“So I can’t call my sister by her pet name?” her older brother questioned.
“I don’t consider someone my brother, when they break hearts. Do you, Andrew?” she gritted her teeth.
“Blood is blood,” he shrugged.
“Mum’s sick,” Sebastian cut in, desperate to disband the spat.
“I heard,” sighed the oldest of the O’Rourke siblings.
“You don’t get to feel concerned. You left us!” Lucy snapped. She was sick of this twisted reunion.
“Listen, Lulu-” Sebastian tried to explain.
“No. No, I want to fight. Someone has to fight for Mum,” Lucy glared at Andrew as the memories returned like spilt ink on paper.
“Papa had to go away for a while. Don’t cry, Lulu! Lookie here! I’ll take care of you!”
“And Sebastian too?”
“And Sebastian too. I love you guys way too much to let anything bad happen to you.”
“Of course, silly. Of course. Now come here. I’ll read you one of your stories.”
Andrew tossed a hand through his hair, sighing in disappointment. “Bring out the swords.”
“No! Stop it you two!” Sebastian demanded. “What would Adrian think? What would Mum think?!”
Lewis held out two narrow fencing swords. Heaven’s knows where he retrieved them from, but Top Hats have their ways.
“Let them alone,” Vaan held the twin back from the scene. “This is not your fight.”
Sebastian paused as he watched them – seeing the glare of pain his twin was shooting to his brother.
“Now this isn’t like the fencing Mum let me teach you,” Andrew warned Lucy.
“You have no right to talk about her,” Lucy replied callously, testing the blade against the air. She could still tell that her arms were tight from the climbing and glass-breaking. Her shoulder was still in pain. This was not her brightest idea, but she had no choice now.
“Shall we?” Andrew drew himself into a simple stance.
“Let’s,” Lucy replied, mirroring her brother.
“Andrew! That hurt!”
“Haha! Well don’t stand like that, Lulu.”
“How should I stand?”
“Here. Blade like this. Back arched. Legs like this. There!”
“Begin!” Winston called out calmly.
Lucy was the first to strike. Yet, while the girl had some skill, she was still no match for the Top Hat, who avoided the blows with easy backward steps. Even Lucy knew he was just playing with her.
“Fight me!” she demanded.
Andrew smirked before advancing swiftly, his movements graceful and precise. A sudden thrust to the neck force Lucy to fall back, whisking her blade against his. With subtle step to his left, Andrew’s sword circled to hook towards Lucy’s side. Lucy felt herself forced to fall and roll, cutting away another attack as she returned to her feet.
“Fight me!” she demanded again as she charged once more.
He grabbed Lucy’s arm and spun her around and backwards. She fell but instantly bounded back to her feet.
This time, Lucy ducked low and forward as their strength clashed. Andrew looked down at her two-handed grip while he fought her off using only one, his other wound teasingly behind his back.
“Fight me!” she yelled.
“Fight me!” Lucy had once yelled at the tall Top Hat that held her brother’s shoulder. How long ago was that now? She couldn’t have been any older than eight or so.
“Why won’t you fight me?!” the little girl cried, pounding on the man’s coat jacket. Her hair had been much longer then, pigtails she remembered. Her family loved her bouncing red pigtails
“Lucy, stop that,” her teary-eyed mother called. She couldn’t do anything as she held onto her squirming crying toddler, Adrian.
“Fight me!” Lucy dared again.
“Stop it, Lucy,” Andrew commanded. The shadowed face of the Top Hat watched in grave solemnity.
“Don’t take my brother away,” she begged, gripping the man’s tail coat. “I’ll fight for him!”
“I’m sorry, love, but I must take him away.”
“No!” She beat his jacket violently.
“Lucy, stop!” Andrew barked pushing his crying sister to the ground.
Andrew’s expression suddenly grew cold and distant. Suddenly, his attack came faster and more aggressive. Andrew’s demeanor had changed as his humored smile shrank under a cold veil.
Lucy barely had time to react as strike flew at her left and right. She could feel his blade missing her by mere fractions of an inch.
“You can be so ignorant,” Andrew jeered. “Do you really thinking you can defeat to a Top Hat?” He shot a hand out and fire danced near her right heel.
“That’s-” she gasped, trying to flee the flames while holding her defense.
“Not fair?” Andrew finished, before kicking her core. She was instantly sent tumbling to the ground, skidding painfully against the tile.
“Life isn’t fair, Lulu,” he snapped, putting a foot on her injured shoulder, as he aimed his sword at her throat. “Just face the truth for once in your life. Face reality,” he pressed his foot down harder.
Lucy yelped in pain but held onto her sword. Her mind spun back to the memories she thought she had long since buried.
“Stop it, Lucy!” Andrew yelled, pushing her down – his eyes had become dark and steely. “I don’t need you anymore!”
“What are you-“
“You are nothing but a little pest. A brat! And this family? This family is nothing more than a nuisance. I am better off without you! You are weak and childish. You couldn’t even begin to understand. No, you’ll never understand.”
“Please, Andrew,” Lucy remembered crying. “You promised.”
“Yeah, well, I lied – you bloody fool.”
“Andrew!” Stacy O’Rourke gasped at her son.
“That’s what we do!” He continued, ignoring everyone else. “Lie. We are a band of liars! I’m a Top Hat and you – you are just a girl. You and Mum. You’ll never amount to anything! None of you! I wish you could all just forget about me, like I’ve forgotten about you. I wish I had never known you Lucille O’Rourke. You are the reason Dad left!”
“Stop it!” Lucy screamed, pinning her fists to her ears.
“You are nothing to me. Nothing!”
“Shut up!” Lucy screamed. She slapped him. The sound reverberated in the wet December night. “Go away,” she sobbed.
Sebastian remain silent as stone, and Adrian was crying in their mother’s arms. And their Mum? She just stared in pain. No tears ever fell. Just broken-hearted eyes remained.
Lucy swallowed back the memory and dared to clash her blade against his own. The blow came as a surprise as she rolled to drive him off her. Her feet danced up and around as spouts of fired tried to catch her off guard. She spun and hooked her sword in a quick motion to disarm him, but his grip was sure. Just as her confidence began to fade, she spotted a small opening appeared. She noticed he didn’t always guard his right shoulder. Lucy attacked.
Andrew tossed his sword to his left hand and spun Lucy’s out of her hand before kicking her back once more, poising the sword at her throat.
“Checkmate,” he snapped.
©2016 E. M. Vick