Nona turned to Taylor, jerking her head towards the door. “Go get changed, you’re going back to school.”
She knew she was being slightly unfair, Taylor had uncovered a lot of useful information in CLU’s files but she also knew, had Jordan been lucid enough, she would object stringently to the kid going back out in the search. The younger girl would just have to get over it.
Taylor frowned and stalked off with her backpack into a nearby bathroom. She didn’t slam the door, not wanting to disturb Jordan. Nona turned and headed towards the back door, she needed to ask Legend for a favor before she left.
“Hey,” Kurt stopped her in her tracks. She turned to face him, one hand still on the door. He smiled at her, even as he hugged Jordan closer. “Be careful. We need you to come back in one piece.”
Nona was taken aback. She and Kurt had never really been on the same page, save for the issue of Jordan’s safety. The fact that he stated “we need you” touched her heart. She gave him her most confident smile before she replied.
“Scout’s honor. I’m gonna go talk to the detective, find CLU, and beat the crap outta him for messing with our family.” Kurt’s smile grew even wider.
“That’s our girl.” He paused, one foot on the bottom stair. “Did we just have a moment?” He asked with a hint of humor in his voice.
“Yeah, I guess we did.” She laughed a little in return. “Lots of feelings floating around in here these days, huh?”
“Yep, funny how a crisis can bring those out.”
He turned and headed up the stairs, careful not to jostle the sleeping form in his arms, occasionally whispering comforting sayings to her as he went. Nona watched them go; silently hoping they would find a way to make it work this time around. It was clear Kurt loved Jordan and Nona could tell from the way her sister’s hands unconsciously clung to Kurt as he carried her, that Jordan felt safe and loved with him. Nona headed out the back door towards the shed for the second time that day.
She found Legend standing outside the shed, shirtless and barking orders in Spanish into his cellphone. Nona had to chastise herself when she realized she was quietly appreciating his tan torso replete with her name tattooed over his heart and their son’s sprawled across his back. Even with years of separation between them, she couldn’t deny the twinges of attraction she still felt for him. When he looked up and noticed her watching him he quickly ended the conversation, jabbing the end button with ferocity.
“What’s up?” He asked her. For some reason he seemed skittish.
“Who was that?” Legend looked guarded as if considering whether he should tell her the truth. After a long moment he made his decision.
“That was Danny, Danny Crackers. You remember him?”
“Isn’t he your, um, enforcer or whatever?” He nodded solemnly.
“Something like that…” Nona was suddenly gripped by panic as the realization of what he had admitted struck her.
“Why aren’t you wearing a shirt?”
“It was dirty. I got some … stuff, on it.” She didn’t believe him.
“Where is Goliath? And why are you talking to Danny Crackers? You told me to stay away from him, that he was dangerous!”
“Of course he’s dangerous! I need him to be. You know what I do Nona. I don’t lie to you and I don’t sugarcoat it! Goliath is with Crackers on their way far from here. Far enough away that he can’t EVER hurt this family again.”
Nona felt like she couldn’t breathe. Had Legend just admitted to killing Goliath? Why did the thought bring her such an immense sense of relief? This is what she wanted, wasn’t it? She wanted him gone, far away from her and Jordan, from her son. But it felt wrong; so wrong.
“Is he…is he dead?” She stared at Legend with pleading eyes. “Is that what happened out here? Is that what Crackers was taking care of?”
“Don’t lie to me, Julio. You said you would never lie to me.” Legend sighed and stepped closer to her. He knew she was serious when she used his government name. He reached out and grabbed her chin gently.
“I wouldn’t and I didn’t.” He stated calmly. Walking her over to the shed, he opened the door and gestured inside. “See? No bloodstains, no splatter. Goliath isn’t dead. But I wasn’t gonna cut him loose after the way he betrayed this family.”
“Where is he now?”
“It’s better that you don’t know.” She started to object but he cut her off, grabbing her shoulders emphatically. “I don’t want you guys to be dragged into this if there’s a problem. I did what I thought was best so please, just drop it.”
“Fine.” They stood in silence for a while before Nona spoke up. “I came out here because I need your help. Jordan wants me to go find this detective that helped her…before…” She let the word hang between them, so many things unsaid.
Before I died, before you went back in time, before we knew whom our enemies were, before our friends became our enemies.
“You want me to scout it first? Have my people look around?”
“No, nothing like that.” She quieted her thoughts and just admitted what she was thinking. “I need you with me. You always have my back and I could definitely use that right now.”
Legend was at a loss for words. He knew firsthand how stubborn Nona could be and she rarely admitted how she was feeling, let alone be so direct about it. He found himself nodding, trying desperately not to grin like an idiot at the thought that she still needed him.
“Done. When do we leave?” Just then Taylor stepped out of the house dressed in jeans, a Hollister hoodie, and Toms.
“Now. We leave right now.”
Twenty minutes later, Taylor arrived at school, hoping out of Legend’s white SUV without even saying goodbye. They had promised to come back and get her if anything new developed but that didn’t lessen her frustration at being sidelined. Her class was taking a field trip to the Denver Museum of Natural History and Nona thought it might be a good distraction for her. As soon as she entered the halls of Rolling Hills High School, her classmates swarmed her, offering hugs and condolences.
“Oh my God! What happened? We heard Jordan was in some type of car accident?” Her “frenemy” and teammate Jasmine inquired.
They all knew Jordan, having spent countless afternoons at their house and the occasional sleepover. Car accident? Taylor guessed that was slightly accurate from what she had been able to squeeze out of Kurt.
“Um, yeah.” There was an awkward silence as Taylor tried to answer the question without giving too much away. “They think she’s gonna be okay, she’s just in a lot of pain right now. Who told you guys?”
“The principal made an announcement about it to the basketball team, offered counseling and stuff. Apparently, your aunt called him cuz she didn’t know when you would be back in school?”
As always, if you wanted to know something, Jasmine was an endless wealth of information. The word “aunt” struck her since technically it was accurate but the term was never used. Taylor wasn’t aware that Nona had called the school but it made sense, she was listed as an emergency contact on Taylor’s school records. Someone had to call in and excuse her for the past two days.
“Oh.” Another awkward silence ensued. “Well Jordan’s home now but she’s mostly just sleeping, trying to get her strength back and stuff. I felt kind of in the way at home and Nona thought it would be good for me to get a little distraction.”
They all nodded sympathetically, hugging and touching her consolingly until she felt like she could scream from the pity written on their faces. Maybe today wasn’t such a good idea after all. She excused herself from the crew, saying she needed the restroom but all she really wanted was a little space. She stumbled into the first open stall, slammed the door shut and sat on the toilet with her head in her knees. She couldn’t do this. Couldn’t pretend Jordan was okay. Couldn’t pretend she wasn’t terrified at the thought of losing the only parent she’d ever had. Couldn’t take the sympathetic looks and consolatory touches. She. Just. Couldn’t.
Taylor hadn’t bothered to lock the door and wasn’t surprised when it swung open, banging into her knees. “Ow”, she muttered without looking up. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder and another settled on her knee.
“Tough crowd, huh?”
“You have no idea…” Taylor muttered into her knees.
With a sigh she raised her head to look into the eyes of her best friend Marie. She was a pretty, petite girl with her auburn hair in a high ponytail complete with ribbon. Her caramel skin was expertly made-up, her outfit the mirror image of Taylors. The two had been best friends since they were five, even when Taylor changed homes multiple times. Now that she had been settled with Jordan for nearly two years, she and Marie were rarely apart. She was even the first person Taylor told about her powers, and Marie clearly suspected about the others.
“You okay?” Marie asked as Taylor sighed, tears in her eyes. “Obviously not!” She drew her best friend into a hug as she began to sob. “Oh, honey, don’t mess up your makeup!” Taylor laughed a little into Marie’s sweatshirt, careful not to stain it with her mascara.
“She’s not okay. I’m not okay…” Taylor tried to explain. Marie just nodded trying to make sense of what her best friend was saying. “I can’t lose her!” Taylor broke down again, clutching desperately to Marie. Taking her best friend duties seriously, Marie rocked her and cooed to her until she calmed down. She pushed her friend back and looked into her eyes.
“Jordan is the toughest person I know. She fights fires for God’s sake! She wouldn’t leave you if she could help it, she loves you.” Taylor nodded as she wiped her tears, sniffing occasionally. “You need a break. Let’s get out of here and go to that pizza place off campus.”
“What about the field trip?” Marie sighed, considering the question.
“Fine. When we get to the museum we’ll ditch the class and take the bus to the 16th street mall. We’ll hang out at the bookstore, sip lattes, and find Jordan a nice “get well” gift, alright?”
“Good girl! Now let’s fix your face doll. We simply can’t be seen looking like a sobby mess!” Taylor laughed and sniffed one last time as her best friend pulled her over to the sinks and began repairing her ruined face.
Ten minutes later the girls had boarded the school bus with their class, Marie with one arm wrapped protectively around Taylor, the smaller girl warding off any nosey classmates with a sneer. Taylor stared distractedly out the window, wondering what Nona and Legend had found out, wondering what and how Jordan was feeling, wondering if CLU was really planning to destroy their lives while she went on a field trip.