A/N: Before I begin the final chapter, I want to share a very big thank you for those who have been following The Hornet's Girl and for being patient with me while I was working out the worst writer's block ever. As a reward for your patience, Here's the final chapter. And it's going to be a doozy!
The Sting of the Hornet
Hornet passed through the royal purple curtain of Club of the World. While it was Sunday, people were dancing and drinking. He checked the back room but it was undisturbed, save for a mussed up bed. Maybe Jack and Else were with the club goers. He really doubted that though, considering it was well past Else's bedtime.
Hank walked up, a confused look on his face. "Did you forget something?"
Uh oh… "What do you mean? Where's Jack and Else?"
"They left with you when you came in earlier. Why, what's going on?" Hank asked, worried.
Hans…he must've figured out where they were going…Hornet kicked himself. Why didn't he keep them with him? "How long ago was this?"
"Not long, maybe half an hour. Why, is everything ok?" Hank checked his watch.
"Thank you." Hornet hurried back out to the alley where Kato was waiting in the Black Beauty. "Activate the watch tracker." Thank God he gave it to Jack earlier. Now he could find her.
"What happened?" Kato asked as he flipped the switch on the console in the front seat.
"Hans has them. He pretended to be the Hornet and tricked them into leaving with him."
A faint beeping noise came over a portable device. Kato looked at the screen. "They're heading to the lakeside. By your father's house."
The pieces clicked. "Krieger's lake house…let's roll, Kato!"
Hans wasn't alone at the lake house. There was another man waiting for him in the foyer of the house. Tall. Grim. Cold. He had light blonde hair and ice blue eyes just like Hans. "Herr Krieger, I've brought word from the ports."
"Has everything gone according to plan, Barbarossa?" He asked as he waved Else and me inside by gunpoint. "The other cities can't proceed until Detroit is secure."
"No. The Hornet has intervened. He and his driver knocked everyone out and the cops are over there now."
I shivered and offered a prayer of thanks. Whatever Hans had planned was probably very bad.
"What?!" Hans was infuriated. "Das Schwein!"
Just then, there was a quiet beeping coming from my coat pocket. What was that sound? Hans put his hand into my pocket and pulled out Britt's watch. The Hornet…so that's why he gave it to me. It must have a tracker in it.
Unfortunately Hans was also making the same connection. A cold smile came over his face "We'll have a little surprise waiting for him when he gets here. Take Else to her room upstairs Barbarossa. I'll deal with Scanlon myself."
What?! Else hung onto me as Barbarossa began prying her away. As for me, I held onto her tightly. There was no way on Earth I was going to let that monster take her away. Else finally kicked Barbarossa in the shins. The tall man fell down, cursing under his breath.
"Run Else! Don't look back!" I screamed. Else didn't need to be told twice, she was out the door and running down the packed down snow of the driveway.
"After her!" Hans ordered Barbarossa. Barbarossa, limping, ran after Else. "And as for you, we're going to wait for the Hornet to arrive." He shoved the gun into my back. "Move!"
Please God, help Else get away. I prayed as Hans forced me down into the cellar and ripped my coat from my shoulders. And help the Hornet figure out that he's walking into a trap.
"We're getting closer." Kato said.
"I can tell. The signal is getting stronger." Hornet said from the backseat, the homing device in his hands was beeping loudly. They would be there in a few more minutes. Hold on Jack and Else. We're coming. Then he noticed something out in the snow. "What's that?"
Kato stopped the car. They saw a tiny figure struggling to run through a thick patch of snow on a hill. A much bigger figure was also struggling through the snow but it was catching up. The moon came out from behind the clouds, revealing the little figure to be…
"Else!" Hornet jumped out of the car. Kato was faster, a blur of black against the snow. Else tripped and fell down the hill. She landed in a thick patch of snow. The giant of a man finally reached her. The little girl screamed as the figure picked her up. "Let her go!" Hornet ordered.
Kato leapt up, managing to kick the figure right in the face. He was stunned. Kato punched him in the stomach before finally delivering a knockout kick to the knees. The figure fell into the snow. Hornet sprayed him with the gas to make sure he was out.
Else whimpered, looking completely dazed. Poor kid, what has she gone through? Hornet carefully picked her up. "No! Put me down, Papa! I hate you!" Else yelped, thrashing her arms and legs wildly.
There was no other way to gain her trust. "Else! Else! Else, honey, it's me!" Hornet pulled his mask down, revealing his face. "It's Britt."
Else stopped fighting, looking at him in shock. "Britt?! You're Mr. Hornet?!"
"No. I'm a friend of Mr. Hornet." Britt said, trying to do damage control. "He sent me to get you out."
"Then why are you dressed like him?" Else asked with wide blue eyes.
"I'll tell you later. Now what happened?"
"Papa has Jack! He said that she's going to hurt just as that bad man hurt Mama!" Else cried, burying her head in the Hornet's green coat.
"It's ok. We're going to get her out." Britt comforted Else before turning to Kato. "Take her to Dad's lake house. He's down at the ranch in Texas so nobody will be the wiser. Once she's safe there, get back here."
"Where are you going?" Kato asked as he took Else.
"To get Jack!"Hornet replaced his mask before going back to the Black Beauty and took out the homing device, he ran up the hill and towards the house by the driveway. It was rough going on account of the hidden patches of ice, but he didn't care. He had to get Jack out. He almost lost her twice. He wasn't going to let that third time be the one that would take her away forever.
He finally reached the house. All seemed deserted and quiet. The homing device was now screaming, he turned down the sound and put it in his pocket. That's when he heard the familiar quiet beeping from the front porch. The watch was sitting just before the front door like it had been dropped. Or set up. Hornet carefully picked it up.
Just then, the floor gave way and he fell onto a slide, landing feet first into a pile of coal.
"Hornet!" I yelled as he crashed into the coal pile. As my wrists and ankles were bound, I couldn't help him. Groaning, he checked his ankles before crawling out. "It's a trap, get out of here!"
"Too late." Hans growled, swinging a police baton at Hornet. It made contact with the back of his head. WHACK! Hornet groaned, falling down. Hans took the distraction to tie his ankles and wrists together. The poor man was still disoriented as Hans settled him in a chair. "So you survived my little death trap. That's fine. Now you're going to endure what I went through when Helga was murdered."
"Krieger…" Hornet said, struggling to remain calm. "Let Jack go. Take it out on me."
"No." Hans said, dragging me before the Hornet. "Look at her." He held my chin so I was looking right at the Hornet. "Remember this look. Because when that pig took my Helga, he tied me up too so all I could do was watch."
Jack looked at Hornet calmly. She mouthed three words. "I love you."
Krieger took a length of rope from out of his pocket tied to two short pieces of wood. A garrote, Hornet recognized. Oh God…Hornet could only watch as he wrapped the rope around her neck and twisted it. Jack writhed and jerked, her tongue sticking out. Her pupils dilated and she collapsed. Krieger let go. She gasped for air, coughing. Once she was breathing normally, Krieger began twisting the rope again, beginning the cycle over again.
"Stop, Krieger! Stop! Let her go!" Hornet begged.
"That's what I said." Krieger grunted, a sheen glowing on his forehead. "I begged him. But he only laughed." He pulled again. Jack made a choking noise before collapsing. She wasn't moving. No. Hornet tried to see any signs of breathing.
But she was still, her tongue sticking out and eyes wide in fear.
"No. It can't be that easy." Krieger said doubtfully. He kicked Jack in the ribs. She didn't react. No…Hornet looked at him angrily. The moment he gets out of that chair…"No problem. I'll just get a knife." Krieger went back upstairs.
My side burned in agony where he kicked me. I held my breath, desperate to appear dead. Once the door closed, I let out the breath and coughed.
"You're alive…" Hornet whispered in relief.
"And in pain." I joked. "We don't have much time." Thank goodness I still did my ballet stretches every morning. Trying to not make my side injury worse, I lay on my back and pulled my legs forward as far as I could.
"What are you doing?" Hornet whispered.
"Trying to get my wrists loose." I explained as I moved my arms down my back and up my legs. It was tough going, considering my side burned in agony with every move. Finally I reached my ankles and pulled free. "Yes!" I whispered, beginning to pull my wrists apart. After what seemed like forever, I got one wrist loose. I untied my ankles and freed the Hornet. "Come on. We need to get out of here. He'll be back at any moment."
"The window." Hornet pointed to a small hatch window near the floorboards. "I'll give you a boost. He linked his fingers together to provide a foothold. "On three. One. Two. Three." He pushed me up to the window. It wasn't locked so I managed to push it open.
I crawled out onto the snow. "Damn it, it's freezing!" I shivered. The moon shone down upon me. After catching my breath, I rolled on my stomach and stuck my hands back in to help the Hornet out. He had found a couple of boxes, stacking them on top of each other to help himself escape. "Ready? One. Two. Three." I said, pulling on his arms.
CRACK! Something stomped on my left arm. I felt something give way in my arm. "Ow!" I cried out. Tears burned in my eyes.
"Jack!" I heard the Hornet call out to me. He was trying to get out.
"I knew you weren't dead." Hans said coldly. He pushed me onto my back with his foot. I couldn't move, my side and arm were throbbing in agony. Moonlight flickered off the knife in his hand.
Hornet managed to crawl out of the window. He saw the knife in Krieger's hand. The madman straddled Jack, moving his knife to her throat. "Say hello to the Devil for me, Jewish pig." He prepared to slit her throat.
"No!" Hornet yelled as he lunged at Krieger. Jack wasn't going to die. Not tonight. Hornet managed to push Krieger off of Jack. He pinned Krieger down. "Jack! Run! Get out of here!"
Jack scrambled to her feet and began hobbling away.
The Hornet's command was all I needed. I headed east, towards Dan's lake house. There I'd be safe. But it was very cold that night, I didn't have my coat on and to top it off, I had a broken arm and a cracked rib to deal with.
I don't know how far I ran. All I know is that I began running up a hill before going downhill into a valley. Then it leveled off. I felt my foot go through something wet. "Aih!" I cried, the water was so cold that it burned. A shock went through me. I had stepped into a creek, the surface just barely frozen over. It was still flush from the rain we had the day before. Come on, Jack! Get moving! I hurried through it, but tripped a couple of times on hidden roots and rocks, getting soaked up to my chest. The cold water numbed the pain in my side. But I also began shivering.
I managed to reach the other side and began up the hill.
Hornet focused on getting that knife out of Krieger's hand. But the man was fighting back. His scarred face showed determination and anger. SMACK! Stars danced in the Hornet's eyes and he felt disoriented. Krieger had head butted him, using the distraction to roll over so now he had the Hornet pinned. The knife shone menacingly above. Hornet fought to regain the upper hand.
"It doesn't matter, Hornet." Krieger hissed as the Hornet felt his grip beginning to slip away. "She won't get too far away. And I'll finish what our leader has started..."
"Not if we have anything to say about it." A familiar voice joined them. Krieger looked up. A blur of black and a cry flew over the Hornet. CRACK! Krieger fell off.
"Kato." Hornet said in relief. The valet smiled and pulled the Hornet up. "Thank you." He looked at Krieger. He lay on his stomach in the snow. "Is he dead?"
Kato rolled over the body. Krieger moaned in pain. Hornet saw that he had stabbed himself in the chest by accident when Kato kicked him. The good doctor began examining Krieger. Hornet hoped he'd live, more so he could face justice. But Kato looked back and shook his head. Krieger was dead.
"End it, Hornet. Please." Krieger begged, in terrible pain.
"No." Hornet said as he took out his gas gun and sprayed him with a dose. Krieger's head sunk back into the snow.
"That won't kill him." Kato said.
"I know, but at least he won't feel anything. Or maybe the cold will take care of him first." Hornet said, pocketing his gun. "We need to follow Jack. She didn't have a coat on and it's freezing."
"At least she left us a trail to follow." Kato pointed to the trail of packed down snow leading up the hill.
I got maybe halfway up the hill before I felt like I couldn't go on anymore. The shivering and injuries proved to be too much. I stopped about halfway up, leaning against a tree trunk to rest. I knew Krieger was coming for me. But I didn't think I could go on any further.
Hornet ran up the trail. As the hill crested, he could look down onto the next valley. The trail ran down, across a creek bed in the valley and halfway up a hill. A figure was leaning on a tree trunk. Jack...and she was weakening.
I don't know why, but I fell over into the snow like a rag doll when I heard my name. Surprisingly, my side and arm didn't react. I suppose that was the result of the hypothermia setting in.
I didn't care anymore. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up warm and safe in my bed. Although I knew that if I did, I would probably never wake up again.
Footsteps came closer to me, taking care when crossing the creek. "Jack! Jack!" I felt somebody roll me gently onto my back. The Hornet was looking down on me. The Hornet. Britt.
I was shivering so badly that my teeth were clattering together.
"I'm going to knock you out, ok? I can't risk you hurting me or yourself for that matter." The Hornet said as he took his gun out of his overcoat pocket.
"Britt…Britt…" I might've been safe from Hans and Barbarossa, but I was still freezing cold.
"Hold on, Jack. You'll be seeing Mr. Reid very soon." Hornet hushed, draping his thick coat around me. "But you've got to hang on."
"No…I…want…you…Britt…" I touched his face, curling my fingertips underneath the mask. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. And if this was the last few moments…
Hornet untied the strings around the back of his face and allowed the surgical mask to fall off.
Jack smiled as her fingers traced Britt's face. "…I…love…you…"
"You too." Britt said as he fired the gas gun in her face. She coughed before losing consciousness. "It's ok, I'm going to get you out of here." He picked up Jack and made his way back.
"You knocked her out?" Kato asked as Britt carried Jack across the creek.
"She was in pain Kato. That and she was shivering so violently that she could've hurt herself or us." He explained. Jack shivered in his arms as he got her to the Black Beauty. Kato turned the car to Dan Reid's lake house.
During the short drive, Britt held the shivering Jack and thinking about what had happened. She knew that he was the Hornet. How long had she known? Was she upset? Angry? What would change now? More importantly, was she going to make it?
Kato called out to Britt when they arrived. They got Jack inside and onto Britt's bed in his room. For once, Kato took charge. "Get changed out of those wet clothes. Last thing I need is to have you come down with hypothermia too."
"Yes, doctor." Britt said, glad to get dried off. He had gotten his shoes wet while crossing the stream back and forth. Water had risen up the hems of his pants, getting soaked to his knees. He took a robe and pajamas out of his wardrobe and headed to the bathroom to change.
By the time Britt got changed into his pajamas and dried off, Kato had dressed Jack in a pair of Britt's pajamas and wrapped up in blankets. Kato's chauffeur cap, gloves and goggles sat on the nightstand. She seemed so small and fragile but wasn't shivering as violently. Kato had also bound up her arm. Krieger must've really injured it. "How is she?"
Kato finished examining her. "Krieger broke her arm and cracked a rib. She's also suffering from a mild case of hypothermia."
"But will she be ok?" Britt asked, afraid.
"As long as she's kept warm, then she'll be fine. In that case, get some blankets from the closet in the spare bedroom. I'll prepare a couple of hot water bottles." Kato allowed a smile.
"Sounds good." Britt went into the spare bedroom across the hall. He turned on the bedside lamp and opened the wardrobe doors. Then he heard a sniffling noise from under the bed. What was that? Then he remembered. In all the urgency about Jack, he and Kato had forgotten about Else. "Else? It's Britt."
"Is it safe to come out?" The little girl's voice came from under the bed.
"Yes, it's safe. The bad men are gone." Britt said gently. The little girl crawled out from under the bed. "What are you doing under there?"
"Kato told me to hide if I heard any noises." She said, looking down at her feet.
"You did a good job listening to Kato. But everything is ok now." Britt said, picking up the little girl and putting her down on the bed. "You must be really tired. Get some sleep."
"Where's Jack? Did Papa hurt her?"
"Jack is fine, she's asleep right now. You can see her in the morning." Britt said.
"And where's my Papa? Is he coming to get me?" Else asked, afraid.
Poor kid...how does one break the news? Britt remembered how his father hugged him after his mother died way back when he was twelve. He hugged Else. "Honey, I'm sorry but your Papa is dead. He hurt himself while trying to hurt me and Jack. Your Papa is gone forever and not coming back."
Else shook her head. It was clear she didn't really understand what the words really meant. "Is he in Heaven with Mama then?"
Britt sighed, unsure of what to say. Else was too small to understand what Krieger had tried to do. But he didn't want her to live with a lie. Else looked up at him expectantly. "I don't know, honey. That's up to God." Else simply leaned her head against his chest. Britt stroked her hair until she fell asleep, then tucked her into bed.
Britt came back with the blankets around the same time Kato returned with the water bottles. "Where's Else?" The valet asked.
"In the spare bedroom, asleep. She's been through enough for a lifetime."
"What'll happen to her?" Kato asked as he tucked the water bottles around Jack.
"If I remember correctly, Jack told me that Hans was her only family."
"She'll have to go back to that hateful place?" Kato asked.
"No Kato. Not if Jack and I have anything to say about it." Britt said it. He had made up his mind about what he wanted to do. It was strange how everything could change in the span of a few months. Back when he met Jack at Club of the World, he was content to play the bored playboy forever. Now...everything had changed. Jack and Else brought something to his life that being the Hornet or the playboy hadn't brought. Now he was going to take them into his life. And it didn't bother him, not one bit.
Now he had to wait for Jack to wake up.
Britt sent Kato to bed but stayed awake by Jack. He trusted Kato's words, but he kept an eye out in case she took a turn for the worse. Every hour or so, he took her temperature. It slowly rose and her shivering decreased. By eight or so that morning, her temperature was back to normal and she was sleeping peacefully. He decided to call Frank at the hospital. He had to make sure that not only he was ok and to let him know Jack was ok but to ask him a question.
"Britt! Where the hell have you been?!" Frank asked when the line connected to his hospital room. "We've been worried sick! Especially with news coming down about a mass arrest of rioters at the piers!"
"It's a very long story, Frank." Britt said when he got the hearing in his ear back. "But Jack and Else are safe now, sound asleep."
"Dead. He killed himself by accident when he tried to kill Jack and me last night."
"It's over then." Frank sighed in relief. "Although I'm worried. What will happen if that maniac leader of theirs comes to power?" Britt thought of the contents of the secret room and shuddered. He decided to not say anything until later, after everything had calmed down. "Have you gotten any sleep?"
"No, I was up thinking. That's all." Britt got nervous. He didn't know why. Frank knew that he cared about Jack and that Jack cared about him. He also knew that Britt would do his best to make Jack and Else happy. So why was he still nervous?
Now or never. Britt took a deep breath. "Jack. I almost lost her last night and never want to again. I love her, Frank and I want to marry her."
"Have you asked her yet?" Frank asked.
"When she wakes up, I will. I thought I'd ask you first."
Frank laughed. "Britt, why do you have to get my permission? I gladly give you my blessing. Promise me though that you'll make her happy."
"I can do that." Britt was relieved. He said goodbye to Frank and hung up before turning to Jack. She was sleeping peacefully, her chest slowly rising and falling. That reminded him of how tired he was. Maybe he should lie down for a bit. Jack was out of danger. He lay down next to Jack, intending to rest his eyes for a few minutes.
The first thing I remembered hearing was the sound of birds singing. Sunlight fell over my face, prompting me to wake up. Where was I? I didn't recognize the room. I was dressed in pajamas a size too big and bundled up with blankets, surrounded by hot water bottles. A familiar ticking noise came from the nightstand next to me. It was Britt's watch, the sunlight reflecting off of the Texas Rangers badge. Everything came back to me in a blur. The last thing I could remember was Britt putting me to sleep with the Hornet gas. Where was Britt?
A moan next to me answered my question. Britt lay on his stomach next to me. He was dressed in a burgundy red robe over pajamas, wearing slippers. There was something so peaceful about his sleeping face. I could get used to waking up to this. Wait a minute...did I really think that? And the weird thing was that the thought was actually pleasant to think. Was I really ready to spend the rest of my life with Britt Reid?
He yawned and woke up, smiling when he saw me. "Morning Sleeping Beauty."
"Hey. Where are we?" I asked as Britt sat up and stretched out.
"Dad's lake house. Can you please check my pocket watch and tell me what time it is?"
I did as he asked. "Ten past eleven."
"Ok, so I've had a few hours of sleep. Not bad." Britt lay back down, turning on his side so he was facing me. "How are you feeling?"
"Still a little chilly. And my side and arm hurt."
"Krieger broke your arm and cracked your rib. You were lucky."
"I break an arm twice in one year. Just my luck. Where's Hans?" I thought of that cold smile.
"Dead. He won't be bothering us or Else anymore."
I sighed, stretching out. "As bad as he hurt us, I'm actually hoping he'll find some peace." I had nothing but sympathy for Hans Krieger. While I detested what he did, I still remembered he did everything he did because of Helga's murder. What was he like before Helga died? Would he be different if she were still alive?
Britt paused. It was clear he didn't have the same sympathies as I did. "But that's in the past. We've got more important things to worry about." He said as he took my hands.
"Like Else." That poor girl was all alone. There was nothing back for her in Germany, except those people who shared Hans' beliefs. I didn't want her to endure any more of that. I wanted to keep her safe and protected forever. "Britt, I'm not letting her go back to Germany. But I'm a single woman in her early twenties. What chance do I have in the courts?"
"Well, if you marry a successful newspaperman, then Else has a chance to stay with us. And I will be the happiest man in the world." I look at him, confused. "Marry me, Jack." He asked me seriously. What...? Wasn't this what I wanted? I love him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. But...there was something I had to know. "What's wrong, Jack?"
"I need to know that you're marrying me for me and not purely for Else's sake. I can't force Else to endure a loveless marriage. I love you so much Britt. You can't believe how happy I was to see you come for me last night. And how proud I am of you for being the Green Hornet..."
"When did you figure that out?" Britt asked.
"I've known since the night at the hospital, when you knew to avoid my broken arm. I wasn't sure until I heard your pocket watch. I didn't say anything because I wanted you to tell me when you were ready."
"First off, I'm glad that you know. I wanted to tell you back at the penthouse but got nervous. Second, back to your question. Jack, I do want to marry you for you. As you said, you have no idea how worried I was for you last night and how glad I was to see you. So I'll ask you again. Will you marry me?"
I had my answer. "Yes. I'll marry you, Britt Reid."
"Thank you, Jack Scanlon." We leaned in to kiss.
"Jack! Britt!" Something jumped onto the bed. Britt looked down to see Else bouncing her way up the bed. "You're awake!" She hugged Jack tightly.
"Else! Else! Not so tight!" Jack yelped.
"Jack hurt her side and arm last night." Britt said, gently pulling Else away from Jack.
"I'm sorry!" Else looked up at Jack apologetically. "Can I kiss it and make it all better?"
"That would be nice." Jack said. Else kissed her side and bandaged arm. "Thank you, honey. That feels much better."
"So is it true?! Are you going to marry Jack, Britt?!" Else asked.
"Yep, it's true." Jack said, looking at Britt. She looked so pretty with her curly short black hair and bright blue eyes.
"And Else, would you like to live with us once we get married?" Britt asked.
"Yes! I would love to! And we're going to live happily ever after?" Else was ecstatic.
"Yes." Britt smiled at Jack. "I guess you can say that." He kissed her.
A/N: I can't believe that this story is finally over…sniff* This one gave me so much trouble and I'm sorry for the fluffy stuff at the end. I thought Else deserved a happy ending. I have plans for more Jack and Britt stories. That is, if anybody else wants them.