As the first sunlight breaks the horizon, traffic on the streets of New York picks up. While the morning rush is still a few good hours away, Miles treks down the street within the neighborhood which Jagger calls home. His insides perform somersaults with the realization his work is not complete. Had they caught Skylar as planned, he would have been able to return to his life after ending the life of his final target–Jagger.
As he stands at the base of the apartment building and looks up at the tenth-floor window where he’s been living for the last two months, a tear forms in the corner of his eye. Unlike Blane, Miles motivation for serving the Zealots isn’t based on deep seeded religious beliefs nor the desire to rid the world of those who don’t follow the ideals of those same thugs. Like Blanche and many others, there is a hidden threat looming over his head. He knows he must do his job if he’s ever to see his daughter again.
In the pocket of his black hoodie a cell phone buzzes against his abdomen. He wipes his eye with a sleeve, reaches in for the phone and brings it to his ear. The angry hysterics of a woman on the line send an instant grimace to the poor man’s face.
“Miles. You said it would be over last night. You said she’d finally be home. Why did you lie? Where is my little girl? Where! Tell me!”
Miles clenches a fist and grits his teeth, “Karen, It’s not over yet. I thought it would be. I’m so sorry. I truly am. Please believe me. I have to work for a little longer and then I’ll be able to get her back to you.”
“That’s easy for you to say, you still get to see her from time to time. I should call the police! It’s been two months,” cries the woman.
“No! Then you’ll be dead. She’s doing fine. I promise. Just trust me. They won’t release her until I do this job. I’ll work harder, faster. I’ll bring our daughter home soon. You have my word,” vows Miles.
“You better. You’re a piece of shit. Just a sperm donor for the first three years of her life, then all your crimes ruined my life. We were doing fine without you. We moved on. You bring her home to me, and after that we want nothing to do with you for the rest of our lives.”
Miles bends his head downward and runs a hand through the hair on the back of his head. He listens with intent to her callous words but knows she’s telling the truth. The circles of thieves and drug lords he ran with for years delivers the final consequence at the expense of family. He responds with but a whisper, “Okay, Karen. Whatever’s best. I understand. Now, please. I have to go to work.”
The phone disconnects before he could finish the last sentence. Something he hadn’t realized until a few moments ago became clear. However, he knew his words would fall upon deaf ears. Now was not the time to profess his undying love for an ex-girlfriend, or the daughter the Zealots held for ransom. It wouldn‘t be right for him to say those words when every action taken proved the exact opposite of that sentiment.
Miles, exhausted, both mentally and physically takes a seat on the stoop in front of Jagger’s apartment door and breaks down in full-blown tears. He cups a hand over his eyes, trying to conceal the pain from those staring out a window or passing by on the way to work. It‘s pushing seven o’clock in the morning, and the work commuters would be out in droves soon enough. A delicate hand presses down on his shoulder. Although startling at first, Miles knew exactly who was behind him comforting him.
“I’m sorry, babe,” Miles cries.
“Why are you crying? Oh my god, I’ve never seen you like this before?” Questions the voice.
“Oh, it’s because I couldn’t get us to the safe city. They got away. Both of them. The man in the hat, and your best friend. Just vanished out of thin air. Now, we have to stay here in this gay hating mecca,” Miles lies, and hopes Jagger doesn’t see through the web of deceit spun from day one.
Jagger sits on a step just above, wraps arms around Miles. Jagger places the side of his face against Miles back and caresses his shoulders. He doesn’t say one word, just pure loving comfort. Jagger’s thoughts dance in circles as hearing Skylar may be safe releases tension from his wearied heart. The same feeling, he imagines, as a released valve on a pressure cooker valve sending waves of piping hot steam into the air. He grips his boyfriend tighter with ambivalence. The disappointment of a new life within the confines of the safe city and happiness over Skylar’s disappearance.
A strange feeling washes over Miles soul causing his sadness to go deeper into the hole he’s dug. Perhaps there are good people in the world, he thought. This young man behind him had risked a twenty-year friendship in the name of love. The same exact love he feels for Karen, and their daughter Samantha. There isn‘t a difference—not one. Love is love no matter how you slice it, flip it, spin it, twist it, or even pervert it as the Zealots often do.
Jagger whispers, “It’s okay. We stay hidden as we always do. Let’s get upstairs before someone sees me hugging you.”
Miles nods his head, stands up as Jagger releases his arms. Down the hall of the apartment building they maintain a safe distance while other residents exit their apartments. Jagger grips his boyfriend’s hand tightly as the elevator doors close. The ride up to the tenth floor is silent allowing reflection for both the young men and their futures.
Jagger revisits his guilt about going against the only true friends he’s ever known. He knows full well the Zealots will never stop until Skylar and the mysterious man is in their custody. Questions in his mind of whether the man beside him is worth all the horrible trouble that‘s befallen Skylar. In the world in which they live, love, especially the true love Jagger feels is impossible to come by. He grips Miles tighter and rubs a thumb gently over the top of his hand.
Miles thoughts dwell on the future. He knows Blane will stop at nothing to catch their targets. Once complete, Miles will have to eliminate Jagger to ensure the safe return of Samantha. After all this time spent, Miles, for the first time, doesn’t know if he will have the courage, or conscience to carry out his orders. He now understands the true meaning of love and the power it holds over all who are lucky enough to experience it. This comprehension has a crazy way of changing even the most hardened people. The only emotion that contains the power to win a war against unbeatable odds and numerous foes. A war of blind hatred – like the one they were born into.