“Well, isn’t this adorable?” Matthias said cynically. “Big brother comes to save the day.”
Johnny narrowed his eyes. “The game is up,” he said icily.
Matthias laughed hollowly, “I should be saying that to you.” Before Johnny could ask what Matthias meant, Madge sidled up to him and wrapped her arms around him. “Hey,” Matthias said affectionately.
“Hey Matty,” she murmured softly. Matthias looked straight at Johnny, taunting him. Madge, however, would not meet his eyes.
“Madge,” Johnny said quietly, “we’re having a baby…” his voice trailed off.
“What?” Matthias said sharply.
Madge shrugged calmly. “I needed a test specimen. I’ve already scheduled an abortion. I just need some cells for tests.”
Johnny stared blankly at the woman who had become a central part of his life, the woman he’d given his heart to. He turned away slowly. Johnny had always known he was afraid of Madge, and now he knew the reason why.
“This isn’t over,” Johnny said resolutely.
“It is, Jonathan;” Madge said harshly, “give it up.” She sneered nastily. Maybe it was the way the shadows contrasted her face, but suddenly her beauty faded.
Johnny ran forward and tackled Matthias. They toppled to the floor in a tangled heap, but just as Johnny was about to throw a punch, Matthias grabbed his fist and pushed him backward violently. Johnny felt himself being pushed against the wall with more force than he’d ever encountered in a fight.
“You heard your lover; give it up Kitt,” he snarled through gritted teeth. He let go of Johnny abruptly and turned around. “You have a chance to bond with your sister,” he said derisively, motioning at Bella who had remained silent.
The door shut behind Madge and Matthias, with a resounding thud.
Johnny remained on the floor, shutting his eyes tight but still feeling tears run down his face. Everything was crumbling to pieces. Presently, he felt small hands grab his. He opened his eyes and saw Bella looking down at him. She looked unimpressed.
She cleared her throat. “When I was 8 years old, I had a hero. He was my everything. And I looked up to him for everything. He was a friend, he was my protector, he was my confidant.”
Bella paused, and Johnny realized she was talking about him.
“I need my hero, Johnny,” she said absently. She ran her fingers through his curly hair and sighed. She snuggled into Johnny’s side and begun to play with his hand. “You haven’t failed yet. You still have a long way to go. I trust you, big brother.” She smiled up at him. The sun had begun to set, throw shadows around the room. Johnny looked down at his sister, who had settled herself comfortably next to him and smiled. There was no reunion necessary just picking up where they’d left off.
Out of nowhere, a huge explosion was heard. The building rattled and Johnny instinctively held onto Bella, protecting her.
He gave a quick look around the small room, taking an internal inventory. The room was sparse, there was a wooden table, the small bed, and a wardrobe. he ran to the wardrobe and found a broom with a wooden handle. He grabbed it and swiftly brought it straight to his knee, breaking it clean in half. He chucked one-half to Bella and fitted one in the waistband of his jeans. He pulled his gun out of the holster he had hidden in his trousers and checked the cartridge. He only had five rounds. He shrugged, he’d make a way through whatever lay ahead. He pushed Bella under the table gently.
“I need you to stay under here. If another explosion happens, this will prevent debris from hurting you,” he said gruffly. Bella nodded, a new light shone in her eyes. He cupped her face in his eyes. “It’s time for me to be a hero.”
Johnny was about to kick the door open, but it clicked open. On the other side of the threshold was Taks, grinning laconically. Ngala and Tobias stood behind him bickering over something. Taks had a swollen lip and an eye that was bruising at an alarming rate. Tobias was nursing a bleeding nose, and his hand was wrapped in a heavy bandage.
Taks walked into the room and surveyed it. “Well, at least we kept you safe,” he said happily.
Johnny’s eyebrows shot up. “What happened?”
Ngala and Tobias entered the room and Tobias immediately sat on the bed and heaved a sigh.
“Those explosions, we’ve been bombing parts of Academia. The takeover happens now,” Tobias said.
“Who roughed you up?” Johnny asked in concern.
“Ran into Matthias and his thugs,” Taks spat bitterly. “He got away, but we got the city on lockdown; he won’t escape.”
“What do you intend to do to him?” Bella said quietly; she was still huddled under the table.
Everyone spun around to look at her. A heavy sort of silence settled over the group.
“We’re going to serve him some justice,” Taks said grimly. He knelt down and offered Bella his hand. She took it cautiously and crawled out.“Bella, right?”
She nodded. Taks cleared his throat.
“Do you trust us to give Matthias what he deserves?”
Bella nodded slowly, and that was the only permission they needed.