Drake stood next to Xander (or Boss?), his eyes wide with shock. Where before, there had been a middle-aged, sorta wrinkly man with a round-ish belly, there was a green-eyed man about his age with a round-ish belly that was now so obviously a costume. The mask of the wrinkly old man was now on the floor.
Maria seemed to be trembling (whether with anger or fear, Drake couldn't tell), but before she could do anything Xander whipped the gun back out of his coat and pointed at Drake's head again.
"My, my, little sister," Xander said tauntingly. "Aren't you surprised? Would you like to know what happened?"
Maria's eyes were blazing with fury. "You-"
"I'll take that as a yes," Xander interrupted nonchalantly. "Little sister, do you remember the day Mother abandoned us?" He grinned, his white teeth flashing. "Probably not. But I do. I remember every single beating I took from Father afterward. I remember how I took the blame for everything you did wrong, the broken vase, the money disappearing out of the wallet. Maybe you don't remember, but oh, I remember.
"I loved you. I loved you so much. And yet, even though I gave you my portion of the food that Father so reluctantly provided us with because it hurt me to see you cry from hunger pains, even though I always took the beating for you because when I saw those bruises on your arms it made me want to tear the world down, you didn't care. I watched you go to school and play happily with your friends while I suffered. You never once said thank you.
"And then, when Father died, we were out on the streets, remember? Remember how I begged for food and money while you played with your little dolls that we managed to take before we ran from the house? How, when it was clear that Father had choked on his food and was now dead, and that we had to hurry and leave before anyone tried to take us away and I was searching through his wallet for something that could help us survive, you begged to take your dolls?
"Because I remember." Xander's face was a mixture of disgust, regret, heartbreak, and so many other emotions, but the clearest of all was anger. "I remember. And that's when he approached me. Boss, the real one. He offered me a deal; if I worked for him, he would pay us good money."
Xander's hand was trembling now, and Drake tensed up. Please, don't shoot me yet. "And while you lived in your little fantasy world, I worked, and I killed, and I tortured and it tore me apart. One night, I almost got caught, and do you remember what you said to me? You said, 'Gosh, Xander, why do you always take so long? I almost prefer Father's company because at least he was here.'"
Maria's face was full of horror. "Xander, I-"
"And that's the day I decided that it would all change!" he yelled. "That's the day I decided that I would make you go through everything I had gone through and see how you like it!"
Xander was breathing heavily now, and his eyes glimmered with tears. "You know what I did? I killed Boss, and I took over his identity. I paid Silas to pretend he was my son and killed anyone who suspected me. And I made up that whole thing about that deal to make you work for me. I did the same to Joanne. Most of my assassins don't even realize that I'm using them."
He laughed now, tears streaming down his cheeks. "And you fell for it! But you know what? That's not all. I decided you were such a good assassin that I would keep you. Now, I'm going to. I'm really going to take a hostage now, and this time, it's going to be someone you love."
Xander pressed the gun harder against Drake's head. "This time, it's going to be him."
TO BE CONTINUED...