The group was lounging around Carstella’s living room. It was pouring rain outside, and they had nothing to do. Ruff and Astrid were braiding each other’s hair and paining their nails, Snotlout, Hiccup, Fishlegs, and Tuff were playing a video game on the console in the living room, and Carstella was bouncing a rubber ball rhythmically to the rain as they all talking about random stuff.
“For the last time, Snotlout you were not that popular in high school! Let it go!” Astrid snapped.
“If I wasn’t how come I made a home run at seventeen?” He teased the blonde.
“Ha!” Tuff laughed, “I lost mine when I was sixteen!”
“Masturbation doesn’t count!” Ruff all but yelled at her brother.
“I know that!” Tuff snapped at his twin.
“You shouldn’t even be happy about losing that stuff that early with someone you don’t even care about.” Ruff snarled at the boys.
“Ruff does have a point.” Fishlegs added.
“Shut up FishFace!” Snotlout growled, “Just because you didn’t lose yours ’til university doesn’t give you the right to be all high and mighty in the realm of sex!”
“Speaking of which,” Tuff added on and turned his attention the only boy who hadn’t spoken up yet, “How’s the love life been, Hiccup?”
“Tuff.” Astrid warned.
“It’s a genuine question.” Tuff defended against the girl before his attention back to the brunette, “Have you lost yours yet?”
“Yes.” Hiccup replied bitterly, “Now please, we’re losing!”
“You sure are!” Snotlout laughed, “Even Fishbrains here lost his before you.”
“It shouldn’t matter how soon you lose such a thing as long as you share it with someone you actually for.” Carstella interjected not looking up from the ball she caught and dropped like a machine, “Then it shouldn’t feel like you’ve lost anything.”
“I was still the first one to get laid!” Snotlout proclaimed.
“No you weren’t!” Tuff argued, “We’re both the same age and I lot mine a year before you!”
Snotlout opened his mouth to yell back but was cut off.
“You both lose,” Carstella told them, “I lost mine before either of you.”
The room went dead silent except for the ball hitting the floor like clock work.
“We’re waiting on an explanation.” Fishlegs said carefully, sure he was treading in dangerous waters.
Carstella held the ball when she caught it and looked over friends with a face that said they couldn’t unhear what she was about to say.
“I started questioning my father when I was about fourteen.” She started and continued to bounce the ball, “Up until then I’d done anything he willed me to do. The last official job he sent me on before everything transpired was to expose one of his greatest opponents with influence in government as the pedophile he was. The only way to do that was have a child go in and plant a camera. Who better than his very own daughter.” Carstella paused a moment as she threw the ball down harder and caught it again before continuing, “Long story short I got the evidence and presented it to my father. He was happy I got it, and rewarded me with another tattoo for the work I’d done.” Carstella stopped entirely.
“But,” Astrid asked softly encouraging her to go on.
Carstella shrugged before replying, “Maybe it was just me expecting more than what I should have. But he never said anything about what happened, he never presented me with some kind of other reward for what I’d done. And I wondered if he even appreciated what I’d done for him. That’s when I questioned everything and stopped listening, he put up with it as an after effect of what I’d gone through and allowed me to lock myself up in my room for hours or sometimes even days alone.”
By instinct Tuff dropped the controller and crawled over to the girl laying on the love seat and wrapped her in a hug.
Carstella smiled at the silent gesture and started bouncing the ball again as she placed her other hand on his arm.
“I’m okay, Tuff.” She assured, “It doesn’t matter anymore, and I have thick skin to deal with this kind of stuff.”
“Thick skin’s an understatement.” Astrid told her as she stared with wide eyes, “How the hell did you cope?”
Carstella shrugged as Tuff pulled away and leaned against the love seat to look at her as she spoke.
“When I locked myself up in my room I basically wrote memoirs about my life as I could remember it.” Carstella answered and continued to bounce the ball, “Of the few times I left my room I went to get more paper to write and draw on.” She let out a half laugh at that, “My room was a mess with sketches of crime senses, weapons, family symbols, tattoos, and pages and pages of the details of my assignments, people I killed, poison recipes, all the information I had gained over the years, along with training, what happened in my life, why my father was upset with me, everything.”She stopped bouncing the ball then, and just let her arm lay limply off the couch, “All that I eventually reduced to about, nine hundred a thousand pages?”
“Eight hundred ninety four.” Fishlegs laughed as a reply.
“What happened to all of the original drafts you wrote?” Hiccup asked.
“I stored them when I was done writing the book.” Carstella told him, “And when my father died, and I went through everything, sold what I could, got everything prepared for leaving, I torched the house and everything left in it, making it look like I died in the fire.”
“They didn’t believe you did?” Ruff asked, “Cause I imagine this giant mansion with like a hundred rooms and a large amount of land, and if it all went up in flames, how would they know you weren’t in it.”
“Many of my father’s underlings knew I grew tired of the mafia life, was an idiot once and even asked my father if there was a way I could get out.” Carstella said with a sadistic look on her face as she glared at her lap as she let out a dark chuckle, “I was surprised he didn’t kill me after that, or feed me to the dogs, or hand me over to another family. But maybe that’s why they knew. I was known for being exceedingly resilient and having the strongest will to survive.”
“How resilient?” Astrid asked and tried not to flinch from the reply she knew she would get.
“He thought he actually did kill me once.” Carstella said as her expression turned thoughtful as she looked up at the ceiling, “I forgot what the hell I did to piss him off that time, at one point if he just saw me and was in a bad mood he’d lash out at me verbally or even just back hand me. He beat me with his cane, I had broken ribs and internal bleeding, that much I knew myself, I thought he was done so I turned over on my back, big mistake; he brought his cane down cane down right on spine and then again on the back of my neck. When I stopped moving or saying anything he thought I was dead. A couple of hench men came in to deal with my body only to find I was still breathing. A doctor was brought in immediately to deal with me, I had a fracture of my lower spine and a slipped disk, fracture at the base of my neck too. The doctor actually said I should have been dead on the floor. But after a back and neck brace, eight months of therapy I was back walking around like normal.”
“That should kill someone!” Astrid exclaimed, “Where exactly were they, do you know?”
Carstella forced herself to sit up and turn around so she was facing the back of the couch her back to her friends. She moved her hair so they could have an unobscured look at her neck; there was a faint scar on her neck where her spine and neck connected, she then lifted up her shirt to show them her back.
“The fracture was about here.” She pointed her spine a little above her pelvic bone, “And the slipped disk was about here.” She pointed about half way up her spine the middle and small of her back there was a scar a little more noticeable than the others along there.
“That should have killed you.” Astrid said again.
“A lot of things should have killed me, Astrid.” Carstella said as she pulled her shirt down and turned around, “But for some reason I’m still alive, and as much as I don’t believe in being here for a reason I do believe that there is something I need to do before I do die, I just need to figure out what.”
“She has a big heart.” Dagur informed Alvin, “She’s going to come, we just need to get a hold of them first.”
“And how do you suppose we do that?” Alvin asked as he leaned back against the couch. Opposite to him was the red head he temporarily joined forces with, in between them on the coffee table was a bunch of expensive finger food.
“It would be a little hard.” Dagur admitted, “Non of them are really trusting of me, and it would be hard to kidnap most of them. Astrid and Snotface work out like it’s no one’s business, Fishbutt is too fat to deal with quickly, Hiccup’s way too apprehensive about things to trust most people, and then the twins would make the world’s biggest scene. Besides, they’re usually in a group almost never alone.”
“Then how do we get them?” Alvin almost hissed.
Dagur took a bite of a sandwich as he said, “I’m thinking.”
“Well think harder.” Alvin snapped, “I want that girl by the end of the month.”
“You’ll get her.” Dagur growled and swallowed, “Right after I have my fun with her.”
Alvin’s grip tightened on the arm rest to the point his knuckles turned white, be bit back a bark knowing the boy wouldn’t cooperate with him if he didn’t. After he had the girl Alvin was going to dispose of the red head before he could lay a hand on her.