It seems simple, "deliver this package to the warehouse, it's that easy."
Of course, it's never simple. Especially in the middle of a harsh winter night. People get jumped, packages get looted, people get arrested by peacekeepers and executed or worse. Honestly, now delivering packages can't even be done by just one person anymore, it has to be two. And who better to go with than Fox?
A brother, not by something as irrelevant as blood, but in personality and family. I nod towards him, smiling to him for reassurance. "I'll carry it, and you just help me look out for anyone who might be lurking about."
Wouldn't be the first time someone's attacked someone in the middle of the night.
I nod. "We'll be fine, I'll make sure of that. Just think of it as an errand."
Maybe it's the fact that Quincy kind of scares the shit out of me sometimes or maybe it's because the job is too damn easy bu tI know for a fact that I'm going to fuck this up for myself somehow.
Call it what you want, negativity, foresight, whatever man, I just fucking know.
I slip a knife into my boot because if I really can tell the future, something about this night and it's cold tells me that I'll need it.
Quincy's waiting for me outside and I pull a glove on with my teeth, wondering why the fuck dad chose me to go with him and not Ams or Jace. Jace and Quincy were a better team and my partner's Bromme anyway. Guess they were busy or something.
Whatever the case, it's my chance to prove to my older brother how good I've gotten. I get this job right and I finally get to have more. Everything rests on it.
I grab a letter opener from the sidetable as I go out the front door and slip it into my other boot just in case.
Quincy tries to reassure me like the good big brother that he is and I nod, breath coming out in front of me like a bad omen in the cold.
"Why's it so important it has to be delivered tonight anyway?"
"Why's it so important it has to be delivered tonight anyway?"
An inquisitive mind, more that can be said for me. Because in all honesty, I'm just a foot soldier, doing what I'm told like a machine -- deliver this, make sure he can't get back up, follow functions and orders. But Fox, he asks. That's why I think he'll be higher up than me one day, after he's matured a bit at least.
"All I know is that they need it for an important deal tomorrow, supposed to secure us a ton of cash." I explain to him, honestly that's all I know. I don't even know what's in it the package and I sure as hell am not going to risk opening that shit. "Besides, it's much better to deliver things like this at night, less people about." I finish, checking the package before sliding it underneath my jacket.
"Honestly, wish I knew more," I say, turning and doing my best to ignore my breath materializing in front of me. "But between you and me, I wish they didn't make us do this in the fucking cold."
I can't tell if Quincy honestly doesn't know or if he's speaking in code becuase people might be listening. Supposed to secure us some cash? It's cocaine. It's always fucking cocaine.
I don't care that we deal it, it's the addict's fault that they get addicted in the first place. A line here and there always turns into 'I can't start my day without a good old line of cocaine' and everyone fucking knows that, it's not rocket science. They tell us about it in school now because it's so fucking bad in our district. Careers do it to get a better workout in and then use it again like two hours later at a party. Half the people I sell to are in my grad year.
Either way, Quincy's in charge and I'm happy taking orders off him. He's strong and smart about this kind of shit. I know if I just do as he says we'll be fine. He's my brother and nothing bad is gonna happen to me tonight.
"It's fucking freezing," I complain, no fight in me, "We should just grab a hot chocolate or something, make it look like we're just going for a walk."
"We should just grab a hot chocolate or something, make it look like we're just going for a walk."
I snort, suppressing unnecessary laughter in case we draw unwanted attention to ourselves. "It's 2am, Fox." I tell him, shaking my head. I blow on my hands and bury them in my pocket, looking down at him. "Just grit you teeth and fight through it for about an hour, I'll make you some when we get home." Assuming I haven't gotten myself cut again like last time.
"Anyway let's go, the less time we spend out here the better." Moving will keep us warm too, but I'm sure he knows that by now. I begin walking and jerk my head to the direction we'll be going so he knows to follow.
I can already taste that hot chocolate and I pick up my speed a bit. Quincy makes hot chocolates the best, always has and always will. Ams doesn't make them sweet enough and Jace puts way too much sugar in. I only accept of Quincy offers it.
I hope he makes it with real chocolate this time.
The bribe's good so I follow Quincy quietly, passing over one of my gloves when I see him blowing on his bare fingers. Better we both have a warm hand for a quick reaction than me with two.
We walk in silence for awhile but it isn't often I get Quincy to myself. I try to think of what to say so I don't sound like a reject. Quincy's opinion of me is important. I know he's gonna be helping to run things one day and if I want a good spot after dad steps down, I gotta show him how good I am.
And I don't know who the hell thought I could be quiet for an hour.
"Maybe we could spar one time?" I ask him, trying to be casual about it, "I've gotten really good scores in training recently. Bet I could surprise you."
I only spar with Quincy on rare occasions when he's not busy for once. Last time was nearly last year and it's true, I'm doing well right now. I don't think I could beat him but he's got a lot that I could learn.
I don't know how far we've walked but the promise of hot chocolate definitely has done its wonders. He even passes over one of my gloves and I manage "thanks" before we're back in silence. And I can't help but be suspicious, the street's silent, so silent that not even the call of winter's howl sounds and I wonder if the whole district itself is dead. It's quiet, even for 2am. Usually there'd be a washed up junkie on a bench somewhere, or maybe even a peacekeeper to stop and ask how our day is or aggressive ask where we're going. Hell, I'd even expect to be getting jumped by someone right about now.
"Maybe we could spar one time?" Fox's question breaks the silence and I'm actually grateful for that fact, the silence was starting to kill me. "I've gotten really good scores in training recently. Bet I could surprise you." He says and I manage a sharp grin through the cold and my teeth don't even chatter.
"Of course," I'm always up for a spar or two, just a fight where I don't risk getting stabbed. "Hell, maybe if your surprises are good enough I could try and see if dad could get you in on more missions if you want," I tell him. "When it's warmer of course." I add, grinning.
I grin, smile spreading from ear to ear. The promise of a spar with Quincy is too damn good. I don't know why but I've always idolized my older brothers. Quincy, Jace and Brohm. They're some of the coolest people ever and I'm lucky enough to have them as my siblings.
I think about that a lot.
I open my mouth to answer when my ears catch the whistling sound of a knife. Without thought, I reach into my closest boot and pull out the knife I stashed, leaping forward to knock the knife out of the air. It hits the flying blade with a metallic shriek and my eyes go first to the blade now buried in the snow, second to the second one flying for my head. I duck just in the nick of time but the blade slides quickly across the back of my neck, calling up a shallow stream of blood.
Someone comes running out of the alley and Quincy steps forward to meet them.
My fingers go to the back of my neck and come away red.
It's strange, how I've gone from having parents who were too off their faces to even remember they had a son to having a family. Not a family of junkies and dead people, but a family with younger siblings who I'd do well, anything for. I look up, doing my best to ignore the frost pricking and biting my face and--
I spin, to find Fox with a knife in his hand and a second knife spinning through the air. "Shit, hold-" I don't get to finish my sentence before the appearance of a shadow draws my attention and a man darts out of the alleyway. Way too fast to be a junkie but not a peacekeepers -- thank fuck.
I've already turned and rushed to meet him before he can get anywhere near Fox and I tackle him to the ground but the momentum keeps us rolling, one on top of the other until he has a knife drawn and it draws another line of red along my palm and he's on top of me.
I instinctively grab his wrists and try my hardest to make sure he can't bring the knife down.
I stand, watching Quincy fight the person, knowing that there's nothing I can do becuase it will just be getting in the way. I know that Quincy can take this guy easy, he's top of his class and this guy is some random fuck but I can't help my hands curling into fists or stepping forward slightly. I can't help feeling like I have to do more than just fucking stand there.
I bend down quickly and scoop up some snow, body moving too fast for my brain. Good old brain says to fuck off, that Quincy has this and doesn't need my help, stupid body is afraid for my big brother's life and doesn't listen to the rules anyway.
I make a snowball.
"HEY YOU SHITFUCK," I yell.
I fucking throw a snowball when there's a perfectly good knife in my other hand.
I think I'm starting to over power him. It's clear this guy isn't in peak physical form, he's skinnier than me, his eyes are more wild than a calm and composed trained killer and slowly but surely, the knife begins to edge further and further away from my throat. We struggle for a good minute and I'm gritting my teeth so hard I'm surprised they haven't chipped.
He suddenly grunts, shock and surprise passing across his features as a pray of white showers of him. All it takes is that suddenly lapse of focus for me to redirect the knife so it hits the ground with a clang! and for me to bring my left fist into his jaw. He flails, catching across the chest with his blade but it skims shallow, nothing to cry about.
I drive my fist into his nose and then again into his jaw, he stops moving.
My brother kicks the guy's ass like an actual bonified tribute and I can't help the reaccuring grin from making another appearance. He takes him down like it's nothing but he does have some wounds to show for it. That makes me feel good somehow, like I'm not such a fuck up for getting myself stabbed every now and then.
"As weird as that was, you really helped me out."
I stop for a full hot second there and almost forget to breathe. It's not like Quincy doesn't give praise often, it's more like I actually did something useful for my brother instead of him helping me all of the time. Quincy's always saving my dumb ass and I'm always getting myself into sticky situations.
"Yeah well," I say, "You know."
And there she goes, my attempted casual tone a casualty of war.
I laugh, I was definitely like him. Once. Always wanted to sell myself short because I didn't want to seem cocky or arrogant, didn't want to big myself up because I wanted to stay humble. At least, that's what I tell myself but I know it was just a lack of confidence in my own abilities. I believed in Dad and Jace but not in myself.
I was stupid.
Fox is young, but he can learn as I did. Now, anyone else might've scolded him for not stabbing the guy but instead throwing a snowball at him but I'm not anyone else. I see the method in anyone's madness and truth be told, that worked out for the better. If he died and there was no one to clean up our mess we might've been fucked.
I wince, poking at the diagonal red line on my hand and then the thinner line on my chest.
"Well at least this is nothing. I'll be fine, let's keep going. Then you can get that hot chocolate once we're done."