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New Blood

 
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Athinganoi
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:03 pm    Post subject: New Blood Reply with quote

Chase pulled the old car up to camp, yanking on the emergency brake once he was lined up next to some other POS car. They all looked as if they had been brought to life from the eighties, some with CD players and others bold enough to not have their cassette players removed. It was likely Mark still had a few cassettes. There was something to be said for nostalgia.

“So the deal here is no guns," he said when they met up again in the parking lot. "No hard drugs. Mark says it gets too much bad attention and the sort of jail sentences that make people squeal.” No one liked to admit that, but it was always different when looking down a twenty year sentence in the slammer.

Chase lifted his cellphone and start to punch keys. DJ would have to humor him, he was the sort that always looked partly annoyed by something. Still staring at his screen as they proceeded towards camp, he muttered, “Yeah, he’ll see us at the bonfire.”

Django had followed Chase to camp with no issues, easily keeping up through the traffic lights and turns. His truck was right at home in a sea of battered metal that had definitely seen better days -- she wasn’t much to look at, but the engine was solid enough. Pulling in next to Chase on the opposite side, he’d left his pistol under the seat and hopped out of the truck to join Chase for the walk to Camp.

“Mm, y’said that already,” DJ said it lightly, a smile revealing teeth that were surprisingly white in a face that was mostly made up of gold tones. They stood out, like his bright blue eyes. “Makes sense, though. I don’t do drugs and I won’t carry in camp. Got it.” His tone was jovial, showing off his good nature in a sharp contrast to Chase’s seemingly perpetual grump. “Anything else I should know?” He fell into step alongside the other man, approaching the camp and the bonfire beyond it.

“Yeah, but sometimes folks have trouble not hearing,” a few folks had slipped and broken the rules. A little bit of weed here. A gun there. Perhaps what seemed like an innocent lollipop on occasion. Maybe all anyone needed was the threat of Mark giving them a hard time to keep the situation from getting out of hand. He didn’t know, but what he did know was that camp life here was a little more chill than in other places. That could have had everything to do with how young Mark was, though.

“Mark’s the first, his second is Ian, kinda, and then Quinn is the campground guard and he’s a werewolf.” There was, added shortly after, “And Grace is Mark’s wife so… not that one.”

At the bonfire, a few beers had already been opened and everyone was leaned back, chatting. In the white and green plaid plastic woven lawn chair, Mark was sunk deep into it, sharing some sort of story with Jude when the two of them rolled up. His smile dimmed some, his eyes diverting to the new face. There would have been more hostility if not for Chase being by his side. Chase cleared his throat as they got closer, speaking sidelong to DJ, “And strangers. He really… really hates strangers coming into camp.”

“Ian’s the little brother with the weird reputation, right?” For Gypsies, information was currency, and Django had done his homework before making this move. He took the information about the werewolf in stride -- he’d heard all kinds of wild things about this Rhy’Din place, and had resolved not to react to it until he saw it for himself. For now it was just words, and words had a way of maintaining some distance from reality. He wouldn’t have to really think about it until he could put the truth of it to the test of his eyes.

Maybe the first thing he noticed when they approached the bonfire was that you could only tell for sure which one was Mark by the way the man was looking at him. He wasn’t apart from his mates, holding court like a king. He was right there with them at the first, sharing beers and conversation, just one of the many and another part of the family. He smiled, giving Chase a partial nod for the final advice.

“Mark, nice to meet you,” he said it with a friendly warmth in his voice, stretching one hand out to the First on offer. “Django Hazard, most call me DJ.”

“Ian and me both,” Chase’s response wasn’t salty, it sounded more like a mutter. But it would confirm that yes, maybe, just maybe, some of what he had heard was true. Ian was the wolf kid, and Chase had a crazy sister.

Mark stood out only because of a gentle deference people gave him. When he cleared his throat, they let him talk. When he rose up, they didn’t give him too much grief. Yet he was still there, young and in the midst of all the noise.

“I heard yah was on tha way. Yah seem a bit light fer an arrival.” He was talking about the fact that DJ didn’t have a bag, or an RV. That it was like Chase had brought him some lost drunkard from the Inn. Mark must have known better, his stance said he was expecting him and he actually took DJ’s hand to shake it in greeting. Mark was known for being “oblivious” to hand offerings in the past. It wasn’t the way he liked to say hello.

“Sah, is this all o’ yah or is there more tah come?” Right to business. Chase shrugged, ‘cause he didn’t know and he watched as Mark smiled in a way that was friendly, but tentatively so. DJ could sour him quickly if the response wasn’t right.

The man’s smile came easily, without reservation. It was a charming smile, broad and full of straight teeth that he must have been taking care of because they were all there and all mostly white. The grin had an inviting friendliness to it, but--similar to Mark’s-- it didn’t quite reach the deep blue eyes. In his gaze was a wariness, a hint of detachment. “Well, I don’t like t’be presumptuous,” he said as an explanation, and then gestured his truck in the parking lot. “My gear’s in the truck though, just in case.”

Mark took his hand and his smile stretched slightly -- could be that the Barlow leader was known for ignoring that particular gesture, could be he was secretly pleased to have gotten the handshake anyway. “There’s a few still ruminatin’ where I come from, but...I never have had much interest in waitin’ on the crowd to make up it’s mind so I came on early.”

“Good, we need new blood. There were ah clash before and tha ground swallowed some blood but it looks like those days ah behind us.” Mark’s hand still held his, it hesitated and then it let gah. His eyebrows knit a bit and then he nodded tah Chase, in tha way that excused him.

Chase got a moment o’ pause and then he was off like it was nothin’. Mark knew tha man tah be a bit moody, mehbe on account o’ hours he worked. His nights was everyone else’s days. Mehbe it was like tha whole world were always backwards fer him.

Now, tho, he were lookin’ at this new guy, “They always talk around camps. Come, we walk. You a smoker?” He stepped away from the bonfire, but the warmth of it, the smell of lazy, burned wood, followed him. There hadn’t been any marshmallows at all, and yet the feeling o’ them persisted. Tha sense that everyone was full on something which warmed them was carried along.

DJ nodded. “I heard a bit about that, yeah,” he acknowledged, and when Mark released his hand, he pressed his fingers to the spot between his eyebrows, rubbing an imaginary itch. “Glad to hear the trouble’s past, though.” His eyes chased Barlow’s to Chase, lingering there a moment. He gave the departing man a nod that said they’d catch up later, then redirected his attention to Mark.

“Yeah, I smoke sometimes. Roll my own though, if that’s cool?” The cans of tobacco were cheaper, and while the lack of filter made the smoke come more harsh, it also came with considerably less chemical trash. As he spoke, the blond dug a much battered cigarette tin out of his back pocket, popping it open with a push of the clasp. He offered it out to Mark, held open like a Bible, or the bill at a restaurant. “S’this… French tobacco called Gauloises. It’s pretentious as **** probly, but I like it.”

While he waited to see whether Mark would accept one, he glanced around at the other folks assembled at the fire. Nodding at this one and smiling for that one, he drew a rolled cigarette out for himself once Mark had made his choice. “Seems like a nice group y’got here. Sociable.”

Calling the tobacco pretentious prompted him tah give tha man a broad smile. Mark liked it when a man could see a thing for whut it were, still like it, and not hide it undah his bed like a secret he were keepin’ from mom. “Oi, yeah, that’s takin’ the task a bit serious.”

Usually, he weren’t a smoker. Most o’ tha time he got into having a few when he was drinkin’ around tha bonfire, like he were. Two beers deep and he jist got tha feeling o’ easy shoulders and warmth in his chest. Tha offer o’ one was made tah him, and truthfully he weren’t compelled tah have one, but tha moment were a symbol. DJ was invited in and here he made an offer, and there was eyes tah see it. Mark smiled again, reaching tah the rolled cigarette, pickin’ the one that looked tha most “normal” when he did sah.

“Been awhile since I had a rolled one. Mah Da used to roll ‘em fer a while, but he said it got tah be too much of a pain in tha ass.” He stepped away to get a lighter from one of the others and then offered it tah DJ. One might think a smoker woulda always had one on them, but they was always askin’ fer a light. And a cigarette. Odd little habit in how it worked like tha. Once lit up, his steps took him away from tha fire. Ovah his shoulder he checked that tha newcomer weren’t far off from him.

“It’s definitely more of a pain in the ass,” DJ agreed readily, snapping the case shut and slipping it back into his pocket once both cigarettes had been withdrawn. “But they last longer and it saves me a couple dollars here an’ there to feed my gas tank instead.” He smiled lightly -- there were precious few people who hadn’t heard of Mark’s Da, after all. “I had this idea that having to roll ‘em myself would make me smoke less, because it’s such a pain in the ass? But...now I just roll a bunch of ‘em at once when I can’t sleep.”

Broad shoulders moved in an easy shrug as he made fun of himself. Aware of the symbolism in the exchange, he accepted the lighter and fit the rolled smoke between his lips, getting it lit and then handing it back. He inhaled once and started moving, and when Mark looked back for him he was there, close behind.
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"I was born with my heart on my sleeve, a fire in my soul, and a mouth I can't control." ~Unknown
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Athinganoi
Wyrmling
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Joined: 13 Aug 2017
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Can Be Found: on the road, with the Barlows
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark were about tah tell him that rollin’ them didn’t stop anyone from smokin less they jis-- yeah, as he thought. His hand had gone up like he were waitin’ tah get to the end result tha DJ was talkin’ bout. Yeah. That.

“Sah, this place is home, and I like it tah stay tha way. You know anything about tha mob?” There were a point tah it, fer sure. He continued, “Tha reason why tha mobs, those Italian guys, lost whut they got was from peddling’ drugs. If whut you do is bad enough tha your sentence in prison is big? People dun wanna spend life in jail. People rather roll ovah, give up all they know. Half o’ us got something tah watch fer, and there’s no shortage o’ prejudice. Basically, I don’t got no moral qualm with drugs, but they get folks killed and they can disintegrate a family. I dun want them here and none tah be sold. Naht gonna welcome that kinda noise here, jist tah be clear. Same goes fer the guns.” Mark weren’t there when Chase gave the low down, but it didn’t take a scientist tah know that Mark musta had it out with a few folks about this.

“A little bit ah weed dun seem like a problem, but the Watch and Cops, well, they jist need one small excuse to turn things up on their head.” He weren’t lookin’ for DJ to enlighten him or engage him on the matter. Mark’s mind were made up, his unwavering eye contact and tha way his voice sounded said tha it was all written in stone. Whut was new to tha conversation, though, was the next bit, “Sah everyone in the family got something tah contribute. Whut’s yer trade?”

He listened attentively as they walked, recognizing this too as part of the ritual. Mark had to have known or at least guessed that Chase had given him the head’s up on this already, as unusual as Mark’s stance on this particular issue was among Camp leaders. He wouldn’t be wasting his breath to reiterate it if it wasn’t important that the newcomer heard it from him, if it wasn’t part of the official welcome. DJ dragged carefully on his cigarette and nodded.

“I had heard, and I understand,” he said, officially acknowledging the decree. Then he went a step further, putting his cards on the table because honesty seemed like a better course than omission. “Don’t mess with drugs, so that’s not a problem. I do have a piece though, a small one. It was m’brother’s, and it’s pretty much all I have left of him, so if it’s all the same to you I’d just as soon keep it. But it stays in my truck, and the truck stays locked.”

Blue eyes met darker blue, holding that contact to show that he knew it was serious and that he took it seriously. While he waited on the verdict, he answered the other question. “Chase is getting me a job at the factory with him, so if all goes well I’ll have income pretty immediately. M’trade is carpentry, though. Used to go around with m’dad and brother, building cabinets, finishin’ basements and the like.”

“I get tha.” Mark mighta known a thin’ or two about tha value o’ somethin’ tha were sentimental. He took a pull on his cigarette, forgettin’ that it would hit his throat harder. He nearly coughed, but all it did was make his breath shake as he moved quick tah breathe in tha fresh air tah soothe tha ache of it. Clearing his throat, he swallowed befer goin’ on, “Yah leave your ammo with Quinn. Nothing illegal about it, yeah?” Mark liked folks tah keep their heads down. Carrying a weapon without the right local registration were jist anotha way fer someone tah have a reason to toss yah in the clink.

“Oi, carpentry is good. There are a few cabinets in camp which got somethin’ goin’ on with the hinges. I’ll have Grace make up a list o’ whut folks is needin’ and we can start from there.” In short, he were wantin’ tah see how well DJ could do whut he said. At mention of Chase and the factory, he nodded, “S’good. They pay under the table sah… can’t beat that.”

The path they were walking was on the outskirts of camp. It were almost like he was givin’ him a tour except he weren’t pointing at the RVs and tents and sayin’ who was livin where. Whut he did do was stop in front of his own, “Me and tha wife are here.” He took another pull of his cigarette, “You said you got a truck and gear. Is part o’ tha gear a tent?” Mark was trying tah sort out where tah put him.

DJ didn’t call attention to the near cough, giving the other man a moment to gather himself while he ashed his cigarette and hit it again before he responded. “Quinn, got it.” He said with a nod, breaking into a smile a moment later. “Which one is Quinn?” He had it from Chase that Quinn was a werewolf and he’d heard in the wind that the man was also gay, but Django didn’t exactly feel qualified to speculate just what a gay werewolf looked like. “Nothin’ illegal, and I think I only got like three bullets anyway. I don’t do anything with it, just keep it ‘cause it’s his.”

He could tell, or maybe he just thought he could because it was what he wanted to see, that Mark understood where he was coming from. Even when you kept things safer like the Barlow leader was trying to, gypsies still turned up missing or dead with a depressing frequency.

His smile spread at the mention of Grace and her list. It wasn’t a surprise-- you didn’t show up claiming expertise in something and not expect to get tested on it. “Sure. If I get this job I’ll be working nights, so… that’ll leave the mornings free when people are first gettin’ to their business.” They walked companionably enough, and from time to time, DJ scanned the area they were passing, noting landmarks, remarkable features on the RVs, to orient himself. When they stopped, he looked over the RV they were standing in front of, glancing back over his shoulder at the fire to fix its position in his mind.

“Speakin’ a’ that, congratulations on your marriage.” Word of the Barlow wedding was still new enough that it felt appropriate. He scratched at his jaw, fingernails scraping against the stubble, and his chin dipped in a nod. “For right now, yeah. I left the one I was in ‘cause there were three of them and one a’ me. Figured either they’d come along in a few days’ time or I’ll find something else. In the meantime, I like the stars.”

“Quinn’s tha tall one, mehbe somethin’ of a pretty boy by the look ah him, but I didn’t say that.” DJ broke into a grin, but didn't interrupt. To the part about his carpentry, Mark spoke on, “Tha be a good thin’. We got folks, mehbe even folks like me, who try tah fix thin’s as best they can instead of doin’ it proper. Will be good tah have a real fix happen sah…. Yah might be undoing some half-hearted attempts. Yah know, likes shoving half folded napkins under a table tah keep it from wobblin’.” Of course, tha weren’t what DJ would be encountering. Maybe some glue, some weirdly angled nails and screws covered with paint. Whutever it were, really, tha folks thought might half-fix their “situation.”

“Thank yah,” There was the tip of his head to DJ before he shoved away from tha trailer, startin back towards tha bonfire at a meanderin’ pace, “Imma need a list o’ whut yah need, nah need tah be shy.” The list a man made said a lot. If he wanted help, hated help, or somehow got it in his head he were entitled. Mark stopped about eight feet shy o’ the crowd and talk which was about the bonfire flames, “You got anything I need tah know? Cause yer moment fer tha is now, and iffin you do it later I might naht have an open heart tah it.”

DJ laughed, transferring his weight to one battered workboot so he could stub the hand rolled cigarette out on the heel of the other. Putting it back to his lips, he blew gently out on the opposite end, forcing the smoke from the tobacco that remained. He slid the case from his pocket, slipped the half smoked roll into it for safekeeping, snapped it shut with an audible metallic click. “Whatever it is, I’ve seen worse. Promise.”

With the tour apparently over, DJ wasn’t real sure what to do with himself next, whether he’d been dismissed or what. He had just decided on heading back to the truck when the question gave him pause. Stumped, he racked his brain, blinked. “I don’t...think so? Is there anything you want to know you haven’t figured out yet?”

Tah whut DJ said he jist winked and then nodded tah the bonfire, “S’good place to get to know folks. Fer now you can have a spot with Chase and Voo, we’ll figure out where you go permanent aftah that.” Whether it would be with someone else, maybe Jude, Jenny, Quinn or Ian, they would find the spot fer him tah be. They needed tah start thinking of those thin’s anyway, since more folks were coming in.

If there was question that the tour were over, Mark answered it by noddin’ and then making his way back to the bonfire, still drawin’ on that cigarette.

Django stood there a moment, just taking in his surroundings, and then headed back towards his truck. So this is home. Well, time to get settled in, then.
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