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The Winding Path

 
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:23 pm    Post subject: The Winding Path Reply with quote

The night that Fin was injured passed in a very hazy blur. The Dwarven moonshine he kept swilling took its toll, blurring his memory at the edges. All he wanted to do was sleep, sleep long enough that when he woke up, he wouldn't be in pain anymore. But Antonia kept pulling him back to consciousness. It seemed like she was there, every second, hovering over him and insisting gently that he wake.

But maybe she wasn't. Maybe Fin dreamt her over and over because he wanted her to be there in the haze of pain and short breath and punctured sleep that was riddled with other faces and voices. Dream, nightmare, and reality were all cut from the same cloth and he was unable to tell them apart. His head throbbed, his side throbbed but there were phantom pains elsewhere, remembering other sessions with Stefin and his...surgeon that used nothing but a finger to slice through flesh and muscle. Had he been stabbed again? Was he bleeding? Fin tried to sit up to check himself but that caused more pain. He tried to move away from the source of the pain, scrabble backwards while whimpering pathetically, but that hurt, too. Everything he did hurt and there was no escape from it. He couldn't even curl up in a ball. Was it the pain that restrained him or was he tied down again? Everything was a muddle and the confusion added to his fear.

This was always Stefin's game. No escape, no relief, nothing except the pain that he was supposed to be feeling, until he was broken and only Stefin could put him back together. He promised that he would bring more, that he wouldn't tell them to stay away or find them another place to sleep, not anymore. Then came the begging. It lacked all dignity or pride; Fin was reduced to a blubbering mess, fighting against hands that tried to comfort or quiet him. There was never any help in the rotting, stinking *** hole that was Stefin's torture room. Only when Antonia's voice filtered through to him, soothing him into stillness, did he truly rest. The voice of an angel bringing him peace when nothing else would, shutting out the sounds and smells of his past, dispelling the twisted faces.

Morning crept closer and eventually exhaustion took over, silencing his dreams altogether. When Antonia tried to rouse him at that point, he would mumble unintelligible things and try to roll over, hissing and groaning until he settled onto his back again, never truly awake. It was nearly noon by the time he was able to gain some form of lucidity in order to discover that everything hurt worse. Antonia gave him a pill - he only half listened to what it was, heard it was from Doctor Eva and that was good enough for him. Must be good for him, right?

Watching Antonia get up and get dressed for the day, Fin let his head loll to the side to track her movements. When he did, the whole room seemed to...tilt in that direction. He knew nothing else was moving or sliding across the floor, he wasn't moving, but nothing felt solid. It felt like he was on the ocean, bobbing on the waves and the pain was less than it was before. It felt good. Really good. Too good. Fin could close his eyes and sink into this forever and that terrified him but the drugs kept him from really being scared. It was just a little tiny part of his brain that was screaming at him, repeating that this wasn't real.

It was easier to breathe but he barely noticed, floating in his little euphoric world. He blinked and Ben had replaced Antonia - how did that happen? It made him smile a dopey smile and beckon Ben closer, babbling things at him that probably didn't make sense. He spoke of Dair, asked after the one eyed Scot and then...did he cry? It wouldn't surprise him later to find out that he did. He cried over Alasdair McRae, cried to Ben about how much he missed his friend. Cried over the little children he was trying to feed so they wouldn't sell themselves into slavery for a crust of bread.

Poor Ben, stuck with a maudlin ex-junkie that was high on pain pills.

By the time Antonia came back, Fin had passed out again, thankfully in a dreamless sleep. No doubt, Ben had quite a story to tell.


Last edited by FinMack on Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He was seventeen. Skinny, graceful, beautiful, and he knew it. He howled delight as he surfed a crowd while a punk band beat up the sound waves and whipped up the crowd of raving teens into a froth. He slammed through the mosh pit and somewhere along the line ended up with a pair of smoking hot girls in the alley.

Benjamin was exactly every rich young man around, on the surface. He staggered out of the alley with the girls, giggling and smelling of sex and pot. When they told him they had to walk home, he shook his head and called for a cab to take them home, paid for their ride.

It wasn't a good area, the girl's didn't live in neighborhood that was any better. Benjamin swayed and grinned as he waved to the girls before propping himself to a wall, waiting.

They were a lot creepier than he thought they'd be. He seemed to be over seven foot tall, she seemed to be a tiny, attenuated demon. They swept him back into the alley silently.

"You are Benjamin Piers?" the big man inquired, his accent thickly Polish, picking the youth from his feet by his shoulders to get a closer look at him.

A much better look at a face cut sinister in shadow and light, in time and war, than Benjamin wanted. He stared, wide eyed, at the man.

"Yes."

"Where is car?" the man demanded. Benjamin pointed towards a lot behind the warehouse still rattling with loud music and screaming teenagers.

"Take him there, I meet you," the woman noted, her accent melodic Mexican. Nodding, the man set Benjamin back to his feet and gestured. Swallowing hard, reflecting upon how quickly he'd been sobered up, he quickly led the man to his vehicle.

It was worth laughter. The young, hot, naughty boy drove a tan Escalade, a car far more likely to be under the hands of a soccer mom. The big Polish man patted Benjamin's head.

"Good good. They think you took Mama's car."

"I did," Benjamin agreed.

"Good boy," he nodded, waiting.

A battered old GMC van with the sad remains of Cher In Fantasy Armor with Wolves painted on the side pulled up.

Things moved fast. The van's door slid open, the SUV's back doors opened. Bundles transferred rapidly, children wrapped in dark blankets. The doors slammed shut. Benjamin handed the keys to the woman. She nodded and took the car, pulling from the lot sedately.

"There. You give this to Mama. She sees how good we work," the man smiled thinly, pressing a folded paper into Benjamin's hand. "You tell her we like this business more than other. First is free, she sees how we work."

"Okay," He nodded.

"You always are letting big scary men and small scarier women pull you away from little chicks, boy?" the man inquired, quirking a heavy brow. Benjamin abruptly laughed once. It sounded half hysterical.

"Worse things than you happen to people that hurt Mum's babies," he pointed out, gaining laughter from the man, "Your note said big car, wait for big man and little woman."

"We will be the worse things. I know Mama's worst thing. Is why we give good resume," he grinned, ruffling Benjamin's hair under a beefy palm before he gripped the boy's chin, studying the bright green eyes.

"Speak honesty. You send girls home in cab because you need them to remember or because you worry about them?"

Benjamin blinked. It all made sense all at once.

"No one should pay in blood just to live a little," he replied slowly.

"Good boy. You be good," the man nodded, a smile turning his face less foreboding. He chucked Benjamin's cheek and started to walk away. Benjamin startled, ran a few steps after him.

"Mister."

"Walk and talk, we cannot be targets," the man responded. Benjamin fell in beside him, his gaze imploring on the craggy profile.

"I want to do this."

The man stopped. Brows quirked, as he studied anew the boy. Small, slight, beautiful. He seemed more the sort found sprawled over the feet of a powerful soul, an adoring kitten, a little morsel to soothe the nerves at the end of the day.

"You have a long way till then, boy. Make yourself strong with work, not in exercise gyms. Learn under a hard sky. Keep pretty and sweet and good. These are tools. When there is opportunity, you will not be ready. Take it anyhow."

"You wouldn't train me...?" Benjamin asked with a lopsided grin. The man laughed.

"Worse thing of all is your Mama. You remember that. Now call home. Someone has stolen your car while you snuck out to play."

Benjamin's mother waited for him, sitting in the kitchen with a pot of tea ready, cookies on a plate, as if he was just coming home from school instead of stumbling in at holy hell o'clock, reeking of rave.

"Uhm..." Benjamin faltered, holding the note out to her, his face miserably red. She took it, nodding for him to sit at the small kitchen table. He thumped down and took his tea. Maybe she wouldn't notice the weed and beer and hot chicks all over him.

"How many did they have?" she asked, calmly sipping her tea as she read.

"Seven."

"Marcel did say they were good," she nodded, impressed, "The police called, they found the car, of course."

"...You knew...?" Benjamin asked, blinking several times. Surprised, though he wasn't sure why. His mother seemed to know everything.

"Most of our operatives started work as freedom fighters, and found quickly that their noble ambitions, hopes, and dreams were inevitably corrupted by the people they followed. They lost hope and just worked as high paid assassins or agitators. When there is an opportunity to reclaim what they lost, they aren't going to trust easily, Benjamin."

"So... to see what you really are, they have to see what your kids really are," Benjamin nodded, his brows knitting.

"Mhm." she smiled, her pride shining in deep brown eyes, through ages of pain and prosperity, feast and famine, until he knew all over again why he worshipped his ancestors. He could see them all in her warm gaze, and slowly bowed his head, his hands clasping before him, reverence washing away the last of the pot and beer high.

When you have opportunity, you will not be ready. Take it anyhow.

The Polish man's words echoed through Benjamin's ears as he soothed Finlay, listening to the man's morphine fueled ramblings. He wiped away tears and pretended not to see them, held him gently in his arms, stroking Finlay's hair absently.

"We can't save them all, Finlay... But we can save some of them," Benjamin whispered to Finlay's cheek, his green eyes intense. He smiled, lightly kissing the man's brow and laid him back to the pillows, whispering 'sleep'.

Benjamin looked up from his bedside vigil as Antonia stepped in. He smiled to the woman. An angel, a vision, a warrior's soul if he'd ever seen one. He wondered.

Was she another freedom fighter who had her dreams broken on the wheels of greed and hate? Would she take opportunity to reclaim what she had lost...?

"Antonia. I need to tell you what he's been saying," he whispered, rising to his feet to let her take his place.
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was over.

It was over. It was over. It was over. Itwasoveritwasoveritwasoveritwasoveritwasoveritwas over.

The words...they repeated so many times in his head that they started to lose meaning. Just noise that rushed through his ears with every heartbeat while he stared at the plastic bin that held his things. Things that had been housed in Antonia's apartment. Things that...that he'd shared with her while sharing that space with her. Shared his heart and his life and now she didn't want that anymore.

It was over.

She'd been hurt. Maybe that was the reason? Her face had been bruised when he'd met her here in this room. Fin had drawn close with sweet words, offering to call Doctor Eva, crooning to her before she snapped his attention to her with a near shout of his name. And she hadn't let him touch her. Every time he drew close, reached for her to offer comfort, to ask for understanding, she'd drawn away.

It was over.

Those words had left her lips. With many other words that fluttered against his ears, whispering to him but he just stared dumbly. There was no comprehension, he didn't know why this was happening. They were happy. Weren't they happy? Unbelievably happy. They couldn't wait to see each other at the end of each day, sent each other lovesick text messages like teenagers, it was never enough. But...apparently it was enough. Antonia had her fill and then she left, slipping out the door without a backward glance.

Everyone slipped away from him. No matter how good he was, how clean and sober he was, no matter how tightly he grasped, they all fell through his fingers eventually. His Da, Calum, Dair, Helena, now Antonia. Fin could chase them forever but it would do no good, they all moved away from him. Ultimately, he was left alone with their ghosts, teasing him with memories of things he could no longer have. People that didn't want him anymore.

It was over. Over over over over over.

The waxing moon crawled across the sky while he sat there unmoving. Moving would make it real. Speaking would make it real. His heart would shatter in his chest and he would have to feel it all. As long as he didn't move, time stood still.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When dawn finally broke and light started to slowly infuse the dim room, Fin's body recognized the beginning of the day. It urged him of its own volition to get up and move, to start his daily ablutions and get himself to work. Though limbs felt leaden and stiff, he did shuffle around like a zombie. Out the door, down the steps, one foot in front of the other, outside and down the street. Unseeing and unhearing. Stood in front of the forge for a few minutes just staring blindly until Master Oliver put a hand on his shoulder and shook him. With a start and a quickly inhaled breath, he came to and realized where he was. Frowning, he just nodded at whatever his employer was saying and stepped inside. It was a good thing his body knew what to do because his mind was lost today, caught up in regret and heartbreak and what-ifs. Master Oliver had to cuff him a few times and there were singed, bruised fingers that fumbled with his tools until he was released early. Told not to come back until he had his head clear.

Pulling his jacket on over sweat-damp clothes, Fin wandered blindly down the streets, not seeing or caring where he was going. People bumped into him (or did he bump into them?) and unintelligible things were mumbled by way of apologies but he kept moving. Had to keep moving. During his wanderings, he realized something was in his hand - his phone. It was open and he was staring at the last text message she'd sent to him. "See you tonight, moon of my life. Love you." It felt like one of his twisted dreams, heart squeezing painfully, head throbbing with each beat. Fin was dizzy with it and quickly put his phone in his back pocket. Started moving again at a quicker pace as if he could literally move beyond this pain, outrun it and leave it behind. A cigarette was pulled from his case and lit, sucking down the smoke as fast as he could. It didn't help but it was something to do.

The next time he stopped, he realized he was staring up at the tall building that housed his angel. The Aurora. Maybe... A desperate, wild hope sprung up in him that maybe this was one of his nightmares. Maybe he was going to wake up any moment and realize it was all false. Or maybe he'd dreamt that scene last night and he could just walk in and hold Antonia and it would all wash away. Richard the doorman let him in and he started to taste that hope on his tongue, feeling lighter already. He'd made it all up, surely! Silly old Fin and his unreliable memory. But there was something in the way Luther said his voice, tinged with...regret. Pity. Glancing over, Fin saw it echoed in his eyes as he was told that he was no longer welcome here. The man was unfailingly polite and professional but it fell like a blow. Steven stepped away from the elevator to bar his path if necessary and he looked between them, pain splashed across his features. "Please..." he whispered but Luther shook his head. Fists clenched tightly and he backpedaled out the door, moving blindly while humiliation was added to open wound, stinging sharper than salt.

Tears blurred his vision and it seemed only a moment later when he found himself at Ben's stable. Forehead leaned against the wood, fingers raking roughly through his hair, pulling at it until he let loose a sudden scream of frustration and cocked back a fist. Slammed it against the building one, two...five times, his knuckles split and bloody. Left a stain as evidence of his rage. Pushing away from the side of the building, he stumbled inside and moved to Ruadh's stall. Large eyes rolled his way while the animals settled themselves from the sudden loud noise he made outside. Slipping into her stall, Fin curled himself into the corner with his legs drawn and pulled to his chest. The roan mare shuffled over to him, lipping at his hair and nudging his shoulder and Fin cupped her broad, flat cheeks. Stroked her velvety nose, let the tears falls as he looked up into her large, dark eyes that seemed to look back with understanding and sympathy. Hand aching, head aching, stomach threatening to revolt, it was all too much for him and he dissolved into great, wracking sobs.
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Benjamin Piers
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crows are snitches.

Even without Link passing information along, Benjamin could feel the rise of utter misery from the moment he stepped into his property. Star stood in the corral, quietly switching his tail.

The vanner walked to Benjamin and lowered his big head to his lad's arms. Benjamin scritched Star's head and jaw, then kissed the star on the horse's brow. He whispered soft Welsh to the animal before stepping to the stable.

It explained much. Antonia's battered face, her snarling words which did little to disguise the pain. Fin's absence.

A grimace, and Benjamin detoured to the house. He quietly made a thermos of hot soup, grabbed a bottle of liniment, a blanket, and finally returned to the stables.

For a long moment, he simply gazed at Fin and Ruadh. He silently thanked Thorn for her kindness all over again.

Without a word, he moved quietly in, settled beside Fin. He wrapped the blanked around them both, offering the thermos of soup and herbal moonshine both.

He didn't say anything, not then. He just followed an age old instinct for times of suffering - warmth, comfort, food and drink.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He was only vaguely aware of Ben and only after he entered the stall. Didn't see the man there staring at him, didn't feel the weight of his gaze, didn't hear Ruadh react to him. Barely heard the door unlatch or the footsteps shushing in the hay. Mostly, he was just aware of something laying over his knees and then a solid weight next to him. Shoulder pressing to shoulder, knee to knee.

Fin didn't acknowledge that presence at first, too caught up in the emotions that were coursing through him with such speed and intensity, he was a slave to them. All he could do was cradle his head between his hands, elbows resting on bent knees, and cry. He was angry and lost and confused and so despairingly heartbroken, no words could form just yet. Just the hard, wrenching sobs that shook his shoulders and made his head hurt, made his throat hoarse and raw, made each sound more animalistic than human. Exhaustion and lack of food were also playing their part and Fin didn't subside for some time.

Only when it physically hurt too much to cry anymore, when the momentum of it had been spent, did he even try to gasp for a breath and acknowledge Ben with only the briefest awareness - a ghost of a glance in the man's direction. But still no words, not now. Fin just rested his head back against the wooden wall, taking shuddering breaths and letting the adrenaline ebb its way out of his system. Eyes felt gritty even closed but he kept them that way and just...hurt. Inside and out.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Somehow, Fin made it to Ketch's last night. The apartment he had in the West End, not so far from the place that Fin paid for (but in which he almost never stayed). The weather was stubbornly cold and so Ketch had built a fire but other than the sounds of the snapping and cracking of the wood as it shifted and burned, the apartment had been silent.

Once settled on the couch, Fin had barely moved. He sat listlessly, barely moving except to blink occasionally but internally, his mind was spinning and spinning, faster and faster, out of control. Replaying the same phrases over and over, memories of Antonia he tried so hard to grasp because he was afraid they would be lost if he didn't concentrate. Things he wouldn't hear or see again and the words of others working their way in there.

Ben and Taneth trying so hard to be optimistic for him, letting him know that things would be better. Sabine telling him to stop being so *** pathetic, hanging outside the window of the Inn. Because he hadn't been able to bring himself to face her in public, not yet. Helena's usual bout of vitriol, blaming him for everything that had passed. And she was probably right. Maybe he deserved it as some sort of karmic payback, maybe he was just worthless to other people and he would never be happy, doomed to repeat this fate over and over. He didn't have the heart for it, Fin was too weak to do this again. To think about doing this again.

But Ketch was quiet. Let him sit there in silence while they both shared some whiskey.

As his thoughts grew in momentum, so did they become darker. His stomach became tighter as more blame and guilt and anger were added to the mix. The emotions were so intense that it actually physically hurt him and he wondered how his body could be sitting here unharmed when it felt like things were trying to claw their way out of him. Couldn't stop them, they swallowed other thoughts until he was stuck in the obsessive whirlpool, sucking him down further and further into the darker parts of himself.

Eyes had closed at some point and when he opened them again, he saw that Ketch wasn't there anymore. Maybe he'd gone to bed, maybe he thought Fin was asleep but Fin was alone in the room lit only by the banked embers of the fire. These thoughts required...something. A sacrifice, something to appease them so they would leave him alone for a little and maybe let him sleep. Dulled nails dug into his palms and it felt good but it wasn't enough. Neither was tugging at his hair. He had to do something now, immediately, or they would want something...bigger. More. There was nothing in sight except his whiskey glass so he put it on the floor, put a worn-out throw pillow over it and smashed the glass with his boot, the sound muffled so as not to alert Ketch that anything was up. A moment was used to decide where to...do something to himself and he decided on his calf. Enough meat that he wouldn't be too afeared of slicing something important. Pulling up the cuff of his jeans, one foot rested on the opposite knee and he stared down at his skin.

Hands shook slightly and he wondered for a moment if this was crazy. This was crazy, right? He saw Sabine's scars and they looked awful, painful. Testaments of pain that shouldn't be glorified. But Sabine said it made things better. That it felt better and it was addictive. Magical words to someone like him, instantly attracting him when he should know better.

A jagged bit of broken glass was in his hand, turning it over and over between callused fingertips while he considered what to do. How to do it. Was there a method? Did it matter? The demons quieted down while he regarded his leg thoughtfully, brows knit and the point of the glass put to his flesh again and again. There had been suicide attempts in the past - obviously foiled - but they had been made in a drug-induced haze or out of desperation and panic and insanity. To do something so carefully deliberate was something else altogether and it gave him pause. And while he thought, the sharp edge trailed along his shin, making him shiver. Seducing him slowly even though it was his own hand moving it.

So he bore down. Let it trail and pressed, hard and then harder until blood appeared in its wake.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It had been a hell of a week. Like, ninth ring of Dantean Hell kind of week.

The most recent hours had been spent in the most unimaginable pain brought on by a poisonous potion designed to...well, that might be up for debate. Supposedly, it was meant to help flush his body of any Otherwordly toxins that could change him into some sort of beast at the next full moon. Even the type of beast was not clear, every answer only leading to more questions. Too, the potion was mixed by Cane, a man that was admittedly and publicly looking for blood. Fin's blood.

There were so many reasons not to take it. Good reasons, logical reasons and they had all been discussed with Ketch, who made a useful sounding board between glasses of whiskey though he didn't offer an opinion one way or the other. Fin had to make the decision for himself based on the knowledge he had. The only thing he knew for sure about it was that it was full of poison and...yellow. Yellow things should never be drunk, that was a rule somewhere, right?

But one text conversation with Crispin Ashwood changed all of that. All it took was a single sentence: "You will miss your humanity." Those words scared the logic and reason right out of Fin, sent him spiraling into a panic attack and made it seem like a good idea to take a chance on an unknown liquid from a man that wanted to harm him. And even if it did kill him...maybe that wouldn't be so bad either, right? Better than being some sort of monster?

That decision would be regretted a few hours later. Searing pain racked the Scot's body, muscles seized and shuddered while his body tried to purge itself of the toxic mix. This went on for hours and all the while, Fin was insensible, graced with good and loyal friends that got him to Lucy's apartment and cleaned up and called Doctor Eva. Feverish and unconscious, he haunted Lucy's bed, didn't know how many came to visit or check on his condition. His heart slowed for a few hours as the herbs and poison did their work and filtered into his blood but the doctor was able to stabilize him and keep him hydrated with an IV.

Fin didn't wake until nearly the next afternoon, weak beyond imagining. Some broth brought on more vomiting and he tried to stick to water, his mouth parched and feeling like it was covered in a film of salty garbage juice. Still sporting a low-grade fever, he surrendered to oblivion once more, letting it keep him until the early evening when he woke again, finally lucid and trying to piece together what exactly happened.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:56 am    Post subject: Forked Path Reply with quote

The night was cool and velvety up above, the stars twinkling and shining like diamonds despite the lights of the city in which the pair of men were walking. The fair haired figure was walking forward but his chin was tipped up so that he could view the stars, his mind wandering beyond them to places unknown and out of reach, a small smile upon his face. Adrenaline and pinging aches rippled over him, lighting up different spots as sensation traveled through his neural pathways, leaving nothing but clarity in their wake. He'd be hurting in an hour or so but right now, Fin felt good. He felt alert and loose despite the split in his lower lip just at the corner of his mouth, the dried blood in one eyebrow, the tender feeling at his jaw and cheekbones as well as disparate throbbing over his ribcage. On both sides. Fingers would be stiff so he kept flexing them, curling the digits and straightening them again in time to the music wafting through the back of his thoughts unnoticed. A deep breath inhaled, shoulders rolling with the motion and dropping with the exhale so that he had to pluck at his t-shirt again where it still stuck to sweat damp skin. "I do no' even mind I lost," he murmured to no one in particular and then let his gaze drop and swing to his side, lighting upon the brunette that moved with him. "How are ye feelin'?"

"Better," Ketch offered, following the Scot's eyes to the canopy of stars before his gaze descended to trace the rooflines, watchful—and more so lately. The sensations in his body moved as if fast-forwarded in motion: he was still soaked in endorphins but already felt, too, the full onslaught of the blows he'd taken, and the repercussions along his knuckles, elbows, and knees of the ones he'd given in return. What had been an angry red welt curved around the socket of one eye was already transitioning into the deep purple of a fresh bruise, and it'd mottle further, spreading yellow, greens, and blues by morning, likely. Though he was slower to heal lately, given the way he'd been exerting himself. So there might be some aftermath still to contend with before coffee. His t-shirt, too, stuck to him, but he let it cling. The night air moved across them and cooled the pent up heat that had blanketed them in the warehouse. "I take it you do, too?" His flask was in his back pocket, per usual, and as he turned them down an alleyway, he pulled it out and took a sip before offering it over to Fin.

There was a fine, wary sort of watchfulness that still clung to Ketch along with the sweat and his shirt, something that lingered even in the quiet moments that caused Fin some small amount of worry in the past weeks but nothing was ever said about it. Merely noted and filed away. Eyes lit at the appearance of the flask and it was accepted gratefully with a mind to imbibe more once they were home. Would help dull the pain until he could shower and sleep. Or maybe a long bath. And a cold bottle against his face. "Well I canno' say I was feelin' poorly before but aye, I feel clear headed. Refreshed," as odd as that might sound. Fin was an odd sort of man. The flask was handed back over after partaking and then like a Pavlovian response had been triggered, abraded and bruised fingers produced his cigarette case and lighter. "Want a smoke?" he asked as it was levered open like a little book, the papers rolled instead of flat, containing tobacco instead of words. Wouldn't make you smarter but the loss was acceptable.

It didn't sound odd, not by the way Ketch nodded in easy acceptance for what made perfect sense to him. Cleansed by fire or by fist, they ran parallel in his mind. He ducked beneath a fern hanging from a lamp post and ran his fingers through the fronds before snatching up the flask when it was passed back over and taking a longer swallow than he had before. The first had been a preemptive strike just to feel the burn. This next one was for savoring. He nodded when Fin produced his cigarette case, begrimed fingers plucking up one of the tightly rolled cylinders and leaving a smear lost to the wrap of his mouth around it. Out came the zippo Sabine had given him. He lit his first, then offered it over.

They lit up at the same time with their respective lighters - Ketch's engraved and thoughtful, Fin's cheap and plastic, bought at the local corner store where he sometimes purchased beer on the way home from the gallery. The reddish fluid smeared over swollen knuckles was made glaringly apparent as they splashed through a puddle of lamplight, then sliced cleanly back into the darkness that offered no resistance. The familiar warmth at the back of his throat was dulled slightly by the alcohol but the taste burst through his synapses to instantly soothe before white smoke poured from his nostrils, sliding past the broken capillaries with a somewhat cauterizing effect. Yeah sure, this was medicinal. "Anywhere else ye want to go?" It seemed they were heading back in the general direction of their building but that could be changed to suit other whims if necessary.

"Mm," he mulled, indecisive. His drop-offs carried him through every part of the city. In fact, he couldn't think of a sector he hadn't seen today. Crowds and hushed conversations, a little elbow rubbing here and there. He wasn't sure if he was in the mood for more of the same, so at last he shook his head. "Can't think of anywhere else I'd prefer more to my spot on the floor and an actual glass. But I'll tag along if there's something that interests you along the way." Agreeable company promised in the muted smile. "I seem to have run out of ideas for grand plans lately." If he'd ever had them in the first place. He'd not been much of a schemer in recent months, seemed content to feed into whatever current he was caught in. And thus far, that'd kept him busy enough.

That was the answer the Scot had secretly been hoping for because unless it involved food, he knew he would want to be at home when the aftermath settled into his screaming cells, nagging him to stop abusing himself in this way despite the fact that he hadn't fought in some time, wasn't abusing himself like that anymore. Maybe that was it - he was out of practice? Something to think on later. A smile split his face, re-split his lip at the corner and sharpened the aches in his cheeks, stung where the skin oozed a miniscule drop of blood that was licked away by a swipe of his tongue. "Ye no longer favor the chair tha' does no' sit quite right?" The one previously deemed 'the brooding chair', but now listed to the left quite a bit especially when overburdened by the weight of a body. "D'ye want any company?" Fin could piss off and do his own thing if Ketch needed some alone time to decompress.

That was an interesting question. It showed in the way he tipped his chin to the side to stare at the brickwork beside him until it blurred into a field of dark color, the mortar lines no longer perceived. He'd often split his time between the floor and the chair in the past. The couch was rarely used at all. That seemed to be Fin's territory now, not that he minded in the least. "No," he said, after a few moments of silence. "I still like it. I just mostly sit there when I'm alone. The floor's more conversational." Fin's next question did not require a pause or any further thought before he replied, "Sure." Fin, most of the time, seemed like an extension of the apartment, part of the atmosphere itself, and he because he didn't mind Ketch's silences, felt no need to fill them or inquire after the reasons, if any, he'd always been easy to be around.

Was that the secret to chair time? He had to be alone? That seemed...not in keeping with what Fin experienced but maybe that had something to do with his apparent ability to fade into the background. A certain word caused a chuckle, a snort of white smoke out his nose in stuttered puffs, chest vibrating briefly with the near-to-silent laugh. "Conversational? Did ye want to have a chat?" his tone light with friendly sarcasm because he highly doubted that much conversation was on the agenda tonight, if any at all. That wasn't one of Ketch's habitual practices even in the best of moods and it amused Fin that the word chosen implied an opposing reality. "I will shower an' join ye. Hungry?" If so, pizza was getting ordered while they were still walking so it would arrive very shortly after they did.

He'd meant that lately he'd only frequented the chair when alone, but he didn't bother to correct Fin. He did choose, however, to explain the floor. "I meant in body language. It's a centralized location: couch, the other two chairs around it." He shrugged, cracking a smile. Made sense to him: the conversation could flow around and through him. As far as he was concerned, that was pretty damn sociable. And far more so than the chair set 20 feet beyond and facing only the windows. A right turn had them facing an opening to the harbor and the sounds the filtered in: rambunctious sailors over the lapping of water against boats, a few hoofbeats here and there. "I'd eat some pizza, sure. You find any work prospects yet?" See, look at him being conversational now.

Another soft laugh was chuffed around his cigarette but instead of reply to what he felt was just a little bit of a silly retort, his steps were angled so that he crashed gently into Ketch's shoulder. Silent yet playful, unable to hide the smile yet valiantly trying to pinch his lips around the cig between them. It might strike passerby as a strange face to be making for any reason. At least one woman's voice threaded itself shrilly into the nighttime noises to be found in the harbor and it triggered an answer to Ketch's question even as Fin pulled out his phone. Hit a few buttons and lifted it to his ear. "I was thinkin' o' 'haps workin' on the docks, unloadin' ships as somethin' temporary. Until I figure out somethin' more permanent." Thank Lucy for that suggestion. The conversation between the two men was paused while Fin talked shop with the person on the other end of the line, putting in for two large pizzas (one plain, the other a Meatlover's) and then the call was disconnected. "Wha' d'ye think?"

Ketch swerved to the side when Fin's shoulder bumped against him and kicked up his right heel to catch the man solidly along his hamstrings in sharp reply. He sent his spent smoke sailing over into the gutter and then wrenched Fin's free from his lips and took the last toke before it, too, arced towards the thin runnel of water to vanish beyond the grating. "Oh yeah?" slanting a look to the side for Fin as they approached their building. "Not a bad idea," in fact, he thought he'd suggested it as well, but maybe not. "I did it for awhile when I first came here. Makes the days pass pretty fast, at least. And you're outside." That was always a bonus in the eyes of the Shifter. The door of the building flew open as someone else exited and Ketch caught it on the backswing, sliding through without waiting for Fin. If Fin thought he'd be keeping that Meatlover's all to himself, he was sadly mistaken.

There might be more fighting. Cheese was for the brunette, all the meat was for the red-blooded Scot. There was a grunt of surprise and frustration when his unfinished smoke was ripped from his lips, stolen rudely and then tossed away. There was another shoved to Ketch's shoulder, this time with a busted up hand, blue eyes narrowed. "Have any names I should ask for when I go about it?" He did like being outside, liked the manual labor aspect and felt it would suit him in the short term. The sound of the docks faded somewhat behind them as they turned another corner to find their building.



A stiff breeze ruffled the feathers of the gulls wheeling overhead as they twirled in an intricate dance, somehow never hitting each other as they glided in great wide circles through the air. They made it look so effortless, Fin watched in silent envy while smoking the last of his morning cigarette, leaning in the doorway of a shop that hadn’t opened yet. The stiff breeze also ruffled the hair that was growing down over his ears, whisked away the smoke from his lips as soon as it was exhaled, brought with it the smell of the briny sea and everything that entailed. All in all, it wasn’t bad – made the Scot feel awake and alive, glad to be facing another day, a feeling that was sorely missed since the forge exploded. It seemed that the authorities hadn’t come up with any answers so far but Fin didn’t know that he was necessarily looking for them. It was all spilled milk at this point, knowing who did it or why wouldn’t bring the forge back. Nothing to do but press forward.

After chatting with a few people about his prospects, moving forward meant ending up at the docks just after dawn to see if he could catch the Harbor Master before the day’s duties began. Fin was skulking across the way, watching to see when the man (or woman) might arrive and pounce on them, all unsuspecting-like. In the meantime, he was soaking up the atmosphere, wondering if he could get used to the feel of salt on his skin (no different from the grime and grit of sweat and ash, really), watching others as they scurried about their day. There had been a certain camaraderie in the Marketplace where Iron Clad used to stand- the proprietors all knew each other, they were a community of shop owners and all that entailed (for better or worse). A family and now Fin didn't have an excuse to be part of that family anymore. Dair had decided to take a sabbatical from the blacksmithing trade and without the means to open a shop on his own, Fin was forced into a new beginning, looking for something to keep him afloat and maybe save some coin, build toward a future where he could be his own boss.

This place had been Lucy's suggestion originally but it had been mentioned by a few others, as well. While it was surprising to Fin at first, he couldn't deny the practicality of it. Didn't need experience to be able to lift things and move them from one place to another. He was strong and fit, had a good work ethic and enjoyed working with his hands, even if it was just as a glorified mover.

There were other prospects on the table, as well, thanks to a flyer that caught his eye one day at the Red Dragon. Charlie's Bar, it had read. Now Hiring. That seemed like it might be interesting and while it wasn't the type of labor that he enjoyed, at least he would be able to work with people, meet new faces and get to know others as he had at the Red Dragon. Madison Rye, the proprietor, met with Fin and they'd gotten on surprisingly well. Surprising, it seemed, to the both of them. She was warm and genuine and Fin wanted so very much to believe that there were people still out there who didn't craft lies out of smiles. He had high hopes for his position there but even if one didn't work out, he could always supplement it with the other; days on the docks and nights at the bar. It was hard to deny that working two jobs was a good way to keep himself out of trouble. The kind that seemed to follow him when he wasn't looking.

A distinguished-looking albeit portly man started to climb the steps up to the Harbor Master's door, fishing a key out of his pocket. Pushing off from the building against which he leaned, Fin flicked the butt of his cigarette into the soggy street and crossed the road.
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even in this winter chill, sweat dripped from the Scot’s brow and dripped down onto the dusty stone over which he was bent. Gloves helped to protect thin skin from tearing too easily in the cold but still, there were joints that throbbed from where he’d fumbled earlier and smashed rough fingers between two hard pieces of stone. Not enough to truly injure him, but a great amount of cursing and kicking tools had commenced.

Other than that, he enjoyed the work, enjoyed stacking the stones row after row into something that would be useful and serve a greater purpose. It was how the Scot saw himself, or wanted to but lately he’d felt adrift. Ketch teased him for this longing to find his niche somewhere, probably thought him daft or weak for it but it was all Fin wanted. He thought that maybe...maybe if he could put down roots and carve himself a familiar landscape, everything else might fall into place. The heavy burden that was his heart might ease and fade into something that didn’t make his chest feel hollow on bad days when the storm lived inside him and he hungered for satisfaction.

Laying brick was a better distraction from those types of thoughts, allowing his view of the world to narrow until the objects in his hands were the sum of it. Nothing existed beyond the endless now, just the mortar and stone, making sure that they aligned with his design. The fruit of this labor would help in bringing him one step closer to contentment, a step closer to his memories of home.
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heat licked at the bed sheets, hovering at the edge of the fabric before climbing quickly, gobbling everything up in its path. That included the two bodies on top of it, one dead and one very much alive. Alive and aware, watching helplessly as the blood left his body and the fire slithered ever closer until it touched at his hand, his foot and he tried to scream again. A gag across his mouth prevented any screams from reaching the hallway, his body pinned to the bed by five blades: one at each shoulder, one in each hand and one low in the belly to keep him still. They had been plunged in to the hilt, some slowly and some quickly by the very man that stood against the wall, watching with dead and hollowed eyes.

Flash forward and the assassin was down in the very lowest depths of the estate, unlocking barred doors, allowing them to swing open though the bodies inside didn’t move. Games like this had been played before - Stefin was a master of them, ensuring a complete lack of trust between the product and the “staff”.

“Go or stay. The house is on fire.” The assassin left them there, knowing some would die thinking to their very last breath that it was a trick and a more grisly torture awaited them in the guise of freedom.

Screams and crackling and the sound of stone falling inward, wood splitting and crashing through the floor filled the night. The assassin watched dispassionately from afar, just long enough to make sure that there would be no help until it was too late. And then he turned his back on the ash and ruin, turned and walked away.


*****

A gasp forced him awake, body covered in a drenching sweat that soaked through his sheets and pillow. Hot and cold at the same time, heart pounding in his ears, Fin lay there for an eternity while trying to convince himself that he wasn’t there anymore. Those days were behind him, no matter how real the dream felt. Fingers twitched and he hissed at the sting just below his collarbone, knowing without having to look that he’d scratched a raw spot. ***.

Trembling hands threw back the sheets just before he rolled to a sitting position. Feet on the cool floor helped to ground him while he doubled over and scrubbed at his face, head pounding and feeling as if it weighed two or three stone. He sat alone, smothered in a blanket of silence that was as suffocating as it was deafening and Fin was certain that his heartbeat must be echoing in the dim silence, taunting him.

Padding to the bathroom, he had to lean a hand against the wall while taking a piss, knees threatening to buckle; a grown man reduced to a fumbling fawn on new legs, swiping at the lever on the toilet a few times before making contact, allowing him to push off the wall and stumble his way into the kitchen. The fridge was opened and he squinted, shielding his eyes with one hand while the other blindly reached for anything to drink, coming away with a beer. Twisting the cap off and enjoying the sharp digs of pain into the sides of his fingers from the crenellated metal, the beer was guzzled with a desperation that spoke to the fear still running rampant through his veins, sending shockwaves through his muscles that jumped and leapt against his will. Gritting his teeth against the sharp pain, the cold beer bottle was held against the abrasion on his chest - anything to distract him from how empty the apartment felt. How empty and alone he felt.
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perceive: verb (used with object), perceived, perceiving.
1.
to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the senses:
2.
to recognize, discern, envision, or understand:
((Taken from www.dictionary.com ))



Reality. Dream. Hallucination. Truth.

All of it was based upon perception. All of it. Philosophers had argued for centuries over the nature of each, the similarities and differences between them (if any existed, at all). There were no guarantees in this life, no absolutes that carved the definitive line between black and white. The days were made from shades of grey, the highlights and shadows depending upon mood, environment, biochemistry.

Fin couldn’t have really defined any of those things for himself, let alone another. Raised in a culture of dreamers and poets that often blurred the lines in mist and metaphor, subjected to an addictive hallucinogen for nearly a decade, the Scot couldn’t ever say he had more than a tenuous grasp on anything resembling reality. Perceptions shifted minute to minute; re-calibrating, realigning constantly until he wasn’t even aware of it, only knew when he felt differently about a subject or a person than the day before. He wasn’t much in the habit of watching the local news, either. Working down on the docks provided him with enough chatter and gossip to have a fairly good grasp of what was going on in and around the city though that had been in short supply since an injury forced him to rest. The weather could be determined by looking out the window or opening a door and if he wanted to know what was currently grinding on the rumor mill, a trip to the Inn could satisfy that urge.

All he knew was that when he woke up Monday morning, Leap Day (a concept that slipped right past him), something was different. He would have gone so far as to say wrong but…it didn’t feel bad. And that was the problem. It was a good feeling, a wonderful feeling; a sense of euphoria that bloomed in the center of his chest and cascaded outward until he thought he should be glowing with the intensity of it. A hand lifted sluggishly from the bed so that Fin could stare at it, the lines of his palm dancing, swaying, weaving themselves into intricate patterns. Whispers reached his ears but he couldn’t have named the source, only knew they sounded so familiar. It was all familiar, so entrenched in his senses that the Scot didn’t think to question it, at first. Only wondered where he was because this room wasn’t…right. It didn’t match these feelings. There and not there, past and present, dream or hallucination. He didn’t care enough to try and figure it out, even though a part of him knew.

It was the same part of himself that was silently screaming.

((This is a response to the Quantum Leap Playable ))
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturday, March 5th
(Leap Week)



She kept thinking she should probably stop at home, but she was already in Little Elfhame, and it didn't make sense to go all the way home to New Haven to change her clothes when she was so eager to see Fin. She took the elevator up to his floor, though she wasn't a huge fan of it, and then moved to the apartment door. She knocked and called out. "Fin? Are you home?"

There was a knocking sound. Why was there a knocking sound? Had the footsteps stopped? Realizing that he'd fallen asleep (was it sleep?) in a slant of sunlight in front of the bank of windows, Fin glanced out the window though that still wasn't helping to determine where he was or why. Or if he was even really awake. Glancing around and rubbing at one eye with a fist, he crawled to the leather chair and peered behind it but no one was there. Looked to the available doorways but he didn't see a figure. The whispers whispers whispers set in, trying to tell him what to do but he didn't want to hear any of it. Sliced a hand through the air to silence them. It didn't work. "Hello?" he called out, crawling up into the chair and curling into a ball there, wondering if the voice would answer back.

Lucy frowned at the door, shifting her weight on her heels. She pounded on the door again. Knock-knock-knock! "Fin! It's Lucy!"

There was a rattling at the door and Fin whimpered softly, scrabbling backward off the chair to crouch behind it, peering from behind the arm at the door. Lucy Lucy Lucy they whispered like it should mean something but he didn't know the word. "Hello?" he said again but his voice was a thin, wan thing, thready under the weight of the trepidation it carried. If Lucy tried the knob, she would find it unlocked.

She shifted her weight again. "Fin?" What the hell was going on in there? She thought she heard movement. Was that just Liadh? Why would the dog be here alone? It was a last resort. She tried the doorknob, practically stumbling when the door opened to let her in. She frowned at it. Huffed. After that long lecture she'd endured from Shae after Fin had told her about the break-in. The hypocrite. She shut the door behind her and moved farther inside, looking for the source of the noise. "Fin? Ketch? Is anyone home?"

As an aside: Fin and Ketch had wards, first of all, so no one intending them harm could barge in, door locked or unlocked. Not to mention they had lots of weapons. But that had no bearing on this moment because Fin wasn't fit for much. The doorknob rattled and he ducked back behind the chair, waiting and waiting until a light and soft voice reached him. They knew his name but it could still be a trick so he peeked only to have his eyes dazzled. There was light emanating from the woman in pinks and golds so bright he had to squint and look away, fingers shielding his gaze as he gasped softly.

"Fin?" Lucy's heels click-clacked across the hardwood floor, leaving her handbag on the kitchen island. "What's the matter?" She moved around the couch, moving towards the chair. She wasn't getting it. At all.

The Scot shuffled backward on his knees, eyes still averted as she moved closer. "Who are ye?" he whispered, afraid of offending the shining being but wondering what she could want with a lowly soul such as himself.

Lucy frowned. She kept her distance, reluctantly, since he seemed so skittish. "It's Lucy." She knelt down to bring herself to his eye level, and she searched his eyes for recognition. And dilation. How high was he, exactly? "I'm your friend. Remember?"

He shook his head and turned away, crawling for the windows again to kneel and stare out of them again with a frustrated furrow of thick brows. One hand pressed to the glass, touching his brow against it but then jerking back when he thought he might fall out of it and down into the moving mass. Spent a few moments tentatively touching the glass with a fingertip before he spoke again. "How d'ye know me?" he murmured, scratching at his shirt that had a few days worth of food bits and sweat on it.

"We're friends." She took in the state of him, her blue eyes sweeping from head to foot. It was wrong. It was just all wrong. "My name is Lucy. And I'm your friend." She'd seen this sort of thing only once. With Jamie. Her eyes welled with tears at the thought of it, and the thought of seeing Fin this way. "You don't have to remember me. But can you--can you believe that I'm your friend?"

The heels of his hands dug against his eyes, trying to rub out the things he saw crawling behind lids that were squeezed shut, the memories and the visions that danced in his head, switching places at a moment's notice until he didn't know what was real anymore. "But how can I know tha' we be friends if I do no' remember?" he shouted, banging a fist on the floor.

Lucy jumped when he shouted and banged the floor, but she took a breath, steadying herself and just continued with a quiet, calm voice. "You don't have to know it. I'm just--I'm telling you I'm your friend, and--and I'd like to help you."

The whispers countered her words, running off in different directions with possible alternatives, lies, the ways she worked for Stefin. But in all his time under the man's thumb, he'd never met one that shined like her. Even now, when he twisted to glance back at her, he could barely make out her facial features for the shafts of light piercing her chest, going through her body though she remained unharmed. There was no blood dotting the floor around her. Chewing on the inside of his cheek a moment, he asked in a hoarse whisper, "How would ye help me?"

"I'd like to get you something to drink. Some water." She shifted, uncomfortable kneeling in her heels, but she just set a hand on the floor to help with her balance. "Would you like a little water?"

Water. It was a paltry offer, it wouldn't fix his broken thoughts, but...he did feel a little parched. Mouth dry and smacking his lips slowly, the Scot nodded to her before turning his attention back to the window.

"Okay. Water." Lucy rose. She watched him a moment and finally turned. Where was Ketch? Should she call the doctor? She wasn't sure what to do. But for now, she could get him a cool glass of water. She took her coat off, tossing it over an arm of the couch, then continued to the kitchen. She got a plastic cup, actually. Filled it from the tap. Then she returned to him. Steps slowing as she neared. She stopped short of him, kneeling again. She held the cup out, in both hands. "Fin."

The angel drifted away and then back, a wave on the ocean floating out to sea and back to the shore of the Scot bearing...water. It made sense to him, if anything did. He was hesitant but the cup of water was taken with a phrase murmured in his native tongue before quaffing it greedily. Rivulets escaped at the corners of his mouth and ran down his cheek to dampen his shirt but he didn't notice, just gasped for air at the end of it and swiped at his mouth with the back of a wrist. Then offered the cup back because it was only polite.

Lucy took the cup and set it down beside her. "Is that better?" There was fear gripping her heart. Squeezing tight. It wasn't normal. This wasn't normal. Everything she thought to do was just fixing up something wrong to try to make it look right. But it might look right, but it wouldn't be right.

Another glance to the window and then his head hung low, shaking pendulously back and forth. "No," he whispered because he didn't feel right. Nothing made sense between what he was experiencing and what he remembered and the people that came in and out of this room. His body crumpled slowly forward, curling in on itself until forearms touched the floor and he rolled to his side in the fetal position. The sunlight cut a beam just above him and he reached up to touch it, to let it wash over his hand with a warmth he could understand. "Am I dead?" he asked the angel without looking at her.

"No, no you're not dead." She couldn't call the doctor. Not while he was in this state. It would just upset him more. She'd probably draw blood or give him a shot and the last thing Fin needed was that sort of thing. She frowned with worry as she watched him. As he curled up, she shifted forward slightly, reaching a hand towards him. Her fingers just barely touching his temple, wanting to to brush his hair back from his forehead.

He didn't notice the light touch at his temple, didn't see that she leaned toward him because she melded with the sunlight until he couldn't tell them apart anymore. "Warm an' soft," he whispered. "I forgo' the sun. Warm an' soft. Sea birds an' heather." Once again, he lapsed into Gaelic, fell back into a memory from long, long ago. "I want to go to the cliffs, Da. I can climb an' get the eggs."

Lucy sat beside him, and she stroked his forehead. The light touch enough for her to assess his temperature. She wished she'd learned more Gaelic from Dair so that she might say something comforting to him in his native tongue. Maybe she should call Dair and have him come. But it would hurt if he wouldn't come. For both of them. And she didn't want to leave his side. As far as she could tell, Fin was in a deep drug-induced haze, and the best she could do was to stay with him and make sure he didn't hurt himself as he came down. "Would you like a blanket? I can find a soft one for you."

The echoing footsteps grew softer as she stroked his brow, the whispers becoming almost musical but still he could hear the child crying from far away. "Do no' cry," he murmured and started to hum a tune, as if that would help to shush it. He hated the sound of the wee ones crying, it was carried by the stone walls until he couldn't hear anything else, knowing he caused their misery. Her words passed over him like a soft puff of air, unnoticed, a backdrop to his humming. He didn't realize the song he chose was Blackbird.

Tears rushed to her eyes again. She hadn't realized when she'd started to think of it as their song, but she did. It was hers and Fin's. She drew in a shaky breath, and sang along with his humming, joining the middle of the song. "You were only waiting for this moment to arise..." Her hand steadily stroking his brow, shifting closer to him when it didn't seem to frighten him, just sitting beside him and watching over him, singing softly, trying to give him as much comfort as her company would allow.

The song came to an end. While drawing a breath, perhaps to start it over or move on to another song, he became aware of a warm presence there but didn't want to look, didn't want to see if it was a lie because that would be too painful to bear. So he lay still and closed his eyes, feeling the feather-light pressure across his brow. "Are ye m'mum?" he mumbled through lips that barely moved, wondering if that was why this angel had decided to visit.

"No, Fin. I'm your friend." She would repeat that until the end of time. She kept up her rhythmic stroking of his brow, scooting ever closer. "It's alright. I won't leave you." She hummed the song again, since the melody seemed to calm him some.

"Sing to me," he breathed while relaxing into something like sleep.
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When Fin woke up, he fully intended on going to work on the docks. Still feeling weakened from playing battery to Shae’s warding spell for Lucy, he thought that some manual labor might help build his stamina back up. Sadly, the opposite seemed to be the case and it was difficult to drag himself out of bed, more so due to the thoughts preying upon his mind. The type of circling thoughts that hooked themselves around one core concept and then spiraled in an endless loop, driving him half mad before he could either banish them or find some sort of resolution.

After getting dressed and hitting the sidewalk outside his apartment building, Fin realized that he had neither the energy nor the desire to lose himself in the mindless and menial tasks that waited for him on the docks. That in itself was something of a shock because usually, it was the best way to get out of his own head and let his problems work themselves out in his subconscious for awhile.

It seemed today was not that day.

The weather matched his mood - an oppressive ceiling of grey above, the scent of rain threatening without ever falling. The sky hung upon a precipice and so did the moody Scot, his hood pulled up to shadow his face while he walked. There was no destination in mind, merely putting one foot in front of the other while trying to untangle the mental knot he’d worked himself into, the true scope of the problem provided by an outside perspective. Fin walked until his feet hurt and he had to lean against a building for a moment of respite; that turned into a seat on the curb in an alleyway, sitting hunched with hands shoved in the pockets of his hoodie until he felt hale enough to rise to his feet and walk some more. Across the city he moved, back and forth in crooked and meandering lines with no thought to his surroundings. He crossed the river at least four times, allowing chance to take him down streets both familiar and foreign, discovering some bits he’d never seen before with no idea how he got there.

But still, he kept moving while caught up in the endless introspection that preceded a large decision. At some point he ate, something easily scarfed down while held in his hand so that it didn’t impede the forward motion but eventually, weary and breathing harder then he should have been, the Scot found himself standing in front of a dilapidated ruin of a forge. It was in the northern section of Old Market, close to the wall that once helped to define the border of this city. One window frame was completely empty and he knew that to be a small taste of the disrepair to be found inside. This place was up for sale and he was thinking of buying it, thanks to Ketch’s sharp eye on the local real estate market.

Pushing through the door, he closed it behind him and stood a moment, leaning back and listening with eyes closed. Not only did he want to know if he was disturbing any squatters but he wanted to get a feel for the this place, its spirit and what he might be able to add to it. As before, he smelled the underlying char that coated every brick and every mote of dust in the place, giving him a sense of peace that he was hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The neighborhood was quieter than Dockside and he couldn’t smell the ocean as well but the air inside was cooler, courtesy of the aged brick sucking the moisture from the air. It felt like the difference between the beach and the mountains - two of his favorite places, each with special meaning. This forge had roots like the trees north of the wall, it was a place of metal and Earth where maybe he could find a center of his own making.

Knees buckled and he slid down the door until his ass hit the ground, legs curled to his chest while his head thunked lightly against the hardwood. Hours passed while he sat there, trying to stare down the barrel of his future and not feel goddamn terrified of it. All the what-ifs kept painting it in dark shadows, obscuring his thoughts and threatening to cause a panic. A sudden buzz from his back pocket startled him and he pulled the phone out to squint at the bright screen, noting the time instead of the notification. It was past sundown though he’d failed to notice the long shadows that bled into nightfall. A heavy sigh born from a heavy heart passed his lips before he was able to push himself to his feet, dust himself off and open the door.
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"We talked about why I'm here a little while ago. That amulet you have," said Salome, twirling a claw at him.

Hopping up to sit on the counter, feet swung idly from side to side. "Oh, eh...aye. I remember. Ye think somethin' may be wrong wit' it?" Bending one leg, he revealed a chain wrapped a few times around his ankle, the amulet hanging from it on the inside of his leg. "Why would ye think tha'?"

"No, not wrong. Not really. That Booze Fest thing was insane. A town like this, it's pretty feasible they'd put some extra stuff into their food and drink. Usually, that's a faerie thing." She reached for his ankle, turned the trinket with the tip of her claw. "Lucy had me make it to guard against outside magic forcefully thrown at you. And it's worked pretty good so far. Back home, it'd be stellar, but we're not home."

Fin shifted as her claw tickled him. "But I do no' think there was any magic in the drinks else everyone else would ha' been affected, aye?"

"Can't be too careful. Mundies," she shrugged, tucking her hair back, still moving the chain to find the clasp. "That's what I thought too. But you got hit really hard, Fin." Dropping her claws from his ankle, she looked up. "Hit harder than just being super drunk. You were hallucinating, name dropping people I've never heard of, acting like somebody was after you." She hadn't wanted to tell him, and it was there in her face. The scrunch of her brow, ribbon twist of her lips. "That's what I mean----we're not home, here. There's *** that goes on here that I've never seen or didn't think existed either. My magic isn't the strongest by far. Something could have affected you worse because you're a mundane. I don't know, that’s my point. I don't know. I'd feel better. Better safe than sorry, right? I'd rather have you safer than sorrier."

He thought he'd had a flashback, but what if it was magic? Would he know the difference? "Aye, I do no' know anythin' about magic so if tha' be the cause, I would no' know it. Better to check, as ye said."

"Well, let me say that knowing about magic isn't all there is to it, but I know enough. Look, Fin," she smoothed her hair back first, then looked at the amulet. Two beats there, then two beats on him. "We'll figure it out, okay?"

He took a deep breath and then forced a tight smile, nodding to her. "I know ye will, lass. I trust ye."




The trinket was gone but Fin felt its loss keenly. Thought maybe his foot was even lighter without it though the weight was negligible. Something he rarely thought about, took its protection for granted most days but now he was even more vulnerable than before.

It had him reflecting on his continued existence here in RhyDin. Was it truly wise to stay here, even though there was nothing left for him back on Earth? There was no guarantee it would lengthen his lifespan for he could be killed just as easily by a human as he could some magical creature in the streets of this fantastical place.

There were methods to reach Earth, that he knew since several of his friends and acquaintances did so regularly. However, Fin didn’t think of it as his world, not really, because it was “modern”, too many centuries passed for him to feel truly comfortable. He would forever be out of his element, as he was here.

Also, there was the forge to consider, his little band of friends that made up the only family he had left in the world. Could he leave all of that behind after working to build it for two years? For what?

Too many questions, not enough answers. Didn’t matter much, anyway, this was only temporary. Salome would fix whatever she thought was wrong with the necklace and give it back straight away. This feeling would go away and he’d be relatively safe again.




(Posted with the wonderful assistance of Salome!)
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A smoldering cigarette was perched between Fin's lips as he strolled down the lane toward the Marketplace. There were still a fair amount of people thronging the streets but it was slowly starting to taper off and shops closed so the proprietors could have their supper. Others were out seeking an ale or a friendly smile, buying things last moment before nipping home or trying to head somewhere else, as he was.

Weaving between moving bodies, smiling and nodding to any faces that seemed vaguely familiar, Fin's steps slowed as he reached the fountain in the middle of the marketplace. The musical splash of the water seemed louder tonight, drawing his gaze while he lingered at the edge. Naturally, he looked across the space to the other side and saw something that made him frown and cant his head.

A pair of young lasses were standing just across the way, holding hands. Which might not seem so strange in itself but for the brilliant color of their hair: one was a dark, royal blue that shone in the sun while the other was a fiery garnet red. This was RhyDin and people with odd colored hair didn't stand out so much to Fin anymore but the colors flashed in the fading light, bright jewel tones that had him taking a step closer.

One of them had their head bowed as if sad or shamed while the other looked about impassively. People passed by without looking and Fin thought surely they were waiting for a parent or guardian to come out of a shop, to collect them and scold them for running off. Maybe apologize for taking so long and bring a treat to the patient wards.

Minutes passed, then more but still they stood and finally he noticed that deep red eyes were resting upon him. Fin blinked and then gave a warm smile to the lass, who canted her head and echoed the smile but...it didn't reach her eyes. Something gave a vague warning inside of Fin but he pushed it aside, moving around the fountain to see if the lasses needed help.

He sat on the rim of the fountain because the lasses were shorter than him by a foot and he didn't want them to be intimidated. "Are ye lasses lost?" The one with red hair maintained her mimic of a smile and shook her head. The one with blue hair looked up at him with the exact same expression and it gave the Scot pause because they were identical.

"Eh..are ye hurt?"

Again, they shook their heads, staring at him steadily and he realized that they weren't blinking. That...that wasn't normal. But they obviously weren't human so maybe that was normal for them. "Are ye waitin' for someone?"

Another head shake. He faltered, not certain of what else to say. "Can ye speak a'tall?" thinking perhaps they were mute. But they nodded, their smiles widening.

Thick brows flicked together and he thought that maybe he should leave and so he stood. Their attention was unwavering, staring up at him as he towered over their slight forms. "Eh, well...m'name be Finlay an' I be goin' to the Red Dragon so if ye need help, come by there an' ask for me or leave a message, aye?"

"Finlay Mackenzie," came a pair of reedy sing-song voices, speaking in perfect unison. It raised the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck but he nodded to acknowledge what they said.

"Aye," he murmured, frown deepening. How did they know his surname?

"We have a message for you," they said, taking a step closer.

Fin tried to edge back subtly, not wanting to incite further interest by running the other way. Glancing up, he wondered if he could pretend to know someone and exit smoothly when suddenly, one of them grabbed his hand. It seemed so small and slight in his that his fingers curled around it instinctively instead of jerking away.

He waited for them to speak again, but instead they turned their faces to the other and grinned widely enough to show teeth. They started to giggle, chittering softly in a language he didn't understand before releasing him and turning around.

"Eh, wha' be the message?" he asked but they ignored him and slipped into the crowd, soon lost to sight despite their brilliant coloring.

Looking down at his hand, he thought it felt a little warm but nothing was out of place. No pain, nothing glowing, no visions of his own grisly death. Rooted to the spot, he wondered if he should be worried about this interaction, if he was missing something that every other person would recognize easily, some danger hidden only by his ignorance.

Or maybe they were just daft, strange lasses that heard his name around his shop and were not in their right minds. After all, this was RhyDin.

Fishing out another cigarette, Fin decided it was a good night to stay home and read a book. Turning back the other way, he tried to shake off the strange encounter, hoping it would come to naught.






(These twins are actually played characters, Sapphire and Ruby, on loan from the wonderful and talented Crispin Ashwood who graciously allowed me to use them for my story. Thank you!!)
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The night of Lucy’s party, Fin passed out on one of the swinging benches on the porch. He loved those benches and often let the sound of the waves lull him to sleep while the breeze rocked him as gently as a babe, especially after a night of drinking and smoking.

Normally he didn’t crack open his eyes until the sun forced it but this night, he found himself tossing and turning restlessly, never fully asleep but never fully awake, caught in a limbo that offered him no respite. Just beyond the edge of consciousness, it sounded as if someone was whispering; there was a rhythm to it, almost like a song but he couldn’t make out the lyrics or the melody.

It felt as if he’d only gotten a few minutes of sleep when he finally sat up and rubbed at his eyes. They were gritty and itchy, but he knew that if he lay back down he wouldn’t find sleep. With a huff, he rose to his feet and headed for the stairs that led to the beach. The two moons above were thin waxing slivers, providing just enough light so that he didn’t face plant on the steep stairs. They gave way to soft sand that still held the warmth of summer in each grain, comfortable under his feet.

Signs of the party still littered the beach though there wasn’t another soul down here. That couldn’t be right, he remembered some people celebrating even after he’d gone to lie down so this must be a dream. That would explain the whispering that, in retrospect, was even louder down here. He thought the sound of the waves would drown it out but it was more intense, clearer. Fin had been right - it was a song and now he could hear the faint tune as it lilted through his mind. Each step he took closer to the water caused the song to swell until seafoam touched his toes and the song burst to life inside his head.

This had to be a dream. That right there clinched it.

Realizing this couldn’t be real gave him courage to stare mesmerized at the waves that raced toward him. Rooted to the spot, he reached out a hand and the water actually rose in a thin column to meet it, brushing his palm with dampness before he gasped and snatched it back. The column fell down abruptly to the sand, collapsing and splashing over his feet, but the song never stopped.

On a whim, the Scot stripped from his clothing and lay on the wet sand, the ocean washing slowly over him as it climbed higher on the beach. Closing his eyes, the warm water gradually engulfed him until he felt as if it were tugging at him, pulling him from the protected cove of Lucy’s beach and bearing him on the waves out to the open sea. Instead of inspiring fear, it only made him smile and when he opened his eyes again, there was nothing above him but the vastness of the night sky. He was alone in the middle of the sea, no landmarks in sight, nothing and no one to save him if needed.

Fin wasn’t afraid, though. The sea cradled him, sheltered him, sustained him on its surface while he watched the stars move slowly overhead. The water moved around him, lapped at his ribs and neck, moved through him as it sang to his blood. He knew deep in his bones that the sea would watch over him, deliver him safely home before dawn. Closing his eyes, he sank into this dream and finally slept.




The next morning, Fin woke on the beach, Liath curled next to him. His clothes were in a pile in the sand, no one else around to see him in all his glory. Dry as a bone, he sat up and looked down at his dog. That...had been a dream, right?

Then why, when he closed his eyes, did he still hear that song?
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Men stood on either side of him, chanting in low voices - he knew this because they’d been at it for some time before the pain started. Now, there was just a ringing in his ears, a loud pressure that blocked out all thought or external awareness. How could he know how his body arched off the slab, despite the magical bondage keeping him in place? Lips were pulled back in a tight rictus, every muscle straining under sweat-damp skin. White stars burst in his vision, blinding him to the small room in which he was held, where his hoarse screams echoed off the stones.

Off to the left, Stefin watched dispassionately, gesturing for the robed men to stop. They ceased, immediately obedient, as Stefin moved toward Fin’s head. He stroked the Scot’s slick brow with a tender touch. Insensible, Fin sagged against the cool stone, blood pooling in the inguinal valley where hip met thigh, a slow river that oozed down his hip. Muscle and bone were exposed, in the process of being healed though Fin would much rather die than endure another second.

Leaning down, Stefin whispered in the Scot’s ear. “Next time, it will be your eyes.”



The Scot woke with a whimper trapped in his throat, heart pounding loudly enough to wake the neighbors. Sheets were damp and cold with sweat, cheeks and chest flushed as adrenaline spiked through his system. Liath was prancing at the side of the bed, barking insistently but it took time for that to penetrate the mental fog. A mumbled word and she was silenced though she jumped up on the end of the bed to sit and fret silently.

The dark was no balm, providing a blank canvas to replay those memories, so vivid and fresh from his nightmare. Weak and trembling, Fin rolled to the side of the bed to fumble with the lamp, nearly knocking it off the table in the process. Collapsing against the mattress, a half-hearted snap sent the dog down to the floor where she settled on her own bed. Every sensation, even her slight weight on the end of the bed, was an abrasive scrape against raw nerves.

Staring sightlessly at the wall, Fin tried to put some order to his scrambled thoughts, clawing his way to full consciousness while his body lay limp. Gradually, his heart rate calmed down and when his limbs didn’t weigh three stone each, he pushed himself to his feet. Waivered for a minute, clutched at one of the bedposts until he had his sea legs and then made for the kitchen.
Guzzling a glass of water at the sink, Fin poured himself another. Next, he shuffled toward the futon and sprawled the length of it, flipped on the small television while Liath slunk out to settle herself on the floor next to him. Licked tentatively at his fingers that hung over the edge of the cushion; they flexed and moved away, reaching instead for a cigarette and lighter on the coffee table. Pale colors washed over him as cars chased each other through the streets of Chicago - Fin couldn’t have cared less what the movie was, just wanted a low background noise to help bring him back down, something to distract from the grisly images of his past.

Magic. For so long, it held only pain and horror. Now, it seemed he had ignorantly, unwillingly joined the ranks of Stefin’s pets.

Smoke swirled toward the ceiling while he tried to direct his mind toward more pleasant things. Lucy.


Lucy pressed her lips together, trying to put words together. But then she was distracted by the water again, her attention turning to look that way. It was a convenient distraction again, but this time she knew it was really happening. She squinted out at the waves, then looked at Fin. "Did you--did you see that?" She distractedly took the joint from him.

Brows rose as he looked out toward the dark water. The particulars had been lost to him up to this point, despite the moon that had just been full the day before. "See wha'?" He squinted but didn't notice any shapes looming above the water or anything coming at them.

"The waves are doing something weird." She frowned at the sea, sitting up a little taller in her seat. She squinted out at the water too. But since he hadn't seen anything, she sank back into her chair.

"The...waves?" He squinted harder and this time, the water came surging toward him, reaching reaching reaching for his toes as if it was the sole purpose of this ocean to exist for this moment, to touch him and bring him closer.

Lucy watched the water, and almost started, thinking the water was coming for her too, disrupting Liath's nap in her lap as she half-rose. But then she realized the water wasn't coming anywhere near her. Just him. "Fin!"

Fin saw the water surge for him, saw it reaching with greedy, foamy fingers toward his feet but just like in that strange dream, he didn't feel afraid. Not yet, because he thought maybe this was another dream. Maybe he fell asleep in his chair and this was like an echo of the last one.

So he stared, entranced, waiting to see what would happen. Once it did reach his feet (and he couldn't help that he pulled back a few inches reflexively), the water caressed his toes and he thought it was...beckoning him. "Lucy....?" he asked quietly, finally meeting her gaze. He looked faintly worried. "Is this another dream?"

"No--Fin you're awake." Lucy was standing too, her brow furrowed, watching. "What's happening?"



Reeling back from that memory, the heel of his hand dug against one eye where a dull ache had set up residence. The light from the t.v. was bright so Fin looked up at the shadowy ceiling, watching the smoke until it dissipated and disappeared from view.


"Well, if you really think it's just the water and not something else.... But that kind of thing only happens when you've got talent. And that's nothing against you, because I bet you're fantastic with your hands, and you bang a good hammer. But you're a mundane," gesturing with her coffee. Then she pointed at his kitchen sink. "You want to try here instead? I don't know what we're trying here. Maybe it'll tell you your pipes need a good snaking."

Salome scratched all over her head and neck. "I don't know, that's what I said. What were you doing when you were out there?" Reaching, she turned on the sink, then searched for the plug.

"I was lookin' up at the stars, playin' on m'guitar...only no' a true song, just...notes. I was no' payin' attention. I was talkin' to Lucy abou'...some problems she be havin'." That was it.

"So it was idle. Subconscious. You were just hanging out." Stuffing the plug down into the drain, she shook her hand free of water and dried her fingers on her leggings. "I don't know here, like----maybe stand next to the sink when it fills up? We'll talk, hang out, see what happens."

This whole thing felt...strange and surreal. How could he pretend to ignore the sink full of water after watching her fill it and waiting to see if it...did something? Fin wasn't very good at games like that. Blue eyes kept dipping down to peek at the water, expecting...well hell, he didn't know what to expect.

"How is Crispin doin'? Have the medicines an' tonics been helpin' him a'tall?" Thought of his friend made him forget all about the water behind him, though the surface rippled from the center outward as if a pebble had been dropped.

"He's-----he's uh...." She wrinkled up her nose. "He'd come if he could. But he can't right now. Not for a couple weeks. Shae talked to you, didn't she? About what was going on with him?" Bit of a glance to the sink.

Another ripple, this one prolonged for the space of two heartbeats. "She did." He glanced down at Liath, chewing the inside of his cheek. "She...asked me to...to help. Possibly. If the other ye asked did no' work out. But she ne'er told me if they said aye. I..." Fin swallowed hard, the surface of the water bobbing in several different spots now. "I could no'."

Salome moved away from the counter far enough to hop up on it instead, scooting back to give her coffee some room to sit. It was a ruse, all of it, to get some distance between herself and the sink, and to give herself a better eye, but she wasn't that great at subtlety in the first place. "We asked Lirssa. She said yes. It's okay you couldn't, you know. He wouldn't have wanted you to get hurt."

"That doesn't mean she did instead. Just that we didn't know what we needed to do, so----" shrugging. Elbow to her knee, she idly looked at the water.

"Lirssa?" Brows rose as he absorbed that information, thinking of the last time they spoke to each other.

She blinked, watching the water, her brows rising a fraction. Then her gaze slid on over to Fin. "From what I saw this morning? He's getting a little better. He's----the thing we had to do----" Her head came up off her fist and she spread her claws. "We figured out a way to push back what's trying to get out of him. And that was to kind of----stick him in this little scooped out dimension that's kind of like Hell, but it really isn't. It's not, it's really not, I promise. But I mean, you know when you burn yourself. And you put ice on it. He's burning, and this dimension is the ice. You know?"

That...was a shock. The entire surface of the water roiled with bubbles as if it was boiling though the temperature hadn't changed. It only lasted for a second before subsiding while Fin stared at Salome. "Ye put him...elsewhere? For how long?"
"Couple of weeks," Salome said, looking back at the water. She wasn't anywhere near upset enough to do that to the sink. "When Lucy had her ghost hanging onto her ass, could you see him?"

"He has been there for some weeks or he will need to stay there for some weeks?" It was a big distinction! "Does he know where he is? Are ye speakin' to him? Did he agree to go there?" It hurt him to think of Cris alone and afraid. The bubbles roiled again and it took him a moment to realize she changed the subject. "Eh...no. No' until Shae gave me the wee trinket," lifting his left hand to show the metal chain around his wrist. Even though Reg was gone, Fin still wore it.

She rubbed her upper lip as she divided half her mind to their chat, and the other half to what the hell could be causing this to happen. So far, it seemed like Fin, Fin's feelings, specifically. "He'll need to stay there for a couple weeks, that's how long the dimension will be there, and yes, Fin, he agreed to go." She looked to the trinket he mentioned. "You've been collecting jewelry from all the girls, huh?" grinning. "What's it do?"

He eased up slightly to hear that the Nephilim had been willing but it still sounded lonely. "Wha' sort o' place is it? Does he...need anythin'?" Could Fin send a care package, maybe? "Oh, well when we were wardin' Lucy's home, I wanted to be able to see Reg, speak to him. Shae gave this to me so tha' I could do it. He had the same so tha' we could converse back an' forth." His was a ghostly version, of course, but the Scot didn't even want to think about how it was made or how they'd been linked up.

"It's like Hell's broom closet. We needed demonic taint to offset the holy volcano Cris has been spewing for the last couple months. He said it's dreary and disgusting. Not quite as hot as the last time," dryly. "If you want to go see him, you can, you know. You've got to go through Shae's room at the inn to get to the room he's in? You don't have to go in the Hell closet." And switching. A pair of linked pieces that allowed communication. "Because he's on another plane though----you might not be able to. He's like Reg right now. Maybe we can fix your thing, or just give it a shot anyway."

"He is back in Hell?" his voice cracking a little, blue eyes wide. There went the fake boil again. "Shae...has a door to Hell in her room?" Christ Almighty, that was a lot to take in. Sinking down to the floor, Fin pulled his dog close for a hug. "D'ye speak to him often?" looking up at Salome with a puckered brow. "Or Shae?"

She gave him air quotes. Hell, but not Hell, it said. And it was only because she'd had this conversation too many times, with too many of the same people, and had seen it work that she could take such a devil may care attitude with it. "It happened last night. I'm staying in the room with the door leading there. Leena stopped by this morning, before you called. Shae's right next door. He isn't by himself."

With a deep steadying breath and the panting of Liath against him, Fin eased up a little. To him, hell was back with Stefin and that was how he'd imagined Cris - naked and alone, blanketed by blackness and oppressive silence, fear a living thing inside him. That was how Fin had lived for so long that the thought of it happening to someone he cared for was a physical pain in his chest. The knot in his gut would take a little longer to loosen itself but a cigarette would help that. Maybe a stiff drink. "Good," he murmured, giving her a tight smile. Just a bobbing ripple from the water this time.

Bobbing ripple. Once, twice. Salome pillowed her cheek in one palm and let her other hand fall out of sight next to her leg. "Let me see-----" She stirred the air by her knee with her claws, then balled them into a fist, and all at once, the cupboard doors, the fridge doors, and any unlocked drawer burst wide open and slammed shut.

Good thing Fin had been sitting against the island or else he would have been given a concussion by a drawer to the back of the head. Not only the sudden motion of them in unison but the loud noise of everything slamming shut had him jumping to his feet. Liath started barking and the sink spouted a geyser of water straight into the air, this time steaming with heat. He knew he shouldn't be scared because Salome was here and he was wearing the amulet again but it still startled the *** out of him.
Salome shrieked and ducked her head behind her knees, throwing up her hands to ward off any water, any steam, from scalding her. "Sorry!!! I'm sorry, I needed to see something, and if I told you, it wouldn't have been the same!!"
"I'm not doing it, Fin. .........I think you are."

"How could I be doin' tha'? I..I canno'." Physically incapable. “It canno’ be me, I am nothin’.”



But it wasn’t nothing that was happening to him. No, it was definitely something.
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[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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FinMack
Adult Wyrm
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before dawn was a whisper on the horizon, the last vestiges of night saw the Scottish blacksmith leaving his home. A large grey hound was at his side, wagging her tail as she followed along willingly, hopping up into the open door of the pickup truck at Fin’s gesture.

A bag was slung over his shoulder, stuffed full with both hope and regret, hindsight and a longing for a better future. The stars twinkled overhead and whispered their advice but his head was too full of memories to listen. The car door slammed shut, loud in the sleeping streets. They did not wake but slumbered on.

Resting on the dashboard in front of Fin was a manila envelope, still sealed, the pale color reflected in the windshield. His attention was drawn to it again and again all the way up to the cabin, fearing what he might find inside.
_________________
[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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FinMack
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 12 Aug 2014
Posts: 299
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: at Iron Clad forge
18324.14 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roses are red...

Starbursts of sunset bled into a deep red, pulsing with the beat inside him. Inside him? Alive?

Vermillion fingers reached out to caress his cheek where Stefin’s handprint was permanently tattooed. The Devil smiled sweetly, ever the charmer. Tricksy tricks. Pulling away from the touch, he curled in on himself, facing the wall. The cool touch of stone and the ground underneath his feet were the only things he could trust. Red hair cushioned his cheek, the scent pink. Kind. Not real. Ignoring it, he closed his eyes and burned.


Violets are blue…

A melody painted in blue slipped through the bars, a lover come to soothe him. Cerulean eddies swirled around him, cool and gentle, carrying him away on a false memory. The sea stretched all around him, stars swallowed. The Madonna cradled Jesus in her lap, both baring pointed teeth. A flare of orange interrupted the velvet deep; a beacon. It lured him toward smiling faces. Made flesh. Bloody and sharp. Pressure settled on his chest. Gasping, he broke the surface where lonely darkness met him. Cradled him in his sorrow.


Pocketful of posies…

A bed of flowers underneath. Petals with teeth that tore at him, tearing old scabs so they bled anew. Hot tears tracked down a blank face, ignoring the feral snarl of an empty stomach.


Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

Nowhere. Shadows haunted the entrance of the cell, passing back and forth to remind him. Hands streaked with ash, stinking of violence. It coated his tongue, gritty and sour. No escape. Death was a lie. Life was a lie. Nothing. It stretched from horizon to horizon. Hollow, he waited for rage to fill him but blue dragged him down. A ruin lying at the bottom of an ocean of blood and tears. It was exactly where he belonged.
_________________
[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.
~Jack Kerouac
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