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The Hurt Everyone Carries

 
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MacIntosh
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 44
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Can Be Found: With Ian
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:17 pm    Post subject: The Hurt Everyone Carries 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!))

He was rubbing a towel over his head, drying dark chocolate curls when his phone rang. Ian surfaced, checking the security of his lip ring in the mirror before he wrapped the towel around his hips. Wiping his hands down his legs to make sure they were dry, he caught the phone on its last ring, hitting the speaker icon a second later so he could continue what he was doing.

“Yeah?”
“Ian, it’s Ezra.”
“...was beginning to think y’’were avoiding me, E.” Ian smirked at his reflection, picking his necklace up off the edge of the sink and fastening it back around his neck where it belonged.

The kid swiped the phone off the counter, clicked it back over to the headset, lifted it to his ear as he pulled the bathroom door open. He emerged into the small RV in a billowing cloud of steam like some kind of magic trick. The voice, a tiny hum like the buzzing of a fly’s wings in his ear, gave its excuses. A particularly difficult run that had gone badly, money lost, Silas and everybody angry and pointing fingers. Ian’s smirk grew deeper, more sinister. His voice, though, was deadpan. “Imagine that,” said the man -- or rather the boy --responsible.

“You wouldn’t have had anything to do with that, did you?” Ezra sounded uncertain.

“Course not,” Ian replied immediately, too immediately, and the smirk that lingered was evident in the way he spoke. “I’m just some kid, remember?”

On the other end of the connection, Ezra shook his head. The more he got to know Ian, the more convinced he was that he’d thrown his lot in on the right side of things. That ‘just some kid’ was ***’ scary.

“...So, anyway…” the other man continued while Ian moved down the short hallway to the room that was technically ‘his’ but that he in reality shared with Jay. “The upshot is that Silas and some of the elder crew have gone on to meet with these other guys and see if they can work it out. He wants to stop at some religious site for a pilgrimage or some *** thing like that on the way. They’re gonna be gone for three days.”

Ian listened while he rummaged in the cabinet, found a clean pair of boxers. He cradled the phone between his chin and his still damp shoulder while he unknotted the towel, let it fall, and slipped them on. Water droplets made crystalline rivulets down his chest and back as they fell free of still wet, springy curls.

“So you’re saying it’s a good time for the next move,” he commented as he sat down to pull on a pair of pants.

“Yeah. Now would be a great time for it.”

Ian nodded. “Got it. I’ll call you back in a bit with the details.”
Ezra nodded. “Sure thing.” He hesitated just a moment, then added, “...boss.”

Ian hung up, smiling

It was impossible to know a good day from a bad one. On good days, Mac knew what time it was, and where and who he was. He could have said he was dead and an asshole ghost. On bad days, his memory slipped him and horrible moments seemed to be relived in a theatre that Ian couldn’t prevent.

They weren’t together all the time. The most difficult part was that Ian had to convince each slice of him, through different times and experiences, that they were in love. That they were the real thing. Most days were easy, but in some, he practically re-lived what it meant to die. Everytime that happened, he was still surprised. He was still betrayed. That was only some of the time.

Most of the time, Ian could breathe easy knowing that the day would turn out the way this one was. Mac materialized some time after the phone call, picking up from a memory of where he had been shining a pair of shoes for a funeral. He was younger, but he knew the time. The oily, threadbare cloth in his hand was almost entirely blackened and he had to turn it over, dip it into the polish and begin again on the nose of a shoe he was working over.

He operated from the kitchen table, where his voice clipped Ian as he rubbed the polish, “Well, you get it sorted?” It was damn near cruel that Sonny didn’t know he was around.

The bad days had been traumatic at first, but you could adjust to anything. Ian had learned to anticipate, to gauge what kind of day it would be by the way the shade looked at him or spoke when he materialized. The hardest were the ones where Josh didn’t know him at all, where he had to introduce himself and work from there.

Josh had told him once, when he still had a heartbeat, that he was sure that he preferred men. Ian had all the proof of that he needed, now; whichever version of his lover appeared to him, he had never yet not convinced the man of their connection.

By the time the ghost appeared that afternoon, Ian was fully dressed and finishing up an email on his laptop. A fresh cigarette burned in an ashtray adjacent to his right hand, and he picked it up as slate green eyes cut over the top of the screen at the shoe shining spirit. He considered the activity, tried to gauge whose funeral it was Mac had been preparing for. Not Johnny. Not his own. His dad, maybe?

The teen brought the cigarette to his lips, dragged fiercely, then leaned forward over the table to offer it to Josh. “Yeah, it’s sorted. We can leave whenever. Figure we’ll meet up with them tomorrow afternoon just before you come solid, so Sonny can see you.”

There were a lot of bodies in the ground. It was hard to tell who the shine was for. At least his eyebrow bookmarked some of it. He had gotten the scar after Grace had left. Any time Ian saw him with it, it meant that he thought he was in a time after that. Bullet hole marks said he knew he was dead. Today was a mix. He wasn’t disoriented, yet he couldn’t stop the calculated and methodical way he was shining his shoes.

“That sounds about right.” Maybe they were shoes for himself. Did it make sense to mourn your own passing?

“Sonny.” He spat the name and then sat up, the rag he was using to polish the black into a dark mirror was dropped beside the shoe on the floor. His back popped as he leaned back, taking in a breath. Mac was fearful, he was hesitant, to meet The Ox. Ezra had taken losing him hard but Sonny? They’d been close ever since they were teenagers and the guy never, ever faltered having his back. There had just never been a moment that the bull wasn’t in his life. In some ways, it was *** that he was ‘the last’ to know that Mac was still around.

The shame made the bullet wounds in his chest burn. He didn’t want to tell him, but there was no more space, no more time, between that truth and the present.

Sonny was a loyal man and an ox, to be sure. He wasn’t a rocket scientist though, he hadn’t spent much time in Rhy’Din relatively speaking, and he was a gypsy man besides. He wouldn’t believe Ian or Ezra unless he could see it for himself, and if he couldn’t see it for himself the minute after it was said, he’d respond with fists that landed like concrete. There was nothing for it but to show him the truth, and it was that exact condition that had settled him off for last.

Well, that and Sonny had no poker face. He wore his heart on his bulging sleeve, and there just wasn’t any guarantee that he wouldn’t broadcast what he’d learned. Ian was all about layers of strategy, and the ox had grown up on the same “mow ‘em down and sort it out later” school of problem solving that Mac had.

Ian closed the laptop, took another drag on the cigarette since Mac hadn’t taken it yet. Watching the shade move restlessly, he took stock of what each movement meant in context. “It’s a bitch but there’s nothing for it. You’ll feel better once it’s done.” The kid stood then, moving to the other side of the table to skate fingertips over the ghost’s shoulder. It was affectionate, and also told him more of what he needed to know.

Sonny was arguably his best friend. Since anyone had known them, there was Mac and Sonny. The deception wasn’t a reality he was eager to face, the idea of hurting the guy as much as he did only to reverse it seemed unnecessarily cruel. Some part of him thought it was better if he stayed dead.

He put the last polished shoe on the floor, just in time to feel the slide of Ian’s fingers over his shoulder. The brim of his fedora angled as he looked at him, “Hey.” He said the word like it was more than just a greeting. He said the word in such a way that Ian knew that tonight, at least just tonight, that Jay was there.

The way he said it brought a smile to Ian’s lips, the metal ring that pierced the bottom one sliding across his teeth as they were revealed. “Hey,” he said back, giving that shoulder a gentle squeeze.

Bending at the waist, the kid nudged his way underneath the fedora, pressing his mouth to the older man’s neck in a kiss that both confirmed and expanded on that greeting. “Missed you today,” he breathed, turning his head to kiss the shoulder next, chocolate curls that were mostly dry falling over eyes that were as green as they were grey.

He was still, like a cat waiting for someone to wiggle the string just right so he could claw at it. Ian’s mouth found a smile under the brim of his hat, patiently enjoying the kiss and leaning backwards, fractionally, in a way that was more an invitation than a rejection, “I’ve hardly been gone.” Ian was, quite literally, haunted, but that didn’t keep the moments of his absence from feeling eternal.

His left hand hooked up, catching the back of Ian’s neck, pushing his fingertips along the slope of it as they kissed. Sometimes he felt the lip ring, sometimes not. His head remained directed ahead towards him but his eyes dropped at the bottom half circle of their shape to watch. “I’m here.”

Finding himself haunted, the kid had determined that he preferred the active version to the passive. Even the long hours of disembodied voice or touch, of half seen glimmers that vanished as soon as they’d been spotted, were better than the crawling minutes when there was nothing. When Jay went wherever it was that not even Saila could see him. Ian knew intellectually in those moments that the spirit had exhausted all of the kid’s own spare energy, that his personal reserves were gone, that there was nothing for it but to wait and rest. Even so, he kind of hated it. The boy who’d spent most of his life avoiding other people found he no longer knew how to be alone. “Still sucks.”

The invitation came, as it nearly always did, like it was detached and distant, offhand: like it wasn’t essentially an instruction. Ian grinned against the man’s shoulder, rolling green eyes up and to the right to meet that partial gaze as he opened his mouth and bit down. Not designed to bruise, the clench of teeth wasn’t precisely gentle. His hands curled around the back of the chair, pulling it and its occupant out away from the table. When he’d made enough room, the kid stepped across him and sat down. “Good.”

It didn’t matter that he was dead. He was still everything Ian had come to know those first few days, just that the detail had become better. Ian was learning parts of him that no one could have known. The ghost couldn’t control who he was when he woke up that day. There was some sense that his memory persisted, but it he always at his best the closer he looked to the day, or the time after, being shot.

The fact that he didn’t have bullet holes in him or seem disoriented was like a gift, for both of them, though Ian would always be the one to know the difference.

The pinch of Ian’s teeth made his back straighten. His fingers along Ian’s neck tightened with sex and warning. He helped the chair shift and welcomed the *** on his lap readily. His right hand moved up, catching his hat only to place it on Ian with a smile, accented by the jump of his scarred brow. “You should do it like you mean it.” He was talking about the bite. He was talking about a lot of things.
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