Sunday, October 22, 2017

(27) When all else is lost the future still remains



Shan watched as Race walked away. For a brief moment he almost said something to stop him, but the feeling that he should was fleeting. He didn’t need some callow kid trying to lecture him when he had absolutely no idea what life was all about.

What he did need was to get as far from there as possible, and there was only one way short of teleporting to do that. He shifted. And then he ran.

And his thoughts followed unbidden, unwanted, as he remembered.

Remembered the joy of loving, the anger of perceived betrayal, the horror of what he’d done in return. Then the wonder when he’d been forgiven and their love had blossomed anew. And, when it finally had, two insane creatures had killed the one person he’d ever loved in their attempt to gain control of him and Addie.

He sank to the ground finally, exhausted in both body and mind. He wanted to scream, to cry, to release all of the anguish that had become as much a part of his life as eating and breathing. But he didn’t know how. He wondered if he ever would or if, unlike for Addie, it would always be with him.

He heard the soft sounds of footsteps and growled a warning.

“Oh hush,” Addie said as she approached and sat down beside him, stroking his head. “And shift if you would. Talking to you in this form is a bit off-putting. I never really could do it with Doval without feeling sort of silly.”

He did, remaining on his stomach out of deference to her sensibilities, too tired to call up some clothes at the moment.

“You had me worried you know.”

“I’m quite capable of taking care of myself.”

She continued to stroke his head, running her fingers through his hair. “Actually, my dear friend, in some ways that is so far from the truth it would almost be laughable, if it wasn’t so sad. You’ve got the perception that men, well you at least, have to bury all your pain inside. To some extent I understand. The last time you let it out, really let it out, you did something unforgivable.”

“Addie, don’t!”

“Shush, I’m not through yet. We’ve had this talk before, although not in these words but I’m tired of pulling my punches. I’m tired of seeing someone I care about destroying himself inch by inch, pulling back from life so you won’t ever be hurt again.”

He turned his head to look at her. “Says the woman who won’t accept a man who loves her into her own life.”

“True,” she replied, smiling wryly. “But at least I’m willing to accept the idea that he does, and that sometime down the road I might finally be ready to love him in return, in the way that he deserves. You on the other hand have closed your mind to the possibility that there might be someone, someday, who you could care for as much as you cared for Lav.”

“I can’t, Addie.”

“Yes you can, damn it. Shan, to be very blunt, and you can take it for what you think it’s worth, if you don’t you’ll die. Not here,” she ran a hand over his back, “but in your heart and soul. And that, my dear sweet man, would dishonor Lav and all the love that the two of you shared.” She bent to kiss his temple. “Let it go, Shan, let the pain go. Please. Open yourself to the future and all that it can hold for you.”

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (15)

"How many of you want breakfast?" Evan asked when Vic and the two angels joined him in the kitchen the next morning. He looked Vic over, as much as he could see of him, because the man was in the same jeans and sweatshirt he'd been wearing since he arrived. "Off with the shirt so I can check you out," he ordered.
"Do you want an answer to your question? If so, I wouldn't turn down whatever you're cooking," Dom told Evan.
"Same here," Paddy agreed. "We don't need food, but we sure do like it when we're in this form and on a job. It's… I guess you could say, one of the perks of being on earth."
"First things first." Evan waited for Vic to do as he'd asked then expertly ran his hands over Vic's torso, watching his face the whole time.
"I'm fine. See," Vic said, gritting his teeth when Evan not too gently prodded his ribs.
"Fine? No. Better? Yes. The bruising has diminished nicely." Evan chuckled. "You don't look like you went several rounds with King Kong. Now put the shirt back on and let me check your knee. You're still hobbling."
"No fucking way am I taking off my pants in front of an audience."
"We can leave," Paddy told him, smirking.
Evan shook his head. "Just sit down. I can do it through your jeans."
Vic did, moving his leg while Evan gently probed his knee.
"I have a knee brace," Evan said, "which I should have given you yesterday. I'll get it after breakfast. Since we're going to be out and about, it will help you move without too much pain."
"Thanks," Vic replied, reaching for the bottle of pills sitting on the table. He popped two of them, dry, before asking, "What's for breakfast? I can help."
"You can stay right where you are. I think I can handle scrambled eggs and sausage by myself. Dom, if you'd get the coffee going, assuming angels know how to brew a decent pot of java. Paddy, silverware is in that drawer"—he pointed—"and plates and cups are in the cupboard. We'll use the dining room table."
Soon everything was ready and the four men were digging in. As they ate, Evan kept glancing at Vic, until the detective said with a bit of asperity, "I'm fine. Honest."
Wasn't why I was looking at you. Evan realized that was true. Since Vic's declaration the previous evening, he was seeing him in a slightly different light. Yes, he still looked rough. Even more so since he hadn't shaved, but he was definitely appealing in a very macho way. Sort of like… He chuckled to himself, remembering his comment about Sam Spade. Give him a battered fedora and he'd fit the part to a 'T'.
"I know you are," Evan replied to Vic's words. "Or at least mobile enough, once I give you the brace, so that we can do… whatever comes next."
"Going to my office. I need to trace that phone number."
"If it isn't from a throwaway."
Vic nodded. "Let's hope not. When I find out who it belongs to, then I make a decision on what to do about it."

Friday, October 20, 2017

(26) When all else is lost the future still remains



Race looked at the torn and devastated landscape in front of him and wondered why the hell that Kayne dude had listened to Addie instead of Shan and brought them here. From what he could see, under the vegetation which had begun taking over, all that was left of the place they called the Compound was a huge hole in the ground.

Addie and Kayne were standing at the edge of it, the tall, blonde man with his arm around her waist. It appeared as if they were having a very serious discussion. Probably, Race figured, about the validity of being here after all.

Shan stood a few yards away with his back to them, his head bowed as he stared at the ground in front of him. Tentatively Race walked over to join him. Shan glanced up, his jaw clenched, and then he strode away.

Oh no you don’t. Race went after him, not letting him out of his sight as Shan walked into the trees surrounding the area. He was well aware that all Shan had to do was shift and he’d be left behind, but it didn’t stop him from following.

Shan turned, growling at Race. “I don’t want company. Go back.”

“You may not want it but you need it, so get off your high horse.”

“I’m serious Race, leave me alone.”

“And if I don’t what are you going to do, shift and run away? You can’t run from your feelings, Shan, no matter how hard you try.” Race took a deep breath, wondering how far to push this. “I know that you lost someone you loved. So did Addie. Do you see her trying to hide from the fact? No way. She’s hurting as badly as you are, I’m sure, but she’s come to terms with it, in her own way. You on the other hand are wallowing in self-pity.”

Shan froze. “Look you little son of a bitch. Until it’s happened to you, you have no idea what I’m going through.”

Race stood his ground. “And you think you’re the only one who lost someone they loved? Admittedly I haven’t, personally, but others have and they don’t bury themselves in their misery and pretend to the outside world that it never happened. Okay, I hardly know you, really, so I’m only guessing from what little I’ve seen but that…that shrine of pictures in your office…” Race stopped suddenly, realizing exactly what he had been doing. He looked at Shan for a moment, whispered, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…” then turned, starting back towards the destroyed Compound and Addie.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

(25) When all else is lost the future still remains



“If he’s found us, why aren’t we staying here to fight?” Addie asked. “It’s certainly much more defensible that either of our places, and with the wards I’m certain you have in place, whoever he’s sending won’t be able to get within a thousand yards of us without you’re knowing.”

Shan scowled angrily. “Very true, but there are the islanders to consider, I won’t do anything that will endanger them. Their lives are hard enough as it is. So any battle here is out of the question. Sure, we could remain within the wards, but too soon you’d need to feed, and Race and I would need more than the mangos to keep us alive, as well. However,” he paused momentarily, “we’re not going back home.”

Something in tone of Shan’s words made Addie sit up and take notice. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“According to the message from Kayne, you don’t have a home any more,” he said quietly, putting his arm around her.

“Not again,” she whispered in a pain-laced voice. “When will it end?” There was a moment of deathly silence and then she straightened, pulling away from him. “Where are we going and who do we get to kill?” she said savagely.

“Not my place. The exterior may still be standing but that’s all that’s left of it. Whoever is responsible for this is doing their best to make certain we have no real options left.”

Addie steeled herself as an idea came to her, one she knew Shan would resist with the very marrow of his being, just as she already was. But it was perhaps the only option. Taking his hands in hers she said, “We go back to the ruins of the Compound.”

“No fucking way in hell!” he growled, pulling away, rage suffusing his face. “How can you even suggest such a thing Addie?”

“Because it’s the one place in the world where no one would expect us to go.”

“No! Absolutely not! I’d rather face a thousand deaths than go back there again.”

Race walked around the corner of the house at that moment, bags slung over his shoulder. He froze when he saw the emotions running rampant over both Shan’s and Addie’s faces and began to back away.

“Get over here Race,” Shan growled. “We’re leaving. Unless, of course, you want to stick around and practice your defensive skills on a bunch of rabid humans.”

Race inched closer, muttering, “I’d rather not, given my druthers.”

“Good.” Shan grabbed his hand and then reached for Addie’s.

She stepped away with a shake of her head. “Not until you tell me where you’re taking us.”

“To meet Kayne. From there we’ll decide, but it will not be the Compound.”

Monday, October 16, 2017

(24) When all else is lost the future still remains



The afternoon of their fourth day on the island, Shan again checked his email. There was a message from Kayne that had Shan up and moving immediately.

“Pack up,” he ordered Race.

“Trouble?”

“There will be soon enough unless we get out of here.”

“What about Addie? She’s still sleeping and…”

“Just get everything together from your room and mine. Can you…No, probably not.”

“What?”

“Shoot a gun, or use a knife defensively?”

Race nodded. “Not a gun, but a knife isn’t a problem. I carried one when I was living on the streets.”

“Ever use it?” Shan asked as he shooed Race towards the house, following behind him.

“I did, and successfully, although I never killed anyone if that’s what you’re asking.”

“It was and it wasn’t. I need to see something, so come with me.” Shan led him into his room, which in Race’s opinion was very Spartan. The only thing that said it was Shan’s was the camera bag. It stood open on a low chest which matched the one in Race’s room.

“Holy shit,” Race muttered when he caught sight of what the bag held.

Shan smiled tightly. “I never go anywhere without protection no matter what, which apparently you believe, too, from what you just said. Why didn’t you have your blade with you when you delivered the message?”

“Who says I didn’t?” Race replied.

“You don’t have it now.”

Race cocked an eyebrow. “How do you know?”

“Kid, I’m the one who undressed you the night we arrived here. No knife.”

Race turned somewhat red when Shan said that, covering it by moving closer to the case to see exactly all that it contained. “I forgot it in our hurry to pack up and get out of your place,” he mumbled.

“First lesson, never do that again.” Shan handed him one of the knives from the case, smiling when Race took it, holding it as he should, the blade projecting up from the top of his fist. “One thing…” Shan took hold of Race’s hand, releasing it instantly when the young man stiffened. “Sorry, I keep forgetting,” he apologized. Retrieving another knife from the case, he demonstrated the thumb position that would give Race even better control in a fight.

Race nodded, tried it and then, with Shan’s, permission sheathed it, attaching it to his waistband. He snickered when he realized that drawstring pants didn’t give quite the support that a belted pair would.

Shan chuckled in agreement before telling him to get moving and do as he’d been asked. Then he strode from the room.

As he left, Race watched him hungrily, knowing Shan had misinterpreted when Race had frozen at his touch. Shan’s closeness had sent a frisson of desire through Race’s body that made him grateful Shan couldn’t read him—and unhappy about it at the same time. Heaving a deep sigh he set to work.