chapter fourteen: Daily

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Well, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I would never have believed Willa Never would be looking at anyone the way she was looking at Sparrow, sitting in my living room, holding his hands. It was love, and I couldn't wait to hear the back story on it. I've never been a sucker for romance, but shit, in that moment I would have traded my soul just to have someone look at me the way those two weirdos were looking at each other.

There was fear behind her onyx eyes though too. I knew it was probably to do with Dart--dumb son of a bitch ruining everything always--but then I didn't know the whole story yet. Things had taken a turn real fast. I just an hour or so ago I was meeting up with shifty Sparrow for coffee, doing some secret recon--which I ended up having to tell her royal noseyness about because she could practically sense my omission--and a moment later he was soaring down the sidewalk after my alien sidekick. If I had caught him before things had calmed down, I shudder to think what I might have done to him.

Big brother Daily, always watching out for little willowy Willa. Ha, nah, she can take care of herself. But I'd still cut someone to the bone if they laid a finger on her. I couldn't wait to tear Dart a new one when he didn't have any leverage, and something--maybe positive thinking, maybe ESP, who knows in this world--made me sure that that day would come sooner or later. We just had to bide our time.

Bad things have a habit of happening to bad people at some point or another. You just have to be patient sometimes, which Willa's not great at. But I am. Well, sometimes. Just then I was feeling a little anxious to know the whole story and start working out a plan. I mean, Dart's usually one step ahead of everything. I knew he was probably tracking Willa's location at that very second somewhere in that creepy warehouse building of his.

Therefore: "Ok, I'm glad you two are having a touching reunion. And I'm glad Willa's memories are coming back and all, but can someone fill me in on some stuff and address how we're going to fight the evil douchebag that's been holding you captive?"

"Captive?" Sparrow turned to me, his eyes wide.

Willa shot me an angry look.

Maybe it had been harsh to drop that bomb on him before she was ready, but someone had to make the hard decisions around here since she'd suddenly turned into a giant marshmallow! There's nothing wrong with being soft, of course. I'm all for being in touch with your emotions sometimes. But damn, girl, we got an evil man trying to run your life and make you kill the man you love! Ain't nobody got time for marshmallows when death's on the line.

Sparrow looked at her again and she sighed loudly, running a hand through her messy violet mane. "I didn't exactly tell you the whole story... After I crash landed, this man found me and took me home. I was dying--I can't withstand Earth's atmosphere on my own--and he made a sort of cure, a treatment to help me survive here."

Sparrow nodded slowly in understanding.

"But!" I said, waving her on.

She glared at me.

"Willa, he is probably coming for us right this very second. He could bust through that door and shoot us all to pieces with a laser gun or something. I would not put it past his evil, nerdy ass."

She rolled her eyes, then settled them on Sparrow's, gripping his hands once more. "He made me... do things for him. He threatened to take the treatments away, so I couldn't leave, and I couldn't defy him. When I tried he let me go days without treatments. I almost died more times than I could count, and I almost wanted to."

A shadow crossed Sparrow's face, and his mouth set into a hard line. "What do you mean he made you do things? What things?"

Oh shit. I'd seen that look before in the mirror. Right before I talked myself out of killing those dicks in the Tangos who had beat me almost to death. But I have more self control than most people.

"He made me..." she paused and swallowed, "He made me kill people for him. I don't know exactly why. Most of them were crime leaders, really rich. I don't know if it gained him money or power--maybe both. I don't know what he's been up to," she was talking so fast her words were nearly running together as she went on, "But I know that when I tried to fight him I nearly died, and something kept pushing me to survive. I would have given my life not to be a killer. But some part of me wouldn't let that happen. Maybe just selfish, self preservation. But I couldn't just let go... and they were all such terrible men: murderers, thieves, abusers. I justified it and I went on. Until he told me to kill you."

She stopped suddenly and bit her lip, her eyes falling to her hands clasped in her lap.

Sparrow sat there, silent for what felt like a long moment, even to me. Then: "Whatever you did, you had to do. It's on this Dart, not you. You've done what you've had to, and I feel so angry for you, that you had to do any of that. We can find some other way of your survival here, I'm sure, and we can get you away from him. We have to."

He touched her cheek gently, and she leaned into his hand. "Ok," she said quietly.

"Well hell," I sighed, long and low. "If I had known all it would take was a touch on the cheek to get you away from that monster I would have done it a long time ago."

"I don't know for sure, but I think I can find something that will help you," Sparrow said. But he was obviously hesitant to say anymore. He sort of looked like he was on the verge of punching someone in the face. I'd seen that look in the mirror too.

"How?" she asked.

"I think..." he trailed off a moment, "Do you remember my family much?"

"I remember they were Noble," she said, adding for my benefit, "The ruling class."

"Right, but the Rites are the highest Noble family," he said.

His voice rang with distain, and I felt his pain on a deeply personal level. My family, the ass-clowns that they were, all belonged to a very powerful gang. I was entitled to money--all illegal--women--probably most of which were prostitutes--and power--the kind you don't want--and what I hated most of all was that it was what I was born into. Being born into the Tangos was like being born into a really, really, really illegal royal family. There was a hierarchy, and I would have been at the top of it. Of course, I wasn't, because I hate violence and I'm gay, and I never wanted to be. So I fought like hell to escape that life, and even though Sparrow and I were from vastly different circumstances, I could see that same look in his eye. He was trying to escape his ancestry, his birthright, just like me.

"I remember," she whispered.

He nodded and took a deep breath, closing his eyes meditatively for a second.

Oh shit. He was about to drop a bomb on us, I could tell. Nobody breathes like that when they're about to tell you you've got a promotion or you've won the lottery. This was a you-have-three-days-to-live kind of expression. This was a the-cancer-has-spread-to-your-entire-body kind of deep breath.

He opened his eyes and narrowed them at Willa--or Wild, which I was going to call her forever from now on--and said, "My father destroyed Veritas."

Willa's brows drew together so a hard line formed between them. Her black eyes sparkled with flames of anger.

Well hell.

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