Okay, so I was busy and missed Blank Mastermind Thursday.
But you know what that means, right?
THIS CAN BE FEELZ FRIDAY INSTEAD.
YAY THIS WILL BE FUN
If I haven’t scared you all off by now, yep, this would be the second part of the story I posted last week. Aaaaand this would actually be a spinoff of another story I have up here on the blog.
So. Briefly summing up the insane amount of backstory.
This is Wolfgang Dankworth.
He was a villain, then he had amnesia and a lot of adventures and turned around. You can read that story here: Blank Mastermind
And then there’s this story, which is afterwards. He killed some people. Now he’s being a proper good guy and going around to the families to apologize.
The last part went pretty well and you can read that here: Part 1: Mark Hansen
Don’t know if I can say the same for this one. It’s sadder. Much sadder.
But there’s a happy ending coming next week I promise.
Anyway. All those introductions over. Here’s the story itself. -bows out-
#2: Thomas Wade
If I thought meeting with someone who probably hated me in their own home was nerve wracking . . . meeting them in a fancy restaurant wasn’t turning out much better.
I stood outside the door, looking in the glass of the window and adjusting my collar. I took in a breath and let it out slowly. “Why . . . did it have to be here, exactly?”
News shrugged. “I talked to the guy about meeting and he just brought up this restaurant. I mean, I suggested Lucky Scoop, man. He just wasn’t taking it.”
I ran a hand over my hair, my fingers sliding straight through. Even if I couldn’t make it lie down flat, I could comb out the tangles for making myself presentable.
It wasn’t too fancy . . . like, not tux-level . . . but I still wore a collared shirt and made sure my jacket was properly cleaned. It seemed weird to be identifying myself to the public so easily by wearing my jacket out like this, but it felt wrong without it.
I had to apologize as me. As much as I hated to admit it, I was still the same guy who’d killed all these people. Even if I had changed.
News checked his watch, then shook his sleeve back down. “Reservation was for six. I think you could probably head in now.”
“What time is it?”
Fashionably late, as always.
“Right. Okay, just . . . wait out here.”
News nodded and saluted. “Good luck in there.”
I took another breath and pushed in the door, running over the details I needed in my mind again.
Jacob Wade. Former military. I’d killed his son Thomas, a junior SPI by accident in the first bombing we’d ever done.
What could go wrong, huh?
Just the memory sent my stomach churning again. His was one of the only deaths that . . . at the time . . . I could have actually said I was sorry for. And I could just cling to the hope Jacob could forgive me. I wasn’t going to be as lucky as I’d been with Mrs. Hansen every time.
I walked up to the desk and the man at it looked up, raising his eyebrows. “Hello, do you have a reservation?”
I nodded, swallowing. “Y-yeah, I’m with . . . is there a Jacob Wade on there?”
The man checked his list and nodded. “Indeed there is. Right this way, please.” He started off through the restaurant, weaving his way through the tables towards a small table near the back.
I followed, sticking my hands in my pockets. I wondered how I’d be able to even hold a fork like this. Let alone eat. What on earth had News been thinking?
Oh, he couldn’t stomach even a cookie last time. Let’s go to a whole freaking restaurant. That’ll be fantastic.
The waiter came to a stop a few feet from a small, two seat table and nodded me to one of the seats. The other occupant had his back to me and I could just see the back of his neat jacket and grey hair. He was reading something and didn’t notice us. Didn’t look up.
I ran a hand over my hair again, sending up a quick prayer and a hope that he’d be as benevolent and lovely as my last attempt turned out to be.
I cleared my throat, taking the few steps around to get to my seat and into his sightline. “Hey . . . um . . . you’re Jacob Wade?”
The man blinked at the sudden sound of my voice breaking into the quiet of the restaurant. “Why yes, and you must be . . . ” he looked up and the pleasant smile melted off his face.
I forced myself to keep up whatever semblance of a smile I’d managed and held out my hand. “Nice to meet you, I’m Wolfgang D-“
“Dankworth. Yeah, I got that.” Wade’s expression stayed stony, his gaze fixed on mine. He didn’t take my hand.
There it was again. That tone of saying Dankworth like a cuss word.
Ohhh this should be fun.
I dropped my hand awkwardly and pulled back my seat to sit down. “Well, I . . . thanks for meeting me here.”
Wade didn’t answer, just watching me sit.
It felt like he was turning the chair under me to molten metal with his look. I swallowed and shifted in my seat.
He ran his tongue over his teeth as he picked his menu back up.
Well, at least he wasn’t looking at me now. I followed his lead, picking up my own menu. I propped it against my water glass and sat on my hands to hide the shaking. I wondered if it would be too weird just to order a nice, tall glass of some sort of alcohol. That was the only thing really striking my fancy right now.
The waiter came back a few minutes later – us having made absolutely zero progress in conversation – and we placed our orders.
I did end up ordering a pretty big drink, but ordered some fancy sandwich as well to cover it up. Wade ordered something I’d seen on the menu, but hadn’t been able to pronounce.
The waiter filled our glasses, smiled promptingly at both of us, and left.
Jacob Wade just nodded and went back to the book he was reading.
I tapped the toes of my shoes against the table leg and drummed my fingers on the underside of my seat as I watched him. Wade wasn’t even trying to pretend that he liked me or didn’t care who I was.
Silence reigned for what seemed like another hour.
Coward. Talk to him, that’s what you’re here for.
I cleared my throat a little bit. “Hey, I . . . just, thanks for agreeing to meet with me.”
“You already said that,” Wade responded, not looking up. “And I didn’t know I was meeting with you. I thought I was meeting with somebody to help get you back in jail where you belong.”
I opened my mouth and closed it again. What the hell did News even say to this guy? He didn’t even know he was meeting me?
“I was told . . .” he said slowly, flipping a page of his book. “that this was a serious meeting that concerned the death of my son.”
“I-It is, though.”
Wade looked up at me briefly. “Really? Because to me, it just looks like an intrusion on my dinner by his murderer.”
I closed my eyes for a second and took a breath to steady my voice. “Mr. Wade, I wanted to meet with you to . . . apologize.”
His eyebrows went up as he looked up at me again. “Oh?” Skepticism oozed from his tone. “Do you now?”
I clenched my jaw tight. “Jacob, I’m really, really sorry about your son. I honestly never meant to kill Thomas and . . .”
He set down his book on the table, hard, and the silverware bounced. I jumped, cutting off my sentence.
A few other customers turned to look over at us.
Wade narrowed his eyes, pointing a thick finger at my face. “You . . . of all people . . . don’t get to say that name.” His voice shook slightly.
I understood it all too well. I’d nearly murdered anyone who spoke the names of my family for years. I knew exactly what he was feeling so clearly, I almost felt it myself. The choking bitterness and the gaping loss that could never be filled in.
Only I was trying to quell that in someone else now. Because I’d caused it.
I rubbed my hands together, willing them to stop shaking so hard. “Mr. Wade, I’ve . . . I’ve changed, really. I’m just trying to make it right because I honestly . . . feel horrible about it. And . . .”
“Oh, boo hoo,” he scoffed. He spread his hands, looking around. “Come on, this is a total media stunt. Where are the cameras, Dankworth? Who’s taping this?”
“Would you just-“ I cut off, biting my tongue to hold back from swearing at him. I was supposed to be apologizing. Stay humble. God, help this work. Help me not loose it. He’ll never forgive me if I just explode.
“Just what?” Wade pressed his lips into a line as he watched me.
Silence hung between us for a few more seconds before it was interrupted by the waiter, coming by to give us both our food. He handed me the stubby glass of whiskey and poured Wade some wine in a tall, crystal stem glass.. Neither of us looked at him, keeping eye contact with each other. He stood there for a second, then awkwardly walked back towards the kitchen.
“What are you getting at, terrorist?” Wade hissed. “The murderer who killed my son . . . Tommy was a new agent. Eighteen. That was his first mission. He was the top of his class. And then somebody made the mistake of assigning him to security for an Amazing Man rally.” He leaned in further, standing out of his chair so he could be closer to my face. “I couldn’t even see his face for the last time, you monster. They only ever found pieces of him. My son . . .” his voice broke.
Terrorist. Murderer. Monster.
I killed him. I killed him. Just a kid.
I felt lightheaded and had to focus on breathing evenly as I realized just how fast my breathing had gotten. The food smell lingering in the air was nauseating.
I swallowed hard, dropping my gaze down to my hands. My mouth tanged with the taste of blood with how hard I was biting my tongue.
And he’s just one. One of seven.
Gone forever because of you. Because of The Wolf.
I rubbed at one of my wrists hard and my mind briefly went to the knives on the table.
I closed my eyes, pushing back the thoughts. That wasn’t the answer. I needed to finish. Try my best.
It felt like trying to push repelling magnets together, but I managed to lift my head again to meet Jacob Wade’s gaze. He’d sat back down, but still watched me with his hard, dark eyes.
I took a slow breath and let it out. “I understand the loss, Mr. Wade. I really do. And trust me, if I could go back and change it I would. But I’m doing all I can and I can just say . . . I’m sorry. And ask if you could . . . ever think of forgiving me.”
He held his wine glass and swirled it a little as he looked thoughtfully down at the elaborate dish in front of him.
“Really,” I continued, tugging at my hair as I ran a hand over it. “I’m sorry I killed your son. I’d do anything to make it up to you.”
He just kept looking at his food and swirling his wine like he hadn’t heard me.
“I’ll . . . pay for dinner?” I offered, a touch of desperation coming into my tone.
Wade looked up, raising his eyebrows. “You’ll pay for both of our dinners?” I couldn’t make out the meaning of his tone completely, but if I didn’t know better he sounded . . . somewhat convinced, actually.
I gestured a little and shrugged. “I’ll . . . sure.” I raised a hand like I was taking a court oath. “Promise, I’ll pay for everything on the table.”
He watched me for another second, stopping his swirling.
A tiny bit of hope lifted my spirits for a second.
Then he sighed and shook his head, laughing to himself. “Like Tommy’s death could just be bought off with a dinner. You’re funny, Dankworth.” Wade met my eyes again. “My forgiveness can’t be bought like that. But it’s about time you paid for something.”
My stomach dropped.
He smoothly extended his arm over the hardwood floor and dropped his still-full, crystal wine glass. It hit the ground with a tinkling crash, shattering in a splash of red and glass shards.
I flinched back, my hands coming up involuntarily. “Oohhh . . .”
A few employees rushed over. Our waiter stepped cautiously around the mess, staring. “Whoa, what happened?”
Wade didn’t look at him, giving me a smug look as he picked his book back up. “Thanks for dinner.” He stood from his seat, stepped over the glass and went for the door.
I watched him go, honestly too stunned to protest.
“So will you be . . . paying for the meal, sir? And the glass?” the waiter asked hesitantly as someone else ran for supplies to clean things up.
The door swung shut behind Wade as he left. I rubbed a hand over my face, letting out a shaky breath. “I . . . yeah. I’m paying.”
He still stood there. “So . . . I’ll be back, I suppose . . . “
“N-no, bring me the check now,” I mumbled. “We’re done here.”
A second of confused silence. “Yes, sir.” And his footsteps receded back to the kitchen.
Almost the worst part was just how much I followed Wade’s train of thought. Not only on not forgiving because of a family death. But not forgiving me particularly. He was right. I’d done it on purpose. Even if I hadn’t meant to kill his son, I’d been out to kill. I’d made myself a murderer whether I liked it or not.
I groaned softly and rested my head against my hand for another few seconds, then reached over and grabbed the short glass of amber liquid sitting by my plate. If anything, I needed that right now.
I’d down that before heading out. Probably before the check even came.
News was waiting for me outside the door, just like he said. He pushed off the wall, a frown pulling his mouth downwards. “Hey, what’s up? That other guy left before . . .”
“Yeah, yeah,” I shoved my hands in my pockets. “It didn’t go very well.”
News tugged his tie. “Did he . . . listen to you?”
I nodded, keeping walking back towards my car. “Had plenty to say back, too. He hates me.” I shook my head and gave a humorless chuckle. “Funny, how I keep forgetting just how much I hate myself . . .” I kicked viciously at a rock, sending it skittering down the sidewalk.
Bad News walked quietly beside me for a few seconds. He gave me a gentle shoulder punch. “Hey, man. You tried your best, okay? What didn’t work is on his head. You were nice. He chose to be a butthead about it.”
I sighed, pulling my keys out of my jacket and unlocking the car. I closed my eyes for a second. “On to the next person on the list, I guess.”
“Yup. The show must go on.” News clapped me on the shoulder, giving an encouraging grin.
I forced a grin/grimace back, shaking my keychain. “Allons-y.”
Dangit, I probably made someone cry again, didn’t I.
Happy ending next week. Hang in there.
(Also hey, two fun facts. about this story. 1} That bit where Wade drops the glass I actually got from a dream. Which I don’t usually… do when I’m writing. and 2} I was originally writing the beginning during a word war and named Jacob Wade “Pinto Wade” because I couldn’t think of anything else.)
I’d love to hear from you ❤
See ya next time,