That Freelance Kid

Chapter 13

By the time Apollo was back outside, he was more confused than ever. He stood by his car and stared at the flyer in his hand, watching the drizzle slightly mix the colors together.

'Come One, Come all, To Mask DeMasque's Grand Ball!'The flier proclaimed in bold colors of green, red and gold.

In the center of the flier was a silver face mask with the mouth cut away to expose the mouth. At the very bottom was basic information, informing Apollo that the 'Grand Ball' would take place on Saturday at seven P.M, in the Gatewater Hotel, with special entertainment provided by the cast of the Berry Big Circus, catering from a fancy restaurant, and more.

Apollo looked up from the flier and looked across the street, staring straight at the Gatewater Hotel. He drifted off, recalling the conversation he had just finished with Mr. Wright.

"An old friend of mine is hosting a party." Phoenix had explained, as if knowing a once infamous public icon was no big deal whatsoever.

"I'm inviting Ema and Klavier . Not together, so they won't know the other is coming. I want you to come , but you don't have to talk to them if you don't want to. Hold on, Justice. Before you ask, let me explain. I want you to come, and just watch them. And if you see something that you know isn't right, then you speak if you feel the need to speak."

"What if they see each other? I mean, if they see each other, they probably won't even talk. " Apollo asked.

"You let me worry about that, Justice."

"But Mr. Wright, I don't-"

"It's all right. Everything will turn out just fine."

With that, Phoenix had handed him a flyer, and sent him on his way. In addition to the flyer, Phoenix gave him enough money for the entry fee.

Apollo tore his gaze away from the flyer long enough to get in his car, and drive back to his apartment. His mind was whirring about what he was going to tell Vera, or if he was going to tell her at all.

Apollo's thoughts drifted toward Vera. They'd been dating for a while now-their two year anniversary was coming up soon- and Apollo was thinking about proposing to her soon. He loved her, and he knew she loved him back, but it was the lack of money that concerned him. "What if I can't take care of her?" He thought anxiously. It's not like Vera was high maintenance, but it did cost a bit of money for her paused as he pulled up into the parking structure of their apartment. Apollo had to tell Vera about everything-there was no way he could continue to hide this from her now. "Besides," He thought, "I know from watching the Gavins that a relationship full of lies and evasions won't work out in the end." If he was serious about marrying Vera, he had to tell her truth.

When he stepped inside the apartment, he found Vera on the couch, wrapped up tightly in a blanket and sniffing softly, sketching something on her drawing pad.

"Hey, you okay?" He asked, moving warily towards the couch.

She turned to face him, then quickly grabbed a tissue from a box next to her and wiped her nose. "I think I caught daddy's cold." She replied, sniffing again for emphasis.

Apollo sighed, then sat down next to her on the couch. "I'm not going to be here this Saturday." He admitted quickly, shifting his position get a better look at her face.

Vera regarded him curiously. "Where are you going?"

"Actually, before that…I'm going to be honest with you."

Apollo saw concern flicker in her eyes. "Is everything all right, Apollo?" She asked, setting down her unfinished sketch.

"Yeah, everything is fine. It's just…" Apollo paused, then took a deep breath. "You remember that 'editor' I've been talking about? Well, he's not really an editor. He's an ex-attorney, and he's got me roped up in a little situation I don't think I'll be able to pull out of anymore."

It surprised Apollo how Vera took in everything he told her. She seemed a little upset at first, but the more he explained the calmer she seemed to be, as if saving the marriage of a celebrity couple was nothing really to worry about.

"About that ball," she said after he finished, "I can help you pick out a suit later, when I'm feeling better."

Apollo raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure? I mean, the nearest tailor shop is a ways from here..."

"It's okay," she gave him a soft smile. "I managed to make it to Daddy's house okay, didn't I?" She paused, and fidgeted with the sleeve of her shirt. "I...I really want to try to get better Apollo. I'm trying really hard. For you. So I won't...so I'm not..." She trailed off, her gaze suddenly cast downwards toward her fidgeting hands.

Apollo reached his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. "Hey," he said "we talked about this before, remember? You're not a burden to me." Apollo said , finishing her sentence." You could never be a burden to me. Take all the time you need to get better, and don't worry; you're making so much progress." Vera looked at him, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. "Now, don't cry." Apollo said gently, squeezing her tighter.

"It's just...I'm sorry." Vera said, wiping her eyes. "I know it's troublesome to have a girlfriend who can never go out to a restaurant, or take a simple walk in the park, or really do anything..." She quickly reached for a tissue, trying to dry her cheeks, now damp with tears. "It took me a long time just to move in with you...and that made me feel...just..." Vera took a deep breath to stop her voice from wavering. "And that got me thinking, what if we decide to get married, and I can't even walk down the aisle? I don't think I would be able to-"

Apollo hushed her, and kissed her gently on her lips; they were slightly chapped from her fever, but at the moment he didn't care. "Then we'd get married right here in the apartment," he breathed in between kisses. "I love you, Vera. Where we get married doesn't matter to me; the only thing that matters is you. Besides, you don't have to worry about that;" he said, lightly stoking her cheek. "you're going to get better and better, and be able to do anything and everything you want." He lightly kissed her forehead. "So don't worry, okay?"

Vera smiles hesitantly, before pulling him down into another kiss; they stayed like that for a long while, listening to the rain thrumming against the window pane. Suddenly Vera pulled herself away, covering her mouth and letting out a loud sneeze.

Apollo smiles. "How about some soup?" He offers, standing from the couch. Vera picks up her sketch pad, and quickly draws a face with a beaming smile. "Sound perfect."

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