He was finishing up some business, literally in the act of putting his coat on, when Luck raced into the office, breathing heavily, uncharacteristically frantic. Immediately Keith took stock of the sheer panic on his younger brother’s face and put a calming hand on his shoulder, allowing him to catch his breath. It was rare that Luck’s internal worries broke free and were displayed so openly, and it concerned Keith. What had shaken Luck’s composed act so much to shatter it?
When he caught his breath and said, “It’s Kate,” Keith didn’t even hesitate. He followed his brother without question, his world teetering and falling apart around him. Kate was so much of his world. She played accompaniment, which he’d always preferred to the main feature. Sometimes he would barely watch the movie, merely close his eyes and let the music she’d made carry him away. Talkies had music but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t Kate’s music, the music that had drawn him to her with every note and brought out a romance in him he hadn’t known existed. Talkies were overwhelming, stuffed with noise and conversation and that wasn’t what Keith looked for in life, much less in a picture. What he looked for was...well, it was Kate. She meant so, so impossibly much to him. He didn’t see her as often as he’d like and yet he couldn’t imagine a life without her melody in it.
If something had happened to Kate, he’d never forgive himself.
In his haste to get to his wife, he crashed headlong into a stranger who rounded on him defensively.
“Ow! Watch where you’re walkin’, pal!”
Keith stared him down coldly, letting his eyes do all the talking for him, his threat unspoken but clear as day. The man apologised profusely, backing away.
He felt Luck’s hand at his sleeve. “Keith? Are you okay?”
Luck was quiet. “Yes. She is, just a little bruised and shaken. Nothing serious.”
“What happened?” Keith practically growled. He couldn’t help it. Someone had hurt his wife. He couldn’t let that stand. It was more than his pride as a mafioso, it was Kate, whom he loved with all his heart. The thought of someone hurting her, on his account, to get to him, it had the intended effect and more. It tore him up inside.
He thought of revenge.
By nature he was not a vengeful man. He preferred to handle things with a modicum of rationality and decency, when possible. There were, however, exceptions. His brothers for one. And Kate. Always Kate.
“She was attacked,” Luck answered apologetically. At the look of fury on Keith’s face, he sighed. “We don’t know who by yet, but I’ve got everyone looking into it. Berga had to physically restrain Kalia from going on the warpath.” Keith could see him studying his expression intently. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this angry,” Luck admitted. “It’s kinda scary, honestly.”
Keith clenched his fists and unclenched them. Physical violence was more the realm of his brother Berga, but when pressed, Keith could more than hold his own.
He was thinking how cowardly these people were, to go after Kate and single her out. He was thinking about what they deserved, Tick Jefferson and his scissors snipping away until they couldn’t even scream coherently. He took no joy in thinking these things. They were simple facts. What needed to happen. He thought about Kate and felt anger and fear and above all else, guilt , in swathes.
Saying nothing to Luck, he merely nodded and they continued urgently cutting their way across the city back to the home he shared with Kate.
He thought about coming home, on the rare occasions when he did, and finding the house empty.
That wasn’t a thought he liked.
Two of their men stood guard at the door and exchanged nervous glances when they saw Keith, tipping their hats in respect. He was too wrapped up in his thoughts to react; it only occurred to him after that perhaps he should have acknowledged their existence. He doubted they expected him to, so rarely did he show much response to anything. It wasn’t an intentional choice, nor was it rudeness. He just...didn’t.
Right now, though. He knew his emotions, normally kept so close to his vest, were written all over his face for all to see. Making his way into the living room, where Kate was stretched out on the sofa, Kalia wiping her face down with a rag. He could see her hands trembling, trying to hold a mug of cocoa and shaking uncontrollably. Berga paced the room, his habitual hot-temper rising to the surface in full force.
One of their own had been hurt. Kate had been hurt.
Spotting them, Berga cut off his pacing. “Keith, hey-” Luck waved him off, and he fell silent as Keith crossed the room, immediately going to his wife and taking her hands in his. She gave him a gentle smile, wincing a little at her injuries. Keith could feel his heart pounding, everything coming to a head right there. He fixed her hair as best he could, hand drifting across her cheek gently. There were bruises down her arms, and her left eye was puffy. Two cuts, one on her eyebrow, and one at her lip, seemed to have stopped bleeding.
“Kate,” he murmured, swallowing a lump that threatened to tighten in his throat. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh, Keith, this wasn’t you,” Kate shook her head, her eyes full of love, acceptance. “Perhaps the Gandor name put a target on my back, but this is where I chose to be. This is where I choose to be.”
“...what happened?” he asked, keeping his voice as level as he possibly could right then. Kate glanced up at the rest of the family gathered around her, all of them equally worried.
“Berga, Kalia, Luck…” she spoke kindly. She was always kind. “If you could leave me with my husband a minute...I’m truly grateful for all of your help, and to be part of this family. Thank you, truly.”
There was a shuffling of feet as everyone trooped out, and Keith had no doubt they would be waiting outside the door. Kalia pressed a kiss to Kate’s forehead, telling her to get well-soon.
“Those fellas that did this to ya are gonna regret it, mark my words,” she warned darkly, before Berga managed to usher her away. The two started bickering immediately about the handling of the situation, and whether or not hunting people down to run over their heads with an automobile was going too far. Luck was the last one to leave, closing the door behind him. Not for the first time, Keith was beyond proud of his brothers, and his sister-in-law. They’d made Kate comfortable and fetched him immediately.
And Luck had put the word out so they could reign hell on those who’d done this.
Kate shuffled up, indicating for him to take a seat next to her. He did so, watching her closely, making sure nothing was wrong. She saw him looking and smiled.
“Keith, the last thing I want is you blaming yourself for what happened. If I’d married someone else, sure, it wouldn’t have happened. But if I’d married someone else, they wouldn’t be you . And I wouldn’t love them.”
“Who…?” he asked, words drying up, unsaid. He was trying to keep himself in line, keep his thoughts straight. Trying to keep himself calm. He was, by large, succeeding.
“I don’t know,” Kate admitted. “Three men, in a black car. They came speeding up and knocked me aside. Then two of them got out...tried to get me in. They had guns. I struggled. And they...Keith, I think they were going to kill me.” She swallowed, tears welling up freely. Instinctively, Keith pulled her close.
“We’ll find them,” he promised. “How did you-”
“Berga,” she replied simply. “I heard him yelling. He didn’t realise it was me at first, just saw some guys orchestrating a kidnapping on Gandor turf. They beat it soon as they heard him. Then he recognised me and…” she trailed off. “To quote, he said ‘shit shit shit Keith is gonna be pissed’, then Luck made him apologise for using colourful language in front of a lady, then Berga said Kalia uses far worse than that and so it devolved. I have no doubt your brothers saved my life.”
Keith nodded, and Kate leant her head on his shoulder. “Someone should accompany you out. I won’t have this.”
Kate looked at him grimly, shaking her head. “Temporarily, yes. Until these men are dealt with. But I won’t be treated like a China doll forever. Kalia doesn’t stand for it, and neither will I.” Keith opened his mouth to object and his wife cut him off. “I know, we’re very different, and had it been Kalia in that position I’m sure it would have gone differently. But I’m not a child.”
“I know,” Keith replied quietly. “I worry.” He met her eyes, letting down his defences as he only ever did with her. “I love you. Very much.”
“I love you too,” Kate murmured. “You can find these men and deal with them however you see fit. That part, I don’t need to know. Afterwards, things can return to normal. I-” She cut off. “There’s something else I need to tell you. That I’d rather the rest of the family didn’t know.” He waited expectantly, squeezing her hand reassuringly. “Keith...I was pregnant. Only just sure of it, I hadn’t told anyone yet. I wanted to be certain. I think...well, you know. I lost the baby.” Kate tried to smile but her sadness was evident. “It...it wouldn’t have been the best time right now, with everything anyway...I’m okay, Keith. The shock just…” she trailed off. “Anyway. You deserved to know.”
Keith nodded, stroking her hair soothingly, and he was aware he had no real idea what he was doing in this department. He was flying blind. He kissed his wife goodbye and left her to Kalia’s reluctant tending - she would, as ever, rather be the one causing the ruckus than seeing to the aftermath of one.
And he set off to the department he was certain of. A lead had come back on the car.
They were headed down there immediately.
Business to take care of, and such.
He’d be home later tonight. Much later. And things would hopefully be a lot less complicated by then.
He went home later than intended. His knuckles were red and bloody, and this shirt was, frankly, a lost cause.
But matters were dealt with.
He made a mental note to make sure Tick got some new scissors.
Kalia had made herself comfortable on the sofa and was snoring loudly. Kate, meanwhile, was awake, sitting by the organ, fingers hovering over it but not pressing down. She looked up when he entered the room.
“I keep going to play but I can’t think what,” she confessed. She noticed his shirt, and his fingers and frowned, but didn’t comment on it. “Do you have any preferences?”
He told her.
Kalia didn’t appreciate being woken, of course, but they continued regardless. Kate played on.
And their melody continued.