40. Secrets and Pain
Ace let the tears fall, unashamed. Zes cried too, as did Tera. They all wept, even though the other two had seen the footage already. There was no way to avoid it. Even had they hated Blake, they would still have wept. Ace let his mind go blank, let himself deny the possibility – the certainty – that what he’d seen was real.
Because that couldn’t have happened. That did not happen.
That did not happen to his baby brother. Never.
“Keep this quiet,” he rasped, startling his companions. He’d already warned Zes and Bara not to tell anyone about Drei’s death. If the others knew, there would be chaos, fear. That kind of panic would make locating Blake and saving him that much harder.
Zes nodded, always the perfectly loyal killer, but Tera frowned. “Why would we? We have to save him! Damn it, don’t you even care?” Tears rolled down her cheeks and Ace was glad for a moment that Blake had known someone like Tera. She was so guarded, just like him, but in those rare open moments, she truly was an open book.
“Of course I care. Blake is my little brother. But if we scare everyone, they’ll just go to ground, and we won’t be able to do anything to help him. So no one hears about this.” He grabbed the disk as it popped out of the computer tray, cracking it in half with one smooth movement. In the falling shards, he caught sight of his reaction. The ace-of-spades tattoo Saith had drawn under his eye really did look like a bloody teardrop, especially now. “Don’t worry. I’ll handle it. I’ll get him back.”
And Ace would. He left immediately, plans already forming, being modified, being discarded, in his mind. Ace shuffled through them frantically until he finally found one he liked. Sending Akera to find Wyth, he settled down to wait in the library, but soon enough nerves sent him pacing once more.
The buzz of mechanical equipment distracted him momentarily as Ace shifted books until Neuf’s camera was revealed. The blinking red light glared up at him and Ace wondered if that was what his eyes looked like. Red and flashing and invasive. The lens focused on him just as he dashed the whole thing down, shattering the delicate machinery.
“Um, Ace, did you need me for something?” Wyth cleared his throat as he shut the door, and the youth whirled toward him. He was older, had been part of the family since birth, but still his companion unnerved him sometimes. Wyth really should have put his talents to good use, acting as a thief or a lookout or something other than Negotiator. Because Wyth might have had a silver tongue, but he rarely chose to use it.
“Yes. I have an important task for you. I want you to find the current location of that gang. You know, the one who raided us five months ago. I think it’s about time we paid them a visit.”
Zes hadn’t realized it. Tera couldn’t have known about it. But Ace had recognized that hand. It was the hand that struck him down, that pushed him away like so much garbage, weak and useless and pathetic, before turning to slaughter his father. That was the hand of the man who killed the Ace of Hearts.
And now he had Blake.
And he wanted Ace to think he was powerless, but if there was one thing he knew for certain, one thing he knew from living this life, it was that there was always power to be had, if you only look hard enough.
And Ace was very good at looking.