Once again I woke up drenched in sweat and breathing hard. The memories depriving me of sleep and of normal dreams. I could still feel every slash of the knife then every pull of the stitches those bastards used to pull my skin back together. Never in my life had I had to deal with that type of pain. The marine corps had prepared me to only an extent.
Slowly I got out of bed and padded into the bathroom. I stepping into the shower and let the cold water blast the sweat off of me. The water gently turned to hot so I cleaned myself and thought of my schedule. I was to be at Molly's school at three to pick her up to take to Alison's new job, so that she would have a better day. I towel dried off and threw on a black t-shirt and jeans that I have worn hole in the knees from maintenance for my neighbors.
When we all moved back up here before Alison, I picked a place close to her home instead an apartment like the others did. Lucas and Jake were sharing a condo in the city, and Jason had his own penthouse provided by work. Jason was the only one that switched his Career completely. He was now a high and mighty business tycoon. Jake was a coach for the local men's volleyball team at the local high school. Lucas was more like me. Just take odd jobs around him, and only ever so often stopping in at the Base to work on training the recruits.
Eventually I made it downstairs and winced at the time. It was only three in the morning. I still had twelve hours until I had to get Molly since I wasn’t dropping her off. One of the others was doing that instead. Molly. God I loved that little girl. She is so smart. She is already in first grade for only being five years old. Granted it didn't help that she had a December birthday, but she also acted a year or two older than her age which surprised the hell out of my brothers and I. A pang of hurt ran across my chest from what Alison lost. Anthony. We all were so hard on him to start with, but he took it and proved to us that he would never hurt Alison, especially when Molly had come into the picture. Boy, did he spoil those two women. I chuckled at the thought.
The pings of my email going off made me put my coffee down and go to my desk. Looking at the main screen of the six screen setup I had, I opened the email.
"Lucas. What a surprise." I murmured.
Have fun with A&M 2day. There will be a surprise waiting for you there.
I scowled at the message. "What in the hell does that mean?" I growled.
I pushed away from the computer and sighed an annoyed breath. Pain in my ass. I opened my frustrated eyes and looked at my desk.
Six computer monitors sat on it. Two rows of three. All top quality. All a reminder of why I was tortured after being kidnapped near the border of Diyala. My company including my brothers, were ambushed. They were ambushed because of my knowledge. Someone had leaked my skill for the damn computers. I knew too much information on all the black ops missions and they wanted it.
Shaking my head of the memory I shut off the offensive computers and walked to my library. To curb my need for knowledge, I have focused more on the paperback knowledge instead of hacking, planning, analyzing, or creations of programs that the government is still trying to get from me. Never in this lifetime will they get my programs. They were too dangerous and were locked in a safe that required a number code to unlock the first stage. Then it needed my retinal scan and fingerprint. I wasn't stupid. No one was ever going to get that information. It would change the way of gaining information. I have never used it. The virus would tear a system to shreds or if attacked it would learn from its attacker, retaliate and then scrap the system before it stole all the information on the system.
I made a decision to make sure that no one knew that it still existed. Everyone I have ever contacted thinks it is destroyed. Especially after I was captured and tortured. I would be dead if it wasn't for my brothers getting a recon team together and saving my ass.
Absently I rubbed the scar running down the right side of my torso, and then the scar on my left leg. Both throbbed with a reminding pain that I didn't leave there the same man that I went in as. Before I was an easy going guy that loved kicking ass on computers; I was the top student in my IT class. I was able to hack into my teacher’s computer and plant a bug faster than the others could, while I still was able to steal the required information, then delete it so the others couldn't get it. After I had it on a flash drive, I was able to detonate the virus I left in the instructor's computer. So that every other computer that tried to steal the fake information from the computer would in return have their computers give them the blue screen of death with my codes on them say I won. During that testing period I was satisfied when I was done in under a minute where as all the others groaned at the two minute mark. The instructor then had them attack my computer but all it did was overload their computers and make them automatically shut down on their own. Of course I passed with flying colors.
Slowly I came out of my memories and noticed that it was only noon, so I got up and made a late breakfast/ lunch. Nothing special just a sandwich and soup. I couldn't cook to save my life, MREs were my life, and in return I grew to take what I got and not question it. Well except Alison's food.
"Damn that girl can cook." I mumbled through a mouth full of sandwich. While finished my drink, my eyes wandered to the computer again, and damn it if it didn't call to me like a siren call. Groaning I finished the sandwich and plopped down into the custom made chair while I turned the system on.
I logged into my office server and then onto the chat service for the other IT guys that are good friends of mine. My closest friend and my prior teacher pinged automatically, making me snort at his attention to the chat instead of work.
Jenson: Hey dude! Haven't seen you on here in awhile!
Willow: Aren't you supposed to be working?
Jenson: Nah, just testing the new recruits, none have been able to get through my walls as fast as you did.
Willow: R any getting through? Or did you 'Borrow' my one of my codes to put up walls.
Jenson: Don’t shit with me. This is the fucking advanced class; I'm not going easy on them. You got lucky as a damn newbie to get through the walls I had put up.
Willow: Those weren't walls, they were firewalls that I doused with a simple water.
Jenson: Pansy my ass, it's the two minute mark and only one has gotten into the system… correction… my virus just shut their computer off.
Jenson: No, Teacher. They need to be the best of the best if they want to be able to even get close to your legend.
Willow: Any prospects?
Jenson: No, Not in this class, but there is a few day old newbie in a different class that has some potential.
Willow: if you need a stronger test let me know and I will help you make one. For now I need to get ready to pick up my niece and see A.
Jenson: ….How is she?
Willow: Not good. Not bad…. But from what Lucas told me the other day, she is looking forward to going to work again as a distraction, but her depression lingers so close to the front of her mind, that I can see her slip away sometimes when she thinks I'm not looking.
Jenson: That bad?
Willow: Yea, and none of us know what to do. She won’t see a therapist, or anyone. So we are just trying to make sure that Molly doesn't notice.
Jenson: Good luck with that. I swear that child is smarter than some of these recruits.
Willow:….. She is. Bye.
I turned off my computers again and sat back in my chair looking at the black blank screens. I was just pulling Greg's leg about Molly being smarter that those recruits. She isn't smarter computer wise, but give the girl a situation and she would tell you all the logical ways to approach it. That and the little twerp is a master at card games.
Sighing I went to my treadmill and set it to seven miles an hour and filled the remaining time in with a run and music to keep my mind clear. I have found myself daydreaming about that small room when I sit still and only listen to the sounds around me. So music and movement keep my mind focused on everything else but my own mind.
After a while I hopped off and saw that I had run fifteen miles in the two and a half hour time span I had. A quick rinse in the shower and I put on another black t-shirt that hugged my skin and another pair of pants that weren't as ripped at the knees, but still were worn there. I put on my military boots and my Oakley glass and headed out the door. My security system would activate once I walked a foot away. Again it was top notch and I had a different number code for the keypad on the handle. The walls were reinforced with steel, and the windows bullet proof. A little Paranoid? My subconscious snipped, I just snarled back at it. Never again will I underestimate anyone.
I got in my black Dodge challenger and headed for Molly's private school. The ride wasn't silent since I had a book on CD playing. Alison had gotten it for me. Fifty Shades of Grey I think. She said it would lighten me up. I wasn't that far into it so I listened to it while I waited in the pickup line at the school. Suddenly the words that were spoken flooded my mind and clicked with recognition at the same time Molly started for the car. I ejected the CD and decided to listen to it in private, even though I was curious now about this book.
"Hi Uncle Luke!" Molly beamed while she climbed into my car and buckled into her booster seat.
"Hey squirt!" I smiled back at her. She really did brighten up my day. Molly was the only thing that did get me smiling now a day. "You ready to go see your mom at her new job?"
"Yes!" She squealed. I winced and wondered how to package that noise and use it against people.
I chuckled at her and turned on radio Disney for her. Hiding my groan when Hannah Montana came on and Molly let out another quieter squeal.
The ride couldn't feel any longer. Finally we pulled up and parked in one of the front stalls. Molly was eager but I was able to hold her back with a hand. That quickly faded when we walked through the open garage doors. Molly bolted inside.
"Mommy!" she screamed making the garage echo.
"Baby Girl!" I heard Alison say relieved and joyfully. I walked between the fire trucks as I listened. "Where's your Uncle Luke?"
"Right here." I said stepped out from walking between the trucks. I quickly took in the area. Four engines, two ambulances, a few smaller units, and a back wall full of open lockers with gear ready to go. I recognized that there were two figures getting up to the table before I was hugging Alison close.
"Hey Luke!" She sounded so happy to see me. "How was she this morning?"
"An angel like aways." I Kissed Molly on the cheek and smiled down at her, she was soaking up me calling her an angel. I didn’t tell Alison that one of the others dropped her off, but what she didn’t know didn’t hurt her. Plus i knew Molly would have my back.
"So how was your first day back sis?" I stared into her eyes and watched her reactions. She knew I hated it when she lied.
"Okay. Only one call. Girl got hit with her infant in the back."
"She okay?" I couldn't imagine Molly and her being in an accident today, let alone as Molly as a baby.
"Yea, few scratches and bruises, but little Adam was perfect and mad about the noise." I enjoyed the smiled she gave when she spoke of the infant. Molly scrambled down Alison's leg and I watched as she tensed.
"Mommy who are they?" she whispered. I was already tense and aware that the two at the table had approached.
"Oh sorry that is Miss Tiffany and Shane. Both are my new friends." she spoke down to Molly. I watched the redhead crouch down in front of Molly.
"Hi Molly. Your Mommy has told me a lot about you."
"Thank you Aunt Tiffany." Molly beamed again. A black hair figure crouched down where Tiffany had been.
"Well aren't you the prettiest little girl I have ever met." the man spoke with such a rough voice that I wondered what happened to make it that way, and why it made my stomach clench a little.
"Thank you. I get it from my Mommy."
"That's very True." The man rose, and suddenly I felt small for the first time, but my mind couldn't focus. Those eyes. So unnerving how green they were and how familiar they seemed. Immediately I felt like he could see every pain I felt just standing still and then every horrible thing that was done to me.
"Hi, I'm Shane Caudwell. Ali here has told us all about her brothers." Shane stuck out his hand and I numbly shook it. What woke me up though was the firm grip that came from those soft hands. Immediately I felt some of the pain ease in my side and leg and something else built in me. His eyes though, were seeing so deep that I couldn't stop my façade from breaking as I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. The voice that came out of my mouth wasn't mine; I didn't recognize the timidness of it.
"Luke Willow." I mumbled as I watched his luscious lips turn up a little bit more from that charming smile as his hand tightened on mine as his thumb started to rub the back of my hand. Alarms were going off in my head but I couldn't unlock myself from that gaze. Absently I heard Alison talking but I didn't register it until that blasted name clicked my cognitive memory back in place.
"Do you remember Brad and Nick Clearwater?" I snatched my hand out of Shane's grip and balled my fists as I glared at Alison.
"Hel-" I glanced at Molly and found a better word. "I mean which one of us wouldn't forget?"
"Molly, do mommy a favor and play with Miss Tiffany while Uncle Luke and I go see some old friends."
"Okay Mommy." Molly took Tiffany's hand and went back to the table. I followed Alison, very aware that Shane was following as well. His words confirmed it and confused me.
"Oh I've got to see this. Earlier was nice, but this will be better." he laughed. I found myself analyzing the laugh and noticing I liked it. It suited him. Realizing what I was doing I shook my head and continued to focus on my target. Clearwaters. My mind growled.
Alison led us down a hallway then down a set of stairs. That hallway led us shortly to an archway that video games and a pool table could easily be heard as we got closer. We stood in the opening and I felt Shane brush by as he went to the other side of the room.
"Let's see how long it takes them to notice you." Alison whispered to me. I glared at the figures playing pool.
After a few minutes Brad finally moved to the other table and bent to aim. I stared him down, and like he could sense me his eyes finally looked up. A satisfying grin took my lips as his features paled.