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The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
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Simon Toews
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:20 pm    Post subject: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language) Reply with quote

Nothing was the same. Tahlia was off on some vague scam with another man, and while the occasional visit or phone call was great, he was left sitting alone in an apartment that she got from a different �other man�. The place was a reminder that, despite everything, despite the L word getting dropped, she wasn't entirely his. Such time only brought images he didn't, couldn't bring himself to face.

He knew what often happened on cons she ran. He didn't want to hear the moans, envision the wandering hands. He didn't want...many things. What he needed was a distraction. He needed to clear his head, learn to live without carrying the self destructive hatred that he fueled him for so damn long.

He had vehicles stashed all over the city. Granted, none of them were really his, per se, but he had a way out. One call and a promise to Tahlia later, and he was ready to go.

Sliding into the driver's seat of a black 72 Charger, he felt a bit more comfortable. This felt familiar. The engine roared to life, the vehicle seemingly trembling and ready for their journey. There was no destination, but at the moment, that suited him just fine. A bit of Whitesnake crackled to clarity through the speakers, bringing a smile to his lips.

�Here I go again.�
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was so much out there he'd often failed to notice. The relatively small area that made up the central hub of Rhydin could sometimes feel like the entire universe. But there was so much more.

There wasn't a building in sight on the dusty road. Just the sand and a sprawling, blue sky, cloudless and perfect. His tattooed arm hung out the window, the warm air whipping at his skin. This was good. This was peaceful. This was free.

The only thing he had to focus on was the road ahead, the white lines whipping past in a sort of visual staccato. Blue eyes stared out from behind dark sunglasses, for the first time in a week the doubts and confusion in his mind silenced.

As he continued on, the sun began to slowly disappear in the horizon, the sky turned to brilliant masterpiece of oranges, blues and purples. It called so many memories to the forefront of his mind. Things he'd forced himself to forget over the years. When he glanced over, he could almost see her sitting there. A tiny, smiling little one, her dark hair in pigtails, singing along to the radio, just a hint off-key. He'd thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world.

Cici. His Cici.

Where are we going, Daddy? Shed ask him.

He would reach over and flick one of those dangling tails, making her giggle.

I dunno, baby girl. He'd say with a grin. That's why it's an adventure.

Like the stories?

Just like the stories. You and me, baby girl.

Always? She'd ask.

And forever.

But she wasn't there. She hadn't been there for 11 years, and she never would be again. So many years had been spent trying to bury that pain. To avoid it. So many years in a haze of drugs, booze, women and violence. Then along came Tahlia.

The woman he never saw coming. Without meaning to, she'd filled a hole deep in his soul. Given him something to fight for, something to live for. So much time spent pursuing an end and suddenly there was this whole other purpose. A fire that spread and consumed him. That was Tahlia Faras.

Suddenly, none of the other things seemed to matter. Not the fights, not the next drink, and most definitely not the end.

The phone chirped out its warning, the smirking face of the redhead appearing on the screen, dressed to the nines. A grin crossed his lips as he snapped a quick shot of the sunset, his thumbs typing out a quick message.

Wish you were here.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day turned to night turned to day over and over again. Roadside motels, small town inns, and truck stop eateries became the way of life for the next week. All the while, he kept in touch as best he could with the redheaded con artist who he called his. Not particularly anxious to dwell on the particulars of what she was doing (or really, who), he kept conversation to the basics. Stuff he'd seen, how he was doing, where the next stop was. It wouldn't do to get all jealous and worked up. That was completely contrary to the agreement! The almost entirely unspoken agreement they'd made when they started shacking up together.

But, then...that was before the L word got dropped. Now, everything was far more complicated. Now he wanted her. He wanted her for himself, not to share. It was stupid, and naive, and completely against who he knew her to be. Simon had her love...but exactly what in the hell did that even mean with people like them? And was he even still that person? Was he even in a place to know what he wanted when even he wasnt sure the man hed been hadnt been lost in that fire?

He shook his head, coming out of those dangerous thoughts and back to now. The window down, sunglasses upon his face, and wind whipping through his hair, Simon drove on. His attentions returned not a moment too soon as the engine made a whining noise and the Challenger began to cough and sputter. A frown pulled his lips downward as the vehicle rolled to a stop along the gravel shoulder of the road. Great he muttered to himself, unbuckling his seatbelt and sliding out of the car.

The moment he popped open the hood he was hit in the face with smoke. He waved it away, coughing and peering down into the engine. Simon had many talents, but he was not a mechanic. He looked around, finding nothing but road stretching miles in front and behind him, and just miles of sand and dirt to either side, fading off into distant mountains. In short, he was a screwed. Mother ****er! he yelled kicking the tire in frustration.

Alright, he decided, you let the bad in, Simon. Now lets deal with it. He could start walking onward and hope there was a town nearby...or go back 25 or so miles in the other direction...either choice wasnt exactly appetizing with that sun beating down upon him. At least he had a few bottles of water stashed in the cooler, but even then...walking.

He decided to take one last look at the engine. Maybe a hose came loose or something simple. No harm in checking. Simon leaned in, peering down, not entirely sure what he was looking for, but dammit, he was looking. He barely even registered the sound of a truck pulling up ahead of him, grinding to a rest along the shoulder with him.

Havin a bit a trouble? A feminine voice called out to him.

Simon glanced over his shoulder, catching sight of her. 57, brown hair streaked with dirty blonde highlights tied back in a pony tail, eyes hidden behind a pair of aviators. Her slender frame clad in a pair of tight blue jeans and a black tanktop. Behind her, a big Ford pick-up rumbled. It oddly seemed to suit her.

Yeah he grumbled. Was just rollin along and she took a ****.

Mind if I take a look? she asked.

You know about cars?

No, I just ask to see strangers broken down engines for fun. She said, a little smirk appearing as she approached. The stranger pulled off her glasses, revealing big, round eyes that held a myriad of colors. Blue, green, brown...it was hard to pinpoint an exact color. Her brows knit together as she looked down. Well...definitely somethin goin on with your radiator. Might be cracked somewhere. You been gettin this beauty take care off on the reg?

He scrunched his face, and it was all he needed to tell her. The woman chuckled and shook her head. Cmon, man...gotta give a little love to these older gals....

Well, I just kinda...picked this one up. He explained. No need to tell her that it wasnt...entirely legally procured.

Tell you what. she said. My father-in-law loves this kinda stuff. Hes way better at this than even me. So, whattaya say we hitch the old girl up and I bring it on over them?

Good lord, and he thought HE was naive. Part of him wanted to lecture her about picking up a stranger on the road. The old broken down car bit was a favorite of carjackers and thieves. And he would know...he was one back in the day.

You sure? he asked her.

Yeah, not a problem. She said, turning. That was when he saw the grip of a pistol out the back of her jeans.

Okay, he thought maybe not so naive.

The pair of them managed to hitch the car up and he climbed into the passenger side.

Whats your name Sleeves? she asked. Simon glanced at his tattooed arms a moment before responding.

Simon.

She put her sunglasses back on and threw the car into gear. Kate. Kate Wilder.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kate gripped the wheel, side eyeing the man she'd picked up, his beautiful Charger dragging like a corpse behind them. A shame, she thought. Car like that would've been a dream for her.

Then there was the owner. Tough, rugged good looks drew you in, despite the tattoos covering his arms and creeping out beneath his collar telling you to stay away. But he was quiet. Reserved. Most men she'd met in these parts would've been staring at her tits or assmade some sort of pass at her. But he looked her in the eye, spoke respectfully. That earned the stranger some points in her book.

So, where about you from, Simon? She asked, breaking the lingering silence.

Out east. Towards the coast. He informed her.

City boy, huh? She smirked.

Somethin like that. He grinned, hooking an arm out the window as he fished around his pocket for a pack of smokes. He drew a cigarette out with his teeth and paused. Do you mind?

Kate waved him off and he lit the cigarette. Simon blew the smoke out the window. How bout you?

She nodded ahead. Little town we're headed to called Noble. Few miles up ahead. Kate knew Noble was a dead end. The sort of place where dreams went to die. If not for Pops and Nan, she'd have gotten the hell out years ago. She'd broached the idea to the old man, but Pops was nothing if not stubborn. No, he'd said, This my home. I was brought into the world here, and the good lords gonna have to drag me out to get me to leave.

Shed been immediately taken in by Charlies parents when they met. Her own were practically strangers. But the Marstons were good people and they loved her. Thats all that mattered and that was why she stayed.

She glanced over to him as she drove. So, what brings a guy like you out to my little piece of nowhere?

Simon turned his gaze to her. Just needed a change of scenery, I guess.

Mm. She nodded. Vague.

SImon laughed a bit. Yeah, well, thats kinda my way. Ive been through some stuff lately, needed to clear my head. Lets leave it at that.

Well, THAT, I can get my head around. She smiled. God knew shed seen her share of troubles that made her want to just pack up and drive and never stop. And hows that going for ya?

Not great. He deadpanned.

Kate couldnt help the chuckle that left her. Well, hopefully Pops will take a looksee and get you back on the road to self-discovery.

You put it that way, sounds like I should be writing a book.

Oh yeah. A book full of vague references. 200 pages of And then someone who mighta been me did a thing and there were consequences for better or worse. She said with a smirk.

Simon eyed her a moment, a little smile on his lips. Youd read it. he said in a confident tone.

Oh yeah, stranger. Cover to cover.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The truck rolled to a stop at the foot of a dirt road right before sunset. The farm spread out far and wide, stalks of corn surrounding the place like a miniature forest. A barn and a stable off to one side while a cozy two story farmhouse was set in front of them. Simon peered around as Kate hopped down. Here's home.

Katie-girl? That you? An elderly male voice called out from the barn.

Yeah, Pop. I brought company. She called back.

The man who stepped out looked every bit like an old cowboy. Tall, lean, with silver hair swept back and a thick grey mustache upon his upper lip. So I see. He said, looking over the stranger on his property.

Simon could tell the man immediately smelled trouble on him. He moved over to him and offered a hand. How's it goin? Simon Toews.

The old man glanced at his tatted, deformed hand a second before taking it in a firm handshake. Not to be outdone or mocked as a city boy, he squeezed right back. That got a little grin out of the old cowboy. Ya got a good handshake, kid. Too many young'uns come at ya with a dead fish. I can respect that. Virgil Marston, though most folks round here just call me Pop.

Simon smiled and released his hand. Nice to meet you, Mr. Marston.

Virgil laughed ****, kid, you ain't the girls prom date. Virgil. Or Pop. Whichever suits ya.

The old man glanced around him at the downed vehicle, grey eyebrows rising as he stepped around. He whistled, approaching the vehicle. Now, that is a thing of beauty. What is she? 71?

72. Simon corrected with a smirk. He watched the old cowboy lean into the window and look around.

Whats wrong with er?
Well, thats what Im hopin you can tell me. Simon responded.

Virgil snickered, shaking his head. Damn kids. Driving a work of art around, dont even know how to take care of it. Pop the hood will ya?

Simon walked up to the door, leaning in and hitting the release. Virgil planted himself over the engine compartment. So, whered Katie find you, kid?

Simon came over, watching him with his tatted arms crossed. Broke down in the ass end of nowhere.

Yeah...thats where she finds most of her strays. He said, squinting. What brings you out to my little piece of nowhere?

Had to get away for a bit.

Virgil eyed the tattooed stranger. If trouble were personified, it would look like Simon Toews. You in bad with the law?

That gave Simon a laugh and a shake of the head. In all reality, he probably should have been...but this was Rhydin and Calloway was gone. The Watch didnt seem to have much interest in taking him down, so...no. The law wasnt what he was running from.

Ah. Virgil said with a knowing smirk. Lady, then?

Something like that. He responded.

Well, kid...not much Im gonna be able to tell ya right now. Ill wanna get er in the garage and get a better look at whats gone wrong here. Youre welcome to stay, if ya want.

Simon shot him a bemused look. That wasnt an offer hed much recieved from random strangers. Not when you looked like him. In your house?

Virgil shrugged. Dont see why not.

You aint worried Im gonna do somethin?

You plannin on it, kid? Virgil eyed him...Simon knew that look. It was one hed often used. It was confident and threatening and calm all at once. Virgil wasnt one to mess with.

No, sir. Just sayin.

Kid, one thing you oughta know about me...Im always ready, Im always armed...and if ya make a move on me, Katie, or my little Millie, Ill put ya down before you even know what hit ya. Virgil said cooly. Nothing in the mans tone suggested that it was an idle threat or hot air. Simon liked him.

Millie? He asked. He hadnt been told of a Millie.

My granddaughter. Katies girl.

Something cold spread through Simons chest. He hadnt really spent any time around a kid since Cici. The mere idea gave him an uncomfortable, panicking chill.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simon stepped into the guest room of the cozy little farmhouse. The smell of mothballs and wood on the fire permeated throughout the place. The room was sparsely appointed, a dresser with a mirror, a night stand, and a brass framed bed the only furniture to be found.

He set his bag upon the bed and looked in the mirror. The bags under his eyes showed a man who had pushed the limits of how long he could stay awake behind the wheel. The car breaking down was probably a mixed blessing. What he wouldnt give for the redhead back home to wrap her arms around him from behind, press her cheek against his back, and then curl up against his side in bed.

Simon was pulled out of his revery by the sound of a creaking floorboard. He turned his gaze toward the sound finding a young girl, maybe 8 or 9. Dark brown hair, light blue eyes and her hair up in the same kind of pigtails Cici used to wear. Something squeezed at his heart seeing the kid, words completely escaping him as he saw her.

Who are you? She asked him in that sweet, curious tone.

He eyed her a moment before putting on a friendly smile. Im Simon. He said turning toward her. And you must be Millie.

Her brows raised. You know me?

He couldnt help the chuckle as he crouched before her. The famous Millie? Sure do, little lady. Your ma told me all about ya.

She grinned bashfully, a little giggle leaving her. Simon offered a hand to her, the little girl taking it. Nice to meetya, kiddo. He said

Millie cocked her head, looking at his tattoos. You got lotsa drawings on you.

He glanced down. Yeah, spose I do.

You use a marker? I did that once and mama was ready to whup me. she said with all the seriousness of a secret agent.

He couldnt help but laugh, his head shaking. No, these were a little more difficult to get than just a marker.

...a crayon? she asked with a squint, trying to imagine what would be more difficult than a marker. That one had Simon belly laughing.

Millie. Kate said stepping up the stairs. Dont bother the nice man.

Simon waved her off. Ahhhh, she aint no bother. Were fast friends, right? He said raising a hand for a high five.

Right! Simon was telling me his doodle arms! Millie said and slapped his hand.

She gave the stranger a questioning look and he mouthed tats.

Oh, he did, did he? Well, fast friends. She said, a pointed look at Millie. I hate to break up the gab sesh, but its time for someone to go wash up for supper.

The little girl whined, but Kate just shot her a look. Go on, now. Git.

As Millie ran off, Kate turned those brilliant eyes on Simon, a little smirk tugging at the corners of her mouth. Youre pretty good with kids, I take it?

Yeah, Im alright. he shrugged.

The single mom leaned against the doorway, eyeing him. Got kids of your own?

His face barely changed, despite the sinking feeling inside. No. Not anymore.

Her lips parted, her face flooding with sympathy. Oh...oh, Jesus. Im sorry, I didnt mean-

Its fine. It was...a long time ago. He said, holding up a hand.

Well...Ive got some dinner cooking, if you wanna get settled in and join us, youre more than welcome. She smiled. Until then...make yourself at home...Doodle arms. A smirk played across her lips as she left Simon standing there.

Cici weighed heavily on his mind. How that little girl reminded him of her. It brought that old, familiar ache. The one he used to suppress with violence, drugs, alcohol or women...now, he didnt know just how to deal with it.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heat. Screams. Gunfire. It was all around him. Simon ran towards the door, back in his room at the old factory. The second his hand touched the knob, he was scalded and withdrew. Smoke filled his vision, his nose, his lungs. Those screams continued from the other side, urging him on desperately..

Simon reeled back and kicked the door open with all his might. Fire filled his old living space, so bright and hot he could barely see. The screams continued as he brought his arm to shield his face and pushed onward, his limbs becoming heavier and heavier with every step. It was like somebody had attached a chain to his back and kept pulling. Figures ahead were barely silhouettes in the raging flames as he fell to the ground on his hands and knees.

He remembered that scream. It was one hed heard in his nightmares for years. Simon couldnt see her face yet, but it was etched on his memories, clear as day. Cici. Terror in her young eyes as he crawled, helpless to save her.

And the other...blonde. Curvaceous. Trouble personified. Tahlia had swept through his life like a tornado. Reawakening a fire in him that had died with Cici. Now, the two were together, struggling against invisible bonds, screaming for him to help them.

Simons muscles ached and strained, dragging his impossibly heavy body across the hot floor. Every bit of his body and soul felt overexerted, drained. And then the third figure stepped forward. Hed half expected to see Cotter standing there. Just as it had been the day Cici was ripped away from him.

But it wasnt.

As Simons gaze turned upward, all he saw was himself.

A cigarette hung from his lips, his eyes lost to shadow. The cherry glowed with a hellish orange light as he took a drag. The smell of gasoline filled his nostrils suddenly, and he wasnt in his old home anymore. Suddenly, he was in that old warehouse from 11 years ago. Cici and Tahlia knelt in the puddle of gasoline, both of them drenched and wailing.

Please he tried to shout. But his voice only came out as a whisper. His doppleganger stared down with those dark eyes and flashed a bright, toothy grin. The shadow Simon held up that cigarette as if presenting it.

Please Simon begged again.
Simons stomach turned as the shadowy version of himself flicked the cigarette away, sending it tumbling slowly into the puddle. The trapped fighter screamed and writhed, trying to move, but couldnt budge even an inch as the flames burst to life, rushing towards Tahlia and Cici, his cries echoing into nothing as the inferno engulfed them.

He lurched upright in his bed, his body covered in a cold sweat. That world was gone. Here, it was quiet. Peaceful. The sound of crickets creeped in through the window as he tried to catch his breath. A dream. It was only a dream

Simon wiped the sweat from his brow and tried to even out his breathing. He closed his eyes and then grabbed his jeans.

Moments later he stood out on the porch, the sky littered with bright, brilliant stars. A cigarette raised to his lips, the flame illuminating his face briefly as he lit the tip. It *was* incredibly peaceful out here. Coming from a place that was full of noise and bodies, standing along in the middle nowhere surrounded by nothing but open land as far as the eye could see was an odd comfort.

The screen door behind him creaked open, drawing his attention back. Kate stood in a pair of PJ pants and a tank top, her hooded sweatshirt pulled tight around her slender frame. She lifted her chin toward him, a little smirk on her face.

Night owl, huh, Doodlearms?

Simon grinned. Yeah, thats me. Burnin the midnight oil. He took a drag and blew it out the corner of his mouth. Didnt wake you, did I?

Kate shook her head and stepped out, surveyed her property a moment. Simon had to admit, she was a looker. There was a time not so long ago, those eyes alone might have done him in. She turned those multi-colored hues upon him, glancing at the cigarette in his hand. You bring enough for the rest of class or what?

Oh. Right. He said, fishing in his pocket. My manners. He let her draw one out and quickly lit it for her.

Kate took a drag, holding that smoke in a while before letting it glide out from her nostrils as she gazed at the farm in the moonlight. So, what do you do, Simon? She asked appraising his tatooed form. I dont imagine youre a kindergarten teacher or a preacher, lookin like that.

Simon looked down at his arms a moment. You implyin somethin? he said, feigning offense.

She snorted. Nah. Youre a picture of well-adjusted. The tats and scars wouldnt terrify a room full of children at all.

Simon smirked, a quiet laugh escaping him. Im sorta in-between things at the moment...

Kate watched as if waiting for him to finish. When it became clear he hadnt planned to, she continued for him. Buuuut, Kate, I used to...what? Ride dirtbikes for a living? Hand-model?

That got a genuine laugh out of him. I dont imagine theyd want mangled hands for that gig.

Hey, you dont know. She smirked. Those meat hooks are so messed up, theyll make the jewelry look even better.

Kate leaned her hip against the railing and looked him in the eye. Come on. Level with me.

I was a fighter. He admitted.

Like a boxer?

Cage. Bare knuckle. he clarified.

That makes sense. She said, squinting and nodding. Were you good.

Well, not to brag, but oh yeah. I was awesome. Totally blow your mind. He nodded with faux vigor.

Kate shot him a toothy grin, taking another drag. So? What made you quit?

He snorted. What makes every man quit something hes good at?

Castration? She deadpanned, getting a laugh out of him. So. You found yourself a girl, huh? And where is she on this road to self-discovery?

Off somewhere with some other guy.

Her brows raised. Wow. Damn. Thats some ****y luck.

No, Simon laughed, Its not like that. Shes working a job.

Kate leveled a stare at him. Why do I feel like that jobs not entirely legal?

It probably isnt. He admitted. If he was honest, he didnt quite understand the point of the whole thing, other than getting money, but it wasnt like he was some pure, good intentioned angel his whole life either. Hell the amount of blood on his hands alone would terrify Kate if she knew.

The young mother took a long drag, studying the stranger before her. Do I need to worry about you, Simon? She asked slowly, pointedly. Are you gonna be a problem for me?

The corners of his mouth twitched just a bit before he shook his head. No. Im just a guy trying to figure things out.

Kate nodded. Good. Because you do anything to put me, Pops or my little girl in trouble? They aint gonna find your body. We clear.

She was ballsy. Tough. Simon liked that. Crystal.

Good. She said stomping out her cigarette. Then we can be friends!

Kate smiled and went past him, giving his arm a squeeze. Dont stay up too late.

Ugh, fine, Mom. He whined.

Dont you use that tone with me! She called back, playing along.

He made a noise like a whiny teenager.

Hey, I brought you into this world, Ill take you out! She said with faux anger. Little ****... she muttered, heading on in.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Morning came early on the farm. The unwelcome sound of a rooster letting out an ear-splitting crow tore Simon out of a dreamless sleep. He bolted upright in the bed reaching around frantically for some kind of weapon that wasnt there.

It took a moment before he got a grip on where he was and the embarrassment set in. Well, he thought, at least nobody saw. Simon stood, clad in a form fitting tanktop and pajama pants, and walked to the window looking out on the sprawling field, the early morning sunlight warming his inked skin. Virgil was heading out to start his work in the fields.

A knock came from the door. You decent? Kate called.

Yeah, I do alright. He joked.

She mimicked the sound of a rimshot and peeked her head in. Breakfast is on if youre hungry.

Breakfast. He said with a squint. I gotta say, I cannot remember the last time I had a real breakfast.

Oh, hoho Kate chuckled. Well, youre about to enter the thunderdome of Breakfasts, my friend. Bacon, eggs, toast, pancakes if you want, I made us up some ham hash, and we got fresh milk and freshly squeezed orange juice. The woiks. she said, affecting an accent.

Jesus. He said, dumbfounded. Thats a lot of food,

Youre gonna need it, doodles. Trust me. She said ruefully.

How about coffee? He asked with a smirk.

I think I can arrange that. Kate told him, pushing off the doorway. See you downstairs.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kate brushed past Millie, leaning down and planting a kiss atop her head without breaking stride. The little girl put on a big cheesy grin, letting out one of those little kid heheeeeeee giggles that never failed to get a chuckle out of her in return. The stranger in her house probably should have been some concern to her. The tattoos, the scars, that quiet sense of danger about him...it should have been off-putting.

But here she was, making a space for him at her breakfast table, letting him sleep in her home. Maybe it was the kind, quiet way he spoke to her, or the somewhat sad, weary look in his eyes, but there was something about him that she trusted. Most men seemed to only have eyes for specific parts of her body, but he didnt seem to give her a second glance in a way that suggested an attraction. Plus, hed earned points by being nice to Virgil.

Pops was the one man in her life she truly counted on. Tough, seemingly fearless, but kind, protective of those he loved. How hed managed to retain such a good heart with everything that had happened

Her thoughts were interrupted as a creak came from the stairs. Simon stood at the foot of the staircase, a plain white t-shirt and blue jeans on his slim, toned form, his blonde hair just short of messy. That man must have broken hearts wide-open back home, she thought.

Mornin Doodlearms! Millie said with a happy little wave as she loaded up her plate.

Millie! Kate exclaimed, a little mortified, but also trying not to laugh. Rude.

Im sorry. MISTER Doodlearms. Millie corrected herself with a sullen tone.

Simons face lit up in a laugh. Mornin Ms. Munchkinface. He said, moving into the kitchen and to the plates, offering a nod to the blushing single mother. Kate.
Dont encourage her. Kate gave him a comically weary look. How do you like your coffee?

Black. he responded.

Kate let out an exasperated sound and rolled her eyes. What is it with guys and black coffee? Is that supposed to make you tough because you drink something that tastes like burnty, sweaty ass?

Simon laughed, loading up on ham hash. I dont know, I just like it like that.

Well, have you TRIED cream and sugar? I promise, its WAY better.

He put on that bemused little smirk and shook his head. Cant say that I have.

Kates eyes bugged out. Okay. Thats it. Youre trying this.

Simon looked over to Millie, deadpanned. She always like this?

Millies eyes flicked from her mother and back to Simon. And she nodded.

Hush, you. Youre supposed to be on my side. Kate said, pointing at the child while pouring the cup. She added two cream and sugar, stirred it, and slid it over to him, a smug, confident look on her face as she crossed her arms.

Simons blue eyes stayed on the light brown concoction a moment before shifting up to her. He reached over and took the cup in his hand. The mug was raised in a form of salute to her before being brought to his lips for a sip.

Simon froze for a moment, staring off at nothing as Kate waited with bated breath.

Ohmygod he whispered.

RIGHT?! She said, slapping the counter.

Seriously? He said, taking another sip. Yeah. Yeah, that is WAY better.

Told you! I told you! She grinned ear to ear. Next time were going out and getting a fancy coffee.

Millie just gave them both a look like they were crazy. Kate sipped her own cup, catching the look. What?

Coffees gross and youre both weird.

Simon snorted into his drink.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To say that working on the farm was hard would be an understatement. Every bit of that big breakfast served him well as Virgil ran him ragged doing odd jobs. How the old man had the energy and strength to do it all was beyond Simon, especially with the hitch in his step. It was sunset when he was finishing up repairs on a gate. 4 hours had spent wrangling up escaped pigs.

Simon was hot, sore and exhausted. His shirt left hanging on a fence post, his tattoos and scars were left on display. The sound of boots crunching on the dirt caught his attention. When Simon looked back, Virgil was approaching. Hows it goin kid?

Simon rose up, turning to face him. I feel like I went 20 rounds with a minotaur.

Pigs get the best of ya? the old man asked with a smirk.

Simon grinned and glanced over his shoulder. Bastards are persistent, Ill give em that.

Virgil glanced over the ink that covered his arms, shoulders and creeped down onto his chest like tendrils. I gotta ask kid...whats with all the ink?

Reminders. Simon said simply.

Well, ****, kid, thats why they got these little gadgets called notebooks... Virgil chuckled.

Simon shot him an amused little smirk. I been through some things. Things I need to carry with me. These are my way of keeping them alive and owning them. He grabbed the shirt and pulled it on, buttoning it closed a he went.

Virgil regarded him curiously. Who are you, Simon? He asked, walking with him. What did you get yourself into?

Long story. Simon responded. What about you, Virgil? Whats your story? You dont strike me as a lifelong farmer.

I dont? What makes you say that?

Simon shrugged. Seen a lot of injuries in my time. Dont imagine that limp came from a milking mishap.

Virgil studied him, considering whether or not to share that with him. The boy had a lot of questions for someone who played things so close to the vest. I was a sheriff. he said, finally.

That makes sense. Simon nodded. What happened?

Town went corrupt. Most of the department went corrupt. Those who didnt...well. Virgil canted his head toward his leg. Katie n me packed our bags and hightailed it outta there.

Simon furrowed his brow in surprise. You ran?

You disapprove? Virgil asked with that sly little smirk of his. Suppose you think I shoulda gone in guns blazing. Takin the whole corrupt system down or died tryin?

Simon shrugged. He had to admit...it WAS what hed have done.

I had Katie and Millie and a bum leg to worry about. He said. Those girls are what matter to me. Protecting them is whats important to me, not revenge. I aint sayin Im entirely proud of what I did...but theyre alive and safe because of it and Id do it again.

You dont wish youd tagged em back?

Virgils grin dropped slowly, his eyes drifting away. There was something there behind his body language. A sadness or more likely, regret. The old man turned his eyes back up at him and shook his head. No.

Nothing about it suggested that Simon should press him further, so Simon just walked with him back to the house.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simon stepped out of the bathroom, freshly showered, drying his hair with a towel. His muscles ached from the strain of a hard day's work. Even for a man in his physical condition, it wasnt easy working on a farm. He snatched up a t-shirt and walked up to the window. Virgil was out in the barn already, working on the car.

Old man had more energy than he would have imagined. Simon smirked, shaking his head.

Darn it! He heard a young voice exclaim across the hall. Simon stepped out and into the doorway, leaning a shoulder on one side.

Whats with all the not-cussin in here? He asked. Millie sat at her desk looking frazzled, a math book open in front of her. The little girl looked up at him pitifully. Math. I hate it.

Yeah? Simon pushed off the doorway and stepped over, peering down.
Multiplication, huh? Never really got the hang of that one, myself.

Millie frowned up at him. Its hard.

Well, let me take a look he squinted. Alright...5 times 13

Simon screwed up his mouth, thinking. Thats...18, aint it?

She gave him an unimpressed look. Thats addition.

Oh, right, right. Which one is multiplication?

Millie did not look amused.

Hey, I didnt get much schoolin growin up. Simon said, hands up. Explain it to me. He at least looked genuine.

Millie eyed him a moment before speaking again. Okay. So, like, you have...like...2 times, I dont know...4. Thats like going two plus two, but four times in a row.

Ohhhhh He said, feigning like he just figured it out. So...basically, what we have here is?

Its double digits. She said dejected. Simon smirked. The doubt was in her head.

Right, but its pretty much 13 plus 13, but five times in a row. Isnt it? He rose his brow, looking to her. Ooh, or 5 plus 5 thirteen times?

Millie furrowed her brow No, because. And then it clicked. Her eyes went wide. I get it! I get it!

She went right to scribbling down the problem. There werent very many academic topics he could help out with, but finding easier ways to get an overthinking mind around simple math concepts was a specialty.

He slinked out of the room as she worked. Even from the hall, he could hear the tension in hushed voices coming from downstairs. Something was up. When Simon reached the bottom of the stairs, Virgil and Kate were in the midst of an argument.

Look, she told me theyre out of town. I havent been into town in- Kate was saying, pushing through the screen door.

You dont know when theyre comin back, kid! What happens if they do? Virgil asked her.

They wont! Kate countered.

You dont know that!

Kate wheeled around on him. Look. I cant just stay here and hide the rest of my life. That town is my home. I should be able to go back there when I want.

Yeah, kid. You should. In a perfect world, ya would. But this aint a perfect world. Virgils tone changed from chastising to soothing.

Kates eyes lowered a moment. Pops Those brilliantly colored hues turned back up to the old man. Im going.

God damn it, girl, you aint got the sense the good lord gave a gopher.

Them boys find you there, how brave you gonna be? Virgil rumbled.

Simon stepped into the room before Kate could respond. Whats goin on?

Kate gave him one look. You. Youre comin with me. She turned to Virgil with a smirk. See? Now I got back up if somethin goes down.

The old man gave Simon a once over. He certainly LOOKED the part of someone you didnt want to tangle with. Fine. He finally relented. But things go south, you get the hell outta there, yhear?

We will, Pops. She said, grabbing Simon by the arm and leading him away.

Where...where are we going? Simon asked, confused.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The actual town of Noble wasn’t exactly a metropolis. A few shops, a bunch of bars and a restaurant or two were about the only attractions. The police force was small, but everyone knew who was really in charge.

Emmett and Lyle Marks had used their daddy’s influence to treat the town like their personal playground. Cops were paid off to look the other way while Callum and his boys ran their illegal operations. Drugs, weapons, gambling were all rampant with no signs of stopping.

But with the boys and their gang off on business in Teleford, the place was safe. Simon wasn’t entirely sure what Kate’s history was there, but he could tell there were some lingering demons. Whatever those were, Virgil seemed pretty concerned. It would be up to Simon to help if they came back.

Kate was behind the wheel of her pickup, a palpable enthusiasm running through her entire being. “Usually, I have to go all the way north to Sterling to get anything. It’s, like an hour drive. Total pain in the ass.”

Simon divided his attention between her and the setting sun. She seemed content in chattering away, so he just gave her a slight, amused little smile.

The truck passed into the town proper. A somber, wistful air fell over Kate. “I was born here.” She said. As they passed the grade school, she nodded. “My mama used to teach there.”

“Where ARE your parents?” He enquired.

Kate frowned and didn’t look over. “Gone.” She said simply.

Simon watched her a moment before turning away. “Sorry to hear that.”

She was silent for a long moment, her eyes focused ahead before a distant, wistful little smile crept onto her lips. “Mama was a teacher. Fourth grade. Loved her students, worked her ass off until she got sick. Used to say there wasn’t a soul alive could say they didn’t love Lily Wilder.”

Simon could see the fondness and pride in her eyes as Kate talked about her mother. It was something he couldn’t exactly say he knew, given his childhood...but the loss and pain in her voice was something he knew all too well.

“What did your old man do?” he asked.

“Daddy was a miner.” she told him. “Had the hugest hands...hands the size a’ your head. He had one of those voices, sounded like he gargled rock salt for a livin’. Tough, hard-drinkin’ man, but a total sweetheart. One time, I wanted play beauty shop, ‘n he let me put all manner of terrible make up on him.” she chuckled. “Mama said I made him look like a two dollar whore.”

Simon breathed out a little laugh. “I never knew mine.”

Kate glanced over from the wheel. “Your fam?”

“Nope.” he shook his head. “Ma never wanted me...don’t really know anything about my old man. Spent most of my time in and outta foster homes.”

“That sucks.” She said sympathetically. It was simple, non dramatic, but genuine.

“Yeah, it does.” he sighed. “Made it alright, though.” Simon smirked to her.

Kate pulled into a parking spot in front of a bar. “Todds”, the sign read. She pulled down the visor and checked herself in the mirror.

“Alright…” she said, fixing a stray hair. “Let’s do this.”
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bar was in full swing, country music blaring over the crowd. The haze of smoke hung heavy as they made their way in, more than a few eyes trailing the pair of them to the bar.

Kate smirked as she leaned against the bar, speaking to the busy tender. Hey, sugartits, how about a drink. She said gruffly.

The girl behind bar was a slim, sexy thing with black hair and big, brown eyes. Clad in a midriff-baring tight tank top and jeans that almost seemed painted on. Tattoos snaked up her arms and onto her neck. She wheeled around, an angry expression on her face.

The anger turned immediately to surprise the moment she saw Kate. Oh my god, Katie?!

Heya, Maisie. Kate grinned, the pair of them leaning across the bar for an awkward hug. The girls face dropped as she looked around, cautiously.

What in the hell are you doin here? she said quietly to Kate.

Heard the boys were out of town tonight. Kate responded, straddling a stool and settling down. Figured I should come and enjoy the place while I can.

Maisie eyed her worriedly. You dont know what this place is like now, Katie. She looked around. Its dangerous. Especially for you.

Its my home. Kate said firmly. Maisie shut her eyes and shook her head. Besides. Kate continued, Ive got protection.

Simon glanced up as she hooked a thumb back to him. As she spoke, he was looking around. Who were the biggest threats? Where were the exits? What could be used as a weapon? Maisies reaction to Kate set him on edge. Instincts could not be denied. He was a survivor for a reason.

Simon. Kate called his attention. His head snapped in her direction suddenly, it becoming clear that she had called his name more than once.

This is Maisie. Shes an old friend. Kate introduced him.

Maisie was eyeing him up and down, a barely contained interest in her eyes. Simon put on his best amiable smile and took her hand. Simon. Nice to meet you.

Get you a drink? Maisie asked, squeezing his hand.

Sure. You got scotch?

I have Jack. she said with grimace.

Works for me. Bathroom? Simon hooked a finger to the right.

Yeah, right around the corner. Maisie nodded. She watched as the tattooed stranger walked off, still eyeing him up and down.

Hel-loooo, Simon. she said in an intrigued sing-song. So...whats the deal there?

Kate gave her SUCH a look. Its not like that.

Why the hell NOT? Maisie asked like she was crazy.

Kate glanced after him. Well, first off, Ive only known him, like...2 days. She said, turning back to her old friend. Second, I think hes got a girl back where hes from.

I dont see no ring. Maisie said, pouring two glasses of whiskey with a smirk.

Classy, Maze. Kate rolled her eyes. The barkeep just grinned to herself.

What have you been-

Kate looked up from her drink, checking to see what had caused the sudden silence. Maisie was staring straight ahead, wide-eyed in terror. She didnt need to know what her friend saw. She could sense him.

Katie. Mae. Wilder. The drawling voice said behind her. Much of the bar had hushed to a whisper. My God. I must be seein a ghost, eh boys? Because last I recall...she up and disappeared.

She turned and eyed him, the look of a cornered animal in her eyes. The man was tall, lean. Dark hair slicked back, a dark layer of stubble upon his face. He walked toward her, lighting a cigarette. Whats the matter, Katie Mae? You aint happy to see me? Im happy to see you.

WyattShe said, her voice trembling. Whatever bravado shed had was gone.

Where you been? He interrupted her. Those grey eyes stayed on her as he sat on a stool across from her. She just stared, her fingers clasping around her glass, ready to throw it. His eyes flicked to it and then back to her. You gonna attack me, Katie? Hm? You gonna smash that glass on my head? Knock me out? Then what? Yknow...my buddies...they dont like hitting women. But...you know what they say about bros and hos, right? He sneered and glanced back, chuckling with his friends.

So. He said and nodded to her hand. Why dont you take your hand off that glass. And well talk all friendly-like, yeah?

Kate swallowed hard, still clutching the glass of whiskey so hard she thought it might shatter. Wyatts head tilted to one side. No? He nodded slowly and blew twin sets of smoke from his nostrils. You know, you might be surprised to hear this. But they never found the old mans body. You believe that? See, what Im thinkin...is that he might still be alive.

Katie could feel her pulse racing, her adrenaline pumping. Fear telling her to attack or run...knowing neither would end well for her...but then...she was getting the feeling that there was no way out of this night that didnt end badly for her.

So. Wyatt said. Where is he? Whered you two run off and hide, huh?

Silence.

Answer me. When she didnt respond, he slammed his fist on the bar, shaking the glasses and bottles. Before she could say anything a body stepped in between her and Wyatt. Simon took up his glass and looked to Maisie like he didnt even see the situation happening between Kate and the man.

Thanks. He smiled to the bartender and took a sip of his whiskey.

Wyatt looked to his buddys with an incredulous grin, gesturing to the newcomer. Simon turned his back on him and looked to Kate. So. He said to her. Whats up?

Wyatt, looked at him, annoyance in his eyes. Hey. Pal.

Simon glanced behind him for only a second before continuing talking. So, heres what Im thinking we do. Have another drink or two here, then maybe we go see what else is happening in town. They got karaoke around here?

Kate just looked at him, terrified he was going to get them into a situation they couldnt get out of.

Hey, ***hole! Wyatt said.

Simon turned to him. Excuse me. Im talking to my friend.

Wyatt eyeballed him dangerously for a long moment before he gave him a toothy, sneering grin. Youre not from around here. So...maybe you dont know who I am. But this is my town. We run this ****ing town.

Yeah? Simon said with a raise of his brows. Nice place. You pick out the drapes?

Wyatt narrowed his eyes. Katie. You better tell your boyfriend here-

So, anyway. Simon said turning back to her. About that Karaoke bar?

Wyatt grabbed him by the shoulder and in a flash, Simon whipped around and in one swift motion, pinned his face against the bar and pulled his arm out behind him. An audible gasp rose from the room. Wyatt grit his teeth, red coming out from between them. Simon got close, eyes up and watching the others. Im gonna tell you this once. Dont ever put your hands me again. Do you understand me?

Wyatts buddies began to move in but Simon yanked on his arm. You take another step, I break his arm. He leaned in again. Tell me that you understand.

Im gonna rip your f-AGH! Simon yanked again.

Im not finished. He snarled. You go near Kate again. Talk to her. Look at her in a way I dislike...and things are gonna get very...VERY bad for you. You dont know me. You have NO idea what I am capable of. Do not test me.

Kate did not know what to do. Part of her wanted to tell him to break the son of a bitchs arm. Or worse. She realized that wasnt the part of her that REALLY wanted to leave alive. Simon she said in a shaky voice.

He glanced her way and nodded. Simon yanked Wyatt to his feet, pinned his arm behind his back and grabbed him by the back of the neck. Were going to step outside now. And your little goon squad are gonna stay behind. Arent you? He said. Because if they dont, one hard twist and youre gonna need them to wipe your ass for the rest of your life.

Youre a dead man. Wyatt said, spitting blood.

Yeah. Simon said. I get that a lot. Move.

Kate stuck close to him as they walked out carefully, through Wyatts friends. As soon as they got outside, Simon glanced to Kate.

Go start the car. he told her. She reached into her purse fumbling around for the keys as she ran. Every nerve was on edge, it felt like she couldnt work her fingers properly, but she managed to get the keys in the door.

Simons eyes locked onto the pick up that wasnt there when theyd arrived. That was definitely theirs. He slammed Wyatt up against the door, pinning him there, and drew a knife. He flipped the blade out, panic filling Wyatts eyes momentarily before he plunged it into the tire. He rose up and grabbed him by the back of the head. You forget you ever saw me or Kate. You go on with your life...or Im going to rain hell upon this town like you aint ever seen. I promise you. Do not **** with me.

Simon wheeled him around and shoved him to the ground as Kate pulled the truck up behind him. Wyatt hit the floor, scraping his face on the concrete with a grunt. Simon quickly hopped into the truck. Lets go.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was dark. Oppressively, ominously dark. Aside from the headlamps, the moon was the only source of light to be had. It had been a few miles and there was no sign of them being followed. The pair of them silent. Not even a glance was shared between them the entire time, until now. He could feel her looking at him even if he didnt see it.

You shouldnt have done that. She said. You dont know what he can do.

Yeah, well, we shouldnt have been there to begin with, should we? He snapped back.

She stared. I wanted just one night. One night where I wasnt cowering away on that farm. One night where I could see my friends and not have to be afraid of him. He wasnt supposed to be there. They were supposed to be gone.

Simon glanced over to her, quiet for a moment. She was heartbroken, embarrassed, but worst of all, defeated. She didnt need his badgering. His eyes returned to the road. Who is he?

She glanced over, not responding at first, until they made eye contact. Who? He asked again.

Hes Millies father. She said quietly.

Simon couldnt help notice that Millie never came up the entire time. He know that?

No. He doesnt know she exists. Kate responded. When I found out I was pregnant, I went to Virgil. Told him I had to get away from him.

He glanced over. Most of it he could piece together. Who Virgil was to Wyatt and the relationship they shared.

He came for me. Showed up at Virgils old place. So, I hid. He demanded to know where I was Kate looked out the window a moment, for a moment she was back there. Virgil lied and said hed sent me away. So Wyatt shot him. Left him for dead.

Kate swallowed hard and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. He barely survived the trip out of town.

Simons brow creased in disbelief. He shot his own father? Where the hell did you pick this guy up?

He wasnt always like that She said.

I hate to break it to you, but yeah he was. ****er was just good at hiding it. He scoffed, eyes ahead as she stared daggers, though she knew he was right.

I was young. He was...dangerous. She said.

And that did it for you, huh?

Kate watched him a moment. I said I was young. I should have known what he was then, but whatever the reason, I didnt. I just...I was lonely. I wanted to be loved and I thought thats what it was. By the time I figured things out, I was too deep.

Simon smirked and shook his head. Happens to the best of us. He knew damn well, hed gotten hooked up with the wrong person a time or two in his life. Or...you know...was the wrong guy for a few girls. He hasnt found you?

He doesnt know about the Farm. Were far enough out of town and off the main road to avoid him getting curious...So, weve been safe. She told him.

Until now. Simon said.

She glanced to him. No. No, were...were still safe. Kate nodded, almost numbly.

I hope so.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kate and Simon came home surprisingly early that night, and with barely a word said outside of Good night, she retreated to Millies room and closed the door. Simon himself just gave the old man a nod and went to his room.

Virgil could guess how the night went. It wasnt like Katie to be so short and distant. Something had to have happened back in town and he was pretty sure he knew what. Wyatt had once been the old mans pride and joy. A strong, confident kid with all the potential for greatness in the world, corrupted and broken down into the beast hed become.

He could still remember that night when his own son and the group of thugs he called friends showed up at his doorsteps demanding to know where Kate was. That night, hed talked to his son, his own flesh and blood from in front of the barrel of a gun. The moment that trigger was squeezed, his son died. Replaced by...this. The wound healed, with Kates help, but the real and emotional scar would never go away.

Virgil sat upon the porch, an acoustic guitar in his hand, and a cigarette hanging between his lips as he tuned the instrument by ear. Those sharp, hazel eyes flicked up over the miles and miles of farmland, leading out into the prairielands. The guitar tuned to his satisfaction, he took the cigarette from his lips, rested it on the bench armrest, gave the guitar a strum and began picking away at the strings,

Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie
Where the coyotes wail and the wind blows free
And when I die don't bury me
Beneath the western sky on the lone prairie

His voice was that low rumble, yet somehow melodic and full of sorrow. His eyes glanced down to his plucking, fingers.

Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie
These words came soft and painfully
From the pallid lips of a youth who lay
On his dyin bed at the break of day...

Virgil picked up and took a drag of his cigarette, eyes sweeping across the expanse of land again. He exhaled in a long stream of smoke before resuming playing.

But we buried him there on the lone prairie
Where the rattlesnakes hiss and the wind blows free
In a shallow grave, no one to grieve
Beneath the western sky... on the lone prairie.
The bang of the screen door snapped the old man back in the moment. Simon stood there, drawing a smoke out for himself with his teeth. He gave the old man an upnod and stepped out on to the porch.

I like that. Nice song. He nodded, accepting a lighter from Virgil and lighting up.

Old cowboy song. One a my favorites. Virgil said, taking back his lighter and lighting another one for himself. My Granddad used to sing that to us when we was kids, my brother n me.

Simon grinned through the plume of smoke.

You got family, kid? Virgil asked, eyes redirecting into the night.

Simon shook his head, Nah. Never knew my parents. Bounced around foster homes for a bit, but them people werent ever family. Mostly violent, drunken losers who beat my ass half-to-death or sold me off.

Virgils eyes flicked his way a moment. Sorry to hear it.

Simon shrugged. Never had much use for family.

The old man regarded him with an amused little laugh. Yeah...complicated thing, aint it?

Simon thought back to what Kate had told him. Virgils own son...he couldnt imagine what that had to be like. This wasnt some drunken, violent *** hole like the people he grew up around. Virgil, for all intents and purposes, was a decent, kind man. Probably poured every bit of love into that kid, just as Simon had done with Cici. Having that kind of love be thrown aside...that couldnt have been easy.

I saw him. Simon said.

Virgil didnt even look over. He just took a drag and exhaled a moment later. I figured you mighta.

No offense. But hes kind of an *** hole. Simon said wryly.

Virgil snickered. Yeah. Yeah, hes kind of a little ****, aint he?

How does that happen? Simon asked after a good laugh.

Virgil seemed distant as he stared off, collecting his thoughts. Man named Callum Marks. Lowlife with deep pockets and a con man. He rolled into town, got a bit of a crew...threw his money around. He was bleedin the town dry with debt to him. Eventually, he even had the sheriffs department in his pocket. The old man took one last drag and flicked it away.

I saw what he was doin. Saw the strongarm tactics he used to extort the people there and watched the goons with a ****in badge look the other way. Wyatt was tough. But young and angry. Perfect mark for a man like Marks. Promised my boy the world. Promised him power. When I started actually enforcin the law, messin with his business, he didnt like it very much. By the time I was able to talk to Wyatt, hed been turned against me. He sighed and ran a hand through his silver hair. I just didnt know how far hed fallen.

Simon nodded slowly, stomping out his cigarette with heel of his boot. Did you know Kate back then?

A smile crossed the old mans lips then. Oh, hell. I known Katie all her life. Bein a cop in a small town, meant knowin everybody. And bein the one honest cop in that town later on, meant everyone knew, too.

She knew to go to you. Simon asked, though it wasnt really a question. Virgil nodded in response. That had to be a tough decision.

Virgil sniffed at the air and shook his head. She had my grandbaby in her. Those hazel eyes turned to Simon. My son might have been a rotten sumbitch...but that girl was family now. Wouldnt take it back for the world.

Simon smiled, but it faded. If you saw him again...what would you say?

The old man looked distant, sad for a moment, but a smile crept on out. Id tell him I love him. Even after all he done. Id tell him I was sorry I wasnt good enough a dad to keep him decent. Id tell him A weary sigh made its way out of him. Id tell him hes got a beautiful baby girl. And its a shame hell never know that.

It was odd to hear, the amount of affection in Virgils voice. Even after all the bad that had been done, he still loved his son. It was odd, but Simon got it.

Fatherhood. Simon said. ****ed up, aint it?

Virgil grinned up at him. Damn right, kid. Damn right.
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"And it's sick that all these battles
Are what keeps me satisfied"
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