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JAN 1, 2019 - SORRY WE WERE CLOSED FOR 2 MONTHS - SOME BAD CODE AND THEN HECTIC HOLIDAY LIFE HAPPENED. WE ARE THRILLED TO FLICK THE LIGHTS BACK ON AND COLLABORATE AGAIN! LOOK FOR SOME ADDITIONAL CHANGES/UPDATES COMING TO THE SITE SOON!! ~ZEPH

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Jan 26, 2019

8pm

 

Vehicle made a dangerous swerve around debris, tires clutching the road like a lover as the wheel was yanked back around. Highway 5 was cleared for the most part but in upstate California it became abandoned again with wreckage from the apocalyptic days still littering the cracked pavement.

 

It wasn’t the debris that made the trip dangerous, it was the Bugatti pushing over 200mph in the middle of the night and the driver behind the wheel aggressively burning through a bottle of scotch; a second bottle half empty on the seat beside him. Jacob's words were still seared in his brain. Bo resented him. The thought had already been percolating, fed by the distance…by the lack of intimacy. He was losing him….perhaps, lost him already.

 

Growl thundered in the cab of the Bugatti as the wheel was yanked again around a vagrant piece of metal almost too late. His mind was definitely not on the road ahead of him as the tires threatened to fishtail under his strength. Snarl hummed in his chest as he reached for the half empty scotch, teeth twisting the top before it was spat on the floor, contents disappearing far too rapidly. A few more miles and the expensive bottle was nothing more than empty glass which he tossed on the passenger floor, head thunking back several times on the headrest. It was Ausar's words now echoing in his head. The High Chancellor had caught him before he left with Bodhan for his cabin and a wedding that never happened. The man that had saved him from himself made a point of mentioning to his Executioner that he liked the fiesty doctor that had challenged the very Sheut court but then he left the Spaniard with a query he could not answer…."how long before the human turns his back on the monster?"

 

Was that what had happened? Did Bodhan finally place the Spaniard into the category of "monster"? Now that Bodhan had his real family once more, his sister who called to him for help, what need did he have with the shadow in his life anymore?

 

The trip should have been fourteen hours, but the Veyron made short work of the distance in just a little over six. He was headed into the center of Malheur National Forest, to a small place called Beulah off a reservoir of the same name. The bugatti had to be left behind in Juntura because the 20 wasn’t cleared. Sports car was pushed into a barn off 3rd street before he snapped open the small trunk at the front of the vehicle. Nostrils sniffed at nothing, wishing he had drank more to dull the emotions quicker as he pulled the leather duster off the duffle of weapons. Broad shoulders shrugged into the worn leather before the duffle was worked out of the tiny compartment, popping free before being slung onto his back.

 

Dark eyes hit the sky. It couldn’t be more than 2am. He had a good four hours before daylight became a problem. Boots hit the road, following the 20 but keeping a good fifteen meters into the woods beside it in case there was surveillance.

 

For once, he was looking forward to blood on his hands. He felt….violent…..tonight.

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It had taken a good hour to hike up to Beulah. Time that let the self loathing grow as his faith in their bond continued to waiver.

 

[npc]Malaki Min Almawt. How long before the man can no longer stomach the monster?[/npc]

 

"My Angel of Death."

 

It was rare Ausar used the term of endearment for his Executioner. When he did, it was when he was saying something poignant, and something the Spaniard did not want to hear. As the large man wandered in the dark of the woods, Ausar's words haunted the heart while the mind struggled with the thought that perhaps the "how long" had already come and gone. Vanished perhaps with Maree…?

 

He normally came into these camps as silent death, but tonight he wanted to be heard, wanted to be attacked. He was craving confrontation. He wanted blood to spill, even if it was his own.

 

The Spaniard's feral was showing.

 

Approaching the camp, the duffle was slid to the front, zipper snapped open to pull the machete out, the blade quickly tucked into its harness which he swung over his right shoulder and cinched over the broad chest before the arsenal was pulled out. Powerful fingers began tucking knives and explosives into the hidden pockets of the worn trench coat before the guns were yanked free. The green duffle was dropped to the wooded floor as he marched straight through the trees towards the lights shimmering in windows of cabins that should be abandoned.

 

As he approached there was a sentry pacing in front of a cabin that wreaked of infected death. It was another Z-camp. He had destroyed so many of these now that the signs and smells were emblazoned in his senses. He never opened with the gun. Tonight, he let the magnum roar into the quiet night and instantly lights were snuffing out in the cabins as the enemy circled their wagons.

 

Sentry had been dropped instantly, part of his skull missing. Didn’t matter what kind of altered he was, he wasn’t getting up from that. Return fire was immediate, windows breaking out to give better access as the night began to illuminate with the small cracks of explosion. The magnum and eagle both leveled at windows and let his response be heard, arrogant strides moving him closer to the cabins even as the first bullet ripped through his thigh. Pain was welcome fuel to his angry assault. It was dangerous to bleed a Sheut that deprived himself the warmth of the vein, who drank from blood banks and hadn't sunk fang to flesh in years.

 

Tonight he had no desire to question survivors. Tonight he was letting feral hunger satiate itself.

 

Movement in the woods only lit the dark eyes with untamed excitement. Spin and drop to his knee paired with a spray of gunfire. Two shadows dropped to the ground just as his shoulder snapped back from another hit. Growl came with bared teeth, canines viciously descended as he thrilled in every moment, the expression hauntingly close to a grin.

 

The Spaniard's feral was definitely showing.

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Speed launched him across the open campsite to the nearest building where gunfire sparkled through the broken window. Enhanced senses could hear orders being barked over headsets as they coordinated their efforts to take down the enemy.

 

With blood seeping from the bullet wound on his thigh and shoulder, the hunger was percolating at the surface. As he reached the window, the door to the cabin behind him opened. They were actually well coordinated. But they were not fighting a normal Sheut either. This was his job and his Survival Initiative had kicked in the moment he fired the first shot, giving him split second warnings of danger and its direction just before it was there. In a battle like this, it made others wonder if he held a clairvoyance, reacting a moment before the danger was there. Spinning around he hit a foot halfway up the building as he jumped against it and launched himself across the open space to the sucker that had dared to try and shoot him in the back. The Spaniard could land with the silence of a feather but here, now, he chose to flaunt his density, his strength. He was looking for this fight in a way that made it very dangerous for them, but also…..for himself.

 

Boot hit earth like a mild tectonic tremor, the machine gun barrel snatched and snapped upward, the vitcim too surprised to hold onto it. Nostrils flared at the heated blood.

 

Human……

 

Lips peeled from teeth as his chest seized, how long?....how long had it been since he had fed from flesh? Since Ausar had saved him….seven years. Seven years of tight control over the hunger. Seven years of feeding from blood bank bags. Gun was tossed aside, faster than the eye could see the head was pulled to the side and lethal canines found their mark. The first drop of hot mother's milk drew a shudder of exquisite ecstasy up his spine. The feel of the flesh in his mouth, the heat of the blood as it raced over his tongue…. exquisite torture.

 

Arms gripped tight to his prize, the man's flailing growing weaker as his feet left the ground, the powerful arms drawing him up close and tight to feast as though it were a bottomless cavern.

 

Refrigerated platelets did not hold a candle to this. The monster was fully awake.

 

Chest almost whimpered as the flow slowed and he nearly took the last draining drop. The only thing that prevented him from holding a completely empty husk was the hail of gunfire that finally registered through the euphoric haze of feeding. Two bullets shuddered his victim as the enemy tried to get to him through his prize.

 

Snort was derisive as he pulled free from cooling flesh and tossed the body away. He had been bottling himself up for months now, tiptoeing around the Czech, trying to give him the space he seemed to want…. need. The few times he had tried to breach the barrier between them he had been pushed away… not always literally, but pushed just the same. Now that bottled Spanish heat and passion exploded.

 

Daggers slid from hidden sleeves in his trench as he launched himself across the open space towards the most active window once more. The blades were flicked with inhuman speed to find targets in the dark. One had turned on his scope and the little red light had betrayed his line of site. The Sheut ran right into the path, blade flung with enough strength to embed four inches through the mans forehead, breaching skull and brain to drop him like a stone.

 

Two more necks were snapped as they exited buildings, the third he again paused to lavish his hunger. The gluttony of it ran down his lips as he again left a cold husk behind. For every wound he took he killed two and drank a third. Two cabins now devoid of life, he had 5 more to go and the "dog" pen that held their victims.

 

Gun was tossed away as the clip finally registered a blank effort. The glock instead pulled from the holster under his trench. But even as he did he sensed the danger from behind. The whistle of an arrow. Arrow? Really? Who used those anymore?

 

Spinning he easily sidestepped out of the expected path only to have deep brown widen as the shaft moved to intercept.

 

Magic.

 

The thought blossomed in his brain the same second the weapon found its mark. This arrow was more than it seemed. Thick head of the harpoon impacted his shoulder with enough force to drive him back several yards, toes of his boots pressing down to halt the backward motion. Wide prongs erupted out the back of his shoulder, the thick steel two inch diameter shaft sticking out of his chest dangerously close to his heart. The steel cable that was attached at the end was connected to a winch that instantly was pulling, dragging the Spaniard forward towards the stables. Roar boomed from his chest as heels now dug into the dirt, winch struggling against the unnatural strength as the scent of burning oil and metal became prevalent.

 

This camp was much better armed than others he had flattened. It was his fault. His attacks on these labs were brazen and brutal. He never left survivors. Clearly someone had taken notice.

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Ebony pupils had long swallowed any remnant of the human chocolate brown. Descended canines salivated at the air as he continued to struggle against the winch and cable. Tongue snaked over lips still damp with human blood as the devil's own grin slid over them.

 

Finally…. a challenge.

 

Hands that held the steel cable in the colossal tug of war released their grip, flicking back the sides of his trench and plunging into hidden pockets. As bullets sprayed once more, piercing his abdomen and chest, the small eggs came up. Grin sadistically broadened, a steel thin hoop hooking on each canine, pins pulled from the tops before lunging forward. Screams of warning from the darkened barn were immediate as both hands flung the grenades into the abyss of a mouth that gaped wide at him surrounded by weathered red paint. The winch stuttered as one of the small "gifts" landed in the gear and tripped the wheel.

 

His "gifts" were short fused. Unlike most military eggs that had an 8 second timer, his only had 4. The double eruption was deafening, kicking the winch up into the air as the sides of the barn blew off, bodies tumbling out. As the steel went airborne, thick arm spun in the air, wrapping the cable around it before yanking towards himself, the machine tumbling out into the open now disconnected from the base upon which it had been bolted. Corner of feral eyes caught motion, grin satanic as the feet spread slightly further apart. In an instant the half ton winch became a mace, swung like a feather to impact the short sighted that thought they could sneak around the Sheut. Like a gladiator in the arena, the Spaniard flung the "mace" again, swung by the steel cable it arced behind him before slamming into his next target, impact exploding flesh as a hail of bullets pinged off the thick metal, several more sinking into Spanish flesh. Each crimson trickle that fluttered out from torn leather drew him that closer to frenzy, and the monster was loving it.

 

Again the "mace" arced, this time ripping through a smaller cabin wall, roof pitching to one side before collapsing in on itself as he reached into the trench to yank out the colt rail. Shots erupted as ebony orbs picked through the dark with the same ease as their night vision goggles. They were not the only ones that could "read" heat…. only difference was the way he did it left him…. hungry. Heavy boots trotted to the side of the cabin, a trail of crimson following him before he made the wall, grunt was thick before he slammed his chest against the wood, harpoon pushing all the way through the cavity to dangle out the back. Breath labored, gurgling with blood from the lung damaged by the steel rod. Coughing he pushed cable through the hole until the shaft lay on the ground behind him. It too four precision shots from the rail to finally dismember the cable, last remnant pulled through his chest with a groan. Plug of metal gone, the hole poured thick crimson down his back and chest.

 

He waited, hand on the wood wall as he listened and felt the heat move around the camp. They were trying to surround him again. He simply waited. Waited until one was closer than the others. Waning strength was focused into a single burst of energy, the speed nearly at his norm as the fighter was yanked by the throat into the dark of the woods, neck pushed open to let fangs sink into flesh with a shudder of sheer animalistic pleasure.

 

This was a cat and mouse game he could truly enjoy at a carnal level his humanity would loath himself for later. He was….all that the Czech should despise. A sliver of moisture slid along lower lashes before lost once more, blinked away to give himself over to the hunt. This was what the world had made him….. a monster. What good would he ever be if he didn’t at least use that to destroy other monsters. The thought brought a haunted peace as the husk of a corpse was dropped behind the thick tree.

 

Time to get back to work.

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Feet stumbled in the barn, bloody hand pulling on the driver's door handle of the Bugatti. He had done his job, saved the day, took out the "bad" buys. But in doing so, he had been the monster the Czech had been pushing aside since Scotland. Another camp had been shut down… but perhaps this time, it had been at the expense of the Spaniard's humanity.

 

He had run out of "food" but not dripping wounds. Knife's edge of frenzy lending to a wild exit from the barn, wheels spinning and fishtailing before he got the vehicle turned back around and headed towards LA. Orange haze over the thick woods betrayed the cleansing fire he had left behind.

 

When it was all said and done, some forty five bodies lay smoldering in a pile, sixteen of which lay there devoid of blood. Seven years he had not fed from flesh. Seven years of platelets and bottled blood. Seven years of control undone in a single night. A second pyre was burning the "dog pound". The bastards had turned their zombie horde on him and he had been bitten five or six times before he had been able to put them all down. The viral venom now blazing through his weakened system to erupt moisture thick on his brow. He normally worked hard to avoid getting bit. While he couldn’t get the infection, it did cause one nasty case of flu that was doing nothing to improve his feral mood.

 

Wheels finally hit real highway and the Spaniard opened it up, red lining the sport vehicle as he topped 250mph. He would make LA in just three hours. Problem was, it was already after four… dawn would catch him. Windows were rolled down to try and temper the heat of frenzy and fever, knowing the tinted glass would need to go up in about an hour. Leather seat under him was quickly growing slick with his blood as he swerved to avoid the debris on the road.

 

One hour in and ebony orbs were fighting the blurred vision, growl a permanent fixture over the howl of wind through the windows. Canine's ached almost as bad as his empty gut. For all the glut he had indulged in, he was starving. The liquid life lost faster than he had gorged on it.

 

He needed to warn her. Brute fingers fumbled with the glove compartment as he tried to keep the rocket on the road. Phone was finally retrieved, the doc pulled up on speed dial. Her sleepy "hello" was barely over the line when the feral growl rumbled back at her.

 

[gabriele]….coming in extra hot…. just under two hours away.[/gabriele]

 

Phone flicked shut and was tossed on the floor. He hadn't even waited for her to acknowledge him. Chelsea knew what it meant. She knew she needed to get ready at the "abandoned" clinic and that she needed to NOT be the first thing he saw when he got there.

 

[npc]Malaki Min Almawt. How long before the man can no longer stomach the monster?[/npc]

 

Car nearly rolled as he corrected around debris. The words of the Sheut Chancellor haunted the ghost of humanity still in his chest. Growl intensified with the ache.

 

How long….. had come and gone……

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As he sat nearly naked on the rolling stool with her skilled hands digging another bullet out of his back, the dark eyes flicked around the clinic with a scowl permanently etched over them.

 

He had never come in "hot" like this before. The place looked like a bomb went off. Bent steel IV stands littered the hallway, the bags of blood she had set on them for his arrival torn into with enough savagery that spatters were on the damn ceiling. There were far more than she had ever set out before too. She must have known how bad it would be. Damn visions of hers always taking the fun out of surprises.

 

He was thankful this time. He could have really hurt her…. or worse.

 

He didn’t remember getting here. He must have been in full frenzy by the time the Bugatti crashed into the stone wall of the steps outside. That would be a tough one to explain to Jacob, dark chocolate's skimming to the side to peek again out the sunny door down the hall to see the bent up fender half mooned around the corner of the stones. He also must have not had his wits around him anymore to roll up the windows, glancing down to the hands that hung lifeless between his knees he was struck at how dark his skin was, almost reminiscent of his Spanish heritage before he had ever been infected. While it made him look like a damn healthy human, it was a sign he had almost committed suicide without even knowing it.

 

Hand came up to wipe the dry blood from the corner of his lips as she started slicing into healed flesh once more. She had made him stand in the xray box so she could draw "x"s all over him where the bullets had already been healed over. One by one she was cutting fresh into his skin and pulling them out. Last count of the sound of metal plinking into the tray beside her, they were up to twenty six.

 

He had won. Again.

 

Yet he felt utterly and completely defeated.

 

None of this had been about the laboratory or the zombie apocalypse someone seemed determined to unleash on the world. This catastrophic outcome had everything to do with a broken heart that had decided to turn reckless rather than face the pain.

 

[npc]… you about ready to start telling me what the fuck happened this time?[/npc]

 

Blink was pronounced. She had been working in silence for about two hours now, clearly giving him time to fully let the fog of frenzy lift and his wits to come back to him. Looking around the half destroyed clinic and recognizing he very well could have ended up killing her this time… he owed her answers.

 

[gabriele] ….victim of my own success.[/gabriele]

 

That Chels stayed quiet told him she wasn’t buying that answer. He also knew he owed her a lot more. Shoulders lifted and fell with the deep breath before he offered what she deserved.

 

[gabriele]…they were ready for me in a way none of the other camps were. A lot more nocturn-infected on the premises than I have encountered before. Also had significantly more weapons, some geared specifically to take on someone with my strength.[/gabriele]

 

He had to admit, the steel cabled harpoon was a unique and fairly effective weapon, had it been larger and better anchored it might have stood a real chance of stopping him.

 

Metal plinked again in the tray before she slapped his shoulder and hitched a thumb at the examining table. Hopping up onto the cold leather in just his skivvies he shuddered and muttered before leaning back on his elbows just as her hand roughly pushed his thighs apart.

 

[gabriele]Hey![/gabriele]

 

[npc]…quit being a baby… not like I haven't seen it all before.[/npc]

 

The magnifying goggles were pulled down over her eyes as she got to work on an "X" she had marked on his inner thigh.

 

[npc]…and I didn’t mean the camp…. I meant you.[/npc]

 

His breath sucked in as a scalpel cut far too close to family jewels he was keen on keeping. The dark scowl covering his brow betrayed that he knew exactly what she was referring to. The number of wounds, where they were, the depth that betrayed they were often at close range…his precious car half wrapped around her steps…. all were signs of a reckless disregard for his own life. Elbows shifted and broad shoulders hit the leather, head resting back to stare up at the pock marked holes of the dropped ceiling tiles as she worked.

 

[gabriele]…I don’t know Chels….[/gabriele]

 

Eyes closed as he tried to breathe slower and calm everything.

 

[gabriele]… I needed to feel….angry… invincible…. felt the need to taunt death to come for me….[/gabriele]

 

Quiet words were hardly the tone of the Nation's cold blooded Executioner. He was supposed to be the unwavering precision instrument of the grand chancellor. It was pretty evident by his words and his wounds, he was more likely a loose cannon right now.

 

[npc]…I report it and Ausar will have you pulled. [/npc]

 

She was right. The chancellor would have him permanently stationed back in Glamis. Maybe Bo needed the Spaniard gone. Maybe that would be best for everyone. Problem was, if he was gone, he knew the Nation would never protect the Czech the way he would, and no matter how much the Czech might hate him, he couldn’t let anything happen to the man.

 

Sighing softly an arm came up to drape over dark eyes as the head shook.

 

[gabriele]…don’t Chels… its just a pained heart acting out. It will pass.[/gabriele]

 

The woman was a trusted confidant, had been for more than six years now. She knew many of his secrets that were still hidden from the rest of the Nation. Her soft grunt told him she would go along with him…. for now.

 

As the knife bit flesh once again, he wondered how things had gone in New York. For the first time since he had set out on his bloodbath, he let himself remember that Jacob had gone to Bo's rescue… not him.

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Phone shut in the nimble fingers one more time.  The gentle closing as it tucked into a hand so capable of destruction seemed incredibly loud against the silence of the cabin.  Two fingers leaned against his temple, watching what was left of the city come into view through the gold hazed window, water beyond.  As loyal as he was to them all, he wished he was in that surf, swimming against the morning.  Chest sighed. 

 

Voicemail.

 

A genius in front of him that hadn’t said a word since they’d left the hospital, and a boss that wouldn’t pick up the phone.  He watched the guy he’d never taken time to get to know in the leather seat across from his own, the ginger almost unresponsive.  He would blink, and take a deep breath every long moment, but there was nothing that registered the bouncer’s presence.  Scratched up, banged up, busted lip.  They both looked like they had just been through a war.  He’d shed his tactical gear, back into the packs, everything ready to put into the cars to take back.  He’d cleaned up.  He was fine.

 

The ginger?

 

Gabe wouldn’t be happy.

 

Something had broken.  Bo had no problem running into the fire, none accepting that the bouncer had come to help.  It was beyond that.  The further they got from the hospital, the more sullen he became.  Shock?  He’d seen it.  This wasn’t shock, it was something else.  Silence was palpable.

 

Wing dipped below the clouds, the phone flipping open again.  He got up this time, risking Eris’ wrath, walking toward the back of the plane into the “living quarters” to sit on the bed.  It rang repeatedly, waiting, elbows on his knees as his hand rifled forward and then back over the careless sprouts of hair impatiently.  Nothing.  He decided to finally leave a message.

 

[Jacob]We’re landing.  I need you to meet me there.[/Jacob]

 

Phone clicked shut and he returned to his seat, buckling in.

 

[jacob]You need to buckle in.[/jacob]

 

The comment was quiet to the scientist.  Nothing in return.  Fuck.  He sighed again and waited to touch down.

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Two hours and a last xray later, he was finally confirmed to be internally "jewelry" free. Standing in his blood-stained briefs he frowned down at the tray that held over sixty crimson covered rounds.

 

God, he really had been on a suicide mission.

 

Chelsea was just finishing up scrubbing her arms in the metal sink as she glanced over her shoulder at him. Nostrils huffed quietly before she turned her back on him again, towel pulled from the hook to dry off her hands.

 

[npc]…let's get one thing straight. Another reckless stunt like this Gabriele.. and I will report it. Don’t think I don’t know you compromised yourself.[/npc]

 

Dark eyes snapped up to look at her, vibrant greens leveled at him with the stern expression of a Catholic school Reverend Mother.

 

[npc]… you think I didn’t notice you checking out my jugular?[/npc]

 

Swallow was thick but he said nothing. He couldn’t deny it. Twice the echo of her blood, the scent of the sweet, just beginning to age ambrosia caught his attention with a viciousness he had not experienced in some seven years. Breaking his vow never to drink again from the heat of flesh had possibly compromised his very soul.

 

And she knew his secret.

 

[npc]You told me once it took you nearly a year to lose that hunger, to get to the point that the bags and bottles were sufficient. I hope it doesn’t take you that long this time.[/npc]

 

He could only nod faintly.

 

Her head tilted towards the hallway.

 

[npc]I will get your crap out of the car. Get washed up, you know where the clothes are.[/npc]

 

Nodding like an obedient, scolded schoolboy, bare feet padded down the hall. He kept clothes here. They used to get dusty between missions, these days there were so many missions they were practically right out of the cleaners bag. Shower ran red forever, freezing water causing bumps to flush all over his skin as he hit his forehead several times against the locker room tile wall. He was suddenly wondering if Bo would even come back with Jacob. What if he decided to stay with his sister? What if…. this was it?

 

Clean jeans were slid over drying flesh, sitting on the old bench to pull on his socks as he tried to shake the ominous revelation that he might have actually said goodbye to the Czech for the last time. Black tee was pulled over his damp curls just as she came back into the building. The ebony sport blazer was tossed over the arm of the office couch as she walked in and dumped a blood stained bag on the coffee table.

 

[npc]…phone's dead, need to charge it and that car needs to go to Pedro's to get scrubbed down and repaired before anyone at Shadow sees it and figures out you are an idiot.[/npc]

 

He couldn’t help the tickle of smile at her. She was right though. Based on the number of rounds she had removed he could only guess how much blood was inside the cabin of his vintage ride. Jacob would lose his shit.

 

[gabriele]…mind calling Pedro to have it towed out today? Since my phone's dead and all.[/gabriele]

 

Her green orbs rolled at him.

 

[npc]…am your doctor not your valet Salvatierra.[/npc]

 

But even as she pulled her purse over her shoulder she was pulling her phone out to make the call.

 

[npc]...I assume you need a lift back to your place.[/npc]

 

He offered an appropriate schoolboy "innocent" smile.

 

[gabriele]..could you?[/gabriele]

 

Again the eye roll as she went to get the car and pull it to the southern entrance where the landing would be in shadow and not threaten to set him on fire. He needed to be home because he hadn't told a soul he was going on a mission. Had he been killed, or worse captured, no one would have known. It really had been a dumb move.

 

While she was getting the car he slid his things out onto the coffee table, frowning at his house keys, phone and two empty guns all covered in dry blood.

 

He quickly went back to the operating room sink to rinse things off as best he could, trying not to douse the phone past the point of operating again.

 

By the time she was dropping him off at Shadow he was ready for that nap.

 

Place was deathly quiet as he made his way up to the private living quarters, hand laying on the scanner to open the front door before tossing the blazer on the couch and plugging the dead phone in on the kitchen counter. Executioner faceplanted on the oversized couch. A couple hours of snooze… that’s all he needed.

 

…..all he needed.

 

Oblivion had come quickly but was far too short lived. Body bolted up, on his feet, canines bared threatening whatever enemy had just woken him from his dead sleep.

 

Big chocolate orbs blinked as the beep of the phone finally getting enough charge to register that a voicemail had been left. Went off for the second time. Hands rubbed his eyes as heavy lids threatened to go back to sleep rather than check it. But if he didn’t want his absence to be so obvious he needed to be "available". Of course the people that would call him also knew he slept days.

 

Grumbling he moved to the phone on the counter, flipping it open he frowned at the little blinking envelop. But as he listened the lower lip was chewed. Frown darkening his brow. Was Bo with "them"? or was Jacob trying to make this easier on the Spaniard.

 

Glancing down he couldn’t figure out when the voicemail was delivered. Five minutes ago? Three hours ago?

 

[gabriele]…shit.[/gabriele]

 

Fingers quickly found the autodial for his head bouncer as he grabbed his blazer and scampered out the door to the garage only to stop dead growling at the empty space. His car was now at Pedro's. He needed a fucking ride because the sun was too high for him to take the motorcycle.

 

[gabriele]…shit shit shit….[/gabriele]

 

Maybe they weren't even at the airport anymore. Foot tapped impatiently waiting as Jacob's phone began to ring.

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The ginger was already moving before he'd even unbuckled himself.  Complete obliviousness had sparked to life as soon as the wheels touched the ground.  He seemed possessed, agitated.

 

[Jacob]Bo,[/Jacob] it at first was soft as the plane came to a halt and the tiny fanged spitfire flicked switches to open the side door.  He thought going to help himself would somehow bridge the rift between them.  It became apparent rather quickly though that the man had no intentions of staying put, or telling the bouncer where he was going.  Jacob snapped his seatbelt off and began to grab his gear, knowing if he didn’t Eris wouldn’t throw it out the door for him.  The ginger grabbed his bag and half jumped, half tumbled to the concrete even before the plane was chocked, making a beeline for the hangar and what Jacob knew was most probably his bike. 

 

Two bags were tossed out onto the tarmac, a quick nod to the disinterested Sheut as he too hopped out before the stairs were even down, trotting after him.

 

[Jacob]Bo![/jacob]  he was pissed as hell.  What the hell was he going to do, tackle the man?  Fuck.  The plane was already being turned, his gear was in the way, the ginger was taking off to god knows where, phone starting to ring.

 

Phone.

 

He was a patient man…   but…

 

Phone flipped open violently, [Jacob]What?![/Jacob] Greeting was uncharacteristic, then distracted.  [Jacob]Bo![/Jacob]  he snapped after the damn scientist, as if on cue a bike roared to life and he watched the man taxi it out of the hangar.  Footsteps stopped, fingers tight in his hair as he tried to calm, there was no way he could stop him.  The ginger flipped his backpack on and took off like a rocket.  South, please go out the south entrance back to Shadow.  No.  No..no no no NO!  [Jacob]God damn it![/Jacob]  he swore viciously before putting the phone to his lips.  Fuck.  FUCK!  [Jacob]Christ, where are you?  I told you to be here!  He took off, I don’t know where the fuck he’s going.  Went north to the highway.  Sister’s fine.  Everyone’s fine.  He’s not fine.  Physically yes, just… not fine.  Fucking virus bullshit let loose intentionally in a New York hospital.  Contained but.. shit… he’s not fine.  Hasn't said a word since we left New York.[/Jacob]

 

He caught his breath, eyes flicking to his own bike in the shadows of the hangar.  He could catch him, but then what?  He wouldn’t talk to him all the way home, why would he talk to him now?  How would he stop him?  Shoot him?  The bastard was a grown man, and he most definitely didn’t need a gun held to his head until Gabe arrived.  That would serve up a fucking disaster.

 

[Jacob]Why aren’t you here?[/Jacob]  voice was decidedly more quiet, sad almost, still licked with anger.  [Jacob]I’m headed back to Shadow on my bike, gonna pick up my car and go home.  I need to go home.  He’s probably going up to that fucking cabin of his to be a sullen jackass.[/jacob]

 

He wasn’t holding back. He'd never adjusted to the man being part of his life.  He upset the balance, made Gabe crazy... made the bouncer a second fiddle.  Asshole.

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The Spaniard blinked at the "reception" he got on the other side of the line, then heard Jacob call for Bo. What the hell was going on?

 

[jacob] Christ, where are you? I told you to be here! He took off, I don’t know where the fuck he’s going. Went north to the highway. Sister’s fine. Everyone’s fine. He’s not fine. Physically yes, just… not fine. Fucking virus bullshit let loose intentionally in a New York hospital. Contained but.. shit… he’s not fine. Hasn't said a word since we left New York [/jacob]

 

He tried to drink it all in but Jacob was running a mile a minute and pissed as hell.

 

[jacob]Why arent you here?[/jacob]

 

[gabriele]…phone was dead.. I just got the message and immediately called. Am heading out there….[/gabriele]

 

Shit what a mess and Jacob had a right to be angry. All the Spaniard had here at the club was his bike. He would make maybe fifteen minutes before he melted on it.

 

[jacob] I’m headed back to Shadow on my bike, gonna pick up my car and go home. I need to go home. He’s probably going up to that fucking cabin of his to be a sullen jackass [/jacob]

 

JACOB'S CAR!

 

He would kill him but….

 

[gabriele]…I got it… don’t worry… just head home. I will get the Czech.[/gabriele]

 

He had never called him that to Jacob. It had always been Bo. But somehow he couldn’t get the man's name to cross his lips.

 

The pause was small before he added a quiet….thanks.

 

He didn’t wait for a response, clicking the phone closed. He hoped Jacob would just go home. If he came to the club and found his car gone and Gabe's gone… he would put two and two together. He would know to go to Pedro's and efforts to hide the fiasco that had been his mission would go up in proverbial smoke.

 

It didn’t matter. He should know what a monster he worked for…. he had a right to know….

 

Sigh came slowly in his chest as a hand wiped across his lips frowning. Finally he moved, heading for the staff bays to find Jacob's. Fortunately they kept all the staff cars behind security doors with the keys hanging in a hand register panel.

 

Keys were quickly acquired, a quick scribbled note apologizing and letting him know he had to take it just in case Jacob actually came to the club. Mustang roared to life at a volume that would deafen the Bughatti but he hesitated as the door behind it opened. The windows were tinted but not as much as his Bugatti. His "tan" was about to get a lot darker.

 

He should have drank more. It was a dangerous thought as he put it in gear and backed out with a more aggressive lurch than he was expecting… car was suped up, snarly, not as sleek a ride as the powerful Gatti but damn powerful just the same.

 

Steel door was closing as he slammed it into drive and peeled out of the parking lot, fishtail more violent than with his ride before it caught the road and sped down the street.

 

The cabin…. they hadnt been back up to the cabin since………

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His fault.

 

His fault.

 

His fault.

 

The words kept repeating over and over in his head, a throbbing annoyance that quickly fell into a self-loathing mantra.  On the way to Eris’ runway in the dark-windowed cars of the Sheut.  On the plane when the catastrophe was over and everyone’s blood pressure was back to normal except his.  He knew Jacob was trying to talk to him, mend a rift somehow…. he didn’t feel like talking. He didn’t feel like much of anything. 

 

His sister, he’d never seen anything like it.  She was mum in Glamis about being changed no matter how much he alluded to wanting to know, not really responsive to his questions.  Nobody was responsive to his questions.  Gabe hid shit, even about his sister.  Maree hid shit about herself.  Eris hid shit…  hell even the meathead across from him hid shit if Gabe asked him to.  Even his employers.  All his life.  Had he really been such a complete fool?  He wanted to destroy the whole damn world for being against him, using him for whatever purpose because he was too kind to say no. In the years following the end of the world he had become a cynic, someone who was so careful about not being caught in any trap.  Brutal to the rest of humanity to maintain his safety…  the wall had come down, and people had taken advantage of him again. 

 

Why did Maree not tell him about this doctor that seemed to have some sort of attachment to her?  Why had Jacob even come?  The bastard hated the Czech, barely said two words to him in the last year.

 

Was his brain all that mattered to anyone?

 

And now, it was all his fault, the vastness of it crushing.

 

All this was on his hands.  Without him, would they have had the puzzle pieces to put this together?  Perhaps.  It sounded so arrogant in his head.  So arrogant, but he knew his work had been specific in this field.  He recognized markers, bits and pieces.  It was all of his colleagues.  But him, HE had been the one to fix their calculations, their mistakes, finish their work.  Blood was on his hands.  He’d been studying the viruses for years in his cabin after the end of the world.  He’d studied and MADE them before the end of the world.  How in the hell had he let this happen??

 

Now, he’d exposed himself.  Ran off into the fray without anyone to back him up.  Endangered himself and his sister by being together, but he’d also helped save them.  To what end?   They knew he was alive now. Anyone with a brain or a stake in the game knew he was alive now.  Could follow his chemical trail.  Jacob had either followed him or had been sent.  Gabe too busy to come himself?  He would have been pissed if he had, wouldn’t he?

 

He didn’t wait until the plane had been chocked on the runway of L.A. or the door was even set down.  He didn’t answer Jacob and he didn’t want to be followed.  He knew exactly what he needed to do.  Exactly.  Irrational, angry, broken.  He was fucking broken.  What was the point of being able to save the world if you couldn’t save the god damned world?  You contributed to its downfall? 

 

The hours north ached from the ordeal of the last three days, muscles protested the anti-viral like a tetanus shot.  It was normal, but didn’t make for a comfortable ride.  Anger kept boiling, bubbling, burning over.  Betrayed, and hurt and lost.  Gabe had nothing on him.  Nothing at all.  Executioner.  The Czech was a damn executioner too.  Jesus Christ he’d contributed to the death of the entire world…

 

Thoughts wandering, he almost spun out on a curve.  The bike was going too fast for his reflexes, righting out on a straightway and pushing it even faster.  What was the point?  What was the fucking point?!  He’d destroyed the world.  Distracted brain missed the minute break in the wall of massive trees lining the side of the highway that signaled the path to his clearing.  Bike screeched to a halt, spun around and pushed into the woods with no regard.  None.  If there was a fallen log, he was going over it, debris, he’d hit that too.  It seemed to take forever to pass the thick of trees, finally sprouting out into the clearing where his shuttered cabin and buildings were nestled.  Bike skid to a halt and he let it flop over, never stopping until he was on the porch and pawing for a key to the padlock.

 

He’d cleaned most of it out, locked up everything he could.  He rarely came out here anymore, only if he needed silence to work on something that itched at his brain or supplies that were still growing or stashed out there.  Being at Shadow, he could get virtually anything he needed now through runners and various sources so he never had to risk showing his face again.

 

Again, that trust.  The trust that was betraying him.

 

Door pushed open, darkness of the cabin even in daylight was pressing, all the windows with their protective boards closed and locked.  He’d made himself a fortress away from the very things he’d been responsible for creating.  Glass twinkled slightly from his work tables, the chair which he sat and stared at his worn whiteboard drawing a long round of attention… the little frayed wisps that he used to twist and flicked while he pondered a question, or tried to avoid dying by pissed off vampire.  It should have brought a smile, it didn’t.  He made short work of the place.  Everything in it he either had duplicates of at Shadow or didn’t want anymore.  The pile of books next to his bed so worn he’d found new copies of them as well.  Almost satisfied he’d had it all, pausing, kicking over a pile with his toe to pick up a copy of Don Quixote he’d forgotten existed.  Snort soft, he leafed through it, father’s handwriting on the inside cover.  Stuffing it into his backpack and slinging it back on his shoulders, he set to work.

 

It was caustic, and entirely something only his brain could concoct.  It would burn the place completely to the ground, nothing would be left but a scorched field.  Once finished, two small vials were filled with a clear liquid from a dark bottle, stuffed into his back pocket.  Old water jugs were filled, splashed everywhere around in the cabin.  Trotting down the steps, he opened his greenhouse, pulled a shovel from the corner and did the same coating of liquid, throwing the jugs inside. 

 

He could have secrets too.

 

Heading toward the side of the clearing and a familiar pile of stones, he began to dig.  Once the place lit, the blast and subsequent smoke pillar wouldn’t be able to escape attention for long so he had to retrieve everything first.  The small metal box was pulled out of the earth.  Notes.  Notes that didn’t have context until now.  He’d glanced through the bag that his sister had come out with before handing them over to Eris.  His were always one side of a coin.  The glance at the doc’s… seemed at first look at the other.  Stuffing the musty smelling things into his backpack, he dumped the box back in the hole and covered it up.  Backpack was wiggled off and hooked on a handlebar of his bike at a safe distance.

 

First blast came with a delayed pop, the small vial tossed into the doorway.  Fumes had become hair-triggered, and the mere clink of the glass on the floor started the spark.  The building seemed to implode in onto itself with the suck of oxygen it suddenly grabbed to complete the process, the windows blowing outward in billowing splinters.  He’d lit the very air on fire… knowing someday he would have to completely scour the earth of his damnable tinkering.  Who knew what else he’d created.  It was all going up in smoke.  Shovel was placed back in the greenhouse, and he started trotting backwards before tossing the other vial into it.

 

There was silence, only the small rain of wood from his cabin that had been launched into the sky, now ash.

 

Brow crinkled slightly, still trotting backwards toward his bike, maybe he hadn’t… his gas pump.

 

Fuck.  FUCK!

 

Air was sucked from his lungs, the world began to loop- an ethereal, disorienting float.  Ears rang, flesh throbbed, the back of his head seared in pain.  The explosion had paused, mixed, and doubled in intensity; shaking the ground, knocking him off his feet and sliding him backward through the tall grass almost thirty yards.

 

His bike, was only twenty away.  A bike headlight versus a skull?  All bets were on the bike- bike, backpack and body coming to a halt near the treeline in the sudden silence of crackling fire.  No signs of life from any of it.

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The Mustang couldn’t get up to the same speed as his Gatti but… it came damn close. That little bike Bo had was never going to make these kinds of speeds but the strip was over forty minutes closer to the cabin. Based on when the Czech tore out of the hanger and the Spaniard's current speed, he might actually overtake him on the road.

 

At least…. he had hoped so.

 

Snarly engine died as he turned the key, unable to move through the wooded area, he was forced to pursue on foot. This was a problem. Chocolate flicked up and to the side, squinting at the daylight that came through the tinted windows. Flesh tingled everywhere and a glance in the rear view mirror confirmed that he had the complexion of a Spaniard who had been sunbathing all summer to a deep almost unnatural mahogany. A stroll outside and he would be blistering.

 

Sigh grumbled in his chest. Patience wasn’t really his virtue.

 

He should have thought this through more…brought some protective gear. As it stood he was going to have to make do with sitting his ass in the car until at least the start of dusk. Dark eyes braved the light some more as he stared down the path looking for signs the Czech had come through. He wasn’t disappointed, freshly broken branches betrayed the hasty entry of the man on his bike.

 

[gabriele]…fuck..[/gabriele]

 

Soft swear murmured his lips as his forehead pressed to the steering wheel of the brawny mustang. Breathing seemed like a chore as he could actually hear the damn second hand of his watch tick by time with the speed of molasses.

 

Time also brought doubt. Bo likely didn’t want him here. He might very well wait until dusk, hike up to the cabin and be told to fuck off.

 

At least he would know the Czech was safe. Fatigue and sunburn caught up with the Spaniard, eyes closing and the mind beginning to drift off when the first pop rang in his ears, sitting straight up he blinked heavily trying to orient himself. Nostrils flaring as he tried to make sense of the sound. A whiff of something burning just before…..

 

The eruption literally shook the mustang and rational thought was lost.

 

Door flung open and the vampire was sprinting through the mottled sunlight of the woods. Fire, explosion… BO!

 

Heart was in his throat as he didn’t notice the first blisters begin to swell and explode on his skin.

 

No no no no NO!

 

Nostrils were flaring for the familiar scent as he ran towards the burning building only to stop dead in his tracks and pivot. Bo wasn’t in there…….. he wasn’t in there!

 

It was his blood that the Spaniard picked up, a fact that drew a deeper intensity to his sprint. Tumbled in the grass was the Czech.

 

[gabriele]BO!..[/gabriele]

 

No response made that pit in his throat bigger. Sliding to his side it only took a moment to realize he WAS breathing…. but he was also in bad shape. Hand reached out to the Czechs cheek only to recoil as he finally recognized his skin had begun to dangerously boil. No time.

 

The younger man was scooped up and clung close to his chest as he began to sprint back to the mustang, nearly falling flat when he tripped over the bike laying on its side. Snarling at it he took just enough time to grab Bo's bag. If the Czech had bothered to keep it, it must be important.

 

By the time he made the mustang, hands were smoldering and their tremor made it nearly impossible to open the passenger door and drop the unconscious Bo in the seat. Stumbling he made his way to the driver door, collapsing in and slamming the door shut as he tossed the bag into the back seat.

 

Skin blistered with a ferocity he had only experienced once……and then he had meant to boil until he ceased to exist. Now it was in the way as he reached for Bo and gently moved his head to look at the blood he could smell dripping from the back.

 

[gabriele]Oh god…..please don’t leave me Bo…..[/gabriele]

 

The words were so soft before he pulled his hand away realizing he was leaving blood of his own on the Czech's skin.

 

Mustang was revved up with a wince, under his shirt and pants skin continued to blister and boil. Every crank of the wheel left blood and flesh behind on the leather cover but the Spaniard didn’t seem to notice as the Mustang roared back to Chelsea's. Fingers fought to pull the phone from his pocket, melting skin slipping on the metal surface before he managed to autodial her and warn her he was coming in with a badly injured person.

 

Swerves were wild as blisters on eyelids marred his vision.

 

By the time he made the clinic he knew Bo wasn’t the only one in trouble. He didn’t bother with the shaded entrance, slamming on the brake in front of the main steps and shoving his door open to run around and get the Czech out.

 

She came running out but stopped dead in her tracks seeing him….

 

[npc]….Gabriele…..[/npc]

 

The soft expression of his name held a tinge of horror as he brushed right past her into the building.

 

[gabriele]…..where?...[/gabriele]

 

His voice cracked, pain evident in the sound causing her green eyes to widen. Pain was not something she had ever seen expressed in the big Spaniard. Blinking she got her wits about her to finally look at the man cradled in the vampire's arms. Chin jutted down the hallway.

 

[npc]X-ray first.[/npc]

 

It was a long hour as she took xrays of his entire body and declared nothing broken though there were a few hairline fractures that would be sensitive and sore for a while.

 

As she worked on sewing up the back of the badly split open scalp she breathed a bit of a hiss at the Spaniard.

 

[npc]…. get to storage and drink… whatever I got in there…[/npc] [gabriele]..no… I want to….[/gabriele] [npc]Go…[/npc]

 

There was a snap in her words.

 

[npc]….I have never seen a sheut look like you look now…go…. I have this… he will be fine.[/npc]

 

She wasn’t giving him options.

 

Tremors ran his body as he found the storage room and proceeded to drain the fridge. Every last bag of precious vitae that she needed to help heal her patients were now gone. All his fault. The hunger had waned, but the healing…….

 

Flesh has been blistering and rupturing against fabric for almost two hours now, the fibers having melted into his skin. As he worked to slide the tee up he bit his tongue hard, several layers of skin coming away with the fabric, the raw slimed crimson layer angrily pussing as he fought for a breath and kept pulling. He couldn’t heal if he didn’t get the fused clothes off. Still having tremors didn’t help either.

 

Pain ebbed and flowed with the ferocity of stormy waters. He would rather be shot a hundred times over.

 

By the time she had the Czech comfortably in a bed with an IV drip to keep him out of pain and a bit sedated, the Spaniard had managed to peel his pants from his legs. The gasp when she walked in was telling, but not as much as the horrified expression in her eyes. The body looked like a skinned cadaver in a college doctorate program.

 

[npc]…Gabriele…..……..can you… heal from this….?[/npc]

 

Could he? Nine years ago he had sat outside and waited for the dawn to take him. Boiling alive is how Ausar had found him. He had healed then but it had been on Ausar's blood, straight from the vein…. not bottled bags. That wasn’t what was important.

 

[gabriele]…..how is he?[/gabriele]

 

Her disapproving frown etched over green eyes that he changed the topic.

 

[npc]….he will be fine. Big crack to the skull that sheered open a good hunk of flesh. Got him stitched up and on some morphine to kill the pain. Few hairline fractures, one long one in the collarbone will need to watch so doesn’t break it. Going to be sore as hell, bruises were coming out all over.[/npc]

 

Nod was faint as he showed no shame standing naked in front of her. Boiled skin dripped with puss as he glanced at her and shook his head.

 

[gabriele]….just do what you can.[/gabriele]

 

Clearing her throat she started the tedious process of peeling away any dead skin still left covering his form before gloved hands began to slather his body in thick white antibiotic cream. They argued as she wanted to let it breathe, he wanted it wrapped so he could cover it with clothes and get back to the Czech. She finally succumbed, wrapping him like a mummy before bringing him a pair of sweats to slide over the white gauze, only his bandaged feet and hands peeking out. Face covered in white cream he fell into the recliner by Bo's bed, pained flinch punctuated by a stuttering breath into his lungs.

 

Dark chocolate watched the Czech breathe in silence as Chelsea stood in the doorway, finally shaking her head and walking out to give them some privacy.

 

[gabriele]…………don’t leave me…..[/gabriele]

 

The soft whisper no longer referred to the Czech losing his life…. It meant so much more.

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It was warm, and quiet… the edge of dusk as the sun twinkled through trees that lead to the silent highway.  Dishes washed, turned over in the tiny strainer on the side of the sink.  Hair ruffled quietly from the breeze shifting through the screen, warm as well over the long grass around his haven.  Dishes dried and squeaked, put away, button up shirt rolled up to his elbows allowing him to dry his arms off and toss the towel over the rack next to the window.  He stood there a long time, breathing in the warmth of darkness rolling in for a few moments before he would have to shutter for the night, bits of long curls tickling across his forehead again.

 

Lanterns were turned off in almost all the rooms, one in his bedroom turned as low as it went.  Windows were closed and shutters clicked.  A spoon, a jar of peanut butter, and a whisper of a rocking chair on the tiny ranch porch were found.  The undernourished, yet incredibly strong Czech sat in his favorite chair, feet up on the railing as he watched the sun go down, drinking vodka from the bottle and a spoonful of peanut butter on his tongue every so often.

 

Darkness came too quickly, the scientist sequestering himself into his haven.  At first, it was a nightly danger, hiding from the things trying to kill the world.  Tapered.  Then eventually, nothing.  It had been… years?  Still, he couldn’t be too careful.  The one time he would try to feel the breeze in the middle of the night was the night something would try to eat his face.

 

Locking the door, he thought he’d left the lamp on.

 

Small cabin was dark.

 

Pitch.

 

Lighter was pulled from his back pocket, spoon and jar tucked in his elbow, vodka bottle in his other hand.  It flicked, then flicked again.  Finally, a wane light. 

 

Cutting through nothing.

 

Darkness pressed in from everywhere, a twinge of panic as the further he walked, the more empty the darkness felt.  Dropping the bottle and jar, it made no noise and fell into darkness.  The smell of smoke ticked at his temple, lighter becoming too hot to hold and flickering out to leave him in the heavy and disorienting darkness.  There was another presence...

 

"It has been a long few days and I am in no mood for games."

 

 

 

 

A terrible breath sucked into the deathly silent form, the heart monitor beginning to scream as its rhythmic blip suddenly burst into arrhythmic cacophony cutting through the calm of the room.  Muscles were rigid, then moved in rapid seizure.

 

[bodhan]I don’t know the answers your other questions.[/bodhan]

 

It barely left his lips, long exhale as muscles released and went completely lax.  Beeping halted, then slowly began again.  The darkness screamed at him, his voice in his head.  Silent fists beating on the shutters in the pitch of a cabin that no longer existed.  Lashes were fluttering violently… fighting unconsciousness, fighting hallucinations, his head felt like it was going to explode.  Muscles twitched across his cheek every few moments, lashes parting slightly for the first time.  Breaths were in paced heaves, eyes staring at the ceiling for a long moment, one pupil a pinpoint, the other other eerily engulfing the light jade before closing again.

 

It wasn’t real.  He was trapped.  Where…?  Darkness?

 

[bodhan]… duchové….není reálné... upíři nejsou skutečné...[/bodhan]

((..ghosts… not real… vampires are not real…))

 

Everything went silent again…

 

[bodhan]…siguiente vez ... una cama ... te prometo..[/bodhan]

 

Words were almost silent, no voice behind them, only air as it breathed out of a chest that was barely moving.  Lips remained parted slightly, a twitch across his cheek lifting the corner of his lips up briefly, then falling again to silence.  Trapped in a different darkness.

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She had more than once picked up the phone. Call Ausar? Call Jacob? Who the fuck should she be reporting this to?

 

He had fallen into an almost torporish state. No movement as she worked to slide the sweatshirt off and replace the dressing and re-lather his non-existent skin with cream. His hair had come off in her hands as his scalp sloughed off.

 

Now she sat in a chair more worried about the Executioner than the human he had brought in. The human would live…. the Spaniard…. Dammit!

 

Phone was snatched out of her pocket and slid open, hesitating only a moment before letting it ring. His voice instantly calmed her frayed nerves.

 

[gabriele]Chels… long time no hear…. All ok?[/gabriele]

 

She was both relieved and panicked to hear the thick accent. She glanced at the Spaniard and shook her head as though the Minister of North America could see her.

 

[npc]…actually Adrian… looking for some advice…. trying to figure out best way to treat a Sheut with heavy sun exposure.[/npc]

 

There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Shit. She didn’t want Gabriele in trouble but she damn well needed some advice.

 

[gabriele]Something I should know about…?[/gabriele]

 

Head shook again as she made sure her tone stayed light.

 

[npc]…nah…. just someone young and stupid.[/npc]

 

His chuckle filled the line. At least the sound had her feeling he wouldn’t make any assumptions about the Executioner.

 

[gabriele]… need to talk to Salvatierra on that one. Only one I know to get a super sunburn and survive. Lot of feeding… that I know… and keep somewhere dark. Story I heard is he was kept underground in the pitch and fed nonstop with Sheut blood. Though honestly... might just damn well be that Spaniard's constitution.. tough old bird.[/gabriele]

 

She forced a "light" chuckle to ensure the topic remained as non-serious as she could make it sound.

 

[npc]…well… human's going to have to do… I don’t exactly keep sheut on tap in volume. Thanks Adrian… will see what I can do.[/npc]

 

[gabriele]…good luck… and talk to Salvatierra for more details.[/gabriele]

 

She said her thanks and snapped the phone shut again. Keep feeding him. Great. He had wiped out her stock here already.

 

The room they were set up in was interior so she went ahead and snapped the lights off just in case the fluorescents would harm him further, the room darkening in ebony, bathed only in the soft blue hue of the lights on the IV monitor worn by the human like a child's nightlight. She then set about the next half hour making about twenty calls calling in every favor to get blood stock sent to her.

 

By the next day she had managed to tube several gallons down the Spaniard and continued to slather his skin in cream. He was looking worse not better but to the doctor's eyes this was a good thing, one of his layers of skin was beginning to heal over itself.

 

The kid should be awake soon and there in was a debate. She strongly doubted Gabriele wanted him to see the Spaniard this damaged. She knew who the Czech was and how important he was to the Executioner.

 

The IV drip was adjusted on the kid to continue to include a mild sedative, at best he would fade in and out without real awareness of his surroundings. Best they both slept a few days anyway.

 

What a mess these two had drawn her into.

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The Sheut was unaware of the days that passed by, nor the tear of his skin being unwrapped, slathered and wrapped again, nor the tube that was shoved down his throat several times a day to dump nutrition down his gut by the gallons. But Chelsea had been persistent, she wasn’t letting him slip away on her watch and the first signs of skin healing was a sign the Sheut was not likely to die on her.

 

It was two days after bringing the Czech in before the Spaniard showed signs of life. A relief for the doctor that had been watching over him.

 

Thick crusted lashes shifted for the first time with enough energy to show a shiver of life. Groan was the second sign as pain pushed through to conscious awareness.

 

[gabriele]..fuck…..[/gabriele]

 

The swear was barely audible as lips that had peeled several times fought being dry and cracked. Deep breath brought a wince as his gut warned him that he was stuffed unnaturally.

 

[npc]…well its about damn time.[/npc]

 

Lashes finally managed to separate and look through the dark room to the doc leaning against the open door with her arms folded over her chest.

 

[npc]..thought I was going to be digging you a grave you dumbass.[/npc]

 

Lips pushed to quirk upward as he shifted in the recliner and tried to sit up. Frown was instant as why he ws here suddenly flooded back, deep chocolate snapping to the bed about to get the Czech's name off his lips when she answered the unspoken question.

 

[npc]… he is fine. Banged up and will be sore but nothing some rest wont cure. Kept him asleep while you were out. Figured wouldn’t do him any good healing seeing you look like a scorched corpse. [/npc]

 

The "thanks" was croaked from the back of his sore throat, scratched by the tube going in and out for feeding. Damn what had she done to him.

 

A couple hours later and he was in much better shape. She helped him to the shower to peel off the wraps and rinse the sloughed skin off. The good news was his muscles were no longer showing through, though he was red like a lobster as the new skin that had grown over remained marred by intense healing. Bad news was he was apparently hairless. Fingers ran over the bald head as he looked in the mirror, the missing eyebrows a bit freaky. Yet he remembered this look. It wasn’t the first time he had been scorched. Truth be told, he was doing pretty good. Couple more days and his skin would no longer be sensitive at all and just look like well tanned Spanish flesh. Might even have the start of peach fuzz growing back in too.

 

Fresh sweats were waiting for him on the shower bench, the antibiotic cream there for him to rub in wherever the skin was still too raw. His neck, head and hands were the only places he really needed it anymore. By the time he got back to the Czechs room he felt a bit more "alive". Bare feet padded back to the chair only to quirk a brow. The flesh stained one had been swapped out for a new recliner from another room and a bottle of rum and a pitcher of water were sitting next to a glass on the side table beside it.

 

She was too good to him.

 

[npc]…figured you weren't planning to go anywhere. [/npc]

 

He looked up to find her in the doorway again. Smile this time managed to look like a smile and not a wince.

 

[gabriele]Thanks Chels…[/gabriele]

 

[npc]…yea yea yea…. he is in your care now. I got a life you know. Dropped his sedation while you were in the shower. Would expect he will be up in a few hours. Be sure to hydrate him and your own damn self. And I don’t mean only with that rum.[/npc]

 

A soft chuckle murmured in his chest as he nodded. Frown came as his memory kept coming back.

 

[gabriele]…hey Chels… the car needs…[/gabriele] [npc].. you think I didn’t recognize it as Jacob's ride. He loves you but you would be dead if he saw that interior. Its already been to Pete's. He detailed damn thing better than new and its parked out front again for you. Keys are on the sill behind his bed. [/npc]

 

Smile was relieved. She was too damn fucking good to him.

 

[npc]…by the way.. had to call him. He would have come poking around otherwise. Told him you and his ride were here because the kid was banged up and that you weren't likely to leave for a few days. When he sees your bald ass he will know I was not telling the whole truth but I leave that to you to sort out and make right.[/npc]

 

[gabriele]…thanks Chels… owe you… big time.[/gabriele]

 

[npc]…yah… you do…[/npc]

 

With that she headed out leaving him to his healing and oversight of the Czech.

 

He drug the recliner a bit closer, collapsing back into the leather now able to reach out and caress the forehead that seemed permanently etched with agitation. It might be short lived, he knew the Czech no longer wanted him, but for now, he stole a moment to feel the warmth under his raw fingers one last time, tips of his fingers brushing up into the ginger locks careful to avoid the stitches carefully wrapped at the back.

 

Eyes closed and he was quickly asleep, but fingers still clung to this "last moment" gently stroking the temple and ginger locks.

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Everything was so heavy, incredibly groggy and thick.  At some point, a woman’s voice.  It wasn’t Maree’s or Eris.  Someone he didn’t know.  It should have alarmed him, the questions… ones that would have been frantic if it weren’t for the assistance of a body full of strange drugs.  Was he somewhere? Had he been captured?  Kidnapped?

 

Dashed.

 

Shadows and light through blurry lashes, the beep of a monitor.  He was in a hospital.

 

Gabe’s voice, tangled with another’s. 

 

Had the plane crashed?  Jacob?

 

He heard Jacob’s name.  The movement of a chair, the feel of something in his hair.  Time was always warped in subtle consciousness, drifting somewhere between reality and sensory images of memories brought forth by extreme stress.  It may have been minutes.  Hours. Days.  Hearing was a slight static, crackling every so often, pressure on his skin. Memories intense heat, sound, sliding.  Sudden. Everything was so sudden.  Frustration.  Anger. Guilt.  God, the guilt.  Explosion, sound of glass against bone.  It took a moment, zeroing in, the pressure of trying to remember his last seconds of consciousness finally coming forth from oblivion.  He’d fucked up.  Jacob had probably tattled.  Gabe had gone after him. Now he was in a hospital, he shouldn’t be in a hospital… too dangerous now after the shit he’d pulled in New York.

 

Throat cleared slightly, dry and thick, lashes moving in a slow blink.  His head hurt.  Everything hurt, head rolling slightly to look across the shadows of the room and the figure in the chair.  Blurry. Dizzy.  Throbbing on the back of his skull. 

 

[bodhan]..Gabe..  backpack…[/bodhan]

 

Words were quiet, only breath.  In grogginess, nothing was ever logical.

 

[bodhan]…have something.. for you..[/bodhan]

 

His backpack had the notes he’d kept from the world, buried almost a decade because they were in his head.  Also… meager clothes, weapon, and a book.  The only one he’d retrieved.

 

Time was lost again, a long sigh in a tired state.

 

[bodhan]…I screwed up.[/bodhan]

 

Swallow thick, he tried to move, a groan erupting with more timbre than his voice could muster to that point.

 

[bodhan]I screwed up…[/bodhan]  he said again, content to be still until he could shake off the grog, pain starting to clear it up rather quickly.

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Sleep was heavy but still he woke often, too concerned about keeping an eye on the Czech. He dipped his fingers often in the water and gently rubbed over the younger man's dry lips in an effort to begin to hydrate him. Fingers kept gently gliding over the gnarled forehead and into the ginger curls, wanting so badly to lessen the agitation that seemed to haunt the younger man.

 

He had just about dozed off again when the throat cleared and the Spaniard sat bolt upright beside in, raw fingers stroking softly trying to ease the Czech out of his sedation.

 

[bodhan]…Gabe.. backpack..[/bodhan]

 

[gabriele]…shhh… I got it… don’t worry… its here..take it easy.. you have been out for several days.[/gabriele]

 

He was thankful for the dark. It would be a bit of time before the Czech could really see the Spaniard and his scorched self.

 

[bodhan]…have something.. for you..[/bodhan]

 

Head shook gently as the fingers lightly pulled through the bangs.

 

[gabriele]It can wait Bodhan….[/gabriele]

 

Name breathed so softly from his lips. It had been a long time since he had used it. It had been so long since they had been this close. There was a good chance when Bo was fully conscious, he wouldn’t let the Spaniard be this close anymore. He wanted to savor the moment for as long as was possible.

 

[bodhan]…I screwed up.[/bodhan]

 

Head shook, moisture sitting thick just on the edge of his lower lids. Forehead rested on the mattress beside the Czech's shoulder. He didn’t know where he had gone wrong with the younger man, but somewhere he had failed him.

 

[bodhan]…I screwed up.[/bodhan] [gabriele]…no…… I wasn’t there for you….[/gabriele]

 

Words were so soft as he laid a hand so gently on the shoulder to stop the Czech from moving.

 

[gabriele]… I got some water for you… hold on.[/gabriele]

 

Foot stepped on the peddle below the bed to engage the motor, head of the bed slowly angling up just a couple inches so that he could give him some water without the Czech drowning in it.

 

He poured just a little into the glass and moved to give it to the chapped lips, tipping the glass carefully to ensure he didn’t dump it over the Czech. He didn’t want to give too much either, he knew the stomach could be merciless when coming out of sedation. Setting the glass to the side he allowed himself to steal another touch, gently stroking back the ginger at the younger man's temple.

 

[gabriele]… have pain killers for you…. can give it now if you need it… the sedation is all wearing off…. IV is just fluids at this point…[/gabriele]

 

Voice was never more than a calm whisper. He knew Bodhan would want to know what was going on so he offered answers before the questions were asked.

 

[gabriele]… this is a private clinic… we are the only ones here. Doctor finally went home after you were stitched up.[/gabriele]

 

He didn’t want the Czech worrying about things he didn’t need to.

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His backpack had floated to the front of his mind, almost an obsessive point of interest.  It had to be protected because of what was in it, but the most important thing to him at the moment wasn’t a decade of research in old composition notebooks….

 

"…shhh… I got it… don’t worry… its here..take it easy.. you have been out for several days."

Days…

 

Days???

 

Head shook gently as the fingers lightly pulled through the bangs.

"It can wait Bodhan…."

[bodhan]No…  no..[/bodhan]

 

It couldn’t wait… everything though, fucking hurt.  The only thing that didn’t was the ruffle of hair on his forehead.  Calming, pushing the obsession back for a moment only to allow other worries to seep in.  Breath started to regulate, reality, the reality of what he’d done.  Nobody would ever forgive him.  Head lay back on the pillow with another sigh, a burning moisture from his lashes leaking down his temples to pool on the pillow beneath.

 

He’d screwed up… so badly.  Horrifically...

 

"…no…… I wasn’t there for you…."

He went to protest, the “no” never quite cracking through a dry throat, filled with emotion that was going to take forever to get over.  Sniffle was soft as he took another long breath when the Spaniard stopped him from trying to get up.

 

"… I got some water for you… hold on."

Wince was deep as the bed was raised, he was afraid to ask what else was wrong; flitting panic of danger mixing with pain and self-loathing.  They shouldn’t be here, they shouldn’t be trusting anyone.

 

[bodhan]Can’t stay… we shouldn’t be here…[/bodhan]

 

…but water, water was something he would stay for.  Hand came up to try and take the glass, groan again sharp. Was his arm broken?  No, maybe… something in his collarbone as well. He was caught in the explosion, it was the only explanation.  How had Gabe gotten there?  Jacob.

 

….water…..  withered throat swallowed eagerly.  It hit a dead stomach that hadn't eaten in days of unconsciousness, and not well before that...

 

"… have pain killers for you…. can give it now if you need it… the sedation is all wearing off…. IV is just fluids at this point…"

Eyes fluttered at the touch, playing with his hair was always calming.  Always had been… fond memory of the man giving him a haircut after being sprung from the wild woods.

 

"… this is a private clinic… we are the only ones here. Doctor finally went home after you were stitched up."

He was quiet for a while, eyes adjusting to the darkness.  Fingers worked up the gumption to reach up and wipe the moisture from his lashes.  He didn’t even know where to being to explain what he’d done.

 

[bodhan]…backpack, I have something for you in my backpack.[/bodhan]

 

Voice was stronger, but still ravaged by lack of use and dehydration.

 

[bodhan]..it’s the only thing that matters anymore.  Not my science, or my mind… or my work.[/bodhan]

 

Heel of his hand rubbed his eye sockets, throat constricted to the point where it was difficult to breathe, to keep from breaking into a full rash of sobs.

 

[bodhan]…never going to pick up a pencil again..[/bodhan]

 

Sniffle broke the shadows, the crash of guilt prickling from head to toe… sobs controlled for the sake of not completely losing his shit, but it hurt, ragged breath brought in.  He was trying to stave off a rush of self-loathing, it wasn't working.

 

[bodhan]..this… what happened in New York, this world… it’s all my fault.[/bodhan]  

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He was panicking. Fingers just kept seeking the locks, stroking gently into them, hoping to entice a calm. Bo needed rest.. he needed healing.

 

[bodhan]Cant stay.. we shouldn’t be here…[/bodhan]

 

[gabriele]It’s a safe house Bodhan….. the doctor is Sheut… we are safe here. You are safe here….[/gabriele]

 

Instead he gently tipped more water towards the younger man's lips… helping him to moisten the parch that several days on IV fluids would have left him with. Again with the backpack. Frown darkened over the chocolate eyes that could see in the near pitch. He needed to calm the frantic panic that was permeating from every pore of the Czech, but the two had so much distance between them lately he wasn’t sure if he could do that for the younger man.

 

[bodhan]..it’s the only thing that matters anymore. Not my science, or my mind… or my work.[/bodhan]

 

[gabriele]….you matter more than all those things.[/gabriele]

 

The scent of salted moisture did not escape the Spaniard. Thumb pressing firmly over and up on the temple as the fingers kept inside the cherry kissed curls. Always with the weight of the world on his shoulders… and the Spaniard unable to carry the weight for him.

 

[bodhan]…never going to pick up a pencil again....this… what happened in New York, this world… it’s all my fault.[/bodhan]

 

Lips parted but closed again…. the world was the Czechs doing and undoing. Seemed a bit much to take on mere human shoulders. It was time to bring this spiral to a halt.

 

Smile was soft as head shook, index finger wrapping a lock at the Czech's temple around it.

 

[gabriele]….you made the world in seven days too?[/gabriele]

 

The soft words were a tease, a nudge to remind the Czech none of them were that big in this world as to think they were the cause of its rise or demise. But the smile drifted off as fingers sifted through carrot-top curls. He knew the younger man enough to know a downward spiral when he saw it. He needed to put the brakes on even harder. But to do so…. he was about to break all sorts of Sheut covenants…. secrets only the nation was privy to. Free arm folded on the bed beside the Czech, chin resting on it as eyes slid slightly upward to watch the younger man in the dim light

 

[gabriele]…you know….. the viruses…… they predate all of us….. predate our wars….predate your science….[/gabriele]

 

Even if Bodhan was walking away from him… he would give the Czech the truths. Hand slid from the warm curls to run over his own head only halt abruptly hitting sensitive healing skin rather than unkept peppered locks. Folding his arm over the other instead he rested his chin once more as a finger lightly slid along the side of the IV entry on the Czech's hand.

 

[gabriele]….why do you think history is littered with "demons" since the beginning of time?..[/gabriele]

 

Soft words came with a gentle smile as he watched the fluids drip through the clear tube.

 

[gabriele]…. Lycanthropes…. Sheut….Morteximus…... werewolves…vampires….. the black plague…..the same….[/gabriele]

 

Brow furled a bit he had never been great with words. Brute force had been his thing.

 

[gabriele]….they all died out centuries ago….. naturally selected to be inferior to you….. but….[/gabriele]

 

Sitting back in his chair, hands slid from the bed to fall into his lap…scowling into them.

 

[gabriele]…. but truth was they had gone dormant…. waiting…. damn Nevus woke them up again… twisted them… strengthened them against what had killed them off in the first place.. at least…. we think so.[/gabriele]

 

It was a dangerous confession. If the manner that made them extinct the first time was discovered it was possible that the past could be repeated.

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"It’s a safe house Bodhan….. the doctor is Sheut… we are safe here. You are safe here…."

He didn’t know anymore.  Who was safe, what was safe??  Was there anyone to trust… good god he sounded paranoid.  He’d been paranoid for years, apparently now he knew there was definitely a reason he should have been.  Water… water water.  Eyes flickered upward in the darkness to the Sheut, lifting a hand with a grumble to tepidly take the glass into his own control. Could he even move?  He felt like he’d been asleep for years. He’d miscalculated the explosion.  When had he gotten so sloppy… hence the worry about his backpack.  It was one of the only things he’d bothered to save from his hideaway lab.

"….you made the world in seven days too?"

It stopped his rambling tirade of flipping through everything he’d ever done, trying to find clues to sinister intentions that he’d missed.  Blink was quiet, the words rang true but the heaviness remained in his chest.

"…you know….. the viruses…… they predate all of us….. predate our wars….predate your science…."

Mouth opened to say something… most sort of did, sort of… he listened to how the world worked, eyes on the darkness of the water in his hand.  He’d pretty much figured it had to be that way.

 

"…. but truth was they had gone dormant…. waiting…. damn Nevus woke them up again… twisted them… strengthened them against what had killed them off in the first place.. at least…. we think so."

Had the Nevus done it?  It made him even question what the world knew of these things prior to the world going to hell. Was it just a helpful coincidence?  He had no idea, and it made his brain hurt to try and think about it, telling his thoughts to shut the fuck up.

 

[bodhan]…my backpack,[/bodhan] he said again.  Thoughts were clearing, panic subsiding, the reality of what had happened over the last week settling back down around his shoulders.  Gabe was sharing all these things with him, things he probably shouldn’t be sharing, and he didn’t want to hear any of it, talk about any of it.

 

…it felt very empty. Without his science, his constant thought process, what was he?  He didn’t know anything else, wasn’t an artist like his sister.  The side of his hand rested on his thigh, water obliterated again, the hum of a touch on his IV giving him a long sigh.  He wasn’t good at anything else, no idea what to do now.  What could he do now?  It was obvious he was just a danger to himself and others.

 

[bodhan]There’s two things in it for you.  One needs to be locked up immediately, the other… is for you.[/bodhan]

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The soft tease had at least stopped the waterfall of self loathing the Czech had been spewing. It hurt the Spaniard to see him so torn up. He let him have the glass, his own tired arm falling limp at the side of the bed. Relief that the younger man was "ok" relaxed the Sheut just enough for his own body's devastating exhaustion to leak into every fiber. Bodhan waking up had been good for the Spaniard's heart, but not his body. He could have used another few days of recovery before becoming nursemaid.

 

Again with the backpack. The faint smile was defeated in the dark as bald head shook gently. He knew the Czech enough to know he would not let it go. Empty glass was lightly pulled from Bo's fingers, refilled and held out again. Happy the younger man at least was consuming his own liquids, there was still a half bag left on the IV but Chelsea hadn't mentioned changing the bag so he assumed she expected the Czech to be able to take over from there.

 

[bodhan] There’s two things in it for you. One needs to be locked up immediately, the other… is for you. [/bodhan]

 

Chest seized at the statement. Flood of emotions poured back, every pain from the last two months tightened his breath. He had been ready to make it forever, the Czech hadn't, and every moment since then had only put more space between them.

 

Goodbye gifts?

 

He had been half expecting them for a while now. Finding Maree meant Bodhan had his family. He didn’t need a substitute anymore. The Spaniard would become no more than a shadow, protecting them and the generations that came after them.

 

Strong hands felt weak as they pushed up from the chair, careful to stay out of the light of the whirring monitor beside the Czech as he could feel the gray sweats were stuck to him in places where the skin was still healing. No need to cause worry.

 

[gabriele]….only if it makes you relax and rest.[/gabriele]

 

Soft words warmed the space between them as he moved across the room. Backpack was slid from the counter opposite the bed, walked over and set gingerly at the hip of the Czech as he carefully set himself back into the chair.

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He could feel the apprehension.  He’d felt it for some time.  The Czech hadn’t been particularly forthcoming with anything lately.  Hightailing it across the country, jumping on a plane at a moment’s notice at the mere whisper of a phone call.  In truth, he was floundering...lost... jealous.  Jealous of the relationships Gabe seemed to have with everyone around him.  Connections.  Friends.  He had none.  Jealous the most, of Jacob.  He didn’t know why.  There seemed to be a bond there that he felt like he’d never come close to cracking.  He wasn’t sure exactly what the bouncer did, but he knew he wasn’t human.  Is that why he was trusted on his own?

 

No.

 

Jacob could kick someone’s ass at the drop of a hat.

 

He needed to learn.  He could throw a punch, shoot a gun, had enough ginger anger to bring down a mountain- but he was only human.

 

Hand patted absently on the top of his head, glasses.  He didn’t know where they were.  In his bag?  If they were in his bag they were probably toast.  Blurred lashes watched the Spaniard come closer with his bag, and he searched the pockets… gently… for glasses that he couldn’t find.  Even gripping the zipper was difficult- finding it easier to turn the bag on his lap than to lift his arm to unzip things.  The first, the dirty box.

 

[bodhan]This is research I took from Medi*Corps.  It might… help.  It’s all I have left.  The rest is in my head.[/bodhan]

 

In truth, he really didn’t want it in his head either, the flicker across his brow saying just that  Sigh pushed it down, hand reaching into the bag to pull out his book.

 

[bodhan]I burned my place. Nothing left. No past. No nothing.  I don’t want to do this anymore.  All I’ve done is just, make the world worse.  I just want to be... just be...[/bodhan]

 

He held out the book to the figure that was just out of his sight in the shadows, blurred further by the darkness and lack of glasses.  Had he lost them at the hospital?  He’d lost them at the hospital….

 

[bodhan]So… this is all I kept. I wanted you to have it… parents gave it to me after I learned Spanish.[/bodhan]

 

He was quiet a moment.

 

[bodhan]Don’t have a ring anymore, so this will have to do…?  …at least until I make some money working your books so I can get something.[/bodhan]

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Distance. Forever there was the distance.

A shadow. Soon that was all he would be to the Marin clan. A myth that protected them through the ages.

Maybe it was better that way.

He didn’t miss the pat of the head. Bo was forever seeking his glasses, the habit drawing a faint smile to the Spaniards still burned lips as he brought the bag for the Czech to rummage in.

Medi*Corps?

Frown was instant. The name was not unfamiliar to the Sheut. If there wasn’t strong evidence the corporation no longer existed he might have thought they had something to do with the experiments he was forever finding and destroying. The Nation and all its advisors dismissed the old venom.

But what if they were wrong?

If they were, he really didn’t like that the research was in Bodhan's head. He had always known the Czech was a target, but this made him a BIG target. The Shadow would need to keep close even if the younger man didn’t want him anymore. The flicker that crossed Bodhan's brow seemed to betray that he too wished the research was not in his head.

I will keep it safe.

Quiet words slid between them as he reached for the box, pulling it into his lap.

I burned my place. Nothing left. No past. No nothing.  I don’t want to do this anymore.  All I’ve done is just, make the world worse.  I just want to be... just be...

…..just be you.

Words barely whispered. Hand was tentative as it reached for him, wanting to comfort….to alleviate the worry…to do something. But he held back. Scared to be brushed aside yet again.

Instead a book was offered in the dark to him.

A book?

So… this is all I kept. I wanted you to have it… parents gave it to me after I learned Spanish.

Blink was pronounced as he looked down to the dusty "gift" in his hands.

Don’t have a ring anymore, so this will have to do…?  …at least until I make some money working your books so I can get something.

Nod was faint…. that made sense….Wait?.....What?!?

Lips parted only to shut once more. The Spaniard was now VERY confused. Fingers rubbed on the book, self conscious of anything he might assume or say in the midst of the dim flicker of machinery light.

Lower lip was gnawed before he finally took a breath to push courage forward.

I might…… I might need some clarity on that last point.

The soft whisper was naked, vulnerable.

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His head was THROBBING, blurry eyes blinking down at the IV that was embedded under his skin.  It all seemed so logical when he’d done it; the disastrous mess was slowly unravelling into a threadbare sequence of stupidity. He had to own it, he wanted to own it.  He was by no means a coward, the Czech spitfire opening his mouth to serrate an ego more times than he could count… it also seemed, a little selfish. HE wanted to erase his past.  HE wanted to set things right to make HIM feel better.  And here he was.  Was he better?

 

Maybe.

 

Eyes blinked at the shadow holding the book.  Something was wrong.  What the fuck had he done now?

 

I might…… I might need some clarity on that last point.

 

“Huh?”

 

It sprouted from his lips.

 

 “Accounting?  You don’t want me on your books anymore?   I mean… I know Jacob and I don’t really get along but I can at least sit in an office and do them instead…  I mean, I don’t know… my set of job skills is not exactly the safest most employable market at this point in time considering…”

 

The huff was defeated, eyes again staring down at his hands.

 

“Just no way to make any money and I’m not asking you to pay for your own damn ring… because that’s, rude.”

 

Free fingers scritched through the mess of curls, a wince bringing his arm back down again.  He hurt, the groan exasperated.  Sedatives always had the opposite effect, they made him antsy and irritated when he was awake.

 

“What did I do Gabe… I fucked everything up didn’t I…Jacob told you what happened didn’t he?”

 

Sigh long, lashes lowered slightly, the soft beep of the monitor and darkness lulling to sleep, voice a little embarrassed, and a little defeated...

 

“Never mind… it’s just a book, I’ll get you something better when I get the money.”

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I might…… I might need some clarity on that last point.

 

“Huh?  Accounting?  You don’t want me on your books anymore? ….."

 

No…   not what I ….. meant….  

 

Whisper tried to interrupt but he was still a bit stunned with what the previous words might imply. He needed….clarity. Assumptions were dangerous. He half heard the rest. Job skills. Bo was worried about job skills??

 

“Just no way to make any money and I’m not asking you to pay for your own damn ring… because that’s, rude.”

 

Breath and heart stopped as he blinked trying to digest the statement again. It still was…. unclear. They had lived the last seven months in ambiguity and it was killing the Spaniard, almost as much as the void between them that had only grown over time. Other than the heroic rescue the Spaniard had performed to drag the Czech back here for medical, he couldn’t even remember the last time they had actually touched eachother.  Scotland was supposed to change that, only the big "event" never happened and they never spoke of it again. The Czech consumed by his sister, his real family.

 

Fingers lifted to rub on his wrinkled forehead, the left hand still cradling the book as brow flinched, his skin was still too raw to be rubbing absently on. Hand dropped to cup over the book once more. He could let it go. But if he did…… they lived again in the void of ambiguity.

 

He needed to ask. He needed clarity. But as lips parted the Czech huffed in exasperation and spoke first.

 

“What did I do Gabe… I fucked everything up didn’t I…Jacob told you what happened didn’t he?”

 

Head shook at the idea that it was the Czech that had fucked everything up. He was fairly certain that was more on his own shoulders.  Nod followed acknowledging Jacob told him, leaning back a bit in the chair, further into the shadows as he felt the itch over his skin that warned he was healing but likely still looked like a sunburned hairless cat.

 

Ya….was quite the explosion.

 

Words were quiet.

 

“Never mind… it’s just a book, I’ll get you something better when I get the money.”

 

"what's mine is yours…" the words were on the tip of his tongue. Problem was, it wasn’t really yet and he still wasn’t sure the Czech wanted it to be. Silence lingered, he could sense the slowing rate of the younger man's breathing, his heart slowing with the tug of sleep.  He should let him sleep.

 

But then they continued to let the void engulf them. Swallow was thick as he leaned forward, elbows resting lightly on the sweats he had managed to get over sloughing flesh. Tongue licked over his lips as he fought to find the first words. If he didn’t speak they went on wandering in the unfathomable dark.  If he did speak….. he ran the risk of immediately knowing he was being discarded. 

 

No more darkness.

 

Bodhan….I…. love the book but…….but I need clarity about…..

 

Swallow felt like lead in his throat. Clearing his throat as he tried not to stutter over his words. The normally larger than life form seemed small hunched in the shadows.

 

…um… clarity about your… um…. ring comment.

 

Hand lifted to rub over the bald head, the breath drawn deep but faltering.  Fuckin' grow some balls Gabriele!

 

…..ever since Scotland….. when we didn’t……y'know……get married…. and then…. well…. you haven't wanted to talk about it again.

 

Throat cleared again, realizing he was about to get to the point of no return. He could say "nevermind… get some sleep" now and likely the awkward moment would be over but the void……….

 

At first…. figured you just…. needed time…. but….as months went by and it didn’t come up….and you didn’t want to talk about……anything…… I assumed……

 

He was that lost boy all over again…. voice growing ever softer. Finish…… finish it.

 

…..I assumed we were done……..

 

He couldn’t hide the soft hitch in his tone. He had stopped breathing….completely.

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