Shorter chapter! But it’s better this way, believe me…
Warning : PG-13 Violence, Gore and Language
Note: All of Niko’s chapters are assumed to have foul language in them.
No one’s POV
“Come on Niki, you got this.” Nikolas encouraged, as if his sister was a dog.
“The fact that you’re watching is not helping.” Nikita snapped.
“Do you want me to help you down the stairs?”
“NO. I have this totally under control.”
“Or so you say.”
“Yes I do. And if I fall down now it’s entirely because of you.”
“Shut up and hold my crutch.”
“Or you could slide down on your ass.”
“I told you I managed it this morning jerk!”
The front door opened and smiles exploded on both teens’ faces as their father came through.
“Hey kids, I’m back!” Edmund exclaimed with an equally large smile.
Nikita speed limped down the stairs and Nikolas, overcome with a mixture of relief, excitement and joy, jumped over the railing to attack his father with a hug.
“Nikolas!” Edmund exclaimed. “That’s dangerous-”
Nikita glomped her father too.
“I’m so happy to see you two.” Edmund said, hugging them back just as tightly.
“It’s only been a few days.” Niki said trying not to let her eyes water.
“I’ve missed you just the same.”
“Are you okay now? For good? Not like last time?” Nikolas asked.
“For now, right now, I’m good.” His father replied. “Where’s your dad?”
“He left…” Niko said, scratching his arm.
“On his business trip.” Niki finished. Both teens looked to Edmund, awaiting his reaction.
For just a moment he was sad and disappointed – only for a moment. “Right of course.”
“Hey! It’s big brother Eddy!” Alistair appeared out of the kitchen, looking just a little too comfortable and carrying the smell of coffee along with him.
“Alistair? What are you doing here?”
“Xavier let me crash here.”
“Xavie- Kids I’m going to go talk to your uncle. I’ll be back in a few.” Edmund said, before grabbing his little brother’s arm and dragging him into the kitchen.
“So pa’s back…for who knows how long.” Niko said, shifting his feet.
“I think he’ll be okay now.” Niki said with a small smile.
“That’s what we thought last time.”
“But this time dad isn’t here.”
“You don’t actually think-”
“It kind of makes sense Niko…I don’t know. Guess we’ll see.” Nikita shrugged. “Phone’s ringing.”
“Fine I’ll get it.” Niko sighed walking towards their home phone.
“Like it’d be for me. No one calls me anymore.”
“That sounds kind of sad.” Nikolas said, giving his big sister a look.
“It kind of is, but whatever. I don’t need those guys anymore.” Nikita said, settling down onto the couch with an oomph.
Nikolas dared to glance into the kitchen as he made his way to the phone.
Edmund didn’t look happy. He looked exasperated and tired and done with his little brother’s antics. Alistair on the other hand looked worried and was practically pleading his brother not to kick him out.
If Alistair stressed his pa out to the point where he got another heart attack, Nikolas was going to be pissed – very pissed. Could his father even survive another one?? They’d been lucky so far.
“Hi it’s Maxwell.”
“Well I’m surprised! Thought you’d already forgotten about all these shenanigans.” Nikolas snorted.
“Don’t tell me you went back down there!?” Maxwell practically shouted.
“Er, nah not really. Other stuff’s been on my mind. You know like pa…”
“Oh ok…well I was just calling to say I’ll be stopping by soon. Today actually! After supper.”
“To go downstairs right?” Nikolas asked a little coldly.
“See you then!” Niko snapped with fake joy. Maxwell barely visits, and now he does but it’s only to discover something he hasn’t earned? Didn’t sit too well with Nikolas.
“Awesome bye!” Maxwell said, hanging up.
Nikolas pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket, the one with that address he got from Elvis. He’d had to write it down in case he forgot it again.
“I’m going out for a bit. Can you tell dad I’ll be back soon?” Niko told his sister. She eyed him warily.
“Where are you going?” If she knew he was heading to Dealer’s avenue alone to go investigate, she’d eye him even more warily. Maybe a little angrily.
“Just to see some friends. Probably Lucas’ house.” Nikolas lied with ease.
“Pa just got back from the hospital.”
“Yeah, but it looks like it’s going to be a while so bye!”
Not like Nikolas particularly wanted to stick around and listen to what was probably the real reason Alistair was staying here – all the problems he had. He’d had enough of family problems in the last few months.
Dealer’s avenue wasn’t all bad. It wasn’t even technically called ‘Dealer’s avenue’. It was actually Brook Place – a small neighborhood with only one road connecting it to the main road. But a few years ago – it was all over the news – there was a big drug dealing gang that settled down in Brook Place and basically took it over. You couldn’t even go there during daylight and come out without a scratch. There were thugs of all kinds lurking around in the neighborhood. The police allegedly cleaned the place out, but it’s always been pretty shifty since then. When people disappear or get killed, Dealer’s avenue is usually first to blame…and a third of the time the guilty actually was hiding in one of the back alleys.
So you know, not the type of place you send your kids to alone.
It’s actually a little eerie how little people there are outside. I’ve only come here once, and that was with the gang. I don’t even remember why!
I passed by some sort of laundry mat with a bunch of publicities attached to the walls and windows. Random stuff like Babysitter for hire! Or Tae Kwon do classes!.
I guess some people do their laundry right before supper cause I could see two or three old people inside looking at me with narrowed eyes. Maybe they kidnapped Dexter.
I kept walking, the store Elvis talked about was around the corner.
So this is where that famous dumpster dive dare took place. Guess it’s a decent dumpster.
The place was fenced around with only one entrance so it must’ve been pretty easy to corner the kid. It’s behind a bunch of loud buildings too, so nobody would’ve easily heard him scream if he had. Don’t even know if anyone here would’ve reported it if they’d heard.
I got down to my knees and looked around for any clues.
I ended up looking into the dumpsters real quick, though I quickly realized it was probably a useless effort. It’d been more than a week; the dumpsters would’ve been emptied by now. And if I did find something, it’s not like I knew Dexter enough to recognize a clue.
No, my only help would be to ask around. But I dunno, just didn’t really feel like it you know? Talking to shifty people doesn’t seem –
Wait…were those voices?
I glued myself to the fence, aiming my ear up.
“I’m not asking for much boys.” A calm decisive male voice said. It sounded old, like maybe my parents age, and most importantly familiar. Really familiar. I have definitely heard this voice before. But I just can’t pinpoint where… “I’ll pay. Do you want me to pay?”
“Last time we gave you info Rodney got shot.” Another man snarled. Okay, that one I definitely don’t recognize.
“Rodney was…a blabber mouth. It’s his own fault. You don’t need to tell him, it’s nothing big. I just want to know if the rumors are true.”
“It’s always something big with you. Looking for a rabbit ends up about a case about drug dealing through rabbit bellies!” A second man exclaimed. Wow that sounds – repulsive.
“That was a special case. A weird one I’ll admit. I hadn’t quite expected that.” The familiar man said. “Just say yes or no. Have kids been disappearing around these parts? I heard some…experiments might be taking place.”
There was some silence.
“…yes. A few. One every few months.” A third man answered.
“Like clockwork almost.” One of the other two chipped in.
“But they’re always let go man. It’s nothing big. They get some kind of marking and they’re let loose.” The last of the three said.
“What? Are you sure?” The familiar voice asked.
“Yeah! Saw this kid get snapped a few months back, and two weeks ago I see him walking with some kind of red fire on his shoulder.”
Keep talking I’m listening…
“Okay that’s enough. We’re done talking to you Terr.” The more talkative of the three declared.
I rolled my eyes. Or just stop talking.
“Much obliged.” The familiar voice said. There was some rustling and then footsteps leaving.
“What an asshole.”
“Pays nicely though.”
“Why do you guys have the bigger cut?”
“Do you know what happened to Rodney? He complained about cash too.”
I poked my head around the corner, spotting the three guys with all the info. The familiar voice had already disappeared.
“Hey kid, whatcha looking at?” They’d spotted me immediately and looked a little too wary and surprised.
Well while I’m here… “Did you guys see a kid get kidnapped here? At this very spot?”
“How much did you hear you little shit?” The ponytail guy growled, taking a step forwards. I took a step backwards.
“Woah! I just want to know if you saw anything! Small boy, brown hair, dark skin-”
“EVERYONE wants information today!”
“-his name is Dexter, apparently he was wearing a hoodie too-”
“Look kid I’m going to pummel you if you say anything, so scamper off.” The guy said, shoving his finger dangerously close to my chest.
I threw my hands up in a weak attempt to calm the situation down. “Or you could reward my not tattle telling on whatever you guys had going on here by just telling me what I want to know.” Half of me just wanted to get out of here, and the other just really wanted to punch this guy in his crinkled nose. I’m just asking a simple question geez!
“Oh we’ll give you a reward for that mouth of yours.”
Ah well, can’t turn back now.
“Three old guys against one well fit teen? The odds seem well.” I smirked, taking a small step back to examine the three men.
“Good. I need the exercise.” Grumbled one of the two in the back. One of them rolled up his sleeves.
I’ve never fought with adults before. But I have fought against more than one person. It can’t be all that hard right? Plus the older you get the weaker you get?
Either way, I’m totally feeling this right now.
I barely crouched down with my fists up, that a fist was already hurtling for my head. I sidestepped it easily, aiming to jab at his side, but one of the other guys was already swinging a fist my way. I barely dodged it, and right after a hand grabbed my arm and threw me against the fence.
My head smashed against it, and I blinked away the dizziness, doing my best just to keep my hands up as the fog cleared. A punch at my side, on my face; a kick in my stomach, at my legs. I don’t remember even landing a punch – I was already touching the hard ground.
In barely a few seconds, I’d been beaten to the ground, trying not to choke on the blood in my mouth, wondering how I’d fallen so low so quickly.
And as I lay on the ground, wincing with each extra hit, I could only think of one thing, with my eyes tightly clenched, willing it all to pass…
Someone please, please help me