“Look Logan,” Damian began slowly when the two of them were standing in the meeting room the day after the leadership change in the gang.
Logan was standing there because he was the second in command. Being the second in command meant that he had the first meeting with the new leader, before the rest of the gang had to report. Calmly, Logan watched Damian with as blank a face as he could muster. The two of them had voted the same way yesterday, but that did not make them friends. Hell, that didn’t even make them allies. Of course, that didn’t mean that they were enemies, either. Logan had known Damian a long time, and he was still trying to figure out the part about their relationship. They hadn’t always voted the same way in the past (if they had, they would already be friends), but they hadn’t voted differently on more issues than they had voted the same.
Continuing on, unaware of the silent monologue that Logan was having with himself, Damian carried on in a steady voice, “I know that we haven’t really allied up, or anything over the years. I thought you were a strong person, to be sure, but you seemed to have something that kept you from reaching out to me as an ally, and that made me wary of you.”
I had several people that I refrained from reaching out to after I was reinstated in the gang, Logan thought drily. Believe me, you weren’t the only one. Of course, since he was only supposed to be listening at this point, he said none of those thoughts, and he just continued staring blankly back at Damian, waiting to see where he was going with that thought.
“I guess the first question I have for you is, why did you nominate me?”
That question caught Logan by surprise. Lifting his eyebrows in response to that, Logan asked for clarification, “Why did I nominate you?”
“Yeah,” Damian nodded, giving him a puzzled look. “You nominated me; I was standing not two feet away from you when you did it. I’m just curious as to why.”
Giving the question some thought, Logan decided to go with as honest an answer as he could. Turning his attention fully on Damian once more, he began, “Look, Damian, I’ve seen you in the gang for years. I liked how you seemed capable of making your own decisions. You don’t put up with bull shit from some of the morons that are running around with us. You are close to my age, which means you’ve been around the block more than enough times to know how to handle this gang. But in that moment last night, when we were deciding what to do with Terrance, you stood there and said we should kill that bastard. That was what I wanted.”
Damian considered that response for a time, and then said, “But Jonas said we should kill Terrance, too. Why didn’t you nominate him?”
“Honestly?” Logan asked. When Damian tipped his head forward to confirm, he continued, “Because Jonas is too young. He will be a good leader in a couple of years, but it would have been too soon for him right now. If he would have been elected the leader last night, then he wouldn’t have lasted a year. He’d either have been killed, or someone else in the gang would have thought he was too weak and would have tried to throw him out of power. I like Jonas; I didn’t want to see that happen to him. And like I said, you would be a good leader. I could follow you; hell, you might even be able to make me care for this gang, again.”
Logan was surprised by just how honest he had been moments before. Looking at Damian, he could see that even his new leader was surprised by what he had just said. For a while, a heavy silence lingered over the two men. After about five minutes seemed to pass (honestly, it could have been something as quick as thirty seconds, Logan really had no idea), Logan cleared his throat and said, “So have you thought about who you want to name as your second?”
“I want you to be my second,” Damian said easily.
“What?” Logan asked, startled by that admission. It was almost as confusing as when Terrance had ket him as the second in command when he took over.
Damian actually grinned at his confusion. “I want you to be my second, Logan.”
When Terrance had said that, Logan just accepted it. He couldn’t accept this answer outright when Damian said it, though. Maybe it was because he seemed to have a stronger connection with Damian, he felt that he had a right to ask for clarification, whereas when Terrance kept him, he more so felt that he just had to accept it. Carefully, he gave a nod to signal that he accepted the position, but he did ask, “Why?”
Damian considered his answer carefully before he gave his response to Logan. Finally letting out a heavy sigh, he said, “Because that is what I promised to do. That’s what we all promised to do.”
“Promised to do?” Logan asked, dumbfounded. “Promised who?”
“We promised Carter. Carter told us that you were going to try and escape at some point, even after failing the first time, and that if we weren’t going to kill you, we had to put you where we could keep an eye on you. He pointed out that the number two position was the safest spot. No worries about getting elected as the head of the gang, but everyone sees every move you make.”
Logan stared in complete shock at what Damian had just said. “Why did Carter think I would try to escape again?”
“Don’t know,” Damian shrugged easily. “But he said that you would unless we put you somewhere we could keep an eye on you.”
“And everyone voted to do this? Even Steven and Harding?”
“Yeah,” Damian affirmed, shrugging again. “It was a unanimous vote . . . I’m not sure that we have ever had a unanimous vote, other than that.”
Logan was having extreme difficulty accepting that it was possible to vote to keep him at the number two spot without him knowing about it. “When did you all vote on that?”
“The night of the vote to keep you alive. Don’t you remember getting the shit beat out of you?”
Logan remembered that, suddenly. He remembered the assault that the three senior members of the gang had laid on him. They punched him, beat him, kicked him; they used their hands, brass knuckles, their feet, chains, and whips. The three senior gang members had beat him within an inch of his life. It took him more than three weeks in solitary to recover from that punishment. How had Logan been able to suppress that memory? After all, he had scars from that beating . . . the one on his shoulder, two on his leg, and one across his hand. What had he been deluding himself with about where he had gotten those from? Or had he just thought they were from some other raid, some other beating, or something else? Living in a gang meant that you got scars. That was just how it was. Could Logan seriously have deluded himself with some other beating to keep himself from remembering his punishment?
Clearing his throat, Logan said softly, “No, actually. I guess I’m a much better repressor of bad memories than I thought I was.”
“Well, look, Logan,” Damian began, grasping his shoulder. “I don’t know why Carter wanted to keep you alive, but he did. And I gotta say, it was apparently the right move. You kick ass as a number two. And it is even better, because we know you would never try to overthrow the number one. I mean, you could, I guess, but they you would you would get killed. I know that you don’t want to be in this gang anymore, but the only way out is in a grave, and I don’t think you want out that badly. Not yet, at any rate. So look, I trust you. I know that you have lost Steven and Harding, but this family has been good to you. Just give it some time and maybe you’ll find that thing you loved so much when you signed on in the first place.”
In the first place? Logan thought bitterly. Rage was boiling up inside him and it was taking everything in his power to keep it contained until he was alone to let it out. Everyone in the gang had been trying to keep him here. It didn’t matter that he had never tried to escape again after the first try (which now that he could remember the beating, he could remember much clearer why he hadn’t tried again). Steven had betrayed him. Harding had betrayed him. Every other person in the gang had betrayed him. Why did they care so much about keeping him alive? If that were the case, maybe he should have tried to run, gotten shot, and then all of this would be over. He wanted to do that, but he knew he couldn’t. Because, as pissed as he was, he knew it wouldn’t last, not at Steven, at least. One bad decision couldn’t undo all the years of loyalty. And for all he knew, Steven had only voted “yes” to that because he wanted him to stay alive. Logan knew that Steven had grown tired of the gang, too. Maybe he just wanted to keep Logan alive so he would have a co-sufferer. Gritting his teeth and forcing himself to give Damian a smile, he acknowledged, “Thank you for telling me that, Damian. I will do my best not to let you down.”
But he didn’t mean that last bit. In fact, Logan was pretty sure that he meant just the opposite. What he really wanted to say was, “Thank you for telling me that, Damian. I will do everything in my power to make sure that you get buried in a grave right next to me so I can haunt your ass once I die and go to hell.”