6.9 A Demand for Information

by Matt P.

There are soft lights and harsh lights, and then there are hospital lights. Very few things burn the way a hospital light sears the retinas on first awakening, and while the Border PD wasn’t a full hospital apparently they shopped at the same store. Walter wondered briefly why someone had moved the overhead florescent light right in front of his face, before he blinked a few times. His vision cleared and he realized that the light was actually its normal, sedate distance away from him. The quicksilver spots began to chase themselves away, and were replaced with the concerned looking faces of his daughters. Both of them threw their arms around him in a tight hug. It definitely hurt, but he felt like he kept his grunt mostly under control.

“Daddy, we were so worried!” Antigone exclaimed, meeting his eyes. Her cheeks were tracked with hastily wiped away tears, and he reached out one aching arm to gently stroke her hair.

“Hey, baby.” He murmured softly. “I was just taking a nap on the job. You know how I love my naps.” He offered. He realized his voice was a little bit thick, and he licked his lips a little to try to get some saliva going until Siobhan handed him a bottle of water. He opened the cap and drank greedily. “Playing it cool, Bug?” He asked, his voice hoarse for more reasons than his recent unconsciousness.

“Have to.” Siobhan responded, her own voice heavy with repressed emotion. Without asking for permission he reached out and re-enfolded her in the hug. They all stood, or laid, there for a moment to enjoy the gentle reassurance of family returned alive before they parted.

He finally looked around at the others in the room. Morgan, Tania, Marshal Alexander, Andre, Leah…all of them looked worse for wear. Alexander had a cut over his eye that looked like it had been sutured, and Andre had an arm in a sling. But they were all there, and that was worth bruises and cuts and whatever the hell had happened to him.

“What the hell happened to me?” He asked, figuring that it was a good place to start.

“You got beat up pretty bad, Walter, you need to rest…” Morgan began, but he shook his head and let out a pained grunt as he tried to pull himself up.

“No.” Walter groaned. He forced himself to sit up in the little bed, ignoring the screaming protest from his ribs and the disapproving looks from the doctor. “No, I want to know what the hell is going on now.”

“You can tell he’s serious, he said hell twice in three sentences in front of his children.” Siobhan, who had never seen a situation that she didn’t think could be improved by sarcasm, added sarcastically.

“The station was attacked. You went toe to toe with the one you call Ninja Grandfather.” Alexander explained as he moved over to the bedside where Walter was seated. The Marshal looked over his wounded deputy with concern. “After that…nobody saw anything else. It got real dark, real fast, and there were some voices arguing. Then there was some sort of explosion underneath the station, and when the lights came back on you were unconscious on the floor.”

Walter nodded—slowly—at that. It tracked with his memories, of the argument between Professor Gloom (his new nickname for who or whatever that had been) and Ninja Grandpa. And of his clubbing like a baby seal. His eyes moved to Morgan, and Tania. “You know.” He accused emphatically.

“Walter, I was dragging people away…” Morgan began, while Tania protested “I wasn’t even here when it happened!”

“I was unconscious, not dead.” Walter told them softly. His eyes were for the two women alone, intense and probing and dire. “I heard what you said.” He told them, his voice as cold a j’accuse as he had ever used.

“Walter, sometimes during unconsciousness the brain can—” Morgan began, before Walter cut her off.

“Don’t give me that.” He said, anger rising in his voice like a slow heat. He waved his hand in a chopping motion, like he was cutting through the woven gossamer of that excuse. “Do you want me to quote verbatim? ‘We are actually trying to save our world, sister, not put on a morality play’. Sound familiar?” He quoted. “I didn’t make that up, Tania, did I.” He stated flatly, looking her right in the eyes.

“How dare you…” She began, her tone rising to match his anger. But he could tell it was false, a familiar way of throwing off inquiry behind the walls of importance, money, and a legion of attorneys on ridiculously expensive retainer. He blustered right through it.

“Of my own accord.” Walter answered with a version of the 75th Ranger regimental motto, baring his teeth a little bit. He reached to his shirt and pulled it down, revealing the mottled bruises he felt there for all to see. “And because the secrets you’re keeping keep kicking my ass, and I’d like it to stop.”

The whole room had, in the middle of this argument, turned to look at the two adult sisters. Their faces told a whole collection of stories, and in that moment Walter knew that Marshal Alexander had known whatever it was from the beginning. “You knew, sir?” Walter asked him, his voice soft and serious and razor sharp.

Andre turned to his uncle with a look of shock, and Leah…tried to have a look of shock on, but didn’t quite succeed. Walter’s eyes flicked over to her, and they met for a moment before she looked away with a hint of shame.

“Yes.” Alexander answered after a moment’s dark consideration as he looked at Walter, before his eyes softened a little bit at the sight of Antigone and Siobhan. “Yes, I did.”

“Marshal…” Tania’s voice was hot and bright now with real anger, her eyes flaring and her whole posture changing. She took a step towards Alexander, and the man—a United States Marine, for god’s sake—stepped back in fear.

“Sister.” Morgan’s voice was a whip-crack, frost and knives and cold command, and it brought her sister up short. “We are asking them to die for us.”

“We’ve had this argument before, Morgan.” Tania reminded imperiously, her eyes focused on her sibling as they rounded on one another. “We came to a decision.”

Morgan looked out in to the hallway, where people were passing by injured or grieving; and then looked to the window, where Walter could see flashing police lights and cars with satellites on them through the slanted blinds. “The situation changed.” Morgan offered, sadly.

“You…” Tania hissed with a shake of her head. “You were always too sentimental. Sometimes people die, and they signed up for the police the same as any warrior. They want to find the killers, we want the killers found, there is no reason…”

Walter stepped forward and put himself bodily in to the middle of the argument. “We didn’t sign up for whatever the hell your fight is. Most of us.” Walter offered, looking to Alexander and Leah. “But we’re getting killed for it.”

Tania stared at him, her face a mixture of pride and just the slightest hint of shame. He could almost hear the thoughts flitting through her brain, although he didn’t know how those thoughts would end. Until Morgan stepped up and put her hand on Tania’s arm.

“Fine!” Tania snapped, glaring at Morgan. “It be on your head, all of this.” She waved, and walked over to the corner to sit in one of the sparse medical waiting chairs.

Morgan breathed in deeply, and looked to Walter, Andre, Siobhan, and Antigone. “I…” She began, seeming oddly hesitant, before she shook her head.

“Vampires!” Siobhan shouted suddenly from one side, holding her finger in the air. Morgan laughed, and Titania snorted dismissively. Finally, Morgan eschewed the dramatic.

“Faeries.” She responded.