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Delahada
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday. July 31 2016.
-- no sudden moves


“What happened to the both of you to make you so distrustful?”

Saila’s words come back to haunt me from April. Past overlapping future and terrorizing my present.

Cane’s off working with Lirssa like he does these mornings, leaving me to drown in the flood of thoughts that assault me when I’m alone. My silence is not so silent except when he’s around. He helps make things quiet in my head. His fire burns away the noise.

Does he know that? Did I ever tell him? I don’t know. What I think and what I say blend together sometimes. One mass of noise that only goes away when he’s around. Now I’m alone, so I’m stuck thinking. Replaying a night in my head when the water was cold, but for the pocket of heat created by mi égida.

“I don’t know you at all. But I want to. Is that so wrong?”

Yes, it’s wrong. I can’t tell you. I can’t. It’s better you left before I gave you a reason to leave. Or anybody else did. How can I trust you won’t run your mouth the way people do? When they know. And they think because my surface is so solid my inside isn’t soft. That it doesn’t hurt. But it does. Oh it does.

I don’t want to know him any more than I want to know her. And I certainly don’t want either of them knowing me. It’s better they don’t. Safer for them. Stay away, stay away.

“He’s only smiling at you because he wants to eat you.”

That’s not true. It wasn’t true. Not then. Not now. Shut up, Morgan. What do you know? Get out of my head. Go back to being the ghost I made you to be. Only a memory. Gone, gone, gone.

They don’t stay gone, though. Not really. Not even she did.

He’s going to be there tonight, probably. He goes where she goes, like Cane goes where I go. And I go where Cane goes.

I’ll have to smile and pretend I give a ***. Pretend we can be friends. But we shouldn’t be…

Shouldn’t be.

---

A spark ignites in that dark place I get lost in sometimes. I didn’t even know I was there. I never know when I’m there.

Hot fingers hold my cold skin by the arm. I’m ice. I’m solid. I’m real.

Amant.”

His voice is a million million miles away. Tossed like a rope, a lasso looping around me. He gives another tug, pulls me closer.

“Salvador.”

He’s so warm. Distance vanishes with a slow blink. There are his eyes, searching mine for some sign of recognition, consciousness. I blink again so I can see him more clearly. Worry has carved grooves in the skin of his face. My first thought is a whisper spilling over my frosty lips.

“How long?” I never know how long. Or how many of those creases in his brow are from this moment. Maybe he collects them, adds onto them. Some day I’ll leave a wrinkled mess of his face from the worry I put him through.

I’m fine. I’m fine. No really, I’m fine.

“I don’t know,” he says. The concern doesn’t go away, not right away. It never does. He touches my face with a hot, hot hand. We could make steam, he and I. We have before.

Where am I? I look around. Almost right where he left me. A few veins of frost remain, receding away from the furs they still cling to. His proximity alone is enough to melt me. Daylight spills through the window and crawls along the floor.

“What day?” I ask next. It could be any day.

“Sunday. Still Sunday. Time for lunch.”

Words that prompt my stomach to grumble. I sit up and sigh, sagging against him. He’s so warm. He smells like the sea. I press my face to his chest and he presses his face into my hair, cages me in his arms, holds me tight.

Sano y salvo,” he whispers against my scalp. “I’m here.”

It’s quiet again, peaceful. He’s here, smothering out all the noise. I nod more than once against his shirt, take a deep, needful breath of his scent off the fabric. Heat and salt water mixed with everything else that clings to his skin. I gather material into my hands, to hold onto him a while longer.

Seconds, minutes, maybe an hour ticks by. He won’t let go until he’s thawed me out completely. Until he feels some warmth in my cool skin.

“I’ll make some lunch,” he tells me. He pulls away to look me in the eyes again, search deep in my soul to make sure I’m still here on the surface and not floating so deep beneath.

“Okay.” Two little syllables. One breath. Stupid, stupid. He hates it when you say that.

But he doesn’t show that he does. He smiles, swipes a calloused thumb across my cheek and kisses me. Short. Sweet. Tethering.

---

The rest of the day he insists we soak in the hot spring. I don’t argue. Once or twice I almost fall asleep, though. Fortunately, he doesn’t let me drown.

He never lets me drown.
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Delahada
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thursday. September 8, 2016.
-- countdown


The feeling’s stronger now. So strong I can hear it like the ticking of a clock. Grains of sand sifting like a waterfall into the belly of an hourglass. Tick, tick, tick. Ticking and pouring. Running out of time. I’m in a mad rush to do all the things I won’t be able to do two weeks from now. Gotta hurry and enjoy my sanity while it’s still sticking to me. The madness is on its way.

We had this talk very recently. It’s one I’ve had before with other people. The temptation to give it all up. How nice it would be to spend a season being normal, human. I could. I could tell her I don’t want to be her son anymore. Ask her to take away the parts of me that are her and leave me mortal. Frail. Weak. Sane. I told him I could do that. How I envy him, all of them, for being able to enjoy the fruits of the season. I’d like to go apple picking, just once. One year, at least. Pick one right off the tree and eat it without throwing it right back up.

I can’t stop thinking about it, and thinking has her whispering in my ear. Do you want it? Do you want it? Are you certain? Or maybe that’s my own voice in my head. They sound so alike. I don’t know. I don’t know what I want. I want to be me. Giving up what’s her in me would make me less of me. Wouldn’t it? And I couldn’t take it back. She couldn’t give it back. Unmake. Remake. Not without undoing me again and again.

Autumn prince. Monster prince. Half of one world and half the other. Straddling the line between worlds. Between. Always between. Scorned and feared on both sides. Does that make me powerful? They fear me. Men fear my knife. Fae fear my teeth. Then you have the rare few who admire both parts of me, adore me, love me. Even rarer still that they respect me.

When it comes, I’ll be ready for it. I’ll embrace it with claws and teeth. There will be blood. There’s always blood. I’m better prepared for it now than I have been for a lifetime. Acceptance helps. He accepts me. Walks beside me. Holds my hand. This is what I’ve needed. Not a shadow trailing me and guiding me, making sure I don’t step off the path. We hunt together, he and I. We make a great pair.

No, I don’t want it. Leave me as I am. Let me be me. And I will hunt. We will hunt. Create the ghosts and ghouls to come. Together, together.

---

“Cane.”

“Sal.”

“Will you help me with something?”

“Of course, amant. Anything.”
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thursday. September 22, 2016.
- The name—of it—is "Autumn"



7:15 am: Sunrise.

Salvador stirs, sluggish and heavy, still weighed down by sleep. He glimpses consciousness through the curtain of his eyelashes. One very warm body lays close behind him, an arm and a leg draped over his cool frame. In front of him is another body, not quite so warm, facing away. He pulls his hand up over the curve of a hip. His own limb feels miles away, as if it weighs a thousand pounds.

The other man turns over in his sleep to face him. Warm breath is sighed across his face. Weakly, subtly, he scratches his nails against the man’s skin to encourage him to wriggle closer, and he does. Salvador presses his lips to the pulse of his neck and sighs, falling back asleep.

10:21 am: Alignment.

His heart stops. A minute later it starts again and he wakes, gasping. Salvador opens his eyes. A wall of dark skin greets his vision. The thum-thum thump of a pulse invades his ears. Salty, cool, dried sweat slides over his tongue as he slips it out for a taste. A solid body stirs, moans, and rolls onto its back. He chases after it, slowly, like a babe nuzzling the breast in search of milk. When his mouth closes down, though, he suckles blood instead. The man can only gurgle; he’s cut through the chords that would allow him to scream, with only his teeth. What began as sensual writhing becomes feeble struggling; he gives him no room to thrash.

11:52 am: Incoming texts.

The bed is a mess. Amazingly, Cane’s slumber was not disturbed. His lover still sleeps, like he always does, like the dead, at peace. Blood soaked into the sheets. He couldn’t lap it all up in time. The mattress beneath is probably ruined too. Wouldn’t be the first time.

There’s little left of the man who was. He’s licking residue off the bones like a feral animal when his phone buzzes on the nightstand. Once. Twice, two minutes later. And again. He sits up, licks his lips, and leans over to check the screen, smearing blood all over the keys.

remember.
the sun is safe.
autumn is here.


He smiles a bloody smile and sets the phone down. It buzzes again, rattling across the nightstand. And again. He nudges it back from the edge before it can fall, not bothering to read the rest. He looks aside at Canaan and smiles, leans over to brush a kiss across his mouth, leaving a stain. The Cajun continues sleeping, though he swears he sees him smile, however briefly, as he dreams.

He pulls the bones off the bed as he moves, and they turn to so much dust before hitting the floor. A mere sweep of his fingers reduces them to dirt. Autumn slides, electrified, through his veins, crackles off his nails. A pulse thrums through the floor of his domain as his feet touch down.

A pile of clothes on the floor draws his eye. They aren’t his clothes, but they’re just his size. He adds blood stains to them as he pulls them on. They’re a little tight, but not uncomfortable. There’s a phone in the pocket of the jeans. He pulls it out, examines it as he walks, barefoot, to the corner of the room and out onto the catwalk to prowl before his windows. The noonday sun bakes the blood on his skin and in his hair.

The passcode is easy to figure out. His fingers pull the secrets right off the keys. A distortion ripples through the screen, making it skip and jump like bad reception on an old TV. Then the display settles and he taps the messages icon to read the last bits of conversation between their now dead house guest and someone, presumably a good friend, named Taylor.

The taste of the man lingers on his tongue. Foreign DNA coursing through his blood, being dismantled and reassembled, cannibalized to repair the damage half a week’s worth of fasting has done to his body. Time is limited. Insight is temporary. But it’s enough to allow him to play pretend. He types in a message, taps send: I’m super hungover. Come pick me up?

“What’cha got there, amant?” Canaan’s sleepy murmur buzzes into his ear. Suddenly he is there, behind him, sliding his hands over his hips and touching his lips to his ear. The spikes lining his spine twitch and stretch the fabric of the shirt he is wearing. Cane notices and pulls back a little, rubbing at one of his eyes. “You wearin’ his clothes?”

“Yes.” Salvador answers the last question first, and then backtracks to the first. “His phone.” The object in question chirps an obscure fragment of a melody to notify him of an incoming text. Lol lightweight. Where? He types in an address then taps send again. She messages back nearly instantaneously; she types fast: Be right there. Bringing Austin. He wants to see this mansion you were bragging about. He smiles a wicked smile and pauses a spell, counts silently to twenty in his head, then responds: All right. He’s cool with that. See you soon.

He can feel Cane’s grin pressed against the side of his neck, just under his ear. The man was clearly reading over his shoulder. “Guess I’ll get dressed.”

1:07 pm: Lunch.

Beyond the stone and iron walls of Matadero, all is peaceful, quiet and calm. Summer relinquishes its hold with a sigh of lingering warm breezes through coloring leaves. They have only begun to fall.

Within, a freshly formed corpse leaks all over the floor. A panicked girls screams echo off stone walls and reverberate, causing meat hooks to sway, rattle and clank. Her noise is silenced by a hand clamping over her mouth.

“Quiet. Shh! Shh!” A man whispers urgently in her ear. “Don’t be stupid. You want him to hear us?”

Her eyes widen in the darkness. She squirms as she sees the killer coming. She doesn’t feel the other man’s awful smile form behind her ear, but she does feel his hand tighten its grip around her throat. Her vision narrows. Goes black. Not even the walls remember what happens next.



The name—of it—is "Autumn"—
The hue—of it—is Blood—
An Artery—upon the Hill—
A Vein—along the Road—

Great Globules—in the Alleys—
And Oh, the Shower of Stain—
When Winds—upset the Basin—
And spill the Scarlet Rain—

It sprinkles Bonnets—far below—
It gathers ruddy Pools—
Then—eddies like a Rose—away—
Upon Vermilion Wheels—

- Emily Dickinson

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Delahada
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tuesday. December 13, 2016.
-- enduring the protests


Dripping wet and fresh out of the shower, Salvador snatched his buzzing cell phone up off the nightstand. “Christ,” he muttered. It was only half past eight and he was already getting a call from work. Touching the appropriate spot on the screen accepted the call and he brought the device to his ear. “Diga.”

“Boss,” said an extremely gruff, deep, masculine voice on the other end. “Is Boscoe.” There was a decided pause, and then as if reading his mind the voice added, “Hank.”

“Ah.” The fact that it was the older Stiggowitz calling him and not the son was his second clue that something was amiss. Normally when one of them called for other business they skipped the pleasantries and got right down to the details of providing him with an address. A silence hung in the static between the lines. “Is something wrong?” Sal asked, suspicious.

“Well, there is people.” Hank Sr.’s voice was thickly accented. Salvador had yet to figure out where, specifically, the Stiggowitzes were from. That was part of their charm. He liked the mystery of them. English, or common as it may be, was clearly not their native language, and he could sympathize with that. The father struggled with it more than his son, however. It took the man a moment more to put his words together, and Salvador detected a minor note of panic in his voice. “More people than is usual.”

“Where’s Hank Jr.? Why isn’t he calling me?” Sal balanced the phone on his shoulder and prowled into the walk-in closet to get dressed while having this conversation.

“Lyle is with people. Controlling of crowd.”

“I see.” Salvador did not bother to correct him. A picture was forming in his head thanks to Hank Sr.’s few words and the fact that it was the bigger, older, burlier man on the line and not his lankier son. They must have decided intimidation tactics were not the best choice for whatever was going on at the Carnicería.

Through the whispery crackle of the static between the lines, Salvador could just hear the murmur of what was possibly a sizeable crowd. Hank Sr. was silent, as if allowing for his boss to listen, or awaiting further instruction. The only way for Sal to really proceed was to see it for himself. He pulled on a pair of pants and grabbed a shirt.

“I’ll be right there,” he said, and lifted his head. The phone slipped off his shoulder, into his hand, and he tapped the end call button on the screen. He pulled on his shirt and walked out of the closet.

Cane, sprawled on the bed and looking utterly exhausted, eyed him curiously as he stepped into the bedroom. “Something’s going on at the Carnicería,” he told his Cajun lover. “I’ll be back soon.” He pressed a knee into the bed and leaned down to smother Cane’s mouth with a kiss. The resulting groggy mumble and moan delayed his departure somewhat.

---

The streets were thick with the stink of humanity. Salvador could smell them from several blocks away. To him it was like walking into a bakery that had just taken a tray of fresh baked cookies out of the oven. His mouth started to water and his stomach grumbled. The murmur of their voices reminded him of migrating birds, squawking obnoxiously as they flew overhead in blanketing droves. He decided to duck into an alley and slip down a secreted away ladder that accessed the catacombs of the city.

There were tunnels he knew just as well as the streets. He took the appropriate twists and turns with practiced ease and climbed back up another ladder to a trap door. The padlock was iron. He carefully unlocked it by holding it with a rag. This trap door lead into a cramped block space and another locked trap door. A handful of wards were etched into the stone foundation, and an assortment of other mystical and magical, supernatural deterrents and charms were strewn about. One could never be too careful about protecting one’s assets in this town.

Salvador bypassed all his own security measures and climbed out into the cellar beneath the Carnicería. He could immediately hear the muffled undercurrent of agitated voices above leaking through the floor. He closed and locked the access panels behind him, stood, brushed himself off, and took the stairs up into the back store room behind the office. One door after another lead him to the storefront, where Hank Sr. was fidgeting with a meat cleaver behind the glass counters stocked with pork.

An elderly woman with fuzzy ears poking out from under her shawl and a fluffy tail swishing under her skirts was clutching a basket stocked with baked goods and brown paper packages stuffed with fresh cutlets. She was standing on other side of the counter, nervously looking out the shop windows. Looking beyond her, Salvador could see the mass of bodies crowding the street. A handful of them were holding picket signs. He could just see the back of Hank Jr.’s head, hands lifted as he tried to pacify the restless mob.

“What’s going on?” Sal asked, stepping up beside Hank Sr.

The father of the Stiggowitz duo grunted, not at all startled by Salvador’s sudden appearance at his side. He had grown quite used to the Spaniard’s uncanny ability of slipping in and out of places unnoticed. Salvador also suspected he had some level of preternatural abilities of his own that he didn’t speak of. Keen hearing or an amazing sense of smell, for instance.

“Mrs. Birch come in for bacon. People no let her leave. Shout nasty things.” Hank Sr. tipped the meat cleaver to indicate the elderly furry woman. She turned to wriggle her whiskers nervously at the Spaniard. Sal gave her a curt nod and managed to twist half of a smile. He couldn’t tell whether she was more catlike or mouselike at a glance. Maybe she was even canine. He had no idea other than not human.

Salvador studied the scene from the safety behind the glass windows. Hank Jr. was blocking the door, but even from across the room he could see that it was locked, just in case. He nodded his approval. The safety of their customers was important, good for business. He ran that thought through his head a couple of times as a reminder. Good for business. Good for business. Good for business. This explained also why Hank Sr. hadn’t simply barreled out into the crowd, waving his meat cleaver with a roar, to chase the people off. He nodded further approval and shared it silently with the older man by touching the back of his shoulder.

“Take Mrs. Birch out through the back. Escort her safely home.”

Hank Sr. grunted and nodded. Instead of putting the meat cleaver away, he tucked it into his apron. He stepped around the counter and offered the fuzzy little woman his enormous hand. She took it, and the two of them toddled out of the main showroom, into the back offices. Salvador listened until he heard the rear doors latch. Then he moved out from behind the counter to unlock the front door and ushered Hank Jr. inside.

Lyle Stiggowitz squeezed through the gap in a rush. He and Salvador pushed and locked the door shut together. A couple of people were pounding on the door, shouting absurdities. Sal pulled the blind down and turned the shop sign over from OPEN to CLOSED.

“What the *** is going on, Hank?” Salvador’s eyes narrowed, brows furrowing. He leaned back to steal another glance outside and saw the crowd circling like sharks in the water.

Hank Jr. shrugged. “Got me, Boss. There’s some griping out there about ‘non-humans go home’ and some other nonsense. Sounds like they’re making a ruckus next door at the tea and book shop too. They’re clogging the streets.”

“I know,” Salvador muttered bitterly. “I can smell them.”

The younger Stiggowitz smiled nervously at that. From his proximity, he could clearly see the predatory shimmer slide through Salvador’s irises. Possibly someone outside had seen it too. A brick crashed through the window beside his head, next, and thumped onto the floor in the middle of the room. Salvador growled, tightening his grip on the door knob, held his breath, and counted silently, furiously, to ten. He didn’t quite hear clearly what the brick thrower had shouted, but such brazenness stirred up the rest of the crowd and a bunch of them branched off to riot their way toward the main square.

Hank Jr. hurriedly pulled the blinds on the rest of the windows and rushed to get something to block up the hole. Meanwhile, Salvador focused on keeping himself calm. Once he got a firm lid planted over his raging desire to rush outside and massacre the crowd, he stepped away from the door and picked up the brick from the floor.

In a flashing surge, an array of images overlaid the reality before his eyes. His hand didn’t look like his own for a moment. He followed it up to the elbow and caught a whiff of a particular brand of cologne. Another glimpse of a face reflected in glass just before it shattered. He wrapped the brick in the rag from his coat pocket and blinked several times to reconnect his eyes with what was present and real instead of moments past.

“When Hank comes back, reopen the shop,” he told the younger Stiggowitz. “Post him at the door. You take the counter. Don’t let that mess keep our customers away. I’ll send someone to fix the window.”

Hank Jr. nodded several times, eyes wide with wonder about the rather furious expression on his boss’s face, but he was smart enough not to question him. “You got it, Boss!”

Salvador prowled into the back of the shop, determinedly set on a mission to make someone pay for the damages done to his store. Making the ballsy idiot piss his pants in the process was a bonus he intended to toss in for free, as well. Maybe he’d also be able to figure out what the hell was going on. This city was mad, that was well known, but this was something else.
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Verdugo
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday. July 30, 2017.
-- despierto


This is waking up.

The rush and sigh of ocean waves lap against the shore. White noise pulling me out to sea. Out of myself. Harpoons in place of fish hooks sinking deep down into me and pulling me up and up until I breach the surface, gasping to breathe. Filling my lungs, like caverns sucking in all the air. And I open my eyes to sunlight.

This is the first time I think I’ve really seen it in months.

There were moments, adrift at sea. I remember them most vividly. Pockets of joy. Cane’s smile. The silence of the ocean for miles around. Such peace. Solitude, of a sort. I didn’t mind at all sharing it with him. He’s the only one who doesn’t disturb my quiet, which is funny because he’s such a noisy creature. Ah, but I love him.

We left all the chaos of the realm behind. And there was so much. I felt it clawing at me. I knew it was there. Far away on the distant shore, I could sense it no matter the miles. Even Matadero was in turmoil. Nobody noticed but me. Lucky nobody choked on the vines; they grew so thick. Trimming back the growth has been a challenge of bargains between my Dama and me. But she relents. She is mine. She remembers who is master of this domain. There were no casualties in my kingdom; they saw to that.

The cracks are sealing back up again. I can feel them. It’s safe to walk the streets now. No risk of losing myself to the call of the wyld. My absence hasn’t even been noticed, and that is good. Things are just as I left them. The wheels continue to turn without me. All according to plan.

And how long has it been now? Long enough to wonder.

Would we have been told at all had she not been confronted? I suspect not.

Hers is a secret I cannot comprehend. There was no purpose to it being kept. Her need to protect it, from us, is an insult. To think that our knowing would have tarnished it somehow is offensive. Baseless assumptions that wound, actually hurt.

And she behaves as if she is not the one guilty of betrayal, as if somehow it is our fault. She is the puppy and we are the ones who have kicked her down the stairs. Not so. That was the knife in her own hand. She used it to sever whatever bonds were left. She did.

She did.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wednesday. August 9, 2017.
-- reminders


The world is quiet here on Cane’s beach. I can stand here in the sand, feet bare, and feel nothing. Hear nothing. Why did I not build my home on the edge of the sea?

Ah. That’s right. I did once. Or he did, for me. And then he reduced it to so much ash.

We tried again and it went nowhere. This time it stopped. Just stopped. Came crashing to a halt at a dead end of nothing.

"Do your tattoos have stories?"

How did he get there? Why is this boy in my head, haunting me?

"Mine... reminds me that even good things can hurt.”

My fingers fall to my hip as they did that day. The memory sweeps me up, flings me about, grips me in its teeth and shakes me violently, like dogs do.

“Ah yes.” I said. “I have one of those too.” Here and now, like then, my fingers trace the letters. Do I really feel them, or is it imaginary? I’ve touched them so many times I’ve memorized the feel. Their meaning is etched deep into me and will never go away. They remind me.

siempre

Forever is a lie.

Perhaps I should have told him this instead of filling him with hope. What is he but meat to me?

I know what it is. He is my reflection. He is me. I was this boy, long ago. I sat and watched and learned the world. He will do this, as I did. And the world will carve him up, sharpen his edges, turn him bitter and cruel. As it did me.

He’ll walk the streets every day, as I do. See the filth and the grit. Pause a moment to clean something. A scrap of litter. Debris fallen from a roof. A dead body. And there are so many in this city. Not all of them are found. Some day he’ll be one of them and I’ll collect him too.

Or have I already collected him? Another stray. Cane will sigh and roll his eyes at me. I can hear him already.

“Not another one, Salvador.”

No. Not really. This one has its own place. He’s feral enough to survive without needing any sanctuary I could give him. What a laugh that would be anyway. And a mess. Such a mess. Autumn is not far now. It’s never far. It’s always here.

In me.

A heat wave slides up behind me. Warm fingers slide over the words on my forearm, remind me, pulling me back: Right Here Right Now. His other arm winds around my waist. He presses his lips to the skin behind my right ear, over the tattoo. Another reminder. We are equal. His chest presses against my back, making my spikes lie flat and still. I sigh, melting, wanting to sink back into him. He knows. He holds me steady.

Why do I insist on walking among them? Every day. No routine. A different road every time. They never stay the same anyway. This city always changes. The map rewrites itself every morning, shifting and twisting. It’s a serpent that swallows people up, sometimes spits them back out. Not always, not always.

There is no always. Except this one.

“Are you ready, amant?” he whispers in my ear. Another reminder. It is Wednesday. Our day. What new thing I’ve never done does he have planned for me this day?

I breathe in the here and the now, take it into my lungs on one deep inhale. I sway with the tide as I stir from my mind. My eyes open to daylight, the ocean. His arms around me. This is constant. This I can rely on. Him.

“Yes.” My voice is an exhale. I feel his smile against my skin and remember that I can smile too.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Friday. October 27, 2017.
-- lost boy


Graveyards are full of bodies, though most of them are dead. They should be. This is a place of corpses. A place where her cold fingers reach out as mist and rake up the refuse. She doesn’t touch this one, though. His breath creates fog in the night air. It’s the first sign I know he’s still living. The second is his pulse. I can hear it thumping in his throat without even having to touch him. I won’t touch. Not if I don’t have to. But this is no good place for him. Some thing, like me, might mistake him for a meal. I’ll wait and watch a while. If anyone’s to claim him, it should be me.

When he stirs, it’s with a great gasping breath, like a man drowning. The frost film on the ground is the sea. He is adrift, scrambling for purchase, for something. He doesn’t know I’m here. I should let him know before I startle him too badly. So I ask him.

“What are you looking for?”

His recovery is quick. Good, good. The colors of his aura swirl angrily from fright to irritation. That’s good. I’d rather have him annoyed than dead. What would I tell his sister? Would I even tell her at all?

I found your brother dead in the graveyard. No, I did not kill him.

Would the witchling believe me? Does anyone ever? About anything?

“Cigarettes,” he says. “My mind. The meaning of life. Take your pick.”

Sarcastic little ***. If I knew him better, I might slap him. Maybe that’d help him find his mind. Ah, but if I did that I don’t think I’d be able to stop. I bet his skull would crack open nicely on one of these tombstones. No, no. I mustn’t think like that. I like this one.

“I can help you with one of those things,” I tell him. I keep cigarettes in my pockets for Cane, and for Sin. Those ones are getting stale like they did before. They’ll also likely kill him faster. I offer him one of my Cajun’s menthols. The lesser of two evils.

The boy hesitates. This is good. There is still some survival instinct left in him, despite the nearly empty bottle of vodka at his side, and the fact that I found him sleeping in a cemetery. When he takes the cigarette, I give him back his space. I turn my back on him. If I close my eyes, I can imagine it’s not a fragile human boy behind me. The scent of Cane’s cigarette, his now, burning, helps. I try to focus on that, on the memories it conjures. My anchor. My sanity.

I haven’t any of my own to give, boy. What makes you think I could help you find yours?

“Do you always hang out in cemeteries in the middle of the night?” he asks.

I could ask the same of him! “No,” I say. Though his tone makes me want to knock his teeth in. I won’t let him know it. That’s what he wants. I know. I was him once. This boy is my mirror. Shattering it is a certain temptation, but I resist. I resist.

“Then why are you here?”

Oh, I cannot give him the true answer to this. He’s already wary of me, rightfully so. The honest answer would send him running. We don’t want that. If he runs, I chase. I can’t not. So I don’t answer him precisely. I go back instead to elaborate upon the first.

“Not always,” I tell him. No, you little ***, I don’t always hang out in cemeteries in the middle of the night. Only sometimes. “Sometimes.” Besides the hunt for bodies, which I can’t tell him about -- sometimes there are fresh ones and it’s always worth the wasted time to wander in search of them -- why else do I come? Ah. Yes. “I like the quiet.”

He settles in against the grave marker behind him. I think, I hope, my answer alleviates some of his tension. Surely what remains of his alcohol is helping. He’ll finish it in a few short swallows, and he’ll pass out again. The drunk always do.

“Me too,” he says. “I used to come here to talk, but why talk when you don’t get an answer? Now I come here for the silence.”

I hear my mother. An echo from another time. Many times.

You are a troubled child looking for comfort where you will find none.

And who is he seeking comfort from? I look where he his pointing with the burning end of the cigarette. The tombstone I’d been sitting on when he stirred. Brushing my fingers over the crown of it, the words come to me through my skin and into my eyes.

Here lie … Timothy and Grace Richie. And a date too long ago for a boy to remember them well.

I see. He’s forgotten the sounds of their voices. No wonder he can’t hear them anymore.

“There’s always an answer.” I’m outside myself and my mouth is talking. They’re not entirely my words. I’m only the mouthpiece. “You might not hear it. You might not have to. What’s important is someone’s listening.” There’s always someone listening.

“They’re dead,” the boy says. He’s all attitude. Pent up anger. He should really just punch something. Part of me wants to taunt him to strike, to see what he’s made of. But I’d break him. I’d tear him apart. Maybe after the Autumn.

Tch. That doesn’t matter.” He doesn’t understand and I don’t know how to explain to him. I don’t mean them. It doesn’t have to be them. Cold stone can listen too. He doesn’t get it. And maybe he won’t until he’s tasted death too. Which brings me to the more important matter. “You’re not.” He’s not dead. He doesn’t belong here in this graveyard. This is a place for the dead, and for talking to the dead, and sometimes for hunting the dead.

“I’m well aware,” he says snidely. He shuts his eyes and leans his head to the tombstone behind him. Good. He can’t see me rolling my eyes.

“I wasn’t so sure, which is why I’m here. I found you. I thought I’d make sure you weren’t.” God help me I’ll make sure you don’t wind up that way, at least the rest of this night.

He says nothing. I say nothing. We are nothing together. What more is there to say?

There are hungry creatures creeping. I can hear them skittering on the fringes. They’re thinking about it. The night things wonder if this boy is easy prey. Not on my watch. Not this one. Not now.


( Complementary piece to Trick's Wake Up. )
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Friday. December 8, 2017.
-- eruption


The phone never even rang. It buzzed quietly on the nightstand, going largely unnoticed, drowned out by the constant wash of the not so distant sea against the shore below the house. Cane was sleeping. Salvador was not. This was not unusual. It was technically still Autumn after all.

Five minutes previous, Cane’s phone had behaved much the same way, right beside his own. Who would be calling them so early in the morning? The sun had not even risen yet, and like every morning Salvador was waiting for it. In the meantime, he spent the quiet hours of the morning watching his Cajun sleep.

It wasn’t until an hour later, as the first tendrils of daylight crawled over the horizon, that he let curiosity grab any hold of him at all. The sun trickled in through the windows, stirring him from a mostly meditative state. Even though he did not sleep, he embraced moments of stillness, encouraged by the steady rising and falling of the Cajun’s chest. Cane’s peace was his own.

Another day, he thought, watching the sun ooze over the horizon. Another *** you to the world. He was alive, against all odds, an abomination that continued to live as if solely to spite those who doubted that he could.

Unwinding from his cross-legged coil atop the mattress, he slid from the bed and stood, stretching. A wash of recent history splashed against the bare soles of his feet. He rectified this by stepping into the house slippers he kept around. He was the only memory imprinted upon them, and that was bearable. On his way to the kitchen, he pulled his phone from the nightstand, taking it with him. He listened to his voicemail while filling the carafe with water to start a pot of coffee.

He listened.

That voice.

Time and space rushed in to smother him. For a moment all he could hear was the sluggishly labored beat of his own aching heart. The ocean was gone. Cane’s breathing was gone. The rush of water spilling from the tap and into the carafe was gone. There were only words uttered by a ghost in his ear. The last of them triggered a detonator in his soul.

...if you need me.

The world erupted back into shape, sped up. He felt an ache in his jaw from how tightly he was grinding his teeth. A strangled growl spilled through them. Water splashed against the wall above the sink shortly before the glass carafe shattered against the far wall to his right, near the door. It wasn’t enough.

He tore the machine from the wall socket and sent it crashing to the middle of the floor. He winged one of the kitchen chairs like a shot put through a front window. The monster in him upended the couch atop the coffee table, smashing it. All the little nick knacks he’d crafted were swept from the mantle and scattered across the floor.

All he saw was red. He never saw the man come up behind him, after dashing a lamp against the fireplace. Thick, muscled arms coiled tight around his own, locking them securely against his ribs, crushing his spine flat against a sturdy chest. He felt the fragile machine parts of his phone cracking under the strength of his own grip. His breathing came hard. He struggled to break free, needing to break more, destroy more.

Amant,” Cane whispered in his ear. “Amant, what is it? Calm down. Talk to me.”

The words spilled out of his mouth in a foreign jumble, Spanish. “Él está de vuelta. Él ha regresado. Ese hijo de puta.” It was nonsense out of context and it came seething through his teeth as he pushed back against the Cajun’s secure hold. Then the tears came, clouding his vision and refilling it with red.

Cane wrested the phone from his grip, sparing it from a worse fate. All of Taneth’s hard work bejeweling it could not be allowed to be destroyed so easily. The release of one arm set Salvador back in motion. He violently shook himself free and broke into the lanai to assault Aoife’s poor defenseless plants.

The rage overtook him. When next a moment of clarity came, they were in the forest. Smoke coiled out of a stone chimney. The scent of a frozen lake nearby alerted recognition. They were elsewhere. Safe. Here was the Burrow with nothing and no one for miles around. The wood pile was in ruins, chopped and neatly stacked logs strewn across the frigid landscape. They lie panting together, half naked, bloody, bruised. They must have been fighting.

“I’m tired.” They were the first words Salvador had spoken that were not layered with fury.

“Come inside,” Cane said, smearing a wet kiss to his temple. “I’ll help you sleep.”

His dreams were blessedly empty. When he woke, there was Cane. Nothing and no one else. Only Cane … and peace. For a time.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monday. December 11, 2017.
-- picking at scabs


Why am I angry?

I went to see him yesterday. I knew exactly where he’d be. He sounded so surprised.

"Salvador--"

The sound of my name spilling breathlessly from his lips… I thought I had heard the last of it. How long ago was it now? How long has it been? The last I saw of him was the end of February. Had he waited a few more months… It’s been nearly two years. As long as, if not longer than, the last time.

There’s no more house for me to seal and lock up, entomb as I did before. I’ve spent so long locking down other things, though. In my heart. In my mind. By now I was starting to believe I’d never see him again. I was starting to make my peace.

His voice leaking out of my phone and into my ear shattered so many carefully placed locks. It broke me apart inside. I thought I was okay.

"I'm tired of hurting you, and him. You're tired of hurting."

“Yes.”


But how do I explain the hurt? I don’t understand it myself. Telling him that he’s the cause will only do him harm as well. There is no fixing the damage that was done. Nothing I say will help.

"Words are our enemy."

"They weren't, once."


No, and he’s right. I hate how he’s right. Always.

The long ago times come back to me when I think on them. Once, his were the only words that could soothe me. I hated him and loved him. I still do. Try as I might, I can’t stay angry with him. He has always been this way, coming and going as he pleases. The length of time never mattered before. I never noticed. Now I do. I’ve changed. He stays the same. Is there any hope left for us?

"I would like you to tell me everything. All of it. And I will tell you everything. I would like to know what you want, from me. And I will tell you what I can give."

And what if there is nothing to tell? There’s nothing left to say that hasn’t already been said. I want nothing, because if I ask him for anything his inability to give it will only break my heart more. He doesn’t have to tell me. I know that’s all that he can give. Nothing.

Love is all we have, and I’m beginning to make my peace with that.

---

“Do you still love me?”

“Yes.”

"Then that's all that matters to me. And all I require."

"Even if everything changes? If I can't be here for you? If I'm with someone else? When you leave again...? If years go by again and I never see you...?"

"Even if everything changes. As long as you love me and you still have a place for me -- that's what matters."
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wednesday. December 20, 2017.
-- solstice approaching


Tomorrow it ends. At least temporarily.

Temporary. Yes, that’s what this is. Just another season that comes and goes. Another storm to wait out. He comes and he goes. Never stays. It’s the lack of staying that hurts the most. I’ve always endured it well enough before. No one ever knew. But then… I never let anyone else as close to me as him before. Now I’m not enduring alone. Now someone waits with me, and it affects him too.

This is Wednesday. We should be out doing something. The timing is terrible. I haven’t the strength to get off this bed. I’m hungry. I’m trying not to think about it. I’m glad he’s here to keep me distracted, but he’s sleeping now. I envy him. But it’s a temporary envy, because tomorrow I’ll be able to sleep again too.

Left to my own thoughts. They’re terrible. I don’t want to be thinking, but there’s little else to do. The more I actually want to disconnect the less I can. I try to do nothing but listen. Listen to him breathing. Listen to the relaxed thrum of his sleep-slowed beating heart. Listen to the wind slither over the windowpanes. Listen to the past crawl its way up out of my memories and claw at my brain. There are too many whispers.

I’ll listen, when you’re ready.

Isn’t that what he always says? And by the time I am ready he’s gone again. There’s no point in preparing. He leaves. I allow myself to forget. I immerse myself in other things, better things. I let myself be happy. I’ve finally found someone who makes me happy in all the ways I thought were *** and fairy tales. I know what’s real now. I know what love is supposed to be.

My heart is *** stupid, though. I can’t make it stop. I can’t shut off that feeling.

How do I explain? What is there to say? How did you hurt me, Sinjin? Let me count the ways.

You set fire to what was ours, what was us. Burned it to the ground. That still hurts. I try to tell myself it doesn’t, but I think back and I miss what was there, what we had. It wasn’t home without you there. It was just a place for me to stay. Like so many other places. Home wasn’t the place, it was the person. It is the person. What good is all that space without someone to share it with? I’m glad it’s gone. It was a pointless pretend.

All those places…

My father’s house. Your apartment. The small house Dimitri owned. A house you built by the sea. Just like another one you burned long before that. Church pews and inn rooms. I always found some place to rest my head when the need for sleep consumed me. But none of them were home.

Home was you.

It was. Past tense. All those places were empty without you in them, without you sharing the space with me. Things are different now. Similar, but not the same. I have many places again, but the difference is that these places feel just as much like home as the person I share them with. A house by the sea. A cabin in the woods. A boat and an apartment in the middle of my very own domain.

And another. A cavern and a mansion all rolled into one. I’m as welcome there as if it were my own too. They are family. I never feel as if I’m trespassing, as I did so often with you and those places that are yours.

There is no place now that is solely you and me, and I don’t want there to be one. You’ll just burn it down when you’re angry or upset. That’s what you do. You bring ruin. The cycle repeats itself again and again. And I endure it every time, because I love you, and I can’t stop.

Love. It’s all I can give you, though. That’s all I’m willing to give anymore. Only that. Only the reassurance that I still love you no matter how much your lack of being here hurts. I can’t bear giving you any of my time, alone. All I can think about is how that time will end, and I’ll have no idea when the next time I’ll see you again will be. You could be gone tomorrow, an hour from now, a year. I never know. I’ll love you from a distance. It’s the only way that’s safe for my heart.

There’s more. All these years, my blind devotion to you has meant nothing. Still you exclude me. You want to know all there is to know about me, but give me nothing. When people ask you what I do, you can tell them. It’s simple. I’ve shown you. I’m a butcher. I own a meat processing company. There is no mystery, but with you I’ve never known. I’ve never been able to answer that question. All I know is you own a riverboat casino, and that still stings. You told me you’d never set foot on it. You threw a party, without me. You knew I was gone. Deliberate exclusion, like always.

What was Peccavi? What was Ambrosia? I don’t know. I don’t know. Business. What does that mean? It could be anything. What kind of business? You’d never say. Nobody ever said. Not even the people who worked for you. Did they even know? They never told me. And did I ask? I didn’t care. No. It’s not that I didn’t care. It’s that I trusted you. That I hoped you would willingly divulge that information, share with me, and you never did.

I’m tired of living in the dark, in your shadow. That time is long past now. The years without you have stacked up too high. And I will not allow everything I’ve built without you to come crumbling down, fall apart from neglect, just because you’ve come again.

Where does that leave us? What else is left? Love. Only love. And that’s enough. It must be.


But every time you hurt me, the less that I cry
And every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry
And every time you walk out, the less I love you
Baby, we don't stand a chance, it's sad but it's true
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thursday. December 28, 2017.
-- breaking point


Will this be the last time I see you?

This is what I think when I look at you, when I watch you walk out the door in the company of someone else entirely.

This is the thought that keeps me from doing what I want to do.

I want to see you. I want to touch you. I want to kiss you. God how I long to kiss you again. To be with you.

But I think - will this be the last time?

And it hurts. So I don’t. I don’t to try to keep myself from hurting which is pointless because it does anyway. The thought of being with you hurts. The thought of not being with you hurts. There is no solution. Only hurt one way or the other.

---

Distraction is a balm for my wounds.

Cane handed me the keys. I drove his Jeep in circles, tires squealing and kicking up clouds of filthy snow. The chaos and wreckage was delightfully therapeutic. As was the calming roar of the sea and the steaming hot shower we took together before bed.

No. It’s just Cane. He is my salve.

Sano y salvo.

Mi égida.


I do not think I would survive this without him.

---

Not being with you hurts.

More than anything. I want to be with you.

Even if it is one last time
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wednesday. February 7, 2017.
-- going, going, gone


From the outside it looked like a weeping willow in winter, sagging, drooping branches coated in ice. The strangest thing about it was the fact that there was no source of water around the tree. It stood in solitude, in the center of a meadow, in the middle of a forest full to brimming with trees of other varieties altogether. This tree did not belong here, and over the years it had become the most certain navigational marker. It was a signpost that very clearly told a traveler that they had arrived, here, at the end of all things.

On the inside the Bone Grove looked so very, very different. Stepping over the threshold of the Veil, everything changed. The sky grew just a little darker and drearier, no matter the time of day. A fine, silvery mist clung close to the ground, obscuring the sea of bones that crunched and rattled underfoot. The air was cloying and moist as the soil beneath, saturated with blood and the sweet tang of decay. In the middle of the Grove stood a boulder split in half, its smooth surface etched in fading runes that were difficult to read, written in a language that nobody living still knew. And jutting up out of the rotten soil just behind the stone was the tree.

It was a magnificent tree, a horrifying tree, made of no vegetable matter at all. The trunk was a gnarled and twisted mass of slick red ropes that had braided themselves together over the years. Its branches were too long and thin, too heavy with dripping red ichor. The strongest of them alone were responsible for giving the tree its impressive height of nearly fourteen feet. By mid March the tree would reach that milestone. The tree was a monument, a simulacrum. It was exposed veins wound tightly together reaching for the heavens. It had a pulse of its own, due to the living heart it kept stored securely in its center. This was Salvador’s Heart Tree, a source of his power.

Nestled beneath its roots slept two corpses. Sometimes, in the dead of winter, he would come to talk to them. When there was no one else to talk to, he sought solace in their silence. They listened and said nothing at all. There was no judgment, no chastisement. Though he could often hear the echo of his mother’s voice from another time reminding him.

You are a troubled child looking for comfort where you will find none.

Salvador came in the early morning. The sun was still newly cresting over the horizon. He had detoured from his usual route along the shore and plunged blindly into the forests surrounding the city instead. This was a place for the dead or the dying, and it was concern specifically for those that had brought him here. His mother was sleeping. She would not give him any answers. He wasn’t certain he even wanted any, but took comfort in listening to the heart beat in his tree. There was so much to think about and he hadn’t found the time lately.

First, there was Lirssa. She was dead. He knew he would not find her bones among the refuse at his feet. He sank down into the mist, putting his back to the curve of the stone behind him, and sifted his fingers through ancient remains. He found a handful of finger bones and rolled them in his palm.

Lirssa.

He had known her when she was a child, and had treated her as he did all children. He had kept a safe distance, viewed her as if she were a wild animal behind bars. Or perhaps he was the monster in the zoo, watching her. Close, but separate. He had never engaged any sort of relationship with her. But he knew, remembered well, how Ali and Fio had fought to legally adopt her, then abandoned her. Or so it had seemed to him. He hadn’t seen either of them in so long, but he knew they were no longer together. As predicted. Their marriage had been such a farce from the start.

Cane was not taking her death well. He had bonded with her where Salvador could not. “You were a better father to her than Ali ever was, amant,” he murmured to the bones he still rolled in his palm. Using the French word made him feel more connected, as if the Cajun were sitting here beside him. The ghost of him trickled away as Salvador tipped his hand and let the bones spill back to the ground.

“I wonder if they even know,” he asked the dripping tree in front of him. Its only answer was a steady thum-thump, thumpa-thump.

Yesterday, Sin had said he had tried contacting Ali. A small, bitter part of himself reflected that now the sinner might have an inkling of understanding of how Salvador felt. Years had gone by with no response from him. The most important person in his life. Sinjin was, had been, his everything.

“Maybe it’s true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder.” Scooping a slim and brittle radius from the pile surrounding him, he snapped it in half. “It hurts because it’s real,” he said, echoing another man’s words from another time. He sighed and flicked the two halves of the bone at the base of his tree. He would never forget.

“Sometimes I envy you, Madre. How relaxing it would be not to feel.”

No one answered him, except maybe the tree with its constant thumping. Underneath that sound was the slithering swish of pumping blood. The roots of his tree stretched far and wide. Dig deep enough into the soil of Matadero and he could find them. He could make them and shape them. Lifting a hand now, palm up, he twitched a few fingers. It required very little concentration at all to make a pair of branches twist, groan, and twine themselves tightly together. Merely a thought and a flash of light licking through his irises.

“I don’t know what to do about him,” he said, dropping his hand to slap back against his thigh. Salvador sighed and dropped the back of his head to rest against the curve of the stone behind him as well. “I want things to be just as they were, but to do that I have to pretend these past four years didn’t happen. They did happen, though. I can’t undo them. And I can’t make him stay. Even if I asked him to, he wouldn’t. He tells me he’s here if I need him, but when I do actually need him, he’s not. He’s never here when it matters.”

The sinner had missed so many important days. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Holidays. The Powerhouse Party. Of course, the man had gone away to Madrid during the week he said he would be here. Or at least try to be. Salvador remembered well how he had jested about not knowing who to cheer for, him or Jewell.

Jewell.

“He’ll break her heart too. Just as she broke Cane’s. Foolish woman. She’ll deserve it. What do they see in her?” Oh sure. She was beautiful. Especially to the easily deceived eye. Her glamour was astoundingly powerful. Salvador’s eyes were built differently than most, though. He could see through illusions. It was a gift from his mother. He saw Truth. And the truth was that while Salvador had enjoyed the few romps he and Cane had shared with the woman, he desired nothing further.

“I’m not even sure we’re friends. By all rights we should be enemies.” She was faerie. He was an abomination. She was built to rule, seduce. He was built to kill, destroy. He liked her, though. Not at all with the same kind of intensity that had infected Sinjin and Canaan. But he didn’t hate her and want to immediately murder her, which was quite something.

“She’s so hung up on this dying,” he groused, kicking a skull. It bounced off the trunk of his bleeding tree and rolled, streaked with red, out into the mist. “Divination is ***. Nobody knows when they’re going to die. They just do. She could *** keel over tomorrow. Especially if she keeps stressing the way she does. Of course she’s dying. We’re all *** dying.”

It was the iron in her blood that prevented him from helping her. Were she not so poisoned, he thought, he could perhaps fix her. In theory. If he could cannibalize flesh for himself, why not for another? Especially another fae creature.

“If it weren’t for Cane, I wouldn’t give a ***,” he grumbled. The next object he scooped from the ground was a rock, a plain old rock. He lobbed it at his tree and winced at the dull ache he felt from its impact. The tree squelched as it dislodged the rock, which thumped when it hit the ground.

Worst of all, he could sympathize. Drawing up his legs with a frown, he tucked his arms around his knees and glowered at the dripping branches in front of him. Salvador knew full well what it felt like to think oneself nothing. Insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Worthless. Powerless. Who in their right mind could love a monster like him? An abomination. A shouldn’t be. A creature unlike any other. No one knew his lifespan. Every day he woke up, there was the sunrise, a reminder he was still alive, his great big *** you to the world. Maybe he didn’t live every day to the fullest, but he lived, and that was something too.

“She doesn’t deserve them,” he muttered bitterly. Sin and Cane. They were too good for her, he thought. He could see what they were doing, how both of them cared so much for her and only wanted her last moments to be full of joy and love. Even though the Cajun had stopped pursuing her romantically, he still strived to keep her happy. But it wasn’t enough for her, he could see, and she treated him like dirt for it. He knew it was only a matter of time before Sin disappointed her, too. And then what would she have?

“Nothing,” he murmured. She had said it enough times at their meeting that the word was stuck now, etched, burned into his thoughts. It pulsed and flashed like a beacon. She was trying so hard to push them away, but at the same time was clinging. He could see it. And it was probably, in part, just to spite her, that Salvador refused to give up. On anything.
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Delahada
Verdugo
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday. February 18, 2017.
-- adrift


"Where should we go tonight?"

Cane’s words from Friday night when they left the Inn. They came to him again as if they were still there, overlapping the sound of waves pushing against the belly of the boat and making it sway. The ocean spoke to him in whispers of the past. Salvador felt now much as he had then. It didn’t matter. They had options and he, personally, felt no particular pull toward any of them.

So he had shrugged and said, "Wherever you want." Cane took his hand as they stepped out the door.

"The boat," he said decisively. "We can take it out on the open water tomorrow when we wake up." Spend the day at sea? It sounded grand.

It sounded like a desire to escape. The build up had been growing for days, weeks, even long before they had learned of the finality of Lirssa’s fate. The tension had begun even before that, with Jewell and Sinjin. Salvador did not blame the man the desire to flee; he felt like disappearing too, and so had not at all objected to the idea of taking the boat out for a spin, for staying there for as long as they had.

Everything was peaceful here, blessedly quiet. There was no one for miles around. Cell phone reception was terrible, but eventually a signal got through. Cane had been avoiding responding to Eva’s voicemail, and might have ignored it entirely, he knew, if it weren’t for Jewell’s text the next day. He had watched his lover struggle with the desire to hurl the device overboard. Salvador had pried it from his hands, promised safe-keeping and alleviation of the burden. He silenced it and stored it in his pocket, deciding it was better to allow Cane to pretend the world was empty of everyone and everything but him. The Cajun deserved this respite.

Their boat was memories of Spain and solitude. Careful planning had gone into its purchase. It had to be new, fresh off the factory floor, untouched by anyone before them. It was well warded when it was docked, keeping out trespassers, preventing anyone from even seeing it, in such a way that the space it occupied seemed not to exist and no one else tried parking their yachts there. At sea, it was home. They could have lived their indefinitely, fishing and foraging islands to survive. Sometimes, Salvador fantasized about abandoning everything and escaping to that life with his Cajun, but he knew stifling Cane in such a way would diminish him.

He was fire. He was life. He flourished among people.

Salvador enjoyed watching him in social settings. Though he was perpetually an outsider looking in, it never bothered him to exist on the sidelines of Canaan’s spotlight. The Cajun shined in these situations. He was marvelous to behold. There was nothing Sal loved more than watching him, awake or asleep, such as now, before sunrise. Salvador always woke before sunrise.

This time of year the temperatures on the water could still be frigid. As he rose, slowly and carefully so as not to rouse his peacefully resting lover, Salvador gathered his coat from where it was dropped over a bolted down plush armchair and ascended to the upper deck. He found a cushion to settle on, facing east, and waited, as he always did, to watch the first fingers of light slither over the horizon.

Idle hands sifted through his coat pockets, subconsciously checking off all the items that were near constantly in his inventory. Two packs of cigarettes of two different brands. A book of matches. A whittling knife. A small hunk of wood that was starting to take on the shape of a person and a chair. A handful of bottle caps and buttons. A half chewed pencil no longer than half his thumb. And other more dangerous objects sewn into the seams. As well as his own cell phone, which was cold from disuse, there was Cane’s. He plucked it from his pocket just to check, frowned at the message he read.

Feeling a spike of annoyance himself had him realizing that these were the sort of words that would upset his Cajun. Cane was not the sort of man who played lightly with death. Never would he dare use his power to bring back someone who was gone. If he was, there would still be Jeremy; there would still be Nash. And Lirssa had been very precise in her wishes. Just because he could did not mean he would. Salvador was annoyed the girl could think so little of him and could only imagine Cane’s fury if he ever found this message. Still, the decision to dispose of the evidence did not come lightly.

Salvador’s thumb swept back and forth over the blackened screen as he watched the sun rise. The boat rocked and swayed beneath him. Gentle waves lapped softly against the hull. Perfect serenity surrounded him, and it was that sort of peace he refused to see ruined. With fresh light and warmth washing over him, he tapped the phone back on and swiped left to expose the option to delete. One simple touch eradicated the threat.

Some time later, Cane stirred and sluggishly ascended to join him on deck. He smiled as the Cajun’s warmth folded into place at his back and the man’s arms wound about his waist. He tipped back his head, giving him access to his neck, where predictably he placed a kiss.

“Good morning,” he murmured, tucking his arms against Cane’s to lock them more securely into place.

“Morning,” the Cajun grunted groggily.

Salvador turned his head with a soft, fond smile and closed his eyes. With their heads leaned together, lounging among the perfect solitude of the sea, he couldn’t have been any happier. “Te amo,” he said just as quietly.

Later, he decided. Once they abandoned the ocean and returned to land, when they were among people again and could no longer ignore what was real, then he would tell the Cajun, at least, that more condolences had been sent his way. As for the absurdly insulting *** insinuation that resurrection was even a possibility… That Cane never needed to know.
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