With Cato and Sly set to return from a ‘business’ trip later that night, Marcus had to wait until his uncle returned to get answers. He couldn’t ask Noch what he meant about the deaths of their parents. He would never be able to trust what his brother had to say, but he could ask Cato. Uncle Cato would give him the truth no matter how much it hurt.
So until his uncle returned, Marcus had to resume his life as though nothing was wrong. He went into work. Made his checks and chatted with Dorian then returned to his office. That whole morning, his door opened only five times. Four when his secretary brought in and then cleaned up his both his breakfast and lunch. And the fifth was after his secretary called and said his brother was walking up just as Noch’s wide shouldered frame was walking through door.
“I think this is the first time you’ve visited me,” Marcus said chuckling.
Noch smiled sadly as he settled himself in the padded seat. “I wish I didn’t feel the need to do so today,” he said in a voice as sad as his smile.
Marcus trailed off as he stared into his brother’s eyes. Why pretend like he didn’t know exactly why his brother was here?
“What did you mean this morning?” Marcus asked. “What more could Cato know about the death of our parents?”
“I shouldn’t have said that,” Noch said. “What I know is my business and my business alone.”
“And I want to make it my business,” Marcus said. “What did you mean?”
“It’s not my place to tell you,” Noch said. “If you learn this…nothing good will-“
“Noch!” Marcus shouted.
Noch stared at Marcus for a long while before he nodded. “Our parents didn’t die in an accident,” he said quietly.
Marcus frowned as he stared at his brother. They both saw the photos. There was no other way their parents’ car could have been mangled in such a terrible wreckage.
“Dorian arranged for our parents to be killed and then made it look like an accident,” Noch said sounding miserable, choking up a bit as he finished.
Marcus froze. He couldn’t speak nor move. The only thing even keeping him conscious was the sight of Noch’s wretched face. When nothing in his brother’s face changed after a solid minute of silence, Marcus’s stomach twisted and he swallowed to keep from throwing up.
“Dad had information that was going to expose Dorian, the Lions Club, and the ITG,” Noch continued.
Marcus wanted to ask what kind of information their father had, but why bother. He personally witnessed Dorian categorically break every law of corporate finance. Dorian was the CEO who even ignored the small simple rules like re-licensing on time. Surely there was evidence of something illegal somewhere.
“What proof do you have?” Marcus asked, surprised his voice was so even.
Dorian may be one of the most corrupt businessmen in financial history, but his cousin was still a man of honor as all Spyros men were called to be. There were some things even Dorian wouldn’t do for the sake of the Lions Club. Surely…
“I did some digging before I left Damokles,” Noch said leaning back in his seat and staring out the window behind Marcus. “I found the detective who investigated the case. He gave me a copy of the original files he managed to keep. He found signs of arson at the crash site. When I talked to him, he said it looked like someone bashed Mom and Dad’s faces in too, but that could’ve come from driving off the cliff.”
Marcus focused on his breathing rather than the image of his parents’ demise.
“You were young back then,” Noch said. “Did you ever read the official findings?”
Marcus nodded slowly as the black letters ran across his mind again for the first time in nearly a decade. Black letters that said nothing of foul play. No longer able to look at his brother or even remain still for that matter, Marcus jumped to his feet and stared out of the window behind his desk as he paced. He tried to take in the sights of the city, but all he could remember was that press conference. He tried to keep the blood in his body moving, but all he could feel was that same fear from the press conference. The fear that made his muscles lock up so tightly he shivered like the legs of a newborn horse. He tried to look at the other buildings neighboring the Lions Club, but all he could see were those blaring studio lights and the shuttering of the clicking cameras, every journalist in the room leaning forward.
With his stomach roiling and his intestines bubbling, Marcus walked over to the window and placed his sweating forehead on the cool glass of the window. He focused on his breathing and before long, he stopped sweating. After another few seconds, his body calmed down and he returned to his seat. He took a sip of his long cold coffee before he finally looked up at Noch. He flinched at what he saw.
Noch was staring at his little brother with profoundly sad eyes in a face that personified pity. The look was not right on Noch’s face, but Marcus remembered those months following the death of their parents. Those were not good times for anyone. Marcus remembered Noch being the one holding him a few times after he woke up from of the night terrors.
“But why?” Marcus asked. “Why would our father want to sabotage the family like that?”
Noch scoffed. “Please don’t tell me you’re taking his side?” he asked disbelievingly, bordering on angry. “Are you really siding with the man who arranged the murder of our parents?”
“Our father was a Spyros too,” Marcus said. “That means he was raised to revere our last name and everything associated with the Minoan bloodline. That includes the Lions Club. Why did that change?”
Noch nodded. He sighed and scratched his chin for a minute before he spoke.
Marcus was confused by that answer. Between their parents, Marcus remembered always being closer to their mother. She was a lovely woman to be around and beautiful as well. Marcus remembered that clearly, but there was no reason their mother would cause enough trouble to make their father feel the need to betray his family. Marcus knew he didn’t know who his mother was as a person, but the mother he remembered would never do anything that would bring harm to her family.
“She was Haavaian,” Noch said, reading the confusion on Marcus’s face
Marcus frowned. “She was deemed unacceptable because she was Haavaian?” he asked.
“Worse," Noch answered. "She was an inferior with absolutely no connections. Mom and Dad met when they were in college and Dad married her soon after they graduated despite the wishes of the family.”
“But all Spyros are descended from the Lord of War,” Marcus said. “He was half-Haavaian.”
“A fact one of our cousins ensured was a difficult one to find out,” Noch said. “He paid a lot of money to have textbooks omit the past of the Lord of War and focus on his descent from the Snake King and Maximus the Invincible. He then pursued this campaign for racial superiority in the family. He was largely ignored but he did manage to create a stigma that festered.”
“So what happened after our parents got married?” Marcus asked.
Noch shrugged. “Well, Hanna, Addie and I got mostly normal childhoods,” he said. “We lived well but nothing even approaching the ostentation most of our family member are used to. We went to a normal public school and had normal friends. Then you came along. I guess something about me having a brother reignited something in Dad and that was when we first met Uncle Cato. One thing led to another and we became orphans a few years later.”
Marcus shook his head. “But how can you tie all of this to Dorian?” he asked. “There may have been bad blood between our father and the family but where does Dorian come in?”
Noch sighed. “Do you know how long Dorian has been leading the family?” he asked. “Almost forty something years.”
Noch nodded. “Him and Celina became the power behind the power as a teenagers,” he said. “He may have only took over the Lions Club fifteen odd years ago but he has been running the extended Minos family for twice that amount of time. Our father wouldn’t have been touched without Dorian’s consent.”
“That still doesn’t give me the proof, Noch!” Marcus cried out.
Noch sighed as he shook his head. “There’s nothing I can say or show you to convince you,” he said getting to his feet. “You’re smart enough to rationalize anything I could hope to bring to you. Dorian isn’t stupid. If he left something behind, it was because he wanted it there. But if you want the truth, really want the truth, there’s no one better placed than you to find that truth.”
Night crept up on Marcus. He’d been in his office ever since Noch left, trying to come to terms with everything he just learned. It all made sense now. The looks of hatred Cato had for Dorian, Dorian's initial mistrust of him, the guarantees, Celina, everything made sense now. Yet, how could Cato allow something like that?He knew what he had to do to get the answer, but Marcus was hesitant. His world was about to crumble around him. He was about to lose family regardless of what he did because of this and he was struggling to push the stone down the hill. Once it started, it couldn't be stopped and he hated himself for struggling with this. How could a anyone struggle with finding out the truth behind the supposed murder of their parents? Yet there he was. Sitting at his desk until night descended and the cleaning crew were his only companions in the building.
When a janitor opened the door, the poor man jumped out of his skin when he saw Marcus sitting there. Marcus didn't move and the old man gestured to ward off evil. That caught his attention and Marcus turned. At that, the janitor slowly backed out of the office and closed the door. Marcus watched the man in silence, curious about the man's reaction. There was nothing he could have done to stop the man's reaction. It was already happening before he realized what was going on. Kind of like what was going on with his family and that was when it clicked.
Marcus got to his feet and left. After a quick call to his secretary, Marcus was walking down the crème painted walls of Dorian’s Damokles condo. The building was on top of the tallest hill in Uptown and Dorian’s condo took up the entire top floor. Marcus stopped in front of the white doors and knocked. After a few seconds, the door locks jangled and the door opened.
Dorian stood there in a plush white robe with the Lions Club symbol on the front yelling back into the condo for the patience. There was female laughter and soft music coming from inside the condo and he held a fluted glass filled nearly to the brim with what had to be champagne. When he turned around and saw Marcus standing there, he smiled.
“Marcus?” Dorian asked. “Cousin? What are you doi-“
“Did you arrange for my parents to be killed?” Marcus asked with no preamble. There were too many emotions in his chest for him to waste time.
Dorian’s face actually dropped and Marcus’s heart twisted. For the head of the Spyros clan to lose control of his features, even for an instant…Noch was right.
“Come inside,” Dorian said while reaching for Marcus.
Marcus backed away before Dorian’s hand could come close to touching him. He stared at Dorian, not caring if this man he called cousin saw the disgust written into every single one of his features. Spyros training be damned. The Spyros themselves be damned, this monster along with them.
“Was my uncle involved?” Marcus managed to ask, his voice quivering just as tightly as his arms.
Dorian sighed. “Cato... figured it out,” he said.
“YOU ALL ARE MONSTERS!” Marcus shouted, tears threatening to spill out. His throat was tightening up and his heart kept beating faster and faster.
“Please cousin, let me explain,” Dorian begged.
Marcus’s head snapped up. He stared at Dorian’s throat, preparing to punch him as hard as he could when a faint boom stole his attention. Both he and Dorian looked out the south facing window of the hallway and they could distantly see tendrils of black smoke rising into the air.