Michael knew it as Sam before he looked up. Sam had always been gifted in getting himself around without detection—it was automatic for him to stay quiet and hidden. So, out of respect for people he loved, Sam was always tapping o things as he passed them. Door frames, desks, walls, backs of chairs, anything he could casually put his hand on. No loud enough to be annoying or attention seeking, but enough to let people know he was nearby. Sam had always done it for his big brother—and it took him only seventeen months to start doing it for Michael too. That’s when he realized the younger boy considered him to be family.
So, he heard the soft click of Sam’s nails at the door frame as he came into the little office at the back of the house, and looked up to find the boy grinning from ear to ear. “Job went well then?” Michael asked.
“Oh yeah. Real well—“ Sam’s smile grew into the proud little smirk that could only mean that Big Brother Kingsley had a hand in how well it went. “King and Ash are going over the wrap-up, and they’ll have the more detailed write-up for you when they get back.”
“Excellent. I think I like it when things go well.” Michael went back to his papers, but he didn’t hear Sam leave. He gave it a moment, wondering if he has just forgotten to tap his way out, but then glanced up slightly. Sam was still there, standing just inside the door looking—nervous? Sam was almost never nervous? “Was there something else?”
“I want to learn more. I want to be more helpful than the quiet guy or the pickpocket.” The words burst out of him like he’d been practicing them for weeks, waiting for someone to ask.
“Ah Sam, I think that would be something for you and Kingsley to discuss.”
“Kingsley won’t discuss. He still thinks that we just need to get lucky. Make a big windfall or find where our mother went and when we do we can go back to life as normal, or what he thinks should be normal so I won’t need to know anything else. But—I’m not stupid, Mike, life will never be normal again. Our father is dead, our mother ran away from us. There will never be a windfall big enough that two parts of seven is enough that we’ll be set. We will be doing this for a majority of our lives, or at the very least until can he save up enough to get some proper schooling and get a real job. He’ll have to teach me eventually. I’d rather be a rookie at eleven or twelve than to be a rookie at sixteen or seventeen I want to start pulling my own weight before I owe everyone so much that I’ll never be square again.” Sam’s argument made sense, and the way he stood, the way he looked levelly at Michael, he did seem to be confident in his convictions. Michael was always impressed with the brothers, he looked at Kingsley and saw the young, hopeful teenager who believed he could make everything okay again if he just kept working—but Sam, the younger brother, almost looked older, stronger than he should have to be, but always steady, always sure. If any of them were going to make it out of here with their head screwed on right—it would be Sam. He wanted to help the kid but—
“I won’t go against your brother’s wishes, Samuel. He’s still your guardian, he’s responsible for you.” Michael answered carefully, folding his hands on the desk.
“Oh, I know. I would rather learn from Kingsley anyway—family and what not. But, could you perhaps talk to him—present my points? I’ve tried, but I think he still sees the two-year-old child that cried all night when Dad died. I’m not him anymore.” Again, a steady, sure response. Samuel Wilson was an interesting child.
“I’ll talk to him,” Michael promised, “But if he shuts me down, then that’s it. I won’t press him and I won’t make any promises for him.”
Sam smiled again and gave Michael a small gesture of salute. “Thank you, sir.” And he turned, tapping along the door frame on his way out.