The phone's shrill cries provided me with a plausible excuse to leave the horror film in front of me, though the smirk on Shotgun's face told me otherwise. Glaring, I avoided looking at the TV screen where the protagonist was traipsing through the dense forest where the killer was obviously awaiting her in the middle of the forest, with a knife, or a machete, or... I don't even want to think about it. Call me a shrimp for all I care. The eerie silence did not help in soothing it.
"Hello? Jenkins residence." I mumbled.
And there was the ear-splitting scream that I was preparing for. Shotgun's laugh was then heard, a deep rumbling that sounded like thunder had erupted inside the room. It could have been either the fact that I had dropped the phone and cursed loudly upon the girl's scream, or the fact that the gruesome gory scene was 'so unrealistic that those producers are mere shrimps like yourself, shrimp'. Damn him. It was only human nature to scream at something frightening and then drop the phone.
"-Raymond Peters, please?" the woman said in a monotonous voice that barely sounded over the ruckus that was the background.
Hey, come to think of it, it sounded familiar. The background noise, I meant. Not the truly 'melodic' voice of the middle aged woman I must be conversing with. Like... Like rushing. Rushing about. Very busy. My mind lapsed back a few months ago to Serah. Serah? A tinge of guilt surged through me when I realised that I haven't thought of her in a while. That's right, the hospital. The sound was the hospital. What was the hospital calling us for?
"Sorry, but there's no such person as Raymond-"
"This is he, how may I help you?" Shotgun asked, polite tones that were the opposite of the fearsome glare that he was giving me.
Raymond Peters? Shotgun seriously did not look like a Raymond. Much less a Raymond Peters. I mean, come on. A Raymond reminds me of a balding - though Shotgun was bald, he told me that he was part of the army, which explained the reflective sphere - businessman that fidgeted and stuttered. Not the giant of a man that could kill someone with a single blow to the head. I smirked at him and mouthed his name.
The effect was unprecedented for; the glare that was meant to come failed to arrive, and in its place, a look of shock and worry. The fact that the man could look anything other than angry and fearsome, was foreign to me and that in itself was scary. A second after, and he tried to arrange his features back to normal, though it didn't work well.
"Yes, yes, thank you." he averted his gaze from mine and stared at the couch that he was leaning on.
"Yes, thank you. I shall be there in a few minutes."
What had happened?
His voice sounded grave, and when he placed the phone back in its receiver, he sighed and closed his eyes for a full minute. When he opened them again, he turned to me and said that he was going to leave for a while. Whoever it was on the phone, or the subject of the conversation was seriously concerning, and obviously hit him a lot. Family, perhaps? No, he had told me before that he was an orphan, and the only thing remotely close to a family was the mafia. Amusing how I now know so much about him, ain't it? Can't say I am anymore shocked than you.
I stared at him and awaited for him to elaborate. If it was family, that meant that the mafia had ran into some trouble. My mind flashed to Ophelia. No. No. Please, say no.
He must have seen the look of worry in my face, or whatever was showing on my face, for he averted his gaze.
"I gotta go, shrimp. Shall be back in a few. Don't burn down the house with your fever, yeah?" he joked, though his facial expression belied it completely.
"What happened?" I asked tentatively.
He shook his head and forced a smile on his face that looked more like Satan trying to smile at you and offer comfort. Yes, that was a horrible description of how the man looked like now, but that was actually what he looked like at the moment, with that smile on his face that caused him to bare his teeth at me. Was he deluded to the extent that he forgot that he never did smile at me before?
I eyed the coffee table out of my peripheral vision - yes, I actually know that word since I actually managed to stay awake enough to listen to the boring Science teacher, aren't you so proud of moi? There lay the keys that were for the car that he drove. If I could get there in time... I could blackmail him into driving me there too.
There was silence between the two of us, the only sound that we could hear was from the buzzing of the hospital surroundings; and that was loud enough to make up for the both of us. I paced the hall once more and kept my eyes on the ground, anything to avoid seeing the neon sign above the double doors where inside, Ophelia and Bullhead lay unconscious. Seated on one of those flimsy plastic chairs that the hospital had decorating the sides of the halls, Shotgun clenched and unclenched his fist, white knuckles showing. Really, if he kept fidgeting on that chair, it would break. Now isn't the right time to be thinking about that, is it?
Thundering footfalls were heard heading towards us. Even Shotgun looked up, and that's saying something as he had managed to ignore the women that were eyeing the 'hot piece of candy over there'. The shouting of a nurse to the person to stop running in the corridors were only a second before the person arrived before us with a panicked look and wild appearance. I would guess that this was Jared? Shotgun was right. He is the epitome of dangerous and wild. Though he looked more wild than dangerous as he looked on the verge of breaking down right now. Take that however you wish, but he was definitely not about to cry - not in front of us anyway, too cool for the 'cool guy' to cry apparently.
"Where is she?" he asked, voice raspy.
His eyes skipped from me to Shotgun, though neither of us were answering his question. I bet that he knew the answer, and had only asked to fill in the silence. Shotgun jabbed a thumb at the double doors that were behind him. Jared nodded, a bit too hesitantly and narrowed his eyes at the neon sign. Guess it wasn't just me that found offence in that bothersome sign.
"What happened?" he asked again.
Shotgun sighed. "There was a car crash," my ears tuned itself to hear the man as even I hadn't heard the news, "a truck drove into the vehicle Miss and Bullhead were in. They... They ran off the road and down a hill, next to a river. The police said that they were lucky that they didn't fall into the river. Lucky, they say." he gave a short discordant sound that sounded odd. Guess it passes as a laugh.
Jared nodded. "Purposefully?" He hadn't taken his eyes off the neon sign.
I had walked another length of the corridor, discovering new things about the corridor as I did. Like the blue tiles that they had, and how it faded to a greenish - another thing I don't want to think the reason to - colour near to the skirting board.
"Evidently. No one would crash into another vehicle on a straight road that had no curves. The bloody truck driver got out with only a concussion and broken ribs, can you believe it? Hey, calm down, killing him would do you no good." he added the last part quickly, like the boy was going to kill the driver with his bare hands.
I knew I would do the same. If I could. If that person had been targeting the two like they had said, surely the driver had some experience? I don't want to run into their lodge like a headless chicken and come back as a headless chicken. Why would anyone target the two?
"Hey shrimp, stop pacing. It's the waiting and your pacing that are killing me slowly." Shotgun hissed.
Was it just me or was the man feeling a lot better with the arrival of the other teen? To have the man silent and worried did make the situation worse than it felt.
Jared looked up from the oh-so-interesting spot on the floor and at me, seeming to finally realise that I was here. Dark blue eyes met with my grey-green ones. His gaze stayed on my face despite my own that sized him up. Tall, lean muscles, dirty blonde wavy hair, classic leather jacket, and a pair of worn out looking jeans that suited him well. I can see what Ophelia saw in him. Along with those women that were giggling at him. Geez, I used to be that guy. Have I changed that much?
He nodded at me, mouth still at a grim line, though his eyes were curious and glinting. I returned his nod and that was the last thing I did before I fell asleep on the chair next to Shotgun.
"Shrimp," someone was shaking my shoulder, "Shrimp, wake up."
How annoying was that shaking... Urgh... I pushed at a solid object and settled back to a comfortable position.
"Shot, take him home. I'll stay here and-"
"Jay, you're tired as hell. Look at you, what is Miss going to think when she sees you?"
Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Let me sleep...
"She... She better wake." came the curt reply.
"Of course she is, and so is uncle."
"I hope so. God... What kind of joke is this? First the leader, and now our last kin. Is God against us?"
"Don't say that, Jay. They will make it through."
"You sound just like mum."
"Well, I am mum's son, unlike you, Mr Pessimist."
Jared and Shotgun were brothers?
"Hey, go home, Jay. You look completely wasted."
"Thanks a lot, man."
"Take shrimp home too, brat's been sick for three days."
"I am going to stay-"
"Go home. As your older brother, I order you to."
There was a moment of pause before soft chuckles were heard from the two siblings.
"Fine. I shall if shrimp over there stops eavesdropping and wakes up, before I am forced to carry him bridal style."
"Oh, don't want to cause Miss to be jealous do you?"
I yawned upon getting caught out. Opening my eyes, I met with dark blue eyes again staring down at me from above on the face of a teen.
"So? Get up." he ordered, voice still raspy and tinged with exhaustion.
I noticed that he glanced at the door occasionally, flicking between me and sign ever so often. So he did care a lot despite his appearance that showed that he didn't give a crap to the world.
I got up on jelly legs and rubbed my eyes. Even though I was tall, he still stood a head taller than me. Turning back to me he frowned and bade his brother night and insisted on calling him if anything so happened to those two inside. It took a while for the boy to leave the corridor with a worried frown and a dubious look thrown to his brother who promised over and over again that he would do so.
We walked into the carpark in silence. The large area was dim with several street lights that were far too high to cause any glow. He stopped in front of a motorbike and turned the ignition. Swinging his leg across so that he straddled it, he looked at me and motioned to get behind him. I fumbled and attempted to copy his fluid motions as I swung my leg across. Or that was what I was meant to do. There was a deep chuckle and then an abrupt cough to end it as I found myself hanging onto the edge of the bike with my foot caught on the side of the bike. So I haven't ridden a bike before, shoot me.
With what little shreds of my broken ego, I straightened myself and freed my foot of its restraint and after more fumbling, to which Jared declared was a full ten minutes, I managed to get onto the back of the bike. Wow this is some good bike. The leather seats were soft and smooth. Did this guy polish his bike every second or something? He placed his helmet onto his head and turned to look at me through his visor. Why didn't I have one?
"Done ogling my bike? I don't usually have a passenger, so you shall have to do without, you alright?"
Oh damn, I realised I was slanting at a dangerous angle, almost face planting myself to the floor. I straightened myself and settled into a better position.
"I would have thought that you had never ridden a bike before."
His tone clearly said that he believed that his statement. Damn, was I such open book? I should probably deny it somehow anyway.
"Hang on tight."
The engine purred as he cut into my speech. The lights lit an electric blue that matched the vehicle, and a second after, we were flying out of the carpark and into the dark road. I clutched the back of the vehicle for fear of death and I swear I heard another chuckle in front of me. The sharp wind that rushed past us hurt like needles that stung my eyes and made it water. Damn that boy, this must be revenge. I was sure that he hated me what with the call that he gave me before I fell sick. And my sickness had nothing to do with him, mind you. Nothing. He swerved to the left sharply, leaning onto the side so much that I was sure we were horizontal, and the reason I couldn't feel the road ripping my skin apart was sheer hatred for the driver.
When we arrived at my house, I got off on shaky legs, feeling discombobulated and faint. I would have glared if everything that swirled around me did not look like exactly like Jared. Damn him.
"Where are you going to stay?" I managed to get out.
There was a click and more sounds of fumbling, thinking that that was where he was standing, I turned to face his approximate standing.
"You're such a doofus, you know that?"
Damn, why was the voice coming from behind me? So along with not having experienced riding a bike, I also suffered motion sickness. Shoot me twice. The scenery was slowly coming back into view, and I waddled not unlike a penguin to face him, who was actually behind me with an amused smirk.
"Where are you going to stay?" I repeated.
No way in Hell was I going to offer lodging to another mafia. He shrugged.
"Somewhere? I could easily find money. The only dilemma was the number of stars it has." he grinned creepily.
Find money? Steal?
"Bloody hell, don't steal."
"Why not? And when did I say I was going to steal?"
I paused. Oh, he didn't, did he?
"But sure, another plausible solution, thanks shrimp."
Hell, what was it with them and the nickname?
"Don't call me that."
He only smiled at me and tried to suppress a yawn. He did looked exhausted, and turned to stare at me with a raised brow.
"Just come inside."
Shoot. Why did that sound so much like my voice?
Geez, here I was playing kind Samaritan and he didn't want it?
"You do look like Hell."
"You don't look much different to Satan, too."
"Hell... I was only trying to offer you a place to stay, why do you have to be such a jerk-"
"You sound just like her." he said with a wistful tone.
Her? Oh. Ophelia.
"Well, her influence rubbed off me."
There was a chilly wind that blew at us right at that moment and I wondered why I was wasting my time waiting for a jerk.
"Fine. Thanks." he gave me a small nod of thanks.
I guess that was the closest I was going to get to breaking down his cool exterior. Now I do wonder what Ophelia saw in him.
And what was going to happen from now on with another mafia in the house. When has my house gained a neon sign that read 'Free Lodging For Mafia'?