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3. Family Values

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I went for walks from time to time, leaving the tiger home alone. She was still wounded, it’d been a few days; she would be out of commission a good long while. Whoever did their job, did it well. I prayed that someone would claim her, holding her was getting more and more difficult the stronger she got. But she also was a tad bit less…violent as time passed. She came to grips with the reality of the fact that she had nowhere to go and we were only doing a favor. I could risk the displeasure of the Endless and throw her out into the street. It would have been that simple, that nonchalant, just poof, you’re done. But so it goes.

            I walked around and found groups of kids here and there, the Dragon was all on its’ own, the group that protected it long gone. Pike and Syn were the couple to run it, they still stopped in, but they’d handed over absolute control to the Drakes’ children, Payge and Set. Set’s name was really Dante, but they all called him Set anyway. Dante was too…proper, kind of like Marcellus. Legends in flesh and blood; everybody knew the stories, everyone knew the tragedy and how it’d ended up, but nobody asked questions. Out of respect to the lost. The shop had pictures everywhere of the fallen soldiers, the lost friends and family. I was going nowhere when a figure came around and took me by the arm. Now, I know the names and vaguely know the faces, it’s been a while.

            “Can I bother you for the time, sir?” The kid had his eyes lowered to the ground, a dark look to him, you could feel pain from him, he emanated around his shape. I took a step back and looked the frame up and down, lost under a long coat and dark colors. I knew without knowing.

“The time sir, do you have it?”

“All we have is time, kid.”

“I’m looking for my sister.”

“What does time have to do with her?”

“She’s running out of it.”

“Is she?”

“Have you seen her, sir? Her name’s Dev.”

“Can’t say that I have.”

“Are you absolutely certain? I can usually find her here and she’s been missing for days, I’m terribly worried, sir.”

“Listen, I haven’t heard of her, I can’t help you,” and I walked away. I took about two steps when I heard my steps being repeated. I stopped and they stopped. I turned around and the boy was still there. He wasn’t much of a boy though, he was my age almost, somewhere between Dev and I. I knew without knowing.

“You’re Marcellus, aren’t you?”

He smiled a carefree, jaunty little grin. “Now, whatever makes you say a thing like that?”

I looked him over, he had all the right qualities, but it couldn’t be, the real Marcellus wouldn’t be so foolish to get so close. I took a few steps closer until we were toe to toe. I grabbed him by the throat and dragged him into the alley and held him against the wall. I stared deep into his eyes, eyes that, for a moment, reflected fear. I knew them, in an instant, that this was an imposter.

“Put him down.”

I turned my attention elsewhere, to a similarly clad boy, darker, more menacing with a voice more solid than the first. I lowered my victim to the ground and watched the approaching form. He came up to us, clapped his fellow on the back as he struggled to breathe, and faced me.

“I am Marcellus, sir.”

“What kind of games are these?”

“I’m looking for my sister.”

“That’s impossible.”

“It is, sir? I dare to question why.”

“You are the leader of the opposing gang. You ordered the attack on the group that protected the Dragon. You destroyed it from within itself and left the leader dying in the street.”

“But she didn’t die.”

“How do you know that?”

“You’re too defensive.”

“What?”

He shrugged his shoulders and started circling me. “If she were already dead, you wouldn’t be so worked up about what happened. I want her back.”

“You don’t deserve her back.”

“It doesn’t matter what anybody deserves, sir. She is my charge and I want her back.”

“She’s no one’s charge but her own. I won’t help you.”

He looked down at the ground and looked up at me before replying softly, “So be it.” He looked at the kid still standing there, waiting for direction. “Lyre, go home.”

And we were alone. Cellus stood there, calmly, somberly, looking around slowly.

“You know, I’d hate to have to do anything rash to you sir, you needn’t be involved in this. It’s wiser to just…let go.”

“I have a duty I must heed.”

“Oh? To who? You have no allegiance, you are loyal only to the past.”

“The Endless.”

“They have no right to intervene, no one’s died here.”

“Are you so certain?”

And Marcellus staggered. His calm, solid speech faltered and he found himself lost. He stood there and was lost for words. I nodded to him and departed, as I was inclined to do. And he still stood there as I left.

“Hey!” he shouted as I walked away. I didn’t even turn back to face him.

“Yeah?”

“Bang. You’re dead.”

I turned around for half a second and saw the gun leveled at me. Mind – stop. Thoughts – cease. Heart – on hold. Sanity? Standing by. Oxygen on line one, movement’s holding on line two. But he never fired. He stood there and waited for it, for the last second cringe, the last minute scream, anything. He pulled the trigger and the shot sailed over my shoulder, inches from my neck. And I didn’t falter. He sauntered over to me.

“Now that’s impressive. Too bad you quit before things got fun.”

“Fun? Kids dying for nothing is fun?”

“Whoever said it was for nothing?”

“So what was it for?”

“Chaos. For Entropy. To go to Elysium. The Endless, remember?”

“How could I ever forget?”

“You can’t, that’s right, it’s your job to remember everything. How’s that working out for you?”

“Wonderful.”

“Course it is.”

“Yup.”

“You ever get tired of it, let me know.”

“Why?”
“Don’t forget,” and he walked away. The words’ echo still rang in my mind as all functions came back online. Breathing, thinking, moving, it’s all a go. And we’re back.

I went home slightly shaken, nothing serious. Nothing in life really is serious, if you break it down to its’ actual frame. Dev was pacing around smoking…she must have hijacked some from Galat. I searched around, nervously looking for one. I stopped when I was toe to toe with her; she was holding one out for me, which I took gladly. I lit up haphazardly, realizing only then that I was shaking. I sat down nervously and watched Dev pace around. Watching her pace satisfied my urge for movement, I found I was too tired to care anyway. I laid back and stretched out on the couch, staring at the ceiling. I felt dizzy, lost, misplaced…I don’t know what’s happened to me.

“You met him didn’t you?” She’d stopped pacing and stood a little ways away, not too close, not too far. I nodded subtly.

“He does that to everyone.”

“That why you left him?”

She wasn’t looking at me. “I didn’t leave him, I left the family.”

“Care to explain?”

“Not particularly.”

“I didn’t think so, but it was worth a shot.”

“That’d probably help right about now.”

“What?”

“A shot.”

“You can’t drink.”

“Says who?”

And I went to reply but knew better. I looked at her carefully, she could pass as 21, she was barely shy I imagine. I talk about her and I like there was a huge age gap but it was only a couple of years, if that. If we went to the right place, we could manage. I knew the guy that was the bartender at one of our favorite haunts. It wasn’t far from the Dragon, it was an old gang bar. I got up and grabbed my coat, put my arm around her shoulder and moved to the door.

“If we can’t stop the pain, what say we drown it?”

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