What We Do For Family
I got out of the car, looking up at the small and cosy house where I’d grown up. This place brought back so many memories. Good and bad. The outside hadn’t changed a heck of a lot over the years. The gravel drive was still lined by sweet smelling plants, and lush green lawn. A tall oak tree stood on the other side of the small frog pond and a blossom tree hung over the roof, its small flowers dropping like snow on the roof.
I didn’t knock as we reached the door, instead, just pushed it open, and stepped inside, glancing back at Lacey.
“Now is the time to run if you don’t wanna do this.” I warned her.
Right at that moment, my father’s head poked around the corner of the kitchen up ahead, and Lacey laughed under her breath:
“Damn, too late now.”
Just like that, my nerves over how this would go, began to fade. Lacey was as much my family as my father and Marya.
“Bane!” My father called as he approached, his arms outstretched.
I pushed the door closed and gave him a hug.
“Good to see you dad.” I said with a smile as I let him go.
It was always good to see him. Even though, sadly, it was rare to have time to come and see him as often as I wanted. With my shifts, it was hard to fit in a regular time to visit, but still I made it here as often as I could, and it was always reassuring to see the old man looking just as healthy and happy as always. He was a vibrant man in his early sixties. Salt and pepper hair cut short, and dark brown eyes which currently were scanning over Lacey, drinking in her appearance.
“Dad, this is Lacey. Lacey, this is my father, Jeff Knight.”
“Well aren’t you a beautiful young lady.” He said happily, moving to hug her too.
She beamed at him and returned his hug.
“That’s quite the compliment from a handsome gentleman like yourself.” She said as they broke apart.
My father’s laugh echoed in the hall as he looked back at me.
“I can see why you like her.”
“Dad, Can you pl-”
“Wow, I never thought I’d live to see the day that you brought a girl to dinner.” Marya’s voice chimed in from the stairs.
“The day is still young, keep that up and you won’t make it to dinner.” I smirked, hearing Lacey’s laugh behind me, and my father’s sigh.
“You two, behave when we have a guest,” He warned, before directing his attention to Lacey. “I’m sorry, whenever these two are together, it’s like they revert back to childhood.”
Marya joined us in the hall, drawing nearer, her focus wandering between us.
“Not an issue though is it dad. I was always a little angel.” She said sweetly, giving him a one armed hug.
“An angel? Ha! There was no room for a halo with those horns Mari.”
At this point, Lacey had leant back against the wall, observing the banter with a bright smile of interested joy.
“Oh my god, I’m getting too old for this.” My dad sighed, turning away and wandering off back towards the kitchen.
Chuckling at his retreating back, me and Mari looked to one another and smiled. She stepped forwards and I opened my arms, enveloping her in them as she strolled into my embrace, clutching me tightly as I softly swayed side to side.
“You all good Sis?” I whispered.
She nodded her head and then withdrew.
“I’m glad you’re here.” She smiled, looking over to Lacey. “And you too.”
“Right, Sis, this is Lacey Rose, newest member of Red Watch. Lacey, this is my baby sister Marya.”
“Less of the baby, asshat.” She said, elbowing me in the ribs before she and Lacey exchanged a brief hug.
We gathered in the kitchen, settling at the table and chatting, my father and Mari taking the time to get to know Lacey. It wasn’t unusual for other members of the Watch to come by. Over the years almost all of them had been here before. But this was different, Lacey wasn’t just another member of Red Watch. No matter how much I was internally battling the admission, and what it would mean, I was rapidly feeling attached to her. I wanted to talk to Marya about what happened with Cedric, but with us all about to eat, it didn’t feel much like the right time. Instead, as we began to tuck into the, rather grand, lunch that my father had prepared, the topic turned to work. More specifically:
“Any close calls recently Bro?” Marya asked, leaning across the table to reach for the salad.
“Mari, you know that I don’t like that kind of talk.” My dad scolded her.
She shrugged it off, picking up the bowl and scooping out a few spoonfuls.
“Well it isn’t like it matters now. He’s here, whatever happened is over and he’s okay.”
I placed a few slices of chicken onto my plate and handed it to Lacey, who was sitting next to me.
“It’s okay, Dad.” I said, stemming the brewing argument before it could begin. “There’s always close calls on the job, but we all made it out of them fine.”
“Them?” My dad asked in shock, his eyes bulging over the bread basket in his hand. “As in more than one?”
I shook my head in exasperation, my hand automatically finding its way to my hair, running my fingers through it and sighing. I proceeded to explain, in as little detail as possible, about the car incident. Trying not to let him hear just how bad or scary it got. Not that he didn’t pick up on it.
“Anyway, as you can see, we both made it out, and with barely a single bruise.” I finished with a flourish, stabbing a small baby potato on the end of my fork and popping it into my mouth, ignoring the now stunned expression on Marya’s face.
“It will always concern me that you do that job, Son. It’s not a parent’s wish to see, or hear, their child is in danger. But I will forever be proud of you for it too.”
It was rare to have these kinds of moments with my father, we weren’t very sentimental. But his words struck a chord and I was touched by them.
“I’m sure that your parents are just as proud of you, Lacey.” He added.
I froze with my chicken halfway to my mouth, and the air grew thick with a sudden tension. I glanced at Lacey who I half expected to be looking hurt, or angry, or at the very least, awkward. But she wasn’t. She was smiling at my father as though he’d just given her a huge compliment.
“I’d like to think so.” She said sweetly, “I was raised in an orphanage from a baby. I never knew them.”
Mari let out a small gasp, and my father hung his head in sorrow.
“I’m so very sorry.” He muttered.
She reached out a hand, resting it on my father’s and glancing back at me with a gentle smile.
“It’s okay,” She looked back at my father, “It was a long time ago. We live with these things.”
Her bright attitude avoided the monumental awkwardness that would have otherwise settled over the table at this horrible conversational detour.
The rest of lunch passed with easily flowing conversation and even plenty of laughs. It was only when me and Marya were clearing away, that things took a nosedive. As she reached up to put a glass in the cupboard and I spotted a dark bruise on her wrist, and immediately saw red.
“What the hell?” I growled lifting her hand up and pushing back the dark purple fabric of her long sleeved top.
“It’s nothing Bane, leave it alone.” She said in a hurry, pulling her hand out of my grasp and tugging the sleeve back down.
I wasn’t one to lose my temper easily, but seeing her hurt was rapidly causing me to lose my senses. I felt my heart throwing itself against my chest, and my hands clenched into fists at my side as my brain twigged at what had happened. I knew Cedric was an asshole, I hadn’t liked him for her, but I never realised that things were this bad.
“He did this.” I snapped, turning back towards the table and catching my father’s eye. “Did you know about this?”
“About what?” He asked, confused at my outburst.
He got to his feet and began to walk towards the kitchen, Lacey following behind him.
“Bane, seriously just shut up!” Marya shouted at me.
“Will one of you tell me what is going on?”
“That son of a bitch has hurt her. Show him.”
I could see that Lacey had no idea what was going on, and I attempted to give her an apologetic look, but in my angered state, I wasn’t sure if I’d managed to pull it off.
“Mari, is this true? Did he hurt you?” My dad asked, somehow managing to keep his tone far calmer than my own.
Mari’s eyes swam with tears for just a moment before she nodded her head. I wanted to yell, to throw something, and yet at the same time, I felt an aching pain in my heart. I was her brother, I was supposed to protect her and keep her safe, and yet this scumbag had laid his hands on her and caused her pain. Our father wrapped her in his arms and cradled his little girl against his chest, running his hand over her thick dark curls whilst she cried softly. It was hard, but I tried to push the anger down, to force myself not to snap. She didn’t need it. I didn’t want to make this worse for her.
“She’s safe here.” Lacey whispered in my ear, placing a soothing hand on my shoulder.
“Thank you.” I muttered back.
My eyes found her silver orbs and I allowed them to be my anchor, holding my temper at bay. I reached up and cupped her cheek, running my thumb gently over her silky skin.
“I’m sorry about this.” I said, nodding towards my dad and sister.
“Don’t be.” She replied.
I didn’t even care that there were other people around, I leant in and kissed her softly on the lips, pulling back far sooner than I would have liked.
“How many times sweetheart?” My dad asked her, guiding her into a chair at the bar.
“This was the first time.” She mumbled.
“And the fucking last time.” I snarled.
My father gave me a stern look, and continued.
“Did you leave right after?”
She nodded again, sniffling as Lacey passed her a tissue from the box on the side. She began to explain how things had been going downhill for them for a while. How the usual problems that we all knew about were just the tip of the iceberg. Listening to her cry and tell me of all of the shitty things that she’d been putting up with was making me want to break every bone in that asshole’s body.
A knock on the door some time later, broke apart our conversation. I could tell from my father’s expression, that he wasn’t expecting anyone.
“I’ll go.” I said, stopping him as he went to get up.
Reaching the front door, I pulled it open, and couldn’t believe my eyes. The man on the other side was smiling innocently, looking at me as though we were best friends. I felt the dam break as the restraint that I’d just forced myself to have, disappeared as I stared back at Cedric Seaton.
“Hi Bane, how are you doing? I was just looking for Mari.”
The moment that my sister’s name passed his lips, I was on him. Throwing myself out the door and crashing him to the ground, swinging my fist through the air and hearing the satisfying crunch as it made contact with his face.
“You son of a bitch!” I yelled, striking him again.
He attempted to push me off, but he was no match for me. His efforts were weak, and having no impact as I rained down hit after hit. He laid there desperately trying to protect his face from my fists, whilst the sound of running footsteps, and then my father’s voice sounded behind me.
I couldn’t stop. My insides were burning with every possible way to avenge the suffering he’d caused my sister. Her emotional, and now, physical pain were my fuel. I wanted him to hurt too.
“Stop it!” He shouted again.
I felt hands on my shoulders tugging me back, they were small, but strong, and with great effort, they managed to drag me off of him. I caught a trace of a sweetly seductive scent, and knew it was Lacey. Her arms closed around my chest, holding me against her, and I instantly stopped moving. I didn’t want to hurt her. I wasn’t going to risk it. Instead, I stayed wrapped in her arms, my fists clenched and my breaths coming hard and fast.
“Get up and get out of here.” Lacey snapped, her tone reaching a level of bitter disgust that I’d never heard from her before. “You’re not welcome here, in case you hadn’t realised.”
He struggled to crawl his way to his feet, blood running from his nose, and bruising already blossoming on his sharply chiseled face.
“I’ll press charges for this.” He shouted, staggering slightly.
I went to launch at him again, but this time my father joined Lacey in holding me back.
“No you won’t.” Marya’s voice croaked out from behind us.
I didn’t even know that she was out here. Her voice made me freeze on the spot, and I felt flooded with shame for losing it so badly in front of her. Cedric looked equally shocked to see her there, or maybe just to hear her standing up to him.
“If you even think about pressing charges against my brother. I will make sure to head straight to the police myself. I think we both know that you’d be in there a lot longer than Bane.”
He swallowed hard, realisation and even fear clearly defined in his rapidly paling face, and ice blue eyes.
“It’s over Cedric. I never want to see you again.”
Just like that, my sister had managed to own her power, and taken a huge step in changing her life for the better. And I couldn’t have been more proud of her. Watching that man slink away in shame and defeat, was more satisfying than any injury I could ever have inflicted on him. As Lacey’s grip weakened on me, I pulled my sister towards me and hugged her tight, telling her just how proud of her I was. My dad’s arms wrapped around us both as he then suggested we go back inside. I released Mari and hung back as they walked through, leaving me alone on the doorstep with Lacey.
“Looks like I owe you another apology.” I sighed, feeling shit at how the day had gone massively out of plan. I raked my fingers through my hair, feeling a small twinge in my knuckles. “And I also need to say thank you, for holding me back. I lost control, and if you weren’t here, it could have got nasty. So, thanks.”
She reached up, capturing my hand in hers, and inspecting the cuts and bruises across my knuckles.
“You don’t have anything to apologise for. Nor thank me. You did what any brother would do after that kind of revelation. Hell, what any person would do. If she’d been my sister, I’d have done the same.”
I stared up at her in adoration. She was more incredible than I would ever be able to understand. Her soft fingers brushed over the scrapes on my flesh, and she nodded towards the door.
“Let’s get you cleaned up.”
“You don’t have to do that. I’ll see to it later.” I shrugged.
“I don’t have to, no. But I will. Because taking care of each other, it’s what we do for family.”