Nic lied. To both Tony and Wallace, his conspirators. Because he knew they would never understand. The night after the crowd had dispersed and the cleanup crew was there to collect Joyce’s body, he had paid them off and took Joyce’s body back to his place. It took a long amount of time to heal her, but he did it. Being the one doing the killing had its benefits. He was able to manipulate the wound area hence reducing the chance of death–and deceiving both Wallace and Tony long enough, allowing him to return and save her in a short span of time. It wasn’t an easy process because he had to calculate and make some estimation to ensure that he would be back in time–or Joyce was gone for good.

The damage control didn’t start with reviving Joyce, it started with convincing Joyce to stay put and hear him out. It seemed impossible because Joyce would never forgive what he’d done. Not only to her but to all those innocent people he would eventually harm–if their plan was successful. She still hadn’t forgiven him since that day death had brushed her and allowed her another chance. But she had chosen to keep quiet all along, even when they arrived on Earth and he had hidden her at the current habitat. Whatever it was her reasons for staying silent, Nic didn’t force her to acknowledge his existence, not after what had happened between them. The torn trust, the betrayal, and the near-death experience. Not to mention discovering what kind of monster he’d been in the past. Yet he had waited, waited until the day she would finally forgive him.

Keeping her hidden from everyone was easy, keeping her hidden from Tony was nearly impossible. He had to make up another lie. A lie that made a lot of sense. Coming up with an excuse to return to Earth separately was tricky but not undoable. They didn’t want too much attention to themselves after all. So Nic had proposed that he and Tony divide their goods and take it back to Earth separately. That would decrease their chances of discovery. It had worked. For a while. Buying that little amount of time was all Nic needed to bring Joyce back with him.

However, Nic didn’t start explaining or recounting of what had happened. And why Joyce didn’t die that night. He brushed Wallace’s hand aside and raced toward Joyce’s side, shielding her from his conspirators.

“What the hell were you thinking by keeping her here like that?” Wallace bellowed, beyond outraged.

“Why isn’t she dead yet?” Tony continued with the interrogation.

“That’s right,” Wallace took over the attack.

“You would never understand,” Nic said, staring them down without an ounce of fear present.

It was also then that Joyce began to stir. Nic turned around to face her, grabbing onto her shoulders, helping her stabilize.

“Nic…” Joyce called out weakly. Her face looked all pale and puffy, so unlike her liveliness that they had witnessed several years back when she was still at her home planet. The possible explanation would be she had been trapped here for so long hence running out of food and water. Because Nic had already been arrested along with Tony hence not being able to make it back in time to restock the necessary supplies for her.

“Xiao Qiao, you’re all right,” Nic said, his bright sunshine smile on. So unlike the cruel exterior he often displayed along with the misdeeds that he had committed previously.

Tears began to form on Joyce’s face. “I thought I would die here.”

Nic attempted to wipe away her tears with his hands, shaking his head. “No, you’re all right now. I’m back.”

After those few words, Nic hugged Joyce to him, still soothing her.

“She still has to die,” Wallace spoke up, alarming Joyce into alertness.

“You…” Joyce muttered, her strength still hanging on the edge.

Nic had released her but he was still having a protective hand on her shoulders. “You can’t do that now.”

“She’s going to try and escape and go inform the authorities,” Tony pointed out. “We can’t risk that.”

“The sooner we get rid of her the better,” Wallace followed, his expression as cold as Tony’s.

“She won’t tell on us,” Nic jumped in, still shielding Joyce from their glares. “She doesn’t know the directions around here. She almost starved to death because she ran out of food and all. What makes you think she could run outside and call the cops on us?”

“We never know, would we?” Wallace taunted. “Better safe than sorry.”

“I won’t let you.”

Wallace had on his amused smile then. “What makes you think you could fight us?”

Wallace, of course, had spoken up for Tony as well.

“You still need me.”

Wallace’s intimidating smile increased its curve on his mouth. “Do we?”

Nic was able to interpret Wallace’s words along with Tony’s body language. He didn’t need a second warning. He hoisted Joyce on his back before reaching for an object in his jacket pocket. Tossing out the items gained him several seconds and got him access to the door. As Joyce hung onto Nic’s shoulders for her dear life, she could hear Wallace and Tony’s yelling behind them while the sceneries zoomed by. Before long, Nic exited through the garden and made his way out to the familiar path leading up to the secret mansion. It was his hideout, after all, so he knew all the shortcuts and which way to swerve out of harm’s way.

“Nic, leave me,” Joyce whispered into his ears as the wind wheezed in their ears. “I don’t want to slow you down.”

“No!” Nic yelled out. “I’ll never leave you…again.”

Nic increased his pace even more, zigzagging toward some trees ahead. He was sure he could make it out of the woods safely. He was that sure. Yet he didn’t realize Wallace and Tony were waiting for him up ahead. His only downfall was Tony’s sense of direction. Tony had studied all the layouts of the place since they entered the woods. He had been there once before, but he knew enough.

“Going somewhere?” Wallace taunted as Nic stopped in his tracks, shocked because he just got outwitted.

“He’s not familiar with this place, but don’t you think I would?” Tony answered Nic’s questioning glare.

Joyce had removed her head from Nic’s shoulder at that moment and had straightened as much as her current strength would allow. Nic could feel the movement behind him, so he lowered himself slightly so she could get down. He was still holding onto her as she tried to stand on her own feet.

“If you guys want to kill me, go ahead,” Joyce said, her voice weak yet determined. “Let Nic go.”

Tony snorted then. “It’s not up to you to decide, honey.”

His tone was definitely mocking as he said “honey” and Nic felt anger surging up from within. Despite the fact that he would eventually be eliminated by his two conspirators. He didn’t care. His top priority at the moment was protecting Joyce.

“Remember how we used to give people a chance before actually taking care of them?” Wallace said, looking at Nic. “I think it’s fair to give you a chance as well. Hand her over and we consider letting you stay and help us. If not, then you leave us with no choice.”

“No,” Nic replied firmly, still holding onto to Joyce.

“Nic…” Joyce whispered, her strength draining by the second.

“You’ve softened,” Wallace noted. “You didn’t think twice about ending a pathetic girl’s life before.”

“Are you suggesting that you’ve suddenly found some sort of religion so you want to repent yourself for your past unforgivable deeds?” Tony asked, his mocking tone still in place. “Or are you thinking of using her to reduce your death sentence to life imprisonment?”

“I love her,” Nic responded, staring at both Wallace and Tony–and not caring if he was subjected to another round of teasing. That was the least of his concern at the moment.

Wallace snickered then. “You want to tell me you turned a new leaf and want to start a new life?”

“What is this?” Tony followed with an equally amusing attitude. “The production of Romeo and Juliet? We all know what happened to them, right? Stupidity only has one ending.”

Death. It was a word they all didn’t need to say or hear. It was that obvious.

“Last chance,” Wallace warned.

But before Nic could deliver another set of attacks toward his ex-conspirators, they could hear sirens from a distance.

“What is it?” Wallace asked.

“The cops are here,” Tony replied.

With that much-needed distraction, Nic made a run for it as Wallace and Tony had taken their eyes off him to study the surrounding areas for a possible exit route. He was carrying Joyce in his arms this time, not on his back like before. And they were heading toward the opposite direction. Toward the blaring sirens. The way he saw it, they might as well get caught by the cops than land into Wallace and Tony’s grasps. At least they would be allowed some sort of trial. And because he knew Joyce would be in good care, unlike her current state.

“Just leave me,” Joyce begged again, knowing she was burdening him.

“No, I won’t,” Nic argued like the last time.

“You’ll get caught.”

“I don’t care.”

And he meant it. His wish came true several minutes later. But it wasn’t the cops. It was Wallace and Tony running after them. They had chosen to chase Nic and Joyce down. Or had Tony found a route of escape along this path?

“Nic, watch out!” Joyce yelled out, having seen the stick in Wallace’s hand.

Nic dived down a tad too late, his body tumbling toward the hill–and dragging Joyce with him. He had tried to toss her aside to prevent her from receiving the blow, but it was too late. Wallace and Tony were faster. He attempted to grab onto Joyce’s hand as she came tumbling down the hill as well.

“Don’t kill him!” Wallace yelled out as Tony sprung in for the final attack.

Tony had stopped his advances but turned toward Wallace with a shocked expression on his face. “Why not?”

“We still need him if we’re caught.”

Unlike Tony, Nic didn’t need to wait for Wallace’s explanation. He had finally succeeded in stopping himself from descending any farther. He scrambled toward Joyce and helped her up. They had to thank both Wallace and Tony because they were now farther down the hill than they could ever be, considering Joyce’s state. Now, they were heading toward a familiar street that Nic had used to transport Joyce to the mansion two years ago. Joyce was on his back again as he increased his pace, trying to put as much distance from Wallace and Tony as he could. While knowing the sirens were blaring at a maddening height. It was a chance they were willing to take.

As for Wallace and Tony, they had to take the cemented stairs down in order to catch up to Nic and Joyce. It was too dangerous to just take the shortcut down the hill just like that. Perhaps their luck depended on Joyce’s weak state thus slowing Nic down a little. Just that “little” had become their advantage. They increased their pace in no time after they descended those sets of cemented stairs. Catching up to Nic and Joyce was easy and this time, they didn’t hesitate. Or try to stop and talk it out anymore. They were prompt for time. As Tony jumped in to overpower Nic, Wallace grabbed Joyce. The fight continued as both Nic and Joyce yelled out for each other. In Joyce’s case, it was more about letting Nic go than begging for mercy. Like Joyce, Nic only wanted to see Joyce alive and well.

“Don’t kill him yet!” Wallace reminded Tony as he continued to grab at Joyce’s shoulders.

“Let Nic go!” Joyce yelled out, despite her deteriorated state.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Wallace hissed. “And neither are you.”

With those words, Wallace raised a hand up and hit the edge of Joyce’s neck, knocking her out. That had caused another outcry from Nic before Wallace jumped in to help Tony.

“Stop where you are!” Someone yelled out above all their voices.

It was then that they realized they had been surrounded. Yes, the cops had moved in. They weren’t just regular cops either, but a group of special forces. As they arrested the three guys one by one, Nic still yelled out for Joyce. However, the cops only focused on securing the suspects, making sure the chance of fleeing was zero this time around. A medical team had been called in after the initial inspection from the person in charge, allowing Joyce of medical care. She was transported in the emergency vehicle to the hospital as the three of them were transported back to a higher secured prison.

© Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Posted: Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

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