"Send him in."
The High Liberty's office is what you would think it would be. There are Virgos guarding the door. There is a snooty Capricorn assistant who makes sure that his schedule is clear before allowing me to walk in. She is the usual Capricorn. She is painfully shy and shuffles around awkwardly with her paperwork. They lack in the personality department but make up with it by being perhaps the hardest working Zodiac sign. I'm not surprised they are the ones who run the day to day of the city doing all the maintenance work that no one else is efficient enough to do.
"Sir," I smile at the High Liberty.
He doesn't raise his head from the monitors built into his desk. He seems to be reviewing files. He slides his finger across the desk and images change as he does it. It's some sort of touchscreen that he goes through.
"You requested a meeting Law?" the High Liberty asks.
I'm sure he doesn't accept these kinds of requests. Being that one day I was going to take his seat though I can see why he did it.
"Sir, I wanted to talk to you about the Silas trial. I was under the assumption that it was just simulation and that Silas wasn't actually on trial."
He takes a deep breath. It's been a week since the execution. I haven't been able to focus since then. He turns off the monitor and peers up at me through his glasses. His glasses are thick and they seem to make his eyes magnified. He looks me up and down with those square glasses. I feel a little bit nervous looking at him.
"Would you have made a different choice?"
I don't expect the question.
"I don't know. I may have taken more time. I would have asked for more information maybe..."
There was so much I didn't know. I had no idea that Silas was up for the death penalty as well. I could hardly remember a lot of information from his file. We didn't have much time to review it. The look on the High Liberty's face is distinct. He isn't enjoying this conversation. He must have been very busy.
"What if you didn't have more information?" he asks but before I can open my mouth to answer he continues abruptly, "This is a new day. In the past court trials went on forever. Guilty men walked free. Justice was a suggestion. Terrorism made the world panic. Mankind gave into their most basic desires. That is the reason why the Zodiac System was formed. The system makes sure that everything falls into its exact order. Everyone has a place. Everything is fair and balanced."
He uses his open palms to symbolize weight moving them up and down like a scale. Fair and balance.
"I just want to know why you didn't tell us it was not a simulation."
"It's hard sometimes for new Libras to understand what we are. We are fair. That's who we are. Scorpios are dangerous. That's who they are. Aquarius are protectors. Capricorns are practical. Geminis are two-faced. And so on and so on. We all have our parts to play in this game. Scorpios have to be the bad guys so we can be the good ones. You made the right choice yesterday. Don't you think?"
I struggle with this. Why was he talking to me in this condescending way? I was younger then him. I had less world experience then him but I wasn't a child.
"A man's dead."
"That's not fair. What's fair is to say that a bad man is dead. Scorpios are bad so we can be good. Look at the screen. See these men."
He turns on the screen. I can tell the look of the men on the screen. They are all similar. They all have that tattooed look on their faces. I notice one man. He has next year's date next to his picture. It's weird.
"Who are these people?" I say and get more specific pointing to the familiar man, "Who is he?"
"The next Zodiac killer."
"I've seen him before. In this city. He was following me."
He's the one who looks exactly like Silas.
"They are all Scorpios. He's Silas's brother Simeon."
"Did you just hear what I said?" I ask him, "He's in this city."
The High Liberty nods at me as though he knows that, "We have men looking for him. He will be caught and made an example of just like Silas. I understand you may be worried. Fear is understandable but you can't let it defeat you. We are the good guys. Remember?"
"Silas threatened me in the crowd. He said I would pay. I saw him looking at me...specifically."
He's dismissive of me. He's acting as though I'm making this all up or something like that. The High Liberty gives me that stupid condescending look again. It makes me sick to my stomach seeing him do it.
"He was looking RIGHT at me. He threatened revenge. You heard him," I reply attempting not to raise my voice but this is all beginning to freak me out.
The High Liberty is cool as a cucumber. He gets up and walks to the door at that moment, "Go home. Whistler will keep you safe."
It's clear he doesn't want me here anymore. His face looks a little annoyed as he keeps the door open. I walk over to the sliding door. I stop right before walking out of the threshold. I look over at the High Liberty. There is something odd about all of this. I don't get it. None of it really makes sense to me.
"The folder never mentioned that Silas had a brother."
Why wouldn't they mention that in the biography? I understand not mentioning parents. The Zodiac System made the idea of parents non-existent. The system would have linked siblings together however. If you had a brother or sister usually that is something that would be reported in a biography right?
The High Liberty's face goes halfway into a smirk but the other half of his face is what concerns me more. He is stoic. He is non-reactive.
"You still want to become the High Liberty one day don't you? Don't you still want to make a difference Law?"
"Of course, sir."
"Good," He says and smiles, "Good night Law."
The conversation with the High Liberty leaves me on edge. I know that I shouldn't be questioning the system like this. I know I shouldn't be going against everything but the whole Silas situation has me freaked out. I need to stop thinking like this. I basically just embarrassed myself in front of the High Liberty and made him doubt my devotion to everything.
I get into the apartment and I open the door. Whistler stands by the door in her usual stance. She isn't much of a conversationalist. She is like a robot but without all the helpfulness. She is just there to be some type of protector or something.
"Slamming doors now?" Ryder asks.
I watch him walk into the kitchen area. He must have been working out because he is dripping sweat. He walks close to me, bumps into me and makes his way out.
"Not in the best mood," I respond.
"What? Really? I could have sworn you would have been thrilled. The execution last night was probably super exciting for you Libras huh?" he asks me.
"Don't act like you didn't like it."
I grab Ryder by his sweaty chest and push him up against the fridge. He's been treating me like shit all week. Every time he gets the chance he makes a jab at me. He's very blunt with his jabs too. It's like living with Loreal except without the passive aggressiveness. Ryder is making my life a living hell and I hate every moment of it. What's worse is that his chest is so sweaty that my hands slip in an attempt to pin him down. He ends up laughing about it.
"Listen. We don't have to talk. We don't have to do anything OK? I'm going to give you the divorce."
Ryder raises an eyebrow.
"I'm going to give you a divorce. Isn't that what you wanted?"
Ryder stops for a second. He sits on the stool. I don't think he was expecting it. I can't read his facial expression when I tell him that I'm going to finally give him what he's been hoping for this entire time. He just seems to be in some sort of deep thought. I've been thinking of the best way to give him the news but honestly I'm guessing that this is the best option.
"Yeah. What made you change your mind?"
I think about it for a minute.
"Is it about the 30 missed calls that keep coming into the speakers from that guy Apollo. You do realize your phone is synced with every electronic device in this house right?" Ryder asks.
"It's none of your business."
"Ok. Ok. Well...will you pay for the divorce too?"
"Yes. I'll make sure it happens."
"Why are you being so nice to me?" he asks at that moment, crossing his arms, "Usually you just walk around here and pretend like I need to follow the system or I'll be punished somehow."
"I don't want to talk about this. I need to burn off some steam OK."
"Come run with me."
I look over at Ryder. He is staring at me. I don't know why the dude looks so sexy. He's probably been working out but for some reason the Aries seemed to have the stamina of a pissed off Ram. He works a construction job where he is doing manual labor all day, then comes home and exercises for hours. He looks at me with that face of his.
"You want me to come run. With you?"
"Hey you being nice I figured I'll be nice too. Besides running is the best way to burn off negative energy. Trust me. I know."
We are running around the city at night. This area of the city is clean and neat. A few blocks down I know that wouldn't be the case. There are gardens on each block of this street. They are neat. I have no doubt that some Pisces arranged the flowers. They were inspirational and beautiful. The moon is high in the sky. There is a big chunk missing from it from the wars. Some of the old countries weapon tested up there and it didn't end up going so well. I have to admit jogging next to Ryder feels comforting. For some reason we just run. It's quiet, relaxing but I am letting all of that strange energy just come off of me. It disappears somewhere.
I'm not sure where. It just disappears.
We run up to a lake. The moonlight shines on the water. We start running around the lake. I think he wants to run faster but for some reason Ryder isn't leaving me behind. He's jogging at my pace and every once in a while turns to look at me for a minute. I hate it.
"Is there something you want to say?" I ask, "You keep looking over here."
"I was just going to ask you if you had to bring Whistler..."
I look back. Sure enough my personal bodyguard is close behind. She runs at a steady speed. She keeps the pace.
"I don't control her."
"Does she watch you take a shit too?" Ryder asks.
"Did you just say that? Who raised you?"
"I'm sorry is taking a shit not fair and balanced?" Ryder asks me, "Am I not supposed to mention the fact that everyone takes a shit. Hell even Whistler probably takes a shit. Genetically enhanced or not, I'm letting you know she drops those kids off at the pool man. Probably does it in silence with some ninja like reflexes. No one can hear her splashes. She probably has robotic chips in her shit..."
I roll my eyes and laugh a little bit, "Please shut the hell up..."
"Was that a laugh? From law abiding Law? Damn. I was wondering when you would get the stick out your ass."
"I never had a stick up my ass," I respond.
"Actually that night that you and I did that thing...you kinda did," he replies.
I push Ryder hard. He trips on the ground and stays there. Fuck. I didn't mean to do that. I reach over to help Ryder up and extend him my hand but before I know it Ryder pulls me down to the ground with him.
"Really?" I ask.
"You're dirty now. Nothing wrong with a little dirt every now and then," he replies to me, "Come on. Let's go wash it off."
"You wanna run back?"
"Run back? There is a lake right fucking here."
Ryder can't be talking about the man-made lake that we are running next to. They don't even let animals in this fucking water. This water is for aesthetic purposes only. I'm shocked when I see Ryder stripping butt naked at this point. Luckily it's late. Luckily there is no one around to see him acting like this except Whistler and she seems less then interested. Ryder is butt naked in a few minutes. His dick is swinging in front of him.
I turn away, "Oh shit you're naked."
"You've seen me naked before. Remember?" he asks, "So how about you stop being so shy and jump in the water with me."
"Are you going to start talking about the fact that you are going to get in trouble? God forbid Law breaks a fucking rule in his life yo. You might just sentence yourself to being guilty and send yourself to jail. Hell you might execute yourself like that guy Silas. God forbid..."
"I can't swim."
He stops. I feel so stupid and vulnerable. A lot of Libras can't swim. We never had water up on those mountains to learn how to swim. If someone had asked Loreal about her swimming she would have come up with a snappy response like "Libras don't swim, we fly." That would have shut anyone up. Right now I don't want to shut anyone up though. I feel vulnerable and stupid as fuck. It's just embarrassing.
Maybe Ryder sees that I feel vulnerable right now. He looks like he feels guilty for going in on me when he realizes the reason that I don't want to get in the water.
He offers me his hand, "I'm sorry. I was overreacting. Here. It's not that deep. I'll help you. You'll be safe."
I hesitate at that moment but I strip down to my underwear and hold Ryders' hand. Together we get in the water. It's cold but we quickly adjust. Ryder keeps his promise and holds my hand the whole time even though I can stand on my tippy toes and reach the bottom of the manmade body of water. We aren't too far from the Town square. There are trees around the lake and beyond the trees are the massive buildings of the Capital City. The broken moon reflects down on us.
I want to feel at peace but as we wade through the water I think my facial expressions betray what I'm feeling inside. I don't realize it until Ryder says something.
"What's wrong?" he asks.
"You can tell me. We're in private. I figure this is one place Whistler doesn't want to follow you," he responds, "She probably doesn't want to get her circuits wet. Androids are like that."
He's right. Whistler is standing on the shore. She is on the very edge. If she could walk on water she would probably do it but she can't. For the first time in weeks I'm not being chaperoned around. It feels good actually. Still I can't get completely comfortable with this thing on my chest.
"Ok," I finally exhale, "So I judged Silas."
Over the past week Silas was all people could talk about. His execution in front of everyone was a very public display. Supposedly the High Liberty wanted to make a point by executing him in front of everyone. I didn't get what that point was but it was a needed one.
"A bunch of us were assigned to his case. I thought it was a simulation. I didn't think it was real."
"I hear that the Scorpios hold grudges," he explains, "They run in packs Law. You can be in danger. Why would you vote for him being guilty."
"I don't know? I didn't know it was like this. It just didn't seem...fair."
Ryder seems shocked that I'm saying it. He is looking at me with this look at that moment. It is almost like he is looking at me for the first time. He stops moving and just holds me there under the moonlight. We stand there for a moment and nothing seems to happen at first.
That's when he crosses his arms and raises an eyebrow, "You don't think the system is fair?"
I shrug, "I didn't say that. I don't know why I'm feeling like this. The others don't seem to give a damn about Silas. Even after everyone found out it wasn't a simulation. No one cared. They just assumed it was fair because he killed so many people and he pleaded guilty. It might have been justice but I don't know why I feel like shit about all of it..."
"Maybe it's because you got a soul somewhere," he responds.
"No. Impossible," I reply sarcastically, "I'm a Libra. You can't think that I have a heart."
"I know right. That's what I'm thinking. It has to be the smallest thing in the world. Where do you Libras even keep it man? Is it right there on your arm? How about here. How about here?"
He's grabbing me all over at that moment. He's touching me in all these silly places and I'm laughing. I'm not sure he even notices it when he grabs my butt. I notice it though. The laughing stops on my end at least. He's still laughing until he realizes that I've stopped. He realizes where his hand is.
Ryder attempts to move it.
I stop him.
"It's OK," I tell him.
I put his hand back on my butt. I don't know why it comes over me. I don't know why there is all this emotion that I have right now. I lean in and I kiss Ryder. It's a slow kiss at first but it gets more and more passionate. Our tongues mash into one another. His kisses are so sweet and strong. He is aggressive when he pulls me close.
Ryder lifts me up in the water and wraps my body around his waist. He's kissing me hard all the while rubbing the mid-section of my back. He makes his way high and higher rubbing my neck. His tongue curls up against mine and unfolds. He explores the sides of my mouth and I let him. There is so much passion at that moment that both our dicks are hard as hell.
"Damn..." he says, "I wasn't expecting that."
"We're not even high this time."
He takes a deep breath. His breathing is heavy and slow when he whispers into my mouth, "Are you sure we aren't?"
I know what he means. He's breathing into my mouth and I'm capturing it. He puckers a little bit and kisses me. I kiss him back. Every kiss makes our hearts beat faster and faster. My breathing gets slower. His breathing is tense. Mine is as well. He looks me deep in my eyes. There might as well have been real fireworks. This chemistry between us wasn't just real. This shit was deep. Every kiss that I had with Apollo seemed to fade into the background. This thing with Ryder was a spark that I'd never felt before. Ever.
"Should I take off my underwear?" I ask him.
He hesitates for a minute. He's thinking about something. All of a sudden he puts me down. He drops me and takes a step away from me. For the first time we got in this water he has released me.
"No," he tells me, "No I'm sorry."
"What are you afraid of?" I ask him.
"I'm not afraid of anything," he responds, "I just...can't. I'm sorry. It's complicated."
What the fuck could be so complicated about having sex with someone you were still legally married to?
"Ryder what's wrong?" I ask him.
"Nothing it's just..." he starts but stops, "Hey, what the hell is going on over there? Fuck. Goddam Aquarian officers. Fuck!"
"HANDS UP WHERE WE CAN SEE THEM!"
I'm shocked when I see flashlights headed my way. Ryder and I raise our hands at that moment. It's clear that we have been caught somewhere we weren't supposed to be. I roll my eyes with annoyance. I knew this was a bad idea. I guess this is what happens when you break the rules.
After going down the station we are released within 30 minutes. I'm not surprised when the new Police Chief Apollo himself comes to the station to release me. When he sees me though I can't help but be a little embarrassed. What's even worse is that he sees me with Ryder. Apollo walks over to the front of police station and just stares at me. He crosses his arms.
Ryder looks at me. Ryder looks at Apollo. There is so much tension and I'm just hoping Ryder doesn't have word vomit right now. I'm not in the mood.
"This the guy that keeps calling the house every minute of the night huh?" Ryder asks me.
I don't answer. It's beyond embarrassing.
"Wait outside," Apollo tells Ryder.
It's an order. Ryder looks like he is about to say something else but Apollo signals to a couple of police officers. They don't hesitate to kick Ryder out of the police station before he has a chance to say another word.
"What are you doing?" Apollo asks, "Skinny dipping Law? Really? Skinny dipping? You are the last person that I would expect this from."
"Am I going to get a fine?" I ask.
"No. Of course not. I took care of this situation. No one will know, but what the hell are you doing?" Apollo asks, "Earlier you went to the High Liberty's office and questioned the system and now you are skinny dipping? Is there something we need to talk about?"
"No it's just...wait...how do you know I went to the High Liberty's office?" I ask him.
Apollo crosses his arms, "I asked him to grant us divorces. He approved. I paid the fees for my marriage and yours. All you have to do is go down and sign it and then I'll pay off the matchmaker and..."
"Wait. I told you that I was going to take care of that when I was ready," I explain to him, "I just talked to Ryder about that today. You didn't have to go behind my back and try to approve that."
Apollo shakes his head in an annoyed way, "Actually I did. That Aries is scum. Look what he has you doing. You have a responsibility to the city. You have a responsibility to everyone. What if you were attacked out there? Your Virgo was so far away from you. The Scorpios are in the city. I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want to worry you, but Silas got a message out somehow when he was locked up."
"What kind of message?"
"It was a hit list," Apollo states, "Your name was on it."
I rest my arms on my knees. I'm so shocked that my mouth just drops open. Apollo puts his arm around me. The Scorpios were in the city. I'd seen Simeon. The Zodiac Killers were here and I was on their hit list for whatever reason.
"What happened to all the other heirs to the High Liberty before me?" I ask.
Apollo hesitates, "It doesn't matter."
"Apollo tell me what the fuck happened to the other heirs," I demand, "I'm not fucking around right now."
"They were all executed by the Zodiac Killers but baby it won't happen to you. I swear. It won't happen to you. Law! Law come back! LAW!"
I get away. I don't know why. I don't know why I run past Ryder too. Whistler follows me all the way to a local bar where I'm just sitting there. I'm shocked. What the fuck had I gotten myself into? What the fuck was going to happen to me.
I was beyond scared.
I keep getting calls from Ryder and Apollo attempting to check up on me. I tell them both I'm fine but truth is I want to be alone. The capital city wasn't exactly what I thought it was. The beautiful life that had been promised to me wasn't so beautiful anymore. There were a group of terrorists and for whatever reason I was on their hit list.
I'd never been so scared in my life.
I start making my way home at that moment. I clear past the usual spot and make it to the elevator. Whistler opens the elevator and walks in side. For some reason I hear a familiar voice though. Ryder was down here? The elevator closes before I get on it sending Whistler up a few levels. Good. I didn't need her following me anyway.
I end up going around the corner. I'm confused on why Ryder would be down here at the empty lobby instead of up at the penthouse. What the hell was he doing down here.
I see Ryder. He's not alone. He's KISSING someone! All of a sudden it makes so much sense when he said he was complicated. Was Ryder involved with someone else?
"I miss you," the voice says.
"I miss you more," Ryder responds.
That's when Ryder kisses the person. I stare into the darkness and watch as Ryder pulls the person out of the darkness. That's when I see the person's face. My mouth drops open.
It's Simeon. The Zodiac Killer.
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