Eduard molls it over in his head for a moment, thinking about the possibilities and the advantages that Harlem could bring to the table.
But what if he’s doing this just to get back at the Maskless for trying to break the laws of the society? What if Harlem is a spy, sent from his father to infiltrate the system, just as the Maskless did with Becca?
Eduard shakes his head. “Sorry, man. I think the Maskless is over with.”
He starts to walk away, but Harlem’s strong hand wraps around his forearm and pulls him back. Harlem is a tall guy, only an inch or two taller than Eduard, but he’s buffed up pretty well beneath his tight shirt.
“I need to join.” He says quietly.
Eduard sighs and pulls his arm away from Harlem. “Fine. But you have to tell me why before I officially let you join or whatever. I’ll have to find and talk to the other leader before you can actually get in though.”
Eduard knows that with his word anyone could be a Maskless, but things have been so different since… Since Victoria, Twitch, and Nixon died. It’s just Mikey and him now. Eduard hasn’t even seen him in a few weeks, but he’s sure he can find him out in the woods or in his room writing. Eduard keeps telling him that no one will take a black mask’s book, but Mikey has always been persistent.
Eduard looks at the boy before him expectantly, waiting for some amazing story where he wants revenge on his father for something he did in the past or something, but what comes from behind the boy’s mask surprises him, almost, if he hadn’t heard it before.
“It’s wrong. All of this. I’ve known it for years, actually, but when that Becca chick… when she stood up in front of my father, it gave me a burst of courage or something. I don’t know. I just feel like I have to fight back.”
“But he’s your father?” Eduard says his mask moving as his eyebrows pinch beneath it. “Does that have something to do with it though? Is that everything? No revenge for anything, no wanting to give him a taste of his own medicine or anything?”
Harlem seems to hesitate for a moment before answering, and the brief moment sends a red flag waving at the back of Eduard’s mind.
“Nope,” Harlem says quietly.
Eduard looks at him for a moment, still wondering if he should really let this boy, the son of the enemy, in on the most wanted rebellion group in the entire nation.
And what if he isn’t telling the whole truth? Would Eduard be setting himself, and everyone else, up for failure?
But with this boy on the team, they could sneak into wherever Quill went undetected, should he actually be wanting to join and isn’t just a spy.
Either way, he could withhold information from him.
“Alright,” Eduard finally decides, leaving that last thought burning in his mind as he holds out his hand for Harlem to shake it once again. “Welcome to the Maskless, then.”
. . .
Well, Eduard found him, and he was right where he thought he would be—writing in his room.
Mikey opens the door and Eduard gives a short hello as he introduces Julie and Harlem. They make their way inside and Eduard tells Mikey about the two new recruits and the situations.
“Can I talk to you for a minute, Eduard?” Mikey asks, grabbing his mask off of the bed and slipping it on as Eduard follows him into the hallway and shuts the door. “Are you insane? Quill’s son? Why?”
Eduard laughs softly at Mikey’s reaction. “I know, I know, but listen.” He lowers his voice down to a whisper, just in case they, or anybody else, are listening. “We could use him. We could get into the system and no one suspect who we are. They still don’t know who all was involved in the Maskless, and they definitely don’t know we were two of the leaders. For all they know, the leader is dead.” The words make Eduard’s throat raw and dry.
“So, we don’t tell him everything, even if he asks.” Eduard says.
“Oh, so now we’re gonna lie to the Leader of the Clan’s son, now too?”
Eduard shrugs. “It’s all we can do.”
Mikey sighs hysterically and shakes his head as he laughs. “God help us. Fine. But the second he turns his back on us, even if it’s a word, we’re dropping him.”
“And I’m fine with that,” Eduard says, tucking his hands in his pockets. “And, one more thing.” He says before Mikey starts to walk away. “Keep an eye on him. He has another motive behind joining, and it’s not necessarily because of Becca’s speech.”
There’s that name again that sends pangs of different emotions erupting through Eduard’s body.
Mikey nods and heads back into the room.