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Thanks for the Memories

 
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 11:15 pm    Post subject: Thanks for the Memories Reply with quote

February 5th, 2015

Text to Ketch: where r u?

Text to Fin: I'm at my place. Where r u?

Text to Ketch: good. nowhere. u wanna get a beer?

Text to Fin: Where is nowhere? Is it fun there?
Text to Fin: Yeah, beer sounds good. I'll meet you wherever.


Text to Ketch: I am here so its no good. Bar near our places where we had a drink.

He just assumed Ketch would remember that bar where they met the night before he was taken to the library.

Text to Fin: On my way.

Seven minutes later, Ketch arrived. Nudged a shoulder to the door and kicked a crust of snow off his boots as he entered, eyes sweeping side to side to pinpoint Fin.


Fin was already there. He'd been there when he texted Ketch and was still there, haunting a stool and lining up empty shot glasses. He was five whiskey shots in though it wasn't quite as it seemed. He hadn't drunk them all at once, they had been paced out but he was keeping track. That was a good idea, right? And there was a beer that he was nursing as well as an unopened beer and a shot of whiskey waiting for Ketch. He was thoughtful.

Any other time, Ketch would have noticed the empty whiskey glasses with a smile that was more roguish than hesitant. There was concern, but it didn't so much as crease his brow. He stuffed the emotion back down and clapped Fin on the shoulder as he sat, chiding him lightly, "You started without me. I'll have to doubletime it to keep up." He tossed back the shot and picked up the beer, twisting it to give the label only a cursory glimpse, because mostly it didn't matter what it was at all. It was cold, it had alcohol, and it chased the burn of whiskey nicely.

Fin was just...drinking and keeping to himself. Being quiet, as was so appreciated by the others here that lingered on a daily basis. When Ketch appeared at his shoulder, he nodded and gave a small smile, clinking his beer against Ketch's after it was opened. "I have faith in ye. How are ye?"

Another swig of his beer followed the subdued toast. One shoulder rolled a lazy shrug. "I'm alright. It's been a *** weird week. I imagine you share the sentiment. Did you enjoy your time with Sabine?" He was trying not to wade too far into the depths of Fin's depression by keeping the tone relatively light while he spent a few searching moments attempting ascertain Fin's current state of mind.

Fin was...subdued. In tone, in expression, in sentiment. Forearms were leaning on the bar to help the stool share his weight and he seemed only weighed down by the alcohol he was currently processing, as if it took him lower than it might normally. But a ghost of a smile flashed at Sabine's name and he nodded. "Aye. She be such a sweet lass. I did no'...know until last nigh'. Wha' ye be...goin' through." Trying to keep it vague while also trying to suss out Ketch's feelings on the matter. "Are ye alrigh'?" Meaning, was Ketch okay with this new situation - as okay as he could be.

"She filled you in, then, huh?" Ketch looked aside, found a window to fixate on momentarily before he tipped his head back in Fin's direction. It was a habit he had when he was trying to gather his thoughts on a subject. "Watching her body change, the way it literally ripped her apart. It was *** hard. But the way she screamed, that was the worst." His thumbnail slid beneath a corner of the beer label and plucked at the sodden paper. There’d been other things, a particular instance that was blazoned bright neon in his mind, but he decided to forego mention of it. Perhaps it was best to let it fade away. “She’s recuperating, it seems.” This added low as he fished in his pockets for a pack of cigarettes, nudge one out and set it between his lips. Sparked the wheel of his lighter and touched it to the tip. A long steady inhale followed. The exhale was a smoky sigh.

"She...told me wha' happened." In a very basic sort of way. Threw a lot of stuff at him and not much of it made sense, still didn't make sense, but he accepted not knowing as long as Sabine was okay. But then he heard it from Ketch's perspective and understood a little more. Got a fuller sense of what had gone on and glanced down at his beer, nodding again. "Tha' sounds ***' awful," he said quietly, watching out of his peripheral vision as Ketch pulled out a smoke. Waited for that sigh, fished out his own case and plucked the awful filtered *** from his friend's mouth. Replaced it with a hand rolled, lit smoke which was infinitely better. "Try this," he said and motioned for two more shots of whiskey. He had money to pay for it. He waited another minute before speaking again. "She knows ye were there. She knows it. It means a lo'."

Ketch nodded, cuffed his beer loosely in his hand and lifted to drain it in one final swallow before shoving the empty aside and signaling for another on the tail end of Fin's motion for whiskey. "It was. But that part's over. Now we see what the aftermath looks like." Amusement spread as a smile when Fin plucked his cigarette from his lips and replaced it with a hand-rolled. Ketch couldn't deny the difference in quality, he was just too lazy to put the effort in on his own. His head angled again towards Fin and he exhaled a stream of smoke that narrowly missed the plane of Fin's cheek. Precision, Ketch had it. "Only the best poison for me, huh? So thoughtful of you." A lazy wink.

The whiskey shots arrived and his own was lifted, clinking it against Ketch's as well before swallowing it down. Didn't mind the smoke blown in his direction, offered it back with a grunt and a smirk. "Aye, she be young but ye be in her heart. She could no' stop speakin o' ye last nigh'," said with a muted chuckle. But he was done with that. Time to let Ketch unwind. His arm hooked upward and squeezed the other man's shoulder gently before more beers were delivered up to them. "O' course. If I be goin' to kill ye, ye will enjoy it," smirking lightly back at him. "One more round o' whiskey an' we should take a walk. Get some fresh air," his smirk widening since...yanno. They were smoking. Fin made a funny.

Ketch let the man's smoke wreath him with nary a sound, though one brow jumped up briefly. Touché. "I know. She's...." he stalled out, swished around a shot while he waited for the words to gather themselves beneath the liquid he collected in the well of his tongue. They didn't do so with any haste. Rarely did. "She's....***. She's just different. Special." Words of romance by Ketch Creeley. It'd be destined for the bargain bin. He, too, seemed content to let the matter of Sabine draw to a close for the time being; he was not good at emoting, particularly about relationships. He did not flinch this time beneath Fin's touch, just soaked up the solid warmth of his hand with a half-indulgent smile that widened at Fin's retort, became a lazy chuckle when he smirked. "Think so, huh? You always so considerate or am I getting special privs for putting you up on occasion?" He nodded agreeably to the suggestion of walking. "Any specific destination or are we going to stumble around aimlessly?" His expression didn't show a preference either way.

Fin was a patient man. Or maybe he just didn't have anything better to do. Or maybe he was a really good friend. All of the above. He waited as long as was needed before the words came out and he nodded again in agreement. "Aye, she be special." The lass was so hungry for love and acceptance and afraid of it at the same time, afraid of having it and losing it. But she was stronger than that, just had to be reassured. Fin had faith that Ketch could do all those things. "Always considerate o' course. But I thank ye in advance for lettin' me sleep in your home tonight," flashing one of his old grins, there and gone. "Stumblin' aimlessly sounds good for I do no' have much direction left." Everything seemed aimless, pointless.

"Oh, we have advanced to the point where you feel free to invite yourself. Next your toothbrush will appear on my sink, there will be bits of your heathen stubble littering the bathroom floor," he trailed off in a fit of laughter that rocked his core. ***, that felt good after the week he'd had, and there might have even been the slightest of hysterical edges to the cacophony of it, but it could have also been the whiskey that'd unhinged him. The laughter softened and fell off in the wake of the Fin's next admission and his mouth contorted in a vague expression before resettling mildly with a nod. "Nothing wrong with stumbling aimlessly. Sometimes you wander into a sign post. If you're lucky, you don't hit it with your head. I've never been that lucky. Fortunately I have a thick skull to protect me." Next shot tossed back without a toast as he slid from his stool and passed some bills over the counter.

It was good to hear Ketch laugh, really laugh from deep down. It was the first time that Fin had ever heard a laugh like that from the man and he smiled again, not a grin but it was genuine and it reached his eyes. "Try no' to question it, it works better if ye do no' think on it too hard." The moment faded and he was a little sorry for it but they both finished off their drinks and stood. Ketch was considerably more sober than he was but Fin bore it well, only needing two tries to get his hoodie zipped up. Zippers. If only his Da could see these inventions, how much easier they were than lacing everything! Blinking a moment, he steadied himself and gestured for them to be off. "I will no' walk into anythin'. Ye will keep me safe," throwing an arm around the man's shoulder and starting for the door. "Ye be a good man, Ketch, a good friend."

So, too, did Ketch enjoy seeing a smile that actually made it to Fin's eyes. Even if it was short-lived, it was nice to see that he was capable of it in fits and starts. Promising, maybe, though he suspected Fin had plenty reserved darkness to draw on if he was left alone. So he was glad to offer a distraction for however long Fin could manage it. "Sounds like me talking to Sabine," a short chuff of laughter. The woman was an over-thinker by her own admission, though he understood the tendency. Ketch noted a boneless sort of fluidity to Fin's motions, the two-try fumble with the zipper in silence before he spun on a heel and punched at the door with his fist to send it flying open. The cold air punched right back and he stuffed his hands in his pockets as Fin set his arm around his shoulder. He'd act as rudder and stability post in case the man swayed, no problem. "I'd never claim to be a good man. But I'm decent with loyalty." He slanted a scrupulous look aside to Fin as he asked, "Think I could get some of that tobacco off of you? I'll pay for it."

He always had darkness in reserves, it had been there for a long time, building and building but never drawn upon. Fin had been distracted and then caught up in other things and there was always something else to focus on than just himself and now...it seemed like there was nothing else. There were his friends that were trying valiantly to convince him that he was worth something and when he was with them, it was easy to let them distract him and keep him from giving in to it. That was the only thing that helped him to beat it back, like now. Ketch would no doubt rather be closed up with Sabine, who was young and pretty and so obviously infatuated with the man at his side - Fin knew what a heady mix that was, how intoxicating it could be. "Aye, well, I told her some such yesterday, as well. She be hard headed," snorting as they burst out of the bar together. The cold air was bracing and made him suck in a slow breath but his nose was already numb from the alcohol so he just pulled up his hood. "Bullshi'," he muttered around his smoke. "Ye be good because I say it so do no' ***' disagree wit' me," a slow, lopsided smile spreading as he turned his face toward Ketch a moment, just so the other man could see it. "Mmm, I s'pose I could see my way to it. Now, be a lad an' pull m'flask out." Because one of his arms was around Ketch and the other was holding his cigarette so...that was a problem.

Fin was no burden, and he let that show with an easy shrug of his shoulders and a loose smile as Fin spoke about Sabine's hard-headedness-- which he would not disagree with. But that, too, was part of her charm.

"I don't know if I'm fully buying into your brand of bullying, but I'll play along because I'm a loyal friend, as you yourself said." He winked and leaned forward to search out the tell-tale bulge of the flask. Carefully grasped it by the cap and sent it up into the air to catch with the other hand. It should be noted that his reflexes nearly failed him, but he managed with a slight stumble aside, and then brandished it before him. "I'm not going to have to feed it to you too, am I?"


"I be Scottish, we were born bossy. Ye must learn to like it," making up *** and spouting it with impunity as they walked. Someone else's hand was in his pocket and he watched Ketch with a slow blink while the flask was pulled out but then they both moved jerkily. The lurch was communicated to Fin, as well, when Ketch stumbled to catch the flask he threw up in the air and Fin's forehead clonked into Ketch's head just above his ear. "Ow!!" he cried out, putting the heel of his hand to his forehead to rub the spot and almost sticking the burning end of his cigarette into Ketch's jaw. "Well ye bloody have to now!"

"It's something in the accent, maybe. Gives you all kinds of powers you wouldn't have otherwise. Without it, hell, you'd just be the less handsome man in this party," fingers circled in the air in the space between them. "You'll have to be patient with me, though. I'm not a quick learner, remember?" Ketch was certainly teasing him, the sharp smile said so. When Fin's forehead collided with the side of his, he jerked back and to the side and narrowly avoided the lit end of Fin's smoke. Ketch grunted as the orange glow passed his jawline, almost dropped the flask again and ducked quickly away to retrieve it. It was like a scoundrel's version of hot potato. He eased back upright slowly, spun the cap on the flask and took what was intended to be a steadying swig. "I draw the line at nursing you gently into a drunken stupor. Nurturing bedside manner was never one of my strong suits." He took a step backwards and held out the flask. Didn't think Fin really needed much more, but also wasn't one to judge him for it either. His task was to keep the man alive, no codicils attached dictating the state of of inebriation while he did so.

Fin was wondering about his accent again - it was the third or fourth time that it had been mentioned and he wondered now if the man was teasing or there was really something wrong with it. But he didn't have time to wonder because they collided so idiotically and there were more near misses and then...then Ketch stepped back like somehow it was Fin doing the smashing into things rather than the other way around. Holding out the flask like that, talking about being nurturing just set something off in Fin. He stared for a moment and then a laugh spluttered to his lips, followed by another that was more forceful until he was doubled over, one hand supporting him as it balanced on a knee, the other holding his forgotten cigarette while he laughed and laughed until his stomach hurt, laughed helplessly because he couldn't stop the wave once it spilled from his lips. Tears leaked from the corners of his eyes while it poured out of him. It felt good in a perverse sort of way, like wiggling a loose tooth that hurt but you couldn't stop yourself from doing it over and over. He straightened and let his head hang back, looking up at the sky while gulping for air, a smile lingering on his lips. "Ah Christ, I am a ***' mess..." Those words brought him back down to earth, engulfed by reality once more and the humor fled as suddenly as it had appeared. With a deep breath, he righted himself, took the flask and imbibed two mouthfuls. Then it was shoved back toward Ketch.

"I..." he started to say but didn't remember what words were supposed to come out and looked away, feeling ashamed of his own emotions and the fact that people felt the need to babysit him. He was such a *** mess that he had to be supervised, take people away from their lives and things they'd rather be doing than watching him make a ***-all mess of everything. His hood had fallen away from his head when he looked up at the sky but now it was pulled back up as if it would help to shield him from himself, or maybe shield others. Had to relight his cigarette and then puffed away at it, continuing to walk. Throat thick, it took him a few swallows to get rid of the lump and then he spoke softly. "I know ye ha' Sabine waitin' for ye. Ye do no' have to...be here." He felt bad for taking up so much of Ketch's time when the man obviously had so much else going on, things that were more important. Head was ducked and shoulders were hunched, not even looking where he was going because his gaze was fixed down at the ground just in front of his boots.

The accent was merely the easiest way to pick on Fin, was a lazy man's point of entrance until Ketch discovered further idiosyncrasies. His repertoire would grow over time, rest assured. Ketch held out the flask and Fin started laughing. Uproariously, helplessly, almost hysterically, as if the moment had opened an iron door within the man and allowed for a short reprieve before it slammed shut again. The humor fled, and that was alright. Ketch thought the appearance alone was encouraging. Ketch took the flask back and held it to his chest, but didn't drink. He capped the flask when they started walking again.

Fin retreated into his hoodie and Ketch retreated into his thoughts, a look given aside for the visual white noise the homogenous brick buildings provided. How he had, in such a short time, managed to find himself a pillar in a menagerie of broken things was a source of curious fascination. He'd so gotten used to being the implement by which things were broken that he felt a certain karmic humor about it all. He was poor glue, that much he was sure of, but he also didn't mind being present while others looked around in search of all their scattered pieces, might even nudge a forgotten one in their direction sometime. But it was probably by accidental stumble across it. The rasp of Fin's voice pulled his attention back and he turned aside to look at the man. "I'm here because I want to be." It was assurance given that neither encouraged nor assuaged Fin's self-loathing. Sabine would certainly understand.

It seemed a tiny bubble of happiness (read: madness) had been welling up within Fin, released with a sudden pop when that laugh started. But the space it created inside him was soon backfilled with the familiar weight of his pain that made him curl in on himself. The tension radiated out from his gut in waves, forcing deep and slow breaths to keep himself upright and remain somewhat calm. He didn't know if Ketch would take that dismissal - who wanted to hang out with such an unstable downer? But Ketch said he wanted to be there, his tone so dispassionate that it was assumed to be the truth else why offer up the opinion at all? Fin was flushed with a wash of humility & more guilt, feeling undeserving of such sentiment. So it was that Fin was overcome and stopped abruptly in his tracks to put a hand to Ketch's arm, stop him as well. When they were both at a standstill, Fin stepped close at the same time he yanked Ketch suddenly into a rough embrace. Unable to speak and with shaky breath, he clasped his friend to him tightly.

At Fin's abrupt stop and the subsequent touch to his arm, Ketch scanned their surroundings, left to right, as if Fin might've heard something that set him on edge. Though the street wasn't empty, there was nothing occupying it currently that Ketch would read as a threat. A perplexed furrow of brows became open-mouthed surprise when Fin put his arms around him. Ketch was like a sack of setting cement in the embrace. He could not remember a time when another man had done such a thing. Clasps to the shoulder, handshakes, a slug of fist to the upper arm. By comparison, those were comfortable gestures of affection. Ketch simply didn't know what the hell to do in the moment, but he did know that it was important not to push Fin away. Fin was clinging to him the way characters from silent movies clung to lampposts in strong winds, the way a drowning man hung onto a life raft. It was that comical and that dire all at once. The stiff lines of his body relaxed with effort, and after a few more moments with his hands flattened to his side like a useless umbrella, he lifted one and clapped it against Fin's shoulder blade three times. "It's going to be okay." Because it might not be good, and it might get worse, but "okay" would inevitably figure in at some point.

Normally, Fin was really good at picking up on cues like the way Ketch just stood there, frozen as a statue. Or the awkward silence that lingered because he didn't know what to say when another man hugged him, let alone have any good advice for the blubbering mess. Fin always tried so hard to make sure that the people around him were at ease and comfortable, even if he had to go out of his way to do so, but this heartache seemed to eclipse all his normal behaviors as well as common sense. It was making him into a person he didn't know anymore, no matter how desperately he wanted to go back to the regular old Fin that didn't earn pitying glances. The effort Ketch made with those words was appreciated, even if it was a phrase that Fin had come to despise (along with 'it will take time' and 'maybe this happened for a reason'). But he didn't have any rancor left in him for his friend, would not do anything to push him away.


Last edited by FinMack on Fri May 29, 2015 11:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ketch Creeley
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Except physically push away from him because he felt he'd embarrassed them enough. A quick clearing of his throat and Fin turned away to keep walking when a noise reached his ears. A noise that was unmistakable as it was unforgettable - someone making a pained sound. Whether it was forced or not, he couldn't tell because he didn't hear anything else but he did pause in his step again, reaching to put a staying hand to Ketch's arm. Didn't try to pull him in for another hug! Promise. Just stopped and cocked an ear. It was faint but he heard it again and drifted in that direction without a word, intent upon seeing the cause of it himself. There was a wrong turn but Fin was finally sidling up to the mouth of an alleyway where he could hear a low voice speaking in a tone that was easily recognizable as it was menacing. Shoulder blades pressed to a brick building as he leaned and peeked around the corner. There was a large-ish figure and someone smaller that was being held up against wall. The larger man hit the smaller one casually, like he enjoyed it, and spoke in alternately mocking and threatening tones. The only thing Fin could focus on was the fact that the larger man was the one that tried to put his foot through Fin's ribcage a month ago.

Welp, he didn't need anything beyond that in order to act. Vengeance was rarely delivered up so easily or deliciously and with a narrowing of his reddened eyes, Fin smiled. A cold, vicious thing that twisted his mouth and pulling back, he turned that look upon Ketch. Didn't say what might have caused such awful satisfaction to stir within him but he bent and pulled up his jeans at the ankle to reveal a knife sheath. Two thin identical throwing blades were pulled out, the hilts and the blades all one curved, lithe piece. Turning back to the corner of the building, he leaned again and gripped one of the blades in his fingertips just at the tip, taking aim before he let it fly. Hit the larger man in the meat of his shoulder - we'll blame that on the dark and the whiskey, yes? But Fin wasn't dissuaded. Moving fully into the mouth of the alley, he kept his hands at his sides as he sauntered a few steps in. If Ketch didn't want to be involved, he was free to ditch out here and now, Fin wouldn't hold it against him. "Remember me, ye ****?" his voice low and silky, finally finding a channel for all his anger and rage and hatred. The smaller man was dropped with a final hard punch to the gut as the big shadow lumbered toward Fin. The blade was plucked from his shoulder and dropped on the ground.

They were walking again when Fin turned and put his hand on Ketch's shoulder. Ketch briefly wondered if more affection was to follow, and if so, if he could muster a more appropriate reaction this time when he caught the sound, as well. And he must have been curious, too, because he turned and followed Fin and didn't even ask the questions that were rolling around in his head. Fin seemed alert and alive as he tracked the sound, and Ketch was intrigued enough to continue his silent steps a few feet behind the man and wonder at the cause. Once he saw the menacing look on Fin's face, the throwing blades he held poised, there was really no other option but to stay and see this event through. However, it was clearly not Ketch's fight, and he sensed enough from Fin's actions to understand that this was not a random attack, but one borne of some tie Fin felt to the other man.

What happened next would never be something that Fin remembered clearly. Everything surrounding them fell away as his adrenaline spiked and he was filled with a feral sort of calm as his vision tunneled down to include only the man headed for him. It had been...***, it had been so many years since he'd gone into battle mode, which was very different than the fighting he'd been doing. It was one thing for angry men to knock each other about but quite another to face off with someone and know with a bone-deep certainty that one of you had to die. Because that is what was going to happen right now - Fin was either going to kill this man or he was going to be killed by him and there was not one iota of hesitation, not a single trace of remorse no matter which way the chips fell. There were hits and slices of flesh and fabric together as Fin's arm whipped in a blur, that second blade concealed in his hand. He didn't feel any of it, lived purely moment to moment without looking forward or back as they grappled.

Fueled by the blindingly intense emotions of the past few weeks, the Scot moved on instinct alone while fighting to avoid the heaviest hits, bracing for those he couldn’t miss; at one point he was disarmed, the knife clattering across the pavement where hopefully Ketch might pick it up. When next he was aware of his actions, Fin found himself on top of the man, smashing a broken bottle into the thug’s face over and over and over. The glass had broken and some of it was pressed the heel of his hand, lip and cheek and nose and brow bleeding, teeth smeared with the stuff because they were bared down at the man lying still. What used to be a face was now unrecognizable, just a pulpy mass of oozing blood and meat and smashed cartilage.

Ketch kept out of sight in the shadows, attention split between the havoc that broke out between the Scot and the larger man, and the smaller man that had been the subject of the original attack. He had no intention of interfering unless it became clear that Fin was on the losing end of the knife blades flying about. For all of Fin's sudden passion, Ketch looked on impassively, tongue touched to the inside of his cheek as blows were traded back and forth. He watched the path of blood spatter and glass while his mind jumped ahead of the action before them to the mess that would be left behind, the disposal of the body, and whether or not the smaller man--as a witness--would need to be dispatched, as well. He reached behind him to pull the hood beneath jacket up around his face and cinched it tightly then wrangled his phone from his pocket and sent a short text. When it was plain to him that the other man was dead, he strode forward and behind Fin, locked his arms neatly around the man and hauled him off the gelatinous disaster pinned beneath him. "Stop. He's not going to get any deader and now you're just making a bigger mess."

The smaller man had taken in the unfolding scene from a fetal crouch, frozen. Ketch's appearance seemed to rouse him back into the land of the living and he scrabbled backwards a yard before he found his feet and hesitated, looking between Fin, the man on the ground, and Ketch. That moment of hesitation was enough for Ketch's long legs to swallow up the space that separated them and grasp the man around the neck. There was always a rush that came with the imprint, a cool flood of information that buzzed his cells with the bone-deep saturation. The man went still and Ketch leaned in to utter a few low words in his ear before stepping back and releasing him. "Do you understand?" he asked the man in the tone of a teacher ascertaining a pupil's understanding of a lesson. The man nodded once and continued to back away a few paces before he turned and darted off. Ketch looked back over to Fin with a long exhale. "I don't even know if I want to ask."


Feeling hands on him, Fin struggled at first and resisted, trying to twist around and fight this new assailant, until he heard Ketch's voice piercing the fog in his head and he capitulated, allowing the other man to drag him backwards and then fall on his haunches in the alleyway. Just sat and panted while reality once more pervaded his brain. Ketch was still here. The asshole that gave him a beating was deader than dead and there was...someone else. Oh yes. The victim from earlier. It took a moment for his ears to stop ringing while he watched Ketch pull the man close by his throat and say something to him. That one ran off and then they were alone with the body. Fin thought...did he recognize that face? Or no? It was hard to think clearly right now.

Fin stared at the bit of meat lying there in front of him unmoving, head canted to one side while he tried to replay it in his head, discovered the missing bits. Then stared up at Ketch. Blood was splattered in droplets across his face and chest, one hand coated and the other fairly clean. Dark wetness stained the knees of his jeans but it was impossible to tell if it was something that had already been here in the alley or more blood. There were cuts on his face and arms and torso, oozing through cuts in his hoodie and shirt when the bigger man had gotten his knife away from him. Taking a deep breath, Fin pushed himself to his feet and nodded at the body. "Tha' be the *** tha' beat me awhile ago." Explanation - check! "He be a local piece o' ***." It would be noted that he was not there anymore but no one was likely to go to the authorities over it. Not that Fin had considered that beforehand but...yeah. Lucky circumstance? Ketch was being pretty calm so Fin looked to him, uncertainty coloring puckering his brow. "Eh..." Clean hand raked through his hair. "Sorry," the word muttered lamely.

"Mm." A grunt of acknowledgement to show he'd heard Fin's reply. He followed it up with a longer look at the remains of the man before turning his attention back on Fin. "You feel better?" Fin's apology was wholly unnecessary, and Ketch didn't even honor it with a reply that might lend credence as it being warranted.

Fin may not have been concerned with leaving the gore-soaked man behind in the alleyway, but Ketch --for all his apparent disregard for appearance and dress-- was compulsive about certain things, and rarely left a mess behind unless there was an intended message behind it. A sudden skitter of mice from a nearby blind alley pulled Ketch's eyes that way, and he lifted a finger to silence any further conversation and waited. Twenty seconds later there was a change in atmospheric pressure in the alleyway, as if a vacuum hose had been attached to one end and was sucking the air out. It was brief, and with a resulting pop of ears came a new sound: scraping, dragging, and squeaky wheels. A stunted, gnarled figure appeared from the blind alleyway, tugging a wheeled bucket and mop behind him. He was weathered beyond determination of race, and he looked up to Ketch petulantly when he spoke: "You kids and your ridiculous technology," he groused. "Can't even be bothered to call me by my name anymore?"

Ketch stared back, nonplussed, and then cracked a small smile. "Your name's too goddamn long. So much easier to hit the contact in my phone."

"Lazy," the entity tsked before turning on Fin. "Who's this young fellow?"

"That's Fin. Fin, this is Nat. Nat the Sweeper." Ketch was giving Fin the shortened version of the name because the long one would have required two lungfuls of air he didn't feel like expending. "Fin has made a bit of a mess." Ketch clamped a hand around Fin's shoulder for reassurance.

Nat drew closer to Fin, dragging his mop and bucket along behind him. To say the gaze he passed over Fin was soul-searching would be to sell it short of depth by fathoms. Nat looked upon Fin as if he could see every demon and hope that writhed within, the intention that lay behind every word ever spoken, and every lie he'd ever pondered. But it was an accounting more than a judgment. Nat didn't judge. That wasn't his purpose. At last, he fixed rheumy eyes to Fin's and asked. "How will you be paying?" The tone of his voice alone should imply that Nat didn't accept "normal" methods of payment.


Asking if Fin felt better caused the Scot to sigh deeply and scrub at his face with his hands - smearing blood and little bits of shattered glass on his jawline and cheeks but he hardly noticed. He felt disheveled and dirty all the time, deep down to his soul, even fresh out of the shower. A little extra grit and sticky residue would hardly be noted now, not when he was still processing what he'd just done. This was bad - that's how he should feel. You weren't supposed to just kill people, that made Fin bad but he couldn't even dredge up enough emotion to feel guilty or tormented or any of the other things he'd been feeling about much less dire things. Maybe his core values were in play because he grew up in a time when men could still be warriors and defend what was theirs by blade and bone, when death was justifiable with good enough reason. Or maybe he just didn't feel anything anymore though his breakdowns and crying bout with Ketch earlier contested that theory.

Or maybe he really was just a bad person. Escaping the slave pits, trying hard to kick his habit, being nice and kind to people just didn't matter and would never alter the things that he'd done while living under Stefin's thumb. Maybe he should stop trying.

A grunt was his response and then he just stared down at the body, noting a mark on the man's arm that was just discernible in the dim lighting. Then the air changed and his ears did pop and ring a little more and after shaking his head to try and clear it, he noticed a new person standing there. Speaking to Ketch. Ketch, who didn't seem surprised. Blue blue eyes were bouncing back and forth between the pair while trying to figure out what was going on.

Nodding to Nat the Sweeper, he leaned into the touch at his shoulder, lifting his clean hand to place it over Ketch's there a moment. The stare down was returned evenly, not bothering to hide his curiosity about the man even though he felt like that weighty gaze was looking straight through him. Well, let the bent little man find what he would find and do what he would do about it. But he didn't expect the question about payment and brows furrowed in confusion. His gaze slid to his side in askance to Ketch and then back to Nat. "Eh...wha' d'ye normally take?"

The silence stretched as Fin and Nat stared at each other. So long, in fact, that Ketch shifted foot to foot twice, thought maybe Nat wasn't going to say anything in reply, or perhaps just refuse the job and disappear.

Then there was a croak and a wheeze, as if the entity had been stirred back into life from the dregs of a bog. "I usually take memories. Don't like the ones I usually make. Don't know if you've really got something I'd want, either. It's hard to tell with all that fog in there right now." Nat gave Fin another speculative once over. "Or....." Ketch cut a hard look down at Nat. Nat's "ors" usually were not a good sign.

"Or....you can gather for me: one golden strand of hair from a nubile virgin, the tusk of a wild boar, and the January 1981 issue of Playboy magazine."

Ketch rolled his eyes and looked over at Fin, expecting a glare at any moment for having called in this eccentric monstrosity.


Fin waited expectantly, as well, but he did not fidget as the silence was drawn out to paper thinness. Just stood with hands in his pockets, waiting for this strange little man to tell him how to pay for a potential clean up. Not that Fin deserved this miracle of a favor, to expunge his record clean as if he were a clean man, but he wasn't stupid enough to look a gift horse in the mouth. He sure as hell wasn't going to go turn himself in for it like Lucy did.

A bitter, sardonic snort erupted out of him and he shook his head. "I do no' like the memories I've been makin' either," he confessed but the old, gnarled little janitor type obviously knew that. Not even an eater of memories wanted in his head, that said a lot, didn't it? There was an 'or'? A brow arched and he flicked another glance between Nat and Ketch, folding his arms over his chest even though it was spreading the blood from his hand to his hoodie - that wasn't gonna wash out. It would most likely be burned later so there was no evidence. "Wha' does nubile mean?" he asked with a squint at Nat. "An' d'ye mean a maid that has no' been tupped or a woman beholden to no other?"

Thank D'Aulaire's children's book of Greek myths for lending him that extra definition! Also, a very passing knowledge of Queen Elizabeth I - she certainly hadn't been an innocent maid for all her reign, no.

There was a moment during which Nat looked taken aback when Fin asked a question in reply. Clearly, he was used to giving directives without entertaining replies. His face pinched inward, a deep line of furrows sprouted that seemed to collapse his features into a blurred point around his nose before abruptly smoothing out as he let out a raspy cackle. "That's good, very good lad." A greenish, twisted finger shaken a couple inches from the tip of Fin's nose. "Always good to ask for clarification with my kind. Otherwise, it'll bite you in the ass later. And enjoy it, too." He cackled again and curled his hand back around the mop protruding from the bucket. "Nubile means attractive. Or as you whippersnappers would say 'hawt'," disturbing, perhaps, how precisely his voice mimicked the breathlessness of a tween girl. "I mean a maid that has no' been tupped," and perhaps more disturbing the perfect replication of Fin's own voice, accent and all.

Nat stepped back to survey the carnage before him, curled nails rapping a few beats upon the mop handle. It was not the worst he had ever seen, qualified as light duty considering some of the wreckage of bones and bits that some of RhyDin's creatures wrought, but there was a sense of human ire behind it that was rare and delicious. A needle-toothed grin spread too wide across his face as he awaited Fin's reply.


Hadn't been told he couldn't ask questions! In fact, he was starting to recall all of the lessons in the stories regarding the Good Folk that Fin grew up with - always be precise and specific, never give your true name, do not eat any of their food and drink should they lure you into a barrow. And never, NEVER assume that they would not yank your heart out of your chest at the first chance because they were capricious and vicious and played by different rules. Leaning back slightly from the finger wagging near his face, he couldn't help the way a tiny smirk curled the corners of his mouth. It was a little unsettling to hear the man's voice change, especially to imitate his own, and wondered if Ketch was getting a kick out of that. Mocking his accent. The two must have so much in common.

While he considered this further information, he too stared down pensively at the corpse, wondering again just how badly he wanted this mess to disappear. There had still been a witness but it would have to be relied upon that whatever Ketch said to the man was enough to keep him quiet about their identities. "If ye take a memory...can I say aye or nay to it afore ye take it?" Did he get any veto power at all?

Nat's head tilted, avian-like on the skinny stalk of his neck in another eerie, unnatural gesture. "You ask too many questions." A quick turn aside gave the impression of a huff as Nat dragged his bucket along behind him while he peered down over the body. He leaned down, long fingers sliding into the mangled face and with a quick, decisive jerk, a tooth was pried free which he held to the light and turned appreciatively before looking aside at Ketch and Fin and stuffing the tooth into a small pouch hanging from his side.

Ketch looked at Fin and shrugged his shoulders lightly. Nat set the different terms of agreement with everyone, but Ketch couldn't fault Fin for his questions. They were smart ones, ones he would have asked himself. Except for nubile. He knew what that meant.

Nat made his way back over, wiping streaks of blood along his side, and stopped before Fin once more. "Yes. But I don't have time to sit here and haggle all night. Three chances and I'm done."


If he was going to be giving things away, especially to a tricksy Sidhe, Fin sure as hell was going to try hard to cover his arse and he refused to be shame faced about that. Just shrugged in response to that, patiently waiting to either hear an answer or Nat's refusal to do the job. A subtle face was made, just a hint of a lift at his lip and a brow, when the tooth was pried out and plucked up like it was a candied treat but he still didn't say anything, just stole glances at Ketch to see how he was doing with all of this but then again... this guy was his contact so...he probably wasn't surprised at all. Ketch was so worldly, it made Fin wonder more about his background. What he did when he came home dressed up fancy or off on a "job".

His patience paid off because Nat relented and agreed to the question about the memories. Fin was quick to nod because at least he would have a say. "Aye, I'll do it." Gestured for Nat to...do whatever he needed to do. Hoped it wouldn't be too painful.
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ketch had faded into the background while Nat and Fin discussed the terms of their agreement, kept watch over the negotiations but didn't feel the need to offer much. Fin was a smart man, he'd either wrangle his own terms or tell Nat to *** off, either of which were fine with Ketch; he was just providing an opportunity. Nor did he bat an eye when Nat stole his token from the dead man. It was a habit of Nat's, and Ketch suspected that somewhere in the void where he resided, there was a museum of murderous curiosities. He wouldn't have minded seeing it, actually, but thus far, Nat had refused.

A slow grin spread over Nat's face and he nodded, releasing the mop handle to clasp his hands before him and fix that depthless gaze upon Fin's eyes once more. A theater of expressions played over his face as he began his search, nose wrinkling and twitching here and there, grin fading only to slide back into place a few beats later, presumably reacting to what he saw. "Lots here with a dark haired woman. Bitter little thing. There you two are, two mismatched peas in a misshapen pod, helplessly in love. It's pungent. I want one of those, yes. I haven't had a memory like that in a long time." Rolls of skin that approximated brows lifted marginally over shrewd eyes as Nat awaited Fin's reply.


It was sort of against his better judgment, having issues with memory to begin with and he felt like this would possibly be a very bad idea to have some unknown creature dribble their sticky fingers in there and muck things all about. But the alternative was...well, to be succinct, *** that. A virgin -- in Rhydin?? Had he seen the real estate around here? It would take him forever and a day and be beholden to Nat that entire time. Fuuuuuuck that.

That slow grin on Nat's face made Fin tense and clench his jaw, instinctively leaning away from the creature as it caught his gaze and pinned him there like a butterfly. The Scot fell into it, felt sucked in and down, down. Only the sound of his voice brought Fin back to awareness of where he was and what was going on. A shudder wracked him and he took a step back, his shoulder bumping Ketch's. Lips were pressed into a thin line as his brow creased in a deep frown but...he didn't say no. He didn't say anything, just sat coiled for many long minutes until finally releasing a shaky breath. Terse nod. "Aye." Shaking himself off and straightening, Fin steeled himself for the answer. "Which one?"

Nat thought Fin was wise. Virgins were a rare delicacy in RhyDin, and even if Fin could manage to find one, odds were she'd be well-protected from the likes of the Scotsman.

Fin's shoulder bumped into Ketch, and there was little rebound; he was solidly rooted to the ground behind his friend, and he spoke up with an assurance as he put his hand briefly to Fin's shoulder. "It doesn't hurt. He's taken some of mine. I forget what." Ha. That was a joke because of course he wouldn't remember. Perhaps Fin could hear the wry smile in his voice. "It feels like...." what did it feel like? His lips screwed up in thought until he found a decent illustration. "..like someone tugging a strand of your hair. A little pressure and then a snap of release."

"I have a softer touch than some others around here," Nat beamed, pleased with his own assessment of himself and also with the fact that they'd come to an agreement. "You will not give me the one that's worth the most to you. I can see that, and I'm not unreasonable," he was, often, and so this was something of a surprise to Ketch. But Nat saw what he saw, and perhaps there was something in it causing the laxity. "I'll take the second. The second one you replay in your head most frequently. I will keep it safe, and for you it will be like it never existed." Curled fingers flexed outward synchronously to show: poof, gone it would be.


What a laugh - someone thinking Fin was wise. He would have been so very amused to hear that.

The solid presence of Ketch there was actually comforting, as it was to hear that the brunette had been through this before. A breath was taken and his shoulders relaxed, glancing to meet Ketch's gaze as he spoke. A thick brow arched to hear that sort of description, wondering what that might feel like inside his brain, inside his mind but...he was going to find out! Jaw clenching briefly, he turned his face to look at Nat expectantly, a little tense. Hands still wrapped around himself, hidden under the crossed arms.

A grunt given in response to the 'soft touch' but he frowned again to hear about the first choice...and then the second choice. The Scot hesitated then, even though he'd already agreed. Wasn't going to back out, not really, but...it was...precious to him. But wasn't that the point? Wouldn't letting go of that memory cause him less pain in the long run? Would he know it was gone? His stomach was tight and tears stung at the backs of his eyes while he stared at Nat, trying to summon up the courage to say yes. It was another moment or two before he whispered, "Aye." Hands were curled into tight fists, preparing for the loss.

"Take a good long whiff of that memory," Nat said as he touched fleshy fingertips gently to Fin's temple. "And tell me when you're ready."

When Fin gave the command, there'd be little apparent outward change, though he might feel a sudden pressure in his head, like the tension of an impending headache while Nat rooted around and separated the memory from the collection of others. This took some doing, because Nat was careful, if not delicate, ensuring he pulled the memory free cleanly by the roots so that there wouldn't be any confusing half-images or errant snippets of conversation left behind. Once he felt sure he had the memory firmly in his grasp, it was a simple matter of giving it a good, hard tug to snap it free. There were varying reactions to this final act that appeared entirely dependent upon the human or creature: some winced at a sharp and sudden pang, some felt nothing, and some said they felt naught but a vague sense of added lightness.

Behind Fin, Ketch was pacing restlessly back and forth, though he slowed when Nat fixed him with a look and strolled over to a nearby edifice and leaned his shoulder against it, instead, heaving a breath and wondering which memories of his own he'd entrusted to Nat's hands in the past, uncertain whether some of them had been of Mimi. Instinct said no, but he couldn't be sure unless he asked Nat, which he was unwilling to do. Best to just let it lie, probably, and this certainly wasn't the time, anyway.


Fin was trying, even though those exact words in that order didn't make sense. You couldn't smell a memory but...he tried to hold it close, grinding his teeth together, on the verge of jerking back from that touch and declaring he didn't want to do this at all because...because he wanted to remember all the goodness about the past month to help see him through this darkness. It felt like a vise was squeezing his head, something that couldn't be pinpointed to one specific spot but instead was just...all around. Eyes squeezed shut tightly, hands curled into fists at his sides as he fought the instinct to strike out at someone working magic on his mind.

Then...there was...a twinge. Something that made him shudder, tingles dancing lightning fast over his skin, raising the hairs and causing goose bumps. And suddenly the tension singing through his body was let go with a touch. What...what was he trying to hold on to? He knew Nat had taken a memory but suddenly he couldn't remember what it was or why he didn't want to let it go. Didn't remember that he didn't remember. A little confused, he shook his head and glanced over to see Ketch leaning against a building. He was frowning but...Fin just gave him a crooked smile. "Ye alrigh'?"

Ketch pushed off the wall as Fin looked over and Nat took two steps back from Fin, rubbing his fingertips to his palms slowly with a contented sigh. "Yep, m'fine. You okay?" He jerked his head in the direction opposite the crime scene. "We can go now. He'll take care of the rest." He turned and started down the alleyway at a leisurely pace. Suspected Fin might want to see how Nat took care of things, and he was in no real hurry.

And indeed, Nat got right to it, swiveling body, bucket and mop to face the disaster in red with a little chortle of amusement, possibly riding high on the new memory. He sloshed the mop around in the bucket and didn't even wring it out before letting it splat to the ground in front of him. A curious thing happened as soon as the mop touched the asphalt. Dirty rivers of water spread in all directions, bordering the larger perimeter of the scene, running in rivulets to chase after spatter several feet away--even crawled up the edifice of the nearby buildings in pursuit of its red quarry. Then, once the alleyway lay saturated, it made a sudden retreat. Man, blood, bits of broken bone and flesh, all carried with the tide of water and disappeared into the strings of the mop, leaving behind a spotless alleyway.

Nat gave a light laugh and started whistling a jangly "Thanks for the Memories" as he retraced his steps to the portal and vanished against a graffiti-littered brick wall.


After collecting his blades, Fin turned and moved toward Ketch, in the direction of the mouth of the alley with only a few twists of his neck to look over his shoulder at the process. But really, he could probably live without knowing how it all worked because it may or may not spur more nightmares. At least the little old man didn't start eating the corpse, it was all neat and easy and very magical and he didn't have to unsee anything. Hnh.

Moving out the alleyway, Fin looked down at himself once they were in the light of a street lamp and saw he was still covered in blood and little splotches of gore that had splashed up on him from the beaten face of his victim. Oh. In the West End, that sort of image might not be such a rare thing but Fin wasn't exactly wanting to advertise what he just did and despite Ketch's calm acceptance of the situation, Fin had yet to comes to terms with his own actions. With a deep breath, he gave Ketch a sidelong glance. "Thank ye," he murmured. For calling Nat and taking care of that situation, for not freaking out on Fin and yelling at him or trying to stop him, for making the little victim run away and...telling him whatever had been said. Generally, for being a good accomplice. Hey, if nothing else, they could be a hit team together. Har har. "Eh...think I might beg a shower from ye? Clean clothes?" The white of his teeth cut bright slant through the shadow and dark spots on his face, hoping Ketch's grace might extend a little further.

Wordlessly, Ketch took his jacket off and pushed it at Fin. All things considered, it was relatively pristine. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, balled up up and offered that to Fin as well, drawing a circle in the air above the man's face in indication as he spoke, "you've got a little...." he squinted and then shrugged, "something there, not exactly sure what. Fascia…..tendon?" Fortunately for Fin, he wasn't going to spit on the handkerchief and do it for him. Ketch waved off the thanks and kept walking, aiming them in the direction of Dockside.

Angled sideways when spoke again, asking for a shower and clean clothes, gave him a look like he was sizing him up and then nodded again as he stuck a cigarette in his mouth and lit it. "Sure, sure, that's no problem."


Another deep breath was expelled as the jacket was given over and he really took a moment to consider how calm and well prepared his friend was over an accidental murder. Hnh. And then...a hankie was pressed into his hand. A hankie. A fancy, tailored little square of cloth that would be ruined by whatever was thickly coating his face. And Ketch was gesturing at him like he had a spot of dust. Perhaps there was an air of hysteria to it but he laughed. Laughed and laughed, sounding like a lunatic and the blood and gore on his face only helped to reinforce that image.

"Christ Almighty..." he breathed as the sudden laughter wound down, wiping at his eyes (at the very least) with the handkerchief. Removed any grey matter from his face before they continued. "Good?" he asked with a mad cap smile, his face still caked with flakes of drying blood. " 'Haps we should go get a drink?" he muttered in jest though whiskey sounded good and he was betting Ketch the Alkie had some back at his apartment. It didn't take long to get there since it was local and Fin's hands didn't start to shake until he was under the hot water, watching red taint the water that was sluicing down the drain.
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