Dinner that night was very quiet not the usual loud chatter and banter we have; It was more subdued like someone had just died. Two went and got all the bedding and dragged it downstairs. He placed my duvet on the largest sofa with my two pillows. He did the same for Louis on the next sofa.
As their breathing slowed and became deeper as they fell into slumber I propped myself up on my elbow. I looked around the room. Three was sleeping on his back with his mouth gaping open and arms spread wide. Louis was sleeping curled up in a small ball. Two was just in front of me, I could could seeing the curling red scars on his neck. He slept on his stomach using his arm as a pillow. I watched him for some time. I could see his back muscles expanding as he breathed in and contracting as he breathed out through his thin black shirt. I liked him most like that, when he was not being over protective, happy or anything else. This was what he was really like. I guess it was kinda weird watching my bodyguard sleep but between you and me he did keep sending me weird looks when I talked to other boys my age and older. He is fine with me talking to Louis though. My last thought before I fell into unconsciousness (Big Word! Hehehe. You aren't impressed. I can see it in your face.) was that I was happy with this slightly dysfunctional family we had set up.
I was woken up the next morning by Three. He was making toast very loudly in the kitchen and poked me in the side when I walked in. Two was there eating toast with marmite and nutella. EW! I hear you cry but it is actually quite nice. Three poked me again.
‘You sleep so lightly it is insane.’ I looked confused. Two looked at me. His hair was ruffled and his eyes bleary but he looked pleased to see me.
‘Three tripped and you put up your middle finger at him. Still asleep of course.’ I blushed.
‘Well Three, you sleep with with mouth open and your arms spread like you are just about to fly.’ Two laughed. And I rounded on him.
‘And you sleep like a baby. Seriously I kicked you to see what would happen. It was like kicking a rock.’ That shut him up. Louis stumbled in with tousled hair, sleepy eyes and crumpled clothes.
‘Such a bad nights sleep. Three keep the snoring down.’ Three went to protest but the phone rang. We had a moments pause and then a frantic race to pick it up. Two got there first after a few hair pulls and dirty boxing.
‘This is the Ayers household who is speaking.’ Two said politely into the receiver.
‘Wat up.’ The voice asked. I inwardly started to shrivel up and die as Two’s face clouded over. Three pinched Louis to dispel the tension. I stared at the phone finally losing patience I yanked it out of his hands and slammed it down
‘What was that about?’ Two asked as I sat down and started to play with my hair.
‘I don’t know. It is a prank call. People are such desperate pricks.’ Two laughed but it did not reach his eyes and sounded forced. I felt that there was something else underneath all those things that he shows me. He was keeping something from us. All of us and even himself. Which, yeah he does not have to tell us everything but just to confide in himself from time to time would help. I smiled to myself. I was as happy as I could be with my biological family at gunpoint.
The days went to weeks and then to months with nothing special happening. In the context of we went to school and trained and went to school and trained. Louis and then Three had their sixteenth and twenty third birthdays. Nothing new. The same routine, just changed slightly everyday.
It all changed again when the postman rang the doorbell. Louis was first to react and started running to get it. Three pushed him out of the way. They fell to the floor in a rugby tackle and I skipped past them only to be overtaken by Two. You can now guess that he likes coming first. He thinks things through and is very logical. Never keeping the same pattern when we go to school but changing it. He ran past me and got to the door and opened it.
‘Yes?’ He said pleasantly. The postman looked at Three and Louis who were pulling each others hair and snarling like dogs at each other.
‘I have a parcel for a Charlie Stone.’ He said only that and the effect was instantaneous. Two paled and Three stopped pulling Louis’s hair. Two grabbed the parcel.
‘Thanks. Have a good day.’ He said in a clipped voice. Two shoved the parcel to Three. His eyes were like ice chips. He has the most wonderful blue eyes; Bright blue with flecks of dark blue. Taylor get on with it and stop admiring his eyes.
Louis and I were sat on the first step together while Three and Two were shouting in the kitchen. Louis had his arm around me and it felt really unnatural. My head was resting on his shoulder with his resting on top of mine. We could hear everything that is going on.
‘SERIOUSLY? YOUR REAL NAME? WE WERE TOLD UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE TO USE OUR REAL NAMES!’ Two shouted sounded exasperated.
‘WELL I DON’T CARE. MR PERFECT! JUST BECAUSE YOU GRADUATED FIRST WITH HONORS AND STUFF AND ALL I GOT WAS MERELY SECOND DOES NOT MEAN YOU BOSS ME AROUND! I JUST WANT TO HAVE A SERIOUS CHARGE FOR ONCE AND NOT A PETTY LORD LIKE HIM! I hope you fail badly.’ Two shouted back. There was the sound of wood crunching as Three kicked it.
‘JUST SHUT UP! I KNOW I CAME FROM A DECENT FAMILY WITH HOUSES EVERYWHERE DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN RUB IT IN MY FACE. I WILL NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN BECAUSE THEY ARE DEAD! I DO MY JOB AND LEAVE.’ I felt tears on my cheeks as Two gave up secrets he kept close to him.
‘I DON’T CARE! ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IT TAYLOR! OH SHE IS THE PRINCESS. I MUST PROTECT HER. WE ALL KNOW YOUR TRUE FEELINGS!’ Three bellowed back as Two let out a growl. I glanced at Louis, hatred was written all over his face when he looked at me. There was a crash which sounded like Two had pushed Three.
‘YOU CAN NEVER LEARN TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!’ Two roared.
‘I AM LEAVING TAKING AND LOUIS WITH ME BECAUSE I CAN’T TRUST YOU!’ Three screamed starting to sound slightly like a girl.
‘I CAN’T TRUST YOU EITHER AND NEVER DID IN THE FIRST PLACE. YOU CHEATED YOUR WAY INTO SECOND PLACE. WE ALL KNOW!’ Three stormed up the stairs slamming the door shut behind him. He spotted Louis and tried to arrange his face into a more suitable position but the red splotches and throbbing veins in his temple told another story.
‘We are leaving so if you would please gather your things.’ His face was tight like a drum and his voice was strained. I made to slip past him but he fastened his hand on my forearm.
‘If I catch you even talking to Louis I will come and shoot you.’ He hissed as I tried to pull away but he had an iron grip.
‘Well I will see what I can do. He is my best friend after all.’ I said pulling my arm free and pushing past him.
Two was sat on the floor by the fridge. He had his elbows balanced on his knees with his head in his hands. I sat beside him leaning against the fridge. He didn’t even look me to check I was okay.
‘What would you do if you liked someone you have been forbidden to like?’ He asked in a small voice sounding the age he actually was and not the four years older. I looked at the ceiling. That is a hard question. Screw rules I would say but then it depends who it is.
‘Well if it is like Romeo and Julliet than I would say leave it alone because we all know how that ends. But part of me says go ahead. We only have one shot in life, why waste it?’ Two looked at me through his fingers. He had cut his hair recently so it was not curly anymore more like short enough to run his hands through but not long enough to make it go curly. His fingers were long and thin not really made for holding a gun. He gave me a small smile which reached his eyes and made them light up.
‘I don’t know what to do right now.’ He said sitting up straighter and looking straight ahead.
‘Well let’s start with today and then work our way on from there.’ I said as he squeezed my hand.
‘Yes we will. Now, on your feet. You are going to learn boxing.’ He now had a playful smile which danced around his lips. Louis paused at the open door looking longingly at us. I caught sight of him before he left. Two followed my gaze.
‘He will be back. Three can’t stop you and Louis talking.’ I smiled and hit him slightly harder than normal in the stomach.
‘Like that?’ I asked as he didn’t react to being hit.
‘Yeah like that but harder. Most of your assailants will not be stood around like I was.’ I shook my hand out feeling a numbness in it.
‘What the hell are you made of? Iron?’ I asked as he laughed. We worked late into the night as he taught me new moves and tricks from what Three had taught me.
School the next day was tense. Phoenix pulled me aside at break.
‘What is up with your guys?’ She asked waving a hand at Three and Two. They were glaring daggers at each other. Two had a hand in his pocket where he stashed his gun while three had a hand inside his jacket.
‘They had a major argument, Three and Louis stormed out. Two then taught me boxing.’ I didn’t mention his minor breakdown as that is something that I shouldn’t really of seen. Phoenix looked impressed whistled slightly.
‘Why is his hand there?’ She pointed her chin toward Two. I leaned in like I was sharing a dark secret.
‘He has a gun there.’ She looked at me with what I think was fear in her eyes.
‘Do you have one?’ I gave her a evil smile.
‘No.’ Yes. She gave me a small smile like she didn’t believe me.
'I think Louis has something up his bum.' She said in a voice that carried well. Three glared at her while Louis looked miserable.
'Come on Louis. Don't you have other friends?' Three asked stressing on the other. Louis nodded and walked miserably away. Phoenix looked confused.
'What did I say?' I glanced behind me at Two who was stood there looking silent. Most of the boys in sixth form were pointing at him. He stood with his feet apart and hands behind his back where he kept his other gun.
I dragged her outside towards Two’s Mini where it was parked just incase we needed a quick getaway.
‘You are confusing me.’ I turned to face her.
‘Phoenix this is no joke. This is nothing to spread around okay. This is life or death. If what I am about to tell you gets out, I am dead.’ Phoenix nodded looking serious.
‘What is up with Louis? He seems so distant.’ She asked as I took a deep breath mentally prepping myself for the tale of woe I was going to retell.
‘Three got in a huge fight with Two. I am not saying just a small argument of you took this give it back kinda thing. This is years and years of pent up hate. Three just exploded and Two was the target.’ Phoenix looked confused.
‘But why? I thought they were good friends.’ I shrugged.
‘I thought so too. But now I think it is because Two before he became a bodyguard came from a wealthy family who grew vineyards somewhere or something. Three is jealous that Two got honors and came first when all he got a second.’ Two gave a small cough as the bell went and we trudged back to school.
‘We have Spanish.’ She said quietly as we left the hall for lessons. I would have to endure an hour of Two and Three glaring daggers at each other. I sat next to Louis and Eva in Spanish. She was born in spain with a spanish mother and father but was brought over to England and grew up with English as a second language. Madam Chamon was always giving her extra work and stuff. We always had great fun but I guess things have changed since Louis and I weren't speaking.
Two stood behind me the whole lesson as Three stood beside him. The tension on the back row was so tense it was like a hot knife through butter. Louis and Eva did their best to ignore them but Geoffrey kept turning around to talk to him.
‘So Louis you have a guy. So does Taylor. What are their names?’ Louis ignored his constant questions until he broke.
‘SHUT UP! I DON’T REALLY CARE RIGHT NOW GEOFFREY. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!.’ Geoffrey turned around pretty quickly. Mr Strong walked in with a family of two teenagers and a toddler. His eyes widened when he saw Three glaring daggers at Two who was ignoring Three. HIs eyes flicked from the door to them and back to the door assessing all the people in the room. ise eyes stayed on me for a long time. Three pinched Two in a jibe.
‘Hey look. They are going to kill her. Woo. Quick kill them all.’ Two never responded but I had heard. It was too quiet for anyone else but me and Louis to hear it. I turned in my seat to look at him. Three was showing another side of him. One that I hated. He had seemed nice and friendly once upon a time. Now he was more like a bully.
‘Leave him alone okay. What did he do to you?’ Suddenly the glass window behind Louis shattered. These windows are not small they are big french windows. Three stood there in shock as Two grabbed me and shoved me under the table.
‘Gun. Quick give me your gun!’ He hissed and I grabbed it out of my inner blazer pocket. He moved in front of the window and fired. The gunshot echoed around the room and my ears were ringing. A loud thump told me the threat was gone. He handed the gun back to me. Eva looked from him to me and to where I had put the gun with only five bullets left.
‘You. You. You have a g- g- gun?’ I nodded.
‘Safety reasons.’ Two muttered. Eva was now staring at where the gun was.
‘You are a psychopath.’ I gave her a small smile.
‘I know.’ Mr Strong was trying to calm the family down in the corridor outside when the bell went. We all surged towards our next class carrying the family along with us. Two was carrying my bag as usual until we got to Geography with Miss Stairs. I sat at the back with Hugo. He had bleach blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Like a ken doll basically. He spent most of the lesson staring out of the window until Miss came around to check on him. We were doing small countries that had suffered Tsunamis and Earthquakes.
When the bell went Two grabbed my book and shoved it in my bag. He placed a hand on my shoulder.
‘It will be okay. Trust me.’ I looked at him. He had the most amazing blue eyes from where I was stood.
‘I do trust you. That is my problem. I trust you too much because one day you won’t be there for me.’ He stood just ten inches above me in height but I matched him in speed and agility.
‘What do you have next.’
‘Lunch and then Athletics. We are doing running.’ Two grinned at me. We had been training for the best part of a three months now meaning I could make it into top set if I wanted to. Two waited in the PE office because of the fifty girls getting changed in the room next door.
We walked out onto the field. I was in my navy blue skort and white polo t-shirt which was the school uniform. I walked with June up behind the netball and tennis courts to the running track/hockey pitch. Two walked behind me, still dressed in all black and so stood out in the group of white and blue. Three glared at us from the football field where he and Louis were playing football. Mrs Foldest was stood by the court with a whistle in her mouth.
‘Girls for a warm up you are going to run around the track three times.’ June groaned joining the chorus. I grinned at Two. We always chatted when we ran it helped us think when we shared jokes and gossip about people in school.
We set off slightly behind everyone until they started lagging behind. Annabell was in the front of the group. Two put his hand on the small of my back and pushed me forwards a bit. It was the signal to pull ahead. I jogged past her. She was walking, clutching her sides, wheezing. Two kept up with me. His muscles rippling as he ran. We were now a good two hundred meters in front of everyone and making the distance bigger with every pace. Mrs Foldest was yelling at us for running too fast.
‘I SAID JOG TAYLOR! WHY IS THERE A BOY HERE?’ Two shrugged at me and kept running. We past her making it the second lap. Julia was at the back of the group walking and crying. She was like a blob of fatness. I pushed sideways into Two as a joke he tripped me up in retaliation. I stayed on my feet as he kept trying to get me down.
‘Seriously. You are going to have to try much better than that.’ I taunted. Julia had now stopped as we ran past. Her lank blonde hair was in her face covering her eyes. Two picked me up and dropped me back on the ground as he ran.
‘Does that do?’ I ran to catch up with him.
‘No. That is not fair. I can’t pick you up.’ We were in the middle of the group now with Two pushing me sideways. I pushed him back. He bumped into June.
‘Oi watch where you are going!’ She yelled. We sped up to break away again.
After we had completed the last lap Two started giving me a mini martial arts lesson while we were waiting for everyone to catch up.
‘No Taylor. Keep tension here not here.’ He pressed his hand to my abdomen. A spark of electricity passed between us and he took his back quickly. As the others started coming in we stopped the mini lesson and sat down on the prickly grass. June looked at me in wonder.
‘When did you learn to run like that?’ I pointed at Two.
‘He taught me.’ Mrs Foldest stood in front of us with her hands on her hips.
‘Some of you walked that.’ She glared at Julia. ‘Others tried hard.’ She gave a kind smile to Harriet who cried the whole way around. ‘And some of you talked with your friends and messed around not completing the whole course.’ She glared at Me and Two.
‘Three guesses to who she is annoyed at.’ June whispered to Melinda. They giggled together despite being sat next to me.
‘So we will be doing the fifteen hundred meters as some people think this is just a doss lesson.’ Everyone groaned. Two looked at me. "Is she serious?" He mouthed. I nodded. He gave me a small smile. Mrs Foldest lined us up on the starting line. She set us all off with a short sharp burst of her whistle. Two and I started off tanking past everyone else. We set a good pace in front of everyone else. Two was muttering to me the whole way.
‘Remember to breath consistently. Don’t give in and walk however tired you are. This is how you get better.’ We kept running when the others fell behind. For once I was glad Two had trained me to be the best at fighting and sports. I slowed our pace as a horrible thought came over me. Two looked confused when I slowed down.
‘What?’ He slowed to keep up with me. ‘You are really pale. Are you okay?’ His concerned voice touched my heart but I was more worried to be consoled by just a voice.
‘We do races with the boys.’ I said as Two’s face clouded over like an overcast day. We finished first again with Mrs Foldest looking put out.
‘You cheated.’ Two went to complain but I stopped him.
We sat down on the grass by the track.
‘What did you do that for?’ He asked looking annoyed.
‘You can’t beat her. She has power over all of us lowly students.’ He pouted.
‘I want to go home. Back to where people know that I can kill them and make it look natural.’ I snorted. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow. ‘Hey don’t dis me. Peasant.’
‘I’m not a peasant. You are my lowly bodyguard.’ He stuck his tongue out at me. I gave him an evil smile.
‘Precisely.’ As people started coming in from the race Two started cracking rude and immature jokes. I had forgotten he was only sixteen years old and not worrying about GCSE’s and girls but me and his country.
‘Hey hey hey Taylor!’
‘Do you want to hear a dirty nun joke?’ He asked
‘No. You are so immature. Seriously. Why was I blessed with you?’ I asked as he flashed me his winning smile.
‘Because I am the only one closet to your age who they could find without training someone in a short space of time.’
‘Why have you been training for so long?’
‘I am not saying anything now. We can have this conversation later. I promise. I just don’t like to speak about it.’
‘Fine.’ I left it there. I had seen many relationships go wrong with friends because they keep pushing.
‘Really?’ He did not sound convinced. Let me just get this straight; I am not one of those really whiney girls who want everything and when they don’t they cry and get all I want it. But I am not one of those girls who is all I know what you are thinking, I will leave you alone and thinks of everyone else. I am just as selfish as the next person. It is programed into me and my brain. Also I hate trusting people; Mum promised that when I was nine that she would come back to get me. She of course never came back. I was, before then, a very trusting person. But for some strange reason I felt like I could trust Two. We had been through a lot together and had plenty of things in common. Well enough to make me trust him.
‘I know you will tell me. I have a small amount of trust and I trust you.’ We smiled at each other before June flopped down beside me. She was red in the face and very sweaty.
‘How you you run so fast?’ She panted, fanning her face.
‘I trained.’ I edged away from her just a bit unknowingly inching towards Two. As Julia made it onto the final lap Mrs called her in telling her she had tried hard enough and to give it up as a bad job.
‘Now girls we race with the boys.’ Two’s face hardened. The bottom set boys walked over with Louis and Three at the back. Two reached behind him. He looked like he was leaning back but I knew better. He had a hand on his gun.
‘Louis.’ Three did not sound happy when Louis said my name. Two forced a small smile. Mr Flatts walked behind them and up to Mrs Foldest.
‘ALRIGHT ENOUGH FLIRTING! NOW IS THE TIME TO PROVE YOURSELVES. TO GET INTO THE TOP SET. 800 METERS FIRST LINE UP. 4 BOYS 4 GIRLS. GO!’ He roared, spittle flying everywhere, to everyone. Louis and I went to the starting line with two more people.
When the whistle went and we started running. Three and Two were beside us. This became no friendly competition halfway round. It became war. If Louis won than Three would gloat and be a dick for ages. If I won then Two could gloat, only he was not the gloating type. I pulled ahead with Two behind me. I ran faster than I had ever run before just to beat him and keep up Two’s respect. A helicopter flew past but I kept running. Three hundred meters left. Two hundred meters left. One hundred. Louis was close. Too close. Fifty. Forty. Thirty. Twenty. Ten. Five. Four. Three. He was just ahead. Two. One last spurt of energy and. One. BAM!
The helicopter hovered above the track. A man dropped out of the chopper and dropped in front of me. I looked behind me. Two was stood there looking alert. Three was stood in front of Louis with puzzlement written all over both of their face’s. Two grabbed my arm and pulled me behind him. I peered around him. The man was tall with closely cropped ginger hair. He had a scar down the left of his face from the middle of his forehead to just below the middle of his chin. His yellow eyes scanned the area. He pulled out a megaphone.
‘Your majesty. If you surrender now I won’t shoot. If you do not surrender I will shoot everyone out here in ten.’ I made to move out from behind Two but he stopped me. He was whispering so quietly I could barely hear him.
‘If you are a no show he won’t spill any innocent blood.’
‘Who is he?’ I whispered to Two. I could hear the blood roaring in my ears in the deafening silence of the running track. The helicopter had gone off to land somewhere.
‘General Mosebush. Not a nice man. He will kill you on the spot if you come out from behind me.’ Two whispered quietly.
‘Lord Behan the same goes for you!’ Jess pulled out her phone from the waistband of her skort and called the police. ‘I won’t leave until you come out!’ He shouted with a gleeful smile.
After a scary twenty minutes the police showed up and raced onto the field. The General fired a gunshot into the air and the helicopter rose up from behind a hedge and dropped a rope for the General. He held on and dramatically soared away as the helicopter rose and left. The police went back to their cars and left minutes later.
‘He knows how to make an exit.’ I muttered. Louis drew his gun and pointed it at me. Two drew his gun and pointed at him. Three drew his gun and pointed it at Two while I pointed mine at Three.
‘Alright which one of you sold us out?’ My finger rested on the trigger. Louis looked confused.
‘You sold us out. I would never.’ Three’s face contorted with rage at Two’s answer.
‘Perfect Two being defenceless.’ He snarled.
‘Why would you think that?’ I retorted.
‘Because he knew how to lie in training. Lesson five term two. Everyone else failed that but him.’ He looked from Two to me and his face cracked into a horrible grin.
‘She does not know. You haven’t told her?’ Two shook his head. Louis looked confused.
‘Told her what?’
‘Two’s childhood.’ Cocked my gun. Mrs Foldest was walking towards me.
‘I don’t care right now about childhoods. You sold us out.’ Three looked outraged.
‘I would never sell Louis out! What about you?’
‘She would never do that to one of her best friends. Unlike you who broke two arms and one collar bone to stay in training.’ Three’s cheeks coloured with embarrassment.
‘I did what I had to. But I am great at what I do now because of that.’ I still had my gun pointed at Three and it was not going down anytime soon. Mrs Foldest was getting too close. I grabbed Two’s other gun with my left hand and fired at the ground in front of her. She stopped and glared at me but I ignored her.
‘So Louis.’ Two spoke his name with so much venom a king cobra would be scared. Louis still had his gun pointed at me. The small problem I was more scared for Two as he was on the other end of Three’s gun. Louis was not a scary person but in training he could never fire a gun at just a dummy saying it would get hurt. “But what would my father say?” He used to ask Two who kept walking and ignoring him making sure I could hold the gun. Two was more focused on me as I trained thinking back to it. I always felt like I was being watched but when I turned around he was teaching Louis. Thinking back Three was always watching me as well. What was going on? The sound of a bullet being fired brought me back from my memories.
‘SHE DOES NOT EVEN PAY ATTENTION! HOW DID SHE GET SO GOOD AT FIRING A GUN?’ Three screeched holding his foot and hopping around in pain. Two took the moment and grabbed Three’s gun off the floor. Three being caught unarmed fell over and stayed on the floor. I grabbed Louis gun pulled towards his chest turning my back to him. I felt bad as I ground my heel into his foot but kept going as I elbowed him in the solar plexus and then smashed my elbow up into his face causing his nose to start bleeding. He sank to his knees crying. I did feel really bad as I had just beaten up one of my best friends but in my own defence he had just been pointing a gun at my head. Fair is fair.
‘Sorry.’ I whispered as Two pulled Louis gun free from his grip. He grabbed my arm and we ran down to his mini with top and bottom PE sets staring at us. We ran faster as the bell went and people started pouring out of the classrooms into the sunlight of the now hot May day to get to their busses.
‘Thanks.’ Two said to me. I looked confused.
‘What did I do?’
‘You shot him in the foot taking out the most dangerous enemy.’
‘I shot him. So what?’ Two stopped running. He put a hand on my forehead like my father did when I was ill. Mother never looked after me. She wanted to get an au pair to look after me in sickness and in health in the good and bad times. Two’s hands were cold despite being in the sun for the best part of an hour.
‘You don’t remember that lesson. Eliminate the strongest enemy. Ring any bells?’ I shook my head. ‘You look fine and feel hot but that might be because you have been in the sun for so long.’
He got into his mini which was slightly dirty on the outside due to being sat in the car park for the best part of half a year. The inside was cool and familiar to me. We were speeding back home with Two checking in the rear view mirror every few moments. He took the longest route back going through many small country lanes.