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Chapter 34 : Xavier

Chapter 34 : Xavier
Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

I can’t feel a single part of my body right now.

Nothing.

I barely acknowledge the blood currently dripping off of my body, both my own and the blood of my two most recent kills.

Numbness. Numbness is the best word to accurately describe the way I am right now.

Despite that though, I can still recognize the rapid beating of my heart, and the adrenaline pumping so strongly through my veins, my body is reacting before my brain can consciously give the command.

Dodging the skilled swing of the knife slashing down at me, I grab the back of the man’s neck, forcefully smashing his head hard against the concrete containment of the arena.

I hear as his bones shatter under my grip and watch as his blood splatters out violently upon impact.

While I know he died the second his head hit the wall, I continued, making a point to every other participant in this ring and showing them exactly what they’re dealing with.

The Grim fucking Reaper.

Only once the man in my grasp is completely limp and ruined to the point of being unrecognizable do I stop, throwing him to the floor at my feet.

Eyes dark and body covered in the blood of my opponents, I turn to face the witnesses, an evil grin appearing on my face.

I find great satisfaction in the looks of pure terror in which those around me are showing, the onlookers seated above going crazy and cheering me on for winning them money.

Betting is expected during events like this, influential people from all around the world coming to witness who has the potential to become their newest recruits, as well as the many weak links failing and continuing to fall dead at my feet.

Sure we were drugged and forced into this arena, but it is my sixteenth birthday today and I know that this is the final stage of my training.

Within the hour, I’ll be the one to come up on top and finally become an official member of the Italian-American mafia.

I abruptly shoot up in bed, my entire body tensing and readying itself to fight off any oncomers rushing my way.

I’m soaked in sweat and shaking in rage, the familiar urge to kill becoming stronger and stronger with every second.

I know I need to get downstairs and into the gym before I take out my bottled up energy on the first unlucky victim to cross paths with me.

It wouldn’t be the first time, though I do what I can to make the most recent occurance my last.

I don’t know why I feel this way after my nightmares, or even why I get them, but all I can do is try and get through it.

I hate it, and I hate that I can never sleep, especially not around other people, but I have no choice but to make do.

My mind goes back to that one time I shared a hotel room with Alec earlier on when we were still teenagers.

I tried to drive the knife I always have on me into his chest when I woke up beside him, and was so blinded by trauma and rage, I couldn’t even decipher that he was my friend and not my enemy.

If it weren’t for Alec being so sharp minded and waking up from sensing the shift in movement, I would have killed him right then and there.

Thank god I wasn’t close with Caleb at that point, because lord knows he wouldn’t have woken up.

While he’s well accustomed to the pressures and dangers of the mafia, he doesn’t have those years of training since birth— those instinctual habits that ensure you’re always on your toes, even in the most vulnerable of moments.

Lucky him.

It’s more of a curse than a blessing at this point.

Getting out of bed with nothing but my boxers on, I slip on the first pair of sweats I could find before moving out the door.

Behind me and at the end of the hall is my girl, but even the thought of her can’t calm me.

Not when she’s the reason all of these nightmares are reawakening, even if it’s at no fault of her own.

Despite this, I’m still more than glad she’s here.

I know she’s safe behind that coded door, likely asleep and content in Alec’s arms after their scene from last night.

I can’t wait to hear what he did to her, as well as what we’re going to plan for the group scene tomorrow— or I guess today.

Silently, I move down the hall, downstairs and into our home boxing gym.

I actually have very little interest in boxing itself, but it’s a great way to channel my energy into something that doesn’t involve starting brawls with strangers.

Though, that option is never completely off the table.

Stepping through the doors, I instantly begin to wrap my hands in preparation.

It takes me very little time to do, and before I know it, I’m walking towards my most commonly used punching bag. The problem is when I look at it, all I see is the man I regret to have as my father.

One day, I’m going to kill Vincent.

I’m not exaggerating either.

This isn’t me having a tantrum or uttering mindless threats, it’s a promise.

I can’t stop seeing him, hearing him, and it’s only causing my anger to build higher and higher up inside of me.

I was stupid to think I could be happy. To think...

I can’t think about that right now. I can’t do anything, but focus on my fist driving forward and smashing into that punching bag.

Over and over again, I land skilled punches, all ones that would leave a person knocked out if it were to ever come in contact with them.

That’s the one boring part I find about a punching bag though; it doesn’t fight back.

I have the adrenaline, I feel the impact of each toss of my arm, small amounts of pain being transferred and absorbed into my hand.

I feel droplets of sweat falling down my bare chest, dripping off of my face until I’m covered in it, but I can’t stop.

All I can envision in front of me is the man who’s going to ruin my life. The man who already has.

So, I continue.

I fall into a pattern of landing a series of punches and jabs, all of my force put into each one.

My hands hurt, my arms are aching from the exertion, but I don’t stop.

I can’t.

Even when I hear the door to this room open. Even when I feel Alec’s stare on my back, not judging me, but pitying that this is what everything has resorted to.

Don’t feel, just act.

This is all I can do, because otherwise I’d have to face everything. I’d have to acknowledge what’s happening, but I won’t do that.

That’s why I keep moving—keep light on my feet and my rage focused on this stupid punching bag that I can practically hear laughing at how pathetic I am.

Mocking me and proving every single thing that I fear, knowing nothing I can do can change what I’ve learned.

“Are you ready to talk yet?” Alec’s voice comes from the door, and when I whip my head around to look at him, he shows no fear, in fact, no emotion at all.

“No.” I bite out, and he merely shrugs as if he expected that exact response from me.

Instead of speaking or pushing me further, Alec steps out of the doorway and over to where I left the tape, beginning to wrap his own hands.

I gulp in an attempt to swallow my anger— swallow my words, but I just barely keep myself contained.

I have to be careful now about my every movement because I know Alec will take every chance to read me like a book.

Stepping up to the ring, my friend follows right behind me and discards his shirt to the ground beside it.

“No rules; everything is fair game,” Alec says, knowing it’s the best way for me to get my anger out.

Giving a quick nod to show I agree, Alec didn’t waste any time closing in, a strong left hook aiming straight at my head, so quick, I barely had time to react.

His fist just breezed past my face, and I didn’t give him a chance to go in for a second, ducking down low and nearly landing a mean body shot.

Alec just as easily pivoted back and twisted to the side, not only dodging that blow but the one that followed right after.

While I was the brute force, my friend was the skill, the technique.

Anger flowed through me knowing I had yet to land a hit as the two of us circled each other, remaining light on our feet.

“Nothing you have to say?” Alec taunts, cocking his head at me knowing that just being here is working me up.

I needed to stay calm, focused.

Once again, Alec took the initiative and moved in to attack with two jabs: one aimed at my stomach and the other at my nose.

My head snapped to the side to avoid his upper hit, but I was too slow and merely accepted when a fist came at a slightly restrained force against my core.

I embraced the feeling of pain, allowing it to fuel me as I threw a hook to his own stomach, eliciting a small grunt from him.

We both knew each one of our strikes were nowhere near at our full strength, but I already felt my mind become slightly quieter as I focused on the moving target in front of me.

“Self-loathing doesn’t suit you, Xavier.” Alec grinned knowing it hit a nerve.

In turn, I take an especially hard swing at his head, losing my balance for a split second as he shoots out of the way, watching as I upright myself just as quickly.

We can both see I’m being sloppy right now, and Alec takes advantage of it, landing a quick series of punches to my torso, trying to get me angry enough that I’ll just explode and everything will come out.

This most certainly isn’t the first time Alec and I have fought to get out some energy, but the issue with my friend is that he’s trying to get in my head.

Quickly managing to get out of my hold, Alec takes a few steps away from me, assessing me in the way he does when he’s trying to understand something.

Looking me up and down, Alec takes in my rough state, no doubt seeing the dark circles under my eyes, and considering it’s the middle of the night, all he had to do was know me to realize I had a nightmare.

“You’ve been tense for days, so what did Vincent say?” He hits the nail right on the head causing me to round on him in anger.

“It’s rude to poke your nose in other people’s business, you know?” I counter, answering a question with a question.

“I didn’t know keeping secrets is our thing now.”

Two more hits directed at my body; two more hits dodged.

I don’t want to keep secrets, but until I figure out a way out of this, I won’t involve my two best friends. I won’t make them feel the panic that I’m feeling.

“You can’t hide this forever, Xavier.” A landed strike, “One day, it’s all going to come out and you’re going to have to face everything.”

“Shut up.” I growl, grabbing his head firmly with two hands and using it as momentum as I drive my knee up into his stomach.

He curses, his own body covered in sweat now.

I release him, shoving him away from me in anger and hatred for myself.

For many seconds, both of us just stand there, tired from our assault on each other and panting from the jabs and quick movements.

“Since you won’t talk, I will.” Alec says, pulling at the tape on his hands and beginning to unwrap it.

I just remain defensive and in place, not saying a word.

“Is this about your birthday coming up?” He tries, his eyes and focus sharp on me.

Seeing as he didn’t get whatever reaction he was looking for, he continued.

“This is about Vincent calling, right?” He asks, and I don’t know what I did, but somehow I confirmed that question.

“That’s a start,” Alec finishes his first hand, tossing the spent material to the ground. “He gave you new information?”

Yes.

“Asked you to do something?”

Yes.

I don’t say a thing, but my body grows tense as Alec continues to put small pieces of this much larger puzzle together.

Knowing he wouldn’t let me walk away if I tried, I gave him a response. A small response.

“Marcus.” Is all I say, enough for Alec to blink at me.

Marcus, the man who murdered my mother in cold blood, left us a message.

“Why wasn’t I informed of whatever discovery was made?” Alec questions, knowing as the son of one of the three leaders that make up this Mafia would’ve been one of the first to know.

He didn’t because I personally made sure he wasn’t told.

Knowing I have to tell Alec something or he’ll never drop this, I stretch the truth.

I refuse to lie to my friends about anything, but this is too great of a discovery that will only worry him and Caleb and drive us apart.

“Marcus planted a hit on one of our smaller departments in Italy. He blew up all of our supplies there, including the people moving it.”

A short pause.

“Then why are we still off work? We need to take him out now before he creates any real damage.”

That’s the problem. I’m no longer off work.

“I don’t know, and it has me on edge— has my nightmares returning.”

Only a partial lie, one that Alec doesn’t seem to catch.

One week ago today, I received a phone call that changed everything, and it wasn’t the information about the explosion that caused me to lose it.

One week ago today, Madelyn found my destroyed room and smashed phone minutes after I reviewed a new assignment.

Vincent is a cold, manipulative bastard, and I will kill him for the position he’s put me in.

“So what were you asked to do?” Alec asks after a long pause, and that’s when I move from my spot and over to the mini fridge for some water.

I don’t answer this question and instead toss him a cold bottle of his own.

He steps out of the boxing ring to catch it, following my lead when I take a seat on one of the many benches we have in here.

“What happened?” Alec repeats, and though I can feel his eyes on me, I don’t verbally acknowledge anything he says.

I feel defeated.

He sighs.

“How big is it then?” He settles on asking, knowing if it were small I would have told them.

“Life changing.” I say, too tired to fight, too stubborn to cry.

Alec recognizes this, and while I know he has a whole series of questions he wants to ask, he keeps quiet.

I don’t offer anything more.

For more than ten minutes, the two of us sit there in a comfortable silence, both losing ourselves to our own thoughts.

In this particular moment, I’m thinking of the woman upstairs that is slowly bringing me to my knees before her.

“How’s Madelyn?” I can’t help but ask, breaking the silence hanging in the air.

Turning my head, I find a satisfied smirk now on my friend’s face.

“I’m never going to let her go.” He surprises me by saying, and I know he meant that as a promise, not just a statement.

“Even if that means roping her in with all of this shit?” I ask the question that has been on my own mind from the day she showed interest.

A thoughtful pause.

“Madelyn is her own person,” Alec starts, telling me what I already know, “When the time is right, we will tell her about the mafia. It’ll be her decision to make, but I know that I’m never going to initiate leaving her.”

The thought of losing Madelyn is what’s destroying me right now.

I will do anything and everything I possibly can to fight what fate is proposing right now, but it’s too late to let her go. Too late to free her of us.

My assignment is one that has the possibility to destroy everything that’s beginning to matter, including myself, Alec, Caleb, and our girl— the person who is starting to make me feel something for the first time since...

My thoughts trail off, not wanting to think about that horrid night.

This assignment was my idea, and I only have myself to blame, but it doesn’t make anything of what I’m about to do any easier.


- End of Chapter 34 -

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