Author's note: Hi readers! I just wanted to address a few things. First, I address reviews through private messages because I have no idea how to comment on the reviews any other way. I didn't want anyone to think that I ignore them completely. I really do appreciate them all! Second, I made a small mistake. I just finished rereading the manga and realized there was a character (an awesome character at that) referred to as the Doctor. Therefore, the doctor in this story has been renamed the Professor from this point on. No, the Black Cat Doctor and this Doctor/Professor were not the same or similar at all. It was just a slip up on my part. Third, Train, Rinslet, Janos, and others WILL start popping up after this chapter. Fourth, starting around chapter 10 when more details have been revealed, I'm going to have a character bios of all my inserted characters similar to the manga. Uhh...I think that's about all I needed cover! On to the chapter.
Alex hated to admit that Robin was right about Sven being trustworthy, but maybe the kid was on to something. Even if she managed to get the last hit in their little confrontation, Sven was the victor. He had the opportunity to break or at the least bruise her arm while she was in his hold before she countered but he did not. True to his word, he did not make a move to fight or harm her. At some point during their escape, she had subconsciously made the decision not to kill him. However, now his gift just barely gave her encouragement to feed him enough information to stand a fighting chance.
During the entire ride back, she reflected on the phone call. The Professor was slowly attempting to drive her crazy. Not only was the organization after her, he added sweepers to the mix. She was already on guard 24/7, but now...Now she didn't know what she was supposed to do. Members of the organization were limited to when they could strike, but sweepers were wild cards. It felt as though she was literally standing against an army with her back to the wall. It was a wall she couldn't even climb to escape because Robin stood behind. Why did life have to be so hard?
On the brighter side, their safe house was small yet nice. The two story building on the outskirts of the city would be difficult to find especially with the car hidden in a closed garage. The downstairs consisted of a kitchen and sitting area while the upstairs had three small bedrooms. She noticed that rather than offering her and Robin the third room, Sven suggested his own. While a bed would have been nice, she insisted that they take the couch downstairs instead. If anything went down while during their stay, she would have preferred running out the door rather than jumping with Robin from the second floor.
She was somewhat surprised that they were pretty normal. Eve spent her time reading while Sven alternated between working underneath the hood of their car and tinkering with his briefcase or rather his attaché. It was definitely impressive and suited his personality just based on the weaponry inside that he showed her. She actually wouldn't have minded getting her hands on something like that. To add to his good guy vibe, he was actually a great cook. At Robin's request, he prepared omelets for dinner and even went so far as to add a ketchup smiley face to hers. They really were too nice to be involved in her life.
By 10 pm, the excitement of the day had officially worn Robin out. Within minutes after her shower, she was tucked in and asleep. Alex had showered as well and had settled on the floor at Robin's feet with her back resting on the couch. She had promised Sven an explanation, but seeing as he hadn't asked, she was beginning to think that maybe it was best that they be kept in the dark. Around 1 am, after she had consumed half of her first energy drink, the house finally went silent. She listened for another twenty minutes to make sure that everyone was asleep and eased her sneakers back on. Her plan was simple. Once she got his car started, she would grab Robin and disappear before anyone knew what happened. On the back of the math sheet Robin worked on earlier, she scribbled a quick note: I'll try my best to convince them that you don't know anything but keep your guard up. Thanks for the meal.
She snagged Sven's keys from the kitchen table along with her bag and crept outside. Guilt ate her conscious, but stealing his car was the right thing to do. She would even leave a tip later on so that he could get it back. Removing the license plate was easy enough, but starting the car proved to be an entirely different matter. Sven had done it so easily earlier, but it only stalled for her. "Are you kidding me..." She mumbled as she alternated between trying to start it and checking to make sure no one was coming. After the seventh failure, frustration had gotten the best of her and her attention was devoted entirely to her task.
"You have an odd way of showing gratitude."
Sven's sudden appearance nearly caused her to jump out of her skin. He still had on his suit pants and shirt, but he had discarded his jacket. So he hadn't been asleep after all? "You were waiting to see what I was going to do." She accused as she stepped from the car and leaned back against it with her arms crossed over her chest.
"You're not going to make me feel like the bad guy. YOU were the one stealing MY car." He retorted as he waved her note in her face, but Alex only scoffed.
"I was going to get it back to you. Besides, you said you wanted to help."
Alex could tell he was close to losing his temper by the way his good eye twitched. Did the gentleman have a breaking point? "Inside. Now." Based on that response between gritted teeth, obviously not.
"Only if you ask me nicely."
"Fine. You can stay out here," was his curt response as he turned to go back inside.
Her gut told her that he was actually serious with that threat. "Wait. I'm sorry. I tend to get defensive when I'm flustered."
"Yeah. My sore nose told me that." He responded without even turning around, but at least he didn't close the door behind him which Alex took as a sign that she was indeed welcomed inside.
Rather than going back to his room, Sven had gone into the kitchen and sat at the table. He nodded to the chair opposite of him. "Ready to talk?"
"Alright. You first. What happened to your eye?" She asked as she turned the chair in order to straddle it.
"Sorry, but I'd prefer to know your real name before I give out my life story. Is Alex short for something?"
Her real name was a fair enough question. "I've gone by Alex for so long that it might as well be my real name. I never had a need for a last name. What about you?"
"Sven Vollfied. How old are you?"
"Now you're getting personal. I'm closer to twenty-three than twenty-two at this point." She hesitated with that question, but there had to be thousands of women named Alex in the world who were twenty-two years old. "If your next question is about Robin, she's six. She's not my daughter either."
"I didn't think she was. Her hair's an interesting color."
"Yeah. I let her pick her hair dye when we ran, and she wanted this really bright blue at first, but I talked her into something that would almost pass for black." Thinking back, perhaps that was not the best idea she ever had. They needed to blend in as much as possible.
"Does that mean you're not naturally a red-head?"
"Is your hair naturally green?"
"So you don't like talking about your hair. Point noted." He said as he flicked his ash into the tray. "To answer your earlier question, I lost my eye years ago when I was with the IBI. I was ambushed, and my old partner had to rescue me. I made it out, but he didn't."
She wasn't expecting a story like that behind his eye. She thought maybe he lost it in a car accident or a similar unfortunate event. The IBI part was troubling, but even they would not have the resources to find her. At least, she hoped they wouldn't. "Wow. Now my story doesn't seem nearly as bad. You should be old enough to remember about...20 years ago when there was an increase in the number of mistrials in high profile cases. Dozens of millionaires and influential people were getting away with all types of crimes ranging from embezzlement and murder. It was obvious they were guilty, but juries were tainted, witnesses went missing...It was mess. This one guy, I call him Professor...Well, he has a PhD or something like that in neuroscience. Anyway, he decided that enough was enough. He created an organization whose goal was to do what the courts didn't. If the juries failed to send them to the chair, the organization finished the job. The number one rule was not to get caught or leave any traces behind." Alex crossed her arms over the back of the chair and rested her chin on top of it. The whole experience was strange. She never thought she would be talking to anyone about the Professor or the organization. It was all information she was prepared to take to the grave.
"So an organization of assassins taking the law into their own hands."
"No. They're supposed to be renegades and vigilantes." They were not assassins. At least they weren't supposed to be assassins. Assassins were murderers.
"Alex," he discarded his cigarette in the tray in order to lean forward to look her in the eye. "If this organization had anything to do with Langston's death, they're assassins. You saw the video."
"You don't understand. Assassins are awful people that kill for money and pleasure. The organization kills to right wrongs." She hissed as she shook her head.
"You said it yourself that Langston was assassinated. Even if you hadn't, why are you running from them? Sounds like you respect them."
Damn him for being so perceptive. "I...I don't agree with the methods the Professor's using now. He wanted to drag Robin into the organization, and she isn't cut out for this lifestyle. She's a good kid, you know? I'm just trying to get her a normal life" Now that Robin had become the topic of conversation, Alex leaned back to make sure Robin was still on the couch asleep. She assumed so because Robin had yet to move. That was good. Robin probably hadn't slept comfortably in days. "Your turn to share. What's the deal with Eve? Normal kids don't have transforming hands." She asked as she resumed her earlier position.
"She was a bio weapon being controlled by a crime lord name Torneo." She knew he wanted to, but Sven didn't press her for more information about Robin's involvement. "She can transform her entire body because of nanomachines. He wanted to use her as a killing machine, but she didn't want that life. She actually almost killed me before, but she cried while doing it. I couldn't just abandon her after that. She's the reason why we operate on a no-killing basis." During his explanation, Alex couldn't help but notice how his face softened. Eve must have meant a lot to him. "I have two more questions for you. Were those guys from earlier a part of the organization?"
That was a good question that up until her phone call with the professor, she would have answered in the affirmative. "I didn't recognize them, but I always assumed so. Now that I think about, their tactics are strange because the organization doesn't do visible attacks. I guess they could just as easily be sweepers. What are you thinking?"
"Their weapons weren't made for killing. Stun batons are designed to stun, so my guess is that your professor wants either you or Robin dragged back alive."
Alex nodded in agreement at his assessment. "I don't know what he's thinking. Sometimes it feels like he wants to kill Robin to give me no other option but to return. Other times like now with the bounty specifically on Robin, it feels as if he wants to snatch her away to lure me back. I won't let him have either of those options. Anyway, I'm almost at my conversation quota for the night. What was your second question?"
"What was your role in the organization?"
Alex exhaled slowly as she stood. Of course he would wait until the end to get to the most important question. "I was the original that he modeled all the others after. Goodnight." She didn't respond until she had reached the door to avoid seeing his reaction.
Like before, she settled back on the floor and slouched back to get as comfortable as possible. She could risk brief naps, but she had barely closed her eyes before Sven knelt down in front of her.
"I know there's a lot that you left out, but there's also a lot that you're afraid to admit. You didn't run just because of Robin. There's at least a small part of you that knows that organization is wrong. No matter what you did in the past, we'll help as long as you don't want to return." He whispered before squeezing her knee and going upstairs, presumably to his room.
"As long as I don't want to return..." She repeated softly to herself. She had not thought that far ahead into the future. She knew she wouldn't let Robin go back, but what would she do once her primary reason for running was gone? Obviously she wouldn't be going to sleep with all the questions running through her mind, but the only thing she knew for sure was that she was starting to believe him.