As the train sped away from Broad Street station, David realized that there was no use in lying anymore. Bern knew too much. It made no difference whether the rest believed him or not. He had to tell the truth.

“Now headed toward Nielsen Quay. Next stop: Mason Plaza,” the recording announced.

David began, “Mia, I wasn’t honest with you earlier – about where I was before all this started.”

“I figured as much,” Mia replied.

Slowly, David told his story. “I was imprisoned in an office building near City Hall. I don’t remember much. I don’t even know how long I was there. But I remember the ones who captured me.” He looked up at Bern and added, “They’re a force even greater than I am. I’m sure you appreciate what that means.”

“Yeah, I see what you’re throwing down,” Bern answered coldly. “Ain’t buying it though.”

David continued, “When they discovered that they couldn’t control me, they took nearly all that I had. I’m lucky to be alive.”

“Did they hurt you?” Cara asked.

He closed his eyes, remembering the pain. The full weight of his weakness finally hit him in that moment – the heavy absence of all they had stolen. He answered, “I coughed up blood, didn’t I? Take from that whatever you will.”

“David. That’s horrible,” Sakari said, his pity ringing crystal clear.

“I wasn’t the only prisoner there. They got Mr. N too.”

Rianne recognized the name. “Mr. N? You mean Mr. Nishimura?”

David nodded yes. Mr. N’s final words still echoed in his mind. This is all I can do. I’m sorry.

“He sacrificed himself to free me,” David explained to the others on the train. “One moment, he’s breaking me out of the cell. The next, I’m waking up in that rainy alley off of 12th Street. Then the text came. I met Sakari at the station. The rest you know.”

No one said anything for a while. The noise outside the train shifted as it moved above ground.

Rianne was the first to break the silence. She told her brother, “Bernie, we have to save Mr. Nishimura.”

“Wait. You believe that sob story?” Bern asked surprised. “You remember who…?”

“Yes. I remember everything you’ve told me. And everything that Nico told me. Like how he trusts David.”

“What? How? He ever say he forgave him?”

“No.” Rianne looked back at David and added, “But he wants to see you again. Whenever he’s talked about you, he’s never mad. I think he misses you.”

A small smile crept over David’s face. He’d never admit it, but he missed Nico too.

“I owe Mr. N my life,” Rianne said to Bern. “You told me that. I want to meet him and thank him properly. You also told me that you owe him a lot too. If there’s any chance that David’s story is true, we have to take it. It’s the least we can do.”

Bern looked down at his shoes, thinking.

“Please, Bernie. For Mr. N’s sake.”

After a minute, Bern met his sister’s gaze. His expression slowly softened. “You’re right,” he whispered at last. “You’re always right. So fine. For Mr. N.” He turned to David and stiffened. He raised his voice and pointed angrily at the feather-haired boy. “But don’t believe that I’ll forgive and forget, pretty boy. The second you start the same shit you pulled on Nico…”

“…you’ll snap me in half like a twig,” David finished, knowing where Bern was going.

Bern smiled and slammed his fist into his palm. “Hell yeah! Easy peasy!”

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