For the Love of My Sister
Josiah turned a grateful look to Chris as he sat down behind his desk. He ran a shaky hand through his hair and looked up at his five very concerned friends as he once more let out a tired sigh and slowly began to speak.
"My ma once told me that whenever there was explaining to do that it's always best to start at the beginning and work your way up to the end." He raised his hand to stall the protests of not needing to explain anything to them. " I feel that you need an explanation. After all, you are our friends as well as brothers," he said with a small smile before he started to explain.
"As you all know my Poppa was a missionary who loved his wife and only son very much. When I turned seven, Momma gave birth to my one and only baby sister. Pop and Mom called Hannah their miracle baby because she was born at the time when Momma thought she was too old to have any more children.
"Momma soon became concerned about me and worried over the fact that I might be jealous about all the attention that the new baby was getting over me." He paused and sadly smiled over the memories.
"She was right, you know. I was beginning to feel left out and unwanted because of my new baby sister." He let out a gentle laugh and smiled.
"But Momma had a plan. One day when we were living in India, she brought me into the nursery and made me raise my right hand and made me take the Big Brother oath. She made me promise that if anything should happen to them that I was to protect, love, care for my baby sister... and teach Hannah the importance of fishing and baseball. She made me feel really important that day in taking that oath and I promised Mama that I would keep it.
Well, I kept my word. Soon, Hannah became my one and only friend, what with Poppa picking up his family and traveling to do God's work. "We were pretty happy for a while, until the year that Hannah turned five and I turned twelve. I remember the day vividly. It was one of the few times that we came to the United States and were visiting our grandparents. I had woken up that day and saw my very first crow. He was sitting inside my open bedroom window. The bird looked directly at me and gave a long caw as it ruffled it's feathers and then flew back out the window. It was then that we all learned that Momma found a lump in her breast.
"We went to a doctor, and he informed her that she had cancer. The doctor told her of new treatments for cancer, and she wanted to get them. However, Poppa thought otherwise," Josiah said as he angrily beat his fist on his desk.
"He said that this was God's way of testing us and if God wanted Mama to live then she would. I could tell Momma wanted to argue with him but she was starting to become ill, and she didn't want to fight with Poppa over it anymore.
"As that dark year went on, Momma slowly became worse as the cancer steadily began to take over her body. Then one day, right around Christmas time, she suddenly became better and we all thought that God had finally answered our prayers. We didn't know how wrong we were.
The day after Christmas it came back with a vengeance and we lost both of our parents on New Year's day. Momma to cancer and Poppa to his never-ending grief. I believe that was when he began to lose his mind and his love for us that day. He soon become cold and bitter... he became obsessed with proving himself to God since he'd seen fit to take his wife away."
"We had stayed in the United States during that time so Momma could be near her parents and loved ones. Once she was gone, we left for Arabia, Poppa's newest mission. Poppa never turned against God because of his loss, but instead he turned against his children--blaming us for Momma's death. He said that we never prayed hard enough, that we didn't keep our faith in God. And because of our lack of faith in God, we needed to be punished. It was then that the physical and mental abuse began. I tried to protect Hannah as best as I could but then one day my time ran out. I was drafted and sent to Vietnam."
"We were currently back in the United States at the time I received my draft notice. There was no way for me to protect her anymore. I couldn't take her into war with me. A brother shouldn't have to choose between fighting for his country and the love and protection of his one and only sister. But they never gave me a choice. They forced me to leave my baby sister to a father with no love for his children. Leaving Hannah that day was the first and only time that I ever broke my word to Momma and my oath to Hannah.
"Well, I did a couple of tours, and during that time Hannah had written me often. It was the end of my last tour in Vietnam and I was just back in the United States when I received a call from Hannah saying they were back in the United States from Ecuador. She wanted us to meet at a hotel. Even though she never said anything over the phone I knew there was something wrong.
"But I was too late. When I arrived at the hotel they were staying at I found Hannah lying on the floor bleeding to death. I could hardly recognize her because her face was so beaten up. She must have had bruises along every part of her body and no matter where I touched her she was in pain."
"I heard a noise and when I looked up there stood Poppa with the calmest look on his face. He said 'You need to understand Josiah. I was sending the demons out of her body so Hannah could be with Momma.' I knew right then and there that Papa had lost his mind completely to the grief," Josiah said as he pinched the sides of his nose and closed his eyes against the painful memories of that nightmarish day. He looked up to find Vin's peaceful blue eyes looking at him as he placed a hand on his shoulder for support.
"I did the only thing a brother could for his sister... what I should have done years ago. I picked up my baby sister in my arms as we both left Poppa and never looked back." He paused as he took drink of water out of the glass that JD handed to him.
"It was a year after that I started to notice the changes in Hannah's personality. One minute she would be her normal self, the next minute she would be sucking her thumb and asking me to play Tic Tac Toe with her. It took me some time till I was finally able to talk Hannah into going to see a psychiatrist... someone she could talk to about what Poppa did to her."
"Hannah, of course, was resistant. She was under the impression that problems like this shouldn't be talked about but kept secret and between us. She was afraid they would think she was weird or lying or just wouldn't believe her. However, she told me that she was more afraid of becoming like our Father. When she did finally agree to go and see someone, she begged me to go with her for support. So I went with her. I must have gone and sat with her for every session during those years.
It was during that time the doctor discovered Little Hannah and the other personalities of my sister. He explained that the other personalities began to form soon after Mama's death. However, it was the beatings and verbal abuse from Poppa that formed the different personalities."
"It took Hannah a couple of years of therapy to understand and deal with her other personalities. While she was going through therapy, she even took the time out to talk me into going into college and studying psychology. She said it was something she thought I would be good at and she was getting tired of seeing me worry about her everyday. She was right, of course," he said with a small smile.
"Soon after I graduated college, Hannah hit me with a blow. She came in one morning while I was eating breakfast and just when I started drinking my nice warm cup of coffee she said. 'Josiah, I've decided to become a nun.' I must have spewed coffee all over the kitchen, myself and my sister. Hannah just stood there and smiled lovingly down at me. With laughter in her light blue eyes she repeated once again. 'Josiah, I have decided to become a nun. Now Josiah, before you say anything, I have given it serious thought and yes, I have prayed about it and I do know what I am doing.'
"'Are you absolutely sure about this?' I asked. She just smiled at me and nodded her head. I took a long sip of coffee... that I didn't spit out. Then I told her that I would support her and to remember that no matter what she did in life that I was proud of her. So, my sister became a nun and I became an psychologist."
"A couple of years later while I was visiting Hannah I heard of an Introduction to Law Enforcement Careers Seminar taking place near by.I became interested in Law Enforcement as child but I never really perused it. Hannah remembered my interest and thought I should go and check it out. Little did I know that it was going to be the Profile Session that would introduce me to Nathan, lead me to Chris and change my life completely. Thus proving the theory that God does work in mysterious ways." Josiah smiled at his brothers.
The sound of Nathan clearing his throat broke through Josiah's explanation. "Uh... Josiah. Hannah's back and she's asking for you." Josiah nodded his head and followed Nathan to the break room.
He watched his sister standing there nervously wringing her hands back and forth. She looked confused and frightened. He felt his heart go out to her. "Hannah..." He barely spoke her name as he opened his arms to her. Hannah ran into the safety of her brother's arms as he held her tight.
"Shhh, it's all right. Everything's going to be alright." Holding her tight in his arms Josiah looked over at Chris as he walked through the break room door. "Chris, I don't want her going back to the Convent tonight. She isn't safe there."
Chris nodded in agreement. "Josiah, I want you and Hannah to stay at the ranch tonight. Hannah would be better protected with all of us there. They might know where you live. Josiah, go on ahead and take your sister out to the ranch," he said as he threw the house keys toward him.
"JD, I need you to find out anything you can on Father Wilhelm and Father Doyle. The rest of you finish up your reports and go home. We will meet back at the ranch later on tonight and decide what our next move will be."
Hannah stood out on the back porch at Chris's ranch watching the sun set. The voices of Buck and JD drifted out of the kitchen. It was their turn to do the dishes and she could hear JD telling Buck to stop splashing him with water. Chris telling Buck to not get any more water on his clean floor. Vin, Ezra and Nathan were fighting over the remote and finally the sweet sound of Josiah's laughter as he walked out on the back porch. He put his light blue jacket over her shoulders and watched the sunset. She spoke so softly that he almost didn't hear her.
"Do you know how long it's been since I've really heard you laugh?"
He thought for a moment and with a sigh said, "Too long Hannah, too long, " She nodded her head in agreement. He turned to her and leaned against the porch rail.
"Hannah, I know you're hiding something from me. We need to know what's going on Sis." She let out another sigh and then looked back up at her brother.
"Remember when I told you he slapped me." He nodded his head as she went on. "Well what I didn't tell you was that when he slapped me I went into hiding and Little Hannah came out to play. Lucky for her that Father Wilhelm didn't notice the change. She left his office and waited for him to leave. She wanted to get back at him for hurting me. When he left his office she went in and Uh... kind of trashed his office," she said with a grimace on her face. Hannah looked back down and tried to control her nervous hands from shaking so much.
Josiah gently smiled down at his sister, took her shaking hands in his and gave them a comforting squeeze. He remembered very well the ways Little Hannah would get back at people for hurting his sister.
"Tell me what she did."
"She glued all of his papers together. Then she glued the drawers to his desk shut and to top it all off she glued his pens, pencils, mug and scissors to the top of the desk." Josiah laughed at hearing about one of Little Hannah's famous pranks. Hannah gave him a rueful look.
"While Little Hannah was busy gluing his stuff she came across some items that looked important to her so she asked the more grown up personalities to look them over for her. They told her they were very important... and for her to take them with her when she left the office. I don't know where she hid them J.J. I've asked her to tell me but she refuses. She says the Other's told her not to tell until she found you." Josiah nodded his head and smiled at Hannah's use of his old nick name.
"Why didn't you tell us this at the office?" She let out a tired sigh.
"J.J," Hannah looked at her brother. "The other personalities have been quiet for so long and Little Hannah has been such a good little girl that it wasn't until he slapped me that the Other's became angry. I had almost forgotten them until I woke up in a strange place and I was so frightened by it that I didn't remember until now about the notebooks."
He nodded his head in understanding and looked back at the changing evening sky and waited for he stars to come out.
"They never change do they," she said, referring to the stars as they started to light up the sky. He let out a relaxing sigh.
"No they don't Hannah. The stars have always been there for us. Never failing, never changing, always the same and always there."
She nodded her head as she watched the stars. Josiah quietly said, "You know that we are going to have to tell Chris about the notebooks." Again she nodded her head as she looked up at the night sky.
"Tell me Hannah, What do you think of our new brothers?"
She smiled as she turned to look back at her brother, "I like them J.J. I like them because they have brought laughter back into your life... something that was greatly missing in our youth."
Josiah smiled and nodded his head as they heard the back door open and JD's voice ring out.
"Hey Josiah, Chris wants everyone in the kitchen." Josiah nodded his head and then looked back down at Hannah.
"Come on Hannah. It's time for us to go in." She nodded her head as she took a last look and then turned to follow her brother in doors.
"Hannah, I said no... and I mean NO!" Josiah bellowed as he stormed out of the kitchen and into the living room.
"But Josiah," she pleaded as she followed her brother. Their friends wearing amused smiles observed the brother and sister argue.
"No, you are not going," he said as he pointed his finger at her.
"O..Oh .. You stubborn old goat," she called him as she angrily clutched her fists to her sides. Soon the argument began to change into different languages
Ezra began to take bets on who would win this newest battle of wills. JD and Buck were betting on Hannah winning the argument, while Nathan and Ezra bet on Josiah. Chris just shook his head, smiled and took in the rare moment of seeing his most sturdy, calm, patent profiler being taken to task by his baby sister. Chris looked up to see Vin coming back in from feeding the horses. He could hear the loud voice of their normally calm preacher rise in anger followed close by the rising voice of his sister.
"Hey Ez, What's going on?"
"Well Mr. Tanner, Ms. Sanchez informed Mr. Larabee about finding some evidence that might be of some help to us. However when Ms. Sanchez said that she needed to go along in order to show us where she hid it, Mr. Sanchez said that she couldn't go. Thus... their disagreement."
Vin watched the brother and sister argue for a minute before he looked back at Ezra.
"Hell Ez, I can't even understand what they're sayin'."
"That's because they are arguing in different languages. For the past ten minutes they have argued in at least six different languages. Make that seven now, " he said as he heard Josiah suddenly switch once more. "So far they have argued in Russian, French, Dutch, Spanish, Greek, and even in Josiah's bad Chinese."
"So what language are they arguing in now?" Vin asked.
"Well, from the sound of it.." Ezra said tilting his head and listening. "My guess would be...Aramaic." He turned to look at Vin and said, "I didn't even know Josiah knew how to speak Aramaic."
"Well, it sounds to me like Josiah and his sister can argue in any language." Vin said as he turned to watch the brother and sister argue.
"We are not arguing," Josiah and his sisiter suddenly spoke up in English .
"We are." Hannah spoke while glaring at her very stubborn brother.
"Merely discussing," Josiah growled back and returned her glare.
"Two very different points of view," they both said at the same time as they turned their backs on each other, arms folded across their chest. A tense silence descended the room for a few minutes before Hannah broke the tension.
"At least explain to me why I can't go?" she asked.
Josiah was quiet for a moment before letting out an angry sigh as he ran his fingers in frustration through his hair. Slowly he turned back around and faced the back of his sister.
"Why?" he asked more to himself as he took a calming breath and slowly let it out. "Why? Because you are my one and only sister. If anything should happen to you I really don't know what I'd do," he said as he watched her slowly turn around to face him. "You're my sister, Hannah. I don't want to see anything happen to you."
Hannah looked up at her brother and gently touched his roughened cheek. She smiled and said, "Josiah, I understand how you feel. But you need to understand that I need to do this. This is happening in the Lord's House and I feel that it is my place to protect the church. But mostly, this is my way of needing to face my demons.
"Okay, Hannah," Josiah said. "I understand your reason for wanting to go. but I still don't like it. All right, you can go." He watched her eyes light up and then slowly dim when he continued. "But only if Chris says it's okay for you to go." Josiah looked at Chris hoping their leader could find a better reason for her to stay at his ranch and not go.
Chris watched Josiah and his sister for a minute before he spoke. "You say that you are the only one that can reach this evidence and that no one else will be able to get to it."
"Well actually only Little Hannah knows where it's at and I need to let Little Hannah out to play in order to find it."
"Could she tell us where it's at?" Chris asked.
"I don't know. Little Hannah can be very stubborn sometimes when it's something she thinks is important."
"Can you ask her?" JD asked from the couch he was sitting on. Hannah shook her head no.
"Someone else has to ask Little Hannah questions. I won't be able to because I will be asleep."
"Then how did you find out about the notebooks?" Chris asked her again.
"After Little Hannah left Father Wilhelm's office she decided to play a game with Mother. She thought she could make Mother think that she was me. While she was playing the game she let it slip out that she knew a secret. Mother wasn't fooled but she did try and find out what the secret was. All Little Hannah told her was that it was some notes, that she hid it and she wasn't telling us where. When I woke up Mother was there. She told me all about what happened and asked me what brought Little Hannah out to play. I couldn't tell her because I didn't remember it until later on and I was frightened of what Father Wilhelm would do if he found out."
Chris looked sternly at Josiah and said, "Josiah, we need to talk to Little Hannah,"
Josiah nodded his head and motioned for his sister to sit down. "Hannah, I want you to close your eyes and concentrate on calling Little Hannah. Tell her that I need to speak to her."
Hannah nodded her head and began to take deep breaths, slowly letting them out. A few minutes later a blank look came over her face. Seconds passed and then her eyes blinked. She began to bring her knees up to her chest, sucking her thumb and faced Josiah with a look of playful mischief in her blue eyes. In place of Hannah was a four year old little girl who loved to laugh and play games.
"Hello Little Hannah,"
"Hi ya, Jo Jo." she said as she took her thumb out of her mouth and waved.
"Little Hannah, Hannah tells me that you're hiding something that's important from her and she needs to see it."
Little Hannah slowly looked around the room and then looked back at Jo Jo. "Can't tell. The Others will be mad if I tell."
"The Others?" Vin asked.
"Little Hannah refers to the other personalities of Hannah's as the Others," Josiah explained as he knelt down on the floor and took his sister's hand.
"The Others help me protect Hannah when Jo Jo isn't there. We must protect Hannah. Isn't that right Jo Jo?" she asked as she looked at Josiah.
"Yes, that's right. Little One, Hannah said, that the Other's told you that it was okay for you to tell me."
Little Hannah smiled as hearing Josiah call her by her nickname and then began to suck her thumb again and looked around the room once more. "Sorry Josiah, but I better make sure that's it's all right with the Others first before I tell. They say that the notes are important and will help protect Hannah." She then closed her eyes and slowly stopped sucking her thumb. The woman slowly opened her eyes and took a long leisurely stretch before she spoke.
"Man, What would I give for a smoke," she said.
Josiah was used to his sister's other personalities coming through. His friends, however, were surprised by the sudden childhood mannerisms disappearing as well as the older and more energetic appearance of this other personality.
The woman looked at Josiah and said, "Hey Josiah, Do you have any cigs on you?"
"Sorry Elizabeth, I quit smoking years ago." Elizabeth rolled her eyes and let out a depressed sigh as she looked at Josiah. "Man, when did you become Mr. No Fun?"
Josiah let out a deep rumble of a laugh as he looked at Elizabeth, "The day that Disco became a fad."
"HUMPH!! Disco is not a fad Josiah. It's a way of expressing one's true self."
"Elizabeth, What year is it?"
Elizabeth once more rolled her eyes at Josiah and gave a dramatic sigh. "It's 1976, you're back from college visiting and you want to take us to the Bi-Centennial celebrations that are going on at the park. Hannah has your Revolutionary War costume hanging up in the closet and I'm thirty-one."
Josiah smiled as he remembered that long ago weekend. Then hearing Chris clearing his throat brought him back to the present. "Where did Little Hannah go?"
Silence as Elizabeth thought for a moment and then she frowned as she looked back at Josiah. "We told her to go and play for bit. The Others have decided that I am much better at explaining our reasoning than Little Hannah is for now."
"What are their reasons?" Josiah asked
Elizabeth nervously got out of the chair and began to walk around the room. "You're not going to like their reasons," she stated ruefully as she turned to look at Josiah.
"Why?" he asked as he watched her walk around the room looking at his friends. He knew why the Others sent Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the personality who was a very good judge of character. She was judging his friends and seeing if they were right for Hannah and Josiah to know. The Others trusted her judgment and would follow her advice.
She had made her way to stand behind Chris before she finally answered Josiah's question. "We do not trust these men here. They have not given us any reason to trust them. Therefore the answer is no. We will not let Little Hannah tell you where she has hidden the notebooks.
"Hannah said that you trust me and you would tell me where Little Hannah had hidden the notebooks."
"That is the difference Josiah," she paused as she made her way back to him. "We trust you because you were there for us. You protected us. They were never there for us. They never protected us from Father's beatings. They never tried to stop us from killing ourselves and most important, they were not there on the night that we almost took a life. They were not there!" she angrily whispered in his ear.
"I agree with the Others. You are right. They were not there. However, they were there the day I was shot at by a criminal and almost died. They were there when Little Hannah came looking for me at the office and most important, they were there when I needed support to keep the demons away. I trust them Elizabeth. I trust them with my life and I trust them with Hannah. They didn't know this until now. If something should happen to me and it's my time to go Home... in my will I have left Hannah's care and protection in their trust. That is how much I trust them and I know they will be there for her and the Others as long as she lives."
Josiah had shocked Elizabeth into silence as she slowly turned to look at the men Josiah trusted with Hannah's life... with their lives.
"The Others will not like this news, Josiah," she said as she turned to look back at him.
"They do not like change. You know that as well as I do."
Josiah nodded his head in agreement
"They will rebel against this sudden knowledge."
He simply replied with a small smile on his face, "I know."
Elizabeth sighed, then looked up and smiled, "Very well, Josiah. You have taken the choice out of my hands and have won this round but we will get you back for this."
Josiah nodded his head again and let out a deep laugh, "I know Elizabeth... I know..."
"Very well. We will let Little Hannah come out to play. But you must know Josiah... only Little Hannah knows where the notebooks are hidden and only Little Hannah can reach them." When she finished speaking, Elizabeth turned and faced the men that now held Hannah's and the Others lives in their hands. She then moved forward to stand in front of Chris.
"Are you the leader of these men?" she asked.
"We speak as one on this... so listen well," she said as she looked them all in the eye.
"Long ago we promised Josiah that we will never again try to take another life. We have kept that promise. However, with this new knowledge. We will break that promise to him if anything... and I do mean anything should happen to him besides dying from old age or getting hurt on the job. We will all come to seek you out and with no regret take your lives."
Anger began to rise in Chris at the threat but when he looked into the once happy blue eyes of the woman they had suddenly turned a cold, angry and deadly gray. As he looked closer he swore he could almost see the faces of the Others watching him through her eyes.
"We've promised to protect Hannah. Josiah has in turn promised to protect us. We have never felt the need to find someone to protect him... until now. We need to know now if you will promise to protect Josiah."
Chris looked around at his men and saw the different nods of yes coming from each of his men and then he looked at the woman standing before him. "We promise to protect Josiah and we also promise to protect Hannah as well."
Chris watched as his words took her by surprise. He knew she didn't expect him to include Hannah in his promise but the Seven protected each of the others as well as their family. She didn't smile but nodded her head in acceptance of his promise. She then turned and walked back over to Josiah.
"The Others do not like this change and they are already rebelling against this knowledge. However, the leader of these men." she said as she motioned to them, "has given a promise. We accept this promise and we will keep our promise to you, Josiah. Will you still keep your promise to us?" she asked as she looked up to Josiah.
"Yes Elizabeth, I will always keep that promise."
She nodded her head and then stood on her tiptoes to kiss Josiah on his check, "Good-bye Josiah. We've missed you. Try not to stay away too long this time."
"I'll try not to, Elizabeth."
She smiled up at him and then turned to look at their new protectors. She let out another sigh, rolled her eyes, sat down and closed her eyes. Silence filled the room as they watched Elizabeth leave and Josiah's sister slowly wake up... wondering who would come out next. She opened her eyes and looked toward Josiah.
"J. J... what happened?"
Josiah let out a sigh of relief and smiled. "Hello Hannah."
"What happened?" she asked as her nervous fingers ran through her graying hair.
He let out a reluctant sigh and shook his head. "Elizabeth came through, Hannah."
"Is everyone all right? She didn't hurt anyone did she?" she asked her brother as she looked around the room quickly.
He gently smiled, "No, Hannah. There's no need to worry. Elizabeth was only here this time to explain the Others reasons about the notebooks... so no one was hurt."
Hearing that Hannah relaxed in the chair. "So, what did Elizabeth have to say Josiah?"
He thought for a moment before he spoke. "Just that only Little Hannah knows where the note books are hidden and that only she can get them."
She looked closely at her brother as she asked, " She didn't say anything else?"
Josiah hesitated for a moment, then he looked her in the eye, "No, Hannah. She didn't say anything else."
Hannah raised her right eyebrow at that. "You're lying, J.J. But I won't pressure you about it right now because we have more important things to worry about."
Hannah looked up as Chris stood. "Hannah, you can go but I want you to stay close to Josiah and Buck until we get to the convent. Do you have any idea at all where Little Hannah may have hid the note books?"
"Sorry Chris, Little Hannah is very good at hiding things that she thinks are important."
"The way I figure it Chris," Josiah said as he handed Hannah his jacket, "is that once we are back at the Convent... Little Hannah will come out to play. When she does I'll ask her where she hid the notebooks."
Chris nodded in agreement and then looked around. "JD and Nathan, I'll need you two to go back to the office and see if you can dig up any information we have on the current gun deals going on in our area. Ezra and Vin, I need you to start checking the different gang leaders and your sources and see if you can find out anything more on the good Father Wilhelm," He said snidely.
"Meanwhile, Josiah, Buck, Hannah and I are going to find these hidden notebooks," Chris said as he grabbed his coat. They all walked out of the house and into the night.
The dark night made the old stones of the Convent take on an eerie glow as Chris parked his black truck in front of the old iron gates. Josiah turned and looked at his sister.
"Are you ready, Hannah?"
"As ready as I will ever be Josiah," she replied with a smile. She raised her hand and touched her brother's face. "Be careful Josiah."
He smiled and gently touched her hand. "Aren't I always?"
She rolled her eyes at his teasing smile and then nodded her head. She leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes. She began to breathe deeply as she concentrated on finding Little Hannah. Soon her breathing began to change as her features began to take on those of a little girl. Once again her thumb found its way to her mouth and her now open eyes began to take on a mischievous glint to them as she turned to face Josiah.
"Hi ya Jo Jo," she said with a smile.
"Hello Little Hannah."
Little Hannah looked around the truck and then back at Josiah. "Where are we Jo Jo?"
"We are back at the Convent Little Hannah. We need you to show us where you hid the notes."
"But Jo Jo... I didn't hide them here."
Josiah let out a sigh. "Okay Little Hannah, where did you hide them at?"
A mischievous smile came across her face. "I hid them in the Poor Box at the church."
Josiah laughed and shook his head. "I should have known. An excellent hiding place, Little Hannah."
Little Hannah smiled and nodded in agreement. Josiah turned around and started to get out of the truck when he noticed the looks of confusion on Chris and Buck's faces.
"When we were little," Josiah explained, "if I had done something to upset or make Hannah mad at me she would get me back by going into my room and take some of my stuff and donate them to the Poor Box. She then gave me some leeway in getting it back. If I made her really mad at me she would put them there the day that Father would go through it and I wouldn't get an opportunity at all. However if she was just a tad upset at me she would put my stuff in there a day or so before he went through it."
He looked back at Little Hannah and watched as Buck helped her down from the truck. "Little Hannah, when is the pick up day for the Poor Box?"
"Saturday, Jo Jo."
He nodded his head and then looked at Chris. Chris looked at the church and started walking towards it.
"Little Hannah, I want you to stay behind me," Josiah said as he turned to follow Chris while Buck walked behind them with his gun ready.
"Where's the Poor Box, Josiah?" Chris asked him as they entered the old church.
"To your right Chris." Chris nodded and looked towards his right. There, hanging on the wall, was a medium sized square box with a lock on it and slot through the top of the lid.
Chris motioned Josiah forward and nodded towards the lock. Josiah smiled and then gripped the lock tight and proceeded to pull on it. With not much effort on Josiah's part the lock soon fell off the lid. He had raised the lid and reached in to pull the notebooks out when a voice cut through the air. "That will do Mr. Sanchez."
Josiah froze for a minute, then turned around to face his greatest fear. There standing with his arm around his sister's neck, a gun pointed to her head was the supposed Father Wilhelm and two of his goons.
"I would like to thank you, Mr. Sanchez for finding those notebooks of mine. I knew Hannah had them hidden somewhere. But the lovely little Nun wouldn't show me where she hid them," he said as his hand tightly gripped her face.
Josiah looked closely at his sister and knew from the look in her eyes that Little Hannah had left and another personality had taken over. The question was which one had come out and would the Others keep their promise to Josiah? He had to be sure.
"Hannah, are you all right?" She didn't answer but with a roll of her eyes he knew for sure that he wasn't talking to Hannah. Instead the woman's grip tightened on the hold that Father Wilhem had. An evil glint entered her eyes.
Then events happened so fast that Josiah still would never recall what happened first. All he could remember was an angry voice spoke out of Hannah, yelling as it proceeded to flip Father Wilhelm over her body. "NO ONE HURTS HANNAH." Then shots were fired between Chris and Buck and the two goons.
The last thing that Josiah remembered was yelling for Hannah to get down as he pulled out his gun and aimed it at Father Wilhelm who's gun was pointed at Hannah. She turned in time to watch as one of the goons aimed his gun at Josiah and without thinking rushed to push him out of the way as a shot was fired. Josiah watched as shock slowly registered on her face while she fell in front of him. Josiah screamed his sister's name. Without thought he took aim and shot Father Wilhelm dead.
The constant beep of the machine in the hospital room woke Chris Larabee from his sleep. He looked around the small room and saw that Buck and JD had fallen asleep in the corner of the room, Nathan was dozing off with his head on the foot of the bed. He looked over to where Ezra was sitting on the other side of Hannah's bed reading an old magazine while Vin leaned against the window and looked out into the rising sun. Ezra looked up and nodded to Chris and then nodded towards where Josiah was still sitting and holding Hannah's hand. Chris let out a tired sigh. Josiah hadn't slept or moved from his chair since they brought her in from the surgery.
The doctor told them last night that Hannah was shot between the lower back. The bullet was still with in her abdominal cavity needing to be pulled out. Chris sighed again. Josiah hadn't said a word after that. He just sat there in a chair and watched the double doors that lead to the operating room. It wasn't until they rolled Hannah out of the operating room and into their current room that Josiah finally moved out of the chair. Only to sit in another chair closer to his sister's bed in order to hold her pale hand waiting for her to wake up.
Chris looked at Josiah and remembered the notebooks. Little Hannah was right. They were important because it was a list of all of the major gun deals that had gone down in the past few weeks. The notebooks had everything from dates , buyers and to when the next big deal were going to take place. And all of it almost cost the life of Josiah's sister.
Feeling the eyes of Chris upon him Josiah finally broke his silence. "She's my baby sister Chris," he said in a horse whisper. "I swore to protect her and keep her safe. I find myself wondering if I have failed her once more."
Chris sighed and shook his head. "No Josiah, you didn't fail her."
"How do you know that?" he angrily spoke. " I failed her when I left for Vietnam. I couldn't protect her from our father and now I was unable to protect her from evil in church. Dammit!!!" he exclaimed. "I'm her brother, Chris. For God's sake, I'm supposed to protect her."
Silence filled the room and then came Ezra's soft southern voice. "You defened her the best you could, Mr. Sanchez. I think she knows that and understands it. She knows that you are not perfect and that you looked out for her as best as you could. I think this time she just wanted to look out for you once."
Josiah swallowed and nodded his head. His shaky hand brushed away a stray hair from her pale face.
"J..Josiah?" came the barely whispered voice.
"Hey Sis," he said as he squeezed her small hand.
Slowly she opened her eyes and looked at Josiah. "Where am I?"
"You're in the hospital. Do you remember what happened?"
She tried to shake her head no but grimaced in pain, "The last thing that I remember was you telling me that you would be careful. That's all I can remember. What happened Josiah? Why am I in the hospital?"
"You were shot trying to save your worthless brother's hide," he said.
Hannah shook her head no. "Not worthless... just the best big brother a sister could ask for," she said as the healing sleep claimed her once more.
Josiah let out a sigh of relief and looked up at the rest of Team Seven in the room.
"You're right, Ezra. I protected Hannah the best way I knew how." He looked up and smiled as he saw as the rest of his friends surrounding Hannah's bed.
"Somehow, I think it's going to be even better. Now have six friends to call on to help me protect her."
A long-suffering groan came from the bed as Hannah opened one eye and looked at her brother. "Good Lord in Heaven, What did I do wrong to be given this trial?" she said with a teasing smile looking back up at her brother. She then reached up and gently touched his cheek.
"Love you Josiah, Now go on and get home. Get some well-needed rest. After all, I have six other brothers to watch over me now," she gently ordered her brother with a small smile before finally falling back to sleep.
Josiah nodded his head and then leaned down to whisper in her ear, "Love you too, Sis," with a soft kiss on her cheek.
Comments: Melody Byard