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Xcuse me?


(Catch up, here)

It feels like we’ve been here, in this incredibly small room, for a least a decade. I glance at a small clock on a side table. It’s been about six hours and the sun’s starting to rise outside. Tracy has been hanging back by the door the entire time. Dick’s pacing back and forth. I’ve been trying to rack my brain for a way out of this situation, but it’s not looking good. And everyone around me is too possibly strong and calm. Like they’ve been through this thing before. Grampy and Ruthy, probably. But Barrett’s just overly passive, I think. Finally, Dick says something. “We’ve been looking for you for a long time.” “Well, I’ve been right here for the past—,” Grampy starts “Do you know what it’s done to the organization, your disappearance? We need you to come back. You don’t have an option.” “That’s ridiculous,” I say. Grampy shakes his head at me ever so slightly. “You’re treating this like it’s a life or death situation. Why can’t you just forget about him and let him go?” “It is a life or death of situation, little girl.” Dick sneers at me. “No, finding the cure to HIV or cancer is a life or death situation. Brining back and old man against his will is just mean and wrong.” Dick offers me a small, courtesy laugh. “You don’t know anything. But that doesn’t really surprise me. Abel’s always been pretty good at keeping a secret.” He turns to Grampy. “Now, are you going to come willingly? Or do we have to force you?” “The organization isn’t my life anymore,” Grampy says. Ruthy rests her hand on his arm. “I’ve tried to shield my family from it, but you still got to Junebug. I’m not givin’ the organization anymore. Besides, it sounds like you guys have done a pretty good job without me there.” “I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s all been rainbows and sunshine, Abel. Because it hasn’t. We’ve managed to pick up and continue business as usual, but it’s not the same. You need to come back.” “Listen,” Grampy says in his calm tone that tells you you’d better watch out. “You’re young, you probably have no clue about how things used to be—” There’s a loud bang that cuts off the rest of Grampy’s statement and Tracy goes flying across the room. Our heads snap to the door. Jack’s standing in the doorway, his shoulder down, like he just rammed the wood from its hinges. He races inside the room and slams the door. His foot lands on Tracy’s back and he has a gun pointed at Dick. “You,” Dick snarls. “Sit. Down,” Jack says, barely breathing hard. I’ve never seen my brother in this zone before. Eyes cold and forward. I don’t know why, but right now I’m convinced he’s a lethal machine capable of anything. “Jack?” I say, confused beyond all measure now. “What are you doing here?” “Are you serious, sis? After that phone call earlier, I knew I had to come and clean up this mess.” He doesn’t look at me while he speaks, his eyes still trained on Dick. “Wow, thanks for your vote of confidence, brother.” I cross my arms over my chest. “You got Jack, too?” Grampy says. His voice is hardening and I’m glad I’m not the source. Jack turns his head and looks at Grampy, seeing everyone in the room for the first time. “Hi, Gramps. You must be Ruthy,” he says when his eyes find her. Then they settle on Barrett and he freezes. His eyes go wide and his face drains of color. His gun hand drops to his side. “What’s he doing here?” Jack asks in an almost whisper. “What? Who?” I say. “Barrett? He’s Grampy’s nurse.” Jack tries to smile, but it looks painful. “June, that’s not Grampy’s nurse.” “What are you talking about? I’ve seen him for the past year, Jack, I think I’d know he’s Grampy’s nurse.” Barrett stands up, then. He’s been silent the entire time. “Sit down,” he says in a cool voice. Jack drops into the sofa next to me. “June, I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced.” He stretches out his arm, engulfing my hand in his. “I’m Barrett, head of the organization.” “Excuse me?” I manage to get out. Jack leans in next to me. “Told you so.”



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