had re-winded to before it shattered.

“I’ve missed you.“, Lillian said with a muffled voice. Hugo smiled warmly.

“We were only apart for three days, Lil!“, he responded jokingly. Lillian simply sat silently- face pressed hard on Hugo’s shoulder. “C’mon, let’s get outta here.”

Leading Lillian by the hand, the two walked out to their involuntary chauffeur. Krypto sighed heavily as the two stepped in. He feigned his usual happy, worry-free expression as authentically and genuinely as possible. Sitting up in the driver’s seat, he started the car.

Time to... have a talk.

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