Ew! He smells like vomit!
You're not seriously putting that in my car!
It's getting on the seat! I thought you understood what this car means to me!
It might've been the aftermath of a weird dream but for some reason I woke up with those words in my head. The voice was a little familiar, but the dream didn't match it to a face.
My head was pounding, just turning it to the side felt like being bashed over the head with a brick. I cringed, eyes shut tight, and tried not to move. I wished I could have fallen back to sleep, but that's close to impossible when there might as well be needles in your brain.
Every little noise felt like another blow. Footsteps made me stuff my face deeper into a pillow, a door sliding open made me curl into myself, and voices made me pull the blankets over my head.
Wait… footsteps? …Voices? Where did I get a blanket and a pillow? Where am I?
"Don't look at me like that." The deep voice was muffled. I think it was in another room, or maybe behind a screen door.
"This is messed up." A different voice, higher, but scratchier. "I told you when I came here we'd have to do things my way or—."
"I know." It was interrupted. "But you know she'd never forgive me if I just left him lying out there."
"I thought you said we're not going to tell her?"
Her? Her who? Do they mean me lying out there?
"We're not…" The other voice said.
The weakness and tiredness in my body started to outweigh the pain in my head. Their voices turned into fuzzy background noise.
A heavy sigh. "You make no sense."
"No worries, whatever happens, you know I have your back."
I woke up to something wet on my face. The first time I thought someone was rubbing a lukewarm cloth over my cheek to clean me up, so I didn't react. The second time felt rougher, less like cloth, and passed over my lips. The third time it went half-way up my nose.
"Gah!" I erupted from my sleep and plastered myself against the back of the couch to escape it.
In front of me was a pair of big, brown eyes surrounded by off-white fur. A little lower, a huge tongue surrounded by nasty-looking teeth. I'm sure it was that tongue that had violated me.
"The hell." I tried to calm my fast breath. The dog in front of me barked, and I jumped. I'm not afraid of dogs, but to awake from a sound sleep with one right up in your face is slightly terrifying. "Why is there a dog?" I scoffed.
It barked again, only it wasn't a full-out loud bark. They were more like little woofs to get my attention. I blinked, and looked at the rest of the animal. It was white with brown spots on its back and chest. Its ears were flopped and its fur was about as short as a dog's fur normally gets. I didn't know the first thing about dog breeds, but it's face looked way too stupid to be anything dangerous.
I sighed, and settled back down onto the couch.
The dog "wuffed" again and I was ready to punch it in the face.
"Shut up!" I barked back, and as soon as I did, it turned away from me, and toward a flight of stairs. It went up the first few, tail wagging, head high in alert, and then came back down to look at me. It started to pant, looked up the stares, and then back at me.
It sort of seemed like the dog wanted me to follow it. I've never had any pets, and neither has anyone else I know aside from the newly introduced Leia. But I've seen all the movies, so I thought maybe Little Timmy was stuck in a well and needed me to save him.
I snickered, and sat up carefully, mostly to make sure my headache wasn't still hanging around. I definitely didn't feel just fine, but not quite as hung over or dizzy- I was sure I'd have no trouble walking.
So, I pushed myself up off the couch and walked over to the dog. "Okay, Fido." I crossed my arms. "Show me the way."
The dog grunted, and turned to scurry up the stairs, all the way this time. It stopped at the top, and looked down at me as if to wait, so I followed. Once I got about half-way up, the dog took off down the hall-way to its right, so I sped up a little.
When I got to the top and looked in the direction it had gone, it was standing at one of the doors, and staring at it. I stood there watching it for a few moments. Every once in a while its ears would twitch, and then its head would tilt slightly, or its tail would wag. My first assumption was that the dog wanted to go in that room, so I started toward it.
Within a few steps, I started hearing things. Thuds and thumps, and after each one that dog's ears would twitch. I paused mid-step, but then started walking again. The moment I stopped next to the dog, there was a particularly loud thud, like something had dropped to the floor, and then a loud, painful-sounding yell.
It sounded like someone was dying in there! Worse, actually, like someone was being thrown around, or beaten to death! All at once I mustered my courage and took one step forward to grab hold of the doorknob, turned it, and yanked the door open.
It was a bedroom, and it was dark. The blinds were closed, and there were no lights on. At first, looking around, I didn't see anything. But when the dog walked in, it became quite interested in a moving ball of sheets and bed covers next to the bed.
The dog growled, and then bit down on one of the moving parts.
"Owe!" A muffled voice.
"Your goddamn dog just bit my arm!"
A pause. "…How did she get in here?" I stood, flabbergasted in the door way, as an arm emerged from the ball of bedding, and pulled one of the sheets off.
I found myself looking straight at a surprised, familiar face. Mr. …McAbrahams? "…Oh." He said. "You woke up." He was on his hands and knees on the floor, and there was a pair of arms wrapped around his neck. This pair of arms was attached to a pair of shoulders, which were attached to a neck, and a chest—a man's chest, definitely. Lean and thin and lightly tanned and so incredibly lickable. He was lying flat on his back, head thrown back and surrounded by mussed, shoulder-length black hair.
Their back halves were still covered by one blanket, but I could tell just fine from what I could see that there were no clothes involved in this situation.
"Get him out." The one on the bottom said, gritting his teeth. He bent his head back, and glared at me. "Get out!" He barked. Our eyes met and I knew him.
I flipped shit, and on his command, grabbed the doorknob, and yanked the door shut with a loud slam. Then I ran. Originally I'd been aiming for the stares, but I misjudged my speed and ended up crashing into the wall at the other end of the hall just as I tried to make the turn to go down. From there, I just froze, and stared at the floor.
Mr. McAbrahams and… …that was, Mr. Case… they were…
I was sitting on the couch with my hands tucked between my knees, slightly terrified and entirely shocked. Who seriously does that to a person? Brings them to their home, leaves them on the couch, and goes upstairs to have sex while they're asleep? What kind of insane people live here?
I should have known though, they were so close at school, I should have known they were fucking like bunnies behind the scenes. Of course, I had convinced myself with my pessimism that Mr. Case was straight, so that was definitely a factor in my failure to recognize.
The dog was sitting next to me, looking as perplexed about my behavior as I was about life in general. It looked like it wanted to help in some way, and I met it's eyes and gave silent thanks to it for caring.
The pair of us heard footsteps on the stairs and we both tensed, me with absolute fear and the dog with excitement. It forgot all about my pain and hopped off the couch to greet whoever it was that was coming down. I prayed for it to be Mr. McAbrahams, I don't think I ever wanted to see Mr. Case again.
"Sup, monster." Mr. Case snuffed as he trotted past the dog, stroking its head shortly before continuing across the room. "And peeper." He looked at me, accusingly.
"Peep…" My mind was blank as his strangely tinted eyes narrowed at me.
"I wasn't peeping! I thought someone was dying in there!" I shouted, launching myself off the couch. "Like I'd ever want to see that shit! Fucking gross!" That's right, Fox. Play the homophobe. Hot gay guys love homophobes.
He snorted, and looked away. "Brush up on your lying, dumbass." He started in the direction of another open doorway. "If you're hiding in a closet, try to avoid ogling me in class all the time." he disappeared into what appeared by the tile floor that I could see from the angle, to be the kitchen.
I deflated, having been defeated with overkill. "Whatever." I huffed, and sat back down. "Take me home." I didn't want to be around him anymore, it was embarrassing.
"I'm not doing shit for you." He came back with a can of something, looked like some brand of iced tea, and sat in a recliner that was positioned perpendicular to the couch. "Brady is sleeping, so shut up and deal."
I scowled, and looked away, hating how hot my face felt. I didn't honestly want to go home anyway, but any situation was better than this one.
Wait… Brady? That must've been Mr. McAbraham's first name. They called each other by their first names. Well, of course they did, it would be odd if they didn't.
My eyes shifted back to Mr. Case's profile as he sipped his canned iced tea. I wonder what his is.
My eyes fell upon an analog clock that was hanging above the television across the room. "Why is he sleeping? It's almost 2 PM!" He's a teacher, an adult! Shouldn't they be more responsible?
A grin cracked across Mr. Case's face. "He always naps after he comes."
I froze stiff, mouth agape, and my world shattered. I cannot believe he just said that to me. I'm a fucking student! I'm seventeen! I'm a…
…not a virgin anymore.
I looked down at my feet.
"Don't worry, it's only for a half-hour or so." Mr. Case leaned forward and snatched up the control to flip on the TV. Family Guy was on, and he sat back in the recliner, seeming content with this.
I squinted at him. He acts so much more like a dickface outside of school. What kind of esteemed classroom instructor watches Family Guy? That show is dumb as fuck anyway, he must secretly be an idiot.
"I'm bored." I barked. The dog seemed to have understood this and stood up and trotted over to me, wagging its tail. Huffing, I mindlessly reached out to pet the dog. It leaned into my touch, and panted happily.
Thanks Dog, petting you wasn't really the solution to my boredom that I was looking for, but at least you tried.
When I looked up from the dog, Mr. Case was watching me from the corner of his eye.
"What?" I huffed.
"Nothing." He replied, and casually sipped his tea. What an asshole.
Seeing him at school as an authority figure again is going to feel so awkward after this. I might have to drop out. Lord knows no one would care.
The dog put its head in my lap, as if asking for my full attention, but while I was absently petting its head, my eyes were focused elsewhere. Mr. Case was slouching, lounged out in that leather recliner and sunk into it like he was a part of it. He didn't seem to mind that his tank-top was riding high and his sweat pants were riding low and I could see his toned, tanned stomach. My mind raced when he shifted his wait, and I swallowed heavily when I could see the muscles in his stomach unclench as he relaxed into a new position.
My fingers tingled with a desire to touch. My breath caught with every inhale as I curled my hand into a fist. There was a line, a faint line that ran from above his hip, and down… down behind the top seam of those sweat pants that were definitely riding way, way too low. All I wanted was to run my tongue down that line and follow it wherever it went.
I blinked, and looked up. He was watching me. Watching me watch him. I was dumbstruck and frozen, still halfway in the zone.
He leaned forward and set his tea down on the table in front of both of us, and then rose out of the chair. My eyes followed that patch of exposed skin as he did, and I knew it was stupid, that he was just going to make fun of me if he continued to catch me staring, but I couldn't move my eyes from it. He was impossible, the whole of him. Especially now, dressed down, hair unkempt, likely unshowered, he was completely beautiful.
His eyes stayed on mine as he walked over. I had no idea what he was going to do, but I was just waiting to find out. In my hands there was an urge to reach out as he came closer, take hold of him and pull him close to me. I trained them against my sides, stayed completely still, even as he lifted his right leg and put his knee beside me on the couch.
"You want something?" He said, lowly, huskily, and I held back a whimper as he pulled his other knee onto the couch on the other side of me. He hadn't touched me at all and I felt more than just a stir in my lower half. He moved forward, resting his elbows on the couch behind me, straddling my lap, but no part of him touching me. His face was inches away, his lips were pale and smooth-looking, but his eyes bothered me. The pupils were small, relaxed, and his gaze looked icy.
"So many guys look at me." He moved his face closer, passing my face until his mouth was at my ear. I wasn't sure how long I'd been holding my breath. "They stare. Guys who think they're straight, guys who are straight… and guys like you, too."
"People look at me, and they want to fuck me." From the corner of my eye I saw a grin crack across his face.
"So, here's the question." He pulled back, and his arms fell to rest by his sides, eyes locked onto mine challengingly. "What makes you special?"
I swallowed. He looked back at me for the following moments, as if contemplating my lack of response. Then he snickered.
"Stop looking." He hopped backward off of of me, rather overly athletically, and landed back on his feet. "It's never going to happen." With that, he left the room. I had no idea where he went, but he was gone.
Mr. McAbrahams re-entered the room before Mr. Case got back, and I was glad for that. The earlier encounter had left me shaken in a strange way, and not just in that it took a while to depitch the tent in my pants. I had always been comfortable around and fond of Mr. McAbrahams, and when he entered the room with that fatherly, authoritative aura, I felt a little better.
"Fox." He approached me carefully, scratching the back of his neck. "Um, I just wanted to apologize for… what you saw earlier…" He said. "It… I mean, it was stupid… for me to…"
What makes you special?
I found those words back in my head as McArbahams spoke, and I listened. I found myself applying them to him. What makes him special? Something had to have.
"Please don't tell any other students what happened today." He pleaded.
"I won't." I replied, with no hesitation. "Because you saw me in the bathroom." I added.
"Ha." He rubbed his neck. "Yeah."
"Can you take me home?" I didn't want to see Mr. Case again, I wanted to leave.
"Oh!" He panicked a little, and started looking around the room for something. "Um, yeah, where are my keys?" He awkwardly moved around the room, checking tables and under magazines, feeling his pockets which were obviously empty because he'd just put the pants on.
"Tom!" He shouted.
Tom. Tom Tom Tom Tom.
"What?" I heard the voice faintly, from the upper floor.
"Where are my keys?"
"Fuck if I know."
Mr. McAbrahams gasped, opened his mouth, and then shut it again. "Don't… don't swear in front of your students!"
"I'm not in front of him." I heard faintly, followed by the sounds of a door slamming.
Mr. McAbrahams looked at me with desperation. "Sorry about him, too."
"Yeah." I agreed slightly as I stood. "I just want to go home." I added.
"Of course! I'll take you." He turned around and twitched like he'd spotted something, and then stalked over to the other side of the room to pick a chain of keys off from a shelf near the kitchen entrance. "Let's get going." He held them up awkwardly, and opened the front door. I think he was partly trying to escape when he went out without another word. But, happy to be getting out of there, I followed.
As I did, the dog appeared behind me and requested to come with me by rubbing against my legs and trying to squeeze its way out with me. I pushed it back lightly and slinked out, and then turned to it. "No." I said, mocking movies and TV shows. "Stay." It looked devastated, and I shut the door.
His name was in my head as I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. I don't know what had gotten into him or why he did, or said all that, nor what had gotten into me when I had just blatantly ogled him.
I didn't like his name, when I thought about it. It didn't suit him. It was bland, and short, and common. I don't know what I'd had in mind, really, but Tom Case? That was definitely not a movie-star name.
But anyway, it didn't matter, because he had rejected me. Not that I'd confessed or anything, and really, it wasn't a big deal that he did. He was kind of an arrogant asshole about it, but it didn't crush my world. More like, it brought me back to earth. He was older than me with some weird baggage, and was clearly some kind of dickhead.
Melvin was my age, we understood each other, he was simple and he cared about me.
And I'd completely fucked him over last night.
There was also Miles, who tried to make me do the right thing, but I was drunk and stupid and blew him off. He was probably royally pissed at me. Luckily, he was a great guy, and I knew he'd taken care of Melvin. I could always count on him to play hero like that.
I was bored, and sick of being at home less than a half-hour after I got there. So, I made the decision to go see Miles, because I probably wouldn't be able to relax until I straightened things out with at least one of them. Melvin's house was closer, but that concept was still terrifying.
It took me two hours to get to Miles's place. I'd never actually had to walk there before, he always gave me rides or picked me up. But, this was a surprise visit. A "I hope you don't hate me for being a horrible person" visit.
He opened the door with an unamused face like he'd been expecting that it was me, and that I would show up. He didn't look pleased, but he stood aside, leaving space which invited me to walk in.
"Hi." I said.
"Where did you disappear to last night?" He not only slammed the door behind me, but cut right to the chase.
"I um… got lost. I got a ride home." I didn't go into detail, there was no need to.
"Uh-huh." Miles didn't care about my side of the story anyway. Which was annoying, because I was drunk and stupid, and honestly, I have feelings in this situation too. Obviously I'd fucked up and that was fine, but… I was drunk, and it wasn't fair for him to be this mad. It wasn't him I'd hurt.
"I woke Melvin up, and took him home." He said. "I had to explain to him why you were nowhere to be found."
My eyes widened. "What did you say?"
He sighed. "I just said that you felt sick and went off somewhere and I couldn't find you."
Well, that was just vague enough to be worse than the truth.
"He didn't seem happy with that answer." He went on. "He wants to see you. He's worried about you, and he's nervous about what happened."
I didn't say anything.
"Do you want me to take you?"
My eyes flicked to him, and I shook my head. "I'm not going there right now."
"I can't yet!" I barked. "Just… leave it alone, this has nothing to do with you."
"Seriously?" he scoffed. "I don't care if it has nothing to do with me, you're being an asshole to this poor kid who… honestly, I've never seen anyone not be an asshole to."
"I don't care!"
"What the fuck does that mean?"
"I mean, I can't deal with it right now."
"Well, while you're busy pussying out, he's over there probably drowning in worry over what's going on in your head.
"Oh please, he—,"
"You DID NOT see his face last night when you weren't there!" He shouted.
"I don't CARE." I repeated. "What about me?"
"What about you?" He scoffed.
"Last night! I disappeared, you had no idea where I was, and I show up here and you don't even seem surprised or like you even wondered if I got abducted or raped or—,"
"Did you?" he interrupted, bluntly, and with emotionless eyes because somehow he already knew the answer.
"Then I don't care." He interrupted again, this time clearly mocking me.
My mouth snapped shut and I stared at him. I don't understand why he's so pissed over this. I know he tries to mommy everyone and shit, but this is ridiculous. I'm his best friend, he's supposed to be there for me.
"You fucked up, and you have to fix it. It can't wait." He said, more softly. "If it were anyone besides Melvin Thompson it wouldn't be such a big deal but… like I said, you didn't see his face."
"I don't care." I said, for the third time. "I can't do it today." I whispered. "Please just let me stay here."
Miles sighed. "Go home, Fox." He ordered. "If you're not going to do anything about it at least you'll be in the same boat as him."
"Whatever!" I whipped around to head for the exit. I fumbled at the door handle, felt stupid until I finally got it to turn, and then ripped it open. "Asshole!" I yanked it shut behind me, let the screen door slam, and left.
I knew I was being selfish, but Miles didn't even bother to give me time to actually sort out what I was going to say to Melvin, or how I felt! He's always like that, picks a side and stays glued to it until the other is thoroughly defeated. Unfortunately up until now it's almost always been my side. I knew I'd fucked up, but he was being completely over-dramatic. Melvin would be fine, and so would I, we both just needed some time.
Did Miles forget that on top of everything, I'm out now? That when I go back to school, everyone is going to know, and I'm probably going to be treated like shit? And best of all, now he's pissed at me, and vice versa, so I don't even have that to lean on. I'll be completely fucking alone.
I was walking fast, barely even aware of where I was going. I felt like I just wanted to break down, though. Today was so messed up, and now it was cloudy and dreary and humid, and I had a two-hour walk ahead of me. I'd pretty much been sexually harassed earlier, too, and Miles didn't give a shit. If Miles didn't give a shit, there was literally no one in my life to give a shit. And that sucked so much.
"Hey, kid." A sounded off from beside me. It wasn't until then that I realized I'd stopped, and was staring at the ground on the verge of tears. I looked up, eyes wide. It was a police car.
"Um…" At first he looked suspicious, but there must've been something revealing about my expression, because when our eyes met he looked more concerned. I would have cracked something about him approaching me because I was black, but, he was too. "You okay?" He asked, carefully.
Great, just what I need, patronizing cops.
"I'm fine." I huffed, wiping all trace of any distraught feelings off my face and temporarily out of my mind.
"Do you need a ride?" He asked, creeping along beside me as I walked. I opened my mouth to decline, but then I thought about the two-hour walk ahead of me, stopped, and turned to face him.
"Okay." I answered. He nodded, and I walked around to get in the passenger side of the car.
"Where do you live?" He asked.
"The shitty side of town." I said, without really thinking, and then, with more thought, added. "The part you guys ignore."
"Oh." He said, awkwardly. "Actually, what street?" He was messing around on the GPS mounted on his dashboard. "I'm from out of town, this isn't my city… I'm here on special orders, so… I mean, I'd help, but…"
"Oh." I answered. "Your car says otherwise."
"Yeah, I had to agree to work part-time patrol duty while I'm staying here and the bureau pays for my boarding."
"Oh." I said again, then it hit me. "Bureau?" I blinked. "FBI?"
He smirked. "Yep. In a police uniform and car, how degrading is that?"
I considered, and shrugged. "You're both equal in bullshit to me." I can't believe that just came out of my mouth.
He laughed, though, and not just to make me feel more comfortable about my mistake. It was obnoxious and loud and made me want to cover my ears. "Yeah, yeah." He waved me off. "Whatever you say."
I can't believe I'm in a car with an FBI agent, getting a ride home. Come to think of it, a regular cop would probably get in trouble for driving random kids around with no charges.
"Speaking of which." We were stopped at a red light, and he reached over, removing only one hand from the steering wheel to open the glove compartment in front of me. "I'm looking for a specific person, and there's some evidence he might be in town here." He pulled out a small booklet, and set it in my lap. "There are pictures in there, tell me if you recognize him."
The light turned green, and his hand returned to the steering wheel, as well as his eyes to the road.
I sighed, a little annoyed, and opened the booklet. On top were just some notes and papers with text, which I ignored. I was sure I hadn't seen this guy, I don't really get out much. But, whatever, he's doing me a favor, so—
I flipped a page, and found a picture. It wasn't a mugshot, like I expected. It was more like a portrait your girlfriend would take of you for her bedroom. More importantly, it was someone I very clearly recognized.
Underneath the photo, there was a name, then a list.
Tom Curtis. Fraud, Robbery, Wreckless Endangerment, Resisting Arrest, Assault…
Curtis? …The image didn't match the name, at least not in my mind. The man in the picture was Tom Case.
"Look familiar at all?" He asked. I stayed still, not wanting to make the wrong expression, or suggest I was lying with a look or movement. I braced myself with a slightly longer than natural blink, and then spoke.
"No." I shrugged, and shut the booklet. "He's a murderer?" I asked, as casually as I could. Both to seem unfazed and because I wanted to know.
"Four times over."
My fucking substitute teacher has killed four people.
"To be fair they were all criminals, like him. But, still, it's not safe to be around someone who's capable of that."
That made me feel slightly better about the murder thing. At least sexual assault was nowhere on the list.
"Honestly, he's not familiar at all?" He pressed, and I started to sweat. Why would I know? "Well, keep your eyes out at school. Actually, the reason I pulled over by you in the first place was because you look like you could be in high school."
"Well, we actually got a tip off from one of his enemies that he's working undercover as a substitute teacher. For what reason we don't know yet, but it's probably nothing good. He's known to take money for assassination jobs."
Oh my god.
"I'm going undercover tomorrow to check on that theory, so you'll probably see me there."
I'm glad he's so concerned with his own speech, because I have completely frozen and my hands are in such tight fists that it's stinging my palms. My mouth is dry and I don't think I can speak.
"Damn, though, I really thought we were onto something. But if he's not familiar to a kid who goes to the school… maybe it's a wild goose chase." He sighed.
The one recurring thought I have is that I have to tell Tom.
Why? Why don't I just tell this guy that I not only have seen him at school, but I know where he lives, and where he most likely is right this second? I should, he's a murderer, and he's a dick on top of that.
But… he doesn't seem like a criminal. And… what about Mr. McAbrahams? Doesn't this mean he has to be in on it too? Or is he completely in the dark, is Mr. Case fooling him, or using him?
No… I remember what they were talking about this morning, before I fully woke up. McAbrahams said he had his back, and they were talking about how me being there was taking a risk. He was part of it too. If there was any logic I could pull out of not wanting to help this cop, it was that I wanted McAbrahams at least to have a chance to explain himself.
Speaking of which, this area looked familiar.
"So, where am I heading?" The cop conveniently asked, and I answered almost too quickly.
"Turn left here." I said, and he followed orders onto a familiar side street, one on which I had been earlier that day. I let him continue for a few seconds, and then pointed to a less luxurious looking house. "That's me." I said.
"All right, I'll just drop you off in front, if that's okay." He pulled up in front of the yard of the house I pointed to. "And hey, this part of town doesn't seem so bad. But I'll try to talk to the local sheriff about keeping a better eye on things."
"Thanks." I said as I got out.
"Have a better night!" He shouted as if trying to get that word in before I shut the door. I walked slowly, hoping to God he wouldn't do something stupid like wait for me to go inside. If he did, I was royally screwed because this definitely was not my house, nor that of anyone who would let me walk in.
I was just stepping up on the porch when I heard the engine accelerate, and let out a breath of relief as he rolled away.
How the hell an oblivious guy like that made it into the FBI is beyond me, but I'm lucky as hell that he did. I was ready to piss myself and he just let me go.
Once he was out of sight, I started to speed-walk down the driveway toward the side-walk. Halfway there my fast walk broke into a run, and that turned into a sprint. Tomorrow was Monday, and if I didn't get a chance to warn them, they would be caught tomorrow.
I recognized the house when I arrived in front of it and stopped in my tracks. It was getting dark now, and some of the lights were on in the house. I couldn't see anything in the windows, but I hoped the lights meant they were home.
As I slowly approached, I really hoped that Mr. McAbrahams answered the door. In fact, I hoped I could talk to him alone about it first. He didn't exactly have a file on it that said he was a murderer. Once that thought crossed my mind, I stopped mid-step.
What the hell am I doing?
Murderer, he's a murderer, he could kill me because I know about him. Why am I here, why should I warn him? Even if I do, even if he uses it to get away, why would he let me live?
I kept walking, despite this. I didn't want to believe he was that kind of person. When he hid from the drug dogs last Friday he told me he had unpaid parking tickets. He seemed clumsy and he was an asshole but he just didn't feel like that kind of person. I wanted to have faith in him. No… I didn't want to, I just did. It was just in my gut, I didn't believe he would hurt me.
If nothing else, I didn't believe Mr. McAbrahams would let him hurt me.
I rang the doorbell without bracing myself first, and instantly regretted it. That was it, it was too late to hesitate now. Someone would answer the door and I would have to explain why I was there.
To my dismay, it was not Mr. McAbrahams.
"The hell are you doing back here?" He scoffed. "Parents kick you out?"
Irritated by his attitude and the fact that he had no idea that I knew his huge secret, I said the one thing I could think of that would phase him.
"Tom Curtis." I said.
He paused, confused, almost as if it didn't catch on at first. Then his face paled slightly, and his eyes narrowed.
"That's your real n—."
He cut me off by grabbing my arm and yanking me inside the house.
"What the hell are you doing?" McAbrahams appeared from in the kitchen just in time to see him manhandle me. Ha, my bodyguard has arrived!
"How do you know that?" Mr. Case… no, Curtis. Tom Curtis. He demanded an answer with every inch of his being. He was shaking; with fear, or anger, I didn't know which.
"What's going on?" McAbrahams was more calm, but I could tell he was taking this very seriously now.
"Okay, first of all, I want to make it clear that I came here to warn you." I said, firmly. "So don't you dare try to treat me like shit."
"Warn us about what?" McAbrahams stepped forward. Tom Curtis was just standing there with his icy stare and silver eyes, looking horrified by the sight of me.
"I got picked up by an FBI agent who says he's in town looking for you." I spoke while looking at Tom. "He's going to be at school tomorrow, and he knows what you look like and your real name."
McAbrahams reacted immediately, but Tom stayed frozen in place. "It's got to be Fritz. We have to leave, now."
Tom shook his head. "I can't abandon this job—."
"I can't! I said I would—…"
"We can deal with Kross later, we can't stay here. If they're here, then who knows who else might have tracked you down!" McAbrahams was shouting. I'd never witnessed that before. "We. Have. To. Leave. Carlos is tracking the FBI's movements, he definitely followed them here and he will definitely find you! This is about your life."
"I'm dead either way!" Tom said, and he was laughing. "Martel is going to kill them, he said he would." He started pacing back and forth. "This was my last chance."
"Tom, shut up. Him we can reason with, Carlos we can't. Pack some shit and let's go."
"FUCK." Tom slammed his fist into the wall, and a hole appeared.
What are they talking about? What are all these names…? Who's going to kill who?
"Fox." McAbrahams appeared in front of me. "Go home, stay out of the way. Forget this happened."
"Fuck that!" Tom grabbed my arm. "You think we can trust him? He saw you with me, this is about you now."
Mr. McAbraham's eyes narrowed. "What are you suggesting?" He crossed his arms. I was panicking inside. Um, hello, murderer has be by the wrist here, he could snap my neck at any moment. Please help.
Tom seemed to deflate, though. Moments passed, and then he shoved me forward. "If you tell anyone—"
"I won't." I interrupted.
"I wasn't finished." He boomed. "If you tell anyone, I will track you down and anyone I've ever seen you so much as speak to in school, and they will be gone."
I stood still under his harsh gaze, eyes wide, thoughts immediately turning to Miles, Melvin, and Amy.
"I said I wouldn't." I repeated myself. "You think I would have come here to warn you if I wanted you to get caught?" I challenged, staring him back in the eye.
Something new crossed his face, and a sick grin came over him. "I see." He turned away from me, as if disgusted, and I was only confused. "Go home." He said as he ascended the stairs. "Forget." I swear he was laughing to himself as he went up.
"Hey." McAbraham's hand landed on my shoulder. "He'd never say it, but we appreciate the head's up."
I sighed. "I have no idea why I came here."
McAbrahams laughed. "Don't feel bad." He crossed his arms. "I fell for him, too. He's the reason I'm in this mess." He gave me this lopsided, but somehow sad, grin.
"What?" Fell for? I definitely hadn't "fallen" for anyone. "You guys are together, then." I guess I'd assumed that.
"No, just friends with benefits." He shook his head. "He's… complicated."
"Anyway, I shouldn't be talking to you about all this. I'll probably never see you again though, so, good luck, and stay in sch—,"
He didn't finish the sentence. His voice was cut off by a repetitive rat-a-tat series of bangs, so loud that for a moment it drown out what was happening in front of me. Red liquid splashed on my arm and shirt, then my face. I cringed when some of it got in my mouth, and on my tongue.
"Get down…" His voice was strained, slow, and barely there. When I looked, there was blood oozing between his lips. His knees buckled visibly, and he fell to them in front of me. I went down with him, just barely making it out of the way when a second series of shots flew threw the window right where I had been standing.
"Mr. McAbrahams!" I cried, catching his upper body and holding it off the ground as I fell to him. "Mr. McAbrahams!" I screamed at his face, but it was blank, and empty. And he wasn't saying anything.
"TOM!" I shouted at the top of my lungs. Just as soon as I did, someone scooped me up by my underarms and forced me up off the floor.
"No!" I reached for McAbraham's body, but he pulled me away as something small and cylinder shaped flew through the window. It hit the ground and the room filled with white smoke.
"Move!" He shoved my forward into the kitchen, and then grabbed me by the wrist, pulling me toward a door in the back of it. I heard voices in the other room, muffled, maybe by gas masks? I don't know. This felt like a fucking video game except I was in it, and someone had just died!
"What's going on?" I cried as Tom pulled me into what seemed to be a basement.
"They found us, obviously." He shoved some empty boxes aside and approached a mostly empty shelves. The only thing on it was a huge pair of… what were those, sheers?
"But… Mr. McAbrahams…
"Is DEAD!" He cut me off, mercilessly, and glared over his shoulder. "If you don't want to be the same you do exactly what I say, when I say it." His eyes… were wet. I stared at them for just a moment, and then nodded.
"Come on." He crossed the basement to what looked like a pair of doors that were chained shut. With ease, he cut the chain, proving that those things definitely were not sheers, and ripped the chain off. I heard the voices at the top of the stairs we came down, and panicked, looking at them.
"Come on!" He repeated. As he urged me, I observed two things. He'd set the cable cutters down, obviously planning to leave them here, and also, that there were handles on the other sides of the doors he'd opened.
As I followed, I grabbed the sheers, and pulled the doors shut behind me. He had kept running, but stopped to look back at me when he realized I was still at the door. I squeezed the handle of the cable cutters together and forced them through the handles on the inside of the door once I had it shut.
"What the hell are you doing!" He barked.
"They're coming!" I argued, and, thinking that would have to do, hurried after him. Right when I turned I heard a bang against the door, like someone had attempted to kick it in.
"Come on." He urged me forward for a third time. "This leads into the sewage system, so hold your breath."
It was then that I noticed he was carrying something on his shoulder. It didn't look like a suit case where you would store clothes, or other items. More like a gym bag.
"What's in there?" I asked.
"Nothing, keep moving."
We were running, and I could still hear the loud banging on the door behind us. I picked up the pace with each one until one was followed by a loud crack, and I knew they were after us again. We hadn't made any turns, if they open fired straight ahead they could probably hit us!
But, it was dark… they likely couldn't see us. I didn't hear any gun shots, but I just kept running, trying like hell to keep Tom in sight. He was faster than me, and by how far ahead he'd already gone it didn't look like he would have minded leaving me behind. But I didn't really have any choice but to keep keeping up. I wasn't used to running this much, this fast, for this long. I'm not sure if I ever have before, but maybe just from the sheer desire to not get shot, my legs kept moving.
There was a lot of relief in just turning a corner, knowing they weren't straight behind us anymore. There was a sewage drain above us, and I stopped underneath the moonlight for a second.
"Can't we get out here?" I whispered, not sure if he heard me, he was so far ahead.
He stopped and turned back to face me. "Not here." He said. "Just follow me, and don't stop again."
He was running again, and I huffed. I knew they were still behind us but my knees almost buckled at the thought of running more. But despite that, I picked up my pace again and followed him into the darkness.
I couldn't hear anyone behind us anymore, I hoped that maybe those other guys had gone the wrong way. Come to think of it, I couldn't hear anyone's footsteps but my own. I'd lost sight of Tom a while ago, but I wasn't that slow so I assumed he was only a few steps ahead of the dark. But when I listened, I couldn't hear anything.
"Tom?" I called ahead, trying to remain calm and not make it too loud. But when there was no answer, I panicked a little, and ran faster? "Tom?" I called out louder, and then stopped in my tracks at a dead end.
"Please!" I shouted. Where could he have gone? Did he turn when I couldn't see him? Did he leave me? I was too slow, why should he wait for me? Why didn't I run faster?
"Hey. You coming?" I looked up, and found a face looking down at me through what must've been an open sewage drain. It was round, but it wasn't a manhole, there was no ladder or any discernible way up. How did he…
"You have to jump and grab my hand, now." He commanded, not wasting a second. "If you can't do it, I will leave you down there."
Well, that was comforting.
His hand wasn't that far past the opening of the hole, but I was pretty sure I could reach it. This is where being tall came in handy. I put my foot on the wall in front of me and used my other leg to push myself up. I managed to touch his hand, but I couldn't grab ahold.
"Come on!" He rushed, sounding more panicked than I was. Were they closing in on him up there too?
"One second." I huffed, trying to readjust my footing to hit just a little higher. Giving it all I had, I heaved upward and grabbed hold of his wrist, and he fumbled to grasp mine as well, taking hold of it with both hands as he stood up straight and pulled me up with him. I ended up heaving breaths on my knees at the edge of the open sewer vent, feeling like I was about to cough up blood.
I heard him rushing to close the open drain behind me. It was solid, no openings. They likely would not have been able to see it in the dark.
"Catch your breath, I'm still waiting for someone." He said, and I was relieved. I'd been expecting him to force me back on my feet and to run again.
I lifted my head when I heard the sound of something unzipping. From a small compartment on the side of the dufflebag that was over his shoulder, he pulled a small, thin cylinder. He brought it to his lips, and it looked like he was blowing into it, but I didn't hear any sound.
Shaking and still short on breath, I got back on my feet, watching as he brought it back down from his lips, and put it back into the small compartment. "What's that?"
"Dog whistle." Tom replied. "She's trained to come to it." He was still standing still, looking down the street. It was dark, and I didn't know where we were, but I assumed the house we were just in was in the direction he was facing.
That's right, the dog, I hadn't seen it since I left the first time. Could it really be okay? Wouldn't those guys have…
A second later a shimmer was visible, turning a corner on the road in the distance, and it quickly became a four-legged silhouette.
"She's your dog?" I asked, a little uncomfortable with the idea of a large dog running at me out of the dark. But I trusted that it was on our side.
"She was his." He replied, and didn't acknowledge the dog positively at all when it arrived next to us. The dog didn't pant, or wag her tail, she just stood, tail down, head drooped. I wondered if she understood what happened to Mr. McAbrahams. "She's well-trained for our lifestyle, though. She will come or stay indefinitely, and attack on command."
In the house she seemed to me like a pet, acted and behaved as such. but he spoke of her like she was a weapon. Honestly, I had a hard time seeing that dog attacking someone.
"I want you to take her." He said.
"What?" My eyes widened.
"They're all around the area, but she'll smell them before they see you. She's trained to avoid first, so pay attention to her and she'll—."
"Where are you going?" I barked, interrupting him.
"There's a car parked in a garage just up the street." He said this, staring me down, as if knowing what I was thinking and challenging me.
"I'm going with you." I insisted.
He scoffed. "I don't have time for this. I'm leaving the state tonight and I don't have time to make any stops."
I started to speak, then hesitated. I wasn't asking him to take me home, I… well, I didn't want to leave him all alone. I didn't want to leave the state either, but I couldn't take not knowing if he was okay. But then, what is there for me here right now? Would anyone care if I disappeared for a few days? Forever?
"I don't care." I said. Because he wasn't okay, because I'd seen his eyes watering after Mr. McAbrahams was killed, because he was imploding inside and I could tell. Because he was all alone, and so was I. "I'm coming with you. You… he's dead now, and you can either take me, or go alone."
I could tell by the look on his face and how my words had swayed him that he wasn't accustomed to, nor used to being alone. I wondered how long he and Mr. McAbrhams had been partners, or friends, or whatever they were to each other.
"You're insane, and stupid. What about your parents—,"
"My dad is a drunk that never talks to me or notices that I'm never home." I interrupted. "And… I'm running from something at school right now. Can't we run together?"
Police sirens cut off the end of my sentence and I watched his eyes widen under the moonlight. Flashing lights reflected off the houses on the next street over, there must've been at least five cars over there.
He looked at me, but didn't say anything. As if he was running away from me, and from answering my question, he whipped around and took off in the direction he'd said the garage was. The dog went after him too, and hardly wasting a second, so did I.
I kept up much better this time, out of sheer determination to not let him leave me behind. If he got in a car, I would too, and I wouldn't get out unless he threw me.
The garage wasn't closed, like I'd expected. Also, it was residential, as opposed to public. Did they own this house just to hide an emergency escape vehicle, or did someone they knew live there?
Didn't matter. I got in the passenger side within the same second that he got in the driver's seat, and he didn't protest before turning on the car and whipping out of the driveway. I couldn't see any police cars, only the lights behind houses in the distance, but he didn't let that stop him from speeding out of the driveway, and full-speed away from them.
"Shouldn't you act natural?" I suggested. Maybe the cops would just assume he was a soccer mom? This was an SUV, some soccer moms have upgraded to those.
"That was a huge shooting. And if you were telling the truth about that FBI agent, they know exactly what's up, and that I'm involved. They'll chase down and stop any car they catch on the road in the area, and if that happens it's over."
He was more than just speeding. 60 in a 25 zone. If some small animal tried to cross the road, and he hit it, I would call the police and give up his location myself!
"Slow down!" I finally barked, when he just barely made it around a turn. "There's no one behind us!"
"How long do you think that will last?" He scoffed. I could see what he was doing, but it was freaking me out! The police were swarming the direction that lead to the main street in the area, but he was clearly trying to go around and come out a different way before they made it to that area. Once he made it to the main street, we could slow down and blend in.
He made another turn and the left side of the car went off the road. "Where did you learn to drive!" I shouted. Geez, even with the speed, I'd bet I could do a better job!
"A friend." He said, far too calmly.
"Well give him a call and tell him to stop teaching!" I screamed and covered my head when he nearly took down a telephone pole, but swerved with a squeal just in time.
"Brady usually drives." he said, still way too calm.
"I can see that!" I think the dog in the back seat was going to have a concussion when this was over. Every time he made a turn she slammed her head into the window.
The route to West Center Road, the main road in the area, was just ahead and there were no flashing lights to be seen. The car began to slow, likely to avoid catching any attention at the last minute.
Tom relaxed visibly as he fell in with a group of cars, and came to a stop at a stop light. For a few moments, we sat silently. I watched the light, as if waiting for it to turn green so that I could speak. But before it did, he asked
"Where do you live?"
I immediately huffed. "I'm not telling you, and I'm not leaving."
He sighed. He probably didn't want to pull over and demand I leave, that would draw unnecessary attention. There was nothing he could do to make me get out of the car right now, and I knew it.
"What do you want from me?" He was glaring at the road.
I looked at him thoughtfully, not entirely sure what my answer to that was. "I… think your friend just died." I watched his hands tighten on the steering wheel. "I don't think there's anyone else to make sure you're okay."
"Kid, I'm fine." He insisted.
"Don't call me that." I barked.
"It's what you are."
"Don't." I didn't care what I was. I had a name. "It's Fox."
He rolled his eyes. He drove in silence for a few more moments, and then finally said. "Nice idea with the cable cutters in the door… it slowed them down."
He remembered that?
I grinned, ear to ear. "Thanks! I can think on my feet pretty well when I have to." I'd been pretty proud of that myself, and to hear him say it made the ego boost twice as effective.
"Fox." His voice became low, and serious. "I can't stay here any longer, and I don't know when I'll be able to come back. You do realize that you'll be leaving without anything you own? I'm not about to buy you new things."
I considered. "I don't really own anything." I had very few clothes besides the ones I was wearing, and not many personal items either. "And I think I can convince you to buy me a toothbrush."
He scoffed. "Seriously? You don't have an Ipad? Laptop? Nothing you can't live without?"
I huffed. "My life is shit." I said, a little more harshly then I meant to. "I'm not losing anything."
"And your friend, Miles?"
"He… he'll be fine." I glared out the window as I said that.
He sighed for a second time, this time much heavier. "Fox." He said, seriously. "This life… it's not just running and hiding. away. There's work, and it's all dangerous. You're too young—."
"You've killed four people." I interrupted. "How old are you?"
"It doesn't matter! The point is, you could die, and I'm not having that on my conscience!"
"I'm not asking to go with you forever." I said. "I just want to leave right now."
"You'll slow me down if I have to move." He said. "I can't have someone inexperienced following me around."
"I bought you time in the last situation, if I recall correctly." I argued. "They probably would have caught you if I hadn't been there."
He scoffed, not buying my bullshit nor agreeing one bit, but he still hadn't thrown me out of the car.
"I told you, I can't come back here."
"Then I'll walk back, I have time." Ever since I decided to go with him, the idea of staying here has been one I'd do anything to avoid.
He took in a deep breath, and released it. "By the way, I've killed six people." He corrected. "They didn't find the other two."
"I'm not afraid of you, if that's what you're trying to do."
"I can see that." He snorted. "All right, whatever, Kid. You're going to regret it, but don't come crying to me if something happens." With that, I observed as he flipped his turning signal to merge onto the highway.
"Fox." I corrected.
He rolled his eyes, but didn't object. I smiled to myself.
"So, where are we going?"
The freeway was busy, and I could see a police car not too far up ahead of us. No one was more conscious of the speed limit or their speedometer than Tom was.
"Nowhere good." He sighed, frustrated, eyes continuously flicking toward the police car, trying to be careful not to come along side it and simultaneously trying not to drive erratically.
I nodded. "Out of the frying pan and into the fire?"
He glared. "This isn't a game, Fox."
"Sorry." I slouched.
I saw the police car's right turning signal flash, and a few moments later it had exited the freeway. Relief washed over Tom, and he readjusted himself in his seat.
"A little background info on my current situation, since we have time." He began. "I used to work for a crime syndicate. Nameless, underground, no one gets out without having assassins on their ass at every turn."
"That's who those guys were back at the house— men they'd sent after me because I left. But they're not my biggest problem."
"While I was there, the syndicate's most well-paid, and well thought-of hitman— like, this guy might as well have been the boss's son— He disappeared overnight with two-hundred million dollars, stolen, in addition to whatever he'd earned doing assassinations for them."
"Since then he's become virtually untouchable. They've lost so many assassins and teams to him that they've not only been weakened considerably, but they have basically let him get away with everything. Now he's living comfortably in a cheap house in Wisconsin, sitting on his two-hundred million like he's saving it for something."
"Well, actually, now the two-hundred million has been reduced to one-hundred and ninety-four million. I was sent after him as an assassin. But when I finally tracked him down, I double-crossed my boss and I stole six million and ran."
"Now here's the fun part. Somehow, and I don't fucking have any idea how, but he found out it was me. My name, what I look like, even though we'd barely met back before he left. This asshole has it out for me like no other now, because nobody touches his precious prize money."
"I'd spent a lot of it when he finally found me. I only have less than one-million left. He didn't kill me, though, instead he decided to give me jobs to pay it off. Most of it is killing off people who know who, or where he was, or people who threatened other people he was trying to protect for whatever reason. Other times I swear it's just someone he doesn't like."
"Your school principal was my target to pay off that debt, that's why I was there. He was investigating one of the crooked school board members, the same one that got me in as a substitute, and it was my job to get rid of him. Clearly, I've failed at that and it's likely the board member that he was trying to protect will be found out, and arrested for all kinds of things once that principal gets to the bottom of it."
"The best part is, my parents live twenty minutes from this guy's house in Wisconsin. I don't know how he figured that out either. If he finds out something went wrong before I get to him and beg for another chance, they're dead. But, at the same time, chances are if I go there he's going to kill me."
My eyes widened, and suddenly I felt foolish for tagging along. Tom was walking into a situation he was unlikely to walk out of, and here I was, just along for the ride. "Why don't we just save your parents and bring them with us?"
Tom smiled wryly. "Because, if I showed my face to them they'd immediately call the police."
"Wow." Was all I managed to say.
"Yeah." he sighed. "His name is Martel Kross… everyone in the business knows it."
"Isn't Wisconsin days away?" I said. "Are we going to drive straight there?"
"No." He shook his head. "As soon as we get out of the area, I'm going to call him and let him know that I fucked up, and I'm coming. That should be enough to stop him from going after them for a few days."
"What are you going to do when you get there? Kill or be killed?"
He snorted, and shook his head. "Killing that man seems to be impossible, and he has lackeys. I'm going to try to reason with him."
"Oh boy." I slouched more.
"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be long gone by then."
Honestly, probably. I'm suddenly not sure I want to stick around for this.
A.N: So I was feeling lazy and I was just going to throw this up with no note, despite how late it is. But then I realized that due to the content of this chapter that's probably a super bad idea.
So like… a lot changed last minute here. Originally I had planned for Fox to stick around for a few more chapters, but I realized that if he had time to patch things up and explain things with Melvin that would A) Not give Fox enough motivation to insist on going away with Tom. And B) Not leave Melvin as emotionally crushed as I want him to be ;D. But, now I think is a good time, because Fox is in the beginning stages of a romantic/sexual attraction to Tom, is pissed at Miles, and confused about Melvin. Thoughts on this welcome.
Anyway, Tom is slightly different from he was in the past versions of this story. I think he's meaner. But once he's in a better spot and less stressed out about everything I'm hoping to bring back his old personality.
Also, one more thing! If anyone is still reading/reads this, feel free to suggest names for "The Dog!" I still don't know what I'm going to call that thing. She's a Pit Bull, by the way. So like… yeah.