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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317603
In which one the reason behind the target on Kai's back is revealed
Bel was given very strict instructions not to come downstairs.

But he was never very good at listening.

Most fourteen year olds aren’t.

Especially when he was curious.

The hotel hallway is bathed in shadow, making the furniture look like something from the set of a horror film. Curtains are drawn over the lower windows, but moonlight still spills through the upper ones. This is a five star hotel, so everything from furniture to the little knick knacks that decorate each room has the inevitable “you break it, you buy it” policy that no one really thinks about until something is actually broken. The clock on the wall reads “one a.m.”, so the expectation is that everyone is asleep.

But Bel knows better.

He can hear the murmur of conversation coming through one of the half open doors at the end of the hallway. It’s the entrance to one of the terraces, but who would be talking in a hotel terrace at one a.m.? Bel is pretty sure even the tourists wouldn’t be out on the terrace at this hour, but who knew?

Was it the hotel staff cleaning up for the next day?

Or a lovers’ meeting?

If his curiosity wasn’t peaked before, it is now.

Careful not to make the floor creak, he tiptoes over to the room. The door is open enough that Bel can squeeze in without too much trouble, but he could easily be seen if he went outside. And he was told to stay upstairs. Instead, he crouches next to the partly open door, pressing his face to the crack and peering outside.

There are two men on the terrace. At least, he thinks they’re men, judging by their height and build; but in the dark he can’t be sure. What is obvious is that it’s not a casual conversation—one of the men is confronting the other.

Bel squeezes himself closer to the opening, trying to make out what the two men are saying, but it doesn’t do any good. One of the men is making aggressive, angry gestures, and the other one is shaking his head in denial. There’s something familiar about the head shaker, but he’s not sure what.

Taking a deep breath, and keeping his body as low to the ground as possible, Bel crawls through the door’s opening, toward a large flower pot about three feet away from the door. It’s a little closer to the two men, so maybe he can hear the conversation?

Then the Aggressive Man raises his voice:

“I told you—”

“I’m not interested in what you did, or didn’t tell me,” the second man says. “That’s not the kind of man I am.”

Bel sucks in a breath.


That’s Dad’s voice.

But who is the Aggressive Man, and why is he so angry?

The answer comes quickly when the Aggressive Man grasps Dad by the shoulders, desperate, but still angry.

“You don’t understand! You really have no idea—”

“I have a very clear idea of what the situation is,” Dad responds. “But there’s nothing I can do. It’s above my pay grade, and as much as I want to, I can’t stop the consequences of the choices that were made. I care about you and your dad enough to warn him, and to tell you to get out while you still can.”

“I’m not interested in your warnings.”

“If that were true, you wouldn’t have come here. I’ve done everything I possibly can. I’m so sorry.”

Dad turns away from the Aggressive Man, moving back across the terrace to the hotel, and now Bel can see the Aggressive Man’s face.

Except it’s not a man.

It’s a boy.

An angry boy several years older than Bel is, his face twisted into a mask of hatred.

An angry boy with a chunk of metal in his raised hand.


Dad stumbles just in front of the flower pot where Bel is crouched.

A perfect red circle appears in the middle of his forehead.

A perfect red circle which expands to a halo as his body falls.

And blood is spreading.

Spreading like a macabre halo around Dad’s head.

And Bel is running.

Back across the terrace, through the French doors.

Up the stairs.

Away from that expanding red halo.

Away from the boy who put a bullet in Dad’s head.




The laptop screen goes dark.

No one in the library moves.

No one in the library speaks.

Bel stands rooted in the doorway. His body is rigid, fists clenched, and there are tears streaming down his dead white face. Em stands behind him, her hand on his shoulder, trying to guide him out of the doorway.


Bel shakes her off and makes straight for the laptop, slamming it shut.

He doesn’t say anything.

He doesn’t look at anyone.

It’s hard for him to think.

Hard for him to breathe.

“What is this?” Bel keeps his gaze on the closed laptop, his hands grasping either side of it like a lifeline. More drops of moisture fall from his eyes, leaving tiny pools on the lid. “Nina. What the hell is this?”

She doesn’t answer. He lifts his head, and sees that her eyes are closed, and her lips are set in a thin white line. Bel takes one shaking breath, and then another.

“Nina. Answer me.”

His sister opens her eyes, and they are just as haunted as his. “There was a locked file on the USB. We just figured out the password.”

“This is why someone wants to kill me?” Bel knows the question is rhetorical, but he asks it anyway. “Because I saw…”

“Bel.” It’s not Nina who says his name this time. It’s Kam.

Bel doesn’t look at him.

He doesn’t say anything.

He just walks out of the room.

And Kam follows him without another word.

“I’m sorry,” Whether Nina is apologizing to her brother who is no longer in the room or to everyone else is unclear. She clenches her eyes shut, then opens them. “I need a minute.”

And she leaves the room as well.

Em is the one who finally breaks the silence. “So…is that the answer you’ve all been looking for?”

“It’s just another question,” Kit shakes his head. “We still don’t have a name to put to that face.”

“So we’ll get one.” Talay crosses to the table, opening the laptop again and pulling up the video file. He scrolls through it until he reaches the point in the video where he can see the stranger the clearest, then glances back at Silo. “We just need a screenshot, and we’ll use facial recognition. You have a printer, right?”

Silo has already turned on his wireless printer that sits in the corner of the room. “How fast can you get it done?”

“You aren’t officially working this case,” Kit points out. “So you can’t expect a fast turnaround.”

Silo acknowledges the point with the briefest of glances in Kit’s direction before turning back to Talay. “You tell the department head, if he makes this facial recognition top priority, I’ll take three months of vacation.”

“Three?” Kit cocks an eyebrow at him. “What’s a workaholic like you going to do with all that free time?”

Silo ignores him. “Three months vacation for a fast turnaround, Talay. That’s my offer, and I know he’ll take it.”


So much blood…

So damn much blood…


Bel is seated on the edge of the bed, frozen, looking at the floor. He doesn’t even look up as Kam enters the room.

“That’s what you dream about?” They both know it’s a rhetorical question, but Kam asks it anyway. “What you saw the night your dad died?”

Bel doesn’t say anything, but Kam isn’t expecting an answer. Instead, he makes sure the door is locked, then kneels in front of Bel, so that they’re eye to eye.

“If you want to talk, then talk. If you want to yell, then yell. If you want to cry, then cry. If you just want to sit and not say anything, you can do that too.” Very gently, he reaches forward and takes both of Bel’s hands in his. “There’s no one here but me.”

Bel's breath catches in his throat, and his hands clamp around Kam’s, clenched so tight that his knuckles stand out under his skin. Kam keeps his gaze locked on Bel’s face. He strokes his thumbs along the back of Bel’s hands. He’s not pushing, not this time. He’s only waiting, and he will wait as long as he needs to.

“I see that every night,” The words tumble out of Bel’s mouth and the tears in his eyes don’t flow, but they don’t disappear either. “Every night, Kam,do you understand? My dad dies in front of me over and over and over and there’s nothing that I can do about it. I don’t want to see that anymore. I don’t want any of this. I don’t want to be treated like some damn useless puppy. I don’t want to have someone following me around so I don’t get my head blown off. I don’t want masked jackasses breaking into my house and shooting at me. I don’t want Nina to keep secrets from me. I don’t want people trying to kill me. I don’t want to be stuck in this damn house. I don’t want to keep feeling so fucking helpless all the fucking time!”

Kam hasn’t moved. He just kneels in front of Bel and looks up into his face until the words stop pouring out. It’s only when Bel stops shouting that Kam speaks.

“Ok. You’ve told me everything you don’t want. Can you tell me what you do want?”

Bel hesitates. Kam asked him what he thinks is a simple question, but Bel’s answer isn’t that simple.

“Bel.” Kam’s thumb is stroking along the back of Bel’s hand, slowly, rhythmically, sending tendrils of warmth shooting up Bel’s arms, calming his breath and slowing his frantic heartbeat. “Tell me what you want.”

Bel looks deep into Kam’s eyes. The eyes of the man that drives him up the wall, the man who doesn’t take hints (or pretends not to), the man Bel wants to strangle one minute and do other things to the next. The man who looks after him better than anyone else, except maybe Nina.

Bel takes a deep breath, and then he says it.

"25. Inside(18+)

read from beginning "1. Phone Calls in the Dark
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