Path of Endurance chapter 16
With her heart frozen, Brianna waited Wulong to return from the King of Iron Fist Tournament 2. Not even the information that Wulong had defeated Bruce Irvin but gotten defeated by Yoshimitsu could make her heart melt anymore. Wulong filed his report; Bruce was caught but his plane had crashed, leaving no survivors, though his body was never found. Lei suspected Kazuya was behind this.
But that was seven years ago.
Brianna, now 26, lay asleep on her bed. Even though it wasn't even midnight yet, she had had a rough day literally running after drug dealers and pimps. She had even managed to outrun a Chevy van in the dark ghetto allies, which was something not even Wulong himself was able to do. Of course, he was much older than his young partner, Brianna.
Even in deep asleep Brianna was able to hear noises coming from her front door. Forcing herself awake, she listened harder; there was definitely someone trying to come in. Brianna grabbed her Desert Eagle from her nightstand and sneaked towards the door, blending into the darkness in her black tank top and workout pants; only her snow-white skin revealed her whereabouts.
She found herself staring at the silhouette that she saw through the decorative window of the door. Whoever stood at the other side of it was humongous; literally tens of cents taller than her, yet not very broad at his shoulders. He was opening the door with a lockpick or a key, and his hands were shaking so hard even Brianna heard it.
Finally the door opened and the intruder stepped inside. Dropping on her knee, Brianna aimed directly to his head. "Don't move!" she growled. "Let me see your hands."
"Geez, Sis, it's me..." a familiar voice replied and the lights went on. There stood Bryan, a little shaken, with a trash bag full of his clothes thrown over his shoulder. Brianna stood up and pulled her gun back. "Dammit, Bryan," she sighed. "I could've shot you."
Bryan was sitting on the sofa where Brianna used to sleep when she came from the kitchen with two opened beer bottles, giving one to Bryan. "You OK, bro?" she asked, sitting down next to him. "Don't you think you should've called first or something before just crashing in?"
"Your phone's disconnected, and your pager didn't respond," Bryan replied, keeping his eyes on the floor. Brianna sighed. "I know," she said. "I've gotta go to that phone-place tomorrow, and my pager was shot. I'm getting a new one next weekend."
The siblings sat together drinking beer for the first time in ages. When Bryan had found himself a girl, he had moved in to her apartment and got himself a job. Brianna had kept on working for Interpol to make her living, yet her salary was hardly enough to pay the rent and her epilepsy pills she still bought from the black market to keep her unsteady condition a secret. She had managed to learn self-restraint, but it wasn't always enough to avoid the seizures.
Bryan took a long sip from the bottle and remained quiet for a few moments. "Me and Caroline broke up," he finally said. Brianna laid her hand over her brother's shoulders to give comfort, knowing it wouldn't help much. "I'm sorry to hear that," she said, this time being sincere. "I thought you had a good thing going on."
"Me, too..." said Bryan and emptied his bottle the instant. "Sis, I need a place to crash."
"Bryan, you know you're always welcome here," Brianna replied, running her nails once again through her brother's silver hair. Even though Bryan was now 16, it still gave the comfort nothing else could provide. Yet something Brianna felt in his hair made her grimace in disgust ? she found dirt under her long, black-polished nails. "Bryan, what is this?" she asked. "Have you been sleeping in a graveyard or something?"
"The city park, actually..." he mumbled, letting out an uncontrollable sob. "We broke up a week ago."
A deep feeling of compassion suddenly filled Brianna, and without thinking she closed her dirty brother in a warm embrace. He responded, lying his head on her lap and letting her warm hand caress his cold cheek. "It's alright..." she whispered. "Why don't you take a nice, warm bath and I'll fix you something to eat. Then you're gonna tell me all about it. Deal?"
"Okay," said Bryan and sat up.
The warm water in the bathtub made Bryan wonder why on earth did he leave his Sis in the first place. He carefully washed every bit of sweat and dirt from his body and hair, scrubbing until he was confident he was pure enough to show himself in front of Sis again. He wrapped a blue towel around his waist to hide his manhood before he stepped out of the bathroom into the combined kitchen-lounge, where Brianna was filling his mug with fresh coffee. There was also a plateful of toasted bread waiting him. He sat down on a chair ? the same chair he sat on when he was a kid ? and before Brianna even noted, he had devoured half of the bread in an instant. Bryan couldn't remember when he had eaten the last time. For the past week he had lived with some junk he had found from the dumpsters of drive-ins and beer his friends had kindly bought him, so the fresh coffee and fresher toasts were more than welcome.
Brianna filled her cup and sat quietly at the opposite side of the table, watching Bryan devour one toast after another. Only after he reached for the sixth toast, he finally felt his sister's eyes on his face. He looked back, feeling an awkward embarrassment rushing on his cheek in a blush. "You've been living on trash for the past week?" Brianna inquired. "And on beer, provided by Delta and the rest?"
Bryan took one chew more and swallowed loudly. How did she know?
As if she was reading his mind, Brianna chuckled softly and took a sip of coffee. "I'm a detective, you know..." she said. "You were tired and dirty, so you have not had a real place to crash for a good while. You're paler than usual and you've lost weight; you haven't eaten for many days. Yet your stomach is slightly swollen, so you've drunken beer. Am I also right if I presume you came here straight from the Cage?"
The Cage was the meeting club of all the rappers and hip-hop people around the 8 Mile. Bryan had received quite a name of being one of the very few white rappers in there, yet he had more trouble than dollar because of it. The Cage was also a popular trading place for drug dealers. Brianna wasn't too worried ? she was able to tell a junkie from a non-addict just by looking at them. This way she had found out that some of Bryan's rapper friends, namely Delta, Edam and Lun, smoked weed. She should've reported drug abuse, but since they planted their own weeds and minded their own business, Brianna had left them alone. The gang actually liked her; they had sat many times together, watching movies, eating pizza and drinking beer, all six of them.
A moment of silence landed upon the siblings. Brianna took a long sip from her mug and began to pick her fingernails. "Go ahead, Bryan. Eat, you're all bones," she said. Bryan continued chewing the toasts, observing Sis. She, too, had changed, mainly because of the amount of scars and bruises on her body had increased. "Are you alright, Sis?" he asked after swallowing the last bits of toast. "You look like you got hit by a cement truck."
"A sledgehammer, actually," Brianna corrected. "Drug dealers have no sense of humor once they find out you're a cop."
Bryan chuckled. No matter how much she got beaten, she always found the humorist side of everything, even if she was glad to have survived. There was a nasty bruise right in her throat, in a shape of a big hand trying to choke her. Someone had even tried to tear her left eye away, leaving a nice, deep scar to the side of it. Whatever had happened, she had fought for her life.
Shivers of cold ran through Bryan's back, almost collapsing him over the table. Brianna awoke from her thoughts, springing up from the chair she sat on to rush to her brother. He shivered violently for a moment, forcing himself still once he felt Sis's hands on his shoulders. "You're freezing," she whispered and fetched a blanket. She wrapped Bryan into it, and walked him into his old room which hadn't changed much since the time he was a little boy. Tucking him in as if he still was the little boy he had been, Brianna sat down on the bed near him and silently caressed his beautiful silver hair that was still slightly wet. "You've had a very rough week, haven't you?" she said softly. "Do you want to tell me about it?"
Bryan pulled Sis down next to him and cuddled her, lying his head on her chest. Her body warmth made him feel so much better, albeit a little sleepy, and being once again near enough to hear her heart beat gave the consolation he couldn't even have imagined. He let out a content sigh that triggered a warm smile that appeared on Sis's lips. "Guess not," she muttered.
"I'm tired," Bryan replied. "And I've gotta go to work tomorrow. Think you could give me a ride?"
"You still working at the music record shop downtown?"
"No... that place went bankrupt long ago. I'm at Jimmy's garage now. Pay sucks, but it's better than nothing."
Brianna ran her fingers through Bryan's hair many times, deep in her thoughts. Jimmy's garage wasn't located in a friendly part of the town, and many of its customers had serious troubles with the police. She had paid a visit there many times, as a detective. One customer had been so upset by her profession that she was lucky she wasn't hit by the wrench the customer threw at her. Apparently Bryan didn't either know or care. He snuggled closer to Sis and closed his eyes. "I forgot how good that feels, Sis," he muttered. "Don't stop."
She laid a loving kiss into her brother's hair and kept on running her fingers through it, gently scratching his scalp until he was fast asleep. He breathed calmly against her chest, holding her near as if she would have been the only person left in the world. Sis stayed with her bro for a while, then silently she slipped away. She was halfway through Bryan's room when she heard his voice again. "She said she was pregnant."
Bryan was wide awake, staring at Sis with the saddest eyes she had seen. "But I saw her havin' a drink with some dawg at the Cage tonight. She cheated on me all the time."
Brianna didn't show any emotion, but hearing that made her heart break down in icy pieces. She sighed heavily. "Sleep now, Bryan," she said. "I'll take you to work tomorrow morning."
After sending Cary's pickup Chevy a-rolling into the river after fleeing from Queens, Brianna hadn't bothered herself enough to buy a car. She didn't even have a driver's license. However, once she had acquired an Interpol badge, she had easily gotten herself a fake license and ID from the selected few counterfeiters she had spared. A quid pro quo, one might say. Now she was driving an '83 Oldsmobile along the ghetto streets in the sunrise that was hidden by gray clouds throughout the sky. Bryan was half-slumbering next to her, desperately trying to stay awake. Brianna pulled over at Jimmy's garage to let Bryan out. "Sis..." he suddenly said. "Have you ever thought when you just stop and say, fuck it? When will you stop living in dreams and start living in reality?"
Brianna stared blank at her brother, who turned to look at her. "You've been awake for ten minutes, bro," she replied after a heavy silence. Bryan stepped out of the Oldsmobile and turned to look at Brianna one more time. "Thanks for the lift, Sis," he said.
"I'll come to pick you up at five, if I'm off by then," she replied, and watched Bryan disappear into the garage. She took off into the Interpol office, only to encounter Lei Wulong at the parking zone. "We're in hot water, Fury," he said.
"I'm glad. It's freezing in here," Brianna shrugged. "What is it?"
"Mishima Zaibatsu is attempting to tighten its hold around the Interpol," Lei explained while escorting Brianna to his car. "The leading man, Heihachi Mishima has come all the way from Japan into Detroit, because he wants to see you."
"I was hoping you could answer that. Anyway, HE ordered me to bring you over. I doubt they're up to anything drastic until they know you better, but things will get nasty if we stood them up. Get in the car."
Brianna sat down into Lei's car while silently pondering the situation. Yoshimitsu had raided Mishima Zaibatsu's Detroit HQ many years ago and survived the King of Iron Fist tournament that had followed. She is the only confirmed witness who has seen his face. Could it be that this Heihachi would be holding a grudge so strong against Yoshimitsu that he would be ready to go to all lengths to get him? Would he force her to ID him? To capture him? To kill him? Even thinking about putting her Hero in danger made her heart race and breathing grow heavier. She wouldn't do it.
Heihachi was a very cautious mafioso. Brianna and Lei were told to rendezvous his thugs in a distant place, where they were escorted into a limo that had its windows blocked from inside and outside. Neither one of the cops had any idea as to where they would be heading. The thugs that guarded them spoke Japanese with each other and into their radiophones, making sure neither the American Brianna nor the Chinese Lei understood any of their language. "Wulong," Brianna suddenly broke the loud silence. "Who is this Heihachi they're taking us to?"
"Heihachi is the leading mafioso of the Japanese mafia called Mishima Zaibatsu and a world-famous martial arts master," Lei replied, keeping his eyes off Brianna. "Many consider him a gentleman; he truly can use his charm and elegance to impress some, but in reality he is a cold-blooded murderer. He destroys everything he sees as a threat. No one knows much about him, though."
Brianna sighed. She would really like to know her enemy before stepping in into any battle, especially when the situation seemed as desperate as this. She failed to notice that Lei suddenly began staring at her. "You're worried about him, aren't you?" he asked.
The mere mention of Hero made Brianna feel even more desperate. She leaned her elbows in her knees, letting her head drop down. "Heihachi knows I've seen his face, doesn't he?" she sighed. "Is this about it?"
"Who knows..." Lei replied, leaning on the sofa of the limo. The limo stopped calmly, and the thugs stood out from the backseat: "We have arrived to our destination."
"Into the belly of the beast, then," Lei said, stepping out.
"And out of Zaibatsu's ass crack," Brianna replied.