33 - Young Lady, You're Scaring Me
“Motherfucker, you made it!”
Tyler turned around and saw a tall, muscular, tan-skinned man with a shaggy beard and ruffled dirty blonde hair walking in his direction. A bright smile decorated Tyler’s face as his friend Leo Volkov pulled him in for a rough hug. “How are you, man?” Leo said, patting him on the back.
“Good, good,” Tyler smiled. “We were wavering on whether we should come what with all the shit going down in New York. But Tiana knows a few students here, so she was on board. And the rest of Dark Riot jumped at the opportunity for a road trip. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to see you.”
“Yea, I know it’s been a minute,” Leo said. “You look better. Less... angry. You get back into boxing like I suggested?”
“Yea, that,” Tyler chuckled. “And...” He trailed off as he glanced at Tiana speaking to a few girls.
“Ah, shit!” Leo laughed. “Didn’t I tell you?!”
“Shut up,” Tyler smirked.
“She’s fuckin’ beautiful, bro,” Leo said. “I’m happy for you.”
“Thanks,” Tyler smiled. He noticed a rather tall, pale-skinned man with long jet-black hair and bright blue eyes walk up next to Leo.
“Oh, by the way,” Leo said. “This is Alexander, my...” Leo looked at Alexander perplexed. “I have no fucking clue what to call you,” Leo said bewildered.
“Let’s just say friend for now,” Alexander grinned as he took Tyler’s hand.
“Wait for it. Wait for it...”
Kiara and Sasha leaned in, practically holding their breaths as they watched the loading screen on Tiana’s phone. “Girl, how long is this supposed to take?!” Sasha blurted.
“Child, if you don’t get some damn patience!” Tiana snapped at her.
Suddenly the screen loaded to the main dashboard of the mobile app. “OOOOOWEEE!” Kiara screamed. “That’s so cool!”
“Right?!” Tiana said as she tapped on her phone. “And watch this. Just put in your location, and...” The screen flashed “Massachusetts” at the top and showed several red dots. “Gives you an immediate update on how many people are infected in your area,” Tiana smirked.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Kiara squealed as she clapped her hands with excitement. “And that’s pulling from my data?!”
“And Gabrielle’s main database, yup,” Tiana said. “Real-time data right here.”
“Baaaaad aaaassssss,” Sasha smirked. “Girl, didn’t I tell you, you could do it.”
“Sasha, your rude ass threatened me,” Tiana said with a raised brow.
“True... But you still jumped at the opportunity,” Sasha grinned. “My cousin is going to freaking love this.”
“She really is!” Kiara said excitedly. “I can’t believe you came up with something so user-friendly and intuitive so quickly! That’s beyond impressive.”
“What’s impressive is you working to create a cure for one of the nation’s biggest diseases. Deadass, they better put you in a damn history book,” Tiana grinned.
“Exactly,” Sasha said.
Kiara smiled shyly. “Thanks, ladies. But honestly, it’s a group effort. We all need each other to make this work. We’re like the-”
“Kiara, don’t say it-” Sasha grinned.
“A-Force!” Kiara beamed.
“Wow... I’m home,” Tiana laughed.
A small, pert smile sat on Tyler’s face as he heard Tiana laugh. Few things brought him more joy than hearing her laughter. “I love seeing her like this,” Owen said. “This was a good idea. She needed this.”
Tyler nodded as he looked at his brother. “Until she finds out about her mother...”
“She can’t,” Owen said quickly. “Not yet. Not until we’ve exhausted all of our options.”
Tyler twisted his mouth in frustration. “Did you... talk to him? To David?”
Owen sighed as he averted his eyes. “Yea...”
“What did he say?” Tyler asked.
Owen lowered his head as he thought back to his visit with David:
“Owen,” David said surprised when he opened the door to his apartment and met a stoic Owen standing on the other side. “How... unexpected.”
“Can I come in?” Owen asked. David nodded as he stepped aside to let Owen in. Owen looked around the apartment that was rather clean since Miles wasn’t around. “Where’s Miles?” Owen asked.
“Working,” David said. “Finally convinced his lazy self to get up and get a job. I refuse to buy his video games anymore.”
Owen smirked. “Sounds like Miles can be a bit of a man-child.”
David laughed. “You don’t know the half of it.”
Owen chuckled as he leaned back against the couch and crossed his arms over his chest. “I uh... wanted to talk to you about... Tiana.”
David furrowed his brow in concern as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. “How is she?”
“Emotionally stable... for now...” Owen said lowly.
David raised his head once it clicked. “You came here to ask for my help.”
Owen stared at David as if it should have been obvious.
“Is that all I’m good for?” David laughed.
“David...” Owen sighed.
“I’m kidding,” David chuckled. “I know her mother isn’t doing well, and... I did promise her I’d help her.”
Owen stared at David. “It would mean a lot to her. To both of us.”
David looked up at Owen with a peculiar gaze. “I’m still not over her, Owen.”
“I know,” Owen said.
“And I’m really into you,” David added.
“I figured that...” Owen said.
David raised a brow as he leaned back. “So then, how exactly do you expect this to work?”
Owen deeply exhaled as he anxiously ran his fingers through his hair. “I don’t know, David. I just... I know that she’s gone through enough, and... as much as I love her. And Jason and Tyler love her. We can’t... save her mother. Not alone... not without you...”
David shook his head as he folded his arms across his chest and looked to the side. “So I guess how I feel doesn’t really matter.”
“I never said that.”
“But you did,” David said. “I love her, Owen. I haven’t spoken to her in months, and it kills me because I desperately miss her. And now, you expect me to just... forego those feelings?”
“I’m asking you... to help me help her,” Owen stated.
“You’re asking me to risk more heartbreak,” David argued.
Owen shook his head and sighed. “I was in love with Tiana for years before I told her how I felt. And it took someone holding a gun to her head, and you getting shot. I’ll never forgive myself for that.” David looked away as if the memory was still painful. “Tiana cares about you, David,” Owen said. “And she misses you. She needs you.” David scoffed as he rubbed his temples.
Owen watched David and swallowed thickly. He thought carefully about his next words, hoping he wouldn’t regret them. “And she’s not the only one...” Owen finished.
David looked up at Owen suddenly to see him walking towards him. He backed up slightly as Owen cornered him against the wall. “Don’t start something you don’t intend to finish, Owen,” David said hesitantly.
Owen smirked as he looked from David’s eyes to his lips. “I always finish,” Owen said before he pressed his lips against David’s. David hesitated for just a moment before he pushed his tongue against Owen’s lips, begging for entrance. Owen opened his mouth and their tongues clashed together as if they were lovers who hadn’t seen each other in decades.
Owen’s hands strayed to David’s waist as his fingers danced beneath David’s shirt. He felt his warm skin against his fingertips before he hungrily pressed them into his waist. He could feel David’s bulge harden and grow with a vengeance against his own erection that was straining against his pants. Owen’s lips scoured across David’s jawline and down his neck as his tongue licked at his hot flesh. His hand unapologetically stroked David’s manhood as if he owned him.
David let out a throaty groan and shuddered as he felt Owen’s hand dip into his jeans. His member stiffened within Owen’s grasp, and Owen chuckled in amusement at David’s overly sensitive reaction. “Have you been pent up or something?” Owen teased.
“What do you think?” David said sarcastically.
Owen grinned. “You have two hands for a reason, David. Masturbation is a great release…” he winked. David swallowed hard before he pushed Owen off him. Owen looked at him confused. “Did I misread this-” Owen started.
“I want both of you,” David said abruptly.
Owen looked at David like he was crazy. “There’s no way, David. Tiana is off limits-”
“Bullshit,” David snapped. Owen looked at him surprised. “I don’t care if you think I’m selfish,” David said, pressing his face into Owen’s neck. He tenderly kissed Owen’s Adam’s apple as his tongue trailed over his skin. David grabbed Owen’s waist as he took on the role of aggressor. Owen pulled his head back until David’s hazel-green eyes met his.
“I want both of you…” David said seriously. “Not just her. Not just you... Both.”
Owen snapped out of his memory and looked at his brother. “What?”
“I asked what he said,” Tyler repeated. Owen swallowed as he licked his lips. He went to speak when they heard Jason.
“WATCH OUT! DAVIS BROTHERS COMING THROUGH!” Jason said, carrying Jeremy on his back.
“Technically, I’m a Gibson...” Jeremy chuckled nervously as he jumped off of Jason’s back.
“Semantics, bro, semantics,” Jason grinned as he pulled him forward. He turned to Tyler and Owen. “Allow me to introduce my own flesh and blood. My little brother: Jeremy,” Jason beamed.
“H-hey, everyone,” Jeremy waved shyly.
“Sweet!” Tyler said. He grabbed Jeremy’s hand and pulled him in for a rough hug. “Welcome to the family, man. Jason’s told us a lot about you.”
“Like how you hacked into the FBI’s database. Fucking badass, bro,” Owen said, patting him on the back. “Those hacker skills clearly run in the family.”
“And the Pentagon and the CIA,” Jason smirked.
“Shh! Don’t say that too loud!” Jeremy chuckled in a whisper. “But, yea. I thought it was really cool when I found out that Jason was into computers too. We really are brothers.”
“I still gotta meet Brandon,” Jason said.
“You will eventually,” Jeremy said. “We’ll visit New York.”
“You better!” Jason said. He looked up as Raven approached them.
“You guys coming to perform or not,” she said. “Ooooh, who’s this cute little guy.”
“I’m not that little...” Jeremy muttered.
“Just need to lift, bro. That’s all,” Jason smirked as he pinched Jeremy’s bicep.
“Leave the boy alone,” Owen said. “Brains over brawn.”
“As if you can’t have both,” Tyler smirked.
“Exactly,” Jason added.
“Come on, we gotta go,” Raven said, nudging them. “My band is already set up.”
“Right, right,” Jason said, turning to Jeremy. “Now, you get to watch us perform live. Take notes, little bro, cause Imma teach you how to play the drums too.”
“Okay,” Jeremy chuckled as he watched them walk to the stage. He looked at Tyler who stayed behind with him. “Have you known Jason long?” he asked.
“All my life,” Tyler said. “He’s basically my brother. Which... I guess makes you my brother too.”
Jeremy smiled warmly. “Yea, I guess it does.”
“I’m so glad I got to see you again,” Shae said, hugging her friend Ava.
“Me too,” Ava said, pulling back from Shae. “How have you been holding up?”
Shae nodded. “Better, honestly. I’ve been practicing my magic here and there. Still wish I could tell Tiana, but she’s got so much going on right now...”
“In time,” Ava smiled. “At least you have Joey.”
“Yea,” Shae smiled gratefully. “He’s honestly such an angel to believe me... and keep my secret. I’m surprised he doesn’t think I’m crazy.”
“Just means he’s the one,” Ava said. “Or as we say in my world, your mate. I just recently found mine. He’s a little crazy and stubborn as hell, but... I love him.” Ava looked at the stage and saw her lover Cole rocking out with Joey and Owen as they headbanged like they were possessed.
“Why can’t we be with normal men?” Shae smirked.
“I wish I knew,” Ava laughed. “But then... life would be boring.”
“Facts,” Shae said.
Shae and Ava saw Kiara, Ava’s sister Rhea, and Tiana walking towards them. “Don’t just stand around, girl! Dance!” Rhea said, grabbing Ava’s hand. As the party went on, the girls danced for the first time in a while, not feeling the heavy burden they had gotten so used to on their shoulders.
“Oi! I need a break,” Kiara panted. “I feel a little dizzy.”
“Girl, you didn’t even drink,” Tiana smirked. “Maybe it’s your pregnancy hormones.”
“I’m barely pregnant!” Kiara squealed. “Oh god, I’m gonna vomit! Trash can! Trash can!”
“I got her,” Tiana said to Ava and Rhea. She walked Kiara outside of the gym and led her to the bathroom.
“Ugh... god... I hate puking,” Kiara groaned as she leaned over the trash can.
“You and me both, boo,” Tiana said, holding Kiara’s hair back. “Except mine is usually from... alcohol.”
Kiara smirked at Tiana as she wiped her mouth. “I still can’t believe I’m pregnant...”
“It’s a good thing though... right?” Tiana asked.
Kiara gave Tiana a weak smile. “Yea... I mean... Leo and Alexander are happy.”
“Are you happy?” Tiana asked.
Kiara nodded with a frown. “I am... but it doesn’t mean I’m not... terrified.”
Tiana rubbed Kiara’s back comfortingly. “I get it. Being a new mother can be a scary thing. But you’re a pretty amazing person, Kiara. Your son or daughter will have a great role model to look up to. They’ll be able to say their mom helped save thousands of people.”
Kiara smiled. “That’s so sweet. I never thought of it like that. Thanks, Tiana.”
“Anytime, boo,” Tiana said, hugging her. Kiara warmly embraced Tiana before her body violently shook. Tiana quickly pulled back and looked at Kiara. Her eyes had nearly rolled to the back of her head. “Kiara?! Kiara!!” Tiana said, shaking her. Kiara quickly snapped out of it and looked at Tiana in fear. “What the hell?! Are you okay?!” Tiana panicked. “Did you just have a seizure? Maybe I should call the ambulance!”
“No, no!” Kiara said, pushing Tiana’s phone down. “That... that just happens sometimes...”
Tiana looked at Kiara bewildered. “Girl, is you serious?? That can’t be normal.”
“It is for me...” Kiara said, rubbing her arms. She looked at Tiana and bit her lip. “Does the number 0821 sound familiar to you?”
“Huh?” Tiana asked, confused.
“0821,” Kiara repeated. “Ring any bells?”
Tiana blinked at her. “Um... no. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Kiara bit down on her bottom lip as her eyes fell. “Yea, I... think I just need some water...” Tiana furrowed her brow as she grabbed Kiara’s hand and walked her back into the gym.
As the party died down, everyone packed up and said their goodbyes. “Don’t be a stranger, man,” Tyler said, hugging Leo. “Stop by New York anytime. We’ll go riding down I-95.”
“Sounds good,” Leo said.
“I set up a video message for you, me, and Mikayla,” Jeremy said to Jason. “I just have to link up Brandon.”
“SHWEEET!” Jason said, giving Jeremy a huge bear hug. “See ya around, little bro! Love ya!”
“Love you too,” Jeremy blushed.
“Text me when you get home?” Kiara said, hugging Tiana.
Tiana chuckled. “Yes, mother dearest.”
“And Tiana,” Kiara said, quickly grabbing Tiana’s hand before she could leave. “Please call me if you need anything, okay?”
Tiana grinned. “Okay, PREGNANT LADY who lives 4 hours away. I’ll call you if I need something from your seizure-having ass.”
Kiara chuckled nervously as Tiana gave her another hug. She watched her walk away with Shae as Rhea and Ava walked up next to her. “You okay, Kiara?” Rhea asked.
Kiara swallowed hard as she looked at Tiana. “I don’t know. I just... have a bad feeling...”
“Shit, baby girl! Damn. Take it, baby.”
Jason leaned his head back against the headboard as he held Tiana’s hair in his grasp. Her head rotated on his manhood as she sucked him into her mouth taking him completely in. “Goddamn, baby... I love the way you take Daddy’s dick,” Jason groaned.
Tiana was on all fours, going at Jason’s manhood like she needed it to survive. They had spent the whole trip back flirting with each other so much so that she nearly devoured him by the time they got back home.
Tyler hung up his phone and looked through the window of Tiana’s bedroom. He saw Tiana’s ass wide in the air and Jason looking like he was about to explode. He grinned as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. “If this isn’t the hottest fucking thing I’ve ever seen,” Tyler smirked.
Tiana felt the bed dip behind her before she felt Tyler’s large hands grab her hips. He teased the hem of her panties, and she immediately removed her mouth from Jason’s manhood. “Tyler, please-” she started. But she already heard the dreadful tear. “Dammit, Tyler! Why are you like this?!” she groaned.
“I buy you a pack almost every other week, baby,” Tyler said, tossing her torn panties before he spread her cheeks. Tiana rolled her eyes before she felt Jason’s wet head slap against her lips. She smirked up at him and kissed it before slipping it between her lips again.
“Oh fuck...” Jason sighed.
“Oh fuck is right,” Tyler said, slipping his fingers between her legs and along her folds. He could feel her wetness soaking his fingers as he played with her clit. “You’re so fucking wet for me, Tiana.” Tyler grabbed her hips before his massive head rubbed against her labia. “Deep breath, baby,” Tyler said before shoving himself deep inside of her.
Tiana nearly gagged on Jason’s dick as she squealed from Tyler’s abrupt thrust. Her eyes closed tight as Tyler started to pound mercilessly into her cunt. Her mouth moved furiously before she felt Jason’s grip on her hair tighten. He let out a desperate groan before his warm, salty semen emptied into her mouth. “Oh god! Oh fuck!” Jason breathed out as he tried to catch his breath. He removed himself from Tiana who was panting like a dog in heat.
Jason pulled up his pants and sat on the bed next to Tiana as a grin came to his face. “Ty is fucking the shit out of you, isn’t he, baby girl?” he grinned. He wiped some of his cum from her lip and slipped his finger into her mouth. “You like the way he punishes that pussy, baby?”
“I know she fucking loves it,” Tyler growled. He wrapped her hair around his hand and roughly pulled her head back. “Don’t you, Tiana.”
Tiana gasped for air and her legs quivered. “Oh god, Tyler!”
“Got our baby screamin’ so much, you’d think she’s in church,” Jason smirked.
“You’re going to hell,” Tyler said to him as he never missed a beat.
“Your nasty ass is comin’ with me, bro,” Jason snickered.
“Can you both shut up!” she whined. “This is so distracting!”
“That’s not very nice, babe,” Tyler said. He smacked her ass hard, causing her to squeal.
“Not nice at all,” Jason said, grabbing her chin. He pressed his lips against hers, tasting himself on her tongue.
She gasped as Tyler’s fingers roamed purposefully between her legs and rotated in agonizing circles on her clit as his manhood continued to move in and out of her tight cunt. “Tyler, I’m gonna,” she panted.
“I’m not ready for you to come, baby,” Tyler grinned.
“Tyler, please!” she gasped.
Tyler winked at Jason before he slammed into her. He reveled in the pleasure of hearing her scream before she was releasing herself all over his hand and milking his fingers with her essence. “That’s the trick to making her squirt,” Tyler grinned.
“Meh,” Jason said. “I still prefer my ropes.”
Tyler fucked her with deep domineering strokes so that she felt him in her stomach. He came deep inside of her before she collapsed onto the bed. She panted like she was dying until she felt her body get pulled into Jason’s arms. “Did Ty break you?” Jason said, kissing her lips.
“Kinda,” she groaned.
“Sorry, baby. Your ass is just too good to resist,” Tyler said, lying down on the other side of her. She felt his hand rest on her hip as he kissed her shoulder. “Do you forgive me?”
“No,” she muttered. Jason laughed out loud when suddenly they heard the doorbell ring. Tyler and Jason exchanged looks. “Do you guys wanna get that?” she asked.
“It’s best not to answer it,” Jason said.
“J...” Tyler said, giving him a flat face.
Tiana looked at the two of them confused before she rolled her eyes. She stumbled out of bed and pulled on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. “Who said you could put on clothes?” Tyler grinned.
“Someone has to get the door!” she smirked at him. “Owen might have forgotten his key again.”
“And you need clothes for that?” Jason asked. “I’m sure Owen would love to greet you naked.” Tyler laughed out loud as Tiana rolled her eyes.
“You guys are ridiculous. I can barely walk, and yet I’m the one answering the door,” she said, walking to the bathroom. She quickly washed out her mouth and cleaned off her face before she put her hair up. She expected the doorbell to ring again, but it didn’t. “Hello?” she said, walking to the door. She looked through the peephole when her eyes widened in shock. She swung the door open and saw David standing in front of her. “David?!” she blurted.
“Hey, Tiana,” David smiled.
“What... what are you doing here?” she asked.
“We asked him to come,” Owen said, stepping out from behind David.
Tiana looked at Owen confused. “We?”
“Me,” Owen gestured with his chin. “Ty. Jason.”
Tiana glanced over her shoulder and saw Jason leaning against the wall with his arms folded over his chest. Tyler perched himself on the edge of the couch with his hands sitting in his pockets. He gave her a small smile she could barely make out. “I’m... confused...” she said.
“Well,” David said, approaching her. “The guys updated me about your mother, and... I’m here to offer my help.”
Tiana’s eyes widened in shock. “Wait, really?”
“I promised I’d help you anyway, remember?” David smiled. Tiana tried to swallow down the tickle in her throat. She looked back at Jason and Tyler who, though still seemed hesitant, nodded their approval. “That is... if you still want my help,” David said.
Tiana looked at David and beamed as tears came to her eyes. “Of course I do!” she said, jumping into his arms. David stumbled back as he caught Tiana in his embrace. He chuckled warmly as he wrapped his arms tightly around her body.
A soft smile came to Owen’s face as he watched the two of them hug. He glanced over at Jason and Tyler who seemed less comfortable about the way David was touching her. Tyler loudly cleared his throat, trying to get Tiana and David’s attention. “We um... have space here to work, if you want.”
David looked at Tyler and nodded. “Thanks.”
“I’ll get my computer!” Tiana said excitedly. “I have all these hypotheses I need to run by you!”
“Okay,” David chuckled as he let her go. The guys watched her run upstairs.
“We uh... appreciate... you doing this for her,” Tyler said. “She needs the help.”
“That is what you’re here for... right?” Jason said with a bit of warning in his voice. “To help.” David made an awkward face to the subtle threat in Jason’s tone.
“Yes,” Owen said quickly. “He’s here to help her. That’s what we all want. To help Tiana. Right, Jason?” Jason sucked his teeth and rolled his eyes as he walked away.
Owen gave Tyler a look and Tyler sighed. “I’ll talk to him...” Tyler said, following Jason.
“Off to a great start,” David sighed, as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.
“We’re just protective of her. They need time,” Owen said.
“How ironic,” David said, turning to Owen. “First you come to me for my help. Then you try to manipulate me by dangling yourself in front of me-”
“David, I wasn’t-”
“Don’t lie to me, Owen. I’m not stupid. I know what you were doing,” David interrupted him. “You tell me not only that I can’t have Tiana, but that you’re out of the picture too. Forgive my shortness, but I can’t help but wonder why the hell I’m here.”
Owen took a deep breath as he felt his shoulders grow heavy. He knew David had every right to be upset. But at this point, he was desperate. They all were. “Your reason for being here is upstairs. Your reason for being here is almost at her breaking point. Your reason for being here is holding on to her sanity and what little hope she has left by a thread,” Owen said. “You’re here because... even after it’s all said and done… you still care about her, David. And you want to help her.”
David’s gaze lingered on Owen for a long moment before he lowered his eyes and slowly exhaled. Owen took a step forward. “I know it’s not ideal… and I’m not trying to invalidate how you feel. But I need to know that Tiana won’t have to bury her mother. I need to know there’s a way to fix this.”
David searched Owen’s eyes and sighed. “I’ll do what I can.”
“See, but this one isn’t a match.”
David stopped typing on his laptop and leaned over to glance at Tiana’s tablet. “That’s because that’s a cell organism, not the actual virus,” David said.
“They all look the same to me!” she blurted.
“Okay, relax,” he said, grabbing her tablet. He tapped it with his finger and showed it to her. “Cell organisms have more structure. The virus has less of a shape,” he said, pointing. “See how it kind of sticks out?”
“Yea...” she said, rubbing her cheek. “There’s so many of them... This record says it’s all over her body.”
“The infection has had time to spread throughout her body,” David explained. “That’s why she lost mobility in her limbs. It kills red blood cells and causes white blood cells to attack themselves.”
“God...” Tiana said anxiously. “So, if it reaches her brain...” Tiana frantically put her hands in her hair. “Oh god!”
“Relax, Tiana,” David said, grabbing her hand. “There’s still a way to fight it off. Ever heard of cell regeneration?”
“For dead cells though?”
“The technology. The science exists,” he said.
“But where?” she asked anxiously.
“Tiana,” David said, holding her arms comfortingly. He looked down into her worried eyes. “I told you, I’d help you. We’ll figure this out... okay?”
Tiana slowly nodded. “Okay...”
Owen leaned against the wall sipping a cup of coffee as he cautiously watched Tiana and David. “How are they doing?” Tyler asked, walking up next to him.
Owen looked at his brother and sighed. “I have no fucking clue...”
“Place this one on the board. We’ll come back to it later,” David said, handing Tiana a post-it. Tiana got up from the living room floor and rushed to the large pin board on their wall. She ran back to her spot next to David on the floor as Jason walked into the living room. He eyed the two of them working closely together, touching. They were so focused on what was in front of them that it irritated him.
“What about this one?” Tiana asked, pointing.
“You’re getting the hang of this. Good,” David said, touching her thigh. “Put that one up too.”
Tiana ran up to the board when she noticed Jason. “Hi, baby,” she smiled.
“Hey...” Jason said, watching her. “How’s it uh... going?”
“We’re making great progress,” she said. “David taught me how to distinguish the benign cells from the malignant ones. Now, we’re piecing together what proteins are needed to help develop the medication to keep her sustained.”
“Wow, that’s incredible, baby girl,” Jason smiled.
“I know right! We’re so close!” she beamed.
David looked up at her and smiled as she ran back over to sit next to him. He caught the frustrated look of jealousy in Jason’s eye. “Would you like to help?” David asked.
“Of course I do. She’s my girl,” Jason snapped. Tiana looked up at Jason and pleaded with a frown. “I mean... what can I do,” he muttered.
David handed Jason a post-it. “We need to find out where these files derived from. Tiana tells me you guys are good with computers? If we can find the source, we may get more insight into how this developed in the first place.”
Jason took the post-it. “I’ll get on it.”
Tiana tapped away at her computer as her eyes frantically searched the screen. She opened up another one of Dante’s HeaTWave files and found her father’s medical records. “What the...” she said confused.
Owen and Tyler walked into the living room to see Jason and Tiana working, while David was out to get more research supplies. “Guys...” she said. “Can you take a look at this?” The three of them moved towards her and looked at the screen. “I just found an entire file of my pops’ medical records in one of Dante’s locked folders,” she said. “He’s been holding both of my parents’ medical records. I don’t-”
“Maybe he just wanted to store them for safekeeping,” Tyler said.
Tiana furrowed her brow as she clicked the mouse. “This is weird.”
“What?” Owen asked, leaning forward.
“These records show that my mom has the same exact symptoms as my dad did,” she looked at the three of them. “The same disease!”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Jason said. “Didn’t the doctors say your dad’s illness was only common among war veterans?”
“Exactly!” Tiana said. “I’m so confused. How... how could-”
“What’s the name of the company that was taking care of your dad?” Owen asked.
Tiana scrolled. “BioPharma Tech Co.”
“BioPharma Tech Co.,” Owen said, looking at Jason and Tyler. “Let’s look into them.”
“Violent protests have broken out in the streets of East Harlem after the disease outbreak that has been nicknamed ‘the devil’s breath’ claimed another life. Jose Ruiz, a 33-year old father of two died last night on his way to the hospital.”
A Hispanic woman came on screen holding one of her son’s hands as she cried hysterically.
“He was such a good man. Such a good husband. He was okay one day and now he’s dead. Yo no se. Porque, Dios Mio! Porque?!”
“Jose Ruiz is just one of the hundreds of victims to lose his life to this terrifying disease.”
Owen perched himself on the couch as his eyes never wavered from the TV screen. They had been doing a 60-minute special on the outbreak that had taken the Northeast by storm.
“They killin’ us out here, man,” a young Latino said onscreen with his friend. “First, they said it was nothing. It’s the *beep* flu. This ain’t no mother*beep*ing flu! Jose was my boy. He was mad fit! Did they even show you what he looked like? Blood coming out his ears, nose, and mouth! What flu does that, huh? They straight lyin’ out here! They tryna’ kill us!”
Owen sighed as his head dropped. This outbreak was really getting to them, and he had never felt more helpless.
“You still watching this shit?”
Owen looked up to see Tyler stroll into the living room with a beer. “It’s crazy out there, Ty,” Owen said. “I’m worried...” Tyler twisted his mouth and handed his beer to Owen. Owen sighed as he took the beer and sipped it.
“While some of the public is convinced the government is hiding some sort of conspiracy, reporters have also reached out for comments to Mr. Michael Beaumont of Beaumont & Sons who is temporarily in New York.”
A few reporters could be seen running up to Michael Beaumont as he walked out of a building trailed by three security guards. “Mr. Beaumont! This disease has claimed yet another person’s life only days from the last death. What do you have to say to that?”
“It is very unfortunate, and I send my sincerest regards to the Ruiz family. My team is doing everything in its power to help assist with finding a cure,” Michael said as he tried to walk past them.
“What do you have to say about the rumors that your company caused this disease in the first place?” another reporter asked.
“The idea is absolutely preposterous,” Michael said. “And I refuse to entertain it.”
“Typical,” Tyler scoffed. “Guy runs a fucking pharmaceutical company and he thinks it ‘preposterous’ that people would make that connection? It’s fucking logic.”
“He works with Arthur, Ty,” Owen said. “I’m pretty sure they have nothing to do with this. They’re trying to stop it.”
“Are they?” Tyler said, looking at Owen. “Owen, they’re fucking Sons of the Elite. They’re the most dangerous mobster families in the fucking world. They’ve got every government wrapped around their fingers. They go on TV and act like they didn’t just murder a bunch of people.”
“Where is this coming from?” Owen asked, surprised. “You know how they operate.”
“I know how Arthur operates,” Tyler said. “I don’t know shit about this Irish dude with the fancy suit.” Owen tensed up as he looked back at the TV. Tyler sighed as he walked up to his brother and sat down next to him.
“I’m not trying to be negative here, Owen,” he said. “I’m just... freaked out. I mean you’ve been doing the most research on this. Should we trust Arthur? Should we trust a guy that people call the Blue Kaiser or the Blonde Lycan? I mean... we’ve seen what they’ve done...”
“You sympathized with them at one point,” Owen said.
“I did...” Tyler said, looking down. “But, I don’t know, bro... Some things aren’t adding up.”
“What do you mean?” Owen asked.
Tyler sighed. “Jason and I looked into that BioPharma Tech Company that was taking care of Tiana’s dad... Owen, they’re under the ownership of both Richardson LLP and Beaumont & Sons.”
“Wait, seriously?!” Owen said.
“Think about it,” Tyler continued. “A company disguised as a Real Estate Investment Trust but specializes in weaponry and a company that specializes in weaponized pharmaceuticals teams up... and they’re both Sons of the Elite... both end up with a medical doctor who creates a national foundation… and everyone just starts... dying? That doesn’t seem suspect to you?”
Owen looked at Tyler as his mind ran at a million miles per second. “There’s no way they’d be able to get away with that without Gabrielle knowing,” Owen said.
“Who said she doesn’t know?” Tyler asked.
“Ty,” Owen said, shaking his head. “This is Tiana’s boss we’re talking about here.”
“That’s precisely why I’m bringing this up, Owen!” Tyler said. “I’m trying to protect our girl! If the Richardsons and the Beaumonts really are responsible for all of this... OUR GIRL is in danger!”
“You guys have got to be kidding me,” Tiana laughed from the couch.
“Tiana,” Tyler said firmly.
“Baby, stop,” Tiana said, putting her hand up. “You’re really outchea tryna convince me that my boss, the baddest bitch around, is purposely trying to kill all these people? Like she’s Darkseid or some shit? Boy bye.”
“Tiana, we’re being serious,” Tyler said.
“You’re being silly is what you’re being,” she said. “I mean do you hear yourselves? Gabrielle is not the bad guy here. She’s trying to save us! She’s been saving people since she done walked out her mama’s womb. Have you read her biography? The girl is no joke.”
“Baby, we need you to take off the rose-colored glasses for just a second... and think,” Jason said. “BioPharma Tech Co. is owned by the men your boss is married to.”
“That... that must be a coincidence,” Tiana said quickly.
“Tiana,” Tyler said more firmly. “Seriously, baby, think!”
Tiana looked at Owen, Jason, and Tyler standing before her. Owen seemed unsure, but Jason and Tyler seemed rather persistent. “Guys...” she said, shaking her head. “Gabrielle is... my hero. She would never do something like this. She promised she would put an end to this.”
“She also promised she would look into helping your mother,” Jason said. “Has she even picked up her file?”
Tiana swallowed as she looked down. She remembered the video chat she had with Gabrielle weeks ago about her terminally-ill mother. Gabrielle had promised to make her mother a priority, but... she hadn’t heard a word from her about it since. “She’s just... really busy...” Tiana muttered.
“She was just on TV doing another press conference!” Tyler snapped. He walked up to her and crouched down in front of her. “Tiana, baby, look at me.” Tiana looked down at Tyler and saw the deep concern in his brown eyes.
“I’m not trying to turn you against her. I’m not even sure my assumption is true, but... The Richardsons and the Beaumonts are part of an industry in which they profit off of other people’s pain. Their revenue soars when people die. It’s like our government. We don’t fight in other countries for our freedom, we fight for oil. We value profit over the lives of actual people.”
“All signs are pointing to them, babe,” Jason added. “Did you ever consider they’re the ones causing this. That maybe... we’ve been chasing the wrong bad guys...”
Tiana swallowed hard, overwhelmed by the new revelation Jason and Tyler were telling her. Tons of thoughts swirled in her mind as she started to second guess everything. She looked at Owen who had the same look of conflict dancing in his eyes.
David leaned back against the couch resting his chin on his fist. He looked intently at the large board scattered with all the notes he and Tiana had put up. He glanced at the door and saw Tiana walk in with Owen, Jason, and Tyler behind her. “Hey,” David said, standing to his feet.
“Did you figure it out?” she asked.
“No,” David said, shaking his head with a sigh. “There’s still one source missing. The E-35 file is like the last missing puzzle piece to this game.”
“None of the sources I gave you worked?” Jason asked.
“They did,” David said. “But I’m still missing that last one. Not sure where you pulled the others from, but I’m guessing it might be the same location.”
“Actually, I pulled it from the B-R Foundation’s database,” Jason said.
Tiana looked at Jason in pure shock. “Can you ask me next time you hack into my boss’s database.”
Tiana glanced at Owen who looked at her with concern. “Did you hear what he said?” Owen asked.
“What?” she asked.
“He got those files... from Gabrielle’s database,” Owen said. “Why would she have those files?”
Tiana furrowed her brow. “Because I asked her to look into it.”
“The upload date was last year, Tiana...” Jason said.
Tiana swallowed hard as her jaw tensed. “Okay... Then pull E-35.”
“I pulled every source from the database, already,” Jason said.
“If you couldn’t retrieve it... that means it’s a hardware,” David said. “You’d have to physically pull it.”
Tiana sighed as she looked down with heavy shoulders. “I have access to all B-R locations.”
“Tiana, you don’t-” Owen started.
“I have to,” Tiana said quickly. “And if Gabrielle is really innocent... then this will prove it.”
“Innocent?” David asked, confused. “Innocent of what?”
The group exchanged looks before Tiana spoke up. “David, can you... give us a minute?” David raised a curious brow. “It’s just a little personal,” she said.
“Sure,” David said. “I need to check up on Miles anyway. Make sure he hasn’t gotten fired from his new job yet.” Tiana chuckled as she watched David walk out of the living room.
“David can’t know we’re part of RaVage,” Owen said. “It could put his life in danger.”
“Agreed,” Tyler added. “We hack computers just like any computer experts. That’s it.”
“Baby, are you sure you wanna do this?” Jason asked. “Hack into your boss’s physical database?”
Tiana nodded apprehensively. “They have a storage place located in downtown Manhattan. I have employee access to the building, but... I’m pretty sure the actual room is on lockdown.”
“Well, she’s with three Sons of the Elite, so I highly doubt security will be easy to get past,” Tyler groaned. “We could recruit Darren.”
“Nah,” Jason said. “Leave him. He told me he’s finally taking Anna out on a date.” Tyler and Owen smirked amused.
“Then you plan this one out, Rogue,” Owen said, looking at Tiana.
Tiana looked at Owen startled. “Me?”
“Yea,” Owen said. “This is your assignment. Gabrielle is your boss. And this is for your mother. We don’t wanna screw this shit up. You know better than us. You lead the way.”