Legal Theft Project: Ride Home

She could see that he was angry at her in the set of his jaw and the way he gripped the wheel. He was livid, and she found that she couldn’t care less.  He didn’t have the right.

“You can be as mad as you want–” Kelly said, crossing her arms over her chest, “But I had a plan.”

He said nothing, but readjusted his grip on the steering wheel, squeezing a little bit tighter.

“The silent treatment isn’t going to psych me out, Kyle.  I’m not seven anymore.”

He clicked his tongue–but said nothing, eyes still steadfast on the road in front of them.

“Dammit, Kyle.  Say something.”

There was a beat of non-reaction, and then Kyle turned the wheel sharp, cutting across three lands of traffic and coming to a hard stop on the shoulder.  “She want s me to say something. Oh, I’ll say something.”  Kyle muttered to himself as he put the truck in park and threw open his door. Kelly scrambled to follow and met him back near the tail gate.  “You could have died, Kelly! You would have died if I wasn’t very good at what I do.  How could I have gone home and face Mom and Dad if you had died? Hey, I know you sent me to watch out for Kelly but I let her die instead. That’s cool, right?”

If Kyle was going to yell, Kelly was going to stay calm.  She knew nothing would piss him off more than responding to his rage with rational. “I wasn’t going to die, Kyle. I had a plan. You didn’t see my plan because you wouldn’t listen when I tried to explain what I wanted to do. If you hadn’t played Hero, I still would have at least three back up plans in place.  Not only have I been watching Mom and Dad do this since I was in diapers just like you have. Besides, I have an advantage that none of you had.”

“Oh, What is that, Kelly?  What world of wisdom do you have access to that the rest of our family managed to miss?”  Kyle spat, kicking a tire in anger and turning away to pace along the tailgate.

“You. Dumbass.”  Kelly shrugged.

Kyle stopped in his tracks and turned slowly to face his sister. “What?”

“I was seven years old when you started making your plans, and going on your own trips.  You remember when you used to show me your plans first? To practice before presenting them to Mom and Dad?” Kelly smiled at the memory, in spite of herself.

“I didn’t know you were actually listening,” Kyle said softly.

“Of course I was.  I thought you were the best.  Even though I knew you were just starting–but you’re my big brother. I thought you were the best of everything.  And you did turn out to be really good, and I got to watch you learn it all.  You’re great, and because of that I get to be better.”

Kyle considered his baby sister.  No, not a baby anymore.  Sixteen years old and perfectly capable of running her own missions. If someone had messed up his play–well, he was lucky that she wasn’t tearing him a new one.  The fact that she just seemed only mildly annoyed was probably a god send.

“I’m sorry that I messed up your play.” Kyle said quietly, more to the ground than to Kelly.

“I’m sorry,” Kelly smiled, stepping forward a little with her hand cupped to her ear, “I didn’t quite catch that.  Could you repeat it louder, and perhaps after I get my tape recorder out of my bag?”

“You are a pain in my ass and have been since the day you were born.  Record that.”

Kelly rolled her eyes.  “You owe me a present for messing up my play.” She told him as she made her way back to the cab of the truck.

Kyle considered for a second before following her. “Yeah. Okay.”

Kelly smiled even wider as she put her foot up against the dashboard.  “Something big.”

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Legal Theft: Control

Her first thought when she woke up was that she hated him.  It was one of the facts that had been used to help prove to her that something wasn’t right.   No matter where she woke up, no matter what state she was in or what state she’d gone to sleep in, her first thought when she woke up was that she hated him.

The reasoning came afterwards, his crimes, the pain he caused, the injustices he’d committed—a laundry list of excuses to justify the feelings. Half of them were lies, things told to her again and again until she had a hard time remembering what had actually happened. They messed with her head until she wasn’t sure if she actually knew the boy who grew up down the street, until she didn’t know the man who had fought at her side for the better part of a decade, until she couldn’t even remember what her cause was or if she was home.

She was safe now. She knew that.  They were going to protect her. And they were going to help her find her way back to her own mind. She hoped that one day she would be in control of her own head and her own thoughts.  Until then, she started her day by hating him.

Legal Theft: Blame

Alex thought that it wasn’t really his fault.  So, yeah, he’d cheated and broken her heart a bit.  But she knew.  Michelle knew that he’d cheated on his last girlfriend for her.  And the girlfriend before that for the last girlfriend. And the one before that too.  When she’d asked, he’d told her point-blank, and yes she’d asked him to promise not to cheat he told he’d try, but really, did she believe that?  Because if she did, well, wasn’t that kind of her fault?  How did that expression go—if he’ll do it for you he’ll do it to you?  Well, Alex did it for her. Alex did it to her.  Not his fault.

So—why were they painting him as the villain? Why did all of their friends—even those who had been his friends—seem to hate him now? Always so very conveniently busy when he wanted to make plans.

Perhaps with Michelle he’d bit off more than he could chew.  Perhaps he’d underestimated her ability to get people on her side, to make people fall in love with her.  After all, he was almost in love with her, and he didn’t do love.  That really should have been a warning sign to get out before all this nonsense.

But, even still, it wasn’t his fault.  If they wanted to believe the doe eyed sappy tales she spun about what a bad man he was, well fine.  Let them believe that he misled her and mistreated her.  But they knew what he was like just as well as Michelle did.  No one was blind in this.  They wanted to pretend they were better than him, fine. He’d make new friends.

But in his heart he knew this wasn’t his fault, and he’d swear that to his dying day.

Legal Theft Project: Heat

On the hottest day of the year, the skirt of my red dress flutters against my thighs in the breeze manufactured by the fan. Mom was coming up with about a thousand different ways we could beat the heat, each suggestion sounding more and more exhausting.  I stopped answering her every time she made a suggestion, and instead opted for just standing with my back to the fan, letting my skirt twist around me, and holding my glass of water to my forehead instead of actually drinking it.

Eventually Mom gave up too, and wandered off as well, making some excuse about taking a cold shower, or something along one of those lines. I knew that there were probably a hundred things I should be doing instead, but I just stood there, letting the condensation from the water run down my arm, letting the fan blow.

There would be time to be productive when the sun finally went down.

Legal Theft: Day One

Silas was rarely awake in time to see the sun come up, let alone up, dressed, and walking outside in the crisp last moments of darkness. He made his way to the hammock in the middle of the backyard and sank down onto it, taking a second to breathe deeply, enjoying the last moments of silence before everything started moving again.  He knew the second that the sun began to peek over the hill, it would all be over. After that, he wouldn’t able to pretend he had all the time in the world.

“Dad? Is that you?”  Silas tried to prop himself up on his elbows, sending the whole hammock rocking and twisting. Chloe laughed and reached out to stabilize some of the ropes.  “What in the world are you doing out here?”

“Just thinking.”  Silas sighed, “Come on, rest with me.”

“Aren’t we both getting a little big for that?” Chloe teased, patting her father affectionately on the beginnings of his beer belly.

“Humor a fat old man,” he grumbled, giving her arm a slight tug.  Chloe let herself be pulled down, and the swung about for a moment as the ropes wrapped them into a funny little shape.  They both knew she was right, they were too big for this, but neither of them moved from their strange little hug.

“Mom wanted me to come get you,” Chloe said into the silence.  “We’ve got those last few bag to get in the car, and she’s come up with a small list of things we haven’t gotten for my dorm yet, so she wants to make sure we’re in town in time to hit a store.”

Silas dropped a kiss on the top of his daughter’s head. “In a minute, Chlo.”

“Okay,” She understood, twisting a little so she could look in the same direction as her dad, “After the sunlight gets over the hill.”

Legal Theft: Wants and Needs

He knew, all things considered, she didn’t need him. That if he wasn’t there she’d be just fine.  She could weather any storm or defend herself and her family from anything they could come across.  She would succeed at anything she put her mind to, overcome any opposition, and manage to still be happy in spite of it all.  He didn’t even think it would be that hard for her.

But, he also knew that she wanted him beside her.  She wanted someone to join in the hard times and help her out.  She wanted someone to celebrate her successes with her.  She wanted someone to split the load and to complain to with just a look and without actually having to say a word.  She wanted someone to laugh at her when she was being over dramatic and take her very seriously when she wasn’t.  She wanted someone to fix things around the house and never mistake her laziness for lack of ability. And he would happily do all that for her.

She didn’t need him, she would never really need him, but she wanted him. And that made all of the difference.

Legal Theft: The Final Test (393 words)

When charging into dangerous situations you can either be fast and silent or fast and prepared. Prepared made you slightly more likely to be discovered—but also far more likely be able to get out of any trouble you got yourself into.  Fast and silent got you in and out with the least chance of detection, but also left you with less options if everything decided to take a turn for the worst.

The two schools of thought pretty much had to be mutually exclusive, and led to many a fight between the training agents. The debated happened in its entirety at least once a week in one way or another, each struggling to prove their way to be an agent was the best way to be an agent, each wanting to be right for prides sake, but also out of concern, sure that the other way was going to get their friends and classmates killed.

Mae seemed to be one of the few students who had never taken a side. She listen to the debates and agreed with whatever her team leader told her to do in practice drills.  People asked her to weigh in, and she’d shrug them off, insisting she had better things to do than rehash and argument that no one ever changed sides on.

So on exam day, when the teacher revealed the one and only exam question to be When charging into dangerous situations you can either be fast and silent or fast and prepared. Which should you be and why? Everyone turned to look how Mae would react.

She smiled, wrote down a single sentence. She walked to the front of the room, handed the professor the paper, and continued out the classroom door. Everyone else wrote for the two hours and fifty-seven minutes still allotted them, each thinking in their own way it would be a shame when Mae failed—she would have made an excellent agent.

Mae graduated at the top of the class, and was the only one to receive a top grade on the written part of the exam. She let them twist in the wind for about a week before answering their question.

“It’s simple,”she laughed, “Silent or prepared, it all depends on which situation you’re going into. To say one is always better than the other…that’s going to get someone killed someday.”