Over dinner Ryaan can’t stop staring at his sister. Should he tell her? Being the Rebel has been easy recently. This could be a massive change. Having someone to talk with would be nice though. Mina’s great but she isn’t here and they mostly text. The crush he’s been developing on her complicates what he wants to share as well. Because someone could easily find one of their phones they can’t write anything specific which further limits how much he can tell her. Beyond that, there are certain things he doesn’t want to tell anyone but maybe he should. How it feels when you snap someone’s head aside with a staff, or how his hand slipped and his knife went a few inches to the right last week. That wasn’t a problem but if it’d been a few inches to the left he may have killed a man. He compensated by scaling back how often he uses his knives but doing that at the wrong time could get him killed.
More than anything there’s the fear Mrs. Grant will come back into their lives. Nobody’s showed up to reveal to the world that he’s a vigilante and despite watching over their shoulders for the last month nobody has come after either him or Mina. He followed the advice of Officer Alvarez and sent her a note promising to reveal her if she came after him. She knows who they are though and until she’s out of the picture he’s going to worry.
Nadia’s chicken and biscuits are good. The biscuits are a little overcooked but the sauce does a nice job of softening them. Their dad ignores this and snaps into them as they are but everyone else seems to be enjoying them too. Finishing a story about her history class, Nadia turns to her brother and seems to notice him staring. “Everything okay?”
Shaking his head back and forth to snap himself out of it, Ryaan blinks a few times. “Sorry, kind of distracted tonight. Big day at school.”
Dad leans forward and stares at Ryaan. “Are you getting enough sleep?”
“Ya, I’m great dad. Long week but I’ve got all weekend to catch up.”
Leaning back, their dad’s head leans to one side as he seems to be processing something. “Get your test back yet? Its not uploaded to the web site.”
The web site he’s referring to is a place where teachers at his school upload their test scores and grades for parents to keep an eye on. A kid trying to hide their grades’ nightmare. Ryaan’s glad to hear they aren’t up yet. If they aren’t up now they likely won’t be until Monday. A stay of execution. “Not yet, maybe they’ll upload them over the weekend. If not we’ll probably get them back Monday.”
Analyzing his son’s face, the man lets it go. “What are you planning this weekend?”
“Dunno, was thinking of maybe getting a game in with the guys on the basketball team. Jesse’s been talking about putting together a weekly game so we can get better.”
“What about the big party downtown tomorrow?”
It takes a minute for Ryaan to realize what his father’s talking about. It comes over him and his jaw drops. “You know what that’s about, right?”
With her mouth still full of food, Lana goes wide eyes and looks to her dad. “I want to go to a party. Can we go dad?”
He nods before turning back to Ryaan. “It’s for those vigilantes who saved all the kids. They work around here, the neighborhood should go out to support them.”
“I don’t think so dad. You’ve heard about these guys, right? We’ve talked about them before. They harass a lot of families, they tried to make someone kiss their gun recently. Why would we want to support them?”
“I’ve told you before I don’t want to hear talk like that. People do the best they can. Maybe they aren’t perfect but why would they be risking their lives if they didn’t want to help? If they have problems with us, we need to show them why they’re wrong. How can they have problems with us when we’re there cheering them on?”
“Dad, I’m— not—”
Dad raises his hand in the air and the table goes quiet. “This isn’t open to further debate. You will take your sisters to the party and support these men. We are part of this community, never forget that.”
Screaming in his head, Ryaan wants to stand and let his father have it. He wants to jump up from the table and storm to his room. That’s sure to lead to another grounding though and if he’s grounded he can’t be the Rebel. He can’t protect his neighborhood from the people his dad’s demanding he honor. Instead he shuts his mouth and finishes his chicken. Making an excuse about having to finish his homework he excuses himself from the table and heads upstairs.
Shutting his door, he puts his headphones on and blasts the Rolling Stones as loud as they go. He throws himself face down on his bed. He feels his phone buzz and sees it’s an email. It gives him an idea. He almost sends a text but decides this is something he can’t ask in a text.
Mina picks up her phone on the third ring. “What’s up, are you going out tonight? You didn’t say anything earlier.”
She sounds out of breath and her nerves make him feel nervous. “No, think I’ll take tonight off. I actually have something to ask you though. Something I completely understand if you need to say no to but it’d be a huge help.”
All he can hear on the line is her breathing for a few seconds. “You’re kind of scaring me. What’s up?”
“Well, my dad’s making me take my sister’s to the festival at Millennium Park tomorrow. For you know who.”
“WHAT!” Ryaan pulls the phone away from his head but he’s not fast enough to avoid ringing in his ear. He can hear her in the background apologizing to her parents and telling them there’s nothing to worry about. When she returns to the phone she’s barely speaking above a whisper. “What? Why? Why would he possibly do that?”
“He thinks the community needs to support them. I know it’s crazy but he didn’t give me a choice. I can’t get grounded again so I’ll have to go.”
“You want me to go with you, don’t you?”
“Well, I mean, maybe…” He clutches his phone tightly, his knuckles turning white. “I know it’s a lot to ask and you hate them, but this place is going to be a target. So many people hate vigilantes. I might need to get involved but I can’t do that if I have to watch my sisters. I could really use your help.”
Her breathing’s heavy and Ryaan’s almost certain she’s going to say no. “We could just say we went and find something else to do. How are you getting there?”
“Train probably. I can’t do that though. Lana can’t keep a secret to save her life. She’ll tell my dad the second we get back about what we did. I have to go. You don’t though. I shouldn’t even ask but I could really use your help.”
“I guess I can’t tell my parents about what happened to me after all, at least not yet. They’d never let me go.”
He hesitates, not wanting to assume her answer. “Is that a yes then?”
“It’s a yes. You owe me so big.”