12. Feeling Secure


And I was home. After long last. Long drive. Home.

And here I’d stay.

Where things were familiar and I could be at ease. Where Angyl’s word was law.

Home was where I could get into any sort of trouble and bail myself out. And if I couldn’t, there would be someone bigger and better to help. I wouldn’t be stuck in a dead end life here, as part of a dead end routine. This would be ever changing. I had been accustomed to the hustle and bustle of the city. And I would return to it and settle in. And like it. This was where I belonged. Truly belonged. Suburbia wasn’t meant for me and I wasn’t meant for it. It was too quiet, too calm. There was no amount of surprise or chaos. Nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone got along. Soccer moms and prom kings, Ivy League legacies and neighborhood watches. No. I couldn’t take it.

This was my life.

I drove on for a while. Linkon was still behind me, even though I had been trying to lose him. I had been trying for ages. But he just wouldn’t go. I think it was a subconscious thing of mine, pushing him away to see how far I could push him. Then again…who knows.

I drove until I got to the bar. Theoretically, I was dead. So I couldn’t take the place over on paper. Angyl had the legality of it transferred to an imaginary person. It was theoretically mine. It was her gift to me. The only remnant of my parents that I was allowed except the memories locked deep in my mind that I couldn’t erase. Not that I would want to forget them. They were my parents. Everything I am or was. They made me. I was them – whether I wanted to admit it or not. I had a hand in their downfall as well. I drove to the bar and parked in my spot. Which was really my mother’s. I emptied out the car and trudged upstairs. I would drop off my stuff, then go back down and see how things were going.

The current top bartender was a girl named Gin. Her and her guy had fights all the time and seldom ever got along, but they were always together. It made half of no sense, but it was. She was a hell of a good barkeep though. She could do half of anything. She’d been here for a few years now. She’d been around for a lot and I trusted her completely. Angyl handled the financial stuff for the bar when she felt so inclined to do so. Whenever she got around to it kind of thing. She felt I was still a bit young to fully take the reins. And I agreed with her. I’d enjoy my childhood to the very last instant. I had to. After this, what else is there but a life of pain?

I unloaded everything and trudged back downstairs. The usual kids were working. The whole place cried out when I stepped through the door, like a celebration or an announcement of some kind. I had returned. The boss was back. I smiled back at them.

There was such a childish quality to the whole idea of coming back and the warm reception. But it was comforting nonetheless. I was set at ease by the familiar faces and the general atmosphere. They missed me. They’d remembered me. I don’t know, but it did mean a lot to me. It counted for something.

I went behind the bar, saying hello to the workers. Gin was leading the show, as I expected. She was my senior by a few years. I respected her as an adult, as a wiser, older, teacher. The other top girl we had was Irish. She’d drifted in after one of the leadership changes of the gangs. After Rev was killed, she came to us for a job. She said she wanted out. So we employed her. In the employ of the job, the gang couldn’t attack her as a deserter. She was safe. There are very few options for those wishing to abandon the gang life. But this bar was one of very few safe havens. But again, it was safe. And that’s all that mattered.

Linkon crept in a few hours after I’d gotten reacquainted. He tried not to be too obvious, but I was sure that people recognized him as well. He exchanged laughs and handshakes around the place. He seemed edgy, but I think that was a direct result of being in my field of vision. I laughed to myself, waiting for when he’d come to the bar to sit down. It was about ten minutes’ wait. I was still smiling a little about his predictability at the time.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing. You’re popular.”

He shrugged. “Not really. My sister is a major gang target.”

“And so why would that make them so friendly toward you?”

He shrugged again. “Because I sold her out.”

“What’d she do?”

“She’s accused of the death of Lucidius Mason. And possibly aiding in the death of Harley Morrow. My sister was one of Lucid’s more gifted pupils.”

I must have dropped the glass I was holding. I didn’t hear it crash, but the quick footsteps around the place hinted to me that something had happened. Linkon jumped up from where he was sitting. I backed away from the bar. I couldn’t look at him or listen to this. I had killed my father but another girl was taking the blame. And my father killed my mother; there was no two ways about it. I needed to talk to Angyl. I needed to get the story straight.

But would Angyl give me the straight story?

I backed away, apologizing as I went, careful of the broken shards of glass. I edged to the back of the bar, where I could curl up. Where I could be alone. I listened to the door shut quietly behind me. I heard it open and close a few times as people came and went. I looked up at Linkon after the multiple sounds got my attention. I was balled up on the floor, my knees pulled up into my chest, trying desperately to disappear. He dropped down on one knee, to get to my level. I couldn’t look at him. And he knew it.

“I’m sorry.”

“No. Fuck sorry.”

He hung his head low. I didn’t care how bad he felt.

“How did you sell her out?”

“The streets were being torn apart, remember? When Rev died. And then Lucid was gone a few years after. Harley was gone in between. The streets cried for blood and got nothing. They demanded Lucid’s pupil. It was assumed that she was to blame.”

“And why did you give her up?”

He looked at the ground. “She was going to take us all down with her. I told them where they could find her. I thought it would stop the madness.”

“Have you seen her since?”

He looked down again, away from my piercing eyes. “No.”

“Such a good, upstanding citizen you are. And it’s all lies.”

“How would you know?”

I glared at him. “My father killed himself. And my mother was murdered. By Lucid.”

He shook his head, shooting a glance up at me. “Excuse me?”

“My name is Relic Fallen Mason.”

And he coughed and choked a few times, desperate for air. I wouldn’t help him. He had sold out an innocent for my crime. My mother’s death was unexplained. There was no funeral either. She was just, gone. I used to sit awake at night and wonder, for hours on end, if maybe her death was a lie as well. Maybe she was sitting up awake somewhere, thinking about me. Thinking at all. But she’d be alive. But as the years went by, I accepted what I knew was true. She was gone.

Angyl knew what happened with my mother. But I needed someone else to tell me what Angyl had done. She had a part in this. I needed a trustworthy part. I looked up at Linkon.

“How do I find this sister of yours?”

He looked up suddenly, sweating a bit, unsure. “I…don’t know. The gangs are after her – anyone with power is searching. The Solace family put out a bounty on her.”

“With no proof?”

“They claim that they have evidence against her.”

“But she’s around.”

He smiled. “She doesn’t know what it means to run. Or to hide. She’s probably right in the middle of the gangs as we speak. She’s a tough girl.”

I nodded and got up off the floor, dusting myself off. Linkon got up with me. I tried to think of something to say but couldn’t. He looked broken, desperate. I hugged him, holding on tight. And when I let go, I kissed him and scampered back out.

The glass had been cleaned up. I was feeling a little better. Linkon was still standing in the back, trying to get his bearings. I moved down the bar to take the order of the guy waiting at the end. This wasn’t a regular, I could tell by looking. He had a hat pulled down over his face, shoulders hunched, the entire body lost in the swell of a great black trench-coat.

“What’s it going to be?”

They looked up at me and coughed. “Just looking.”

“What for?”

And the guy straightened out, sitting back. The hat was pulled off to allow a girl’s long hair to fall around her shoulders. Her face was bruised, with a scar across one eye that glowed red. The eye itself was a bizarre shade of reddish-gray, the rest of her face varied in shades of black and blue, bandages here and there. She got up and stood straight. Just like that, she was very intimidating. I knew without asking that she was Linkon’ sister.

“I’m looking for the child of Harley Morrow.”

“Are you?”

“Yes. Relic. Fallen. Mason.”

“Then find her.”

She smiled at me. “I have.”

And she winked at me, putting her hat back on her head, straightening the coat out. She turned to walk away; I watched her departing form.

“Who are you?” I yelled after her. She turned halfway around, to give me a look, with the off-color eye, to make sure I was paying attention. And she reached back and pulled her hair away. There was a tattoo there on the back of her neck, just like my father had. She smiled, let go of her hair and walked out the door, into the night and the rain, just as simply as she’d come. Linkon had come out to stand behind me.

“What was that?”

And I smiled quietly to myself.

“A Traitor.”

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