I'm so, so sorry this took so long, guys. I only have high school and computer troubles to blame. My computer died on us, then we got a new one and I had to start over, then I got a laptop for Christmas and I didn't get a chance until last week to get the document from my desktop to my laptop. Then I had to send it to my beta. But you don't care.
Chapter Eight: Alliance
Three Years Later
It's been three years: three long years of Freddie and I scanning every news article on the Internet and newspapers, searching for something, anything, that sounds like a hit from T.A. It's slow going, and we usually show up too late to make a difference. We're living in a safehouse, somewhere T.A. can never find us.
There are some days when I want to just give up. Give up all of it, and go live with Freddie on some tropical island somewhere. But then I remember how terrible T.A. is, and I become focused again. Still, a girl can dream, can't she?
If it weren't for Freddie, I worry that I might become clinically depressed or mad from loneliness. Or maybe I would really act upon my fantasies of getting out.
Still, it is tedious work, and not for the faint of heart or the weak. Carly or Amy, for instance, would never have been able to handle this life. Three years before I would have said the same about Freddie, but he's proving to be quite capable. Admittedly, before T.A. I'm not sure I could take it either.
The death of Matthew still haunts me, and of all the people I've killed, I see his face in my nightmares the most. It's recurring, nearly every night-I'm in a small room, with all of the people I've killed leering, grabbing at me; they all have blood where the gunshot was aimed, or a missing limb where I broke it, et cetera. And then the mob parts and Matthew's standing there, and we're back at T.A., and he's lecturing me. "You never should have done that, Sam," he always says, and then there's suddenly a hole in his chest and blood spurting out, but he doesn't even notice it, and then he takes out a gun and shoots me. He'll lean over me, still bleeding, and whisper, "You'll never win, Sammy." And that's always when I wake up, screaming and crying.
Freddie does his best to calm me when this happens. Usually, he can succeed; usually, I only need ham-or any meat will do, really-and his arms around me for a while, and eventually I'll probably fall back into a fitful, hopefully nightmare-free sleep. But there are some nights where there is nothing that can be done, when I just won't calm down, where I can't get back to sleep no matter what I do. Freddie will always, always stay up with me, no matter how tired he is.
And the next day I feel guilty that he lost sleep doing so. I'll try to make up for it in some small way, such as an attempt to make breakfast (though that was only once and never again). Freddie says I don't need to do anything, but I want to. It just never turns out quite the way I expect it to.
Tonight has been one of those Nights, the ones I have distinguished as having a capital N. We stay up and watch a movie. I'm not even sure what it is or what it's about, but it some sort of chick flick that was on TV that neither of us want to watch. Yet all of our attention is purposely, forcibly directed solely at the mindless comedy. And that's just why: because it is mindless. Getting my mind off of things tends to help me.
I'm not even aware of the time. It is very early in the morning, or maybe it is late at night depending on how you look at it. I'm cuddled into Freddie's chest, blankets and his arms wrapped around me, a mug of hot chocolate in my hands. The women on screen say something that's kind of funny and I make myself laugh.
I must have fallen asleep, because hours later, I awake to bright sunlight from the windows and a completely different movie, this one looking more like an action film. Freddie is still sleeping.
Six months later and no change in our routines. Today we were investigating what looks like a T.A. takedown in Boston, but of course, we got there too late. We walk through the streets, my feet trudging, not because I'm tired, but because I'm depressed about today's outcome. It's a pretty bad part of the city, and I'm on alert, ready to spring at anyone who tries to mug/rape/attack me. Though I doubt they will, since I've got a man walking with me. Criminals like that are usually put off if their intended target has someone with them who looks like they can fight. I know from experience.
Suddenly I see someone out of the corner of my eye, in an alley across the street from us. I quickly spin my head around to get a better look, but the person is gone. But I'm pretty sure I know who it is.
Without saying a word, I head into the alley. Freddie calls after me. "Where are you going?" he cries in a loud whisper, sounding panicked.
"I'll be right back," I tell him. "It's okay, don't worry," I add, though I know he will anyway. He follows me, as I expected.
I slowly go down the alley, my senses attuned to everything around me, my body a predator's ready to strike, or maybe the prey prepared to fight back. It just sounds better to say I'm a predator.
A person comes flying at me, trying to strike from behind. I had anticipated the attack and am ready. I duck, spin on my heel, and pop back up, lashing out with my foot, hitting my assailant square in the chest. She falls and is effectively knocked out. "Help me," I say to Freddie, and lift her by the shoulders. He takes her feet and we bring her back to our safehouse.
I notice movement as the girl begins to rustle, then her eyes fly open and her hand goes up to her head. She groans. "Ugh, what happened?" Then she notices me. "Who are you?"
"I'm Sam," I say calmly. "It's okay. I'm a...a friend." I say this knowing full well she won't believe it. I recognize the fear in her eyes, and how hard she's trying to hide it. I recognize where she's come from. Everything she's going through now, I went through. I understand.
She snorts. "Yeah, you wouldn't believe how many times I've heard that one."
"You'd be surprised."
She blows air out of her mouth in exasperation. "What do you want from me?" By this point she has sat up and is sitting on the edge of the bed, hands at her sides gripping the mattress.
I hesitate for just a fraction of a second, decide to fill her in. "I know who killed your parents," I reveal.
I have her full attention now. "What?" she exclaims, jumping up; she begins ranting, so fast I can't even understand what she's saying. I let her go on for a minute, then get annoyed and yell the name I remember her to have: "Katania!" I snap.
She freezes. "H-how do you know my name?" she asks. Then a look of realization washes over her face. "Oh yeah. I forgot. You know who killed my parents, so you must know my name too!" Her voice drips with venom. "And by the way, it's Kaitlyn now."
She must have changed it to make it sound more American. She's lost her Italian accent, too, I notice. Katania was a member of a wealthy family whose leader was a T.A. target, and the entire family had been killed in the process. Except for Katania-Kaitlyn. I had made sure of that. I don't tell her this last part though, only about T.A.
"So you're working for them?" she sneers.
I shake my head. "Not anymore. I left them when I realized how terrible they are. They wanted me to kill someone I care very much about." She doesn't know about Freddie yet.
"What happened to them?" I don't answer. She raises an eyebrow. "Well?"
"You'll find out soon enough." She looks confused but doesn't ask anything further on the subject. I'm walking around, and when my back is turned for just a moment, Kaitlyn instantly jumps up and attempts fleeing. I catch her by the wrist, and I'm stronger. I win. She cries out, screaming, a few tears falling down her face.
"Ora vi ascoltarmi?" I growl. "Come non era del tutto evidente che hai appena mi tenere a parlare cosìè possibile eseguire, Katania." She shrinks back at the Italian, a reminder of her former life. I had said "Now will you listen? Like it wasn't completely obvious you were just keeping me talking so you could run, Katania." Her eyes are big and she gives a slight nod.
I straighten. "Okay, so, like I was saying, Kaitlyn"—I shoot her a small smile—"T.A. is a horrible, cruel place and they must be taken down. I'd like you to help me, if you would."
I go with her as she explores our safehouse. The first room she visits is the kitchen, where she finds Freddie. "Hi," she squeaks.
He gets up and holds his hand out for her to shake. "I'm Freddie."
"Kaitlyn." She still has that wide-eyed, amazed look of a fangirl meeting their favorite celebrity. She turns to me. "Is he…" I nod. I open the fridge and pull out some Canadian bacon. I rip pieces off, about half of the slice each time.
"You're really eating ham right now?" Freddie asks, amused.
"It's always time for ham!" I tell him, tearing off another bite. Kaitlyn smiles at our bickering. I keep going with the tour, bringing the ham with me. Freddie and I do occasional commentary and answer any questions Kaitlyn has.
That night, Freddie and I are in bed. "So you really think this thing with Kaitlyn will work?" he says.
"They killed her parents," I say softly. "That's enough. If someone ever killed you…well, what I would to do them…it would be the worst pain a person can go through." He is quiet as he sinks this in.
My back is to him, but I know he is lying halfway between his back and his side, propping himself up by the elbows, facing towards me. I feel him shift and he wraps his arms around me and kisses my neck.
"Thank you, Sammy," he says. It is a name he only calls me in moments of great intimacy such as this, and he's the only person I ever allow to call me it. "If we've got any luck at all, neither of us will ever have to do that."
This indirect way of saying he'd do the same thing is enough for me.
Oh wow, how cheesy was that last line?
So what do you guys think of Katania/Kaitlyn? I felt like this story needed something new, so ta-da! Alex's T.A. counterpart, from Italy. I want to go to Italy someday which is why I picked it. I'm also part Italian.