A/N: Wow. You people are amazing. That last line about me writing more if I got more reviews was just food for thought. I didn't think I'd actually get this many. This fic isn't even in a real category! What is this world coming to?!
All and all, I'm really thankful. To all of you who read and wrote (notice I didn't put "or"), I'm much obliged. Please… Do it again.
Disclaimer: No, I don't own Wanted. I only own the bits of dialogue and plot in this story, but even those I'm willing to sell to the producers for 100 bucks to see it made into some sort of sequel. –hint-hint-
Dad and I are receiving glances from the people in the elevator that threatens to plummet us to our deaths. We're in a New York apartment though, meaning the people don't really care and the building is just incredibly old.
I grunt as I lean sideways against the pulley car's dingy wall. I wonder how my dad, who, might I add, sustained ten times the injury I did, still has enough energy, nay, blood left to stand stock still as we wait for our landing. He's an anomaly, and I continue to question how this superhero could be related to me.
A little girl, who has just entered the car, is looking up at me with curiosity. Yah, not for long. Once the obscure street performers and bums have hardened her with their escapades, the bleeding and near-death persons will be as exciting as spotting the milkman.
Wait… You don't see those guys much now, do you?
Okay, mailman, but you got my point. She's going to be a numb New Yorker so might as well let her look at your blood-soaked shirt and chewed up wrist, which she's going to do anyway even if you act like she's not there.
"What's wrong with your arm?" See? What was I just saying about little girls not caring if you're disguised as a nutshell 'cause they'll still ask too many questions. Her mother is bringing the girl closer to her side with shifty eyes flicking from me to my bruised and battered father. The mom offers a polite smile and attempts to muffle her child's prying comments with her hand. The daughter resents and tugs the hand off her mouth. "Did you and that man get in a fight?" she gushes. Mom needs to take her off all those action flicks.
I look at "that man" and find he's looking down at her with amusement. I'm starting to learn my dad gets a kick out of the weirdest things. Everyone else would simply find the nosy brats questions annoying. Hello there, I'm everyone else.
"Yeah, we did," I answer back, looking down at the future snob queen with a slow nod. "He started it when he tried to cut off my hand though." I hold up my wrist that was sliced by the train's wiring in the fall. I hadn't noticed a lot of my injuries until old dad was alive and walking. When we finally found our
way back to the main road and after all of my adrenaline had faded away, I discovered a lot of hurting had been done from that little swim in the river.
You guessed it, ow.
I grin, satisfied, as the girl's eyes widen with horror. Her mom is pounding the "Door Open" button and sweeping them out of the elevator faster than I can finish my tall-tale. I turn my bemused grin to Dad but it falters, slightly, as I noticed he doesn't share my same sadistic sense of humor. Huh, must've got it from Grandma then because Mom never thought I was that funny either. Pity.
"They can't go through life thinking they can ask questions as they please." I say, leaning my head heavily against the wall and ignoring my father's displeased frown.
"Admit it, you had it in for her the moment she stepped into the elevator," My dad points out, exiting the elevator as it stops at our landing. I trail after the haughty man with a dismayed look.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I question, limping down the stained hallway after the man, who, just to let you know, is completely ignoring me. "Look, I didn't have it in for a little girl," I defend, trying to keep the whine out of my voice that has that annoying tendency of creeping in.
He doesn't reply as he's picking the lock to my old apartment. He sends me a sidelong glance that he thinks I can't see since I've crossed my arms and am now huffily resting my back against a wall. Hello, kind of your biological son. The super vibrating vision power helps me see that infuriating gleam in your eyes that I'm starting to learn annoys me now more than it scared me then.
"You have five minutes," My father announces, moving aside to let me into the room.
I blink, "Five minutes for what?"
"Get your things, pick up some mementos; I'm sure you have something in here that you need to take with you." I think about what he's said as I enter the apartment and take a cursory glance around the cramped and cluttered room. I shrug and turn back to him.
"Nothing." I affirm. "Nothing important anyway," I tell him this, and, for some unknown reason, he looks annoyed. The fact that I don't hold anything from my past life in particular regard has him pretty pissed off actually. I want to apologize since the announcement obviously upsets him, but I fight the nagging habit. Instead, I fumble with words as I search the apartment for something with sentimental value. "Uh, wait a second. Wait a second." I grab one of my Ex's vases and pull the dead flowers out. "Can't forget this… Cup."
If this were a sitcom, the laugh track would be at full volume.
My Ex's vase is actually a cheap Wal-Mart cup I'm positive we have twenty more of in the cabinet.
My dad is staring at me like I'm insane, but rather then pulling out his cell phone to call the men in white, he brushes past me to open a side table drawer next to our clawed-up couch. He slides the creaky drawer open and reaches inside, pulling out my old baseball cap.
"What about this?" He offers, holding it out to me. I eye him and the hat with the utmost suspicion.
"How did you know that I put that hat in there?" I inquire with slits for eyes, searching him for an answer.
"Well, you've kept it for so long; it would be a shame to just abandon it."
Okay, weird. I'm guessing the Fraternity didn't have the time to train me on clairvoyance, which is the only way he could possibly know I've had that hat for very long.
"How did you know I've kept it for so long?" I interrogate. I imagined the first questions I would ask my father would be different, more along the lines of his favorite color rather than how he somehow had his fingers in my childhood.
My father's silent as he pulls the hat back to run his fingers over the emblem of the Dodgers. I'd received the hat when I was eight at a baseball game. Well, all right, more stole then actually received. See I was the last one in the bleachers, and I noticed someone had left it behind (probably in a drunken rush to some party). So without waiting for its owner's return, I picked it up and stuffed it in my shirt. I got such a high from the steal I deemed the hat my lucky hat since it gave me such a rush every time I thought about the petty crime.
Funny how my new rush comes from shooting criminals while moving at speeds up to 200 mph.
Talk about a step forward.
"I should know. I gave it to you." The revelation has me asking myself, one: is Daddy crazy? And two: Did I really find this hat on the bleachers? Since I'm pretty positive about the second one, I continue giving the man my most bewildered expression.
"That's not possible. I found it-"
"-On some bleachers at a Dodgers game." I snap my mouth shut as he finishes the story I thought I was the only one with that knowledge. "I knew you liked the team, so I left it somewhere you could find it."
I open and close my mouth, much like a goldfish in the tank. My dad ignores this and continues to stare at the hat with fondness.
"It took you awhile to notice it. Four others seized the chance to steal it before I knocked them unconscious and dragged them under the bleachers. Then again, you always were a late-bloomer." My dad chuckles lightly, looking at me with an inexplicable twinkle in his eye.
After a long pause of trying to process the information, I mutter an apprehensive "thanks." I walk over to retrieve the hat which he gives to me in a more conventional way: in person. Attempting to recover
my cool, collected poise, I quip casually, "Any other objects you've given me that I don't know about? -Hang on, were you the guy handing out smiley face stickers at the Wal-Mart entrance, because I'm sorry to say, I didn't bother saving that one."
"What? You didn't?" I stop at his response, giving him a questioning look. He breaks out in a grin. "Two can play that game, Wesley," he reminds charmingly.
"Whatever," I say, not willing to admit having ever been tricked… Or that Dad actually had a sense of humor. "Where to next? I'm pretty sure the five minutes are up."
His next response, or should I say gesture, shocks me ten times more than the baseball cap story: He points out my window, directly at the white beach house opposite the railroad that causes my ex so much grief.
"You're kidding," I tell him.
Shocker of the Year: he's not kidding.
On the contrary, the man is completely serious. I realize this as I sit on his couch, poring over post-pubescent snapshots of myself I'm pretty sure even my own mother never bothered saving. I feel like I'm losing it. Is my whole history just rewriting itself in one day? Well?
As I mumble incoherently at the pictures, my dad watches me with intrigue.
"I tried so hard to keep you like that. To keep you ignorant of your past and potential. This life is not what I wanted for you." I think we did a conversation like this already, but I choose to let him speak, half because I'm interested and half because my throat is dry from all of this heavy, labored breathing I've been doing lately. "Which is why I need you to promise me you'll go back to that after we take down the Fraternity. Go back to being safe."
I snap my head up at the suggestion. Right, I know you all must be sick and tired of me gasping and looking appalled all the time but I can't help it since every word that escapes my father's mouth feels like a sharp ice-pick to my neck.
"You know," And I lick my lips to state the obvious, "That's definitely not going to happen," I state, shaking my head for emphasis. He stares at me with apparent disappointment, but I try not to lose my nerve and face him with my own steely look. It works, sort of. "I'm sorry, Dad, but I'm staying right here with you."
My father must visit a zoo often because he looks as intimidating and grave as the beasts in the cages.
"Wesley," he says, as if the very name will have me apologizing and retracting all previous protests.
Old Wesley, sure. But this is the new me, the one he hasn't been spying on for the past twenty-some-odd years.
"Look, you may think this life wasn't meant for me, but right here, right now, has had more meaning to me than every day of my life so far. I care, now, what happens to my life and all of those around me. I care about you. And I need you to understand how big that is."
He sighs. "You will go back. I can't have you in this."
What isn't a big surprise is that my little monologue didn't work. I get it. He's heard it all before with all those criminals begging for their lives and the like. But what is a bombshell, a big nuclear bombshell, is what I do next.
"No!" I yell angirly, throwing the pictures of my younger self on the floor. After the frames' glass has shattered from the impact with the floor, the only sound in the room is my heavy breathing and the train making a quick turn around the rail. I wait for it to pass, fixing him with a heated look. "No. You don't get to decide that. You don't get to look out for me, and you certainly don't get to play god with my life. I am the perfect weapon, and I do all of those things for myself. Suddenly telling me you're my father gives you no right to tell me what I can and cannot do because, Dad, you're about twenty years too late."
For one moment, I think he's going to kill me. His jaw is clenched in the same way I remember only when he whipped out his gun and started shooting at Fox. Hopefully all of my aching joints were up to dodging bullets.
"I'm going out." I flinch accidentally at his words. Despite the fact that he didn't start a shootout in my general direction, seeing him grab his leather jacket and head for the door leaves me just as startled.
If I could use any word that I WISH my dad was, that would be it. Hands down.
One moment I'm reliving the worst moment of my life and the next I'm bolting upright in a small bathtub, screaming as wax flakes chip off my face into the murky water I'm immersed in.
I can still feel the gun in my hand, see the pain on his face and smell the scent of death all around me. Blood is everywhere. Blood of the people I murdered and will murder. I'm immersed in it, bathed in their suffering. I can still see their sinister gazes.
Still hear his final breath.
"Wesley," he wheezes, blood crawling up his throat, filling up his lungs. I look on, my own breathing on the verge of stopping completely. The dull throbbing has moved from my head to my vision, shaking my vision.
"Wesley…" He gurgles though he's drowning in crimson. Darkness is creeping at the corner of my eyes, and I know now what will happen. When he's gone, I'm going with him…
"Wesley!" It's surprisingly loud this time, almost pleading. "Breathe!" And I gasp obediently. My lungs fill up with oxygen and the room brightens instantly, sending a wave of nausea in its wake. My back is sore from the spot he's slapped to revive me and my head is spinning from the wave of air.
I look at my father. He's alive, but the thought of my bullet hitting, killing, murdering him still plays fresh in my mind, over and over. I grab the lapels of his coat and lean into the crook of his neck.
"No, we-we can't do it." I pant anxiously. His sweat stinks of worry, his breath smells like bourbon, and his stubbly jaw scratches against my cheek as I attempt to inhale his very being. Nothing else matters except that I don't lose this man, again.
"Hang on. Calm Down." He puts his hands on my shoulders, pushing me back to look intently into my eyes. "Do what, Wesley?" Dad shakes his head, confused.
"We can't fight Sloan." My balled up fists shake the lapels they grasp, trying to make him understand my desperation. He continues to gaze into my eyes, unhindered.
"We can." He assures firmly, brushing my sopping wet hair out of my face to get a better view of my face, expressing his sincerity. "We'll fight him and we'll win." I shake my head. Get it in your head, Dad.
"No," The sight of his lifeless body still burns, painful, in my memory and I have to look away from his searching expression. I will not be responsible for his death. Fighting Sloan is not an option. "You don't- don't understand. We can't."
My father's leans his head down to search my downcast eyes. He emanates a certain amount of pressure that makes me feel more self-conscious about my thoughts than the fact that I'm blubbering whilst sitting naked in a bathtub with quickly melting wax.
"What's wrong, son?"
Now there's a word I haven't been called before. Okay, maybe by some elderly grocer in the passing of a small town, but I'm pretty positive he wasn't using the literal case of the word. Over the few hours I've actually known this man, I'm starting to learn that sincerity is how he deals with me. I don't know how he knows that's all I've ever craved in a person, but he does and I'm having problems keeping a sob out
of my heavy breathing as I whisper the lone thought in my mind: "I… I don't want to lose you again, Dad."
It's one of those landmark moments when I actually get hugged. My father's slipped me in his dry, potentially very damp, embrace. And what am I doing through all of this? Oh, you know, the usual: Looking shocked, scared, and incredibly uncomfortable.
It's not one of those lame, cue-the-"aww" moments though. By the looks of it, I seem to be the foreign exchange student to hugs, but, being in his arms feels more real and natural than anything I've ever felt. I don't understand why or how, but I close my eyes and finally calm down, all gruesome, scarring thoughts coming to a screeching halt.
People tell a lot from their body language. Janice's said, "Everybody hates me so I eat a lot so they can't see what they hate. I sure show them!" But, right then, my father was saying something different, something only I could interpret. "You don't have to worry about me. I protect you because that's what my job's always been. Anyways, I'm better at it than you are." He probably didn't mean for it to feel cocky, but I could sense the underlying snobbery in his hug.
I only hope he knows how much I want him.
"Valium." Dad says. "I keep it on hand when the tremors get too strong." He hands me two pills and a glass of water. I place the pills on my tongue and wash them down with a sip of the cooling liquid, reaching up to place the glass on the side table. I'm lying on the couch while Dad sweeps up the shards of glass.
"Sorry, about the freak out earlier…" I apologize, surveying the meticulous job my father does scooping up every last shard. Anal.
"Which one?" He asks, sweeping the last bits of glass up and dropping it into the waste bin next to the window. "You seem to be having a lot of those these days."
I smile at the comment. When people rephrase the obvious, it turns out pretty funny. "Just when things start to make sense, you end up just as screwy as you were before, you know?"
My dad walks over and settles down at the foot of the couch, giving me a view of the side of his head. "Are you, by chance, feeling sorry for yourself?"
"No," I answer much too quickly. Darnnit. He's good. He smiles, noticing the rush of my words. I feel like those little kids that spend their days trying to impress grownups with wild and crazy tap dances when I say this but, when my dad smiles, I like it. I don't know, I feel accomplished. Thinking about kids and my own childhood, my mind reveals a question that I had always decided I would ask my father if I met him. No better time than now. I clear my throat and he stops his smirking to look at me questioningly. "Why
did you leave seven days after my birth? I mean, why did you stick around at all if you could've left right away?"
Although a simple "because" would have sufficed, my dad decides to graciously tell me all of his side of the story. He leans more comfortably against the couch, much like the elderly do when they're about to tell you about their childhood. The only exception now is that this time I'm not getting ready to euthanize the speaker; I'm on the edge of my couch with curiosity.
"They told us it was like creating your own biggest weakness." My father begins. "At the time, I didn't understand what they meant, that is, until the first moment I held you in my arms. Life had just sent me the greatest thing it could possibly give. That week was the hardest thing I had ever had to live through. Every second of every day, I held you. You were a miracle, Wesley. No Fraternity member would ever risk having children, and here I was trying to figure out a way I could be with you, watch you grow and become a man. But the moment I looked into your baby blues, I knew it... If you were ever going to be safe, you and I were never allowed to meet... I hope you understand that all I ever did was for justice and your protection. Of course the feeling of abandonment was mutual."
Yes, kids, and that's why you've never met grandpa. I can see myself telling my own children this sad tale. God, and he wants me to go back to being normal? How normal can anyone turn out when their father tells them they have most abnormal beginning of any human being. You, uninteresting piece of lint, probably had two loving parents with absolutely no connections to secret agencies. It's understandable that you sit on your computer all day reading about my life, but I don't think that's even a possibility now with me. Okay, I'm sorry to have upset you. I did mean it.
"Dad, now I say this with the utmost respect, but, times have changed," I point out and my dad tilts his head in question. "You did everything in your power to keep us apart, I realize that, but now, and I know this might seem hard for your perfectly wired brain to understand, you have to do everything in your power to keep us together… Because I'm not leaving. Period."
This is me trying to seem firm and ominous, attempting to show my father that I make the big decisions. Apparently, it isn't working. The man is laughing for goodness' sake. Why is a question for the books. He turns to me with that enigmatic glint in his eye.
"You've found my kryptonite, Wesley." Obviously, I don't understand how I've found anything, because he continues. "It was that very stubbornness from your mother that got you conceived in the first place." I chuckle too even though the latter half of the statement is slightly perturbing. "We were in bed and it was the fourth night-mff!"
Quick reflexes have saved me from yet another disturbing image I'm positive I don't need engraved into my mind. With my hand clamped over my father's mouth, I can tell his aging eyes are smiling with evil pleasure.
"Story time is officially over," I insist, nodding while fixing him with a stern look. I slide off the couch to sit on the plush beige carpet beside him. "If you so much as utter a word related to that night, I will soon
be the worst thing life has ever given you. Your choice." I cautiously remove my hand to reveal his infuriating beam of sadistic contentment.
"You'll always be the best thing life's given me, and no grouchy threats will ever change that." He affirms.
"You're teasing me; stop it."
"Look around you, Wesley. If I don't do it, no one else will." he tells me, with the spark in his eye. It's care, by the way, the spark. I can see it now. Pretty soon he won't be so unfamiliar and scary to me. Soon I'll be able to read him as well as he does me.
I give in to his unusual wit, this one time, and pull out the Dodgers hat from my back pocket, running my hand across the knitted emblem. The rush I got from stealing it is gone; in its place is a new feeling: Safety. I hear children have security blankets when they're young, I suppose what's given me the feeling of being fearless all those years wasn't a rush at all but actually an overwhelming sense of protection.
Talk about a step forward.
A/N: And that's it. What did you think? No, no, don't talk to your computer (that just looks creepy), press the purple button and type it in! Don't forget to press Send as well. God, do I have to walk these people through everything.
Once again, thank you for all the kind reviews. I will not be posting chapter three unless I receive good ideas. Really, as much as I love writing these two, I'm out of ideas of what to write, so please share your own. I'll be glad to ruminate on some.
Have nice days,