One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

"Your mother?!"  Kurt exclaimed, looking at her incredulously.  He ducked his head a bit, peering around to be sure he hadn't caused them to catch anyone's attention. "Your mother?" He whispered this time.

Char was still staring at the photo.  "She died seven years ago."

"Then this can't be your mother, can it?" Kurt was imploring her to say, Oops, sorry Forman, seems I've made a mistake.  Silly me.  But she didn't.

"It may have been a few years since I've actually seen her but I'd know my mother anywhere.  That's her."  Char was certain.  She knew those eyes.  The picture was black and white and fuzzy as hell, but she knew those eyes.  Char rapidly blinked back hot tears before Forman saw.  He wasn't interested in Char right then anyway; he grabbed the file from her and pushed his face up to the photo, looking for some kind of confirmation of what Char claimed.

"But...but I saw the death certificate myself."

"You what?" Char glared at Forman, waiting for an explanation.

He raised his baby blues to look into Char's dusty gray eyes for just a second.  "I, uh, we did a check on the backgrounds of all of you; your brothers, Bud, Moira, your parents..." He trailed.

Char leaned back in her chair again.  He's a fed...She thought to herself.  What else did I expect?

Gary was still on the phone.  He was frowning.  His frown soon turned into a look of surprise and, finally, anger as his eyebrows decended from his hair line down to his eyelids.  He whispered frantically before shutting his cell viciously.

"We got trouble."

"What is it?"  Kurt didn't take his eyes from the photo.

"Sammy...he went off the handle.  Got himself, and us, into a real situation."

"What's going on?"  Kurt closed the file now and placed it on the table.

Gary let out a sigh before continuing.  "Seems Moira was moved."

Char glanced between the two men's faces, looking for some answers.

"She met up with Sammy down by the docks but someone else found out they were there.  We're not sure how yet, but he's pretty sure it was one of the Isaacson's gang."

"Wait, wait, wait."  Char cut in.  "You're telling me they brought Moira back home and you guys didn't know about it?  What about your guy?  Your informant?"

"Charlotte, they don't tell him everything.  He didn't know where she was being kept.  That's what he was trying to find out, among other things."

Char was in disbelief.   "So you didn't know whether she was alive or dead!  What about Martin?  Huh?  What about him?  Is he alive?  Do you even know?"  Her temper continued to rise until she was bracing her upper body with her hands on the tabletop, her face leaning in towards Kurt's.  Gary placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, hoping for a calming effect.  It seemed to work.  She noticed people were beginning to look over at their table and slowly lowered herself back into her seat.  "Christ, a goddamn gun fight breaks out in the parking lot of a goddamn bank last night and you don't find out about it until now."  She said it calmly, collecting her cool again.

Kurt said nothing, just turned his attention back to Gary.  "How did Moira get away?  She must have been being watched."

"Yeah, by Orin, Sammy thinks.  Moira didn't mention it when they met up but Sammy said he went looking for Orin; can't find him anywhere."

"Dammit.  Bud is on to our scheme."  Forman rubbed his temples.

Char couldn't help but feel a surge of pride at the prospect of her girl, Moira killing that creep of a guy.

"Was that all he said?" 

"No, like I said, they were down at the docks but they had company.  The guy started shooting at them.  Paul was there too; we think the shot was meant for Sammy but the kid ended up in the damn cross fire."

"Paulie?  Why was Paulie there?"  Char's eyed widened at this sudden turn of events.

"He was with Orin when they were watching Moira."

"Is he okay?"  Char clenched the edge of the table, her knuckles turning white with the pressure.

Gary paused for a moment.  "He didn't make it; I'm sorry, kid."

Kurt placed his hands over his face in frustration.  Char let out a small gasp before her hands shot up to cover her open mouth.  Her eyes began to well up with tears, begging Gary to take it back; to say it wasn't true.

Gary allowed for a minute of silence before he went on. "When Sammy heard, he went crazy.  Showed up at Bud's place with a pistol to his forehead."

"He didn't--"  Kurt and Char almost said in unison.

"Just knocked him over the head.  He's there with him now, unconcious."

"Jesus," Kurt muttered to himself. "Doesn't he realize that we can't help him bring Bud down until we get rid if the Isaacsons? And right now we're no where near doing that." 

"What do you want to do?"  Gary asked him.

"Right now?  I want to find out what the hell is going on with Mrs. Templeton.  Then we'll figure out what to do about this mess."

Char stared at her tray in silence. 

The End

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