-tumbles in- IT’S STILL TECHNICALLY THURSDAY I DIDN’T MISS IT
Okay, aaaaanyway. Happy Blank Mastermind Thursday, you people who are still awake and browsing blogs at this hour.
Today, we start off on a a leetle mini-adventure from the afterward effects of Blank Mastermind. Three parts in all, so don’t get too riled up.
All idea credit to my brilliant sister, who seems to come up with the most heartrending ideas she can possibly give to me. This is Wolfgang going around and apologizing to people whose family members he killed while he was a villain. He’s ending the cycle and trying not to let other people get as hung up as he did.
-sniff- Such a grown up boy. ❤
Anyway. If you’re new, this is the aftermath of thees story heer: Blank Mastermind. Catch up, and you’ve got lotsa deleted scenes.
So, part 1!
(oh and a song to go with, heh.)
#1: Mark Hansen
I shot bolt upright in bed, sucking in a breath so fast I nearly choked on it. Ice cold sweat stuck my shirt to my back and ran down my face. The nightmare still hovered in my vision and rang in my ears.
Gunshots. Explosions. All the blood . . .
My hands. They weren’t visible in the dark but I could see the blood coating them in my bleary vision. Going nearly halfway up my arms . . . dripping on the blankets . . .
I shoved the blankets back in a panic, swinging my legs out of bed and stumbling for the bathroom. I whacked at the lightswitch, flinching at the sudden light.
I got my hands over the sink, yanking the faucet on and splashing water up my arms. I cursed under my breath, about choking on the air I sucked in again. My hands shook as I rubbed frantically at my skin, trying to wash the blood . . .
I blinked a couple of times and the red faded out of my vision. My hands still trembled under the stream of cold water, the scars standing out starkly against my pale skin.
It was just a nightmare. Again.
I let out my breath, leaning over the counter and pulling my wet hands up to run through my hair. All the faces of the people I’d killed and hurt still stared at me in my mind. Covered in blood. Asking “why?” with their eyes.
I didn’t even know most of their names. I’d seen them on the news afterwards. Never said sorry. Never made it right.
You were never really one for apologizing.
Dallas’s words had stuck in my mind, coming back to ring in my ears a few too many times. I’d apologized publicly since turning around. I’d apologized to the Fernsbys and to Dallas himself.
But they weren’t the only ones I’d hurt.
There were families out there that were broken now because of me.
I closed my eyes as the bathroom walls suddenly seemed too small, leaning menacingly in on me.
Enough. It’s not even very small in here. The door’s still open, for heaven’s sake . . .
But the lingering panic from my nightmares shoved the claustrophobia up another few notches and before I knew it, I couldn’t get a breath.
I straightened up and pushed through the door, walking over to the window and opening it up. Again. How many times just in the past week had found me shivering in the middle of the night by the window, gasping for air? I guessed this made four.
I sat there for a minute, until I had a good amount of oxygen back. I was still shaking and grabbed my jacket off the chair to slip over my shoulders. I rested my head against the windowsill and closed my eyes, feeling only slightly more secure with my coat of armor back in place.
If there was ever a bandaid solution though . . .
What could I do? What would help this?
Before I could finish thinking it, the answer came, echoing again in the form of Dallas’s words.
I could apologize.
But how would I know who . . .?
Police files. There’s gotta be something.
I need to do this.
I straightened up, patting at my pocket for my phone. My hand still shook so I had a hard time flipping it open. I ignored the screen flashing the insanely early hour at me and punched in News’s number, holding the phone to my ear.
He answered on the third ring, his voice pitched a bit deeper than usual, but in a sleepy, friendly way. “Heyyy, everything alright?” he muffled a yawn.
I stood up, running a hand through my hair. “Are you doing anything later?”
“Don’t think so . . .”
“Great. I need help.”
This is going to be ridiculously hard.
The early summer sun soaked into the black of my jacket as we walked along down the sidewalk.
I straightened the collar of my jacket and took a deep breath and focused back on looking for the right address. 137. The numbers steadily counted down towards it as we kept walking.
“Tell me the name again,” I muttered, craning my neck as I spotted the sweet little flowery bungalow we were looking for. “Who all’s gonna be here?”
News cuffed his sleeve and consulted the pen marks on his arm. “Should be . . . Leah Hansen. Husband’s name was Mark. Got a daughter and a few grandkids but not nearby . . .” he shrugged, striding easily along next to me as he rolled his sleeve back down. “She lives alone, yeah.”
Because of me.
I flinched, swallowing. I’d gotten pretty used to the awful sinking in my stomach, but this was a whole new level.
Yeah, let’s just sit down and chit-chat with her. I only killed her sole companion in the world . . .
We came to a stop at the end of the walk up to the house. Pansies and daffodils nodded over the cobbled walkway. Welcoming, cheerful and grandmotherly. I could almost smell the scent of cookies wafting in the air.
It made me feel like throwing up.
“Hey, you sure you want to do this?” News asked, elbowing me gently.
I nodded and started walking before he’s even finished his question. If I gave in to all the second guessing, I’d never get up the nerve to do what I needed to do. And I needed to make it up to all the people I’d hurt.
With the wife of the cop I’d killed on that very first night. I’d killed him for no more reason than the fact that he’d gotten in my line of sight when I was trying to kill Amazing Man.
Maybe this is the answer to Liza’s question. The way to get rid of the ghosts and the nightmares once and for all.
News followed on my heels and we reached the brightly painted yellow front door.
Yellow. Ellie’s favorite color . . .
Okay stop, you’re enough of a wreck as it is. No thinking about Ellie.
I closed my eyes and took in another deep breath of the floral-scented air, then rang the doorbell.
It gave a quaint, old fashioned “ding-dong” that echoed distantly inside the house.
“Just a moment!” rang a voice from inside, surprisingly strong for how old News had said this lady was. Footsteps slapped against the floor, coming closer until they stopped at the door.
God, help me.
It swung open.
Standing there in the doorway was a smiling, grey haired old woman in a bright pink shirt. “Hello, and who might . . .” she trailed off and I saw her smile falter slightly as her gaze took in a few key details.
My leather jacket. My cowlick. My giant bodyguard with the fedora and sunglasses.
Bad News plucked his sunglasses off, setting them on the brim of his hat instead. He gave a grin and a wave. “Heyo. Baden News and Wolfgang Dankworth at your service, ma’am. Can we come in?”
Dammit, News, that was my line.
A little of the color drained from the woman’s face, but she did her best not to let the rest of her expression show it. She recovered her smile quickly. “Why, yes of course. Come right in, boys.” She stepped aside.
I just stood there like an idiot for a second, then registered that she’d welcomed us into her house. “Um . . . yes, thank you.” I scrambled for some Grandma-appropriate manners and reached up to tip a nonexistent hat without thinking. It shifted into somewhat of a half-salute, half-Victorian bow as I tried to abort that awful gesture.
Mrs. Hansen’s eyebrows went up slightly.
I forced a smile and waved slightly, unsure what to do with my hands. Genius. Now she knows your criminal and insane.
News grabbed the back of my jacket and gently shoved me inside. He smiled apologetically. “Still working out the whole ‘saying hi to people normally’ routine.”
I jabbed my elbow into his ribs as I straightened my jacket. I could feel my ears burning.
“Oh, well,” Mrs. Hansen managed a half smile back. She stood there for a second, looking between the two of us, noticeably nervous. Taking in a deep breath and turning a little, she gestured to the kitchen. “Well, there’s a sitting area over there and I just . . . made some cookies if you two gentlemen would like some?”
I opened my mouth slightly, “That would . . . I mean, if it’s not any trouble . . .”
News guffawed and slapped my shoulder. “’Course we would. What sorta wacko turns down fresh cookies?”
Mrs. Hansen drew back towards the kitchen, obviously somewhat overwhelmed with the sudden introduction to Baden’s level of sugar enthusiasm. But what looked like a bit of a more genuine smile played across her face for a second. She nodded. “Alright, just this way then.”
I waited until she’d already rounded the corner before following. It felt rude to have to force her to spend more time with me than absolutely necessary. And News’s cookie crusading wasn’t helping with that.
The kitchen was just as cozy and cinnamon-scented as the rest of the house. Red painted cupboards and wooden floors. Curtains swooped over the windows, dimming the sunlight that came in.
I stood there in back of the small couch with the quilt over the back, off to the side of the kitchen area. A framed picture hung on the wall of Leah Hansen, slightly younger, laughing and being hugged by a bigger man with a wide smile and graying hair.
The man I’d killed. Her husband.
My hands shook and I shoved them in my pockets.
“Take a seat, please,” Mrs. Hansen kept her back to us, her fluffy grey hair falling over to hide her face as she collected her cookies off the cooling rack and onto a plate.
It was a valiant effort to pretend she didn’t know or care who I was, but the mask was obviously slipping.
She hates me. I shot her husband.
News took a seat on the couch and it creaked in protest. He nodded to me, gesturing to the seat next to him. I sat down a little slower, rubbing nervously at my wrists.
“Well . . . um . . . thank you for . . . letting us in,” I offered hesitantly as Mrs. Hansen turned back around.
“Of course. I’m always happy to have guests.” She gave me another smile, only meeting my eyes for a fraction of a second. Her expression was still doubtful. She took a seat on the couch directly facing us and set the cookie plate on the coffee table. “Please, help yourselves to a cookie.”
“Thanks,” News easily grinned back, leaning over to take a cookie. He glanced over at me.
I wrinkled my nose slightly, holding up a hand and attempting a joking smile. “I’m good.” The state of my stomach wasn’t the best for cookies right now.
News shrugged and leaned over to take another cookie. Mine, hypothetically.
Well aren’t you just being a heap of help.
Awkward silence pulled the air between the three of us tight and I shifted in my seat. What could I say? Where to even start when I’d taken so much from her?
Mrs. Hansen twisted her hands quietly in her lap, her hair partially hiding her face. “I do suppose you two . . . gentlemen have a reason for stopping by?” She swallowed and looked up again, only managing to look over at News as she smiled.
News smiled back, his mouth partly full of chewed cookie. I winced.
“M-Mrs. Hansen . . .” I finally got my voice to work. “You know who I am, don’t you?”
She opened and closed her mouth, looking back at her hands in her lap. She gave a sad, strained laugh. “It’s . . . rather hard not to, Mr. D-Dankworth.” It sounded like she had some trouble not choking on my name.
I rubbed my hands together as I leaned forward and bowed my head. “You might have seen the article of that whole . . . incident with the heroes and all?” Now I couldn’t meet her eyes. I picked at the scars on my wrists.
“I’ve heard something of it.”
I cleared my throat. “So I . . . I’ve changed, Mrs. Hansen. And I really . . . just wanted to come by and say that . . .”
I’d killed her husband in cold blood. I’d shot a hole though her best friend. How could she ever forgive me for that?
Come on, coward. Look up. Meet her eyes.
I dragged my gaze off the toes of my sneakers and focused on her face. She was actually looking at me now, her brows drawn together.
I worked my jaw for a few seconds. “I want to tell you I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry about your husband and what I did. I’m sorry.” The words came out all in a burst, my voice husky. My eyes stung, but I kept my gaze fixed solidly on Mrs. Hansen’s.
She just stared at me for a second, then the welcoming, cheerful mask she’d put up trembled and slipped off. Her expression crumpled and she buried her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking under the soft, pink fabric of her shirt.
I swallowed hard as I stood up, moving a little closer. “I . . . really . . . I lost my whole family. I just . . . can’t imagine how hard . . . I’m . . . really very sorry, Mrs. Hansen . . .” I started to reach out my hand, then awkwardly brought it back to rub at the back of my neck.
Mrs. Hansen kept sobbing and didn’t look up.
It felt like I was being knifed in the gut just watching how much pain I’d put her through.
I glanced back at News, who flashed me a thumbs-up and grabbed another cookie.
I stared. Excuse me, there’s such a thing as respect?
This woman’s sobbing her heart out. Yeah, time for a third cookie.
Mrs. Hansen took in a long, shuddery breath and started to take her hands down. I turned back to her quickly, trying to look like I hadn’t just been gawking at my bodyguard’s lack of manners.
With red-rimmed eyes and tears trailing down her cheeks, Mrs. Hansen looked up at me.
She smiled at me.
I blinked, slowly bringing my hand back down. My mind spun in circles for any logical reason she wasn’t smacking me over the head with her purse and shooing me out of her house by now.
She shook her head as she kept looking at me, letting out a half-sobbing laugh. She got to her feet, still smiling through her tears, and hugged me.
Any rational explanation I’d been cooking up immediately short-circuited.
My arms reflexively shot out to my sides as she enfolded me in a soft hug, her grandmotherly scent of oatmeal cookies and perfume adding to the embrace. It would have been comforting if I hadn’t been so confused.
With the lack of anything else in my brain, I just proceeded with what I had been going to say. “I-I was just . . . going to ask you if you could possibly consider . . . ever forgiving me.”
Mrs. Hansen pulled back, her eyes still sparkling with tears. She smiled in that way my mom used to when she was proud of me. Looking about to burst with pride and happiness.
A woman I’d never met before. And I’d killed her husband.
She nodded. “I forgave you years ago. And I’ve been praying for this.” She hugged me again. “Thank God he saw fit to answer me.”
This time I hesitantly brought my arms back down to return the hug. My vision misted over and I swallowed.
A weight lifted from my shoulders.
Again, News managed to ruin the moment by whistling and clapping at the success. But Mrs. Hansen just laughed. I grinned, swiping at my eyes.
One ghost down. Six to go.
Awwww, happiness for Wolfgang. ❤
Though I can’t guarantee the next one will go as smoothly….
Tune in next week! Hope you guys enjoyed the story. 😀
May you all have an awesome weekend.
Love you guys