Breed Book 4, Part 37


“Hey,” Rox said, giving a slight wave of her hand.

Mira dropped the can of lighter fluid on the sidewalk. Flames and smoke were billowing out of the Target, swirling around the Starbucks inside the entryway behind her. “Fuck are you doing here?”

“I would ask you, but I think the answer’s kind of the same: I followed the smoke. So why’d you set a Target on fire?”

Mira held out a half-crushed Starbucks coffee cup. Scrawled on the side was the word “ISIS.” “Technically,” Mira said, throwing the cup down, “I only set fire to the Starbucks inside the Target.”

“Noted. We might want to,” Rox nodded away.

“Yeah,” Mira said, and they started walking together, out of the shopping center parking lot. “How did you find me?”

A cop car blared by with its lights and sirens on. “Same way they didn’t,” Rox said. “Mahmoud got me close enough my ability did the rest.”

“You and your god-damned luck,” Mira said. “Wait, Mahmoud? He’s alive?” Her voice crackled with energy.

“We found him in Guantanamo, when we were breaking out the people the Drump Administration stole from the concentration camps.”

“Jesus, that’s fucked up.”

“Yeah. So. I hear you’re here to kill a President.”

“Mikaela told,” Mira said, her voice hollow.

“Wasn’t that what you wanted?” Rox asked, confused.

Mira said. “Yeah. But also ‘no.’ Aren’t you pissed? They find out the virus kills minorities, then they try to reopen the country. We exposed that family separation was a discriminatory shell game meant to find Breed, and they just spirit them away. I spent my whole life trying not to scare white people. Not to dress in ways that would make them uncomfortable, or wear my hair or groom myself in ways that would give them cause to discriminate against me. And it never worked. It was never enough. And it was always, somehow, my fault. I don’t agree with everything Raif’s done. I don’t know if I agree with any of it. But we were doing something. We weren’t just taking it, just letting ourselves and other people get hurt, over and over again. There’s a shelf-life on this shit; I think a part of me wants out before it kills me, or I do something I can’t forgive myself for. But the rest of me really wanted Mikaela to get it. To understand, maybe even respect it, a little- even if she couldn’t agree on the means, at least see that we were doing the same as her, the same as you, just trying to do good by our community.”

“Maybe she wants exactly what you want: a way out for you that isn’t a body bag. Maybe she sees that you want to do the right thing, you just need someone you care about and respect to talk some sense into you.”

“Yeah, but where would we find such a paragon of human virtue?” Mira asked, grinning.

“You don’t have to do this. Whatever this is. We’d take you back, in a second. And we’re fugitives, too, accused of shit at least as bad.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t actually do most of it.”

“Maybe,” Rox said. “But I don’t care. Ben doesn’t care. Rui won’t care. Cris might care, but his Christian ass will have to forgive you or burn in hellfire. We love you. All of us. And our hearts bleed every day knowing you’re out there, hurt, and separated from us. Come home- even if our home is now kind of a traveling circus.”

“Is Ben the elephant? I swear, that man shits like an elephant.”

“You’re the one who slept with him. And this is already way more than I wanted to know about your relationship.”

“What if there’s no going back?” Mira asked.

“I ask myself that every day. And I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to have normal lives again. We may not even be safe going back to the school. But… I can think of a worse group of people to be stuck in exile with.”

“I’ll think about it,” Mira said, “with a caveat. I can’t help you. I meant what I told Mikaela. I’m not sure this should be stopped. I’m out. I’ve been thinking about telling Raif that since Florida. But I can’t help you stop them; it would solve so much. I don’t think I could live with myself if I intervened on that… bigot’s behalf.”

“I have a counter-offer: you come back with me. You can stay as neutral as you need to, but while you’re thinking about it? Come back with me. See your friends. It would do all of them so much good to know you’re okay- to see it.”

“Because that would make the decision for me. If I went back, I could never leave. And I don’t want to be love-bombed, no matter how genuinely. I have to make this choice myself. But I hope… I hope I can take you up on it. The hardest thing about all of this was knowing you were all still out there, still okay, and that I couldn’t be with you. I just hope I can live with that choice.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *