All outta Bubblegum – Helena Bertinelli
Helena sat behind the wheel of the black sedan that her father had drove. Her car now. She’d pulled into a space a few down from the front doors of the restaurant she had a meeting in. It was just after ten pm. Far to late for normal people to be meeting with anyone, but these weren’t’ average people she was about to talk to. They were the people that her father had known for to many years, that he’d done business with. The people that could give her the answers she was looking for. Or for their sake, she hoped they could.
Closing her eyes she took a deep breath in through her nose, letting it out past her lips. She breathed deep again, in, out. When she exhaled this time though a smile slowly pulled across her lips, pretty and charming, everything that was expected of her. This was the mask she put on, the face that she put forward as she pushed open the car door and stepped out in the artificial lite night that clung to the streets. She put warmth in her eyes and pep in her steps as she closed in on the front door of the restaurant. The darkness in her head snarled at the show she was putting on, wanting to be set free on the objects of her anger. But that would come in due time. Till then, she had a role to play and this mask was what was required of her.
Pulling open the door, a little bell tinkled over her head, annoying and bright sounding. Her eyes cut over the mostly empty restaurant. Ten men scattered among tables in the back, one sitting at a both behind them, one she was here to talk to. She kicked her smile up a few watts as she started weaving her way through the tables to the oldest man in the bunch who was standing up from the booth, large arms opening wide.
“Helena Bertinelli, as I live and breath. Beautiful as your mother.” Michael ‘Mickey’ Agnello bellowed as he pulled her into a huge, giving her a squeeze before drawing her away to look her over, his smile faded to one of sadness. “I’m sorry about your old man, God rest his soul.”
“Thank you, Uncle Mickey. I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to the city. Work kept me away. You know how it is.” Her bright smile had turned to one of demure sadness. The dark thing in the back of her head smile though, pleased with the game they were playing. Cat and mouse? Or something bigger than that.
“What brings you down to my neck of the woods? I gotta say I was surprised when one of the boys told me you’d called to meet with me. You never were big on your dad’s business. Never figured you for a military brat either. What have you been up to, Helena?” He chuckled as he turned and sat back down in the booth where he had been before, waving a meaty hand for her to sit with him.
“The military isn’t that different from the Family. Just different assholes in charge.” She smirked as he chuckled. “But I’m not here to talk about me. What I’ve been doing these last years isn’t of importance. What is important is that you answer my questions honestly. Who killed my father?”
Mickey blatched at her question and sighed, folding his hands in front of him on the table. “Your pop was a good man, Helena. That he died is a tragedy, I know you two had problems but don’t turn it into something it wasn’t. Just let it go. Better for you in the long run. Makes it easier to move on.”
She closed her eyes for a moment, letting her head fall ever so slightly as she sighed and shook her head, resisting the urge to smile. The smile wouldn’t have been Helena’s smile, it would have been Huntress’s and she wasn’t ready to scare him that badly just yet. One more chance. He’d have one more chance to tell her what she wanted to know.
“Please don’t make this hard, Mickey. Trust me when I say you won’t like what happens if you do. Just tell me what I want to know. Who ordered the hit on my father? Who killed him? No one will know you told me.” She asked, her tone quiet, even, calm, dangerously so.
Now he was getting mad, and it showed as he pressed his hands on the table and leaned in slightly. “Your pops might have had standing in this city but you’ve been gone a long time. You don’t get to walk in her and make demands of me. Threaten me. Remember your place, kid. Be glad I’m gonna let you get up and walk out of here instead of smacking some since back into you. Go home, Helena. Forget you asked.”
“Hard way it is.” Her almond brown eyes shifted up to look at him and he stilled. Cold eyes looked back at him, Eyes that he’d seen before on the faces of killers, not on the face of someone he’d watched grow from a baby to a woman. She moved so fast, her hand brushing her other arm then lifting to drive the blade of a knife through his hand, biting into the table under it, holding fast.
The pretty mask that she’d put on before walking through the door was one, replaced by another one, a darker one as she slid out of the booth just as Mickey started to scream. The closest man turned and started to stand, only to sit back in his chair as Helena’s fist smashed into his face and he tumbled backwards. Grabbing the edge of the table she flipped it into the man opposite him, shoving it hard enough to send them both tumbling over. The third guy never cleared his seat before her hand grabbed the back of his head and introduced it to her knee.
The chaotic sounds of chairs scraping tile filled her ears. The sharp scent of gunpowder assaulted her nose. Grabbing and empty chair she threw it at the furthest man, hitting true and sending him to the ground gun skittering across the floor. She flinched at the loud pop ring of gunfire going wide around her as she jumped the table in front of her, knocking it over as she did, hitting the ground in a crouch as she kicked feet out from under two men. Ripping the gun out of one guys hand she clocked him with it. Her foot caught the side of the other man’s head, leaving his head ringing, followed by another kick that dropped him out cold. Five down. Five to go.
She flinched again as a gun went off and exploded wood next to her head. Her eyes flicked to the one that had fired, picking up the shitty stainless steel knife that had fallen in the scuffle of tables being knocked over. With a flick of her wrist she threw it, lodging it in the muzzle of the gun as he fired again causing it to backfire and explode, removing all but one of the fingers on his right hand. His screams made the other four falter which was all the time she needed to push up and jump the tables between them.
Grabbing the first guys arm she pulled him forward, punching her hand into his elbow, feeling bone crack under the impact. He was screaming as she shoved him into the next guy in line as she bulled into both of them. Sending them crashing to the floor. A flurry of punches and kicks and she was left standing alone in the middle of the restaurant, the only sound the grunting cries of Mickey as he was still trying to wrench the knife out of his hand.
“What the fuck! Who the fuck! Get the fuck away from me!” He screamed as she slowly made he way back to him, leveling those dark eyes at him as her hand reached over and rested on top of the knife.
“Who killed my father?” She asked again, in that cold even tone.
“Get the fuck away from me!” He screamed at he again, kicking his foot out, trying to lean as far away from her as he could get without turning his hand into a claw.
“Answer the damn question Mickey!” She yelled in his face as she grabbed him by the collar and lifted him up half up out of his seat. “Who killed my father?”
“I don’t know! Don’t none of us know! They said it was a mob hit but none of us did it.” She jerked his colar as he cried. “I swear to God I don’t know!” He blubbered.
She narrowed her eyes at him and dropped him back in his seat as she pulled the blade out of the table and his hand. He sobbed as he jerked his hand back, holding it to him as she wiped the blade on the sleeve of his suit. “You find out who did it, you call me. And if I find out that you know something, we’re going to have this conversation again.”
She didn’t wait for his answer as she slid the blade back into the hidden sheath under the sleeve of her shirt and turned stepping over the men he’d had with him, now mostly broken and bleeding on the floor. It could have been much worse. She’d restrained herself. Next time she wouldn’t be so kind.
The haunting wailing of sirens sounded in the distance. She was particularly worried as she got in her car and let out a deep breath. That was the benefit of talking to crooks sometimes, they never wanted to involve the police in their own matters. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a few deep breaths, reigning it all back in before starting the car and pulling out onto the street. At least she had gotten what she was looking for. Fear was a hell of a motivator. She believed him. Or at least believed that he didn’t know who had killed her father. That didn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t know. There were plenty of other names to check off her list. It wouldn’t be so easy next time though. Not if he talked about what had happened. But that would require him to admit that he’d been beaten by a woman. She wondered how big the story would get before she talked to the next one.