Loud enough to rupture ears. Loud enough that my heart sank to my stomach and stayed there. Loud enough that my mind went completely blank.
It was so loud.
Like the whole world was crashing around me. Destruction.
Not like the movies. The sounds weren’t mixed or mastered, here. Just a stinging intensity. The hail of gunfire put everything in the red.
A bang, followed by cracks and pops occurring with equal intensity. Sharp, jarring. Noise. My ears were ringing, and it only added to the sense of chaos. I lost my sense of placement. Left and right, up and down.
Classroom. It reminded me of the classroom. The bodies, the-
That thought was overridden.
I didn’t lose my sense of direction. I clung to it. Ingrained in the very fiber of my being.
My body moved under the orders of my last conscious thought.
Arms close, wrapping around me. Not a reflex, not for comfort, but to secure.
The action was interrupted, then blocked from moving any farther. Something was in my grasp. Someone.
No time to check. No time to think. Just had to focus on getting down, and staying out of harm’s way.
And then, it was quiet.
Not silent, not completely, sound wasn’t absent. There was the harsh intakes of breath, the clicks of guns being reloaded and ready to fire again. And there was the high-pitched ring that sang in my ears.
Not silent, but a stillness that sat heavy in the air.
It was quiet.
It took some time before I realized I could move. Testing, I used my legs, rubbing them together. No issue there. No pain, it seemed like, coming from any other part of my body. I had made it out okay. Miraculously.
I tried breathing. The air was thick. Almost polluted.
Something squirmed in my grip, trying to wrestle itself away from me. Tried.
I tightened my hold, exercising just a fraction of my full strength. The movement stopped.
The stillness remained, giving me a chance to survey the situation in full. It felt like the light was attacking my eyes as I opened them, and I needed a second to adjust.
Bits and pieces. I couldn’t see much. I was on the floor, all my weight on one side. One arm was pinned down. A body. They were close, and their back, neck, and head blocked most of my view. A few loose strands from a ponytail got into my eyes, and I had to blink them away.
A body. They were close, and they were wearing a gold blazer.
My heart jumped in my chest at the realization. Faster and faster, all from how close she was. I finally had her in my grasp.
She couldn’t hide from me, or slip away like before. I had her. Finally. There she was, and here I was.
Just me, just her.
It was everything I ever wanted.
We were together.
Now it was simply a matter of getting out of here, and taking her with me.
Easier said than done, though.
I shifted us around, moving so I had a better position to work with. I wasn’t about to try and leave. I had what I wanted, but I was still trapped here.
And I couldn’t just fight my way out.
As the dust settled, everyone else started getting their bearings again. Barking orders, my ears still too out of commission to pick it up. Everyone’s attention was pointed in different directions. The side door of the kitchen, the vents above, each other.
Me and Benny.
Scattered, disorganized, but it didn’t take long for everyone’s attention to point in a particular way.
With guns reloaded and ready, Benny’s crew had me in their sights.
“Let her go,” one of them said, voice tight. Oh, I could hear, now. It was the man in the suit.
I adjusted my posture, pushing my weight more into Benny. She grumbled from the added pressure, but she didn’t try to fight me.
I was crouched over her, my foot pressed into the small of her back. I had my knife drawn, the blade right against her gullet. My other hand went to the back of her neck, helping keep her down. If I tripped, or if she tried to move, the result would be rather messy.
I used that as my leverage.
Tapping the flat of the blade on her throat, I gave my response.
“How about no? I worked too hard, I worked too long, and I gave up too much to get here. I earned this.”
That garnered more grimaces and piercing glares. Itchier trigger fingers. Best not to push them any further.
I looked past the man in the suit, at the others in Benny’s crew, and the other Ghosts. There were more guns in play than I had fingers. Not all were trained at me though, some of Benny’s crew were keeping the Ghosts in check. After that bang, the players on the board had moved around, but the overall situation snapped back to the previous state of being. A standoff.
I looked for Lawrence. I didn’t see him.
I saw the streak of blood that led away from the nearby table and chair, past the man in the suit.
Benny? I checked, but there was no pool of blood under her. She wasn’t bleeding. By process of elimination, then, it had to be-
“You’re cornered, Bluemoon,” the man in the suit said. His gun was still staring right at me. “There’s no variation of this that sees you getting out of here alive.”
“That’s where you’re wrong again,” I said. “And on two different counts. It’s not the Bluemoon, it’s V. Even your boss acknowledged that.”
Underneath my foot, Benny tried to speak, but it came out as a muffled, incoherent mess.
The man in the suit glowered.
“Fine,” he said. “V it is.”
“And what’s your name?” I asked. Had to keep them busy, distracted. If they were talking, they weren’t shooting.
“Christian,” he said.
“Nice name. See, now that makes it easier for us to get a dialogue going.”
“I’m not interested in talking.”
So much for that plan.
A shuffle, behind Christian. People were moving around, stepping out of the way as more people came into the kitchen. A momentary interruption from everything that was going on.
I would have used that as my opportunity, but Christian maintained his position. He hadn’t budged.
“Found anything?” Christian asked, eyes still on me. The question was for his partners behind him.
“Found something, alright.”
Two men approached Christian, struggling to walk a straight line to him. I immediately saw why.
Carried by the armpits, feet off the ground. D was kicking and twisting to try and get away, but two fully-grown men proved to be much stronger than one little girl. They brought her to Christian, stopping at his side.
“We caught her hiding in a box, out in the hall where that door lead.”
D continued to kick, even trying to go for Christian’s knee, but he was too far, and her leg was too short.
For her trouble, D received a smack in the back of the head. The hit was audible.
She yelped, and they yelled over her. “Pipe down!”
I felt a surge in my body, a charge. I wanted to rush them for laying hands on her. But I had to remind myself where I was, and what I was here to do.
Keep a hold on Benny, and they can’t do anything.
The hit was hard, but D recovered enough to scan the kitchen. She noticed me.
“Hi, V,” she said.
“Hi, D,” I said.
“I tried, but I guess it’s gonna have to take more than that. Insurance?”
Not a question, a suggestion. I nodded. Like Lawrence, she didn’t have her earpiece. We really had to play the rest of this out by ear, now.
“Oh, where’s Lawrence?” D asked, skimming the kitchen from her perspective.
“Follow the trail of blood,” Christian said. “You’ll find him.”
D looked down, and saw the blood go past her feet, and behind a counter where we both couldn’t see. D kicked again.
“You dummies! What did you-”
Another outburst, another hit. D piped down.
Christian gave her a glance, but he kept his eyes on me when he said, “Lawrence, you, and now her? Talk about an unholy union.”
“You know her?” I asked.
“I know her work.”
He left it at that. Not giving me much to work with.
“You, what was that, just now?”
I wasn’t sure if that was for me or D.
“Bring her up here, too,” Christian ordered, nudging with this chin.
The men listened, carrying D somewhere between me and Christian. Her feet dragged behind her as they moved. Now we were both in the gun’s sights.
“Answer me,” Christian asked. That time, it was clear he was talking to D.
“Firecrackers,” D said, sounding out of breath. “Up in the vents. Scared you, didn’t I? And I kick open one door and you guys blow up like it’s the Fourth of July or something. Y’all…”
D started shaking.
“Y’all crack me up.”
D started laughing, and she was struck in the head again. She kept laughing. It took three more, increasingly violent hits to get her to wind down.
At the final hit, D’s head slumped forward, and she was panting, sounding hoarse.
“Respect your elders,” Christian said. “You should have learned that lesson by now.”
“You’ll find…” D started, she had to take another breath before continuing. “That I’m very selective with what lessons I retain.”
“Then I’ll beat that lesson into you, and many more.” Christian looked to the two men. “Search her, make sure she doesn’t have any tricks up her sleeve.”
A small noise came from D. A giggle.
The two men dropped D, and she fell to the floor, on her knees, barely supporting herself with her arms. They began patting her down.
“And you,” Christian said, looking straight at me. It was my turn, again. “Let her go. Don’t make me repeat myself.”
“Take one step forward,” I said, “And Benny will have to breathe through a tube.”
“You won’t harm her,” Christian said, shaking his head. “You want her, for reasons only you are keen to. But you need her alive.”
“You’re right, I do need her alive, but what does that really mean? What does it mean to be alive? Break it down to the most basic definition, it’s a state of being. Having life. And you can harm someone while still keeping them alive. It’s just a matter of taking away what isn’t necessary. Lose an arm, you’ll live. Lose a leg, you can still moving around okay. Lose all four limbs? You’ll need assistance, but as long as you can eat, breath, and shit, you’ll live. Quality of life sucks, but you’re still alive. And how about the other stuff? Gouging out eyes, cutting out tongues, burning skin. Breaking bones. It’s nothing that’ll kill you. The brink of death is still a state of being. Take one step forward, and you bring Benny close to that brink. I need her alive, but I can harm her.”
Benny didn’t seem to like the sound of that. She struggled, mumbled. Little success in either venture, but she got her message across.
Christian’s gaze narrowed.
“I shoot you, then, right through the head. I’m a good shot.”
“You say that, thinking it will stop me. You would be very disappointed.”
It was partially true. I had been shot before, and I was shot earlier tonight, but they weren’t shots through the head. This body might survive… but would I?
I wasn’t sure, and I wasn’t about to put that to the test.
Christian stood there, his gun still out in front of him. If his arms were getting tired, he didn’t show it on his face.
We were at a standstill. I couldn’t move, or I might die, and Christian couldn’t move, or Benny would get mauled. And the first scenario had the implied risk of Benny getting injured, too.
There must be a way out of this.
I willed that thought to D.
“Christian, I think I have something.”
Of the two men that were searching D, one stood, holding a device in his hand. “Found this in her jacket.”
Christian gave it a quick look, then looked at it again, for a longer time. I didn’t move.
“A tablet?” Christian asked.
“Ah, crud,” D said, head still down.
The two men grabbed her and brought her up, making her stand. They didn’t take their hands off of her.
“What is this?” Christian questioned.
She lifted her head, facing Christian.
“I thought you didn’t like repeating yourself.”
He looked like he was about to snap.
“What’s on it?” he then asked.
D hesitated, her head down again.
“Crud,” she said.
“Tell me,” he said, teeth gritting together.
D didn’t answer, of the two men that held her, the one who wasn’t holding the tablet raised his free hand. A smack to the back of her head.
D squeaked, and her head drooped, hair obscuring her face.
The stillness stretched. Christian wasn’t going to ask again, instead waiting for D to finally give up an answer.
And then she did.
“Notes… crucial to our plan,” D breathed. “And drafts of other plans. Backups. Scribbles, really. There’s some other stuff on there, too.”
She tried raising her head, only to lower it again.
“Personal stuff. Where other gangs keep their stashes. Drugs, weapons, money. Names, too. As… a bargaining chip.”
“Names?” Christian’s gaze shifted, from me to Benny. “Could use those chips as our ticket out of here. What kind of names?”
“The Bluemoon’s secret identity.”
It was like a shockwave. Everyone reacted. Myself included.
Christian looked right at D. I was too caught off guard to make a move. And I wanted to see what exactly she was up to, what she meant.
“The Bluemoon’s secret identity?” Christian repeated, but he was being serious.
“I’m not stupid,” D said. “I keep a lot of notes, I’m thorough. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to last.”
Craning her neck, D looked at the two men that were detaining her, then at Christian. “Benny came to make a deal, how about a counteroffer? Let me go, that tablet’s yours.”
My eyes went wide.
Benny gurgled, and I was reminded that she was there. I was strangling her. I loosened my grip, but not by much.
“D,” I said, anger creeping in my voice.
She had the gall to look at them when she gave her terms, but she couldn’t bear to show me her face.
She’s selling me out.
Wait, I had to think. There was no way she knew that bit of information. The name that wasn’t my name. There was only one person that knew, and they were dead. There was no way D knew.
Something’s not right here.
Wait a minute…
A flash of a memory. The hooded figure, decked in blue. The declarations I used to fight it off.
I went cold.
Christian questioned her. “You’re willing to walk away from this?”
“If it means walking away from this. I can start from scratch again. It’ll take forever, but it’s a fair trade-off.”
“D,” I said, harder that time. Seething. I was so close, and she was threatening to take away everything.
“Shut up,” Christian told me, gun still pointed and ready. “You’ve lost this game.”
He turned his attention to D. “You can let go of her.”
The men complied, releasing D. She was standing on her own now, but slouched. She started fixing her hair, massaging her head.
“What’s the password?” Christian asked.
“No password,” D said, tossing her hair back with one hand. “Just swipe it and you’re in.”
“Let me verify it, and it looks legit, you’re free to go.”
It’s like I’m not even here right now.
Christian nodded at the man with the tablet, and let him be the one to turn it on.
He pressed the button on the side.
But I’d lose Benny.
They’ll find out. They’ll ruin everything.
We weren’t sure of that.
I struggled to find a proper course of action. I hesitated.
While I was drowning in my uncertainty, he swiped the tablet.
I held my breath.
The tablet was facing Christian. Only he had a good look at the display, and all I could do was gauge his reaction.
His expression was blank.
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“Follow the instructions,” D said. “It’ll make sense.”
Christian stared at the tablet, then took it from his partner. He started heading towards me.
“Hey!” I yelled, my knife still on Benny’s throat.
“Just… following instructions,” Christian explained.
D spoke, too. “It’s okay, V, let him.”
Christian approached, and I remained wary.
“Stop there,” I said, when he was a foot away. He stopped.
Christian bent down, and flipped the tablet, having it face me. He lowered it so even Benny could see it.
Black letters on a white canvas, the letters were sloppy and uneven, as if drawn with a finger instead of a pen. A poorly done smiley face was done on the side, too.
For Benny’s eyes. Swipe right.
Benny twisted herself, trying to get her arm out from under her. My weight prevented her from getting anywhere.
“Set the tablet down,” I ordered.
Christian set it down, flipping out a stand on the back of the tablet’s case to let it stay upright on its own.
“Back away,” I ordered, tapping the knife against Benny’s throat again.
Christian backed away, but his gun was still trained on me. The standoff remained.
I eased off of Benny, but only by a margin. Benny took the cue, and wedged her arm free, reaching towards the tablet in front of her.
“Remember where you are,” I told Benny. “Who’s allowing you a bit of freedom. Abuse it, and I abuse you.”
Benny grumbled, and I took that as her understanding the situation. She moved her head to get a better look at the tablet, and with her only free hand, she swiped right.
The picture changed.
A hospital bed, a man resting. Tubes ran into his arms, his nose, a device attached to his finger. Blankets covered his waist, over his stomach, but his face was visible. Eyes closed, mouth open. Either asleep, or knocked out by anaesthesia.
The room was dark, but the subject cast in a bright light, and source coming from whatever device had taken the photo.
“Who is this?” Benny asked, sounding rough.
“I think you know,” D said. “Not everyone from your crew is standing in this kitchen.”
Benny swiped again, and again. Again.
Every picture was similar, but not exactly the same. Each consecutive picture was closer to the man in the bed. From the whole bed in the frame, to the foot of the bed, to the side, to his face, eyes closed and mouth open.
In the very last picture, the angle changed again, higher up, the man still visible. But he wasn’t the only one in the shot this time.
D was in the shot, holding the tablet high, placing herself right up against the man’s face. She held up a victory symbol.
I couldn’t see Benny’s face, but sitting on top of her I felt her reaction. Her whole body tightened up, tensing at whatever the realization was.
“Oh no,” she said. It pained her to say, but I could catch it. “Oh no!”
“Oooh yeaah,” D said, drawing out the words. I saw her face as she mocked her.
She wore a toothy grin. Vulpine, though a tooth was missing.
“Benny, what?” Christian questioned. He turned to D. “What did you do?”
Benny answered him with a single word.
Christian let his mouth drop.
“Ah crud,” D said, that grin never leaving her. “You guys got bamboozled.”
Another shockwave. Christian jumped back, so D and I would be more in his gun’s range. The men that held D went after her again, but she ducked down, rolling away. She got up and ran towards me, stopping at my side, hands raised.
“Nah ah ah, we’ve been so well behaved, it’d be a shame to be so rash, now.”
D was taunting them, when we were just barely keeping them back.
This better work.
Benny was fighting me, now, trying to break away from me. I had to press the knife a fraction harder against her throat to calm her down.
“Explain,” Benny said, straining, breathing hard. “Now.”
“Wow, I was really on edge, there. I couldn’t just tell you to open up the thing, or you wouldn’t have felt compelled enough to do it. Had to make up a whole bit about information to entice you guys. And you fell for the bait, and hard. You guys really are desperate.”
Christian repeated after Benny. “Explain, now.”
“Don’t worry, I will, that’s part of the fun. Last night, among so much other stuff, I was doing a little hospital hopping. I was actually looking for someone else, but guess who I found in the meantime?”
“But that’s impossible,” Benny said, exasperated but weary. Being on her stomach took more air out of her than she could use to speak. “We went through the proper channels, using the right doctors. They don’t snitch or let anything leak. It’s against their code.”
“Code, schmode,” D said, “A magician never reveals their secrets. But, that’s not what really matters. Double-tap the button at the bottom, there.”
Benny pressed the home button on the tablet, twice, in quick succession.
It switched to another app.
The tablet displayed another picture. Grainy, but it was the same image. The hospital bed, Roland. He was still asleep. It wasn’t as bright, though, most of the light came from a lamp in the background, and the ambient bulbs and screens running next to him.
“Wave hi, Jordan!” D said.
From under the picture, a hand emerged, palm facing us. It was lightly wrapped in bandages. The hand waved, and the screen shook, too.
I could feel Benny starting to sweat. Quickly checking my knife, I saw a small bead of water drip from the tip.
“It’s a live feed,” D said. “And he can hear everything that goes on here. If you shoot me or V, or if we just give the word, Jordan pulls a few plugs, removes a few casts and bandages, and then he’s out before anyone there gets the chance to notice. Maybe more, if he’s up to it?”
D spoke louder for her last question. Jordan’s hand gave us a thumbs-up.
Benny coughed, wheezing, due to my foot, my weight on her back.
“Hey, that’s all up to you. New deal. Me and V get to walk out of here, unharmed, and we get to take Benny with us.”
Christian laughed, but it sounded like Benny, right before D’s ambush. Wild. “As if we’re letting you walk out of here with our boss!”
“You are, and you will,” D said. “And I know exactly why you will.”
“And why is that?”
“It’s been over a week since you attacked the school. Over a week. You had all the time in the world to leave the city, and hey, I even came up with a few ways for you. You could’ve left in smaller groups, you’ve taken the long way and hopped the border in another state. You could’ve even set up a meeting with the Ghosts before all this. But you didn’t.”
No one responded. An invitation for D to continue.
“Why? Well, it wasn’t clear to me until I laid eyes on that handsome man over there.” She pointed to the tablet on the floor. “You were waiting for him to get better. You couldn’t leave until he recovered enough to move without medical attention. And from what I saw, you would have waited for a long while. Broken arm, fractured ribs, severe burns. That takes time.”
I could feel Benny slump underneath me. The fight had all but left her.
This was our final play, our last-ditch effort to get Benny to comply, in case we ended up in a pinch like this. Our insurance. I just didn’t know how D would lead up to that.
She had a knack for making things complicated.
It was scary.
But, enticing them by claiming she knew my secret identity. Genius.
“You’re wrong,” Christian said. “We have other matters to deal with before we can leave. Roland isn’t our highest priority. It’d be great if he gets better by the time we’re ready to go, but if he isn’t, then it’s a loss we’ll have to take.”
“Maybe,” D conceded. “You might have a point there. Except there’s a difference between him and those you already left behind. Like Sofia, and Samuel.”
“How do you know about that?”
D ignored him. “But you won’t leave without Roland. Even with the entire city, from good guys and bad guys out to get you, you won’t leave. In fact, you can’t. And you know why. Unlike them, he isn’t disposable. He’s family.”
“Paco,” Christian said. The fight was starting to leave him, too.
“And that is the not-so small detail that gives us the win. The Chariot, El Carruaje… You were originally here as representatives of larger cartel. La Rueda. And your real boss, Paco, or El Tunante, isn’t gonna be happy if you leave his nephew behind.”
D answered before Christian could repeat himself. “I’m thorough.”
Again, the stillness stretched. No one said a thing. Not Christian, not any of his partners, not Benny. The deal was clear, the terms obvious.
It was just a matter of them wrapping around the fact that they lost.
Benny wasn’t moving, hardly breathing.
I wasn’t moving, hardly breathing. I wanted to say something, add more, involve myself, but I was lost for words.
I had my role here, though. I had to keep Benny pinned, or our position didn’t have legs to stand on.
Benny spoke. It was so quiet, but the words still carried.
“You win. I give up.”
Her crew needed a moment for that to sink in. I needed a moment.
“Benny, por favor,” Christian pleaded. “You don’t have to-”
Benny screamed. Prolonged, raw. Not a word, but an emotion.
She trailed off, then sputtered, coughing. Her body shook.
“Don’t you lay a fucking hand on him,” Benny said, for all to hear. “I’ll come with you.”
“Smart,” I said, taking over. “Get up.”
I got off of Benny, my legs already aching, but it was easy to ignore. D gathered her tablet, then helped as I lifted Benny to her feet.
I put my knife to the small of her back, a simple but effective reminder. My other hand reached around her neck. She was taller than me.
I watched the others.
Christian didn’t react, he didn’t move or say anything. He finally had his gun down, arms at his sides. Defeated.
I nudged Benny, and she walked. The three of us moved as a group, careful not to trip over bullets and casing.
D stuck her tongue out at the two men that held her. They didn’t react.
It was odd, even awkward as we walked past Christian and the other leftovers of El Carruaje. The stares, the frustration that festered within. As if they were trying to kill me and D with looks alone.
But they couldn’t, and there was nothing they could do about it. All they could do was stand there and watch, and let the emotion sit.
“Jesus, what did they do to you?”
I turned when I heard D break formation, going ahead of us. She ran to a corner of a counter.
Lawrence was there, on the floor, bleeding. His knees were to his chest.
“Got shot, duh,” he said. He had to force it out. “They dragged me here, out of the way.”
“Shoot, shoot,” D muttered. She was clearly worried. It was obvious in her tone.
D’s hands hovered over Lawrence’s body, unsure where to help. Her head popped back up, looking around in haste, hair flying. “You!”
She pointed to one of the few Ghosts in the back. A girl. She pointed to herself.
“Yes, you! Get over here and get him some help!”
She looked between D and the girl who still had a pistol on her, though it was half-raised, now.
“Don’t worry about that, they touch you and Roland dies! Get over here, and a grab towel!”
She jumped, hearing D raise her voice, shrill. She hurried over to Lawrence’s side, grabbing a towel from a nearby rack along the way.
D turned back to Lawrence. “Where were you shot?”
He gestured, somewhere near his chest, closer to the shoulder.
“Oh god,” D said, sighing at the end. “Might not be fatal. Here, put pressure on it, and keep it there until we get someone else to handle it.”
D stood up, giving room for the Ghost to help Lawrence.
“What’s it to you?” Lawrence asked, wincing. “I thought you were a heartless bitch.”
“Hush. You work on making it through this, or I’m shooting you myself.”
D then left Lawrence, walking in front this time.
Surprising, seeing that from her.
I pushed Benny again, and we moved.
We stopped again when we reached the door. Our exit out of the kitchen. D approached one of the other remaining Ghosts.
“Call the others,” D said. “Tell them they can pull back now. You need numbers if you want to keep an eye on them. Make sure they don’t pull anything, and you’ll be free to take Lawrence and have him looked after. Oh, except Jordan. He stays until we’re all done.
“What if they do try to pull something?”
“If they try to fight back or sabotage this, I’ll know, and they know what happens after that. Round them up, have them give up their guns. It’s okay if we don’t have everything, we have who matters.”
“And where are you going?” the Ghost asked.
D turned to me. I didn’t know what to say. I was still trying to process this.
“Out,” D ventured. “We’ll be back. And to you peeps…”
She directed the next part to Benny’s crew.
“We promise you’ll see Benny again. You can count on it.”
She didn’t clarify whether or not Benny would be alive when they saw her again. Now that I finally had her, I started asking myself the same question.
Is Benny going to live to see the morning?
The debate in my head was ongoing as I pressed into Benny’s back, urging her through the door.
“We’re going,” I said, lost in thought.
“Bye bye!” D said with a wave. “And someone tell Mrs. Martinez I said sorry for making a mess of her kitchen!”
We moved out the kitchen, finally, into the dining area of the restaurant. It was just us, now. Me, D, and Benny. No one to interrupt, no one to interfere.
And I still couldn’t fucking believe it.
“You can sit here,” D said, “And I’ll bring the van around. We’ll wait for the rest of the Ghost to show up, and we can take it from there.”
“Alright,” I said, still taking it all in. “Alright.”
“You okay? You kinda went quiet after a while.”
“I’m alright, I’m just… I don’t know, I’ve told myself, for so long, that this day would come. Now that it’s here, now that I have it, I…”
I went quiet. Still.
Benny didn’t even have anything to say. She hung her head. Too dejected, I assumed, to do anything, anymore.
“I get it,” D said. “Just stay put, and take deep breaths.”
“We won.” she said.
Repeating it, over and over, in my head. I still couldn’t believe it.
We fucking won.
With that, D left, going through the front door. Through the glass, I saw her run off, crossing the sidewalk, to the other side of the street.
She was gone before I could think about stopping her. Asking her questions. But I wasn’t up for talking, myself.
So many things on my mind. If things were really handled here or not, if Lawrence would be okay. If D actually knew my civilian name.
And yet, I couldn’t give a fuck.
I had Benny, and she wasn’t getting away. It was everything I ever wanted. The floodgates opened, and I felt a pure sort of relief that overwhelmed me. Peace of mind.
I didn’t know what to do with myself, and I didn’t know what to do with Benny. But that was okay. I had the inklings of a start.
I cleared my throat. It itched.
It was generally considered rude to play with food. However, after a long night of hard work, a girl should be allowed to indulge herself.