I had gone to my apartment after my outing with Roy and Frank. My mind was chewing at the bit, not entirely from acknowledging that Roy was off limits for the time being, but oddly enough about Kai.
"You and I will go to the Hanor...tomorrow at 8PM."
It was strange...the way he said it. Mainly because he knew very well that my role as his DL meant that I accompanied him wherever he went. So, I would obviously be with him at the Hanor. Or did he mean for the two of us to go alone. If so, then why? Also, how could I justify that in this day and time. Every protectee, low or high level, is a potential target. Even with my background, I could not clear leaving agents behind. In case something went down, I would at least need to have other agents in the area.
It bugged me.
I checked the time; it was one in the morning. Speaking of justifiable, I knew it wasn't a good time to call Kai: but something told me he wasn't asleep. I took out my cell, swiped to his contact, neatly labeled Protectee Ex, and called.
No answer, I'll let it slide.
The noticeable click on the other end, followed by muffled silence almost caught me off guard. I suppose I wasn't expecting him to answer. Hell, we haven't talked like this, meaning over a phone, in a long time. The last time was the day I called him on the pay phone blocks away from the boy's home.
"Sir," I started, to break the silence.
Due to his lack of response, I continued. "When you mentioned going to the Hanor at 2000 hours today, did you mean for us to go without post standers. Or did you―"
"Isn't there some sort of rule with the Secret Service to not wake your guy up unless it's an emergency? Clearly this isn't."
That voice, it was so distinctive. Charles? It had to be, but just now he reminded me of someone else. The boy that stood over my bloodied body during my senior year. Those words...were almost all too similar.
Clearly this isn't....what was it he said?
"You're boyfriend? Clearly this isn't what he thinks."
That was it. The way he accented the "ly" was almost identical to Charles. It shook me, finding myself speechless. Even now, even as the man I have become, that ravenous cackle of the demon who destroyed my youth haunts me till this day.
"Who...who is it?" I heard Kai's voice, which snapped me out of my trance.
What the fuck was I doing? It was a coincidence. Obviously Charles cannot be the same person as the boy back then. He had short black hair with intense orange eyes. Charles is blonde, his eyes are an intense blue. So nothing about them, outside of their strange pronunciation, is the same. There were always contacts...hair dye...quit it, Max. You're not the paranoid type.
"Sir, I apologize for the late call. I just―"
"Fuck off, Max. If Kai told you to come alone, then be a good boy and figure it out."
I clenched my phone, feeling the case buckle within my grasp. The bastard hung up on me. That was enough for me to get my mind off of my past and focus on the present.
Without a proper answer, I grabbed the keys to my Harley VRSCDX Night Rod Special and my light leather jacket and headed out the door. I could have asked one of the residence security agents to go and survey the Hanor since the morning residence security doesn't usually get pulled for motorcade assignments until around 0900. But, ultimately, it fell under my responsibility to review and approve the security and plan for the site. It didn't help that my agitation was hurling me onto the streets of Virginia, but the unanswered questions, the similarity in Charles voice, coupled with the "good boy" bullshit thrown in my direction, only heightened my adrenaline. I pulled back on the throttle, swerving in and out of the vehicles which spotted the road ahead. Shifting, I accelerated: letting the world blur around me.
"Honestly, sometimes I wonder..."
I relaxed the throttle, coming up on Row Street. My motorcycle purred to a halt, as I pushed out the kick stand: watching the well-dressed boys crowd around the entrance of the Hanor. It only took a second for one of them to notice me. He annoyingly threw his cigarette butt into a bush and stuck his hands in his pockets. In that moment, I caught a glimpse of the Viper tattoo that chased down to his thumb: a trademark of the Manor Gang.
"...how I got myself into this mess."
The gangster stopped a foot away from me, his head was cocked to one side. He had striking red hair and cold blue eyes. His teeth were so white that they glinted in the moonlight. My eyes widened, remembering when I took a beating from him years ago.
"Shit, he was right," the man chuckled, "you have changed."
Ian. That was his name. He was one of the three boys who attacked and framed me in high school. All because I dared to love...dared to rid myself of my cage and dream of a life which was unobtainable. I was a fool...and that foolishness has bit me in the ass ever since I took this job. But now, I feel like this is more than just a coincidence.
I got off my motorcycle, no longer afraid of the man who stood inches below me.
"Yes," I said, cracking my neck. "Yes, I have."
Still, in the heat of the moment, finally rolling full circle from where my life crumbled to infinite darkness, one puzzle piece remains.
What does Kai have to do with this?