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MATURE RPG


May, 2010... Fantasy became reality. Worlds overlay for the briefest moment. Outworlders became stranded on earth as more than half the human populace vanished. Our World, our universe, was transformed.

Fiction is now reality. Humans and those now bound to this world will either learn to coexist, or battle for supremecy.

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Hammer’s Firearms

Early Afternoon

January 22, 2022

 

 

Brows rose, the easy way the Cajun was able to give expression without looking like he was always either too cool to care or amused with his own personal sarcasm quaint. The television. What was he watching??

 

“Goodness,” he mumbled to himself as long strokes polished the newly replaced curved glass on the antique gun case in the store proper.

 

The place was tiny, the storefront tiny. The firearms were not. Antiques, powerful to the core. New, so smooth a wasp’s wings would make the trigger move. Oiled, shiny as a new penny, accurate, and dependable to a fault. Shot ‘em all, adjusted them all himself. It was the only way he’d have it.

 

The roar from the crowd on the television brought a pause, eyebrows now furling at the sight of two idiots battling it out with powers blazing. What the holy hell was this? Bell dinged on the television at the same moment the ping on the door sounded. He nodded in greeting to the man, always making it a habit to greet but never hover, going back to watching whatever the crazy was on television that he’d subjected his intelligence to. Nothing smart he reckoned.

 

Altered, magus and creature alike beating each other to smithereens on public television.

 

The hell??

 

Well, some dicks needed more fluffin' than others.

 

He finished the case, folding the soft towel before placing it underneath the case, attention still caught on the television that was mounted on the wall in the far corner. The trip south hadn’t taken him that long, seems he missed a bit of new rowdy while he was dodging gators and zombies. The world turned faster and faster. Too fast.

 

“I have money on that guy” the customer commented quietly as he looked in the case through the newly cleaned glass.

 

“Mhm,” the toothpick switched sides smoothly, sleeves of the immaculate button down rolled up as he sat at his work table to keep picking away at the Turbiaux fished out of the mud in NOLA. “Hope it works out for ya. Iffin' not we got payment plans.”

 

The surly smile was particularly to himself, casting a warm glance to catch the guy's eyes glued to the television. Lost him. There goes that sale. Maybe.

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Continued from Fat Cat

Her plans to spend the entire late day and entire evening playing jazz at Fat Cat had been cut short by squeals that had ripped through her eardrums with enough abrasion to nearly lose her seat on the stool. How the hell could girls make that fucking noise? It was like steel nails on a chalkboard.

 

Their excited babbling, bouncing up and down far too close to her and high pitched voices had told the cringing guard dog that they couldn’t possibly have been old enough to know who she was, they would have been practically in diapers when she last played before the scar in the sky. Yet it seemed after opening night had exposed her, kids had been kids, curious to find out why part of the crowd had made such a fuss about the electric performer that had brought an entire stadium to their feet. Apparently she filled some wet dream of a celebrity in their eyes.

 

She was not amused.

 

Lawrence had sicced the bouncers on them but not before the entire crowd was murmuring trying to figure out what was going on.

 

Dee…

 

Her head had shook as she heard the apologetic tone in his voice. This had been her hole in the wall haven from the outside world. Seemed the outside world had barged in. It wasn’t his fault. Guitar had been slid back in its case only three Absolut Black Russians into the night. Enough to bathe her warm breath in its aroma but barely enough to take the edge off for someone who could put away what she could.

 

Fuck. Not the night she had planned.

 

Coming out the back door into the alley, she flipped the mahogany tail through the elastic halfway one more time to tighten the mussed halo behind her shoulders as she pulled the guitar strap over her head just in time for senses to erupt in warning. Spin was predatory to face the pound of feet approaching a split second before her long forgotten name was blurted out in passionate fangirl fashion.

 

Ah shit….

 

Long legs outpaced the three but not by much. What did put distance between them was her ability to "see" far beyond the next corner and fighting prowess that let her pivot on a dime.  Seven blocks of locked up businesses later and they were still pursuing. Fuck they were persistent.

 

The next left took her somewhere familiar, scowl puckering her brow as senses pushed down the street to find that door was unlocked… two forms inside.

 

Of course he was back NOW…. wasn’t that just fucking peachy.

 

She could keep running past. It would be about four more blocks before anything would be open or she could snatch a ladder on a fire escape of a residential. If her case was not bruising her shoulder and lower back with a vengeance, instrument inside in danger of becoming damaged, she would keep going.

 

Growl of annoyance reverberated in her chest as she snatched the door and flung it open and closed so fast the soft ring to notify it had breached nearly missed. She hoped he recognized her before taking a shot at her. Two strides took her to the counter, left hand planting on its corner as long limbs cleared it easily, right hand in poetic in-flight motion pulling the strap of the guitar off her head a fraction of a moment before dropping behind to the floor in near silence.

 

Lying on her back she could hear a forgotten name being called down the street.

 

MASON!!

 

Expression behind the dark shades cringed at the chant as his door was pulled open again, the teens rushing in and looking around like hatchlings seeking their first sip of water.

 

He was behind the counter….. close enough to smell, ghost of the fragrance that was so much more potent the night there had been heat and water and conversation about……

 

Nostrils huffed sharply to clear the memory. He had left….the theme of her life simply repeated. No one could be trusted….cared for. She had been alone forever… she could continue to be alone forever. In her "family" it was too dangerous to care anyway.

 

He was a business associate… nothing more.

 

Still….cold stone… snow brushing her cheek… liquor at the feet of angels…a voice that lit her "sight"…

 

Growl lit softly in her chest under the clutched case as the memory came back in chaotic strobe lights. She remained flat on her back despite the crawl over her skin that encouraged her to get the hell out of there. The out of breath fangirls were pleading with Josef if he had seen Mason, the man in the shop had turned around in time to see the girls but not her Dukes of Hazzards leap over the counter and could only shrug at the question. Her breath held as she awaited Josef's answer. She knew it was a 50/50 shot he would keep her hidden… which meant it was also even odds he would just point down and give her away.

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Eyes were watching one of the small screens from the security system in the paths leading to the shop. Toothpick moved again slightly as he realized who he was looking at and what was slung on her back. When he picked up on the shadows behind her, his first instinct was to arm up.

 

...but she never needed his help, and she wasn't being defensive. She was running... from?

 

A Grinch-like smile was already curt on his lips as the door opened and the flurry of motion took refuge behind his counter. He simply stood there, continuing to polish a pistol grip and barely glancing up at the customer who'd turned to see what he'd thought he'd heard.

 

Nothing to see folks.

 

MASON!!

 

He set the grip on the counter a moment and took the toothpick from his teeth, taking a drink of bourbon from an ever present glass. Smirk was still imprinted on his features as the toothpick returned to its perch and he continued polishing.

 

"Can I help you wiv somethin' ladies?"

 

His one and only customer had also cast attention on the girls, quickly going back to the display of basic handguns on his larger display case for the more mundane folk.

 

He couldn't understand what the hell they were saying. Northerners... he was half tempted to record it and play it back in slow motion.

 

"You mean the rock star?"

 

Brow had cocked and forehead furled as he worked on a particularly difficult smudge.

 

"Ya I seen her," he started.

 

They seemed to almost vibrate with excitement, hanging on what he said next.

 

"On television right?"

 

They let out a breath like they'd been punched in the stomach.

 

"I think she hangs out at that cafe about a block further down. Doesn't get there as much as she should though."

 

Their skitter of feet and the ding of his door ringer as they rushed out were a flurry and the room was silent again. Eyes went with his last customer's to the television toward the end of the match.

 

Damn. I'll be back on payday.

 

"Thanks for coming ya'll," it was warm, but passive.

 

Another ding and they were alone. He put down the pistol grip and turned, leaning back on the counter and crossing his ankles and arms. He really, really wanted to flick his toothpick at her.

 

"They dun gone rock star. You want a pillow, gonna have to charge you rent. Your monstrosity just cost me a sale. Get up ya git."

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At least he hadn't shot her as she entered. 

 

Case barely lifted on her chest as air didn’t strain to fill her lungs. She was constantly in combat training, a couple mile run wasn’t going to wind her.

 

"Can I help you wiv somethin' ladies?"

 

It rang in her ears… that damn accent that struck melodic chords that sent shivers down under her eardrum. He was playing coy. Fuck this could go either way.

 

"You mean the rock star? Ya I seen her."

 

And there it was…. dick like all the rest. Brow furled, abs tightening to sit up. She would end up decking the little shits if they dared to touch her. Gaspari'd give her a lecture about how to treat her public and she would go back into hiding indefinitely…. music only played for her ferret anymore. She had told Angelo that damn concert was a bad idea….. even if it had felt good to let go again at that extreme a level.

 

"On television right?"

 

Abs froze half pulling her shoulders off the ground. Nostrils huffed ever so softly. He was enjoying this too much.

 

"I think she hangs out at that cafe about a block further down. Doesn't get there as much as she should though."

 

Nose crinkled… what café? Ears twitched as the ding betrayed the fangirls fleeing down the street to see where they had lost her. Lips pursed as air pushed between them in relief. He was dismissing the other guy too it seemed. Didn’t need to do that. She was not staying.

 

Sitting up as the door announced they were alone, she glanced up at him as he leaned against the counter.

 

"They dun gone rock star. You want a pillow, gonna have to charge you rent. Your monstrosity just cost me a sale. Get up ya git."

 

Please…. a two bit handgun sale? bring ya more than ten times that on any given weekend.

 

Pushing off the ground the guitar found its nestling spot once more on her back as her own arms folded over her chest, "looking" at him through the dark shades.

 

Besides…wasn’t exactly my first choice to barge in…. you happened to be the only one open….

 

Silence lingered a moment as the breath exhaled the dark Russian liquor stain down her throat….

 

…… and don’t call me that.

 

Soft words vibrated with a hint of snarl. She wasn't referring to "git" either, the other was far worse to her. Hand brushed off her left shoulder as though there might have been debris on his floor while she made her way back around the counter. The pause was pregnant before the chin moved slightly towards her shoulder so the man behind could hear the words.

 

Welcome back…?

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He was honestly tempted to put his foot on her shoulder to hold her down when she thought she'd been ratted out. Faith much? Jeeeesshhh. He caught the crinkle of her features from the corner of his eye. He really wanted to torture her some more, but he didn't feel like dying today, at the very least getting maimed. They all left, and he was giving her the crinkled brow of feigned annoyance.

 

Please…. a two bit handgun sale? bring ya more than ten times that on any given weekend.

 

"Big B can't have all the bangs," he smirked and swept up the bourbon for another drink.

 

Besides…wasn’t exactly my first choice to barge in…. you happened to be the only one open….

 

He swallowed and polished off the glass.

 

"Well fuck you too then," he chuckled, glass clinking on the counter as he went back to the pistol grip.

 

…… and don’t call me that.

 

"You gonna run around in the rain and be pissed cus someone calls you wet? Don't be silly," he poured himself another drink, eyes on the television. "If you didn't like it, you wouldn't do it. If it bothers you, don't do it. I have a hard time believing you do things you don't want to."

 

The copper detail he was polishing was starting to become a warm orange-gold.

 

Welcome back…?

 

"Yah... got a couple friends here. Girl I'm sweet on, figured I couldn't be out in the wild hunting for stuff forever."

 

Toothpick was flicked into the trash. They were mint, he loved them, one of the treasures he'd brought back with him. Only a couple plastic containers, but they'd be nice while they lasted. He glanced up at the wrap up on the television.

 

"Big B been busy while I was gone... what the hell is this? This merde why ya haven't stopped by? Busy now?""

 

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"Big B can't have all the bangs," 

 

Nostrils huffed softly as left side of her lips quirked faintly upward, she could hear the smirk in his words. Bastard was enjoying himself.

 

Besides…wasn’t exactly my first choice to barge in…. you happened to be the only one open….

 

"Well fuck you too then," 

 

Snort was a bit louder now, hint of mirth in the sound. He was in a good mood. Where the hell had he been and what the hell had he been doing? His scold was met with a faint scowl behind the dark shades. She knew what he meant but still….

 

"….If you didn't like it, you wouldn't do it. If it bothers you, don't do it. I have a hard time believing you do things you don't want to."

 

I do what I do because I want to…. being some kids wet dream wasn’t part of that want.

 

It was a raw statement. It had always been that way. The orgasmic rush of pumping through cords faded like a puppy struck by a mac truck when she got off the stage and the audience she never "saw" came crushing in around her. Final snort seemed to flick the last taint of the fangirls from her aura as she listened to him polish.

 

 Welcome back…?

 

"Yah... got a couple friends here. Girl I'm sweet on, figured I couldn't be out in the wild hunting for stuff forever."

 

Brow drifted imperceptibly upward then down once more. Why should she be surprised he had a "girl"… probably more than one. It itched at something faintly aggressive that she couldn’t put her finger on.

 

"Big B been busy while I was gone... what the hell is this? This merde why ya haven't stopped by? Busy now?"

 

Chin tilted slightly at the television, listening a moment to the heated battle he was referring to. Words murmured over her lips still tainted with Black Russian.

 

You're the one that vanished without so much as a word. Came by twice tryin' to fill an order. Haven't come by cuz didn’t know you were back.

 

It sounded like she had come by only the twice… truth was.. she had checked far more often than she could count, her feet leading her down the street forcing her mind to frequently come up with some excuse why she was coming that way. She wasn’t likely to ever admit it, but for all their business banter…. she had missed that melodic lilt, missed the smell of earth…… missed…him. She "watched" the screen a moment, listening to the audio with an ear that dissected truths with an unnerving ease. They were both exerting themselves far too hard. It would be dumb luck who won as they were both burning out, every grunt and breath told her as much. 

 

Ya….. quite the crowd attractor it seems. Keeps the "my balls are bigger than your balls" off the streets I guess.  

 

The faint shrug betrayed it wasn’t her thing, even if a few joked she should be one of the fighters. She had a reputation in the family for being brutal, even when sparring she didn’t hold back. Dark shades glanced back at him.

 

Bringin' in a ton of revenue for the city….. lotta jobs…

 

To date it was the single biggest boost to the east coast economy since the scar tore everyone's world apart.  Didn’t necessarily make it a "wholesome" event, but it was hard to argue with the shot in the arm it had given the city. Bakkhos paid well. Left thumb hitched the strap of the case gently to adjust its angle off the bruise its bouncing had left behind on her back hip.

 

Stickin' for a while?

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I do what I do because I want to…. being some kids wet dream wasn’t part of that want.

 

“It’s a part of what you get cher,” he picked up a little plastic case from the glass counter and snagged another toothpick. At this rate they were going to be gone in a week, ah well. “I love my guns. The jackass weekend yahoos unfortunately come along with it. I either deal, or I don’t.”

 

He let the silence linger, watching the television and trying to figure out what in the dickens the whole thing was about. Football, baseball… he got that jargon. The beating the hell out of each other sports, never could get the attraction.

 

 Welcome back…?

 

He nodded slightly, conceding for the time being, watching her listen to the television. Now that he knew… it was easy to see. It was definitely somethin’ to witness. Toothpick switched sides.

 

You're the one that vanished without so much as a word. Came by twice tryin' to fill an order. Haven't come by cuz didn’t know you were back.

 

“That’s always been the deal,” it was under his breath absently. It always had been. Things got hot, he split. It wasn’t that he wanted to leave, maybe he did sometimes. He was above all else, a fugitive. Too much was rumbling under the radar. The Order was damn out their minds and he didn’t want to be under their boot again. There was also that insatiable wanderlust, sometimes he just be needing to be on his own. “Ya wanna fill orders, gotta keep the heat off. Suppose I could make slush stock in case I gotta jet. That cost ya though.”

 

Stickin' for a while?

 

“For now,” he placed the gun on the counter with a quiet clink and refolded the polish cloth. “Like I said, got a gal. Might stick for a bit n’see where that goes.”

 

Soft blink clicked off the open sign in the front door, small clicks signaling he’d tripped the lock system to shut down for the night. Just in case the rabid fans came back, not that he was going to tell her the place was closed, he could be a little shit when he wanted to be.

 

He picked up the bottle and his glass, grabbing another and coming out from behind the counter to place them on his work table where another antique firearm had its guts spilled out in perfect order. Set of dueling pistols this time, another find on his trip. Covered in mud. The more he went back, the less there was of his city.

 

Without a word he topped his off and poured a drink for her at “her” chair. It seemed to have become her spot.

 

He sat, changing direction and picking up one of the pistols to fiddle with. He was always focused on something, kept the static out of his head when he focused on things other than let the ambient “noise” sink in.

 

“Tell me about this place, need anything special for the security?”

 

He honestly didn’t care much what they did with the things he made, but it would help try and figure out what he could make… or experiment with if needed.

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"It’s a part of what you get cher.."

 

Chest rose and fell with the barest sigh. He wasn’t saying anything she didn’t know. She loved the electricity of a crowd that orgasmically thrummed with the heat of excitement at the vibration of a finger-fucked guitar. It resonated off her skin with an intensity that drove her to her own frantic exhaustion. But everything else that came with that exhilaration, the oppressive fans, the lost anonymity.. these things she loathed. It was why she had let the persona die after the fall. Damn Gaspari for pulling it once more from the shadows.

 

Silence lingered with an odd comfort, how easily it came again between them. The fib on how often she had checked his place rolled from her tongue as she "watched" the fight, it was progressing as expected, both were too aggressive and it would come down to luck as both began to tire.

 

“Ya wanna fill orders, gotta keep the heat off. Suppose I could make slush stock in case I gotta jet. That cost ya though.”

 

Shades slid to glance over her shoulder at him, brow lifting slightly over the dark rim.

 

When has cost ever been a deterrent for a request I have made.

 

On business she spent Bakkhos money not her own, and those pockets ran far deeper than her own. He was well aware of that.

 

Stickin' for a while?

 

“For now., Like I said, got a gal. Might stick for a bit n’see where that goes.”

 

That hostile shudder ran up her spine once more.  It was a unique sensation that left a confused pit in her gut. What the hell should she care if he had a "gal"…. right? Ears itched at the clicks behind her, the barely audible noises unmistakably betraying the sealing of several locks as she glanced towards the door before moving to him with a quirked brow once more.

 

Liquor tantalized her nostrils as he came from behind the counter, liquor and wet earth. Not the delectable scent of him but more of molding swamp. Something on the table had been dug up from somewhere rancidly wet.

 

Two glasses were poured.

 

Shades moved to the door a last time. Share a drink… or brave the schizoids that might still be lingering nearby. It wasn’t really much of a decision. Strap slid from her shoulder as she pulled it over her head and gently set the case propped against the counter. There were only a few things she treated as "prized", her guitars made up most those things.

 

As his weight shifted downward she took a step that struck the ground with the barest increase of force, vibrations reverberating back to her confirming the table and chairs were where she suspected. Long fingers brushed forward a hair earlier than most would to grab the back of the chair, ensuring she didn’t miss its location. The skill with which she navigated the world kept her secret safe in nearly all company… nearly.

 

Chair slid around to face away from the table as a long leg straddled the back, weight sinking silently into its seat. Nostrils flared to pinpoint the glass, hand sweeping from the right to cup the side as she lifted it.

 

“Tell me about this place, need anything special for the security?”

 

Shoulders almost imperceptibly shrugged as the rim came to her lips, pausing…

 

…Fort Knox for all the VIP viewing areas… rest built to survive a bomb blast.. biggest issue for security is the high number of high level altered that gather at the events.

 

Lips parted.. the Absolut Black Russians she had been pounding at the Fat Cat heavily tainting her warm breath before it became blended with the liquid that thickly moved in her offered glass. Left arm bent to rest across the back of the chair as the right gently dangled the glass from her fingertips.

 

… crowd drinks… gets riled up watchin' the fight… gets rowdy.. leavin' security on a knifes edge to keep them in line without startin' something unnecessary themselves.

 

Glass lifted again, nursing anything stronger than coffee just wasn’t her style as she took another full drain on the glass, listening to his hands work. Metal… there was metal with the scent of rank mud. Chin lifted slightly in the direction of what he was working on.

 

Something from around your angels?...

 

Below the offensive rank was the same earthen scent that seemed to define him and where he was from.

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Brow quirked at the predicted sigh. She was always sullen about something or another. So much passion for life, so much annoyance about having it. Needed to loosen up. 

 

"When has cost ever been a deterrent for a request I have made."

 

His expresion mirrored hers.

 

"Wouldn't be an honest businessman iffin I didn't be forthright," he answered.

 

Smirk was deep, the chuckle as warm as was making the metal he polished.

 

"Sneaky is how people people get themselves perished."

 

The room's energy changed as he spoke about his plans to stay and maybe spend some time with someone, unconscious flick of his wrist to shift the corded trinkets that would tangle every so often. He'd put a drop in that ocean and it'd come up ripples. He took note of it.

 

"She's havin' some troubles, thought I'd at least try to make her smile before I decide whether or not to finally drop anchor. Not much left home anymore, so maybe build this up a bit. Get a permanent place."

 

Finishing up the polish, he switched gears, slight smile when she decided to follow the booze and park herself. He talked business. She always seemed comfortable with business.

 

"…Fort Knox for all the VIP viewing areas… rest built to survive a bomb blast.. biggest issue for security is the high number of high level altered that gather at the events."

 

His tinkering with the dueling pistols was intricate, unsure if he could save them. They were an absolute treasure find, and most likely the last.

 

"… crowd drinks… gets riled up watchin' the fight… gets rowdy.. leavin' security on a knifes edge to keep them in line without startin' something unnecessary themselves."

 

"Sounds like a party," he said, tone flat. Never understood it. The aggression part of it anyway. It was part of why he bailed on the Order. Everybody always wanted to fucking fight.

 

"Something from around your angels?..."

 

He was quiet; the Cajun always with an undercurrent of melancholy but rolled with the charm and turned it always to a boon. This though, was different.

 

"Oui."

 

Eyes moved to the television, then back to the pistol he was trying to disassemble.

 

"Place been underwater for ten years. Hard to get to, slowly disappearing every time I go back like a hurricane battered pier. Knew when the freeze came I'd have a chance to git places I hadn't before."

 

He wasn't just talking about his precious city, he was talking about his home. His family home.

 

"Hard to orient myself, trees gone, stone foundation underwater. Was able to find these close enough to the surface to dig out."

 

His abilities did make for useful hunting. They were also torturous, knowing something was under your feet and having no way to get to it as the earth reclaimed and swallowed it whole.

 

"These were mine. Well, my family's anyway."

 

He took a drink, charms twinkling on the glass.

 

"Spent so long not wanting any of it, now can't seem to stop looking for what I left behind."

 

He finished the glass, pouring another.

 

"It's all gone now. No more trips gonna bring anything back."

 

He kept tinkering, the easy silence comfortable.

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"Wouldn't be an honest businessman iffin I didn't be forthright, That's how people get themselves perished."

 

Ya well… not really here on business at the moment anyway…..

 

A faint smirk was welcomed with a deep warm chuckle. That damn sound just washed over her ears, haunted by that melodic accent of his. Fuck she could listen to that forever. The corner of her lips pulled further upward at the thought only to fall a bit as he lingered on the "girl", that bristle up her spine again annoying her for a reason that eluded her.  

 

"She's havin' some troubles, thought I'd at least try to make her smile before I decide whether or not to finally drop anchor. Not much left home anymore, so maybe build this up a bit. Get a permanent place."

 

The conversation turned to business and her shoulders relaxed into the chair, leaning forward on the back as she drank from her now half empty glass. The sound of his hands polishing the metal soothed with their rhythmic patterns while she spoke of the stadium security and their issues.

 

"Sounds like a party."

 

She didn’t miss the flat tone. The games were not everyone's cup of tea but it was hard to dismiss the revenue they brought to the east coast.

 

To some…

 

Liquor drained too quickly from her glass as she asked if the metal came from his home territory. The answer was not unexpected, the melancholy that tainted the answer was.

 

"Place been underwater for ten years. Hard to get to, slowly disappearing every time I go back like a hurricane battered pier. Knew when the freeze came I'd have a chance to git places I hadn't before. Hard to orient myself, trees gone, stone foundation underwater. Was able to find these close enough to the surface to dig out."

 

A faint nod affirmed her understanding. As far as she knew, any home she had ever had no longer stood. The difference was for her, she had no desire to walk down that nostalgia lane. Most homes she had been in had been unhappy ones. She had only finally felt comfortable in the homes she had made for herself since the fall.

 

"These were mine. Well, my family's anyway."

 

She held her tongue, a deep wistfulness in his voice that said the moment didn’t need a response from her. Head tilted slightly at the sound of charms hitting the glass he reached for….sounds that relaxed her shoulders and left her toe lifting and lowering silently to the floor in time with a melody only she heard.  

 

"Spent so long not wanting any of it, now can't seem to stop looking."

 

She understood… playing music for her was a different but similar truth. For years after the fall she loathed music, her instruments lying dormant, her idols all gone, actively avoiding exposure to music of any kind. Now…… she couldn’t help herself. As she listened to him pour himself another glass, hers tapped lightly on the table in askance of one of her own.

 

"It's all gone now. No more trips gonna bring anything back."

 

Shrug was a bit thoughtful as her fingers circled the rim of her glass.

 

Earth digger and some sonic radar would help ya still bring up more…

 

Chin rested on her left forearm as it lay across the back of the chair.

 

Ya know… if ya really wanted to find more that is.

 

There was something oddly intriguing at the thought of exploring with him the home of the original angels, to breathe the air and earth that saturated him. Fingers pinched the bridge of her nose, dark shades lifting to expose the thick unpainted lashes that fluttered low against her cheeks. The dull headache of a night spent running from fans was lingering despite the good liquor. Finger tapped her rim again in askance for a second pour.

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Ya well… not really here on business at the moment anyway…..

 

He couldn’t help but Cheshire slightly at her smirk. A twinkle of humor existed in her somewhere, just not enough when she needed it to soothe the soul. And of course, her question about home pulled his under. Just when he thought he could turn the freak weather event into a boon, it produced everything but. A final punctuation on his wanderlust that he should have had more self-restraint instead of going wherever the hell he wanted, whenever the hell he wanted. He could have helped somehow, saved his family if he'd just not been so selfish… maybe.

   

Earth digger and some sonic radar would help ya still bring up more…

 

Unaware his brows had come down in an uncharacteristic furl, they lightened a bit, glance to her with a sullen eye only to return to his task.

 

“I am the radar... Would cost a fortune I no longer have to git all the other down there, and even them. It’s… part of the gulf now. Some areas, not so much. The good parts, take scuba gear a lick and a prayer that the gators won’t snipe your ass because the water so muddy dark you couldn’t see them coming. I can, most couldn’t.”

 

With that was the secret of his ability to find the things he did, and not get snapped by a gator or anything else that might be lurking in the wild beyond the protection of renewing civilization. He could see things, clear as day. Couldn't get to them. They scratched at him like someone buried alive.

 

Ya know… if ya really wanted to find more that is.

 

Silence was well, quiet. Even the tinkering of his fingers seemed unusually soft as the heavy thought mulled. Eyes glanced up to catch the peek of her lashes. He fucking hated those glasses she wore, reaching to refill her glass on request and his own with it, twinkle of charms on glass. The rate he was putting it down would have rolled even the most savvy by now. His metabolism burned it off too quickly, and made him thirsty as hell. Putting the work down a moment, he got up and filled a glass from the work sink, downing it before he returned and began his incessant tinkering again.

 

“Dunno.”

 

Answer came finally, taking a longer than healthy drink from his glass.

 

“World we knew ain’t coming back. Maybe time to stop pretending I can save mine.”

 

Sigh was slow, a soft curse in his own slang as something didn’t go as expected. He put it down to keep from hurling it across the room, leaning back in the chair and crossing his arms to watch the television. Pessimism felt odd coming from him. Maybe it was frustration, or defeatism. Something had obviously happened when he was away on one of his gallivants to bring on the change, or irritate him enough to reveal he actually did have a rather brooding and dark facet. It had been a long time since he was in such a funk… Order of Light history long.

 

Getting up again, he stayed at the overly neat workbench a moment, pulling out tiny drawers to find the part he was looking for.

 

“Been hearing rumors about magus killins’. Know anything about what’s happening?”

 

Drawers kept moving quietly, the question related but full with something else on his mind. His trips were not just about wanderlust, he was still a wanted man. Magus dying were of great concern, especially people connected to him.

 

"Friends missin' in some of my normal travel stops."

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He was forlorn. It resonated in his very breathing as she brought up the home of his angels. He missed it, or the idea of it anyway.

 

“I am the radar... Would cost a fortune I no longer have to git all the other down there, and even them. It’s… part of the gulf now. Some areas, not so much. The good parts, take scuba gear a lick and a prayer that the gators won’t snipe your ass because the water so muddy dark you couldn’t see them coming. I can, most couldn’t.”

 

I could….

 

Giant shag of a messy bun made by the half pulled through ponytail was unfolded, the small elastic tugged out of the mahogany mane and wrapped around her wrist as long fingers combed out the frazzled fluff. Was it an offer to help? Maybe. He wasn’t the only one with radar. Though why she would want to go crawling around some rancid everglade with him was a bit elusive. The fun of it? The excitement? Being out in the middle of nowhere with him to herself?

 

The last drew the brows downward almost imperceptibly. She clearly needed more to drink, a fact he seemed to graciously work to fill for her as her glass was once again full, the charms like fairy laughter on her ears as they struck the glass. The refill was half gone by the time he started tinkering again. She would need a fresh glass in a minute. As hers quickly evaporated down her throat, he was up getting a glass of… water?!?... from the sink. Brow quirked up at him questioningly, that was a good way to kill the savor off a good liquor.

 

“World we knew ain’t coming back. Maybe time to stop pretending I can save mine.”

  

World is what we make it…..now more than ever.

 

Quiet words murmured as she started on the last half of her glass, listening to his sigh and melodic curse. Ya… he was all sorts of despondent, his trip had him downright depressed. She wasn’t really sure what to do with that. She wasn’t one of those "sunshine and roses" girls herself.  She listened as he rummaged through drawers of parts. She wasn’t sure he was really looking for sunshine and roses either.

 

“Been hearing rumors about magus killins’. Know anything about what’s happening?”

 

Brow quirked, her lips leaving the rim of a now two time empty glass. Well that was a change of topic.  Lingering drops were lifted from her upper lip as her tongue moved to capture the dark liquid.

 

"Friends missin' in some of my normal travel stops."

 

Side of her right index thoughtfully rubbed the front of her chin, the rest of the fingers lightly holding the rim of the empty glass.

 

I've heard things…. not sure if tied to your missin' friends…

 

Hand lowered the glass to the table once more, middle finger tapping its rim in askance for another refill before her arm folded over the other on the back of the chair. She seemed to be settling in for the night.. no where else to go with fangirls running the streets.

 

ARMA gone to shit so Order showin' their dick more… goin' after deserters is what I hear…..

 

She probably shouldn’t be sharing what she knew to outsiders but he wasn’t an outsider anymore… he was a member of the Family… at least he was to her.

 

… and with Outworlder registration passed other side of the world… I have heard people been takin' matters into their own hands over here… killin' those they mark as Outworlder whether they are or not…

 

Chin rested on her folded arms..

 

Too much of a meltin' pot here… so hear the activity is more in west federation and south coalition area…

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I could….

 

He nodded slightly, he knew that much. It was the other part that he didn’t have access to. The digging, or the means.

 

Bakkhos did.

 

Selling ammo to them was one thing. Getting into bed with them was another. To do something of that caliber into no man’s land wasn’t an easy task. Hell, it was a near impossible task. Just because you could see it, didn’t mean you could get to it. Every trip had reinforced the notion that he couldn’t get his hands on it. He wasn’t even sure she could handle the trip.

 

“It’s a mess out there, ain’t exactly a padded highrise.”

 

He let it be. He simply wasn’t the same person when he left New York. Relaxed carelessness blended with vigilant silence. Refinement flipped to survival. Definitely not the tie-less button up dress shirts, creased pants and groomed appearance that just needed a suit jacket to fit into any affair. It was harsh, cold, and dark out past the cities.

 

World is what we make it…..now more than ever.

 

“Can’t rebuild hundreds of years of a culture,” he answered. “People is gone. Scattered, or dead. It’s just dun gone.”

 

He got himself another glass of water while he was up at the workbench looking for parts. The question of magus killings an important one. If anyone would know, she would.

 

I've heard things…. not sure if tied to your missin' friends…

 

He indulged her refill as he drank down the second glass of water in one tip.

 

ARMA gone to shit so Order showin' their dick more… goin' after deserters is what I hear…..

 

His brows came down. That was not good news.

 

… and with Outworlder registration passed other side of the world… I have heard people been takin' matters into their own hands over here… killin' those they mark as Outworlder whether they are or not… Too much of a meltin' pot here… so hear the activity is more in west federation and south coalition area…

 

That would definitely explain missing friends. They were mostly magus, a few Outworlders and norms thrown in. The ones missing always were definitely not norms.

 

Glass clinked back on the edge of the sink and he returned to looking for what he needed to finish or at least continue his work at the table. Merely existing since he’d told the Order to go fuck themselves was dangerous enough. Going out past New York and not being “from around” wherever he was passing through always brought suspicion. Norms didn’t tend to do that unless they were out of their mind or had a death wish. They clustered, and didn't like outsiders.

 

Bringing back one of the tiny drawers he sat and continued the delicate work, a tiny file produced to work on something specific.

 

“That’s a problem for me.”

 

It was all he said for a little while. It wasn’t just the Outworlder hate, or the fact that the Order couldn’t seem to let go of people that didn’t want to have anything to do with them. There was something else, and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Missing magus in New York didn’t bode well either. It didn’t all seem connected.

 

“I’m one of those deserters,” his voice was almost as soft as the faint sounds of focused tinkering. “Order tends ta not be pleased when you tell them to go fuck themselves.”

 

He took a deep breath and placed the finished piece down to set up the next one.

 

“Go back down south and get picked off by idjits, stay here and get hooked by the Order, or… whatever else is happening that I can’t seem to figure out. Just kinda in a shitty predicament at the moment. Not sure there’s a solution yet.”

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