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Rebuilding: The Beginning

 
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Rosencrantz
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:30 pm    Post subject: Rebuilding: The Beginning Reply with quote

((OOC Author's Note: Chronologically, this takes place before both Vengeance Be Mine and Reunion of Brothers. If you're interested in this story or haven't read any of them yet, you probably want to read them in order. Thanks for looking!))

Four pm was a bad time of day. Any time of day beyond the hour or so that he got just always blew. He had been gone for a few hours, which maybe was the ghost equivalent for sleeping. Once he was aware again he found himself dressed, sitting in the passenger seat next to Ian. That was one of the things he didn't like. He missed his red Subaru and being behind the wheel. Reaching over, he changed the radio station on the car so that Ian would get that he was there before he rested his left hand atop the boy's thigh.

Without having gotten a cigarette, he realized he felt one in his hand and was smoking. "Where are we going?" He didn't know how clearly he'd be heard at this hour, or if it was even 'hearing' that Ian experienced when he spoke. All he knew was that the kid seemed to pick up on him.

Some of those intervening hours were okay. Okayish, anyway. Waking up with the weight of Jay's arm around him, for instance. The impression of his lover's chest pressed firmly against his back, the pressure of thighs against thighs. Ian never slept in clothes anymore, and he never slept alone. In those pre-conscious hours, just like at twilight, it was almost easy to forget, to feel like nothing had changed.

The road spooled out ahead of them, falling away under the wheels of the borrowed car. He tapped his fingers absently to the beat of the song on the radio, analyzing scenarios in his mind. If A, then B. If C, then X. If X, go with A. Lost in thought and only somewhat paying attention to his immediate surroundings, Ian became aware of the change in station, the hand on his thigh and the voice beside him all at once.

The kid smiled, pulling one hand off the wheel to rest lightly over Mac's. To an outside observer, it would seem strange: the way his hand seemed to hover a couple of inches above his own leg, suspended there like he'd gotten distracted, forgotten what he was doing. "To see Ezra," he responded, glancing at the passenger seat out of the corner of his eye, trying to catch that gossamer glimpse of his boyfriend. "Missed you."

The edge of his fedora. Nothing. Always like a trick of an outline, a thought or memory. Always less substantial the more Ian actually put his gaze in his direction. Mac's image was the most crisp in Ian's peripheral vision. Still, it was hard as hell not to turn your head, or look, when you thought you saw something there.

"Good," to the news of seeing Ezra. It had been something nagging at him. Mac's impatience hadn't changed much after dying. There was still a sense of urgency in him. Things needed to happen, now, and they needed to be right. Ian's thigh felt the pressure of his hand squeezing after he rested his hand atop of his. Missed. He smiles, and even though Ian can't see it, he probably hears it in his voice, "How long was I gone?"

Those times when Jay was gone from him completely, when he 'slept' or 'rested' or whatever it was that ghosts did, those were the worst. Them, and those first five miserable, awful minutes after their one perfect, golden hour together. Ian was still a fiercely independent, individual thing - it wasn't that he couldn't enjoy the reprieve for what it was, the moments truly alone to get things done without being second guessed. But he couldn't help the panicky, restless edge that absence opened in his belly, that deepset, unsettled anxiety that overtook him as he waited for the ghost to return.
Hoped the ghost would return.

Ian closed his fingers over that unseen hand even as it squeezed his thigh, letting the relief that, one more time, it hadn't been the last time after all wash over him. His grip tightening, he lifted it to his lips, turning that hand over so he could press a light kiss to its palm. I'm so glad you're back. Good thing they weren't in bumper to bumper traffic.

"Couple of hours," said the kid, glancing at the display on the car's dashboard console. "Since lunchtime," he corrected. Three hours, not two. "We're almost there - you missed the stupid... portal thing."

He'd kept telling himself that it would be the last time. Just one more time. One more kiss, one more ****, and he'd somehow be less wanting of him. Like an addict, getting more never sated the urge but built a bonfire for it. It was easier when he couldn't look at Ian to believe that. But when he was there, when he had to see his face and come up with a reason to discard him? He'd **** failed at that **** left and right and still couldn't really explain why it had been like that except that he wanted him. Over and over in ways that evolved and became more reckless.

Ian's lips pressed into his palm. Jay's thumb moved over his lips to outline them. stopping at his lip piercing to more gingerly circle around it. The stupid portal thing. At the end of the day, it had all been about those portals. About Rhy'Din being desirable as a port of trade to control and tax. "Goddamn portals."

It wasn't the same, this shadow touch. There was a whisper of the grave in it, a frosty chill along the edges of intimately familiar contact. Still, it was better than not touching him, than meeting no resistance, than passing through when he reached for him.

Ian had learned to live with the cold.

Lips subtly parted as those ephemeral fingers moved over them, a grin snagging the corners of his mouth when his lip ring clinked faintly against his teeth. The boy nodded his assent: goddamn portals indeed.

He glanced down at his phone. It was balanced on his left thigh, the map application pulled open and directing them to the agreed upon meeting point. It was far enough away from where Silas currently had the MacIntosh boys camped that Ezra wouldn't be followed, close enough that he could get back quickly in case he found himself being missed. The exit he needed had come up sooner than he anticipated, and he released his hold on Jay's hand so he could signal with the indicator, twisting in his seat to check his blind spot before he changed several lanes to the right.

Suddenly, and apparently apropos of absolutely nothing, the kid had a question. "When is--er, was, I guess -- your birthday?" It was funny how you could know someone so completely without knowing the little details.

It was Jena's Sportsgrill and Bar. All sports grill places looked the same. Dark walls with random memorabilia decorating the walls, acting like pops of color against the dark backdrop. This spot wasn't enormous, but it still managed to have three enormous televisions lighting up the walls. There was one old pool table in the back. A long, dark stained bar dominated a wall with the center space filled with high tables with even higher chairs. Along the right hand side wall were about eight booths, one of which was occupied by Ezra.

He was there, eating lemon pepper chicken wings with his beer and trying not to look nervous about it. His forty five was holstered behind his back under the belt, same way that Mac did it.

"My birthday?" Mac's laugh reaches around the air of the car as Ian navigates the way to Ezra. There is a pause, hanging there between them until he answers, "December Fifth. I don't do birthdays." Not really, not anything more than everyone grabbing a few beers together.

His attention split between the road and the phone in his lap, Ian navigated the car off the highway and into the parking lot for the sports bar, his nose wrinkling a little at how generic it was. It didn't matter what it was called: it would look the same on the inside, have the same menu, as any other sports bar in the world. It could be anywhere and it could be nowhere. That was one thing that could be said for Rhydin - at least the place had character.

Finding a parking spot that faced the street and not the restaurant, the kid pulled smoothly into it, letting the engine idle. He nodded to show that he'd heard, a dim smile touching his mouth. Turning the ignition off, he pulled the keys and shoved them in his pocket, shifting in the seat to make that happen. I don't do birthdays. Neither did Mark--whose imminent birthday had prompted the question in the first place. "Just wondering," he said at last, his eyes shifting briefly up to the rear view mirror, like he might be able to see Jay reflected in its surface. "Seemed like a thing I should know."

Taking a breath, the kid raked his fingers through dark waves, tugged once on his lip ring to re-seat it against his teeth, and then he shoved the driver's side door open. Before he got out, though, he turned toward the apparently-empty passenger seat, that same dim smile surfacing. "...Kiss me for luck?"

"You can only **** for luck," his laugh punches the air then fades. It seems he'd gone, just up until the moment that his lips join Ian's. Half of the time he had to think about just being able to kiss him. It tempered his motions, making them more deliberate and contrived.

It was easy enough, though. He just had to roll over, setting one of his knees in his seat, the other near the gear shift so that the bulk of is form could hover near. There. Not there. His right hand crossed over, gripping the side of Ian's neck with the meeting of their lips. His short, assertive and undeniably possessive gestures unaffected by death. When his mouth broke from Ian's he spoke, "Don't let Ezra or any of those **** give you excuses. This **** is happening and I don't care what goddamn moon has to be moved for it."

"Yeah, but we don't have time for that just yet." Ian's smile answered that laugh, but he waited. For a moment, there was nothing, and then there was that strong, familiar grasp on his neck, pulling him forward into a kiss. He grinned against unseen lips, using the kiss to guide his fingers against his lover's chest.

The kiss ended sooner than he wanted it to, but then it always did. The kid nodded again. He'd grown more patient with Jay's impatience, understanding at last that it was a reflex of needing to feel in control of something. "It's happening," he agreed, searching for one of Mac's hands and squeezing it lightly before he turned to get out of the car.

Rising, the kid squared his shoulders, pulled at the hem of the shirt he wore to make sure it settled right over his waistband. It was one of Josh's, so it was a little bit too big on him, the holes where the sleeves had been gaping away from him more than they had on Mac. The effect made both the slowly scarring bullet wound and the tattoo that almost perfectly matched Ezra's at least partially visible, and that had been deliberate.

Shoving the car door closed once he'd hit the button to lock it, Ian moved across the parking lot and into the restaurant's interior.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"It better be. I'll be right there, the whole time." His grip loosened as Ian climbed out.

There were small advantages to his current situation. Relocating near Ian was much, much easier. He didn't have to crawl out of the car and shut the door. All he needed to do was have the want to walk beside him and he did. Flicking his ethereal cigarette off to the side and blowing away the last bit of smoke he sucked from it, he said, "Half that camp goddamn owes me."

Inside, the hostess smiled at Ian prettily and then, with his indication, led him to Ezra's booth. The man was on his fifth wing at the time and upon seeing Ian, he wiped his mouth and hands off on the thin paper napkins and stood up. He offered a hand but it was the sort that would evolve into a handshake and one armed hug if Ian allowed for it.

"Damn, it's good to see you. Look better than I thought you would."

If he looked straight ahead as he walked, Ian could almost see Josh fall into step beside him. There was the barest curve of his lower lip in an acknowledging smile as he pushed the door open, that smile widening in a friendly, cheerful way when he met the hostess at her podium.

Following the girl to Ezra's table, he tipped his chin in a nod of greeting for the older man. That outstretched hand was clasped and then pulled, tugging Ezra against him for that one armed hug. Ian's left arm was still healing, its mobility still stunted, so the hug came low around the bottom ribs instead of the customary shoulder clap.

"...Not half bad for somebody half dead a month ago, yeah? Good to see you too, man." His tone was light, his smile easy. Ezra had been his favorite of Mac's inner circle, the one he'd spent the most time fostering a rapport with. When he pulled away, Ian took the seat opposite, sliding far enough to the interior that there was room for someone else to sit beside him. Probably it just looked like a habit. "Things still **** up and weird over there?"

"Yeah, I mean, miracles happen." Ezra smiled and then moved to take his seat again. One hand motioned to his beer and then two digits were thrown up, indicating a need for a second one for Ian.

Ezra was good in that he had kept his head low, his smile on, and never drew too much attention to himself. He didn't want to run things and didn't cause any **** drama. Some might have said that he should have been more ambitious but, eh, he was pretty happy with things as they were. He got enough food and shelter that he was fine. Extra money in the bank and not too much trouble coaxing a local girl into bed. When it came to chances to make another buck or favor? He was always ready for that. Made him seem a bit more on the helpful side of things.

The waitress dropped off a beer just like his. Blue moon with an orange slice. Ezra picked up a drum stick and sighed, "Yeah, you know." Realizing that Ian had never been part of Camp Silas, he set the drum stick down, "He's just real old school."

Ian detained the waitress with a lift of his hand. "One more beer, please." He said politely, and on his face was that boyish smile that had gotten him away with so much in his short life already.

"You expectin' someone else, sugar?" The woman asked him, and he nodded without further explanation.

Miracles.The word did something to his smile, twisting it in the creases like he knew a secret, and the knowing made something about the phrasing funny. The kid pulled his phone from his pocket, checking the time before he laid it flat on the table, taking up the beer instead. "Mm," he sneered. "The kind of old school that kills the most successful leader the camp's ever had in cold blood over nothing. Sounds like fun."

Ezra's eyebrows lowered in confusion. There was definitely a 'wtf?' look in his eyes as he studied Ian's motions. He wasn't actually going to say anything, just give him a look and then pick up the drumstick for another bite.

Silas, that ****, was old school in a bad way. The sort that won't stream Netflix because he has goddamn VHS tapes. Mac was sitting there beside him, taking off his hand and planting it on the table top with a frown.

At what Ian said he flexed his jaw and said, carefully as he could, "There's still... you know. People have questions about all of that. His being queer or whatever." Ezra was trying his best to sound nonchalant and less like the mediator for the rebellion.

The kid didn't explain himself to Ezra either, though the smile he directed across the booth was a reassuring one. Relax, it said. We're just talking. Taking up the beer again, Ian took a long swallow from it, his expression at once totally casual and sharply intent.

Aware of the presence of his lover beside him, it was hard - so hard - not to reach for him. He didn't, using the impulse to pull his cigarettes from his pocket instead. It was still Mac's brand, he hadn't switched back. He pulled a lighter from the pack - and this one wasn't baby pink, but it was an equally effeminate pastel purple - and rolled his thumb over the flint a few times, periodically igniting the flame to a shower of sparks. He didn't actually pull out a cigarette, assuming that this restaurant like so many others had banned the activity entirely - but the lighter gave him something to do with his hands, something to focus on.

"So I'll answer their questions." He said calmly, his tone even, placid. "I'm the rightful Second. You can't tell me that you and Michael and Sonny and them are really happy taking a backseat to..." He gestured with his hand vaguely, his nose wrinkling in disgust, "...a bunch of out of touch old geezers an' ****' Jimmie. Y'can't tell me you guys are all thinkin' to yourselves, 'hey, you know what our lives are missing? Prayer lunches and Sunday services.' And anyway I already know how much the numbers have fallen."

Mac scrapped his hand through his hair, watching Ezra and fighting the inclination to tell him just what he thought. Ezra didn't see him, or acknowledge him. That was strange in some respects. The guy was a bit more at ease around Ian, he could tell because he wasn't trying to smile any more than what came to him. Was that what someone looked like when they weren't worried?

Ezra scratched the side of his neck, "We take direction from Jimmie." There was some... embarrassment to having to say that to Ian. Ezra sighed and then lifted his shoulders up, "First, second and third don't have much to do with us, and Jimmie just barks what they want at us most of the time." He wasn't happy with things, but he wasn't about to dig up the dirt of the numbers being as bad as they were. He didn't have to, not with the way he was tip toeing around it.

****. Mac frowned and scratched the back of his neck. How much **** did they lose?

Ian knew. Ian had spent nearly all of the last year staking his life on his ability to research and assess a situation, to come up with the right information at the right time to make his move. Mac was a bulldog, a pitbull, single minded and driven, bulldozing his way through anybody and everybody on his path to success. His young lover was a chess master, quiet and seemingly unassuming, the next eight moves calculated well in advance, every possible outcome anticipated and planned for.

Making Ezra say it out loud had been part of the point.

"Things are changing for the worse. They're fallin' apart and nobody's doing anything about it. So you guys've got questions. Alright, I get that. I'll answer 'em. I have nothing to hide and neither does Josh." Does, he'd said. Not did. The use of the present tense hadn't been a slip.

"Ezra." He said the man's name quietly, taking a sip of his beer as he waited for the elder gypsy to meet his gaze. "I can fix this. I'm going to fix this. I'd ...really like it if you an' Sonny an' Mike - and anybody else who doesn't want to see everything he did undone - came with me on this. Don't do it for me. Do it for yourselves. Do it for Mac. But let me be very clear. I'm doing this."

"I just don't know, man," he was saying something he didn't want to. For Ezra, it was the bottom line. Not that money was the most important but... well, it was up there. The Mac Clan had started to decline and honestly? The smartest thing might have been just to jump ship with all of them and start with a new crew. He could roll with the punches and he shot well enough.

Still, there were things that people couldn't square away, "So... you and Mac, then? He have his eye on some of us...?" It was incredibly awkward to say. To insinuate that the band of men selected had been plucked for his sexual preference, like prostitutes. Mac being gay apparently made it all about them.

Mac, meanwhile, leaned back in his seat. You're not **** serious. You hairy pieces of **** weren't worth jerking off to.

To his detriment, Ezra continued, "Cause it wasn't just... you. It was David, too, huh?"

Laughter spilled from his lips, and the kid shook his head. The waitress appeared - finally - with the third beer, and Ian ordered two more for himself and Ezra. He also ordered more chicken wings, because Ian was sixteen and basically always hungry. When the waitress was gone, the teenager pushed the new beer closer to the edge of the table, to his right where someone else might sit. Where someone else was already sitting.

"Yes you do," he said casually, and there was no part of it that was a question. Zero room for doubt. "You know you're fed up with the situation, that you liked it better under Mac. You resent the loss of status, the uncertainty of where you stand. And if you don't, Sonny sure the **** does." Ian set the lighter down on the table's surface, spinning it with his fingers, watching it wind down to a lazy stop.

When the question that he'd known all along was at the root of all the uncertainty came up, the kid shook his head with a smile that was almost apologetic. "...'Fraid not, Ez'. He trusted and promoted you lot 'cause he actually liked you as people and trusted your capabilities. He wasn't interested in seein' a damn one of you naked." He laughed again, but it wasn't at Ezra's expense. It was that he'd heard Jay. He shot a sidelong glance at the empty space next to him, then checked his phone for the time.
"Tell me something, Ezra. You guys all knew that Rhy'Din was ... different. You knew about things like werewolves. Just how open is your mind?"
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I wasn't raised in the hood
But I know a thing or two about pain and darkness
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He wiped his mouth off with a new, paper-thin napkin from the table dispenser. It cracked and went nearly clear with the grease from the chicken wings. He balled it up in one hand, the other wrapping around it. Those balled up hands were near his mouth, elbows on the table as he listened.

The giveaway, really, was that one of his knees bounced as Ian talked. Ezra was used to getting orders from Mac and Ian. The impulse to follow his direction after so long was strangely difficult to avoid.

He was right about the loss of status. No one liked being under Jimmie, and he had been a comfortable fifth or so in line. Which meant he had power but none of the annoying responsibility. Now he was tenth or so, which meant getting barked at and running around like a dog. He tongued at a groove in his back molars to work out a piece of chicken.

"Well, I mean, you have to think that just didn't come from nowhere..." His conservative background was showing. It wasn't so bad that Fags needed to Burn In Hell. At the unexpected, latter question he blinked, "Yeah, I mean, Rhy'Din was really epic crazy. Saw stuff there I'll never forget so... not sure there isn't anything there I wouldn't believe."

Ian checked his phone again. His right hand moved off the table, into the seat next him. Just below the counter top's lip, he held his hand out, all fingers and his thumb extended. Five. It was a signal to the ghost beside him that his hour was almost upon them.

The kid shook his head, used that same hand to brush curly chocolate waves down across his forehead. "I get what you're saying. I used to think that way, too. I was raised with all the same ideals you were." He paused, took another sip of his beer, all but finishing it. "But then things changed with Josh and me, and it's... it's not something you pick up or learn. It's either there or it isn't. And even if it's there? I mean. Come on. You get hard for every girl you ever came across?" Ian arched his brows, half curiosity and half challenge, daring him to say that he had.

Finishing the last of the beer, he set the glass aside, settling back into his seat, his slate green gaze fixed on Ezra. "I'm glad to hear you say that, though. See. In Rhydin? People don't really... die.They do? But it doesn't carry the same meaning it does everywhere else." He glanced pointedly at the empty space beside him. A space that wouldn't be empty much longer.

"No... I guess not." His knee was still bouncing in thought, but he smiled in a reassured way. Ezra was, perhaps, sixty percent won over. Enough that Ian was winning but not enough that he was motivated to defect.

Mac snorted, grabbing the top of his hat that rested on the table. It gave him something to do with his hands. Sitting there in a patient silence was not his strength. If he was just **** there he'd tell Ezra to shut his mouth and get to making things happening. This part about having to convince him to do anything felt slightly ridiculous. Ezra and Sonny were HIS boys. Not the ones he wanted to ****, but they were his soldiers. When was that a question?

"What do you mean? Like... Johnny?" There was the horrific memory of that night where they saw Johnny turn into something else and Mac put bullets in his head to settle the matter.

Ian shook his head again. "Not like Johnny. Not this time. You'll see in a minute." He checked his phone again, could sense the impatience in the shade next to him. Already he could feel the man more completely, the colors beginning to fill in by degrees, solidifying in his mind if not in actual application. The teenager tapped his fingers against the table, drumming out a quiet rhythm of anticipation.

"The point is. I'm not asking permission. ****'s gone south with the Camp. The Camp -- by rights -- belongs to me now, and I intend to take it back. I am already taking it back, with or without you. Things are already in motion. I'm giving you the opportunity to come with me because I like you, I know you're a smart, solid guy, and I want you back where you were. Someone I can depend on to help me get **** done without a lot of ****. I am not interested in your dick," said the kid pointedly, stressing it because apparently it was the kind of thing that needed to be made overtly clear.

He paused, wished he could light a cigarette. Retrieved the lighter from the table, feeding it between two knuckles. Maneuvered it over the back of his hand finger to finger, weaving in and out of the spaces. "And if you doubt me even a little, there are two things I need you to consider. One: When have I ever not done what I said I would do? Two: I have done this before. Recently."

Ezra was listening when Ian spoke, not bothering to work on the next set of wings he had on his plate but to stare at him. It was almost a stare down and perhaps the closest Ezra really ever came to making a show of questioning someone's authority. Most of the time he smiled and nodded and did as he was told, quickly if not well. He was in between worlds now, though. Silas wasn't as productive or as likeable, but Ian was on the outs and with what... army or resources.

Still, the kid had a point. The sixty percent climbed into the nineties, and it was then, before Mac even materialized that he was brought on board.

"Goddamn," it was always a relief to be able to see his own body. He didn't just seem more real to those around him, but to himself. Mac used his hat to point at Ezra, "We're not gonna **** around about Silas."

This was, of course, not what was expected. Ezra's back stiffened and shoved into the back of his both seat. It looked like his legs were trying to find traction to get the **** out of there.

"Breathe," suggested Ian to Ezra, in a tone that wasn't so much commanding as it was strongly recommending the smartest course of action. A smile had pinned itself in place on his lips, though - Josh was never not real to him, not when he could feel and hear him every moment of the day, but the fact remained that this was and would likely always be the best hour of the day. "You're not hallucinating. I told you - death doesn't have the same meaning in Rhy'Din."

He turned to look at Mac then, that smile softening just a notch - if only because he actually could look at him. Could actually see the stubble on his jaw, the blue of his eyes, the possessive authority in them. His expression was fond, affectionate. No more secrets.

Right on cue as though to confirm the apparition before Ezra, the waitress returned with more beer, more chicken wings. "Oh! Your friend showed up," the woman said, pulling out her notepad once she'd set the food and beverages down. "Anything for you, hon?" she asked Mac, her gaze expectant.

Ian was one of those that was a friend to the junkyard guard dog. Either Ezra could be on board with that or get ****. Ezra was frozen and Mac seemed like he wanted to pistol whip him for it just until the waitress showed up, flowery as ever. He smiled at her, fitting his hat back to the top of his head with a somewhat forced smile, "I have my beer, thanks." She winked at him, anyway, before strolling off.

It was enough of an interruption that Mac wasn't still on the warpath against Ezra. Instead, he took in a breath, "Listen, I'm here whether you like it or not. Mostly. Just... " he hesitated long enough at explaining that Ezra had a moment longer to piece together his brain. "I'm a **** ghost but I'm still here. About one hour of the day or whatever the ****. Twilight."

Ezra was still looking drained and as if he was in pain. It was a lot to process when it was unlike anything that had been seen before. Beyond that, there was the difficult lump of grief he had to roll back and cope with. What he managed to say at first was, "But you died and no one heard from you..."

"Oh, he's dead." said Ian with a nod. That lump of grief was there for him, too. It had very nearly killed him. "He fell against me and died in my arms. Same bullets that got him got me too," he continued quietly, and his right hand lifted to shove the left sleeve aside, revealing the rest of the bullet wound, the way it warped and rippled his skull tattoo. "Dave, Grace and me did the funeral rites just like I told you." His gaze moved from Ezra to Josh then, resting there a long moment. "...But there's somethin' between him and me that keeps him here."

Those grey green eyes went back to Ezra then. "So. Yeah. It's a lot to take in, I know. But I wanted to make it very clear. Who Mac **** - who I **** - has absolutely nothing to do with his skills as a leader, or mine. We're taking Silas down, Ezra, one way or another. I want you with us when it happens. I'm not -- we're not-- feeling very generous about the ones who have a problem with who we are."

"What?" Ezra believed him, he mostly understood him and yet... that was all he could say about it. What. What that meant. What the deal was. His back was still firmly pressed to the cushioned booth seat. Surprisingly, it was Ian's firm tone about the future that helped him focus instead of feel like he was floating away. Ezra was quiet, listening, and finally drew on himself enough to say, "Yea, I hear you."

"Hey," Mac cut to him, "We're not playing footsy with you. Things are moving and you're either out or in."

Ezra swallowed, his eyes moving between Mac and Ian like he was staring down two sharks. Finally, with both his hands curled around the edge of the booth table in front of him, he breathed out, "I'm in... " A bit more confidently, but this time staring down Mac as if he was an optical illusion, "I'm in."

The kid was poker-faced and silent as a stone, just never saying a goddamn thing as Mac put it, waiting for Ezra's mind to engage. Waiting for an answer. Pleased when that answer came, he grinned, laying into the second order of chicken wings that had so recently arrived.

When his gaze shifted back to Mac beside him, there was a measure of adolescent insolence in it, a gleefully triumphant told you so. His mouth was full of chicken so he didn't actually say anything, but then he didn't really have to. One more time, the boy's strategy had worked. He preferred his battles bloodless and ultimately without conflict: to have maneuvered his potential opponent such that his conclusion was the only logical choice long before they met to discuss it.

Swallowing, Ian wiped both hands on his napkin and then offered the good one to Ezra across the table. "...Good to have you back."
_________________


'Cause our minds change on what we think is good
I wasn't raised in the hood
But I know a thing or two about pain and darkness
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Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You could have said please." Ezra cracked a half smile, his hand meeting Ian's to shake. He offered it to Mac as well, uncertain if he would, or even could.

Mac's eyebrows lifted with an eat-**** look as he caught Ezra's hand for a shake, "You can go **** yourself, please." As soon as the sentence was finished, though, Mac had finally smiled. He lifted up his beer for a swallow, the hand closest to Ian giving his thigh a squeeze beneath the table. He didn't eat, he had sort of lost the illusion of having an appetite though he could't shake the habit of needing a cigarette.

"So..." Ezra finished his leg, took a swallow of beer and looked between them, "What is this and... what the Hell am I supposed to tell the guys? I mean, Mac... you're dead. We saw it and I'm going to be a bag of fruit loops if I tell them this happened. I still kinda think I might be dreaming, anyway."

When Ezra's outstretched hand met his, the kid clasped and held it for a moment before he released, his chin dipping in a nod. His eyes said that he understood that it hadn't been an easy decision to make, much less so quickly. He sought to reassure the older gypsy with that handshake -- they were on the same side, Ezra had chosen correctly, things were going to be fine.

The contact broke and Ian went back to eating his chicken wings. He plowed through them like he hadn't eaten in days, though realistically it had only been a couple of hours. He watched quietly as the other two interacted, his right hand dropping from the table to lay lightly over Jay's.

"Don't tell the guys anything yet," Ian spoke up after he'd swallowed more beer. "Not about Mac, anyway. What you do tell them is that things are **** and they were better before, and that if they want to be in on doing something about it, the way is coming clear here soon. You can tell 'em it's me if you want to. I don't give a **** if Silas knows I'm coming for him. Matter of fact I hope he does. Let him worry about it some - his paranoia will only make the **** I've got underway more effective."

The kid paused, taking another long swallow of his beer, crumpling his napkin in a balled fist once he'd wiped most of the grease clear. He settled back in his seat, his body angled just slightly towards Jay beside him. Making no effort to hide their relationship to one another while at the same time he made a point not to let the conversation or focus deviate. Proving through his actions that he neither gave a **** who knew his orientation nor would he let it detract from his authority.

"I don't want anybody from Silas' generation. I don't want anybody who seriously thinks gunning down a blood relative for who he goes to bed with was the right thing to do. I want our people. The solid guys we trust, and anybody who doesn't feel right about what happened to Mac. If there are questions, doubts, concerns, whateverthe****, we'll arrange a meeting - me and them. Let 'em ask. I'll answer whatever comes to me. If we convince 'em, great. Those who aren't satisfied... well. They'll probably wanna consider moving on soonish."

"Man, Silas will put a bullet in me if he figures I'm trying to stir up a rebellion. That's still where I sleep!" Ezra's eyes widened, and he shook his head, looking away from Ian as if he'd asked him to kidnap the Queen.

"Just keep it focused, like Ian said," Mac's hand was still holding the beer, eventually tipping it up for a swallow. His blue eyes stayed trained on Ezra, the scarred brow arching up slightly higher on its own when he spoke, "Don't say anything about being part of it, just that Ian is coming. Those **** have to know things changed and that they don't like it. Put it out there, Ian's got ideas. When anyone complains about Silas or seems hesitant, you just feed into that. Don't look like you're trying to spearhead this **** and you won't get shot."

Ezra's knee was bouncing again, his interest in the chicken wings lost. He swallowed, gripped his beer and took another swallow. Maybe that was in imitation of Mac or because seeing him drink reminded him to do it. Mac leaned back, one elbow catching on the top of the back of the booth so that his arm stretched out behind Ian. Fingertips fell forward, drifting over Ian's shoulder casually.

"Look," Ezra said after Ian, spreading his hands over the face of the table, "None of us knew that he was going to gun down Mac. I mean, we saw the pistol and knew he was pissed, but we thought he'd just pistol whip him and kick him out. We didn't know it was an assassination and," his gaze finally moved to Mac's old gaze, "We woulda buried you right but Silas was gonna shoot anyone that tried."

His dark brows initially arched over eyes like grass stains on asphalt, but then they inched together as Ezra went on. Mac had a tendency to blow hot--quick to temper, impatient, quick to find a resolution in the blood on his knuckles. Ian, by contrast, could be very, very cold, detached and devastating without so much as lifting a finger.

He forgot, sometimes, how literal other people could be.

"First of all," he said calmly, his hands pressed flat on the table before him to either side of his mostly finished plate. The kid had held his silence until Ezra trailed off at the end. "No one told you to go posting flyers on the bulletin board or to call a **** town meeting. Subtlety is key. You keep your mouth shut and your head down until someone complains about something, like Mac said."

The teenager swallowed then, taking a deep, slow breath as he gathered his thoughts, and his temper. "And what you're telling me-- and please, let me know if I'm understanding this correctly --what you're saying to me right now is that you knew that Silas was headed for us - with a gun - and... neglected to so much as send me a text message. I see."

The silence was deafening, ominous as those green eyes watched Ezra, intent and unblinking. Jay's arm was around him, and he lifted his left hand, bending that arm at the elbow to tangle their fingers. "I trust that is ...not a mistake that will be repeated."

"I would have texted if I could. Once Silas showed up he and the old regime were watching each one of us like hawks, I guess 'cause he was anticipating something like that." Ezra shifted uncomfortably in his sea. Mac had gotten quiet about this and looked like he was trying not to pistol whip Ezra right on the spot for what he said.

"Look, you guys left camp and Silas showed up with his guys, saying that Mac was a **** and had been lying to us about other things and was going to lead us off a cliff if we let him." He sighed, "When we went though his room we saw some pictures of Dave and some other stuff and things got heated. People were shouting and pissed off. Jimmie blew his lid about how you had punched him and that why everything that was so unclear made sense to him now about being passed over. We all knew Jimmie was a piece of **** and that wasn't the reason. Silas said he was going to set things right for everybody, so he made Jimmie his spokesperson or whatever." Ezra leaned back in the booth, shaking his head because he disliked recalling the moment.

"Silas kept a really close eye on me and Sonny, especially cause he knew we had handled money and some business for you. I couldn't have held my own dick to take a piss until... you know, things happened." His eyes involuntarily shifted to the hole in Ian's shirt before going back to his eyes.

A little more softly, then, "It wasn't just cause you were a ****... or gay... I mean, whatever you call it. Silas just made it seem like there were a ton of other things you were hiding and that things weren't as good as they seemed and he was taking over. He was in charge before so a lot of people just fell in line because of that.. but... We liked running the crew we had before Silas and it's no secret things haven't gotten better now that you're gone. I mean, were gone."

Mac grabbed his hat with his free hand and put it on, "Un-****-believable."

"Man, I'm sorry, we all are." To what Ian said, he nodded hastily, "Yeah, yeah, nothing like that ever again."

Beneath the table's surface, Ian put his right hand lightly on his lover's thigh, tacitly asking for calm. For a long time he was silent, letting the quiet grow and build uncomfortably thick around them. When he spoke at last, it was like shattering glass, a collapsing house of cards, though his tone was perfectly even, practically casual.

"Incidentally," he began, "We didn't become a thing until well after I'd been promoted." The memory of that night at the Red Dragon swam before his eyes, unbidden: the shock and surprise that each of them had felt, the way Ian had spent almost all of the following day figuring out how to survive it. The fingers that were still laced in those that draped his neck and curled around his shoulder were given a gentle squeeze.

"What was it we were meant to be hiding?" There was one big thing, sure, one he would need to address sooner or later. But he wondered whether that one big thing was already public knowledge.

"The books, mostly." That was usually where the root of everything lead, wasn't it.

Mac exhaled, trying to take Ian's encouragement. Even if Ezra was pissing him off with all he said, he had just signed on to put him back in power. He hadn't given much thought to what had happened that hour or so before Silas showed up. Why his crew hadn't come and got him. How they had been turned on him so swiftly. If it had been an outsider? No way in Hell. Still, at the mentioning of the books he spat, "What about the goddamn books?" His hand lifted away from the brim of his hat to motion through the air, "That numbers were up, better than last year?"

Ezra shook his head no. While they were all family, many were motivated to keep their mouths shut and stay in line because that's what they were paid to do. Without that money, loyalty started to falter. "Silas said you cooked the numbers and were squirreling a huge payoff for yourself at the end of the year. He supposedly had some sort of accounting book of yours to prove it. I never saw the thing but people talked. He said we didn't make as much as you were telling us and that at the end of the year we were all going to wake up with your ass being off in Tahiti or something."
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughter spilled from Ian's lips, his gaze averting from the both of them to gaze out the tinted windows of the sports bar with a shake of his head. "Yeah, that totally sounds like Mac, don't it," he said quietly, and there was sarcastic amusement dripping from every single word.

Taking another breath, he pushed it out again in a sigh, his gaze returning to fix on Ezra. "I get it. Heat of the moment, chaos and emotions running high. I'm not pleased, but... I guess it's easy to forget what's what in a moment like that." He cleared his throat, glancing sidelong at Jay for a lingering second before returning his attention to the gypsy opposite. "The only person who was siphoning off cash was Jimmie himself. That bull**** about transposing the numbers and 'accidentally' selling those guns at a fifteen percent discount was exactly that - bull****. He sold 'em for the right price and pocketed the difference. And this, Ezra, this is the kind of bull**** that will end. I am straight up out of patience for it."

To that, Ezra smiled. People liked money, and more specifically, when the numbers were in their favor. Throw that in with someone you like working for? Hard to beat that with much of anything. He'd have rank back, more money and there wouldn't be Jimmie to deal with, who had been annoying as **** even before everything went down. There was one big swig of his beer before he added, "Can't miss Jimmie these days. He's in the Subaru and put matching red fuzzy dice off the rear view mirror."

"I should have finished him that day," Mac frowned, nudging his side into Ian's. It was his car, and while him driving at all was questionable, it still felt like his. It might have even been that he didn't like all of what had changed because he died, and undoing all of that would mean being a little more alive. He cleared his throat, "What about that big ****?"

"Sonny?"

"No, the other big ****."

"Dude was wrecked, man. It's gonna be hard as **** not to tell him that you're here. Well, sorta here. Not gone."

Ian shuffled his running mental list of priorities a little based on this new information, though he didn't comment on it aloud. "I don't recommend it," he said instead, though slate greens indicated that he sympathized. "Without seeing it for himself, he'll doubt you and drive himself crazy. You can tell him that I've got some next level **** going on, though..." The kid trailed off with a grin, glancing over at Jay like it was a private joke.

"Also, tell him I had to download a sound clip of a **** chainsaw to get any goddamn sleep." His grin spread, remembering the ox man's legendary snoring, which in turn reminded him of that early morning in the shower... All at once, Ian sat up straighter. "I'll be in touch soon. You got this, right?" He gestured the empty beer glasses, and though his voice turned up at the end, it wasn't actually a question. Ezra, Sonny, all of them were in his debt and would be for some time to come.

"I only get so many minutes a day to actually see this ****," he nudged Jay with his shoulder, "...and much as it's good to see you again, no offense but I don't want to spend any more of them today looking at you." He grinned boyishly then, his lip ring clattering over his teeth.

Ezra's eyes widened. Either he had roomed with Sonny, or was currently doing it. The shocked expression showing that he commiserated was there along with, "It's not even real. Dude has to be faking."

"Nah," Mac cut in, two finger making a smooth motion to dismiss Ezra's hopes. "That would have to be the longest running joke in history if that **** kept up with that snoring." He had been unusually patient with the meeting, considering how much he wanted things to be back where they were.

When Ian straightened, Mac's brows darted down, studying the bit of hurry he had to him. The corner of his mouth was caught up in a smug half-smile. It was Ezra who was confused, looking between them, at the beers and chicken wings. Well, ****, that's how it went, right? He reached for his wallet as he spoke, "What do you mean so many minutes in a day?"

"He means people gotta **** sleep, too," Mac didn't seem to want to reveal all of the details of his situation, not just yet, anyway. The ring clattered on Ian's teeth, but Jay didn't look. His lips just pressed together, the muscles of his jaw working as though to tongue at a thought stuck to the roof of his mouth. His side bumped Ian's to encourage him to get to his feet, "Let's blow before it gets too late and Silas rings this **** up for his holy coffee."

The kid was smiling as he slid out of the booth and stood. Mac himself had mentioned 'twilight', but if Ezra hadn't caught what that meant, Ian wasn't going to enlighten him. From the corner of his eye he saw that little grin on Jay's face, the way his jaw flexed when he swallowed, and the boy knew that their thoughts were on a similar course. Once he was out of the booth, he turned to give Ezra another one of those one armed hugs. "Change is coming, brother. Sooner than you think."

"If you don't hurry it up I'm gonna go to jail for strangling Jimmie in his sleep." Ezra muttered to Ian with the exchange.

Next was Mac, but the hug was different. Ezra used both of his arms to hold him, his hands seeming to take up fistfuls of his shirt. He held him tightly, almost as tightly as Ian did the first time he realized that the **** wasn't gone. Over the course of talking, of beers and wings, this was the moment where Ezra both relived the grief of seeing him die, the guilt of a not-burial and the surreal shatter of what it was like to realize that the boss wasn't gone. He turned his head and said something in Mac's ear which made him smile and grip Ezra by the shoulder.

Maybe he was repeating what he whispered when he said, "I'm so **** sorry."

"Just keep your eye on the ball, don't fall apart on me."

Ezra's eyes were glassy, but he was too proud and hardened to actually cry about any of it right then and there. At Mac's command he nodded multiple times, turning to dig in his wallet to pay for the chicken wings and beer. Mac hesitated before turning, a step ahead of Ian towards the front doors of the bar. The heels of his hands shoved against the metal bar, opening them up to that half-glow of twilight and whatever minutes remained. Over his shoulder, in the shadow of his fedora he looked at Ian, "First step, finally."

"No no, that honor's mine," the kid said in a tight voice, his smile carefully controlled. He stepped back, giving Ezra and Mac some space. In that moment, Ian genuinely felt bad for the other man. He knew exactly how Ezra felt: had been in almost the same position himself not so long ago. A lump rose in his throat and he looked away, focusing on his breathing. In through the lips, out through the nose. His fingers toyed unconsciously with his lip ring.

Mac moved, and Ian moved with him. By the time he hit the doors, he had a cigarette between his lips and his pale lavender lighter in hand. The moment he was outside, his steps stopped, pausing long enough to roll the wheel on the cheap plastic Bic, to get the stick in his mouth lit. Dragging sharply to steady himself, Ian offered that cigarette out to his man, and at the same time he moved in closer. "I ****' love you," he said softly, earnest.

Apparently that was his answer.

He took the cigarette like it was due to him, but that was how he'd always been. It was expected that Ian would do that for him. The feel of it between his fingers, the real world tobacco in his lungs. It was better than the ghostly sort, but still not the same. This was as real as he ever got and it still felt a little off at times, like he had a tingle of being high from weed creeping up on him. The smoke came in, he held it and then shut his eyes as it released.

Ian's admission came to him, but he didn't open his eyes, his head was tilted back to the sky, pushing his throat forward. On his lips was a smile that said he'd heard him. His head dropped back forward, eyes opening before he stepped up to him, kissing him in a way that had a surprising warmth in its affection. It wasn't hungry or needy, it took its time without being slow, and then he said, "Love you too, ****."

It wasn't the same, but it almost was. In some ways, it was worse--the whole actually being dead thing, the chill of the afterlife in Mac's hands, his mouth--but then in others, it was so much better. They were out: holding hands in a restaurant, kissing one another by the fading light of day in the middle of a public parking lot. Ian's lashes fluttered, but his eyes stayed open, not wanting to miss a single second of the time they had remaining.

The kiss broke and the words came back to him, bringing a gorgeous smile to his face. For the moment Ian felt hopeful, happy. "Where y'wanna go? "

"Just drive until it gets dark and then take us back home." He liked being in the car, he missed the Hell outta being the one who got to be behind the wheel. He smiled for Ian, and it was one of those smiles that said he was bothered but there wasn't anything new to say about it. They looked at each other and they already **** knew. When he turned away from him he found himself already seated in Ian's passenger seat, waiting for him to climb in so that they could get some pavement between them. He pushed his palm against his pant leg and felt, like a shift in the tide, that the visit was almost over.

The kid didn't argue, his chin dropping in a quiet nod as he followed Mac towards the car for a moment and then suddenly found himself walking alone. He crossed the rest of the space by himself, a lone and suddenly terribly solitary figure in the lot. The triumph and cheer of the last several minutes seemed to be sucked out of him all at once, like a sudden and powerful vacuum.

Ian swallowed roughly, letting himself into the driver's seat and settling into it heavily. Keys pulled from his pocket and jammed in the ignition, the boy sighed and turned the starter over. "I'm gonna get the car back," he said quietly, as he put the borrowed sedan in gear and then reached for Jay's hand, pulling out of the parking lot. "That was on the list anyway, but now that I know who has it, it's risen in priority."
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"That ****," Jay muttered, sinking back into his seat. His hand squeezed Ian's and it wasn't until they were on the road, just a few minutes, that he felt himself fall out of the moment. Whatever substance he had was gone, his existence feeling like it wanted to get whisked away except for Ian's hand that tethered him in place. For an observer, he would have seemed to quickly dissolve. If someone wasn't paying attention, it was as if he just disappeared. The remaining bits of daylight were gone, leaving behind a newborn night. He said it again, in that distance spread anew between them, "I love you."

It was the moment Ian hated most, that sudden vanishing. He couldn't, wouldn't watch it, the way the figure beside him seemed to evaporate, kept his eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead. His hold on that hand got a little bit stronger, though, gripping it more tightly even as the substance of it seemed to slip away, so much falling sand spilling through his fingers.

The boy's jaw clenched, and for a few seconds he struggled. It helped to have something to focus on - the road, the headlights, the music on the radio, the driving. In his mind, he replayed the way Ezra had clung to Jay, his memory superimposing that vulnerably fragile moment on top of his own first real reunion with the dead man. It hurt - that welling up of grief - in a terrible and damaging way he hadn't felt in awhile. For a moment, the wound was fresh again, raw, singed, and pouring blood just like his shoulder once had.

It was Jay's voice that brought him back, pulled him out of it, gave him permission to release the air he'd held in his chest, to breathe. "I love you," he said it back, lifting their conjoined hands to his face so he could feel the other man's ghostly fingers on his cheek. "It feels greedy, but I can't help thinking there's got to be more we can do about this."

He thought about the voodoo chicken feet he'd been yelling at Ian to get. Something, anything. By now, though, his body was gone. This was what he had, this body and this space. The outline of him going between invisible and sharp moved as he spoke. If he could have been able to better see what was going on, he would have known Mac was working on that cigarette before speaking.

"I don't know **** about what can be done. When we got here I was looking to you for answers on all this supernatural crap. Besides," a pause, the unseen turn of his head as he looked at Ian, "Wouldn't Saila have said something about that to us?" He hadn't imagined that their intimate moment was one that she had orchestrated for her own benefit.

"She told me she's still researching it. Thing is, pretty much anything can be done in Rhydin. 'Anything you can imagine is real here' -- that's a quote from some artist dude, but it may as well be the city's motto." Ian pulled his free hand off the wheel, propping his knee against it to steer as he dug his cigarettes out of his pocket. The shade hadn't relinquished the other smoke, so now he needed a new one.

He laid the pack on his thigh, his gaze moving fluidly between his lap and the road as he pushed the lid back, wiggled a new cigarette free, wedged it between his lips. Apparently completely unwilling to relinquish his hold on the other man's hand, he continued to work one handed as he pulled the lighter out next, getting his cigarette lit after the usual, unnecessary shower of sparks. Last, he rolled the window down a crack so he could ash it, letting a gust of buffeting wind tear holes in the quiet ambiance of the vehicle at night, and settled that hand back on the wheel.

"Question is, at what price? We'd have to like... build you a new body, or find you one."

"I don't wanna be some **** Frankenstein or whatever the Hell happened to Johnny." He sounded pessimistic about the idea, but that was largely to protect himself. Ian needed to be hopeful, but that was the sort of thing that could kill him. He couldn't just believe that there was an answer, or was a way, and have there end up being none. Or that the way was so horrific it might as well not exist.

He watched Ian struggle to light up a cigarette and started to try to untangle his hand from his. Knuckles and digits made a strange knotting motion to wriggle free of him.

Ian made a face, frowning a little as Jay started to pull away. He held on, stubborn, for several seconds more --unwilling, or maybe actually unable -- to let go of him just yet. He was like that in the first few minutes after the transition, clingier, reluctant to lose the contact on top of the visual. Eventually, though, he relented, letting the other slip free.

Though it was likely a function of his age, the kid still saw life a lot like a video game. There was always a solution. Some way through the board to the boss fight and then the credits. He might need more supplies, there was probably a side quest or two that would have to be accomplished first, but one way or another, sooner or later there was always a way through.

He dragged on his cigarette, shaking his head once. "Nah. I wouldn't do that to you." Nevermind that he was contemplating doing it to himself. Changing which hand was on the wheel, he carefully lifted his left arm with a scowl to cover the wince that simple motion still elicited, fitting the cigarette into the crack of the window to set the ash on it free. "Saila says that this," lifting his other hand off the wheel, he gestured between them, "...is probably gypsy magic. Which, based on the research she's done, is the youngest and wildest of the types of magics out there."

Pausing for another drag, he changed lanes on the highway, settling back into his seat. "Which I guess makes it the most unpredictable? I don't know. I'm trying to research it, too. But there's like... necromancers and **** in the city I'm gonna see about getting an appointment with, too." He shrugged. "Can't hurt."

"You used to light two." It probably wasn't until the moment that Ian hadn't that he felt a little more dead, more gone, than usual. To an obviously still corpse he had lit him a cigarette. Now on the way to the car he had done only one and something about that irritated the **** out of him. He wasn't stupid, he knew that the gesture wasn't enormous, but it felt significant. It felt like they were talking about someone who was dead and not someone who was right there.

"You always lit up two." Ian wasn't going to let go? Then he would squeeze. As tightly as he could manage, his temper having ignited. The problem wasn't just the cigarette. It was the whole meeting. Ian had damn near run the thing, and Jay had to realize that that was going to happen. That he wasn't going to be able to run things effectively for what, one hour of the day? The kid had said and done everything right, and yet he was still pissed off. He was dead, and things couldn't just be as they were. **** was changing like Jimmie having his **** car, and Ian lighting up only the one cigarette. Now there was talk of all this hope, of all these strange possibilities and how they could be this and that, and he just didn't know how the **** he was supposed to hold his breath for any of it.

Ian glanced sidelong at the passenger side of the car. There was no one there, of course, which made the squeezing pressure on his hand that much more surreal. He tilted his head curiously, though at first he said nothing, his gaze sliding back out to the road.

He knew damn well it wasn't really about the cigarettes. He knew, too, what it was about the cigarettes that was pissing his lover off. Hard then, not to smile at least a little at the other man's error. "Jay," he said quietly, taking another drag off the cigarette and then handing it across his body to the ghost beside him. "... I quit lighting two that night at the Red Dragon. I only light one when we're alone because I like the taste of your mouth on the filter. I only light one because we always share them."

The tight grip of his hand relaxed into something not quite as oppressive. A long, dragging sigh left him before he took the cigarette. " I just can't hear about all this necromancy **** right now." He wasn't the sort of man that apologized for his outbursts, but he raked his mind through what Ian said and, upon reflection, found it to be true. His right hand played with the push button for the window, accidentally causing it to roll down a few inches. That was fine, though. The smoke needed to go somewhere.

The boy nodded, and when that death grip (...ha) relaxed at last, he laced his fingers through Mac's more completely. The smile he'd been suppressing surfaced at last -- it wasn't mockery though, or laughter at the other's expense. He knew that as hard as this situation was on him, it had to be harder still on his ghost mate.

Glancing sidelong again when the window opened fractionally, the boy's smile spread. He lifted their twined hands to his mouth, kissing first the back of the other man's hand and then turning it over to kiss the palm. Tender, the gesture was, bordering on reverent. Giving him back the control he so desperately craved. "No matter what, I'm still yours," he murmured, recommitting himself to the vow that probably held Josh here in the first place. "Completely."

"You better be," somewhere in there it sounded like he had begrudgingly taken to smiling. Soothed by the gesture his hand moved, dropping back down to Ian's thigh where his familiar, possessive squeeze came again.

Getting frustrated at the world was part of being who he was, and doubly so as a ghost. He propped one foot up on the dash, sucking on the cigarette and then exhaling, "All I want to do is get trashed and **** and wake up next to you in the goddamn morning."

That wasn't beyond them, it was just... definitely not the same. It wasn't like that morning they had together, it wasn't getting to be exactly like how everything was. Doing those things just felt differently.

"Without question," the affirmation came immediately, and as that hand dropped away from his only to reappear at his thigh, the boy grinned a little, reaching out with a wiggle of his fingers for the cigarette.

"Y'goddamn well better," said Ian, his grin lingering, "...**** me and wake up next to me, that is." Finishing the thought, he glanced down at his lap again, squinting a little as though he could almost see the curve of the man's fingers along the inside of his leg. "I've forgotten how to undress myself or sleep alone." He signaled for the next exit, pulling off the highway and then turning left down a mostly deserted road. They were almost back to the portal.

The cigarette was relinquished, floating through the air to Ian like some weird magic trick. If wizards smoked, they woulda' done it that way. He found his gaze kept focused out the window until Ian said the part about what he better do. He smiled, even if Ian couldn't see it, the reflex was a hard one to combat.

Mac had a hard laugh. It wasn't heartwarming but harsh with a deep dig in it. The way you might imagine a junkyard dog to laugh when a miniature poodle trotted past the fence. Like he just saw an opportunity to sink his teeth in but opted, instead, to feel amused. When Ian talked about undressing himself there was that low, simmering grate his voice got whenever he was thinking about sex. "Being dressed is over rated."
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I wasn't raised in the hood
But I know a thing or two about pain and darkness
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Rosencrantz
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It reminded him a little of that scene in that movie his mother had watched on repeat several times a day right after his dad died. Ian couldn't remember what it was called, but it was something hokey (or at least it had felt that way at the time) about ghosts coming back to avenge their unjustified deaths or something. Come to think of it, the movie didn't seem all that hokey anymore, suddenly, and the kid found himself wondering if he could find the movie again. But there had been a penny, it crawled up the side of a locked door and then floated seemingly midair over to the grieving woman, and that was how she'd finally believed her dead boyfriend was back or something.

He smiled a little, his throat going tight again as the lump there grew just a bit thicker. Quiet, he plucked that floating cigarette out of midair, putting it to his lips for a long drag that hollowed his cheeks out drastically.

Ian liked Jay's laugh. It was rough edged like sandpaper, like his jaw, his touch, and nearly everything else about him. To his mind, it suited him perfectly, and until recently he heard it so rarely. It was more the tone in the man's voice than the things he actually said that had the boy dragging that lip ring into his mouth, catching it in his teeth with a visible twisting tug. "...around you, I definitely think so."

When you are the one with the ailment, its nearly impossible to understand how much it hurts the people around you. The child with a terminal disease can't quite grasp that even on the best of days, when things are happy, that it is a reminder that they will be gone. Everyone knew that was their destiny, that things would have to end one way or another and it was just in these sorts of situations that it had to be faced over and over. As rough as Mac was with his crew, they were like foul-mouthed soldiers united by war time experience and similar goals. It was a brutal brotherhood they kept going back to.

To the lump in Ian's throat, he would have laughed and said '****, I'm fine'. That still didn't change the fact that for one hour a day he was fine, while for the rest of it he lingered like a patient on life support. He was kept in the world, breathed into being because of Ian's life support. They mostly understood it, too. With weeks having passed, it was easier to believe that tomorrow, and Mac, would be there.

"Not like you ever gave me any rest when we were," the pressure of his hand moved further up Ian's thigh. He was smirking as he watched him, that lip ring taken into his mouth always had a way of capturing his attention. Maybe, if it hadn't been for those **** lips they wouldn't be in this situation. Maybe, but not likely.

The boy's smile wasn't even a little bit apologetic, headlights from an oncoming car temporarily washing his face in brilliant white light. An insolent shrug rolled over his shoulders even as he squinted, and he was tracking the movement of that hand along his thigh. His nerves tingled, and it was automatic the way he shot a grin over at the passenger seat. No, he couldn't see who he was smiling at, but that didn't mean that Mac couldn't see him.
The ring in his lip slid free of his teeth with a soft metallic clink.

"...hazards of hooking up with a teenager, Jay," his smile turned into a playful smirk. "You're lucky you got any sleep at all."

"Oh? You tellin' me I didn't give you a run for your money?" It's mostly his voice that's there, followed by the grope and then release of Ian's crotch. The arm of that hand came to rest along the line of Ian's shoulders. The sound of him drawing in a breath and then releasing, followed.

Had he been able to see it, Mac was looking forward. His hand that used to be occupied with the cigarette moved to his own mouth, passing over his lips as though to recall a kiss they had had. A deeper slouch in his seat. watching streetlights go by the window. His voice was so soft when he spoke that Ian might not have heard it, "And what if this is as good as it gets... as much as I can offer...?"

"Mmf," the moan is there, caught between pursed lips, his body responding rapidly to that groping touch. "I didn't say that at all," the kid replied with a smile as that arm looped his shoulders. He slowed the car down to a crawl as they approached the portal. "Just that I probably wouldn't have left the bed at all if I'd had a choice in the matter."

Lifting his right hand away from the steering wheel, the kid pulled off the road altogether, putting the car in park. He lifted that hand to run the backs of his knuckles lightly over the gypsy ghost's chest, directing his weight to lean more completely against the invisible man. "It's more than enough," he said quietly, emotional. Forcing himself not to get upset again, his mouth cracked in a little smile. "And anyway now you're the one who doesn't need food or sleep. You could totally break me."

"Yeah?" Mac's hard voice had a genuine hint of doubt in it. He could see it in Ian, that somewhere behind his exterior was something vulnerable and worried. The kid had to be like that, though. Had to be tougher on the outside and confident, never getting that space where he broke down because it was in those weak moments that the wolves would pounce. Right now it was just the two of them and Ian was still holding all of that at bay.

"Maybe I'll just make that my goal... see when I can get you to say that you've had enough." It was playful banter to distract away from the rest of it, from that lump he could hear inching its way into the sound of Ian's voice.

Ian had broken once in his life that he knew of - the night he got that scar on his shoulder, the night he'd felt the last of Jay's life drain out all over him. Witnesses would say there had been one other time, the day not so long ago that most of his family had been slaughtered, the day he himself had put an end to the massacre by putting a bullet between his father's eyes. Ian hadn't felt broken then, though. He hadn't felt anything at all.

This was a different kind of vulnerable: this was something new. He swallowed, taking a deep breath and letting it out again as his hand slid over the other man's belly gently. "It is," he insisted softly, hoarse. "If this is all there is, it's still loads better than nothing." The way his accent crept into his voice was maybe the biggest indicator of how hard he was fighting for control.

The kid cleared his throat, trying to shake it off. He laughed quietly at the challenge, his hand sliding lower down the ghost man's belly into his lap. "...If I say I bet you can't make me, you'll start sooner, aye?"

Mac might have broken. Truth was, he died before he even got to emotionally get to that place. Maybe it would have been in that night or maybe during the aftermath, when pissed off realizations really sank in that he would have lost it. So much of life was playing chess and that didn't allow for very many breakdowns. There was **** to do and other things to worry about.

Ian didn't get to see all of the micro expressions that fed into his overall reaction. Not the corner-catch to his mouth. Perhaps the indention of the chair, where he rested, altered a little as he shifted his body weight. He liked the way it felt when Ian's hand stroked his chest. Couldn't have said why, but it made him feel like a tough, sexy **** when Ian did it. The motion caused him to draw in a breath, his eye diverted to the road, "I was going to start five minutes ago." He took off his hat, setting it on the dash before he moved in to kiss him. He had to be careful, Ian couldn't see his approach. The first kiss was letting him know he was there. The second wanted to open up his mouth and feel his tongue.

He couldn't see it, but he had more or less memorized the man's face and knew him better than anyone else. His imagination could fill in what wasn't technically there. Ian smiled, couldn't help the way he gathered that lip ring into his teeth again. Expectant, anticipating. Anxious for it.

"In that case, the portal can ****' wait," he breathed, and as lips found his, that first hesitant lean in that clued him in to location, Ian's hands reached for Jay, sliding around his shoulders, pulling him closer.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((This section is 18+, please!))


These situations were easier when you weren't alive. Small, uncomfortable spaces were easier to navigate.That was part of why it was easier for Mac to reach over, snagging the bottom rung of Ian's seat between his legs so that the chair went as far back as possible. He crossed over, to straddle his lap all the while keeping his mouth locked with his. Once he was on top of him, he tugged Ian's shirt off, pushing it past the elbows so that it dropped to the backseat.

It was at moments like this that he was more painfully aware that he wasn't as substantial as in that twilight hour, that it was a little strange to be with Ian and not see himself when he touched him.

Surreal and a little disconcerting - Ian couldn't entirely anticipate Jay's movements. It wasn't even just that he couldn't see Jay, it was that he couldn't see Jay's eyes, either, couldn't make the same educated calculations he had when the man was solid. It was kind of like being blindfolded, or so he speculated - trying to guess where the other was based on ambient noise, the creaking of springs, the shifting of cushions. His ears straining for every tiny hint or indication.

His nerves, too, seemed that much more alert: because the touch, every time it came, was a surprise? The reaction Ian had to it was that much stronger. The noise, too - the way the chair suddenly slid all the way back, the metallic rattle as the latch gave and then caught, it pulled a shiver from his body in a way that particular sound never had before.

Jay settled across him, straddling him, and that was novel. The weight of it was strangely intense, though, bearing down across his lap in a pleasurable way. The boy lifted his arms automatically the moment the fabric of his shirt began to rise, reluctant for their mouths to break but more reluctant still to resist him. As soon as the shirt was off, his hands were on the other man's chest again, caressing him. If the touch made Mac feel sexy and tough, it should -- Mac was Ian's tough, sexy ****, visible or not.

Was it all of his weight, or a partial, remembered quantity? It pressed on him, his eager lap and the support of Ian's thighs holding him up. The memory of sitting in his car and telling Ian that he didn't want to smoke rolled over him. He felt as eager as he did then, unable to shake the sense of urgency that came with fooling around in a car. It had always been stolen moments, the clock ticking for every second they spent together. His mouth sought something in Ian's that was more than a tongue and piercing. Ian was his, **** whatever notions anyone else might **** have. **** his own notions.

His right hand tracked off to the side, popping the handle of the car door but not swinging it open wide. With the new room he adjusted from the straddling position, dropping first one leg and then the other in between Ian's legs. His right hand shoved at Ian's knee until it pointed against the door and dropped his foot on the ground. The steering wheel would have otherwise caught and dug into his back, but he let it just pass through him.

Ian didn't understand it, at first: couldn't. Not without the visual cues. He knew there was the lean against him, the shifting repositioning. The door beside him suddenly opened, and that unexpected noise startled him, made him shiver and then laugh softly at himself for the way his adrenaline surged. Then there was the pressure against his knee, the way he found himself moved on invisible strings like a puppet. It was weird and unusual and...really **** hot.

Ian let his head fall back against the headrest, compliant as he sorted out the general idea Jay was trying to accomplish, a little smile on his face. In that moment, as in that day in the shower, the knowledge settled over him again, and somehow he found it comforting: owned. It made the whole thing feel inevitable, natural as breathing. After a time, the kid lifted one hand, seeking his lover's face, cupping that scratchy jaw when he found it. It took him a second to realize what had to be true about the other man's current position, and when he did, it made him laugh.

"There are totally perks to your condition..."

"I haven't figured it all out, yet."

The sexy bordered on the horrific. It was the difference between stroking Ian's chest underneath his shirt versus stroking the muscles underneath his skin. Mac was starting to get a 'feel' for it, though. He could tell the difference between inside and out, from the surface of a shirt to the surface of his skin. "But Karma Sutra can go **** itself cause it won't have **** on me."

He grinned and Ian knew it, could feel the scruff of his face shift with the motion of his smile. The buckle of Ian's pants opened up, the metal catch swinging in the direction of release. The tongue of leather pulled out from its rectangular cage, offering up the brass button of his jeans. Mac's knees were on the edge of the driver's seat, one on the outside and the other in between, to prop him up so that his hands could work.

At moments like this, when he realized after the fact that Jay had actually touched his heart, not figuratively but with his fingers, when he really understood that his invisible lover had the entire steering column embedded in his chest, Saila's words from that first night came back to him. 'This is ****' weird,' she'd said. 'And there's no way to un-weird it, so just... commit to the weird.' Committing to the weird was something Ian had been doing every single day since.

The comment pulled a chuckle from him. "I know, right? People will be so ****' jealous. We're gonna start a trend." He could feel that grin along the edge of his thumb, moved to smooth that finger gently over the other man's lips even as his belt and then his jeans seemed to come undone of their own accord. Tracing the line of the man's cheek up into his hair, his fingers moved lightly over those dark waves that would always be professionally cut, now. Just a little too sharp, a little too clean.

Ian's thumb stayed too long on his lips. He turned his head to catch it in his mouth, his teeth holding on it before he gently sucked and released the digit from his mouth. Ian was lucky in that half of how Mac existed was in the way he thought he existed. That meant without clothes. Ian wasn't having to struggle handling invisible shirts, to weirdly undress what he couldn't see. That part of it was still unnerving. He could mentally grasp being more or less tangible, but to shift from one existence to another, from being in one place and then the next. Clothed or unclothed. It made it seem more like a dream that he'd wake up from at any moment.

It was Ian, the 'reality anchor' of drawing his pants down, tugging off one shoe so that the denim didn't make a webbing between his legs, that told Mac it was real. If it had been a dream, those pants would have already been easily dealt with.

"Just my people, or the Barlows, too?" There was still that lingering secret between them. "When's that secret not going to be a secret?"

Now that was maybe the weirdest part of it - Josh's mouth. Whether they were kissing or the man had just trapped his thumb like that, the incongruous sensation of it, the wet where there should have been dry air, that was maybe the most surreal thing about the experience for his boy.

The routine was familiar enough now that Ian knew what to do, what to expect. How much assistance to offer and how much to let happen. He was placid, yielding without being disinterested, his lower lip and its ring both gathering in between his teeth in anticipation of what he knew was coming.

The question of secrets. It always came back to that. "You get that like... ninety percent of the camp is avoiding me, right? Come to think of it --everybody is, but Jenny and Saila, and Jenny'd just as soon I find somewhere else to sleep." But it definitely beat having to share space with Dave, or Mark. "Pretty sure most of 'em have figured it out already. You know how Gypsies are." It was his way of saying that it already wasn't a secret. He'd not lied to a single person about his circumstances or hidden anything about them because there was no one to lie to or hide from.

"So you won't mind if I walk up to Mark and talk to him about us, about what we're doing, next twilight?" The hints of hostility in his voice manifested in his actions. "Something tells me he hasn't figured that out yet."

"Get that **** sorted." His mouth was at the outside of the shell of Ian's ear, the sound of his voice so close that the sensation of warm breath went down the side of Ian's neck, "Now."

The boy's lip curled, his jaw tightened. Jay was more impatient than normal, forcing the issue, stealing a gasp from his throat. It hurt more than normal, that aggression: a kind of punishment to remind him where and what he was. Ian thought of that night in the alley, of blood and bruises and trying to act like everything hadn't been permanently changed.

If anything, it turned him on.

He shuddered. "****," the kid whispered in a shivery breath, letting the sensation of their commingling bodies overwhelm him before he responded to the command that came with it. That voice at his ear prompted the rise of his hand, the unballing of his fist, the curling of fingers down Jay's side to his hip, the firm hold he took on that sharp angle. Just in case the ghost was thinking about letting up.

"...Sure thing, boss," he said with a smart ass grin, acknowledging the way of things between them without looking particularly chastised about it. "But, you know, I don't see you in a hurry to go have a heart to heart with your grieving David about me, either." Secrets cut both ways.

The truth was that the guilt he felt when he saw Dave hurt his resolve. He **** felt like he owed the guy, but all there was to owe was himself. He'd want to reassure him, then squirm as Dave put questions to him about Ian. All for what? The man knew now and no amount of detail was going to change that. They had been through a lot together and Mac had acted selfishly, taking what he wanted from both of them until it was inconvenient for him to keep it up. There were other things, too. He worried old feelings and guilt would land him in an emotional apology-**** with him. If Dave and he had been on the serious outs for something **** up, that would have been some armor to wear into the conversation.

No, they were on the outs cause he couldn't seem to keep himself away from Ian, even when he was dead. Something like a curse kept him going back, wanting another kiss, another ****, even after he'd had it a hundred times before. He wanted that right hand man who wasn't a stupid piece of **** and could handle himself. He and Dave were on the outs cause one last time never was the last.

Ian's body arched, his hands gripped and he got what he was tugging on his hips for. Mac was panting, surprised at what Ian had said, "What?" He almost lost his **** rhythm. His hand that had been squeezing Ian moved up, his fingers gripping the back of his neck tightly. Jay was on edge tonight, it had been **** frustrating being a ghost and feeling it, really feeling it.

The truth was that Ian didn't particularly want Jay anywhere near Dave for that exact reason, that he went out of his way to avoid the man so as to prevent that very exchange. Although there was a little twinge of guilt there after the way Dave had given him that time with Mac's body, there had never yet been a time where Mac's resolve for him hadn't flagged when face to face with his former (other?) lover. The kid didn't doubt Jay's love for him--the very fact of his continued existence was proof of that--but apparently that debt of common history was too powerful for him to entirely overcome.

Jay gave him exactly what he was asking for, pouring every ounce of his frustration and rage into the way their bodies slammed together, and it elicited a gorgeous whimper from the boy. "Oh ****," he breathed, clinging to Josh for dear life. "I'm just saying," the kid gasped, through gritted teeth. "I'm not trying to be homeless before we're ready to move on Silas, okay?"

It was the foundation of their relationship. From the first time Ian had convinced Jay not to put a bullet in Levi's head to this moment. It had been that silver tongue that made Jimmie so green, that had subverted the order that had been before Ian. Redirecting Jay's actions without causing his ire to flip and just fix on the course that spoke to him. Each word had to be right, it only took that slight off-sentence to put the safety off.

He grunted to agree with whatever the hell Ian was saying as Ian held onto him.

The kid had lived or died by his ability to tilt Jay's ear, and he'd been doing so for so long now that it was practically second nature. His fingers found purchase in the ghost man's back, digging into the muscles as his mouth found his neck. Lips smeared over air that felt just like transparent skin. By the time climax found them together, the boy had dug his teeth into that neck, latching on. The sound that left his throat was lost in that wet contact, a strangled, almost feral cry.
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I wasn't raised in the hood
But I know a thing or two about pain and darkness
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Rosencrantz
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When his frame relaxed, his hand slipped off the headrest of the chair to cradle the back of Ian's skull, encouraging the bruising grip of his teeth to stay just a little bit longer. Jay always looked a little smug after being sated even if that wasn't exactly the emotion he felt. Even now it was a strange thing-- to not have a body but still have its needs. To still go through the act of spending yourself but having little, if any, idea of its implications. The car would have been hot as **** if not for the partly opened door kept ajar by Ian's foot on the ground. He could feel it, the cooler current of air scampering in, just barely.

Some cars had driven by, but never slowed down or really caught a look at what was happening. Another set of headlights glared by towards the portal and then disappeared. After them it seemed that another car wouldn't be along for miles.

"You cheeky ****." His hand dropped away from the back of Ian's head, both palms gripping the outside of the seat and his arms locking to create distance so that he hung over him, their joined hips still the pivoting point he gave a small nudge at, "No more of this talking business in the bedroom." Both of them knew, though, that there would always be talking business.


Ian seemed suspended for a long time, a doll that was spent and lifeless. His nerves were still radiating sensation but the signals were crossed, pleasure and pain short-circuiting his thoughts. His mind, for once, was silent, a lazy smile on his face. It spread as Jay pushed into him one last time, called him cheeky. He laughed. "You're kidding, right? That's generally when we talk about it most." Taking a deep breath, the kid reanimated, lifting himself up from the seat as he felt around for something to clean off with. Finding himself in Jay's space again, he pressed a kiss to the man's lips that was almost reverent. "My ****."

"Yeah, that's what I keep hearing. Your ****." The side of Ian's face had the feeling of his hand that, cupping it as he took the kiss owed to him. In a way that a living person could not have, he rolling off of Ian and sank back into the passenger seat. His chair pushed back in a sprawled, relax place. Knees propped as far apart as possible, left hand digging around for that pack of cigarettes and lighter as Ian looked after himself. There was no volley to what the kid said, just the clearing of his throat as a retort.

After sex was still like a glow and a completely different high from masturbation. He supposed that was because he was dealing with the living instead of just himself. The release left him with a warm body glow, a tingle that threatened to rock him into a reverie if he got too lazy about it.

A brow arched at that, his smirk spreading. "Do you doubt it? I haven't said 'enough' yet..." Ian cleaned himself up with a shirt, pulled his pants back on, found his other shoe. He pushed the door open wider, stretched luxuriously. Everything hurt, but it hurt in a good, satisfying way. Not feeling terribly motivated but not wanting to just hang out on the side of the road, either, the kid rolled his head on his neck, giving a contented little sigh. "Mm. Yum," intoned the boy, reaching for his own cigarettes. He pulled out one, hesitated, glanced over at the passenger seat. "Do you want your own?"

"Yeah? You think I need to sleep or eat?" His laugh comes from his seat, but it's soft and not long lived. His left hand pushes along Ian's thigh, stopping to rest just below the knee. Jay had leaned over, practically using the kid's thigh as an armrest. At the question of the cigarette he shook his head, which he knew Ian couldn't see but perhaps felt. Even so, the motion was followed with, "No... it was just..." his sigh rolled out of him like he was being deflated. After sex it just seemed easier to talk about some of the **** on his mind, "I get so pissed off that things are different. That I can't just do and be exactly the way it was."

Jay had a plan, he had figured it all out and he was going to shoot, kick and **** his way to exactly the place he wanted. That time, that slot, that opportunity was gone now. In some ways he was still living it, but mostly it felt vicariously embodied in Ian. It was good enough, but he hung onto it and couldn't drop the need to put Silas six feet under.

When he had himself mostly back together, the kid got the one cigarette lit. He took a single drag, sucking smoke deep into his lungs - more like a joint than a cigarette, really - and then passed it over to his lover. Which is to say he held it aloft somewhere over the console, since Jay seemed to be draped all over him, if that arm on his thigh was any indication.

Once the cigarette was passed off, his fingers freed, Ian lifted that same right hand and then lowered it again until he found the back of Josh's head, curling down through his hair over the back of his neck to his shoulder.

The boy was listening, reflecting. Ultimately he nodded. "I understand, I think." He said quietly, and from the pensive look on his face it seemed he really had given it some thought. "I can't completely understand, obviously, but..." The kid trailed off, lifting his left arm with a wince to pluck absently at his lip ring. "It's...It'd be hard for anyone, but ...even more so for you because of who you are."

His fingers moved lightly over the other man's shoulder, affectionate even as his brows hunched together, furrowing heavily over slate green eyes. "Sometimes I wonder if this is really... I mean. This doesn't happen every day. To everybody. Most people who die stay dead or go.. wherever it is that they go. And like... you still being here is the only reason I'm still here. I mean that. Losing you broke me in a way nothing...nothing else ever has." His jaw twitched, his eyes distant. It sounded like flimsy sentiment unless you had any inkling what he'd already been through, what he'd already lost. The kid cleared his throat. "...But I'm also aware that ... that's really **** selfish of me. Keeping you here for me."

There was the lean of his weight and a 'mmm' sound when Ian's hand moved over his neck and then to his shoulder. No one would have thought that about Mac, but he was still a person who liked to touch and be affectionate as much as anyone. Being touched after sex felt good. He was relaxed and less ornery. The stroke of Ian's hand over his shoulder and the offered cigarette was all to his liking. At some point the floating cylinder moved in the air, indicating better where his lips were when he took a pull.

"The way things went down? I'm here for you, baby, but don't get me wrong. I've got a score to settle with Silas. He pulled the trigger on the wrong **** person." His fingertips moved a little, circling Ian's kneecap. "I'll put on my big boy pants and get the **** over it." Jay didn't have much patience for people and their excuses. Even for himself.

The kid nodded, falling silent. His fingers slipped down from Mac's shoulder over his back, sliding up again rhythmically. It might have seemed odd to other people, the way Ian was essentially petting the fearsome Josh MacIntosh like he was a house cat or a regular person --eyebrows might have been raised at how the hell this teenager had managed to befriend and tame the junkyard dog.

The secret was that he hadn't. It was just that he understood him, accepted him as he was.

"Yeah," he agreed at last, his left hand falling from the lip ring in search of the shared cigarette. "Silas for sure **** with the wrong people." People, not person. Killing Mac had fixed Ian's focus on him, too, and that was proving to be suicidal.

Most people understood the 'don't **** up or **** with my money' law that was Mac. It was the first way to get him pissed off. Beyond that, he didn't like people who were whiny or helpless, or made excuses. It was that first night in the alleyway when he had sorted Jimmie on his own that he'd taken a shine to Ian that was beyond physical chemistry and intrigue. Sure, Ian could talk the talk, but was he all talk? Not after that night, it was the first time he has to physically assert himself and that could have gone the wrong way for him. Jimmie wasn't a small guy by any measure.

"Let's get back home and take a shower." There was a sharpening of the pressure on Ian's leg as he adjusted his weight left then right to sit up. Another pull of the cigarette before he turned it over to him.

The boy had shown that he could handle himself in a number of different ways. With his intelligence, with his mouth, with his fists... ultimately with his ability to take instruction and learn new things. He had earned his place beside the man next to him a hundred times over, despite who he was and what else he'd done. Those same calculating skills, the deft manipulations of situations to his advantage were being turned against Silas, the man was unknowingly already suffering the weight of Ian's revenge.

In short, there was a really good reason the camp's numbers were already falling off so severely.

He took the cigarette when it was offered to him, his hand brushing down the length of Josh's arm to retrieve it. Not because he needed to, just that it was one more gentle, loving post-coital caress. Transferring it to his left hand, he used the right to turn the engine over and start the car anew. He checked his phone for messages, grinned at what he saw there, sent a quick one back. "A shower sounds amazing," the kid said with a nod and a grin that had... absolutely nothing to do with getting clean.

With that cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, he checked his blind spot, put the car in gear and then angled it back onto the road, headed for the portal.
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