Chapter 28:

Volume 1, Chapter 24: ...brings us...

Parable of the Renegades


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AUTHOR'S NOTE:

Hi! Jio Kurenai here!

I had another encounter with my nemesis, Honeyfeed's character limit. 

At first I tried to edit this chapter by cutting away some parts, but the results weren't to my liking, so I decided to divide it into two unequal parts instead with each containing what would suit it. There won't be a long waiting gap as I'll be sure to publish part 2 sometime this week after I spruce it up a bit more.

I guess you could think of this as an intermission, as it sort of takes a break from the dilemma Lucas is dealing with when a minor issue comes his way. I hope you'll have fun reading this and that you will be looking forward to the conclusion too!

As usual, feel free to leave a comment below. It can be anything like a random question, a comment for fun, or any constructive criticism to help me improve!

Lastly, please give yourself some credit by giving that "LIKE" button a click after reading this chapter! I'm always interested to know who's following me and I'd absolutely love it if we could start a conversation too! Likes and Comments will give points to your Honeyfeed badge, so make me recognize your mark by doing at least one of those two! I'll be singing your name in praise if you do both! ;)
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It was now 1:33 am. Morning was creeping closer, and the hours for a good night's rest grew shorter.

With their backs facing each other, Lucas and Rio were given their own privacy as they put their clothes back on. After what happened between them, both had to agree they already saw enough exposure for one night, and there was no need for more.

“You better not try anything again when we go back to sleep,” Rio warned, slipping back into her kimono before fashioning her sash into a ribbon behind her waist and tying it.

Like you’re the one to talk.

Lucas clicked his tongue, his face compressing into annoyance. He was searching through the pile of folded clothes in his closet for a new sweater to replace the blood-stained one he was wearing. From the way the smell would tickle his nose, the scent of iron and copper was something he just didn’t enjoy; at least the blood on his jogging pants was too far for him to smell.

He and Rio probably would have been sleeping soundly hours ago if it weren’t for her suddenly trying to invade his side of the bed. Now that Lucas thought about it, it was like Rio was sleepwalking. Her timing to do that was almost perfect as it happened not long after he did what he could to help himself fall asleep.

Lucas closed the two doors of his closet shut, disappointed. Every other long-sleeved shirt he had were either made of materials not meant for sleeping or they were accented with minor protective gear, which were not a pleasure to get comfortable with. Not good, he was out of options. Then again, Rio did tell him that she didn't mind the taste of blood. Hopefully, that also meant she didn't mind its smell either.

Just as Rio finished climbing to her side of the bed near a window with Lucas set to follow, the distinctive ring of the doorbell reached his ears right when he was about to lift one more leg to the mattress.

Groaning in annoyance and stamping a foot when it hit the floor, Lucas trudged to another window. Parked outside his house was a car with a black front and rear end with white in between. A pair of headlights flashed red and blue in alternate patterns on its roof.

“Great, I was so close to thinking this wouldn’t be happening,” Lucas grumbled as he dragged himself to exit his room and go downstairs. The last Rio saw when she got up to check was the door closing on her.

After going down the last step of the stairs, the rings to the doorbell became more frequent. They sounded so annoying, Lucas contemplated shutting up the one trying to summon him, with an angry fist. It was all thanks to his crankiness from not sleeping at the hour that he had this mindset. Still, he knew what was waiting outside, so he put on the friendliest face he could manage before answering the door. Of course, he hid his eyes behind his thick hair bangs first. Now wasn’t a good time to freak anyone out.

The door creaked as Lucas opened it by a small gap and poked his head out.

“Yes?”

As expected, what was standing outside on his front porch was a policeman complete with a royal-blue uniform. His thick mustache see-sawed with impatience and a pair of thick black bags drooped under his blood-shot eyes. If that wasn’t enough to imply his duty got him dragged out of bed, his black leather jacket was worn with several buttons fastened to the wrong holes.

“Good evening sir,” the policeman greeted in an impatient and gruff manner. “I’ve been called over here due to multiple complaints from many of the residents nearby. They claimed they heard violent noises and screaming coming from inside this house. Is that true?”

“I… don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lucas said, tilting down to watch his thumbs flick against each other.

The policeman groaned at his time being wasted. His voice turned solid. “Kid, you do realize there are many ways to get yourself an easy ticket to the slammer, right? Lying to a policeman is one of them.”

As part of the job, the man had to learn how to read people from their body language in case they tried to fabricate the truth. Even though he wasn’t at his best, he didn’t have to put in much effort in this case. The unstable pause in Lucas’ voice, his hand’s fidgety movements, and his inability to make eye contact (even though he already shielded his eyes from view) were dead giveaways. The odd stains on his sweater and the wounds he could see on his neck only made him look even more suspicious.

Lucas hesitated to give the real answer. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the truth may still be enough to land him in jail. His heart pumped faster with every second he made the policeman wait. The policeman’s short fuse looked like it was on the verge of exploding, but it was defused at the last second when he and Lucas were gradually put at ease by some strange invisible field that suddenly bathed them in its uplifting atmosphere.

The front door opened further to reveal a girl in a dirtied white kimono, who stood next to Lucas as if they were living together.

“If you must know why sir, we were fighting,” Rio told the policeman straight without any hint of falsification in her words.

Without thinking, Lucas called her out for saying something so risky, but a quick pinch from two fingers to his lower back stopped his words while leaving him hissing with a mildly contorted face. It wasn’t a pleasure to know that Rio actually pinched around one of his biggest cuts before letting go.

The policeman was struck out of fascination for the foreign beauty that had presented herself before him, but he was able to shake it off almost immediately. Lucas would have marveled out of surprise if it weren't for the silver ring on the third finger of the adult’s left hand.

“So, you’re telling me your boyfriend was abusing you?” the policeman asked Rio, who looked very fragile to him.

Lucas fought off the urge to palm himself in the face, resisting the temptation to criticize the policeman for taking Rio’s side right off the bat. If the older man gave himself a little more time to compare them, he would probably figure out who was really being abused.

“No, we were doing it for fun,” Rio clarified with a smile accompanying her carefree tone. To add a little emphasis that she and Lucas weren’t in conflict (this was half-true) and to make her words appear more convincing, Rio forced her arms around one of Lucas’ and rested her head upon his shoulder, just like how she made herself look taken in front of Davis. Needless to say, Lucas nearly fainted from the sudden intimacy of a girl latching on to him even though this one had a deadly touch.

“For… fun?” the policeman questioned while gawking at the false public display of affection the girl was performing.

“Just our special way of bonding.” Rio sneaked another pinch on Lucas’ lower back as her way of telling him to play along. “The ordinary lovey-dovey stuff other couples do have become stale and boring to us, so we pretend like we oppose each other to make our time together more interesting. If I wanted to kiss my boyfriend here, it would only be done as a reminder that I own him. Now here is the fun part. Instead of kissing and hugging, we play rough and wrestle on the floor until one of us gets conquered into absolute submission. Obviously, I won tonight’s match and following our special rules, the winner gets to have her way with her opponent. My defeated boyfriend had to hold still without resisting me while I--”

“Okay, okay, okay! I’ve heard enough! Jeezus!” The policeman shielded his scrunched face with both hands to hide any possible signs of redness. Now he had his answer for the two bite marks on Lucas’ neck which had become purplish in color.

“I-is there anything else, officer?” a flushed Lucas stammered as he tried to pry Rio’s arms off him as subtly as possible. Rio tried to keep the act going by purring and nuzzling her cheek on his shoulder, which to him was just overselling it.

“Yes,” the policeman sneered before easing up and bringing out a pen along with a small notebook. “Just give me your names, and I’ll let you two off the hook.”

Relieved, Lucas released his held breath while Rio finally released her hold on his arm. They gave the policeman their names afterward.

“However!” the policeman interrupted with a raised finger. “Make no mistake, you two still disturbed the other residents here, so be quieter with your… ‘activities!’” He tapped his head, reassuring himself that it no longer felt heavy on one side, or like someone was bludgeoning him with a hammer. “For some reason, my headache’s gone, so I’m leaving the both of you with just a warning. That doesn’t mean I’ll be nice if I have to come here again!”

“We’ll… tone things down from now on.” Lucas promised.

Following a nod that told them “you better,” the policeman rotated on a heel to brisk walk back to the car he parked outside Lucas’ house, all while mumbling to himself over how the kids of the succeeding generations keep getting weirder and weirder with their behavior.

He paused. Something seemed familiar about one of the names he wrote in his notebook. It made him turn back before Lucas could close his front door.

“Wait a minute… since your name is Lucas Thorne, aren’t you the kid from that Yotube video?”

“You have to be more specific,” Lucas said as Rio glanced at him from the side out of curiosity.

The policeman returned to the porch. “The one called ‘Lucas Thorne cannot be stopped.’ It’s currently one of the top videos on the trending list.”

Lucas swallowed a gulp of air down his throat. “Ohhh, that video,” he muttered.

He was certain Davis already deleted that hours ago at his request, so why are people still able to watch it? Then again, it wasn’t difficult in this day and age to download then re-upload a video before its user deleted them. There were plenty of people on the bus that day who could have overheard their conversation, which only made it all the more possible.

“My son showed it to me after I came home from work. He got a scolding from his mother for watching something so violent,” the policeman said.

“I’m sorry he had to see that.” Lucas bit his lip and braced himself knowing that the dark side of internet fame was now taking effect on him.

But the policeman didn’t seem to hear him, and he wasn’t finished talking either.

“See, while my kid’s no weakling, he always lacked confidence. He never told me that a group of bullies had been harassing him almost every day, but I’ve always had a hunch that was bound to happen soon enough. After watching how you struggled to fight off so many people with so many odds against you, he decided to finally confront his tormentors and stand up for himself.” The older man smiled, puffed his chest, then heaved a sigh that came out as smoke in the cool air. “In the end, five people may have been too much for him, but it wasn’t like they all left unscathed. When my son came home, he was covered in bruises, lost one of his front teeth, and one eye was so swollen he couldn’t see a thing with it.” A quick chuckle followed. “Despite all that, he had the biggest smile I never thought he'd ever make and for once he came home with some money still in his pocket.”

Rio crossed her arms as she listened in silence. To Lucas however, there was nothing around him except the story being told.

The policeman smiled once more, this one heartier than the last. “Looks like my son will probably be going places with that new attitude of his, and it was good this all happened while he’s still in grade school. He told me that if he ever met you, he’d want to give you his biggest thanks because in a way, you inspired him to take risks and endure the hardships that come with them if he wants to aim for the best changes to his life. Guess I can tell him I got it covered now. Well, sorry for wasting your time with my rambling. I dunno why, but I was just so proud I couldn’t help myself.”

He tipped his hat and prepared to exit.

“Wait.” Lucas urged, a hand held to his chest. “Tell your son that Lucas Thorne himself also wants to give his thanks because your son inspired him, too.”

The policeman turned around, grinning with his eyes shut to keep them from watering. “I have no idea how my son helped, but if that’s really the case, I’ll be sure to let him know exactly the way you said it. I’ll tell him next time I drop him off at school.” He would have resumed walking back to his car if another concern didn’t bring itself up from the conversation. “By the way, when I watched that video, it started with you already beating up some of those other boys. You didn’t start this fight, did you?”

Lucas shook his head. “If I did, then I must be brain damaged,” he answered.

“Really?”

“It would be a serious crime if I lied to you, right?”

The policeman studied Lucas one more time with a little more effort. Everything regarding his voice and body language was stable this time.

“That’s all I needed to hear.” The older man allowed himself a laugh then walked back to his car, raising a steady hand next to him as a silent way of saying goodbye.

Waking up in the middle of the night for an emergency call turned out to be worth it. While meeting his son's hero was nice, the policeman had to admit the one who left the biggest impression on him was Rio. In all his years on the force, Rio was probably one of the most deviated girls he'd ever seen in Cameron's Feint - next to the little girl who told him her father hanged himself in their attic, only to cheerfully reveal it as an April Fool's joke.

The girl's father actually hanged himself in their garage.

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