Alex leaned away from the table to let Ben at his empty plate. He looked out the windows over his shoulder, “if we don’t start shaping up in a few minutes, you’ll have all day to ‘get back to him’.”

   Kaine rose to his feet gracefully, like he was pulled from the top of his head by a string, “I won’t keep you boys from it then.”

   Derek nodded thankfully as he slid out and met Alex who was already standing beside Ben by the hallway entrance.

   Alex called out as they went to their respective rooms, “I’ll let you know how it goes, Dad.”

   Derek hesitated before shutting his own door, curious to hear Kaine respond to his son.

   He didn’t.

   Packing was systematic. Two day-one night orientation. One shirt, spare pair of boxers and socks. Toothbrush, floss, punch dagger, underarm deodorant, flashlight/stungun, towel, sandals, comb…

   The duffle bag was ready, clothes rolled into a neat bundle, toiletries in their own bag, weapons hidden neatly.

   Derek had been starved of time to trek to his place for his trade tools.

   Then there was Ben. He could see why the Thagrets kept Ben around. Efficiency. Oil that kept smoothly, the gears of operation. Before he'd departed to retrieve clothes from Derek’s apartment, he’d suggested Derek request any of his ‘advanced commodities’ for the coming event.

   Derek wasn’t going to let anyone know where his cache was. The old man was still one of Kaine’s ‘ears’. I'm not about to show my cards if i can avoid it. Derek named several things he knew were slightly more ‘reachable’. His own little home invasion response kit.

   Derek was etching his finger around a medallion made of hard metal rods warped into a tribal design. It was his favorite. In seconds, it can be adjusted into a beautiful blade, smaller and not meant for heavy purpose, it was still one of the sharpest things he owned. He hung the medallion from his neck, under his shirt.

   “I’ll be at the car! Grab a snack for the road if you want.” Alex’s voice faded as what sounded like footsteps passed by the door and headed in the direction of the front door.

◊ ◊ ◊

The End

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