"I swear, I had no idea!" Mrs. Montclair wailed, "I swear I didn't know he was one of them!" Risen's eyes widened with disbelief and fury.
"Coward," he growled under his breath before straightening and turning to face the officer. "I knew…"
"Risen's just acting out in grief, please believe me! He never knew anything either!" Mrs. Montclair's voice carried a begging tone as she stepped in front of her only remaining child, shielding him from what fate would have him if the gruff policeman believed his two words.
The officer's eyes narrowed in suspicion as he ran a hand through his shaggy hair; He wasn't buying it, but Risen was just a kid. He couldn't kill a kid.
"Alright ma'am. I believe you," the officer said with a resigned sigh. Risen raised his fists as if he had half a mind to give the older man the what-for, then dropped them at his sides. Guilt welled up inside him and he couldn't hold in his emotions any longer.
Joey was dead. That was the reality. There was nothing Risen could do to bring him back, nothing anyone else could do to change the past and Risen couldn't take it anymore. He pushed past the officer and ran to Joey's room.
Everything was just how Joey had left it. Of course it was; it was, after all, only today that Joey had been killed. Tears fell down Risen's face and a sob rose up in his throat. Although it didn't seem like they got along, Joey wasn't only Risen's older brother, he was his best friend.
"What's it like to know your friends could be shot down at any given moment?" Risen asked. He didn't mean to be rude, he just couldn't grasp how Joey could always be so calm when his friends could be alive one second and then dead the next.
"Well," Joey began, scratching his head, "I don't really think about that much. I prefer to live in the moment, you know what I mean?"
"No, not really."
"I don't worry about that kind of thing. I've had friends 'shot down' before. It's sad, yes, but I know if all's fair and just, I'll see them again. I like to think about it as a temporary parting… like when dad left us 'cause his job sent him elsewhere. It wasn't like we weren't gonna see him again. He came back after a few short months."
Risen could hear this conversation like Joey was right here in the room. They'd discussed this about two years ago, one year after Joey joined The Breakers. Risen tried to cling on to Joey's words, not wanting to forget the husky, deep tone that was his brother's, but already he could feel the memory of his brother's voice fading.
"…if all's fair and just, I'll see him again," Risen tried to remind himself.
There was a soft knock on the door and Risen sat down on Joey's bed.
"Don't come in." Risen silently cursed himself for the waver in his voice and ran an arm across his teary eyes.
"Riz?" Mrs. Montclair whispered. Risen ignored her and began to sift through Joey's papers scattered on his desk. The door creaked open and Risen's mom came to stand beside him. "I'm sorry, Risen."
"Sorry for pretending you didn't know? Sorry for not doing anything about Joey's death? Sorry you were too much of a coward to face the music?" Risen shouted.
It wasn't really fair to poor Mrs. Montclair, but Risen had lost it. His brother had been unfairly taken from him and his mom had done nothing about it. Mrs. Montclair looked as though she were about to cry. She'd lost a son and felt as though she was losing another one. She'd only wanted to protect Risen. How could she do that if she'd admitted to knowing and let herself be executed?
"Risen… please! I only wanted to keep you safe." Her skinny frame shook with her sobs as she pushed back her ragged brunette hair with trembling hands. She curled into herself suddenly looking much smaller and his anger faded into some unidentifiable emotion.
"Mom?" his voice wavered as he set down the papers and wrapped his arms around his mother. "I-it's okay… it's gonna be okay."
He would have to come back later... right now, his mom needed him.
After Mrs. Montclair fell asleep that night, Risen slipped back into Joey's room. He didn't know how to explain it, but somehow, Risen felt drawn there… like something important was concealed in his older brother's posessions. Something Joey would have intended him to find.
Risen pawed through stack after stack, file after file and read through several papers. Though nothing in particular stood out, the feeling that Joey had hidden something from his family grew ever more intense. What was it? More importantly, where was it? Then he knew.
Risen approached the closet setting down the papers he held, and a feeling of powerful anticipation surged through him. This was it. He didn't need to ask where it might be any longer… he couldn't quite explain it, but he knew that whatever it was lay behind that door.
It was almost as though Joey's ghost was in the room with him, guiding his younger brother to the mysterious yet important object. Risen's hand mechanically reached for the door and twisted the knob. Beads of sweat dripped down his face and his breath came faster with eagerness.
Yet nothing was placed out of the ordinary. Disappointment lined Risen's face as he turned and began to close the door. That's when it caught his eye… a small envelope was slipped under where the eve of the door lay when shut. Risen picked it up and examined the seal. It hadn't been broken yet…
He slipped his finger under the lip of the envelope and tore across the edge. Out fell a crest into the palm of his hand while the letter stay securely tucked inside. Risen pocketed the small trinket and carefully pulled out the note. It was immediately apparent his brother had written it, seeing as the handwriting was recognizable as his chicken scratch penmanship.
He stared at it blankly, his mind taking a second to register the words written there…
If your reading this, I'm either dead or you've been sneaking into places you shouldn't. I'm writing this in the case of the first, so get out of my room if I'm not!
Anyhow, If you're still grieving (if you were at all), first off I'd like to say: get over it. I knew the risk I was taking and accepted it. Now pull yourself together… you have a great responsibility coming and you need to be able to take it on.
As my younger brother, you are to fill in my place on the Breakers' side. This means you'll be the new leader of the Seattle-Washington branch. I know this is a lot to take in, but you were the only one I could trust to take over for me. Please, don't try to be someone you're not to fill in the role… that's not why I chose you. I chose you for your qualities… for your intelligent insight on heavy matters.
I know when I first joined, and you wanted to come with me, I discouraged you, but time's passed since then and you've changed a lot. Matured.
As you take my place, you'll hear many things about me you may not believe. I can't tell you what will be true and what won't be, but know this: EVERYTHING I'VE DONE IS FOR THE GOOD OF THE ORGANIZATION.
You're brother even in death,
Risen blinked slowly, as though coming out of a daze. Joey couldn't have been serious. He was high when he wrote this, Risen hastily concluded. But that couldn't have been the case.
So what had compelled Joey to lay this on him? His irresponsible younger brother? A better question, would Risen take up the position? It was what he'd always wanted… to join The Breakers. But he'd only wanted a small part, not to be the frickin' leader.
True, he was repulsed by the way the countries were run, but there had to be a more motivated person for the task. It was obvious Joey had faith in his leadership skills, but was his confidence really enough to run off of?
He fought back the tears, and won. This was just too much, but he wasn't going to sit back and cry over it. The next meeting was tomorrow. Joey never missed one, so Risen knew the schedule like the back of his hand. He had no idea of if they knew Joey was dead yet, but if they didn't, The Breakers would find out soon enough.
Risen Montclair slipped into the back alley and made his way to 13 Pacific Ave. The metal cast numbers were missing from the door and in its place was a sloppy, sharpied-in replacement. Here goes nothing… he thought with a grim smile.
Not even the air stirred as he slid inside, silently shutting the door behind him. It was spooky, without even the slightest hint of human presence.
"Is anyone here?" Risen called out softly. He didn't know why, but he felt the need for silence as he surveyed the room. Dust coated every surface and with no lights on, it was difficult to tell what objects were what. It felt unnatural to speak in a place such as this.
He stumbled forward, searching for some other door in the back that would lead to a worldlier atmosphere where the rest of the Breakers waited for an old leader that would never return. In the process, his foot caught on the leg of a chair and he flew forward. Reaching out for anything he could to keep his face from hitting the floor, he grabbed the first thing his hand came in contact with… a girl's breast.
An angry banshee shriek assaulted his eardrums immediately and he fell back to the floor. What the heck had just happened?
"I am so sorry!" he babbled. He couldn't shake the moment from his mind… in fact, he couldn't really do much of anything right now. His arms were pinned at his sides and the weight of another person secured him to the ground as a hand repeatedly slapped his face.
The horrified wail continued.
"You sick pervert! What the heck?" The voice was familiar, but in the panic of the moment, Risen couldn't quite place a name to it.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm – …Callie?" recognition dawned on him and an even harder blush crept up his face. "What are you doing here?"
"How do you know my name?" she sounded a little more than psyched out.
"Callie, Callie! It's me, Risen!" he cried as the hand slapping his face turned into a fist punching out his lights. Callie froze.
"R-Risen?" She stuttered. But it was too late.
Risen went limp in her grasp and she released the hold she'd had on the collar of his shirt. This was going to be a long meeting… she thought to herself as she dragged his flaccid body behind her to the appointed room.
When Risen came to, the world was little more than a blur. He reached his hands out and felt around. A pillow had been placed beneath his head, and it appeared as though he were lying on a couch. Where am I? He silently asked as he partially sat up. And then it came to him, along with the pain… Callie must have brought him to the Breakers' hideout.
"Callie? Are you there?" he slurred, his voice nasally. A groan rose in his throat; his face felt like it was on fire. Tears welled up in his eyes and he brought his hand up the throbbing area, as if that would lessen the piercing pain.
"Yeah, I'm here…" she whispered, "Sorry about your nose."
Yeah... it was probably broken, Risen couldn't help the bitter thought. A thousand and one comments he could respond with flooded his mind, but now didn't seem to be an appropriate time for sarcasm. "It's fine… I deserved it."
The blurs faded and Risen sat up completely. His nose still ached, but he'd live. Around him, a group of strangely clothed people had gathered and Risen shifted uneasily. The reason for this became apparent soon enough.
"Where's Joey?" A well muscled man in one of the odd outfits demanded. His tone offered no compromise and it was more of a command rather than a question.
Risen's eyes widened as he remembered what he had to do. He had to break the news, then lead this group… and none of them looked very friendly except for Callie.
Thanks for reading this far! This makes me so happy =)
By the way, I'll soon be posting a side story about Joey. Just a brief bit of a summary: Joey steals a cop car! If you're interested, keep your eyes open because it'll be up soon x3
And one more thing: I would really appreciate it if I could get your opinions on how I'm doing... don't hesitate to let me know if there's anything I can do better. I'm always up for some helpful critisism! The favor will be returned. Thanks!