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This story contains scenes of violence and coarse language.

At seven-thirty the next morning, Kieran is awakened by the phone ringing in his bedroom. He picks it up after the second ring and mumbles, “Hello?”

“Kieran?” says the voice on the other end of the line. “It’s David.”

Kieran becomes fully alert and says, “David? What a surprise to hear from you so early. You just woke me up.”

“Oh, I’m sorry about that,” David says. “I didn’t know you’d still be sleeping.”

“It’s OK. I went to bed as soon as I got home last night, so I was just about to get up.”

Kieran hears David cough a little bit before speaking. “Listen, Virgil and I have to be at the station for nine, and I was wondering, maybe I can take you to breakfast before work.”

“Excellent. I can be ready in ten minutes.”

“Sure, ten minutes is just fine with me. See you then.”

Kieran hangs up, gets out of bed and makes it up quickly. The bed sheets aren’t totally smooth and flat, but he will have to accept that. He tosses the pillow and quilt back on the bed. He goes to his closet and changes into a pair of nice jeans and a dressy shirt. Then, he searches his room for his wallet, and finds it in one of his desk drawers.

He looks inside to see his birthday money – forty dollars. This will be more than enough for breakfast. He puts it in his jeans pocket, hurries upstairs and looks at the clock in the kitchen. It is twenty to eight in the morning. Kieran’s mother is eating breakfast at the table, so he kisses her hello. He takes a few steps back so she can look at him. He spins around once for her.

“Lovely,” Mrs. Camp says. “Are you spending another day with David?”

“Yeah, Mom,” Kieran says. “He’s treating me to breakfast, so I have to be gone in ten minutes or so.” He kisses her on top of her head, then goes to the bathroom to comb his hair and put on some deodorant.

Kieran steps out looking very presentable. From there, he finds and puts on his best shoes. He says goodbye to his mother, then leaves the house, sits on the porch and waits for David.

David’s car pulls into the driveway at precisely eight o’clock. Kieran gets into the front seat and buckles himself up, then they’re off.

When they arrive downtown, Kieran asks, “So, where are we off to?”

“I’ve always liked Denny’s,” David says. “Let’s go to the one on Reenders Drive. The scrambled eggs, bacon and toast platter is always good there.”

“I’m not much of an egg fan myself,” Kieran says. “I’m more of a ‘pancakes and syrup’ type of person.”

“Really?” David asks. “Then you’ll love Denny’s. They also make the best pancakes you could ever taste.”

David and Kieran arrive at Denny’s within ten minutes. They get out of the car, and take a quick look around them for any Fire Soldiers. There are none, so they walk in quickly, yet casually.

David and Kieran sit down in a corner booth, away from any windows. They don’t want to be seen, in case the Fire Soldiers are out for Kieran. Everything is going well until David and Kieran are halfway through their meals. At this point, David is just getting up to use the washroom. Suddenly, he notices about four or five disguised Soldiers walking past the windows outside the restaurant. They are all wearing masked toques.

“Oh my God!” David cries. He turns to Kieran and yells, “Kieran, get down!”

Kieran wastes no time as he crawls under the table. David bends down to him and says quietly, “Stay right there and keep quiet, all right? I don’t want them to know you’re here.” Kieran gives him the “thumbs up”, as he’s too scared to speak. Then, they hear some Soldiers yelling and cursing, and frightened customers screaming. Kieran watches some customers duck and cower under their tables.

David prepares his gun and sneaks his way down the aisle to the entrance. He peers around the corner and sees something disturbing. All the Soldiers are carrying weapons, uttering threats and demanding money. One Soldier is even holding the manager hostage, threatening to hurt him with a razor blade.

David puts his head back in for a few seconds, mentally preparing to surprise them. Then, he jumps out at the Fire Soldiers and points his gun and badge at them. “Get down on the ground now!” he orders. “Drop your weapons! Get down on your stomachs and put your hands behind your backs! Spread your legs out!”

One Fire Soldier with a gun takes a shot at David, but he quickly jumps out of the way. Before he can fire again, David knees him in the stomach, and he falls down. He knocks the rest of the Soldiers down before they can attack. They’re all lying on their backs and sides, injured and too agonised to move. David turns them all over, forces all their legs out, and puts their hands behind their backs. He takes out his walkie-talkie and calls for backup.

One of the Soldiers, a sixteen-year-old boy named Roscoe, turns his head to see David placing him in handcuffs. He yells at David, “Hey, we remember you! You’re that bastard cop friend of Kieran’s! Where the hell is he, man?! Our leader sent us out for him, as well as the money we wanted!”

“Shut up!” David roars back. “I’m not telling you where he is! You just keep to yourself, all right?!” Disgusted, he looks over at the Fire Soldiers lying before him. “Man, I try so hard to be nice to people like you, but all you guys want to do is take advantage of me!” He takes a card out of his pocket, and reads them all their rights.

Backup officers run into the restaurant a few moments later. “Take them away, everyone, including the one behind the counter,” David tells them. The criminal Soldiers are apprehended right away. When he sees them drive off, David puts his gun away and goes back to his table for Kieran. He forgets all about using the washroom.

David brings his hand out to Kieran, and pulls him out from under the table. As they sit down again, Kieran asks, “What in the world was that all about?”

“Your bad friends came in here with weapons,” David informs him. “They were making threats, demanding money and scaring people to death. One of them was even asking for you. But you probably heard all of that, didn’t you?”

“Oh my God!” Kieran cries as he drops his fork. “They’re out for me again, aren’t they?” He buries his head in his hands. “David, I’m scared. What if we run into them on the way to the station? I’ll be in big trouble.”

“Don’t worry about anything, Kieran,” David says in a soothing tone. “I’ll be right there with you. You know you’re in good hands with me, and I’ll fight off anyone who’ll be coming after you. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing? I swear I’ll always protect you.”

He reaches across the table and takes his hand. “I’d fight for you tooth and nail, my son. You’re everything to me, just as I am to you. And once we set you free, I promise I’ll still be there for you. I’ll keep on spending time with you.” He pauses to gaze lovingly in his eyes. “You and I can make it together, I know. I know we’ll be working hard to achieve it.” These words satisfy Kieran, and he eats some more pancakes.

David and Kieran finish their breakfasts peacefully. They agree on separate cheques, and both pay for his meal. Now, they’re off to the police station. Neither of them really know how much trouble they’ll be in with the Fire Soldiers then.

David and Kieran are driving on Main Street. They’re about to turn on Portage when Jasper, Brock, and all of the remaining Soldiers step out of an alley near them. They block the car so David won’t be able to drive past. He is surprised, and Kieran is horrified. The windows are already rolled up, so they lock their doors right away.

“Oh no,” Kieran whispers. “They must have found a new hangout.”

The Fire Soldiers quickly take their places around the car, preparing themselves for battle. They start by pushing the car back and forth in a severe rocking motion. They try very hard to tip it over, so they can kill both David and Kieran inside. Not only are they avenging the arrests of their fellow gang members, but they’re also telling Kieran that they have had enough of his betrayal. When they can’t tip the car over, they start kicking and pounding on it, screaming obscenities and hate-filled insults at them. Frightened, Kieran clings to David to save his own life.

David tries to call for help. He turns on his CB radio, picks up the mike and yells, “Mayday! Mayday! This is Constable David McBain, reporting a violent police car raid at the corner of …”

Before David can give the location, though, he hears Jasper scream, “Raid!” The Soldiers then try to destroy the car. They use baseball bats, steel rods, two-by-four plywood, even their own fists, hitting various parts of the car. David drops the mike and holds Kieran for the boy’s safety.

They put dents in the doors, hood and trunk. They smash out the windshield and the back window, then hit both David and Kieran’s windows. Some of the Soldiers try to wreck the dashboard and CB radio, so David will no longer be able to call for help. Brock manages to take out Kieran’s window with one swing of his baseball bat. He then unlocks the door, opens it and drags Kieran out by his legs. As soon as he is out, the Soldiers start wrecking the car’s interior.

Travis, Tony, Marcus and Zania pin Kieran up against a wall and start attacking him with their weapons. The rest of the Soldiers continue to wreck David’s car. David rushes out before he can be crushed in it, or harmed by the gang members inside. That proves to be risky, because some of the other Soldiers grab him and started banging his head against the car hood.

Meanwhile, Kieran yells for David’s help, as Travis, Marcus, Tony and Zania continue to beat him. But David is trying to free himself from his own torturers. When he succeeds, he dodges through the gang to get to Kieran. He takes out his night-stick and starts hitting Kieran’s torturers until they let him go. David takes his arm, and they run to the station with the Fire Soldiers after them. On the way there, he says to Kieran, “When we get to the station, you go inside and call for backup while I fend these guys off.”

After several minutes of running, both of them make it without any more harm. Kieran breaks from David and races inside the building, while David turns to face his opposition. He takes out his gun and fires at the gang, hoping to scare them off. The bullets he fires hit Brock in the chest, and he falls onto the pavement, losing all consciousness.

The rest of the gang is horrified at what David has done. They crowd around Brock while Jasper tries to revive him, but there’s no success. He looks solemnly at them and gives the announcement. “He’s toasted, you guys.”

Some of the surviving Soldiers look at David in fear, others in anger. They’ve never anticipated that a police officer would actually kill a Fire Soldier. The fearful ones believe that one of them might be next; the angry ones want revenge. Various members are suggesting different ideas.

“Let’s get out of here. He might kill one of us!”

“No, let’s go back and think up some way to kill him!

“No, let’s kill him right now!”

Jasper silences everyone, then says, “We will think of something, you guys. Whatever we decide, we are not going to let this go unpunished.” He looks back at David. “You better look the hell out, copper. I mean it. We’re gonna get back at you so fucking hard, I promise.” Then they leave.

Meanwhile, David wonders if Jasper is telling the truth about Brock. He’s too busy examining the body to pay attention to the Soldiers. While Jasper speaks to his followers, David looks at Brock’s face, so cold, so lifeless. A terrible sense of guilt falls over him. He is too pre-occupied with his conscience to hear Jasper’s threat. He tries to suppress this guilt, but it becomes too great. Just moments after the Fire Soldiers leave, David screams out Kieran’s name into the air.

Kieran rushes out of the station soon enough and asks, “What’s wrong, David?” He notices Brock lying unconscious on the pavement. Kieran gasps and runs towards the body. He kneels down beside it, with other officers looking on. He tries desperately to revive Brock, but with no success. He looks at David with serious emotion, realising that he has killed him, then falls onto the body, crying and screaming.

Seeing Kieran cry over his brother’s death makes David even guiltier than before. He rubs Kieran’s head and sobs, “Oh, Kieran, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen. Really, I didn’t.” He brings Kieran up to his level and tries giving him a sympathetic hug.

Kieran realises what David is trying to do. He pushes him away in anger and vengeance. He gives him a deadly look and punches him hard in his chest.

“You bastard!” he screams. Then he stands up and runs from the police in tears. When he gets to Main Street, the Fire Soldiers try to get him again, but he quickly fights them off. He hits them a few times, and they let go.

“Leave me the fuck alone!” he screams at them. “I’m in no mood, all right?!” Disgusted, they walk away from him. Kieran starts running again when the traffic light turns green, running onto Provencher Boulevard

~~~~~~~~~~

Kieran wants to find the building where his mother works, the University of Manitoba. He runs all the way up and down Provencher, looking both frantic and distraught. It’s as if he doesn’t know where University Crescent is located.

He decides to flag down a taxi. Surely that will get him to his mother quicker. He has to tell her about what happened to Brock as soon as possible. Kieran takes a quick look in his wallet. Twenty-two dollars and sixty cents left. He can certainly afford it.

A cab pulls over within seconds, and Kieran gets in and fastens his seat belt quickly. He says to the driver, “I need to get to the University of Manitoba. And please be quick about it. This is important.” The driver nods at him and drives off.

The driver asks, “What’s so important that you have to get there so quickly? I can’t go over the speed limit.”

“I have to tell my mother about my older brother,” Kieran explains. “He just got shot dead by a cop. It’s important that she knows this.”

The driver looks at Kieran in the mirror. “Hey, kid, aren’t you supposed to be in school?”

“It's a long, unbelievable story. You wouldn’t believe any of it if I told you.”

About five minutes later, Kieran arrives at the university. He pays the driver ten dollars, then rushes out of the cab and into the building. He goes into the main office and says to the receptionist, “Excuse me, my name is Kieran Camp. I’d like to speak with Beverly Camp as soon as possible, please. I have some urgent news for her.”

“I think she has a class in session now,” the receptionist answers. “Are you sure this can’t wait?” Kieran shakes his head and runs out.

Kieran’s mother teaches computers in the communications course. He runs all through the halls looking for this division. When he finds a sign marked Journalism and Communications, he heads for the computer room. He studies all the doors on his way there. They are marked with a number, the course name, and the instructor’s first initial and surname.

Kieran doesn’t know his mother’s classroom number, so he looks for the door marked B. Camp – Computers. He finds the door open with students working. He knocks and calls, “Mom? Mom, it’s Kieran! I need to speak with you, all right? I have some news.”

“Kieran?” calls Mrs. Camp. “What’s wrong?” She excuses herself and leaves the classroom, closing the door.

In the hallway, Mrs. Camp notices her son is distressed. Before she could ask what is wrong, Kieran says, “Mom, you won’t believe what happened. It’s about Brock.”

“What is it?” Mrs. Camp asks. “What about Brock?”

Kieran takes another breath and tells his mother, “He’s dead, Mom. He died around nine o’clock this morning, just some time ago. He got shot outside the police station on Portage Avenue, and it was by David McBain.”

Mrs. Camp is shocked. She widens her eyes in disbelief, and puts her hands over her mouth as she gasps. “Brock…dead?” she whispers. “David… McBain… shot… him…?” Now she’s speechless for a few moments. She’s trying very hard not to cry. She takes her hands off her mouth to talk. “What happened, hon? Please tell me everything.”

Kieran takes a deep breath, fighting all urges to cry. He tells her about the Fire Soldiers that burst into Denny’s during breakfast, and what David did to bring back order. He tells about how the rest of the Soldiers beat him up and damaged David’s car on the way to the station.

“When we got there,” Kieran says, “I started going around the station for backup assistance. When I came out, though, the Fire Soldiers were leaving, and there was David, kneeling next to Brock. I knew he was dead when I wasn’t able to revive him.” Mrs. Camp can’t believe the story.

“What’s being done with Brock now?” she asks.

“The police must have called the hospital, and I’ll bet Brock’s already in the morgue,” Kieran guesses. He runs his fingers through his hair and sighs. “Look, Mom, I know I probably should’ve called you from the station, but I didn’t know whether or not you were here already, or what you were doing at the moment. I thought this would sound better coming from me than your secretary.”

“It’s okay, Kieran,” Mrs. Camp says, her voice wobbling a bit. She swallows and wipes some tears. “Actually, now that you mention it, I’m kind of glad you came here. Listen, how much money do you have left?”

Kieran checks his wallet. “About twelve dollars.”

“That should be enough, but just in case it’s not…” she says, giving him a ten-dollar bill. “Listen, Kieran, as soon as you leave, I want you to hail a taxi cab and ask the driver to take you home. Be sure to give him the address. I’ll go down to the police station and the hospital on my lunch hour to see about Brock. And don’t worry about calling anyone, or writing the obituary, or any of that other stuff. I’ll take care of all that when I get home. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mom,” Kieran says. He says goodbye to his mother, kisses her cheek, then leaves. He walks quickly to the front entrance, then out of the building. Outside, he sees another taxi dropping off some tardy students. Kieran asks for a ride home, and is accepted. He gives the driver his home address, then the cab drives off.

~~~~~~~~~~

That afternoon, Kieran sits in the living room, thinking. He thinks about Brock, and the good times they shared with their father. Then, he thinks of all the turmoil he went through with him, and the other Fire Soldiers. He shakes his head rapidly to clear the thoughts, and thinks of David instead, reminiscing the good times he had with him. Perhaps he should give him another chance. Why should he throw away a good Big Brother match after only two days?

But then, Kieran starts thinking about David’s guilt over Brock, and the fact that David killed his only brother. He can’t get that terrible scene out of his head. He can’t get over his own Big Brother taking away part of his family. How is he supposed to forgive him for that? Sure, Brock may have been a bad influence in the past few months, but he was still family. And David had no right to take that away from him. Kieran decides not to give him another chance. At least, not now.

At around three o’clock, Kieran hears the doorbell ring. He is resting on the sofa, not bothering to answer the door. He hears the door open, then the sound of footsteps walking into the house. He sits up as he hears David’s voice. “Look, Kieran, I just want to talk to you about…,”

Kieran sees him and becomes angry and vengeful again. He jumps from the sofa and runs to David with a thunderstorm-like attitude. He beats him with his fists and screams at him, “Killer! Killer! Killer! You killed my brother! You killed my brother, and I want to know why! How dare you take my family away from me!”

David grabs his arms before he can beat him again. Kieran is squirming around, trying to free himself from David. David squats down to his eye level and says, “Listen to me, Kieran! I want you to listen to me, all right?!”

David takes Kieran over to the loveseat. He brings Kieran’s face up to meet his and says, “Look, I know that what I did to Brock was wrong, and I came here only to apologise. I understand that, even though he was a punk with no respect for the law, he was still family to you.” He pauses. “Kieran, I’m sorry for what I did.”

“If you were sorry, then why did you do it?” Kieran blasts.

“It was an accident,” David says in his defence. “I was only trying to make the Fire Soldiers stop the rioting. That was my only intention. I never wanted to shoot anyone dead.”

Kieran does not look convinced. He shifts over to the edge of the loveseat, folds his arms across his chest, and looks away from David coldly. He doesn’t want to look directly at him. Once, he shifts his head to give him a quick glare. David can tell how awful he’s feeling, and all he wants is Kieran’s forgiveness.

David gets up and struts over to Kieran. He clutches him by one hand, and cups his other hand into his chin. He doesn’t want him to snatch his hand away or look away from him. David puts on a solemn look. “Kieran, please tell me what I have to do in order to keep you. I still love you like another son. That’s what you are to me. Of all the kids I’ve met in my years on the force, of all the young lives I’ve touched, none is as special as you.”

Kieran starts to show some change. He thinks about that last thing David said, and asks, “Do you really mean that?”

“Yes,” David says. “From the first time I saw your lonesome face at the dance, I knew that in some way, you needed me. And I know that, even though you may not show it now, you still need me here with you.”

That’s all it takes for Kieran to come around. He looks at the serious, yet caring expression in David’s eyes and says, “You’re right, David. I’m not out of the gang yet, so I still need you. And come to think of it, you’re right again. You have treated me like another son. And you’re also just like a father to me. Look at what you’ve done for me. Look at all the times you’ve been there for me in the few days we’ve been together. You’re just like the father I lost almost five years ago, and thought I could never have again. You could never replace my real Dad, but I know I’d want someone like you in my life. Someone who’s smart, handsome, strong and brave, that would be someone I need now.”

They both stand up, then Kieran speaks again. “Oh, David, I’m so sorry for being such a brat.” He opens his arms and holds David while sobbing, out of grief for Brock, and regret for his cruel actions. In the middle of it, Kieran has a thought. He looks up at David. “You’re not still on duty, are you?”

“No,” David answers, wiping his tears. “It took some time, but I managed to convince Markham to let me have the rest of the day off. I knew I had to come find you so I could make amends. I wanted you to trust me again.”

“I can trust you again, but I still can’t believe what you did to Brock.”

“I can tell, Kieran,” David says as he puts his arms around him. “I know your feelings. I’m here if you ever want to discuss them. After all, I’m still your Big Brother. You know you can talk about personal things with me, don’t you?”

“Of course.” Kieran squeezes David even tighter. “I’m so sorry for how I acted towards you about Brock. Can you ever forgive me?”

“I already have, my son,” David whispers. “I already have.”


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