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Apr 18 - 23:20:58
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A Whole New World Started by: Katherine_Pryde on Mar 09, '19 04:33

It had been exactly one week since the fateful letter had made it into her hands.  Words written by her mother's hand about fears and concerns that a job possibly being her last.  A single tear beaded in the eye of a young woman, barely old enough to face this world alone as she drew the letter that had been unfolded tenderly and read over and over many times during this last painful week...

My dearest daughter,

If you are reading this, then my luck has finally run dry.  The job should have been possible but there's always that chance you won't make it out alive.  It is something that we all understand upon joining this life.  I don't have long as we'll be leaving soon but I want you to always know that no matter what happens, win or lose, I love you.  If we succeed in this one it will be my last.  We will be able to move away from all this and live comfortably together away from the bloodshed and the danger of this life.  I never wanted this life for you.  If you receive this letter, I want you to go to Philadelphia.  Enclosed is enough money for a train ticket.  Look up a man by the name of Gavin Byrne.  We never really spoke about him much but he is your father.  I meant for you to find this information out much more gently but it seems we have little choice now.  Go find him, I know he'll take care of you.  He's good at that...  I can't explain now, but I know you'll be taken care of if you can find him.

If you receive this letter get out.  You're a smart girl,  I don't want you getting wrapped up in this life.  Your heart is good and sweet...  This life is not for you my love.  Get safe, grow strong and happy.  Love you with all my heart.  Stay close to Stefano.  He will keep you safe.  Listen to his council dear heart, he is smart and will know what to do.

Love you forever and always,

Mother.

As Kitty read it once more, a pair of salted tears dripped there to fall upon the precious page once more.  She pressed a gentle kiss to her fingertips and ran then across the page.  "I can't do it all like that mama...  I'm not gonna involve Stefano.  He's happy here...  He's doing what he enjoys, I can't pull him from that."  She shook her head.  She was going to brave this new journey and she was going to do it alone.  Quickly and silently she set to packing her bag.  Little did she know, she wasn't the only one to receive a letter.  In record time she had all the things she needed to get going and she stepped out the front door, locking it behind her.  She strode to the end of the drive before turning around and facing the only house she had ever known.  She drew in a shuddering breath as she gazed back at the house.  "This is it Mama...  I'll miss you so much..."  She whispered softly as she allowed a few more tears to escape before squaring her shoulders and turning to put the past behind her.  She had this.  She could do it. She would do it.  She had to.

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Kitty dipped her head as she turned her back upon the only home she had ever known.  She wasn't certain if she would return here or not but for now she was closing the door on this chapter of her life.  But she would not burn bridges neither literally nor figuratively.  She had heard of people lighting their old homes or old businesses on fire but she couldn't understand why.  Her mother had been so careful with her personal things and left no traces she didn't see a reason.  Besides, were the worst to happen, she wanted something to fall back on and she knew that her mother's 'family' would take her in in a second.  But that was not her plan.

Quick steps took her toward the train station.  It wasn't far from her house, but even so it was still a twenty minute walk or so...  Plenty of time to allow her mind to clear as she thought about what she was headed off to do.  She hadn't completely decided where she was going to go but she had to do it quickly.  She couldn't give time for someone to find her or for her to change her own mind and get cold feet.  She also thought about the connections she had already...  They were nothing...  The only connection she had to this life that she now looked to join was Stefano...  And her father...  But she didn't know her father and she couldn't bring herself to either stay here or try and pull Stefano away.  She cared about the man too much for that and could't afford to pay him what she knew her mother was.  So instead she would run.  She would restart her life by herself.  She would go it alone. 

From here she had a couple cities that she had decided would be good to try.  She was highly leaning toward Los Angeles...  The City of Angels...  It captured her attention and her imagination.  She wasn't sure why...  Then there was Seattle....  Once again she couldn't tell you why she was drawn there but her research told her there were good people there.  Her mother had suggested Philladelphia but something made her nervous about that city. Perhaps there was the fact that it should be familiar to her and yet it was so foreign.  At least the other places were expected to be foreign to her...  It was all too much for her to wrap her mind around.  But she was sure she would have her mind made up by the time she reached the station.  

Shrugging her bag higher onto her shoulder, she allowed her eyes slip closed as she walked the well known streets of her childhood feeling her shoulders hunch a little.  She felt so young...  So small.  Never had she felt like this in all her life.  She felt like she had when she had been four and stepped into her mother's high heels.  How in the world could she now fill such large shoes?  How could she be her mother?  Feeling a tear slide down her cheek again, she shook her head before raising her head and glaring ahead.  She squared her shoulders and stood up straight.  She wasn't sure if she'd manage it, but she'd certainly try.  

As she was lost so long in her own thoughts, she hardly noticed the fast approaching footsteps, and didn't notice that they were headed right for her until they were practically right next to her.  Oh yes, she was going to be dead in this life if she couldn't manage to have more situational awareness than that!  She tensed her whole frame uncertain if she should just run or brace for a fight.  But likely she wouldn't have to fight...  Not yet...  And yet these days even that was uncertain.  Turning having decided to face the threat head on, she came face to face with the very person that she both longed to see and desperately did not to all at the same time.  His name caught in her throat and choked her up as she fought hard and valliantly to remain strong and not break down and ask him, no beg him to come with her.  Stefano...

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Stefano was standing before the woman he knew and secretly loved since the first time he saw her.  She never knew his feeling and he struggled hard to prevent her from knowing how deeply and to what degree he loved her.  She was there with her bags in hand and he was blocking her path.  He was hurt that she was about to leave without a single word.  That thought cut into him deeply and his emotions started to show.  There eyes were locked and she looked angry and yet scared, a look he never received before.  Stunned at this; he had to think quickly and realize she was running but to where and to who or from who and why.  He had been her protection for the last few years and he knows everything about her.

"Kat were you planning on going somewhere without me?  Seriously?  I came here to see my kid sister off and you pop up with bags in hand?  I was headed over to see you.  I got this letter in the mail from your mom's lawyer and I haven't had time to read it.  Yet I find you here running off to God knows where.  Who are you running to?  Better yet, where are you going and were you going alone?  Why are you leaving?  You were just going to leave without even saying goodbye?  I mean you weren't even going to tell me?  You couldn't say hey Stefano see ya later?  No nothing huh?  Just up and gone oh well they people that have watched out for me don't matter!  Did you even write me a letter telling me why or where I could find you?  Wow Kat.  I never thought you would pull a stunt like this? " 

He wanted to grab her by the arm and take her back to her moms house.  His heart wanted to grab her and kiss her and ask her why she would leave and not tell him.  He wanted to know why would she just leave without telling anyone.  He thought that after all they did together and seen he was hoping they had a bond.   The thought of just making her sit down on a bench and communicate with him was the best course of action that popped up compared to making her walk home with him.  The pain and anger in his mind and heart was confusing him as he was trying to control his demeanor.  He inhaled deeply and exhales very slowly then his eyes softened towards her as he could see that something was deeply was hurting her. 

"Talk to me Kat, I deserve to know what's going on.  I thought we were at least friends.  Friends don't just pack up and leave over night without telling each other.  Friends normally sat goodbye still don't they?  You could have picked up the phone and called me.  What the hell did I do for you to pull this Houdini trick on me?  What?  Are you telling me we aren't pals anymore?  Cause what you were going to do, yeah isn't the action of a friend.  Looks to me like you're running away?  Little kids run away and when your leaving without any notice you're running a way like a little girl that had her doll taken.  In fact you have far more clothes than can fit in those few bags.  Did you even grab money from your bank accounts?  Did you tell anyone where you were going?

Then like a facet he stopped talking, he dropped his head and then slowly took her hand and point at a bench for them to sit an talk. 

"The look in her eyes told him that he was questioning her like she was his wife running a way.  He apologized and explained that her leaving would have had anyone and everyone that works for or once worked for her mom out on the streets searching and it could go bad for several people.  That he would have been deeply hurt and it would have made him look like he was bad at his job." 

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He was upset...  Kitty always could tell when Stefano was upset.  No matter how much he shrouded his emotions, he had tells that the young woman picked up on.  Heck you couldn't spend so much time around a person and not begin to pick up the tells if you had any bit of observance at all you would begin to pick up on things.  That slight way his lip twitched when he was irritated.  That eyebrow flicker, the only sign when she caught him off guard.  That slight half smirk when she did something stupid...  There were always tells.  And even before Stefano launched into his almost never ending run of questions...  She knew she had hurt him.  She felt tears sting the corners of her eyes.  Whether or not Stefano had been at her side almost consistently since she'd been quite a few years younger, he was still hired by her mother and so it was his job to do so.  Little did she know that this might not be the case.  Katherine squared her shoulders and schooled her face into that same no-nonsense face that her mother always used to give.  In this moment, she looked so much like her mother.  She simply stared ahead at him, a defiant glare slowly settling into place.  He couldn't talk to her like this.  Of course she cared about him!  Of course she cared about how he felt about her leaving!  Of course she knew that he'd likely follow her if she asked him!

But how could she...  She couldn't pay him like her mother did.  She had no money to continue his employment!  Standing there, barely coming up to his chest, the girl glared ahead feeling more and more like a little girl the longer he railed.  Her pulse began to race, the blood pounding in her ears.  Her breath began to come in shorter bursts as it was clear that his words and hurt got to her.  But every time an answer formed upon her lips, it died away with his next wave of questions.  Trying to get herself together, she allowed herself to be steered toward a bench but merely stared at it mutely as if she could not figure out how to make her legs bend.  The questions still came, and soon the explanation about how bad it would look if she just up and disappeared and how the whole of the operation that her mother had been involved with would have been out looking for her.  The mention of her mother caused a ragged gasp to come from her and new tears shine across her eyes begging to fall but still she held them back valiantly.  This was Stefano...  She had cried in his embrace numerous times.  He was the one who listened to her childish fears...  Sure he kept his own opinions to himself much of the time, keeping things professional.  But he listened to her...  Bought her a double chocolate chunk and mint chip ice cream when things got too rough.  He knew that was her favorite. He knew that jazz music soothed her but she loved rock more, he knew that she loved animals but was broken up about never being able to have them due to her mother's allergies.  He knew she was secretly afraid of potato bugs.  Anything silly or seemingly inconsequential, he had been subject to listening to.  And yet she couldn't bring herself to tell him about this major move.  All because of one thing.  She could not admit to herself one key detail.

But the more he asked, the more he pushed, the more the boiling point began to approach.  Even so she couldn't find the words to answer a single one of his question.  Instead everything came out in a rush as she stood there before him.  

"She's dead.  She's dead Stefano!  She's gone!  They took her and now she's gone!"  Sobs suddenly wracked the small woman's frame as those words that had haunted her for the past week flooded out in the first time that she had uttered and fully admitted to herself as well as the single man who was likely closer than she had allowed anyone else to be.  Trust no one...  That had been her mother's creed and what she had taught her.  Trust yourself foremost, keep your allies close but don't completely trust a soul...  Except each other of course.  That's what she would always say.  Tears streamed down Kitty's cheeks in what she felt was the most shameful of displays right there for anyone to see.  But suddenly she didn't care.  All her mother's lessons about poise and grace and keeping people guessing melted away in an instant and she simply sobbed as she stood there.  "She's gone...  J-just gone!"  She couldn't even hope to answer any of his other questions because she herself didn't know the answer to a single one with that horrible fact paramount in her mind.  Becoming absolutely inconsolable she simply sobbed until she could get hold of herself many minutes later.  "I-I'm sorry Stefano.  I figured you would be told.  I was going to call you once I got there.  I didn't figure that you would want to come with me after..."  She shook her head vigorously as she tried hard to pull herself back into her cooled shell.  Ashamed by her own display, she shook her head a bit.  "I don't need protecting Stefano...  I'm grown now.  I'm not a child anymore!"  She knew he'd see right through her bravado but she had to try.  Anger and confliction raced through her as she glared ahead at him through bloodshot eyes.  Her words said one thing, but her unbalance and face said another.  Her eyes said another...  I can't afford you...  And not just monetarily.

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Stefano was dumb struck he had no clue to what Kat was saying until he saw her tears.  He instantly started hugging her he wanted to remove every ounce of pain she was carrying with her.  He knew then that Kat was telling him her mother was gone from this earth.  He looked around as he pulled her into his arms.  He was looking for anyone that he thought could be a would be killer coming after her.  Wanting to protect her he rushed her out of the train station and towards his car.  He was jittery as he had only his pistol and none of his men with him.  His one thought was her safety and that meant everything now and that was the only thing he thought of.  As they approached his car a man pop up from behind another car and Stefano was reaching to move Kat behind him to act as her shield two little girls called out to the man calling him daddy.  Stefano exhaled and quickly placed Kat into his car and put her bags into the trunk.  Entering on the drivers side he looked at her.  She still had tears but he knew she wanted to get out of this town and away from everyone.  He knew she was hurting and at any minute could lash out even at him.  

Kat I am so sorry, I didn't know.  I have to get you to safety.  I'm sorry Kat.  Anywhere you want to go that's where we will go.  But I need to get a few things and you need a few more things.  The train can get us to any destination faster but you never catch a train from where we live you have to catch it in another town.  

Stefano didn't now how to comfort her he just looked at her.  She became a woman at that moment and he asked her a question.

I want to help you Katherine.  I am willing to do whatever it takes to help you.

This was the first time since they first met that he address her by her full first name.  He was showing her respect because she was now the head of her house she was Ms. Pryde.  Her mother gone he reported to her even though he wasn't being paid.  He turn the car on and then drove to his place.  The drive was quite as she looked out the window to avoid looking in his direction.  He know she didn't want him to see her cry.  He had very little to say until he got what he needed to help her get to where she wanted to go.  He had three bags pre packed for a out of the blue get away.  One contained money and ammo.  The second clothes and the third guns and ammo.  he needed to ditch his car for another and he needed to make it look like he was home and that she was staying there with him.  As they pulled up to the house his neighbors were out side talking.  He waved and made sure they saw Kat.  

He drive into his driveway and then went and opened the garage then jumped back into his car and pulled into the garage.  He knew she needed a few minutes to herself so he grabbed her bags out of the trunk and then walked into the house.  He looked around as soon as he stepped inside dropping her bags.  The house was safe and then he went and grabbed his bags and took them to the doorway.  He looked at the kitchen doorway that lead to the garage and Kat had not walked in.  He made to calls from the kitchen one to Ray and Rob instructing them to come to his house and stay there until he calls them again.  The second to his lawyer the same lawyer Kat mother used.  He looked into the garage and she was still sitting there.  The sun was starting to set and he started loading the car by this time Kat walked into the house and tried to eat a bit.  He had everything they needed and then some.  He looked at her and asked her once more.

Ms. Katherine where am I taking you? 

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Trembling all over, the young woman crumpled into Stefano’s arms, her slight form molding in against his as she selfishly allowed herself to become lost in the comfort he offered.  Although whether it was for comfort or because it was easier to protect what you held close to you or who knows what other reason it could be, she would just take it for what it seemed.  Tears streamed silently down her face sliding into the fabric of his shirt as the girl just cried, allowing herself to break even as her small form was bundled off toward his car.  Sniffing, she fought to regain control.  Her mother would be aghast if she saw the state her daughter was in, even in wake of a death of something so dear and precious to her.  To Katherine it felt as if her entire world had evaporated in an instant.  But Stefano was right there to pick up the pieces.  Just as he often had for much less consequential things.  Her first time being rejected, her first pet passing, falling off her bike, being called names…  He had been there for them all.  Just as he held her now.

Perhaps that’s why she didn’t so much as object when he started ushering her toward his car.  She wasn’t sure why there was such haste, didn’t understand when he placed himself in between her and a family getting into their car…  Her befuddled brain couldn’t even comprehend his haste and his protection even of her reputation.  She sat numb in the passenger seat of his car.  She didn’t want to lash, and wanted to all at the same time.  But she didn’t want to hurt Stefano.  It wasn’t his fault that her mother was gone.  That much she knew even in this state.  Tears streamed silently down her face as she rode beside him.  His words sort of made it through into her mind in a comforting and informative manner yet something jerked her suddenly to the here and now.  Katherine?  Since when did he call her Katherine?  It was always Kat, Kitty, something cute and shortened but never Katherine.  The young woman had mixed feelings about her own name.  It sounded too grown up…  And it reminded her almost painfully of her mother.  Her mother was one of the few that called her by her full name consistently.  She furrowed her brows a tad as she looked over to him.  Her mind moved so sluggishly as if she had been in the drink…  She might do that tonight.  But not now…  But she dipped her head in a humble manner.  Kitty was of little use at the moment and as feeble as a kitten.  But she nodded to show she understood even if she wasn’t sure how yet she wanted to respond.  She felt numb…  Sad…  Angry…  Terrified…  And oddly comforted.  Stefano was familiar, he was safe to her.  Now she couldn’t ever nail down a description of their relationship, but when asked, she would simply say they were close and then smile.  She couldn’t put a label upon what they had.  He was like a brother and trusted friend, closest confident, her protector…  But her mother had paid him.  He had been employed to be at the least her protector, but how did she know that her mother didn’t throw in some extra for the rest? 

Only time would tell now.

Soon they reached his house and she felt a knot loosen in her chest.  She looked out and even managed a smile to the neighbors.  She drew a deep breath as she tried to center herself.  This place was safe.  It had spelled out safety for years.  She didn’t look at him for the moment as he got out of the car.  She knew he was here to grab some things even if she hadn’t been able to answer him.  But like the gentleman he was  he left her in the car safe in the garage.  Once again she let loose, feeling the tears slide down her face.  “I don’t know where to go from here Mama…  Stefano knows…  But he won’t let me go without him…  I know he won’t.  But I don’t want to drag him with me unless he really wants to go…”  She sniffed heavily and wiped her eyes as she fought to gain control over herself.  She silently pulled her map from her bag looking it over again as she tried to comprehend what she was thinking and where she wanted to try.  Philadelphia was crossed out.  She didn’t want to go there even if it spelled safely.  She smiled quietly as she looked to the one circled place left.  Los Angeles…  Yes.  That was it.  She didn’t know why, but she was going there.

Once this decision was made, she heard her stomach rumble, feeling it’s discomfort and realizing she had not eaten since early this morning, she figured Stefano would have some kind of food within so she let herself out of the car and moved in silence to the door.  In she went before looking around the kitchen for food in a mute manner.  He was likely used to this as the girl seemed to be always hungry no matter how much and when she had eaten last.  She moved in a slow and deliberate manner before searching for some food.  Finding some crackers, she figured she’d start there and began to nibble quietly.

His voice waded through the fog of her mind once again and she realized what he was asking. 

“Stefano…”  Her voice was much more weak than she would have hoped.  “You don’t have to do this.  I’m going to LA…  But you don’t have to leave what you’ve got going here…  I could write a letter saying that I have gone of my own free will so you can continue to operate here if you wanted…” She had noticed that he had fallen silent but somehow her voice didn’t even sound too convincing to her.  She highly doubted he would take her up on it.  But she’d feel like a crappy friend if she didn’t at least offer.  Plus she was slowly getting some of her coherency back even as she glanced to the door.  She wasn’t sure she actually wanted to return to the house even to get another single thing.

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Stefano opened the garage door then got into the car and backed out then once he was clear he stop the car lift it running and got out to close the garage door.  Stefano then looked at her and smiled.

Look out LA here comes Kat, she's going to be a star.

He was going with her no matter what.  He could run his operation from anywhere he had friends and men he trusted.  He didn't have to stay anywhere specific.  Pulling out of his drive way he headed down the street toward the highway heading to Pittsburg.  As Kat saw the signs she looked concerned he was heading in the wrong direction.  Hours went by then he pulled over and there was two men in a light blue sedan.  Stefano pulled up next to them and he got out and the two men took the bags from the truck of Stefano's car and placed them in the trunk of the Sedan then handed Stefano the keys.  Smiling and never saying a word they drove off in Stefano's roadster heading to Pittsburg as Stefano and Kat got into the sedan.  She looked at him and started figuring it out when she saw the man in the passenger sit put on a wig that matched her own colored hair.  Then she smiled when she saw Stefano heading in the direction that they originally came from.

They pulled over in a small town in Ohio there they boarded a passenger train heading to LA Stefano purchased two tickets and a private car so she could sleep during the long ride.  He didn't say a word because he didn't know how to truly console her a woman that just lost the most important person in her life.  He wanted to say something clever something to get her mind off of her pain.  If he could get her to talk she would be ok for a few minutes.  But her eyes were dark red the tears he pretended that it never happened.  He wanted to be there emotionally for her.  The poor kid he just nodded letting her know it was okay to let it.   This was going to be a 22 hour train ride with all the stops this one had to make but it was the first one heading out of the yard.  

During the train ride he gave Kat two small derringers and told her he would knock three times two taps each.  She nodded and he went to go order dinner for them both.  He walked towards the front of the train to the dinning car.  But then he spotted a gangster he didn't know the man but heard a comment that he made about Kat.  The man didn't realize that Stefano was with her he just keep saying that he would take that little girl and turn her into a woman.  Stefano eyes turned from a calm look into a crazy psychotic stare as if he was going into a store to take whatever he wanted.  Stefano took a few steps back to duck away from the man yet stayed close enough to keep watch.  The man started walking toward the rear of the train and Stefano followed.  The man had a sleeping compartment also and Stefano smiled as the man looked at him then in a rough tone asked Stefano what the fuck did he want.

It was a quick motion Stefano hand came out of his pants pocket and moved across the mans chest and the gangster eyes grow wide and then Stefano pushed the man into the compartment closing the door with his foot as the man was holding his neck as blood oozed between his fingers and onto his jacket.  Stefano opened the window and just as the man was falling to his knees Stefano helped him over to the window.  The man eyes reflected fear and Stefano gaze reflected evil a state of no consciousness.  The man leaned out the window wanted to swing at Stefano but the moment he removed one hand the blood poured out faster so he placed it back again.  Stefano helped him out of the window and watched as the body bounced a few times rom the rate of speed the train was going then it rolled just a few more feet before re sting in a position that had his arms spread out as if he was nailed to a cross.  

Stefano sat there for a few minutes as the train keep going then he looked around and then at his close he saw drops of blood on the floor and the window and on his own shoes and pants.  He looked for the mans luggage and changed into his pants and shoes the pants were to big and so were the shoes.  He cleaned the floor with some of the mans shirts and then the window.  He then repacked everything into the mans suit case and tucked it under the seats in the car.  Then he looked at his hands and in the small mirror and gave himself a smile and went to get dinner.  When he returned Kat looked at him strangely it looked like Stefano was wearing his fathers clothes as if Stefano was a small boy.  Later that night went back when he was sure no one was walking about and he retrieved the suitcase and took it with him into his own car.  

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Katherine’s eyes were now fairly glazed over with the grief and aftereffects of her finally allowing herself to grieve properly, a luxury she had not allowed herself in the past week.  Her mother was gone and she had to move on.  She had to figure out how to not only survive on her own but how to thrive.  But as she allowed herself to become lost in her thoughts once she returned to the car, she heard the door close for a second time with Stefano in the driver’s seat.  Turning to look up at him with eyes that were oddly hollow; a look that was entirely foreign to the usually joyful woman, she tried to grasp at his words as if they were the last life line she had access to.

His words slowly seeped through her grief like a warm flow of honey to sweeten the moment and the hollow look in her eyes found itself at odds with the joy she found in the presence of this man.  Times had been much simpler years ago but there was once a time where Stefano meant the world to the young woman.  To be fair, he still did, but as she grew older she had tried to emotionally distance herself from him.  As the years passed, less and less fears were told him, their relationship rising more and more to a professional and surface level…  Close acquaintances rather than him being her closest confidant.  And yet here, with this earth shattering news, they seemed to slip right back into old habits and old times…  Things were simpler then.

She chuckled softly, one of the first real laughs that had risen from her since the horrible news found it’s way into her hands.  It was a soft but carefree sound that was clear in it’s pleasure.  She wasn’t sure she believed him.  Heck, she wasn’t even certain that he believed himself.  But the words did their job and it was as if the fog of her own grief had been wafted away by a breath of life.  She couldn’t find words to return to him but the gratitude that shone through the red in her eyes was a clear message indeed.

Never once had Kat truly doubted Stefano…  Not for more than a minute.  The man never missed a beat, she truly believed that.  It was why her mother hired him to protect what she considered to be her most precious possession; Katherine.  But today she began to wonder.  Signs were passed that said Pittsburgh…  Confusion lit up her features as she glanced from the latest sign to Stefano.  But a quick glance spared her way settled her considerably.  She wasn’t certain what she would do if Stefano played her foul, but she had no notion in her mind that this would be a consideration ever.  Leaning back against the seat back, she allowed her eyes to close for a moment allowing them to rest.  Stefano had her utmost trust, and she was beyond relieved that he had found her in time.  She honestly wasn’t certain what she would have done without him.

Just as she began to doze off into a fairly restless sleep, the car pulled to a stop.  Blinking her eyes open, she shifted and drew a slightly sharp breath.  Car on the side of the road…  But Stefano didn’t seem concerned.  In fact he was smiling.  Groaning softly, she tried to fight herself into full consciousness.  But already the men were moving their bags over to the other vehicle and handing Stefano the keys?  A soft laugh came from Kitty as it suddenly made sense.  Decoy…  Kat felt it was overkill, but this was why she wasn’t the one guarding them.  She followed him almost meekly climbing into the sedan with Stefano, relaxing again when she saw that they were heading back the way they came from.  Gazing out the window, she found herself beyond sleep for the moment, allowing the silence to stretch between them with not the least bit of awkwardness to it. 

Soon enough they reached the station where they were to board a train to LA.  Kitty smiled warmly as she drew in the ambiance of the station.  It was noisy, smoke billowed all around and yet there was a feeling of a new hope and a new beginning here.  She glanced over to Stefano, a glimmer of the normal dance that played in her eyes hanging around the edges of the red grief that had filled them hours before.  They were still red and raw from tears shed here and there during the car ride, but the man had been incredibly gracious in sparing her ego.  She didn’t care to cry in front of him or any other person again any time soon, but if it had to be someone, Stefano seemed like a good choice.

Boarding the train, Kat would let Stefano handle the details.  She honestly doubted she could have even managed that one in the state that her mind was in.  Again thanking her lucky stars that this man had more or less told her that he was coming with her, then proceeded to take care of the details.  He led her to a private sleeping car and her whole form ached to just curl up and sleep the hours away. 

As he handed her the two guns, her eyes flew wide in alarm but she carefully stored them close to where she was to lay.  It was a well known fact that Kat could not hit the broad side of a barn and only a handful of times had managed to hit what she was aiming at…  But if she had to use them on the train it would be close enough quarters that she had hope of hitting.  Nodding as she understood his statement as to how he would return and the signal that it was him, she carefully committed the information to mind before seating herself upon one of the benches.  She watched quietly as he let himself out before curling up upon the bench, curling against the back of it as she once again let herself cry now that she was alone.

Many minutes passed by and the girl drifted off into an uneasy sleep once more, only to be jolted a little by the knocks.  She listened intently for a moment.  One two…  One two…  One two.  Perfect.  She relaxed again, pushing herself up to a seated position as she was once again wide awake.  The smell of food wafted in and her stomach snarled a reminder that she hadn’t been able to eat much most of the day.  She smiled warmly to him only to notice his change in wardrobe.  A good couple sizes too big, Kat would finally speak for the first time since they’d left the house many many hours earlier.  “Everything ok?”  Her eyes quickly took stock of the man before her as she rose and made her way to him a hand being placed tenderly against his arm as she sought after knowledge of his well being.  Eyes leaped back to his as she waited for verbal affirmation or a note that they were in danger.  Kat would fight at his side if she had to, she only hoped that she’d be of any help.  The fact that he changed out of his own clothes at all was a curiosity to her as she was fairly certain that he hadn’t come back for his clothes and wasn’t sure why he’d pack clothes that were that much too large and…  Well the whole situation was perplexing to the curious kitten so she would inquire further even as the train bumped along.

The conversation didn’t completely satisfy Kat that she knew the whole story, but at the same time, perhaps she did?  Nothing added up anymore so she would merely accept the fact that he was alright and drew him over to sit next to her upon the bench as she shared the meal with him.  She honestly hoped not to leave this compartment the whole ride, but that was silly, they’d need food again at some point during this long of a ride.  But for now she’d find solace in his company whether they spoke or not. 

Once the food was polished off, Kat didn’t hesitate.  She shifted until she could lay her head gently upon his leg just as she had done many times before.  Although when she had done it before she had also been no older than twelve years of age…  And now?  Well she was certainly older than twelve.  Yet it took no time at all before she was fast asleep once again.  This time, her slumber was true and deep and she hardly even noticed when he disengaged himself for a few moments.  Instead she slept on getting the rest she so direly needed both physically and emotionally.

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Stefano was surprised when Kat laid her head down on his lap.  She looked like a small child going to sleep his heart was filled for a moment of joy as it seemed for a brief second that all the world was normal again.  She was no longer a the kid that ran around in pig tails and chewing bubble gum.  She was now a young woman that need to learn to protect herself.  That fact sung out as that was the hope that  her mother wanted.  She wanted Kat to have protection but most importantly was that she also be able to protect herself.  Stefano knew that was the right thing but to change her soft warm loving innocent heart into someone that may enjoy killing in the name of defense that would be just as bad as killing the young woman.  He had to teach her another way.  Then the thought of what would happen to her if she took a life would she be able to handle that?  How should he go about it?  

Stefano was good with a gun but there were some people who were better.  He was decent with a knife but again he knew other far better.  He was a great planner and yet every one gets lucky.  He knew then he had to plan like her mother originally did.  Plan to train her as if he was going to war and may never come home again.  She was going to have to be smart enough to plan 10 steps ahead.  From exit to entry the small details to ensure success.  She would have to thing big picture and leave the small mundane things to those under her.  She would have to establish net works that were loyal to her ether out of love or fear.  He would have to change his approach.  That was his moment of shame and difficulty.  To change to a person opposite of what he wanted to be to her.  He wanted to be her shining Knight.  He would now become her mentor and monster he would have to close his heart at times and his fear was if he doesn't she will be weaker from it and if he does she will become distant from him.  This was a lose, lose situation. 

He would have to seek out help and change their identity.  He would have to break with most of his action and find ways to funnel that income into his accounts slowly and manager her accounts without anyone finding her.  He would have to get more involved with the Politicians and distance himself for known criminals that have come to admire and respect him.  He would have to be willing to sacrifice his name, heart and ways to insure she has a chance to be who her mother wanted her to be.  A woman able to rule and do what's needed for her family and children.  She was going to become a pack leader and a den mother.  She was going to have to hunt and direct as he was going to have to descend so she may ascend to her true and highest potential.  As he looked at her sleeping he eased himself away from her and when to console his grieving heart.

He went for a walk towards the front of the train again this time he was in his own closes as he thought of Kat when she was much younger.  He job was to slap a few bullies around and ensure that if anyone insulted her they didn't get a chance to repeat that.  Some times he did go a bit overboard he got his own jollies out of knocking someone upside the head for insulting Kats mother in front of Kat.  Once her teach gave her a bad grade because he thought of Kat as a spoiled brat.  Stefano smiled at that memory.  He recalled beating that man while he was at a convention with hundreds of other teachers and he own girlfriend.  Stefano walked up to the man on stage shook his hand and removed the teachers glasses and punched him in the eye.  The teacher fail and Stefano repeatedly punched the teacher then whispered in the teachers ear.

"Kat gets excellent grades going forward or her teachers get excellent breaks in their bone structure."  

He realized then at the tender age of seventeen that people regardless of age are sheep when it comes to defending someone else from a violent harm.  He knew it was the right thing to do.  To truly protect her he was going to teach her the mafia ways and ensure she could handle all the difficulties of dealing with the what if and what nots as she gave directions and commandments.  She would rival her own mother in power and stature.  He was going to give up that which he worked hard to obtain in the future.  

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Katherine curled up in the seat and lay gently against Stefano's leg.  She felt warm and safe as the train barreled off toward Los Angeles.  Why Los Angeles?  Well heck if she knew, but it felt right...  Perhaps for both of them?  Now Kat knew that Stefano had friends and contacts out in Detroit...  If not even a more solid tie out there.  The more she learned about the Mafia world, the more she learned about the deep ties that went into it.  Her mother had such ties...  Kat could only dream of such ties.  At this point there was only one man that she felt such loyalty that was alive in this world...  And he sat right next to her.  For nine years now he had been her protector, closest confidant, and dare she say it? Her friend.  Sure he had taken her mom's side more often than she would have liked...  But there was one night that she remembered that he had snuck her out to attend a school dance against her mother's intent.  It was on that day that he had earned her respect and made her feel that he was there for her as much as for her mother.  

The young lady slept soundly, at least until she was moved.  Even though he was as gentle as could be, it was enough to start to rouse the girl.  But it took a little while for her consciousness to start to snap itself out of it's rapidly induced stupor.  But after a while those eyes batted open.  Her heart fluttered a little in an undeserving panic as she couldn't locate Stefano.  Was he alright?  Where was he?  What was wrong?  Suddenly she was wide awake.  Moving to the door of the compartment she would let herself out looking about for her beloved friend and riding companion.  "Stefano?"  She called softly, trying to be respectful of those who were sleeping.  "Stefano where are you?"  There wasn't much going on in the main throughway of the train.  Most everyone had settled into their compartments by now so only one or two people could be seen as she made her way through as she sought after Stefano.  She wasn't sure why, but she had an irrational fear of being without him right now as ridiculous as it was.  Snap out of it Kat...  You've traveled by yourself before...  Sure, maybe not far, but you have.

"My my...  But aren't you a pretty thing...  I thought that ol' Bruno was exaggerating, but after seeing you?  Nah, he was right on the money."  

Katherine glanced around in surprise turning to see a middle aged man, and the look in his eyes was certainly not one of respect.  

"Oh...  Em, thank you sir."  

Kat really didn't have time for this.  She needed to find Stefano and she took a step or two toward the next part of the train, only to hear rapid footsteps and feel a strong hand snag up her slender wrist.  She really should have moved through here much faster than she did.  She knew better than to pause in a less populated piece of the train.  

"Why don't you come with me pretty thing?  And we can...  Get to know eachother better hm?"  

Her gaze snapped back to the creep's eyes and then down to where his hand held her wrist.  She felt fear spike within her and she tugged a bit at it to test his grip.  His grip only tightened. 

"L-let go of me."  She snarled trying to put as much strength into her voice as she could.  Come on Kat.  Mother wouldn't have gotten into a situation like this.  She tried hard to swallow her fear as she glanced around quickly for anyone, but no one seemed to care to come out at this point in time.  The man only laughed slightly and tightened his grip on her wrist, jerking her roughly toward him.  Kat hit his chest rather firmly and she felt her anger spike.  "I said...  Let.  Go!"  She snarled and yanked backward with all her might.  Something in her snapped and her dainty hand jerked out of his...  No...  Jerked through his!  But it didn't stop there.  She careened backwards through the wall of the compartment falling on her rump staring at a firmly closed compartment door.  Kat's eyes flew wide and out of a panic.  What had just happened?  I mean sure, the man was the only one to see what happened and who would believe a crazy drunk such as him?  But still.  Trembling all over, Kat slammed the door lock in place before scrambling back against the back wall panting and trembling.  Tears streamed down her face as she drew her knees firmly against her chest.  She looked at her hand in utter confusion, seeing the marks where he had held her wrist too hard.  The situation had been real and yet here she sat behind a locked door out of his reach.  He moved off down the hall muttering something about bewitched girls and laying off the drink or some such business.  

Whatever the case, she was safe now, but completely lost and confused, not to mention uncertain as to what had just happened in that crazy moment but either way she wasn't moving for a good while now, no matter if she was in her compartment or not.

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