4 - Reunion

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Shades had his contacts within Seagate. People who'd kept an eye on his twin, who he had held responsible for his brother's well-being. That's how he knew Juice hadn't been resilient at all. 

One look at the man convinced him they'd been right. 

His brother stood still a few feet away from him. Huddled, his face pale. His eyes only held Shade's glance for a second; then they darted around, looking for a way out. He acted like he was facing his executioner instead of the one who'd dragged him out of hell. 

A great deal needed to be done before this skittish boy would be useful to him. 

Shades spread his arms, putting a warm smile on his face while he stepped forward. "Juan Carlos. Juice. Whatever you want me to call you — I'm glad to finally meet you, little brother."

The last word seemed to get stuck in his throat, and ultimately rolled over his lips with obvious reluctance. His brother. Even though they were of the same age, it wasn't hard to tell who was going to play the big brother role. He really had a little brother. He couldn't get used to it yet. 

It was a while back since he had looked into his biological family. Having a twin had been a shock, and despite all the preparations he had made it hadn't really struck him. He had a brother. 

Hesitantly, Juice took a step forward, and Shades wrapped his arms tightly around him. He was shaking like a leaf, obviously feeling so nervous he was about to faint. Realizing that his brother was such a ball of grief called up repulsion — and yet, he also felt vengefulness because someone had made such a mess of his brother. The two emotions were clashing, and it made him feel uncomfortable. He hadn't expected their reunion to have such an emotional impact on him. 

After all, he hadn't brought Juice to Harlem to play his big brother. But seeing how broken the boy was — it didn't leave him cold. Even if he wished it would. 

A little impatiently he rubbed Juice's back until the man finally let go of him. Ashamed, the guy stared at the ground. 

"Come on, let's leave this place." He gave his brother a wink, walked to the driver's side of the car and sat down behind the wheel. 

Juice gave him a doubtful look; only when Shades motioned him to get into the car he sat down at the other seat. Shades started the car. It was a half hour drive to his penthouse, hopefully the silence wasn't going to be too horrible. Either way, they would spend a lot of time together, so he had to break the ice anyway. 

"Your cellmate..." he started. "Was he good to you?"

Juice had bent his head and stared at his hands. It took a while before he answered. "Yeah. He was the nicest person I've met in a long while."

Shades gritted his teeth. What a pathetic crybaby. He didn't even try to man up a bit. Had he really been in some motorgang? Shades couldn't imagine. Unless this was the reason they'd wanted to get rid of him. 

"How come I didn't know about us?" Juice asked once silence had settled between them. This time, he did look aside. Their eyes met. Was it suspicion he was reading in his eyes? Maybe the kid was less soft-hearted than he'd assumed. "Ma never said anything about you."

Shades shrugged his shoulders. "She probably felt too ashamed of selling one of her kids."

"You're — you're sold?" 

Shades didn't answer. He had understood him very well. 

"But why now? Why did you contact me now?"

Because I didn't need you until now. 

He however kept those words to himself. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders. "Only a couple years ago I found out who I really was, and that I had a twin. At first I only held a grudge, since I grew up on the filthy streets while you were sitting on Mommy's lap by the fireplace. Later, I realized you couldn't do much about that either."

He moved up a gear. His fingers were cramped around the stick and he forced himself to relax a bit. 

"I've never been on her lap," Juice muttered, staring out of the windshield. "She wasn't exactly a loving mother."

"At least you had a bed to sleep in and food on your plate," Shades answered annoyed. 

He swallowed a sigh. It hadn't been his intention to bring up their childhood already — he'd never wanted to bring it up in the first place — but apparently, he hadn't dealt with it like he thought he had. It made no sense. If he looked at the pathetic piece of shit next to him, he'd done fine for himself, even if he had been on his own since he was 6. 

Another silence fell. Shades fought the urge to turn on the music; maybe Juice would start to talk if the quiet continued. He was curious to what he would say. 

"What's your real name?" Juice asked after a while. "Isaiah couldn't tell me."

Shades didn't like to share his birth name with others. It always gave him some sense of vulnerability. Names were powerful. A feeling of unease crept upon the inhabitants of Harlem when they heard the name Shades. Referring to him with his birth name, didn't have that effect on people. It was more intimate — and he didn't like intimacy. He valued his privacy and a certain degree of distance between him and other people. 

"For now, Shades will do," he answered. 

Juice muttered something inaudible. Shades kicked the pedal. Pretending to be the loving brother didn't go as natural as he'd hoped. 

"Do you even know what you're doing to yourself by freeing me from prison?" Juice asked after a while. 

Shades gave him a brief look. His brother had bent his head again, twisting a golden skull around his thumb. It didn't look very classy. He looked like a boy who wanted to look tough but was anything but — and who hadn't completely put his puberty behind him. 

"You mean your little biker club?" He snorted. "They can do shit."

"I wasn't referring to them alone," his twin muttered. "Years ago I fled from Queens because the mob were after me. That's why I joined the Sons. They offered me protection."

"Well, they fucked it up pretty well then," he huffed.

"I was the one fucking things up."

Shades considered to dig deeper, but decided against it, doubting he would be very convincing in pretending that he cared about whatever the hell that dumb ass had done. After a while however, Juice's nervous fidgeting with his rings was annoying him. 

"Hey. Relax," he said when the boy turned his face towards him. "I don't care who's after you. I'll make sure no one will harm you. Okay?"

Juice nodded. The hope that was shining in his eyes, filled Shades with disgust. So dependent. So easy to manipulate. 

But that was exactly what he needed.

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