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Found 259 results

  1. Rod_3rich


    The villa of Colonel Achilles Graves was in an unusual state of uproar. At least a dozen members of the Anatolian police were spread around the villa’s front porch with their automobiles parked all over the snow covered yard. The officers, thickly clad in large woolen overcoats, were busy taking statements from the guests, while a small group of officers were leading away three of the guests. Various emotions were displayed on their faces, from miserable to murderous rage. Their paws were cuffed on their backs as they were escorted towards the awaiting automobiles. One of them, a tiger, had to be restrained by three of the officers as he kept struggling against their grip. The feline was heavily bruised, bloodied, and had lots of cuts on his face. He snarled and tried to fight his way out twice and nearly succeeded until a boar officer went in and helped his comrades to shove the offending tiger into the police van. The master of the house, the distinguished Colonel Achilles Graves, looked weary as he answered a few questions from the tall and shrewd labrador. The golden bands on his uniform indicated that the canine was the lead inspector. There was an air of relief in the black panther’s features as he answered yet another question. “...yes, exactly. If it wasn’t for detective Cross’ quick action, that tiger would have succeeded in his attempt to stab me.” He answered. “I see.” The inspector nodded, hastily scribbling the colonel’s words on a notebook. He hummed as he thought his next question. “What can you say for Mr. Nikolai Vasilyev? I understand he’s your guest. However, he wasn’t on your guest list.” “Oh, young Vasilyev. He was standing in for his uncle, Admiral Vadim Vasilyev, who had fallen ill and couldn’t come. The admiral and I had gone a long way back.” The inspector made a long, drawn out hum. “Ah, that makes sense I suppose.” “Vasilyev helped to restrain Rogers when detective Cross was struggling to restrain him.” The colonel added. “Furthermore, without his help, that damned tiger and his accomplices would have managed to steal some valuable information.” “Did he now?” The labrador’s eyebrow rose Colonel Graves gestured to the two felines who were being interviewed by another police member several feet away. “See that they had sustained a number of cuts and bruises?” “Mmm…” The inspector continued to ask several more questions to the colonel, before he nodded in satisfaction, and signaled for his subordinates to move. Breathing a sigh of relief, the black panther turned to the cougar who was making his way towards him. Trotting directly behind the cougar was a male lynx. Both were draped in long, heavy coats and scarves wrapped their necks. “I really cannot thank you enough for your help, Mr. Cross… I am forever in your debt.” He said to the cougar. Detective Leonidas Cross, or Leon as he liked to go by, gave a dismissive wave to the panther before he brushed off the snow that had accumulated on the top of his hat. A small smile was etched on his bruised face. Indeed, the feline looked slightly worse for wear after the small brawl earlier that evening. “Anything for an old friend, colonel. The worst is behind us with Rogers gone.” He nodded towards the tiger who was glaring balefully at them through the windows of the police car. “I think you can sleep well now without anything burdening your mind.” The detective added, pulling the coat closer around himself. “I suppose.” Colonel Graves exhaled, watching as the police shoved the bound tiger into the car and slammed the door. “Still, I hadn’t thought it was Rogers of all people…” Cross gave a comforting pat on his friend’s shoulder. “At least Mr. Vasilyev was kind enough to subdue Rogers and recover the stolen plans.” The entourage of police and their cars soon drove off, leaving the villa back in its relative peaceful state once again. With the police gone, so was the excitement. The guests and servants slowly trickled back into the villa. The colonel, Cross, and Vasilyev soon followed the others, walking side by side as they headed into the warmth of the colonel’s villa. “All clear with the police?” Cross turned his question to the lynx as he handed his coat and hat to the butler who was standing helpfully by the door. Nikolai Vasilyev looked worse for wear. His face bore a few scratches, some were bleeding openly, and his dinner jacket was in disarray. However, the feline’s expression was one of immense satisfaction. “I’m all clear once I showed them my identification and papers. Good thing the good sergeant can read Cyrillic.” The lynx voiced with a small grin on his face. His voice bore almost no traces of his Rosvenian heritage. “I must apologize for deceiving you both however. It was imperative that my real identity was to remain hidden for my mission to succeed.” Cross nodded. “Yes of course. And we’re grateful that you’ve recovered what had been stolen, aren’t we, colonel?” “Hmm? Oh, yes.” The colonel nodded, absentmindedly caressing the folder that was pinned under his arm. “The Avalorian army is grateful for your help, Mr. Vasilyev.” “I’m just here to help.” The Rosvenian agent gave a small chuckle. “Well, I don’t think any of us is ready for bed now.” The colonel continued. “There was too many excitement for the night.” With the expressions of agreement from the two feline companions, he continued, “Why don’t we retire to the library for the time being?” The library, which had been used by Cross to confront Rogers of his motives early that evening, had been efficiently tidied. Looking at the room now, one would not expect that a brawl had taken place inside the richly paneled and thickly carpeted room. The servants had tidied the books back to their respective shelves in an orderly manner, the seats and chairs rearranged back into their prior position, and the colonel’s writing desk had been returned to its original, upright position by the tall windows. There were several blotches of ink on the carpet from the bottles that had shattered when Rogers slammed Cross to the desk in an attempt to escape, but the ink stains would wash off, hopefully. As the two felines made a beeline to the fireplace, the colonel went over to pour them whiskey from the side table, which had been thankfully untouched during the confrontation. “Thank you, Colonel.” Vasilyev nodded at the panther gratefully and drank. Colonel Graves went to take the spot beside the cougar detective. “So, you will be returning to Rosvenia soon, Vasilyev?” Cross inquired, sitting on the nearby velvet settee. “Since you’ve completed your objective here and whatnot.” “In a few days.” The lynx nodded as he sat to the adjacent settee. “I’ll be taking the train straight to Pierrograd,” said Vasilyev. “My services would be needed with how the country is at this moment… What about you, Mr. Cross? You’re from the Hesperian Federation, aren’t you?” The cougar took a big gulp of his whiskey before replying. “Yes, yes I am. I’ll be taking the train home, all the way to Valmagne-sur-Mer in Gallia. From there, I’ll take the connection to Kingshaven by ship.” “Sounds like you’ve got a long journey ahead, Mr. Cross.” Vasilyev sipped his whiskey. “Which train are you taking? The Continental Express?” Cross shook his head. “I’m not sure yet, but I’ll either take that or the Nightliner Limited back. Whichever won’t deplete my wallet.” He added with a small dry chuckle. “Why not the Mercurius Express?” Colonel Graves chimed in. “It’s the fastest, and not to mention the best train in all of Ivoria. Takes just four days to travel from here to Gallia.” “That’s true, right there.” Vasilyev agreed. “I’ll be on that train myself. Fine meals, cocktails, and not to mention, charming travelling companions.” The lynx chuckled. The colonel gestured in agreement with his glass. “You would be right.” “However, it’s also the most expensive option for me.” Cross sighed. “I simply can’t afford spend so much on a trip. I’ve used quite a huge amount of my savings to get here from Hesperia by airship.” He said. “It’ll be cheaper if I take the regular express trains.” Colonel Graves was quick to protest. “Oh, no, no. I can’t allow that. You’ve helped me a great deal, Cross, and I intend to repay the favor.” “Oh, but you shouldn’t—“ “I insist.” The colonel smiled. “I’ll cover for your travel expenses from Anatolia to Gallia. Besides, I’ll be taking the train too, but only as far as Ansburg. We could all travel on the same day.” Cross blinked. “I didn’t know that you’re heading back so soon. Why Ansburg, pray tell?” “There will be a joint military drill between Avaloria and Arlemania, requested by the Kaiser Albert himself.” The colonel replied. “Part of his plan to smooth out relations between the two countries.” Vasilyev hummed. “I heard rumours that the Kaiser is eyeing Princess Alexandrina for marriage. Perhaps this is one of his attempts to soften relationships between his empire and Avaloria.” “Judging from the number of times the Kaiser himself has visited Avaloria, I wouldn’t be surprised.” Cross remarked, sipping his whiskey. “Either way… you will be overseeing the military exercises, am I correct?” He turned to the colonel. The black panther nodded. “Quite right! And what better way to travel back with good company, eh?” He chuckled. Cross fell into a long, ponderous silence, sipping the last drop of his whiskey all the while. “Well then…” he gave a sigh and showed the colonel a small, amused smile. “If you insist, colonel, I would be happy to join you two.” The colonel grinned brightly. “It’s settled then!” He clasped his paws together. “I say why don’t you two enjoy a few days here before going back? Enjoy the rest of the week to recuperate, and then we can head to Hieropolis to catch on the Friday afternoon train next week.” He suggested, standing to his feet. “And to be frank, you two don’t look like you could travel without gaining a few looks.” The other two felines turned and glanced at each other, noting the bruises and scrapes on their faces. Cross chuckled. “Yes… I think you’re right, colonel.” “I could use a few days of rest.” Vasilyev nodded in agreement. “Splendid! I’ll have our berths arranged.” The colonel spoke again. “You won’t need to worry a single thing.” Vasilyev poured another helping of whiskey to himself. “Looks like we’ll have a pretty enjoyable journey ahead of us.” Cross couldn’t agree more. “Looks like we will.” He smiled at the lynx, and asked to refill his glass. * * * Richard Caine took a large drag of his smoke and blew, looking down to the open air palm court from the balcony of his hotel room several floors above. Tables and chairs had been arranged by the hotel stewards so that the guests could dine under the fine, clear night. He could see a few guests had trickled out from the adjacent dining room, clad in dinner jackets and elegant gowns. Some of the ladies braved to bare their shoulders and arms even though it was quite a chilly night. Nights in Misarya could be very cold, especially in winter, contrasting to its daytime temperatures. It baffled Richard to no end how extreme temperatures could shift in the desert. The wolverine continued this idle activity of observing the servants and guests for a few more minutes before he flicked the butt of his cigarette and headed back into his room. Closing the doors behind him, Richard went to check his reflection on the nearby mirror, straightening his collar and bowtie, before he went to grab the black tailcoat hanging by the open wardrobe. There came a knock on the door just as he was straightening his dinner jacket. “Yes?” “It’s me, Rick.” Came his uncle’s voice from the door. “Just a second.” Richard went to the door and turned the lock open. His uncle was standing just outside, sporting the small grin that seemed to be permanently plastered on his face. Like Richard, Simon Caine was dressed in a dinner jacket, which was slightly stretched over the wolverine’s large, but sturdily built figure. His salt and pepper hair was neatly combed back, and Richard thought his uncle looked pretty dashing for his age. “Well, well. You look strapping, as always.” The older wolverine smiled appreciatively, before he blinked and made a small gesture with his paw. “Your bowtie is slightly off.” He told his nephew. His fingers were already reaching for the tie. “Do you mind if…?” Richard had a bemused smile on his face as he shook his head. “Not at all.” Simon made a short work to straighten his nephew’s bowtie, and took a few more seconds to make sure the younger wolverine was presentable. “There. Perfect.” Richard chuckled and beamed. “Thanks, uncle.” “You’re welcome!” The older wolverine smiled. “Oh right, these just came in.” He then pulled out several enveloped from inside of his jacket. “Oh?” Richard quickly flipped through the letters and tore them open. The first two was from his alma mater, the Stainbridge University in Avaloria, inviting him for an alumni spring reunion. The second one was a letter from his archeology professor, asking about his recent expedition to the Misaryan Great Tombs. The third envelope was a telegram, sent from a hotel in Hieropolis, Anatolia, dated today, and it was sent just about an hour ago. The name of the sender was his friend, whose letter Richard had been waiting for a few days now. Opening the envelope, Richard’s eyes fell to the neatly printed letters which read, ‘FOUND NEW INFO ABOUT THE BOX = OLD BIRD KEPT ASKING ABOUT THE TRINKET = WILL HEAD TO AS-QAIR & MEET YOU AT THE HOTEL IN TWO DAYS’ “Was that from Warren?” Simon inquired when Richard folded the telegram back to its envelope. The younger wolverine nodded. “Yeah. Sounds like Trent had finally found a lead on our nifty little trinket here.” He said, turning his head slightly to the corner of the bedroom. “Oh, really?” Simon hummed. He followed his nephew’s line of gaze, looking at the large, solid black trunk nestled right next to the end table. It was heavily secured by three locks with a combination number on each lock. Opening them would also require a special key, which the two wolverines always kept on themselves. Getting that little souvenir from the Great Tombs had been quite the grueling task, and not to mention the permits they had to apply to get it shipped across the country. The ancient and valuable trinket they found held a few surprises… if not shocking. Richard didn’t want to risk it being lost or stolen after all the trouble he and his uncle had been through. Especially not when their client had promised a large amount of payment for that artefact. “Well any information about that strange box there would be good. What did he say?” Richard shook his head. “Nothing, really…” He handed the envelope to his uncle. “He said he’d meet us here in two days, and that’s all.” Simon hummed as he read the letter. “Looks like your client is getting more impatient to get his souvenir.” Richard let out a soft snort. “Ainsworth is too impatient for his own good. We’ll give him the box when he’s given us the payment.” “Of course, boy.” The older wolverine chuckled. “Well, let’s head down. They’ve rang the dinner gong a while ago.” Nodding, Richard went to lock every windows and doors before he followed his uncle to the hallway outside. Simon’s paw was on Richard’s shoulder as they headed for the elevator lobby, pulling the younger wolverine close. The elevator brought the two down to the ground floor and they made a beeline towards the dining hall just off to the side of the lobby. The magnificent hall, two stories high and lined with windows on two sides, was already filled with guests. The orchestra was playing a lively waltz to which several couples were dancing to on the marble lined dance floor. Wall to ceiling glass doors opened to the palm court outside. It would seem most of the guests wanted to enjoy some fresh air tonight, Richard noted as he and his uncle were shown to their table by their waiter. They weren’t lead outside, thankfully, but it would seem their table had already been occupied by a single guest. He was a tall, broad shouldered grey wolf with a stern looking face and a predominantly black and white fur, with shades of brown spread evenly along his robust figure that was clad in impeccable set of tails. The wolf’s sharp amber eyes flicked between Richard and his uncle for a moment before he gestured to the empty seat with a flicker of a smile. “Good evening.” Simon greeted as they sat down. “I’m Simon Caine.” “Heinrich Luther.” He introduced himself. His tone carried the slight guttural, Arlemanian accent. Richard introduced himself as well before he picked up the menu card and looked through the list of food that was offered that night. For some reason, he felt that Luther was scrutinizing him and his uncle a bit too closely. When he went to glance at the wolf, the canine’s gaze was already somewhere else, casually so. It would seem that the wolf was studying a pair of lions who were dancing slowly with the music, Richard thought as he followed the canine’s gaze. Honeymooners, judging by their expressions on their faces. Richard thought that the lioness was very beautiful in her simple, but undoubtedly expensive black dress. An impressive necklace was draped over her neck, consisting of huge, intricate golden beads and beautiful sapphires. The lioness’ husband was also very handsome, with strong jaw, a dazzling smile, neatly trimmed auburn mane, and brilliant grey eyes. His white dinner jacket fitted his athletic frame perfectly. “Those two made a really good pair.” His uncle remarked thoughtfully. “Oh, isn’t she Eliza Baxter?” “She’s Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer now.” Heinrich Luther intoned. Simon Caine regarded the wolf with interest. “Indeed? I didn’t know she’s married. That Meyer is a lucky bastard.” He chuckled. “And she’s a very lucky girl.” Richard remarked, eyes fixed on the couple. “Undoubtedly.” Luther nodded, drinking his wine. “News of her marriage was all over the newspapers in Avaloria for the past week.” “Ah, I see. My uncle and I had been busy with the excavation at the Great Tombs for the past month, hence why.” Richard chuckled. “She’s a big star then?” “I tell you, nephew, Elisabeth Baxter—or Meyer as she is now, is one of Avaloria’s richest women.” Simon Caine explained. “I was well acquainted with her father. Julius Baxter was a brilliant businessman. He also invested a lot on theatres and cinemas at the Cross End. We’ve been to one of his theatres a few years ago, actually.” He chuckled. “Remember, Rick? It was a performance for Wilhelm V.” “Oh, really?” The younger wolverine nodded slowly. “Oh, right, right. That theatre was quite opulent, and I remembered it was quite the brilliant play too. And… did you say Julius Baxter was a brilliant businessman?” He added. “He had passed away two years ago.” Luther remarked in his guttural baritone. “Mrs. Meyer now holds his businesses.” “As it is expected.” Simon nodded, drinking the champagne which had been poured by the waiter. “I heard she’s also a shrewd businesswoman.” The wolf nodded. “That she is. How well are you acquainted with the Baxter family, Mr. Caine?” He asked, levelling his gaze to Simon. The wolverine blinked. “Just quite, actually. Me and Julius were schoolmates. We shared the same dormitory and classes, but never really talked to him that much outside homework and school projects. I’ve also made a few business deals with the late Mr. Baxter, with his obsession on ancient artefacts and such.” Luther nodded with a hum. “I see.” He uttered, before his attention was drawn to the waiter who had come around, bringing another person to their table. It was a male Akita with handsome brown coat with black markings. He looked pretty young, perhaps in his early twenties. However, despite a hint of nervousness tugging on his smiling muzzle, the canine had an air of ease about him, like a well-seasoned traveler. “Hullo. Spencer Calius. Pleasure to meet you.” Richard blinked, not expecting the fluent Avalorian, if not slightly inflected with a hint of an accent, coming from the Akita’s lips. His name itself suggested that the canine wasn’t wholly oriental in his origin. “The pleasure is mine, young man.” Simon Caine shook his paws with the Akita, giving a very wide, if not a rather too friendly grin. Richard nudged his uncle slightly. Simon Caine quickly cleared his throat and toned down his smile. “Travelling all by yourself, Mr. Calius?” “Yeah, I am. I had friends actually, but we parted ways awhile back,” said Spencer. “They wanted to go back to Columbia and I would like to explore the old world a bit more so, we agreed to split up here.” He explained with a shrug of his shoulders. “Understandable. However, it’s rather taxing, travelling by yourself, isn’t it?” Richard went to ask. Spencer hummed. “Hmm, that’s true but it’s rather refreshing actually. I got to sightsee every interesting part of Misarya with my own, leisure pace. My friends could be rather excitable, really.” “Of course.” Richard nodded. “So, you’ve toured the Nahail River then?” “Oh yes, it’s quite the adventure!” The Akita said with a wide grin. “I’ve seen so many interesting ruins and sights. My fellow passengers were quite interesting too. Professors, archeologists, novelists, honeymooners… like those two over there,” he nodded to the Meyers couple, “and uh…” He turned to Luther, tilting his head to the side. “Huh… didn’t we meet on the boat?” The wolf’s response was rather noncommittal. “We might have.” “Ah? Er… alright then.” Dinner proceeded without many comments. However, Richard did engage Spencer in a small discussion about their excavation work at the Great Tombs and what they found. It certainly drew interest from Akita, who had apparently visited the location during his tour down the Nahail. The Meyers had gone to occupy the small table next to theirs, and Richard couldn’t help but admire the couple. They looked truly in love, especially Theodore Meyer. No doubt, his new wife had truly captivated him. However, aside from the cheerful music and the splendid food, dinner progressed rather uneventfully. Heinrich Luther offered a curt “Evening,” before he stood up and left, making his way towards the bar that was outside the dining hall. As the waiter brought out the desserts, Richard watched as two guests rose from the table across the room and made their way towards the Meyers, hand in hand. One was a young lioness with her hair curled into fashionable waves, and the other was a rather boyish looking leopard. Both of them were quite good looking, but they didn’t quite stand out. Richard guessed that they were another newlywed couple, or perhaps recently engaged. He couldn’t be sure. However, the strange, intense expression on the lioness’ face was quite startling for him. “Oh, Eliza! I didn’t know you’re staying here. What a pleasant surprise!” The lioness exclaimed. From the expression on Eliza Meyer’s face, it was indeed a surprise, but far from pleasant. Her husband, Theodore Meyer, also looked quite shocked. In fact, the two lions looked rather awkward meeting this Cathy. Eliza quickly stood up after she managed to gather he bearings. “Cathy! I didn’t know you’re staying here!” She turned her attention to the leopard standing beside Cathy. “Oh, and who is this?” Cathy pulled the leopard by his arm, smiling rather brightly. Too brightly at that. “Zachary Hale. Meet Eliza Bax—I mean, Eliza Meyer. And I’m sure you knew Theodore Meyer?” She nodded her head to the lion. Theodore Meyer nodded wordlessly. He was still staring at Cathy and Zachary Hale, but mostly Zachary Hale, in surprise. “Oh yes. We met a couple of times,” said Zachary Hale. The leopard smiled somewhat shyly at the lion in question. Theodore Meyer gave a small, if not nervous smile. “Yes… we studied at Bridgeford together.” There was an unreadable expression in the lion’s grey eyes, which was reflected by Zachary Hale. However, the leopard turned his attention to Cathy who had continued speaking. “Well, I just wanted to tell you, Lizzy. Me and Zach are engaged!” Cathy practically exclaimed to her friend. “Engaged?” Came the astonished reply from the Meyers. Richard quickly turned away from the conversation, knowing how women liked to gush and gossip, especially when they were going to get married, or during their honeymoon. His attention was completely drawn away the next moment, as one of the waiters came down towards him with a small tray bearing an envelope. “Telegram for Mr. R. Caine.” The uniformed bear announced. “Oh, that’d be me. Thank you.” Richard went and took the telegram from the waiter. He quickly opened it when he read that it was sent by Trent Warren. ‘CHANGE OF PLANS = DEPART MERCURIUS EXPRESS NEXT FRIDAY 5 PM HIEROPLS. CENTRAL STATION = OLD BIRD WILL BE THERE WITH THE GOLD = REPLY PROMPTLY = YOUR PAL TRENT’ Folding the telegram, Richard made a mental calculation in his mind. Travelling from Misarya to Anatolia will take half a day by air. Two if they were delayed by the weather. If they left the day after tomorrow, there will be still time to catch up with Trent and take the Friday train. He turned his head to his uncle when the older wolverine nudged him softly. “Something urgent?” Richard gave a slight shrug. “Well, sounds like it. Looks like we’ll have to meet up with Trent in Anatolia instead.” He said. “Why the sudden change?” His uncle voiced his confusion. “He didn’t say, but it sounds like he found some new leads.” Richard replied, lowering his tone slightly and handed the telegram to his uncle. “Well, we can catch up with him if we take the airship in two days.” “Ah, that’s rather sudden, isn’t it?” Simon remarked. “I suppose so.” Richard sighed and stood up. “I better reply to this telegram, so please excuse me.” He added to the guests on his table. “No problem!” Spencer gave the wolverine a nod. “It sounds urgent so I don’t mind. Perhaps we might even meet in Anatolia later on.” He chuckled. Evidently, he had heard about their part of conversation. Simon smiled rather tightly as he turned to the Akita. “Oh?” “I’ll be going back to Columbia after this. A friend of mine was kind enough to book me a passage on a train.” Chuckling, Richard straightened his jacket and made his way out of the dining room, intend to find the telegram office in the hotel. He was sure he saw one this afternoon, close to the lobby. * * * Several hundred feet above the vast, arid desert of Eravia, a silvery airship was sailing lazily through golden dunes with several dozen passengers housed within its cigar-shaped hull. While not being the largest airships, the Adhara was one of the fastest with the most comfortable, finely appointed accommodations with affordable price. It was that sole reason that Dr. Hector LeFevre took the Eravian airship on his return trip to Anatolia. From there, he would take a transit flight back to his home in Gallia. The badger, short and robust but also unusually tall for his species, was seated by the airship’s small, but cozy lounge. A cup of chilled sweet tea was wrapped around his paw. The doctor’s attention wasn’t directed to the drink or even the view outside the wide, picture windows of the lounge. Instead, LeFevre was fully engrossed with the newspaper before him. It was the international edition of the local papers that had been printed and translated to Gallian. “Là là.” He muttered in annoyance as he read the headline on the third page, which announced that weather conditions in northern Ivoria had worsened. Weather forecast predicted that snow will come down heavily in the next few weeks. All flights to and from Avaloria, Hesperia, Gallia, Arlemania, Rosvenia, and Norvdal would be canceled until further notice. “Looks like I would have to take the train instead.” He said to particularly no one. “Perhaps you should, old friend.” LeFevre stood, let out a delighted exclamation, and went to give the sabertooth that had been standing right behind him a friendly hug. “Armand, mon vieil ami!” LeFevre beamed. “What brings you here? Come, come, sit with me.” Armand Förstner was a sabretooth tiger of middle age with a friendly demeanor. A single silver plated false fang was in place of his original right-side fang. His bright brown eyes were energetic and playful as he gave a good-natured slap on the badger’s back (who was a few heads shorter than him) while grinning brightly. “I am here on business, LeFevre. The usual duties of a director: monthly supervision and other nonsense.” The sabertooth replied in his usual, slightly synthesized voice as he sat down. LeFevre could see the mechanical collar that wrapped around his old friend’s neck partially hidden under the feline’s shirt collar. It assisted the sabertooth’s speech since Förstner had his vocal cords damaged during an accident a few years ago. “Ah, you’re overseeing the grand project to connect your train lines from Southern Ivoria to the East?” LeFevre guessed. “You’ve been monitoring the progress in Evaria then?” “Quite right my friend.” Förstner nodded. “Progress is slow, but the Ispania-Misarya-Anatolia-Eravia railway would be completed by the end of next year if favor is in our side.” “And soon your gleaming trains will thunder through the sandy deserts, eh?” LeFevre grinned. “It would be a dream come true for your bosses, no?” The sabertooth nodded with a small smile. “Quite right. Trains bearing the Mercurius Ferroviaire name would soon be rolling through this new route. I’m thinking of naming this route as the Horus-Aerion Express.” “The Horus-Aerion Express? After the Horus Mountains?” The mustelid doctor tilted his head slightly. The sabertooth smiled. “Naturally! The new train route will pass through the mountain range.” He revealed. “The company had decided to extend the Aerion Express’ route from Ispania onwards so I think it’s the most fitting name. This new line will be our most profitable one, I’d wager.” “That is a pretty fitting name, I agree.” LeFevre chuckled. “And I’m sure it will. This rail will link all of your company’s train routes, doesn’t it?” “Why of course!” The two continued to talk about Förstner’s new train project as the day slowly passed, discussing about how the new line would connect all of Förstner’s train services throughout the continent. When fully completed, the Horus-Aerion Express could take passengers from Madrino City, Ispania towards Misarya, and then all the way to Asaddia, Eravia where the train will continue towards its terminus in Hieropolis, Anatolia. “I didn’t get to ask,” said the sabertooth when he and LeFevre were strolling around the glass enclosed promenade deck, “what business have you in Eravia? I’ve never known you’d like to travel too far away from home.” “It was a patient’s request, you see,” replied the badger. “A Gallian diplomat had fallen seriously ill after a trip to the local excavation site. I won’t bore you with the details, but I had to perform an emergency surgery on him. He’s in fine condition now, but I had him sent to Gallia for better treatment ahead of me. He’ll be arriving approximately tomorrow morning in Luciere.” “Ah, that’s good news then.” Förstner nodded. “Still, it was surprising that you would fly all the way this far south.” The doctor chuckled with a nod. “Life can give us some few surprises, yes. Like the news of the cold front brewing in the northern regions for instance. No doubt a telegram informing that my airship to Gallia is cancelled would be waiting for me in Hieropolis.” He lamented. Förstner gave a slight hum. “Well, when airships couldn’t make it due to bad weather, trains or boats certainly can. At least, I’m confident my trains could go through the cold weather with no problem. No problem at all.” He chuckled at that. “You’re heading back to Gallia then?” “Yes I am. I must see my patient, after all.” “And you haven’t booked a berth on a train or a ship?” LeFevre knew where his friend was going, but he humoured him nonetheless. “I haven’t, yes.” “Well then, as the director of the line, let me provide you with a berth on the Mercurius Express, my friend. No, no, it won’t be a problem. It’ll be a pleasure, travelling with a friend, yes?” With Förstner’s insistence and persuasion, the badger doctor finally agreed, much to the sabertooth’s delight. “I owe you, my friend.” He said. “Consider this a debt repaid. After all, you did save my life during the Great War.” Förstner was practically purring pleasantly. LeFevre responded by giving a warm pat on his friend’s shoulder and a small smile. “You flatter me.” He added with a slight chuckle. “You will be joining the train then?” “Oh yes, but only until Obersthaven. I’m personally overseeing that some important guests will have a comfortable journey to Arlemania.” The sabertooth said. “Like Dirk Thorstein, the famous Columbian violinist who’s in this airship with us right now. He and his two friends had just completed their tour, playing for the Eravian sultans. In fact, I think I saw him and his group right there.” Following the sabertooth’s line of sight, LeFevre saw a tall, broad shouldered arctic wolf standing a few ways away, leaning over the promenade windows. He had a rather sophisticated but approachable and charming air. Standing close to the wolf were his fellow musicians, as it would seem. One was a ram whose curled horns caused him to have the impression that he towered over every everybody else, and the other was an gangly, lean, male leopard. All three were in the company of sophisticated, important looking people, conversing about their latest performance and whatnot. However, Dirk Thorstein was talking with a rather unassuming wolf with a predominant dark grey fur. “You said you’re also a violinist, Herr Schroeder?” LeFevre heard the wolf spoke as they walked past the two canines. “Yes I am, but I’ve fallen out of practice, unfortunately.” The grey wolf replied. “I used to have a tutor from the… Ansburg Philharmonic. I am not as good as you, Thornstein, I must admit.” “It takes time and practice.” The Columbian violinist replied amicably. “And a tutor from the Ansburg Philharmonic? Really? Well, I say that was quite the distinction!” “Hmm, where did you say Dirk Thorstein was from again?” LeFevre finally asked as Herr Schroeder replied in a humble manner, adding that his tutor was talented but quite the slave driver. “I didn’t say.” Förstner hummed. “Also, I’m not quite sure. I knew he debuted in Centropolis a few years back and gained prominence in Columbia as a brilliant soloist. He had even toured around the world a few times.” LeFevre nodded. “I heard of that as well. I do believe he has a bit of an accent… Norvdallian perhaps?” “Still have an eye over the details I see!” The sabertooth chuckled. “Well, Columbia is a big melting pot of a country, my friend. One living there could have any strange accents from all over the world.” The doctor pondered his friend’s statement. “I guess you’re right.” He said. “Well then, tell me more about your special guests you have to escort.” “Gladly! We have a few celebrities beside Thornstein. There’s Diana Adler, the famous Cross End actress; and also, Arturo Lazzari, the world-renowned opera singer. I heard he’s going to tour the North Columbian continent for the season… Ah, aside from the celebrities, there’s also Count Viktor Konstantinov and Duchess Natasha Nikolaevna of Rosvenia who will be travelling back to their home. No doubt they would be needed in the royal court with the current political turmoil in their country…” The day quickly turns to night and along came a very satisfying dinner in the airship’s wide, and cozy dining hall. Even though it was somewhat simple, the meal was extremely delectable, thought LeFevre. The badger soon found himself strolling along the promenade once again, intent to get a little exercise after the hearty meal. He couldn’t do to sleep with a full feeling in his stomach. Humming a little tune, the Gallian doctor greeted a couple of passengers who had went to have a nightly stroll just as himself. Most had turned in for the night. The sky outside was calm and cloudless, he noted. Stars shone through brightly in the inky black sky and there’s no moon in sight. It was almost poetic, LeFevre mused as he continued his stroll and rounded through the hallway that would lead to the other promenade on the other side of the Adhara. Just as he was approaching the entryway to the staircase, he heard hushed voices, almost like a lament. The doctor slowed down his steps as the noises became slightly clearer. “I wish I’m strong enough to get through this…” A pause, a light, almost inaudible gasp, followed with a sigh. “You are strong. Why did you ever think otherwise?” “If only I could.” The first voice said again. It was Herr Schroeder’s voice, LeFevre realized. Only, he sounded not like himself. “I just…” “You can, and you will. We’ll get through this… together.” The second voice, which LeFevre had identified as the firm voice of Dirk Thorstein, intoned. “After that… nothing can touch us…” Schroeder agreed softly, before it abruptly stopped. LeFevre turned his head away from the doorway where he had caught a glimpse of the two wolves standing closely under the staircase. Both men seem to be frozen in place, and the doctor could feel their eyes following him as he walked past. “The stars are very bright tonight,” he thought to himself absently as he continued on his stroll, smiling lightly to himself. When he came around to the staircase landing again, the two wolves were nowhere to be seen. Nor the doctor could see the end of their tails in the corridors as LeFevre returned to his cabin on the lower decks of the airship. The sky was clear and blue the next morning, with a blanket of white covered the hilly fields that surrounded the city of Hieropolis. It marveled the badger doctor on how snow could even fall in a country known by its humidity and heat in the summer. During breakfast, LeFevre was reminded of the conversation he overheard last night as he was seated right across Dirk Thorstein. The arctic wolf was alone, while Herr Schroeder was sitting a few tables away, apparently engaged in a conversation with a family of huskies. The Columbian violinist was barely eating his food. Schroeder would occasionally glance to Thornstein’s direction, but the musician didn’t give him any signs of acknowledgement. Within a blink, the grey wolf’s gaze was directed to something else entirely. It would seem that the two wolves were keen not to acknowledge each other today. LeFevre observed that the two men merely gave each other curt, polite greetings as they walked pass by. “This is a funny little drama I’m witnessing.” The doctor thought to himself when he saw the two men standing side by side by the lounge windows a few hours later. None of them spoke a thing, appearing to be very lost in thought. Or perhaps they were just amazed by the sight of the snow covered, sprawling city of Hieropolis that loomed underneath them. Thoughts of the two wolves eluded the Gallian doctor’s mind as the Adhara finally landed at Hieropolis International Airfield. LeFevre was wholly distracted for the next few hours, as he had to mind his large number of luggage during disembarkation. He barely even noticed when Herr Schroeder bumped past him as he and the other passengers descended down from the airship. The Arlemaninan wolf was apparently in a hurry, as LeFevre quickly lost sight of him in the crowd. After getting through the immigration checkpoint and making sure that he had all of his luggages with him, LeFevre found Förstner by the airfield’s entrance. The sabertooth had took it upon himself to escort the doctor to the Continental Court Hotel. Apparently, the hotel was operated by a subsidiary company to Förstner’s train company that managed hotels which would provided quality accommodations for passengers of his train, before and after their train journeys. Perhaps it was a coincidence that LeFevre had booked a room in the hotel in advance beforehand, but he found it really convenient that the hotel would provide a shuttle service to Hieropolis Central Station on the day he and Förstner would have to depart. Not a few hours after he had checked into the hotel, a telegram from the airship company came for the doctor. It confirmed LeFevre’s prediction that his flight to Gallia was cancelled due to bad weather. The sabertooth was quick to book LeFevre a berth on the Mercurius Express when the doctor told his old friend about the news. “The earliest train would leave this Friday afternoon.” The sabertooth had said as he rejoined his exasperated and bemused friend on the hotel’s bar. “You will be berthed in the finest first class compartment onboard, and your expenses will be on me. All in good will of course.” LeFevre’s polite protests fell on deaf ears. “Like I said, you won’t need to worry about anything,” said Förstner with a broad smile. “I had the nuisance of the ticketing and registration taken care of. You’ll only need to sit back, relax, and enjoy your journey back to Gallia.” “If you say so, mon ami.” LeFevre nodded to his friend with a small smile. “If you say so.”
  2. Kindar

    Chapter 18

    The Missing Son 18 When Patrick entered the kitchen, his mother was in the middle of eating her cereal. He made sure there was enough milk in the fridge before filling himself a bowl. "Mom, about the other day," He started, sitting down. "I told you last night, you don't have to worry about them anymore. They said what they had to say and they aren't going to bother us anymore." "Look, that's not what I mean. I..." "Shit, I'm going to be late." She emptied her bowl in the sink. She kissed the top of his head. "Don't worry about the dishes, I'll do them when I get back from work." And she rushed out. He looked at the clock on the stove, it wasn't even seven. His mother normally didn't leave for the bus until seven fifteen. Her transparent attempt at dodging the issue annoyed him. When she came back from work that evening he tried again. "Mom, can we talk?" "I'm sorry Patrick, I'm just too tired. I had a difficult day. I'm going to take a nap, and we can talk later." Her nap stretched through the night. The next two days, he didn't see her, Don needed him at the bar due of being booked for a party on both night, which meant he got home late and She was gone to work by the time he woke up. He tried again when they ate dinner, and she waved his attempt aside. It took all his will power not to scream at her. He realized she was determined not to talk about his father's visit. He could continue pushing and get angry at her, he'd probably snap at some point and say something hurtful, or he could drop it for now and wait until she was in a more receptive mood. After a week he didn't even want to talk to her. Anytime he thought about talking to her about his father's visit, he could imagine her waving it aside and he'd get angry. So, he didn't. He didn't want to be angry her, but he couldn't seem to stop himself, so he did his best to avoid her. If that wasn't enough, as time passed he realized he watched guys more and more. No, he wasn't just watching them. that wasn't right, he'd always watched guys, but now he was studying them. They had been right when they said he'd been turned on seeing naked guys in the locker room. Because of that anytime he watched a guy he didn't let himself look to close, he glossed over them. Now he was paying attention to them. Often, he caught himself looking at them closely. Their arms, legs, ass, and especially their crotch. Fuck, why couldn't he stop looking at guys. He thought he was tantalized because they were covered up. So, he went online that night, after his mom went to bed, and looked at pictures of naked men. He was shaking as he watched them, breathing hard, panting and, he suddenly realized, hard. He shut down the computer and took a cold shower. It didn't help, so he prayed. He forced himself to pray until he wasn't erect anymore. After that he went to bed and prayed until he fell asleep. He woke up with morning wood, like most mornings, and was under the shower, in the process of taking care of it when he realized that instead of just focusing on the sensation, like he'd always done, he was now seeing images of the naked men. With a curse he let go of himself, feeling guilty. He hadn't felt guilt over masturbating since he read up on it at fourteen and realized it was just a biological need and nothing more. But now because he'd looked at those pictures they kept coming back anytime he thought about taking care of himself. He finished his shower quickly, scrubbing himself down harshly, he preferred feeling pain to allowing those images to affect him. His fur felt raw once he had dried off and dressed, then he headed directly out to look for work. He had to stay busy and keep his mind occupied. Not for the first time he wondered where the Sarantos were, he hadn't seen any of them for more than two weeks, that rabbit had been the last time. He supposed it was how things went, when he could use them to vent his anger on they were nowhere to be found, but the moment he'd want some peace and quiet they were going to jump him. He didn't have any luck finding work. His near constant growling didn't help, but he couldn't stop it. The anger was directed at himself and he didn't know how to let it go. He should never have looked at those pictures. When he got home, his mom had already left, and there was a message from Joey asking him to come in the morning. Relieved he would have something to do he ate and tried to read. It didn't go well, but he forced it until he fell asleep * * * * * Patrick arrived at the junkyard in a bad mood because his morning hadn't gone any better than the previous one. Fortunately, three pickups were already there dumping appliances and various other household items in the sorting area. He greeted Joey with a grunt and set to work, picking up the heaviest items he could lift and carrying them to their designated areas. He thought that this would tire him enough he would stop thinking about his situation, but each time he came back to the sorting pile, the guys from the pickups were there too, and he couldn't help watching them. They were Cervids, elks, or maybe caribous, he couldn't tell, The four of them obviously related, with the eldest in his forties, then one in his mid-twenties, low twenties and the youngest probably eighteen. They got along, joking and ribbing each other. At one point the father and the youngest got into a friendly tussle and Patrick stared at them, envying their closeness. He grabbed a fridge and lifted it over his head, moving fast to avoid being toppled over by its unbalanced weight, all the while cursing his mother for robbing him of his chance to experience that closeness with his father. What right did she have to keep that from him while he was growing up. He reached the area where it went and threw it against the others with a scream instead of putting it down. A few of them tipped over. He cursed and got them upright again, forcing himself to remember his mother had done the best she could, the best she knew how to do. It still hurt. When he went back for the next item one of the pickups was gone, and only the guy in his mid-twenties and the eighteen-year-old one were there, trying to move a large industrial oven off the truck's bed. Patrick rushed to them as it started tipping over and the young elk got a panicked look as he tried to support it. Patrick put his back against it and braced his feet, feeling the strain as he took more of the weight. His feet slipped a little then he wasn't moving, and neither was the stove. He glanced to the elk who now had his shoulder against it. "Shit! Matt, you okay?" The one on the truck said. "Yeah, the tiger who works here his helping support it." "Oh thank God. I was scared you'd be crushed." "How the fuck do you think I feel?" the elk next to him grumbled. "Now what?" he asked. "I don't know, can the two of you push it back on the truck?" The elk looked at Patrick, who shook his head. "I'd need to move to get enough leverage," Patrick said, "And if I move I'm not going to be able to hold it up." "If I let go can you hold the weight? I can go get something to brace it." "No!" Patrick said. "If you're pulling your weight, keep at it, we're holding as much as we can. Don't let go." He looked at the office, he thought he could see movement in there. "Joey!" He roared. A moment later the bulldog ran out of the building. "What the fuck's going on?" "This thing almost tipped over and crushed this guy." "Then why the hell are you both still under it?" "Didn't know how valuable it was." "Fuck that, it's certainly not worth more than either of you." Patrick nodded. "Okay, on my mark we get out from under it." The elk nodded and Patrick counted down. As one they threw themselves away, and the other elk yelled in horror as the stove came crashing down. Patrick coughed in the dust cloud and waiting for it to clear before getting to his feet. The entire time the older elk was yelling Matt's name. "I'm fine!" Matt finally replied, then had a coughing fit. "Thank God, I heard conversation, but I couldn't make it out." "Sorry," Patrick said, rolling his shoulders. "I didn't think to warn you." "Hey, you have nothing to apologize for, if not for you my baby brother would have been crushed." "You guys are going to be okay?" Joey asked. "I'm fine," Matt replied. "Okay, I'll go get the loader so I can move that." With that the bulldog left them. Patrick leaned against the stove. Matt and his brother joined him, resting on each side of him. "Thanks," The elk said, shaking his hand. "Without you I'd be dead. I mean it, you saved my life." Patrick shrugged. "Don't worry about it, I'm just happy I was able to get under it in time." The older elk put an arm over Patrick's shoulders. "Hey you saved my brother, that means I owe you, big time." "Yeah, me too." Matt got closer and squeezed Patrick's thigh. "That's Jeff by the way." Patrick didn't know what to say, momentarily overwhelmed by their closeness. Even with a bit of dust in the air they smelled good, manly, and their closeness made him tingle. "Whatever we can do to thank you just say it," Jeff said. "Me and Matt always repay our debts." Patrick smiled, it wasn't often he dealt with people who looked forward to repaying their debts. But then he noticed the hand on his leg, the arm over his shoulders, their closeness. Had Jeff whispered that last part? Oh fuck. The image of the three of them, naked on the bed of the truck formed in his mind, and he found that he wanted it. He shoved them away. "Fuck no!" "What?" Patrick put some distances between him and them. "Look," Jeff started. "No! I don't fucking care what you think you're going to do. I don't want any part of it." "What's the problem?" Matt asked. "Jeff and me just want to thank you." he put a hand on Patrick arms and the tiger jerked away. "Don't you people get that I said no?" he growled. "Now leave me the fuck alone." He grabbed a washing machine and dragged it away. The gall of these people, just because they were fags they thought everyone wanted to have sex with them, well, he wasn't like that. He wouldn't be like that. He screamed trying to drown the voice in his head calling him a liar and threw the machine as far as he could. It fell among windows to the sound of breaking glass. He grabbed a crowbar someone left leaning again a post and Slammed in the closest object, a patio door. He broke anything with reach, yelling the entire time. He Didn't want to be a fag. He was following the Path, he would stay on it no matter the temptations. He wasn't going to let people like them lead him astray. he wasn't going to let someone like his father do the same. "Patrick!" Patrick turned, crowbar in the air and stopped, looking at Joey standing before the loader. "Put the crowbar down," the bulldog growled. "What the fuck is going on with you?" "With me?" Patrick threw the bar on the ground. "They're the ones pushing for me to have sex with them." "What the fuck are you talking about?" "You weren't there. You didn't see them get close to me and whisper about how they were going to thank me." Joey stared at him in disbelief. "Of course, they're grateful, you literally saved that guy's life. But I can't believe they would blatantly offer to have sex with you." "You should have felt them, close to me, arms over me, I could see what we were going to do." Patrick paced and growled. Joey watched him silently for a moment. "Right. you could see it. And you wanted nothing to do with it?" "Of course not!" Patrick glared at him. The bulldog stared back. "Bullshit." Patrick made fists. "Are you calling me a fag?" "Are you?" Patrick took a step toward Joey. "Don't you dare call me that." "Or what? You're going to hit me? Pound me until you feel all macho and tough?" Patrick took another step, but staggered a little, like the words hit him physically. He looked at his fists and then at Joey, confused. "Fuck Pat, you're acting like it's nineteen eighty and being gay is a problem. It's twenty forty-three, for God's sake." "That's the fucking problem. I don't want to go to Hell, but God's already damned me." "Pat, I'm pretty sure God doesn't work that way." "How the fuck would you know? you don't believe in Him." "And you wonder why? Who the fuck follows a god who decided you're already going to Hell even though you haven't done anything wrong?" Joey closed his eyes and calmed himself before continuing. "You're part of a church, do talk to them." Patrick laughed. "Right, because the guy who preaches every week about how God punishes anyone who sins is going to have a sympathetic ear for a sinner like me." "Then go to another fucking church," Joey growled. "Fuck Pat, You need to deal with this. I can't have you here if you're going to be this angry. You just destroyed a couple hundred dollar in doors and windows, so go home." "I can't go home, I don't want to be around that woman." "Then go somewhere else!" Joey cursed quietly. "Pat, go home, find a way to deal with this, because you are becoming a danger to yourself." "Fine!" Patrick grabbed his jacket and ran out of the yard. He hated himself for having talked to Joey like that. The man had never been anything but understanding and helpful, and he'd almost punched him. He ran as fast as he could. Since there was no Sarantos around on whom he could unleash his anger he needed to do something else to burn it off. He pushed himself hard and ran right by his house. He kept going. he didn't slow down when his body screamed for him to stop. he turned around and ran home. When he got there he hurt, but he was too tired to be angry. He took a quick shower and put on an old pair of shorts, old sweatpants that had been repaired often and then turned into shorts. the elastic was dead so he used and old belt he'd found a few years ago, it had been belonged to his father, and it had helped him feel closer to him. He stopped as he realized it hadn't belonged to him. He expected to be angry at the reminded of the lie, but he was too tired. He sat in front of the computer and turned it on. It was old, His mother had bought it when he was nine because the city started offering free internet access. He'd been so happy, He'd envisioned himself playing all the games his friends were playing, but that hadn't happened, He'd forgotten that he didn't have much free time, being busy with taking care of the house while his mother worked two and something three jobs to pay the bills. Now the computer was just too old to play them. He could barely handle the newer version of the browser as he started looking around idly. He wasn't sure why he was online, but then typed 'gay church' in the search bar.
  3. Kindar

    Chapter 16

    The Missing Son 16 "Mister Calmander is here to see you Mister Orr," Alice said on the intercom. Just on time. Damian liked that about his acquisition officer. "Show him in, Alice." The bull entered. Today he was dressed in a sharp Hermmione suit in a dark green that flattered him. Damian did note that it was a little tight around the waist. Jeremy wasn't keeping up with his exercise regimen. Damian stood and extended his hand, "Ah, Jeremy, where do we stand?" Jeremy shook the hand and handed Damian a folder. "The managerial reorganization is proceeding well," the bull said. Damian looked through the list of names while he continued. "We've identified those who just do the bare minimum to keep their jobs and we're looking for the best positions to promote them to. We expect that within a month of their promotions they will be so overwhelmed they will either quit or fail in such a spectacular way we'll be able to fire them." Damian found the one he was looking for, closed the folder and sat. "Good. How about the rest of the employee restructuring?" Jeremy followed his example. "We want to wait until the management situation has calmed down. A month at the most, then we'll inform the employees of the takeover." The bull paused, and Damian could read the coming question on his face. "Sir, why are we doing this?" "It's a good factory. With a few upgrades we should be able to increase productivity." Damian answered casually, knowing that wasn't what Jeremy meant. "People will always need mattresses, Jeremy." He'd learned quite young that people became very uncomfortable around him if he was too perceptive. "Yes sir, I know that. I mean the company paid employee training. That's going to cost us millions and all that's going to do is let them get paid not to work. I can guarantee that none of them are going to bother learning anything." "Really, Jeremy? So tell me, why do you think all those people are poor and stuck working what is basically a dead end job?" Jeremy talked and Damian listened, but didn't pay attention. He has bags under his eyes, not sleeping well. His suit is wrinkled, and smells like it's his second day in it. Not going home? Fiddling with his wedding band. He's been married for twenty years. So it's because it's troubling him. yes, problems at home. He doesn't realize he's pulling on it, but he hasn't taken it off. He's thinking about toughing it out. "So, if I understand," Damian said once Jeremy was done. "You feel that they are where they are because they don't work hard enough. they are lazy and deserves to be where they are." Jeremy nodded. "I see. So tell me, if your marriage were to fail-" "What's my marriage got to do with this?" Jeremy interrupted. Damian's only reaction was surprise. He's getting flustered. He sees my comment as an attack. "Excuse me? I was just throwing a theoretical scenario out there." He paused. "You're married? I didn't know." Jeremy nodded. And he's calm again. with that he believes I didn't know and meant nothing by it. His face showed none of the pleasure even such a small manipulation caused him. I need to find someone to let loose on. Jimmy is nice, but he no longer offers any challenge, and it isn't looking like I'll be taking Adam camping anytime soon. "So, if it were to fail, would it be entirely because you didn't try hard enough? Isn't it possible that some outside forces might be involved? Maybe your wife had an affair?" Jeremy just managed to stop himself from wincing That's what he suspects. "Maybe you did try had hard as you can, but she isn't willing to work with you to save the marriage." Jeremy had trouble keeping his worries off his face. Reluctantly he nodded. "Then, can't you accept that it's entirely possible these people." He tapped the folder. "Might be trying as hard as they can, but just have the deck stacked against them? Look Jeremy, I want to do this because educated employees are much more productive than uneducated ones. Yes, I'm certain that you're right, some of them will see this as a paid vacation, but those people will weed themselves out of the company in time. We're going to be left with people who can do their jobs better. even if they don't learn the skills needed to climb the corporate ladder, they will have skills that will let them improve how they do the work, which will help the factory be more productive. You'll see, this is going to help them, and in return it will help us." Jeremy stood, "Yes sir." He tried to hide it, but it was obvious to Damian he didn't believe him. Damian stood and shook his hand. That didn't matter, Jeremy was good at his job because he followed the plan and didn't let his personal prejudice interfere. Damian sat down once the bull was out of his office. Of course, what he'd said was total bullshit. Something he'd come up on the moment, a good, if long, sound bite. Good enough in fact he was going to condense it, print it and make sure is was distributed at the factory when the employees were informed of the takeover. Something to keep moral high and reassure them they weren't going to lose their jobs in the process. No, the fact that all these people were going to get an education out of this endeavor, a better life, was irrelevant. Only one name in that list mattered, not that he actually cared about her either, but Patrick did, even if he was angry with her at the moment. He hadn't lied to Patrick. A woman like her, steeped in the negative side of her religion, would never accept anything from someone like him. So he wasn't going to give her anything, he was going to set things up and see how far her hard work could take her. His eyes fell on the frame on his desk. It only had three pictures in its memory. one was a picture of him and his brothers, taken when Damian turned twenty one. The other of his nephews, taken on their sixteenth birthday. But the one that always showed was of him and his father. The way things were going he would have to add a fourth one, since it didn't look like Patrick was going to pose for a picture with his brothers any time soon. The one he was looking at was of Damian and his father. He was five, seated on Brian's lap, they were waving at the camera. His smile looked fake, he hadn't perfected how to smile at that age. He didn't keep this picture because it engendered some emotional response. He had it because he had wanted a picture of his father and this one perfectly exemplified what he meant to him. What wasn't visible in the picture was that Brian was whispering to him, explaining why they were waving, why they smiled, helping him behave normally. He smiled at the picture, a smile that could fool anyone, even if it was just an act he put on. Not for the first time, he considered what his life might have turn out like if he hadn't looked in on him that last time.
  4. Kindar

    Chapter 19

    The Missing Son 19 He didn't know what to think. He had no idea there were so many different churches. Sure, he knew about the Presbyterians, the Anglicans, the Jesuits, but the Church of Jesus the Lover? Who claimed that Jesus had been gay. The Church of the Strong, who had Jesus as a lion. And there were others, who didn't claim anything quite so extreme, but who's views on God and how He expected us to stay on the Path varied greatly. He'd always only known his Church, and Father Durony. They'd had visiting priests, but they had espoused the same things Father Durony had. For a moment he didn't know what to think. Had someone else lied to him? Had a priest led him astray? But no, Father Durony had never claimed his was the only Church, he'd never said anything about other churches, Patrick had just assumed they were all the same. He spent hours being amazed at the variety of thoughts out there on God, and how so few of them actually preached an angry God. By the time he fell asleep his head was swimming with various images of God and Jesus. He dreamed of floating, of being held with love by someone he couldn't see but felt familiar. Strong arm, solid chest, deep soothing voice. He didn't know that person, and yet there was a sense of familiarity to him. For the first time in a few weeks, Patrick woke up without feeling like his mind had betrayed him in the night. he quickly got dressed and set the table for breakfast. "Morning mom," he said as she entered. "Good morning Patrick." She sat and he placed two cups of coffee on the table. "How late did you come in? I didn't see you when I got home." "I was already in bed. I was exhausted when I got home and crashed. I haven't been sleeping well recently and it caught up to me yesterday." She looked at him with concern. "Is it anything I can help with? You know you can always talk to me." He smiled and shook his head. "It's okay. I'm working it out." He didn't want to bring it up. He realized that as much as she wanted to help him, his father was a subject she didn't want to deal with, so he was going to drop it. Joey had been right. he needed to find someone else to talk with, and now that he knew not all Churches were as restrictive as the one he'd been going to, he thought he could find someone who would listen to him and not pass immediate judgment. It was a pleasant meal, with his mother talking about the people in the factory and at the diner. She got into the story so much he had to point out she'd miss her bus if she didn't get going. She smiled at him, an expression he saw rarely because of how exhausting her jobs were and hugged him before heading out. He looked online for an hour, searching for a Church that was close enough he could go to it and suited his needs. He didn't want one that would just validate his view. He wanted genuine Church views, but without the fire and the anger. He hadn't found it, but he'd eliminated a lot of them by the time he called the junkyard. "Joey's Junk." "Hey Joey, it's Patrick." There was a moment of silence. "How are you doing?" Joey's tone was guarded. "Better. Thanks for sending me home and telling me to find someone to talk to. I haven't yet, but I'm looking and I think I'm on the right track." "I'm glad to heard that." "Look, I called to say I'm sorry for how I behaved. I had no excuses, and I'll work off the damage I caused." "Don't worry about it, just focus on working through your issues." "No, Joey, I'm serious, figure out how much you could have made off the stuff and I'll work all of it off." "Alright, we'll figure out something." "Thanks." "So, do you think you can work this week? I'm expecting the same guys as yesterday to be back tomorrow. I could use a hand." The elks. Patrick's breathing sped up in worry. Did he really want to see them again? No, of course not, he'd acted like an asshole. They probably didn't think much of him, but he owe them an apology too. "I'll be there." He disconnected and felt better. he'd worried Joey wouldn't want him to work for him anymore. Losing the money would have hurt, but loosing Joey's friendship would have been worse. He went back to his search, spending the day sifting through information. By the time he started on dinner he had a headache, but he had the address for St-Benedict's Church. He'd read their blog and they had balanced opinions. They didn't excuse everything like some of those Churches who tried to be 'all inclusive'. They gave well thought out opinions on where they felt God stood on different topics. It also helped it was only a few hours walk from the house. * * * * * Patrick watched the pickups backup, the beds filled with more large households items. The four elks got out and the two brothers exchanged a glance on noticing him. Patrick didn't give himself time to worry about it. he went to them. "Matt, Jeff, I'm sorry for how I behaved." The father looked at the three of them over the truck. "We'll be there in a minute, dad," Jeff said, then looked at the tiger. "What happened? You seemed fine one moment and then you flew off the handle." Patrick nodded. "Yeah, I was working very hard at not dealing with some stuff. That and what you said sent my paranoia flying. I've started dealing with it." Matt slapped Patrick's shoulder. "Man, I'm glad to hear that, you kind of freaked me out." "Yeah, sorry. It won't happen again. How about we get to it." "Sure," Jeff said, "And we don't have anything that big, so there isn't any chance I'll accidentally kill my little brother this time." They worked in good humor, and the rest of the day went well. At the end Joey tried to pay him. Patrick refused, and they ended up agreeing on half of it. While preparing dinner Don called him and asked him to come in. There was going to be a party at the bar and he needed him to help keep things under control. Patrick was more than happy to help him out. He and his mom could use any extra money.
  5. From the album: [CW: VORE] Swooce's land of eating his friends

    Gustav quickly realised how little space he had in his car, so decided to improvise by using... Swooce This superb art was made by @ghgbn! It was his first time drawing object vore, and he did such an incredible job of it
  6. Kindar

    Chapter 17

    The Missing Son 17 The call had reached him while he was going through the monthly expenses of the security agency he'd bought the year before, just to have something to do. The company had been a mess of illegal operations committed by employees wanted across multiple continents. "Damian," Dominic was crying. "There's been an accident, Dad's hurt bad." "Alright," Damian answered, comparing two pages, money was still disappearing. "Damian, please, listen to me, Dad's hurt. He's at the Memorial, you have to come." "Why?" There was a loud sigh. Of all his brothers Dominic was the one who knew how best to deal with Damian's detached attitude, not that it meant he didn't dislike him as much as everyone else. "He's your father too. He'd want to see you. You can act like you care about him, can't you?" Damian considered telling his brother he had more important things to deal with right now, like an embezzler. but something in Dominic's tone made him pause. "Just how badly is he hurt?" "Pretty bad. I don't know the details, they just took him out of the operating room and he's resting. All the doctor will tell me is that it's serious." Brian would understand if he didn't show, and Damian didn't care what his brothers thought about him, but still, as his son, he would be expected to put in an appearance. "Alright, I'm on my way." "Thank you." * * * * * When he reached the waiting room everyone was there, even his uncles, Bobby and Byron, they were holding each other, crying. Dietrich was in sweatpants and a jacket over his bare chest. He must have been competing close by to make it here this quickly. Dominic hugged him, still crying, and Damian hugged him back. "How is he?" Dominic dried his eyes. "I don't know. The doctor hasn't been back since I called you and the nurse won't let us in to talk with dad." "Why?" Dominic shrugged. "Okay, I'll deal with him, but first what exactly happened?" Dominic breathed in. "I was at the garage, seeing Harry. We'd finished fucking in Dad's office and were just talking in the afterglow when we heard metal break and crash to the floor. We rushed out and one of the lift had broken and the car fell on dad. I called 911 while the others got the car off him." "What was he doing on the floor?" Damian asked. Brian owned the garage, he had twenty employees, he had no business standing anywhere near one of the cars. "You know dad. He loves working on cars. Fuck I should have been keeping an eye on him instead of having fun with Harry." Damian agreed with his brother but didn't say it. He could see it wouldn't change anything, and to say it would hurt him. He'd promised not to hurt his brothers. "What happened next?" "They're raised the car off him by the time the ambulance arrived but we didn't dare move him. He was in bad shape, bleeding a lot, but he was breathing. I rode in the ambulance with him and they took him directly to operate on him. I was so out of it that I didn't think to call anyone. Someone from the garage called Donny. When he and Danny showed up that's when I thought to call you." "Okay, you go sit down, I'll go see him and let you know how he's doing." Dominic crumbled in the nearest chair. Damian stepped to the nurse, a tall gorilla, Silverback, by the gray poking out of the back of his uniform. He stepped in front of the door as Damian reached him and crossed his arms over his chest. "No one's going in." He stated. "That is my father." "I don't care. the doc said he needs rest. No one's seeing him for a few hours." Damian smiled at him. "You are going to let me in." The gorilla returned the smile but bared his teeth. "If I didn't let in that wall of muscle over there, what makes you think I'm going to let you in?" Damian quickly went through what he'd noticed on his way. wedding band, married, well groomed, she takes care of him, but he looks haggard, he has children, young. Damian dropped the smile. "How many children do you have?" The question took the nurse by surprise and he took a moment before answering. "Three." "The oldest, four years old?" "Four and a half." Damian nodded. The look was the same as he remembered on Brian's face while he was trying to keep up with him, Dietrich, Donald and Daniel. "I take it you love your children, and your wife?" "Or course." "Good." Damian looked at his watch. "If you don't let me into the room so I can see my father within the next five minutes, I am going to leave the hospital and drive to your house. Since you have three children and make good money here your wife is at home. You will warn her that I'm coming, but that isn't going to help her. I am going to subdue her, tie her down and then slowly cut up your children in front of her." "Are you fucking threatening me?" the gorilla growled. Damian got in his face. he didn't have to work at making his expression menacing. Dominic had told him that his neutral expression looked like he was a stone-cold killer. "No," Damian stated quietly, "I am threatening your family. You, I will leave here to suffer in the knowledge that you could have saved them." Damian saw the rage flourish in the gorilla's face. "If you lay one hand on me, I will break all your limbs, then I will see my father, and then, I will go visit your family. Think very carefully about what you do next." The anger was replaced by confusion. The gorilla looked at Damian, then around, back at him, the confusion was gone now, replaced by fear. He stepped aside. Damian entered the room. He was assaulted by the smell of disinfectant and the sound of the machines helping Brian stay alive. What wasn't covered by a thin sheet of bandages had been shaved. They had reset both the legs, pins were holding them in place, as was one arm. By the type of brace holding the other arm in place that one had been crushed. Brian's breathing was labored even with the machine's help. His lungs weren't working right. He took the chart and read it. The spine was broken in three places. The operation had been to realigned it and reattach the nerves. Now they could only hope it had been done early enough they would fuse properly. He read the rest of the notes and comments on what else they had found during the operation. He had read the entire medical library out of boredom during his first year at the university, so he understood what the expressions used meant. He'd taken psychology and that had proved so easy he'd gone there looking for something more challenging to read. It didn't look good. Damian felt something at the realization Brian wasn't going to make it out of the hospital alive. It surprised him, because he didn't love his father. He'd never felt anything but respect for this man who had raised him without fear. The only person who had known him and not been afraid of him. For all that they did love him, his brothers were afraid of him. He didn't hold it against them, they were right to be afraid. But Brian didn't. He had seen concern in that man's eyes, worry at time, love often, he could recognize the emotion even if he didn't feel it, but never fear. And Damian was now realizing that meant something to him. "Hey dad," he whispered, standing next to the bed and calling him the way Brian wanted to be called, the one that made him feel like Damian cared for him, even if he knew it was a lie. "Damian," Brian croaked, his voice weak. "How bad?" "Very bad Dad." Brian was silent for a moment. "I'm not making it, am I?" Damian didn't answer immediately. Was this one of those time when it was better to lie? Could he lie to his man? They had promised they would never lie to each other, and Brian had kept up his end. "No, Dad, you're not going to make it." Brian nodded weakly. "Damian, promise me something. Promise you'll look after our family." "I will, dad." Brian turned his head in obvious pain. "Promise me." Damian didn't want to make another promise. He didn't want to bind himself to something as long ranging as that. But Brian knew him too well. He continued looking at him despite the pain. Damian could walk out, He didn't have to say anything. But he owed this man too much. "I promise." Brian let his head settle back. "Thank you. And try not to hurt too many people." "I'll try." At least Brian hadn't made him promise that. He'd promised not to hurt his brothers when he was four, to only hurt people who deserved it two years after that. Another promise like that would have been troublesome. "I think I'm doing to sleep now." "Alright dad." Damian turned to leave, then stopped. He came back and kissed Brian on the forehead. This was the proper son to father behavior in this situation, wasn't it? The gorilla eyed him wearily and Damian smiled at him. "How is he?" Dominic asked, Dietrich and Daniel a step behind him. Donald was seated on the couch, looking after their children, who at eight seemed to be taking it better than the adults, but it was their second death in only a little more than a year. They might have been inured to this by their great grand father's death. Damian only shrugged, before sitting in the first seat he saw. He'd never promised to be truthful to them, and he expected they would be more comfortable believing there was hope. He had to think. If he was going to take care of the family he needed to change his plans. The security company couldn't accommodate what was needed. It would still play a part, but now he needed something larger. To accomplish what Brian asked of him he needed more money, more power. It would have to be a multinational. He couldn't limit his action to a local arena, he was going to have to remake the world. While he thought, he was aware of a code blue in Brian's room. His brothers expressing concern, then relief. They argued, blamed each other for the situation. Sometime later there was a second code blue. Doctors rushed in. There was furious activity in Brian's room, then it was silent. He looked up when he noticed the mass of people leaving the room, and his brothers and uncles entering it. He checked his watch, twelve hours since he'd sat down. He went to the door and looked in. Dominic, who was on the other side of the bed noticed him. "He's gone," was all he said. Damian nodded, looked at the others, who were focused on Brian, and left. He didn't care what people thought. Let them think he was overwhelmed by Brian's death and couldn't tolerate staying here. Brian was dead, there was no reason for him to stay, it was that simple. He had more important things to do. He had to set plans in motion to ensure his family's survival. * * * * * He put the frame back on his desk. Things would have been different if he hadn't made that promise, but they certainly wouldn't have been quite this interesting. "Mister Orr?" Alice called. "Your three O'clock is here." "Thank you, Alice, send Mister Hammer in." Damian leaned back in his chair and watched the fox cross the space to his desk. He still walked wearily, as if at any moment Damian might jump out an attack him. Damian was amused at the reaction, After six interview the man should know he had nothing to fear. Although, Damian supposed, the things he had learned during those conversations could make a less rational man uncomfortable. "So, Nicolas," Damian said once the man was seated. "What do you want to cover in this session." The fox took out his recorder and placed on the desk. He didn't immediately say anything. Damian could see him weigh how badly he wanted answers. Finally Nicolas' face took on a professional air. "Last week, you mentioned you had some sort of interaction with Bannerson Pharmaceutical. I'd like you to go into details about what happened. Damian smiled at his biographer. That had been such a good time. "It started when Bannerson bought farm land out from under me."
  7. Kindar

    Chapter 15

    The Missing Son 15 He'd reached the main road, then gone a few blocks before he started shaking. Fuck, he shouldn't have come here. Why couldn't they have left him alone? He would have happily gone on thinking he was the son of a war hero. Now he was going to have watch what he did and thought all the time so he would remain on the Path. He looked up again, but there was too much light here, he couldn't see the stars. Why did life have to be so complicated? Isn't my life miserable enough, God? I'm doing everything I can to be a good person, why do you keep piling the crap on top of me? He sighed. "Sorry, that isn't fair to you. I know you haven't made me Job. You aren't testing me. It just... Some time it doesn't feel fair." He realized the car had been pacing him for a time. he wasn't worried, he'd have time to get out of the way if it swerved on the sidewalk, and if the driver got out he was going to beat the crap out of him. "Hop in, kid. I'll give you a ride." Patrick didn't look at the person in the car, although he had a sense he was leaning in the passenger side to talk to him "No thanks. I'm just going to the bus stop." "Really? How are you going to pay the fare?" "Fine, I'll walk then." Was the way he was dressed so telling any stranger knew he didn't have any money? "I don't get into some stranger's car." "Kid, I'm not a stranger, I'm your uncle. Now get in. I'm taking you home." Patrick stopped and turned to look at him. the car stopped too and the tiger straightened back in the driver's seat. The door clicked and opened. It was a gray sedan, it looked expensive. The driver leaned toward him again when Patrick didn't move and pierced him with his cold gray blue eyes. "Patrick," he said in measured tones. "Get in the fucking car." Patrick blinked, he was seated in the car and it was in motion. He looked at the driver trying to understand what had just happened. The tiger looked to be the same age as the men in that house. Was he really his uncle? "Who are you?" "My name is Damian." "And you're my uncle?" He nodded. "And you were just waiting there, waiting for me to leave so you could pick me up?" Was he like the others? If he was, he better not even think of trying anything. "Calm down, Patrick. I'm not going to do anything. I wasn't waiting for you, I was just coming over to visit my nephews and saw you leaving. You looked out of sort so I thought I'd give you a ride home. Considering how long it took you to realize I was there, you were out of it." "I'm not going home." "Yes you are. Your mother's been worrying herself to death since you left. You need to take better care of her you know. Not everyone's fortunate to still have his parents in his life." "Why the fuck do I care if she's worried? She didn't give a damn about me when she lied to me." "Most people lie, Patrick. That's how they are." "Do you?" Patrick asked without intending to. The tiger got a thoughtful expression and Patrick couldn't believe he had to think about it before answering. "Yeah, I guess I do, but always with good reasons. Not that you'd know what they are." "Fine. I still don't care. I'm not going home. I'll tell you where to drop me off when we get close to it." Damian didn't reply. he drove in silence for a minute, then he swerved the car into an mostly empty parking lot and stopped. Damian stared ahead for a moment. When he turned to look at Patrick his face was expressionless. his eyes had lost all the gray and were pale blue. They were cold and emotionless. They weren't looking at him, Patrick realized, they were looking through him. he swallowed and tried the handle. "Door's lock," Damian said in a flat tone. Patrick looked for a way to unlock it, but there weren't any buttons. He slammed his elbow in the glass and only got pain for his effort. "Bullet proof glass. You're not getting out of this car unless I let you." The tone, the words, they made Patrick shy back, trying to push himself as far from this man as he could. He remembered what he'd been told about the Orrs having eccentric tastes. He now realized that the few he'd heard might be nothing compared to some. "What are you going to do to me?" Patrick had told himself if this man tried anything he'd beat him up. Now he through he might not be able to do anything to stop him. The eyes blinked, and warmth seem to come back to them. Damian gave him a wry smile. "I'm going to explain a few things to you." He looked at him and the smile widened. "Relax kid. You have nothing to worry about. Not yet anyway." He thought of something and chuckled. "But one day someone's going to tell you about me and you're going to piss yourself remembering this meeting." He got the car moving. "When my father was on his deathbed he made me promise to look after my family. I take my promises extremely seriously. And to be clear, to me it isn't your last name that makes you family or not. It's your blood. So, no matter what you call yourself, you're an Orr. That means I'm going to take care of you." Patrick watched him drive for some time and wondered what he meant by that, but he didn't dare say anything and interrupt whatever thinking that tiger was doing. He'd gone up against multiple gang members over his life and something told him none of them had been anywhere near as dangerous as this man was. "And your mother," Damian said, as if he hadn't been thinking for some time. "She isn't blood, and normally she wouldn't matter, but you care for her, so I'm willing to make an exception, this one time." They drove in silence again. Maybe he'd imagine the danger coming from him. After all he said he'd take care of his mother too. Not that Patrick was sure she deserved it. "What do you mean by 'take care of me'?" He asked after a time, curiosity getting the best of him. "Are you going to shower me with money so I never have to work? Get my mom a house like the one Donald and Daniel have?" He realized he couldn't think of one of them without thinking of the other. Damian laughed, a cold mirthless laugh. "Your mother would spit on anything a fag like me might give her. No, I'm not going to give her anything." He was silent for a moment. "That's not how I work anyway. You need to make your own way in life. You don't appreciate it if you don't have to work for it." Patrick studied this man, his uncle for a moment. "What are you going to do then?" "I'm going to promise you something. I'm going to promise you'll never have to worry about your safety again." Patrick stared at him. "Yeah, I know about them. About how you got that scar." Reflexively Patrick put a hand over his bicep. How did he know about the gang? "They won't bother you again. I swear that to you." "How?" "How do I know? Or how can I promise that? The answer is the same for both questions. I know people. Which reminds me." He pulled a business card out of his breast pocket and handed it to him. The card was plain, with a diamond in the center of it. 'Diamond Industries' was written over it, and 'because diamonds are just coal under pressure' under. Patrick looked at it, read what it said a few times. "You do know that doesn't make any kind of sense, right?" Damian smiled. "Sure it does, kid." He glanced at him. "And something tells me that if anyone ever manages to figure it out, it's going to be you." Patrick stared at him. "Anyway, on the back is the number to my company's recruitment office. Give it to that friend of yours, the one who managed to give you my brothers' address. If he ever gets tired of shady deals and going hungry for weeks at a time, I'm always looking for talented people." "If you know so much about him, why aren't you making the offer in person?" "Come on Patrick, you can answer that yourself." "He doesn't know you from the serial killer down the block. I'm not sure I trust you myself." "That's very wise of you." Patrick was silent for a long time. Considering what this meant. He was offering Rich a job. He was looking for talented people. "You're not offering me a job, are you?" That made sense. No one wanted a dropout like him. Damian didn't reply immediately. "Do you want me to offer you one?" Patrick almost said yes. He'd do anything for a real job, a way to help his mother with the bills once and for all. Well, almost anything he thought as he remembered those eyes, blue and cold. What might it be like to work for a man with eyes like that. What things might he be required to do? He shook his head. "I think I'm going to make my own way." Damian smiled. "Another wise thing you've said." Patrick felt a smile creep up his muzzle. "Although I could use someone to pay my tuition for school" Damian snorted. "Don't look at me for that. that's what fathers are for." They were silent again, for the rest of the drive. When the car stopped Patrick realized they were in front of his mother's house. "How did you know where I live? I never told you." Another wry smile. "Who do you think gave your brothers your address? You go in, your mother's going to be relieve to see you." The door clicked and opened. Patrick stepped out and looked in, holding on to the door. "D... uncle Damian." The words felt strange coming out of his mouth, alien. He'd never had an uncle before. "Why am I scared of you?" His uncle gave him the brightest smile he'd ever seen, but it didn't comfort him, the smile didn't reach those eyes. "Because you are a wise young man, Patrick, very wise indeed." He motioned for him to close the door and drove off. Patrick watched the car pull away, then looked at this mother's house. There was light, so she wasn't at work. He stood there for some time, trying to figure out if he wanted to go in or not. No that was the wrong question, he didn't want to go. The question was, did his mother deserve to suffer for trying to protect him. He sighed, No, she didn't. "Patrick?" she called as soon as he closed the door. "Yes, mom, it's me." She rushed out of her room and hugged him. "Oh my God, I was so worried. You just walked out and I didn't know where you were. Please don't ever do that again. Where were you?" "I just stayed at friends." He didn't return the hug, but he didn't push her away, even if the urge was there. "Looks, about what happened." "It's okay, Patrick. Don't worry about it, those men are gone and they're never going to bother us again. You don't have to worry about them." Patrick almost told her this wasn't about them, but his anger was just waiting for an excuse to lash out at her, and he wouldn't let that happen. He gave himself long enough for his temper to quiet down. "Mom, you're working tomorrow, you should go to bed, I'm okay. I'm not leaving." She looked at him, her eyes were wet. She wiped them. "I'm sorry, I was just so worried they might have taken you away from me." His anger flared. They aren't interested in taking me away. you're the one determined to keep me away from them. But she'd already turned away, so she didn't see the snarl on his face. He headed to the kitchen for a glass of water and to calm himself. It wasn't her fault, he told himself, she grew up in a different time, her parents were pretty stern, not that he got to know them, It had always just been him and her. He wondered if he had grandparents now. Were is father's parents alive? He couldn't excuse her attitude. She'd raised him the same way she was raised, and he was over coming it, wasn't he? He'd gone to see them, asked questions, gotten to know them. And screamed at them before rushing out because what they said made him uncomfortable. How could he be so angry all the time when he was trying to follow the Path, while they seem perfectly happy living in sin? He should ask Father Durony next Sunday. Maybe stepping off the Path, deciding you weren't going to even try to reach Eden again meant you didn't worry about anything else. Was that kind of bliss worth going to Hell? Fuck, he had to stop thinking about that, he was going to give himself nightmares. He drank two glasses of water and headed to his room. He dressed down to his underwear to sleep and lay down. Seeing the frame with the picture of the man he had thought was his father for all his life, he shoved it in the drawer of his side table.
  8. Kindar

    Chapter 14

    The Missing Son 14 Patrick got off the bus, looked around and wondered where he was. This didn't look like the San Francisco he knew. Sure, he knew Old San Jose was where the rich folks lived, but this... He was standing next to an eight-foot wall made of white stone. On the other side of the road was a similar wall, with trees behind it, and in the distance a house. A large house. The people on the side walk were looking at him and he didn't blame them. Fuck, he should just turn around and go back, he had no business being in this part of the city. If he had enough money he'd get on the next bus and do just that. As it was he might as well see this through before walking home. The street he wanted was the next one, and it slowly wound up the hill. After the first one, the houses we no longer walled, but they were all very large and the one with the bright red wall with purple... waves? and yellow awning was rather gaudy. How could he be related to anyone living here? The number he was looking for was on a post next to a driveway winding further along. Next to it was a path, which he took. It was lined with some bushes and purple flowers. He looked up from the flora and stopped. He'd called the buildings he saw on his way here houses, but standing close he now realized how wrong he'd been, this was a mansion. His mom's house could probably fit twenty times in it. Just who the fuck was his father to live in a place like this? The driveway led to the garage, partially inside the hill. He stared at the door. It was bigger than his house, how many cars did they have? And why wasn't this place gated to keep guys like him out of it? Above that and slightly recessed, was the two-story mansion in a tan color stucco. At least it wasn't as bright as some of the other houses, Patrick thought. Then realized how stupid that thought was. so, it wasn't brightly painted, it was nonetheless extravagant. Again, he considered turning around. This was a mistake, but since he'd already made it, no point in leaving now. He forced himself the rest of the way to the door, which was a deep red clay in color. He knocked, then noticed the buzzer. Maybe he should have used that instead? He waited for a moment and was about to press the button when the door opened. The smallest of the tigers who'd shown up at his door stood before him, mouth agape and eyes wide. Patrick didn't remember his name, but he thought he'd been the one to knock on his door. He was bare chested, and well built. Patrick's gaze lingered for a moment on this pecs and biceps before realized what he was doing and looked up at his face. his breathing had intensified, and he couldn't stop a though that the short guy was pretty good looking. He smelled sweaty and wore only sweat pants. Patrick hadn't realized it the last time, but he was one of those dwarfs who was built proportional, he looked like a miniature person. "Hi," Patrick said in the stretching silence. The tiger closed his mouth. "Hey," he said in what sounded like a forced conversational tone. "I'm Patrick, you and your brothers came to my place the other night." The small tiger nodded. "I remember." "Is your dad here?" The guy nodded, took a deep breath and yelled. "Dad! Patrick's here!" Patrick winced and took a step back. For such a small guy he had one Hell (sorry) of a pair of lungs on him. Once his ears stopped ringing he thought he heard people moving about further in the house. Not long after that a man showed up. He too was only wearing sweat pants and smelled sweaty, but there was something else mixed in that scent. Patrick didn't know what it was but his heart started racing. He forced himself not to look at the well-defined biceps and abs. "Thanks Arthur," the man said. He had to be in his forties, but he looked good for an old man. What the fuck was he thinking? Patrick wanted to run away. This was the worst mistake he'd ever made. The man ruffled Arthur's hair and sent him back. then he moved out of Patrick's way. Patrick looked at the large hallway behind them and felt like this was the cave leading to the dragon that would threaten to eat him. Get a grip, he told himself. This isn't a fantasy novel. And even if it was, the dragon always holds answers. And regardless of anything else, he wanted answers, didn't he? The dark cave, he realized what this was. the place where everything changed for the stories' main character. Would things really change for him if he crossed that threshold? It wasn't just the obvious wealth. These were f... what they were and they acted like it was the most normal thing to be. They claimed he was like them. Would going in confirm that? "Are you okay?" the man asked. Patrick realized he'd been fixed in place for some time. He'd made the journey, crossed the wild land to come here. He entered. "Should I take my shoes off?" he asked. The floor was black, polished to the point he could see his reflection in it. The walls were off white, slightly gray maybe? At least it didn't feel harsh against the black floor. There was a mirror on the wall in a gold frame, over a small table. At this point, he figured the frame was actual gold and promised himself he wasn't going to touch it. he should probably avoid touching anything, if he broke something he'd never be able to pay it back. "Only if you want to. Don't worry about getting stuff dirty. We have seven kids, nothing stays clean long in here." Patrick eyed the shiny floor and had trouble believing him. they probably had an army of people keeping this place clean. "If you want to take off your jacket the closet is over there." He pointed to the opposite wall. There was a polished wood door, it had to be solid wood, not the wanna-be stuff the closet doors in his mother's house were made out of. Should he leave his jacket there? was he expected to leave all his close in there? "Is there a dress code or something?" "excuse me?" "You and Arthur are only wearing sweat pants. Is that how you dress here?" The man looked down at himself, as if he'd forgotten what he was wearing. "Oh, no. You just caught us...exercising. If you prefer I'll go put on something more appropriate." "Exercising? like the whole lot of you?" "Yes, it's a family tradition. We like to stay in shape. It looks like you do too." Patrick shrugged, he was muscular, sure, but it wasn't because he worked at it. Working at the junkyard took care of that, as did having to defend himself all the time. But that explained why they were sweaty. He put his jacket in the closet, and it looked like rags next to the others there. "Look, I don't want to offend you, but I don't know which one you are. I wasn't really paying attention when you, or the other one, said your names. I only remember one, are you Daniel?" "No, I'm Donald. And I understand. That meeting wasn't exactly smooth." Donald, so he was the one with the temper, Patrick thought, just like him. "That's certainly one way to say it." "How would you describe it?" Donald asked. Patrick thought about it for a moment. If he was back home he'd never think of using the kind of language that kept coming to his mind when he thought about it, but thinking back on Donald's behavior then he got the feeling he preferred honesty over proper language. "I'd call it a fucking load of shit, blowing up over everyone." Donald laughed. "That's certainly colorful. And don't worry about not being able to tell me and Daniel apart, no one can. Don't be afraid to ask who's who. The kids just call us dad so they don't have to worry about it, but I don't expect you to call us that." "I wasn't planning on it," Patrick replied, harsher than he'd intended. "I understand. How did you find the house?" "I know a guy who's good at finding stuff like that out. I gave him your number." He left it at that. They walked by what had to bed a living room, by the large couches, plush carpet and large entertainment center. Donald hadn't been kidding after all, the place was a mess, cushions all over the floor and one of the chair was tipped against another. A strong scent of artificial freshener came from the room, roses or something. "What happened there?" he asked. "Like I said, we have seven kids," was all Donald gave as an answer. not long after the opening to the living room was a stairwell going up, and after that the wall had frames with pictures in them. not photos, Patrick noted, art of some sort, bright art. They entered the dining room which, again, was larger than his house. At one end of the table, which could seat at least twenty people, was Daniel, with the seven kids seated close to him. "Grab a seat," Donald said and went to sit next to Daniel. Patrick didn't move, watching him. Donald had said no one could tell the two of them apart, but Patrick hadn't believed him. No two tigers had the exact stripe patterns. You could always tell them apart on a subconscious level. You might not know what was different, but you knew they were. Now he looked from one to the other, and realized it was true. Not only couldn't he see any differences, but he felt like he was looking at the same person. He looked at the teens, their arms and chest, the patterns on their furs, the shape of their muscles, ears and muzzle, and he could easily tell them apart. And now he was breathing hard from looking at those bare chests so he focused on the table. Chestnut colored wood polished smooth with years of use. calmer he sat at the opposite end of the table. "I have questions," Patrick stated. "Feel free to ask them," Daniel replied. It was Daniel, right? He was pretty sure Donald had sat on the left. Did it matter? no, it didn't. he was delaying what he'd come here for. "First off, why do you even want me to be your kid? I mean, I'm poor, I live in the bad part of town. I won't exactly fit in here." "Hey, you can fit in anywhere you want to," one of the kids said. Donald and Daniel looked at one another and then Donald? spoke. "It isn't about us *wanting* you to be our son. You *are* our son. That you live here or not, and we don't expect you to, we are still your fathers, but I don't expect we'll ever be your family." "Actually, can you clear up something for me? Exactly which one of you is my father?" They shrugged in unison. "We don't know." "How can you not know?" "We both had sex with your mother, so there's no way to tell." Patrick noticed none of the kids displayed any of the discomfort he was feeling at hearing people talking about sex. "okay, but we can get a paternity test done." They smiled, and even that looked identical. "I don't think that is going to help," the other man said. How the fuck was he going to tell them apart? They hadn't move and he was getting a headache trying to figure out who was whom? "Of course, it will, everyone's DNA is different, so it'll tell us whose genes I got." "just like no two tigers ever has the same stripe patterns?" the other said. Patrick closed his eyes and massaged his forehead. Forget the names, it's the left one and the right one from now on. "I'm not saying we won't do it," the one on the right said, "We'll be happy to, but I don't think you'll get the results you're hoping for." Patrick looked at the other teens. "How do you deal with it?" "What's there to deal with?" said the one who had been in the minivan's passenger seat. Aaron maybe? or Albert? At least he could tell them apart. he'd just have to learn the names. "They're both our fathers, we don't care whose genes are in us." "So long as they are in us," someone said, softer, which elicited chuckles from a few of the others. "Aiden," the one of the left warned. "Watch your language, we have a guest. You know the rules." "Sorry dad." "Next question?" the same one asked. Patrick took a breath, okay, this was the big one. The secret that would change his live. "How do you know that I'm...." He couldn't say it. Fuck, he'd thought he'd be able to say it. He didn't want to say it in anger, not only was it wrong to do so, but he wanted to do what Joey had suggested, get to know them, respect them. Maybe there was a chance the bible was wrong and he could stay on the Path even with being...? They didn't say anything. they gave him the time he needed to formulate it, but eventually he gave up. "I can't say it," he growled. "I'm sorry, but I can't. But you know what I mean, right?" "That you're gay?" the one on the right said, and Patrick felt like he'd been slapped. He wasn't like that. he couldn't be. "Yes, we know." "How do you know that?" he asked through clenched teeth. "Because you're one of us, you're an Orr." "I'm not an Orr, I'm a Sanders!" The teens looked at him with a shocked expression, but the two adults kept their steady gazes on him. He felt like he should apologize for his outburst, but he wouldn't. They wanted to take away who he was. "Sanders is your last name," the one on the left said. "We're talking about the blood that flows through your veins. That's what makes you an Orr. "I could take after my mother." "You don't." "How can you know that?" Patrick's voice broke, and they waited for him to regain his composure. "Somethings you take after your mother, you have her eyes. But when it comes to your sexuality, you take after us. It's always been that way in our family. We always have sons, and they are always gay." "And eccentric," added one of the kids. "Albert," the one on the left warned. Okay, if that was Albert then the other one was Aaron, he was sure of it. "What? It's true." "What does he mean, eccentric?" "Do you mind if we keep that question for after we've answered all the other ones?" said the one on the right. "The answer to it is going to make you uncomfortable, and I'd prefer we go through the ones you have first." "Okay, sure." What could he mean by that? "You had kids, so you're not entirely...." fuck. "like that. I could too." They gave him a sad smile, and Patrick felt his hopes crumble. "We're not bi, we're gay. Yes, we had sex with women, but that was only so we could have children. We could have gone with tubes, but that didn't feel right to us." He paused. "have you had sex?" Patrick felt his ears could start a fire and looked away. When he looked aback the teens were staring at him in disbelief. "The sex was good," the one to the left said, "sex always is, but we were able to perform through will power, not because we felt anything for them. We're virile men, even as old as we are." "Speak for yourself, I'm still young," said the one on the right in a failed attempt to break some of the building tension in the room. "Like I said, we're virile," the one on the left continued, "and yes, if we set our mind to it we could have sex with a woman, but we wouldn't want it. we want men, that's what makes us gay." He paused. "That's what makes you gay." Patrick closed his hands into fists. he didn't want to be angry at them, he really didn't want to, but he didn't want to hear this. "Fine, but I don't have to do anything about it, right? I don't have to act on how I feel." "What?" Aaron exclaimed. "Why would you ever not want to have sex with another guy?" "Alexander!" "But dad?" "Enough!" "Yes dad." Alexander looked at the table. Patrick continued to control his anger, but he could tell from the whispers that Alexander's opinion was shared by the others. What was wrong with them? Man didn't sleep with Man, it was a sure way off the Path. He forced himself to take a mental step back. Okay, he could accept, for the sake of the argument, that the desire wasn't the work of the devil, that it was genetic, like a lot of people claimed. But they also claimed that fighting was genetic, ingrained in us from century of evolution. it didn't mean that was something he should do. He wouldn't act on how he felt, that was final. That resolved he went to ask his next question, but nothing came. He knew he'd had more of them, but he couldn't think of them. He glanced in Albert's direction. Might as well get that over with. "What's the eccentric thing about?" The men sighed, but the teens looked up, excited. "We did promise ourselves we wouldn't lie." The one on the right said. "Yeah, we did." The one on the left took a deep breath. "okay, on top of being gay, Orr men have eccentric tastes." "What does that mean?" They looked at each other. The one on the left nodded and the one on the right continued. "As an example, me and Donald, we like to tag team our partners. It isn't a fetish, it isn't something we need to do to reach orgasm, but given the chance, it is how we prefer doing it." "Aaron likes them old," Albert said. "What's wrong with liking mature men?" Aaron countered. "with wrinkles." Albert shuddered Patrick swallowed. "okay, I think that's enough." "Adam likes them married." "Enough!" Patrick stood his weight was on his hand and the table was holding him up, he was shaking. He couldn't tell if it was fear of anger. "What's wrong?" someone he didn't know the name of asked. "You were right, this is making me very uncomfortable, so I'm going to leave." "But we haven't showed you!" "No!" Patrick slammed his palms against the table. "Look, I came here of my own free will. I asked for answers, so as much as I want to be angry at you all, I have no right. But. I. Really. Don't. Want. To. Be. Here. Anymore." "I understand," one of the man said, "Arthur, why don't you escort Patrick to the door?" "Yes dad." Patrick started walking, barely aware of the small tiger next to him. He grabbed his jacket and the door was already opened by the time he had it on. He walked out. "Patrick?" Patrick felt the motion close to his arm and he thought Arthur would grab him, but he didn't. He stopped, but he didn't turn around. "I'm sorry we made you uncomfortable. I hope you'll visit again." "I don't know." Patrick looked up, there was so little light pollution here he could see the stars. He tightened his jaws. "No. I won't." He thought he heard sniffling as he walked down the path to the road.
  9. Kindar

    Chapter 13

    The Missing Son 13 "Sanders!" Don yelled over the crowd before throwing the key to Patrick. "Alright everyone. This is the last call. Order up and enjoy." Patrick locked the door and then sat at the bar. The place was very crowded and they were loud. He was getting a headache from that and not getting enough sleep. He only spent one night at Zach's place, somehow his dad had learned about Patrick being there and he'd exploded. Patrick wished he'd been there so he could have taken the blunt of the anger. On Thursday he'd slept on Max's couch, the poodle was a guy he'd gone to school with, and who had stayed in touch with him after Patrick had left. Max was on track to get out of the neighborhood, he was graduating in the spring and had been accepted at Berkeley on a football scholarship. Of the few guys he still knew from school he was the only one getting out. Max couldn't let him crash over the weekend because of how late Patrick worked, so he'd used the cot at the back, and hadn't gotten much sleep. Mary brought him an orange soda, and he sipped it while keeping an eye on the customers. the last drink could make some of them forget themselves and become a nuisance and he'd have to escort them out, but tonight, for as noisy as they were, they were well behaved. Finally, the last one left, it was almost three, and Patrick enjoyed the quiet through the ringing in his ears. He reached over the counter and dropped his soda can in the garbage. Fifteen minutes later Mary hugged him before leaving and handed him sixty dollars. "Here's your pay," Don held the hundred twenty for the weekend. Patrick looked at it. "Can you hold on to it for me? I'm not comfortable walking around with that kind of money." "Then put it in the bank." Patrick stared at the panda. "To have a bank account I'd have to keep money for more than a couple of days. My mom opened one for me when I was a kid, I found out they'd closed it for inactivity when I started bouncing for you. Normally I give most of it to my mom." "You're not giving this to her then?" "Why should I?" Patrick snapped. "If she thinks so little of me she had to lie about my father why the fuck should I give her my hard-earned money?" Doc took a step back and raised his hands in surrender. Patrick sighed. "Sorry." "Still angry at her then." Patrick nodded. "Yeah, I can hold on to your money till you need it. You'll want to get a bank account if you're going to be keeping it. I mean I don't mind doing it for you, but I can't give you interest on it." "I'll do that tomorrow." "Good. I'm closing up. are you sleeping in the back?" "No. Thanks for the offer, but that cot is a health hazard. I made arrangement with a guy I know. I'm heading there directly." "You need a ride?" "No, thanks. I need the walk to clear my head." Don accompanied him outside and they went on their separate ways. Thinking about his mom had gotten him angry again, and had brought his father to the surface again, both of them, the fictional one and the real one. Thinking about who he had believed his father to be made him ache, he'd imagined so much about him he hated knowing it had been for nothing. Thinking about the real one made him long to know what it was like to actually have a father. It was why he'd called Rich before work. Richard Zilescky was a rat he'd met a few years before when he turned a corner and walked in on him being beaten up. He'd chased his attackers away and helped him to his place. He was a few years older than Patrick, another school dropout, but he was pretty smart, he'd taught himself programing and now he did hacking work for the gangs. He knocked on the door. Rich had a ground floor apartment in a converted house. The curtains parted, closed and then multiple locks turned. the door opened and a thin white rat pulled him in and hugged him. "Man Pat, I never thought I'd get to return the favor and help you out." "Thanks for letting me crash." "Hey, man, no problem, Mi Casa and all that. I never thought you'd ever call and ask for help, usually you're just checking in on me. Hell, when I gave you my number and you didn't put it in a phone I thought you'd just brush me aside as a good deed. I can't believe you remembered it from me just saying it once." "You said it once, and I told it to myself a hundred times while I helped you here. You sound like you're working on something, don't let me interrupt, just tell me where you want me to crash and when you want me out." "Yeah, I'm working, but it can wait. I guess I'm hyper, I've been drinking espresso all evening." "It's four in the morning." "Is it? really? Wow, I guess I've been at it longer than I thought, I must be close to being done then. I can't wait to be done with than and get paid." "Just tell me where to sleep." "Oh, just take the stuff off my bed and stretch out there." "Where are you going to sleep?" "Me? oh, I'm not sleeping, I still have work to do. I'm probably going to be going for hours and hours. I have plenty of espresso in the machine. I'm good, thanks." "Okay, when do you want me out?" "Do you have to be some place? I mean it's okay if you do, but if you don't you can stay here, as long as you want. you said you had problems at home, right? that was you, right? Yeah, it was. So, you can stay here until that's fixed. Don't worry about it, I owe you a lot more than that." Patrick hid a smile. "Okay, I'll go crash then." The bedroom was the first door he saw. In the living room Richard was typing on a keyboard so fast Patrick couldn't make out the individual key stokes. Across the hall was the bathroom. He used it, then took the electronic parts off the bed to make space. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow. * * * * * Patrick came awake as he felt someone against him. He'd turned in his sleep, he realized, and pressed against the guy next to him. Patrick had a moment of horror when he thought he'd gone to bed with another guy, then realized he was still dressed, and that it was Rich next to him. The rat had come to bed once he finished his work. Patrick carefully got out of bed to avoid waking him. Made a stop in the bathroom, then headed for the kitchen. It was a mess, cans of energy drinks everywhere, dishes piled up high in the sink and takeout containers on the table, and counter, so old Patrick worried they would attack him. The clock on the stove said it was seventeen hundred. That couldn't be right, the sun was coming in from the living room, and that was to the east. The clock on the wall said it was twelve twenty-five, that was more reasonable, but then he realized the seconds hand wasn't moving. Well, unless he was planning on going out to look for work the time didn't matter, and he couldn't do that. He needed to talk with Rich once he got up. To pass the time he decided to clean the place. He filled three garbage bags in the kitchen and two in the living room. There, the computer clock told him it was ten fifty-eight. He was in the middle of doing the dishes when Richard stumbled in. He blinked at him, considered something, then nodded. "Right." he looked around. "You didn't have to clean the place, Pat." He pulled the fridge open and took out an energy drink, which he downed. "I had nothing else to do. Should you really be drinking that? you just woke up." "Got nothing else until I get paid. Didn't you look in the fridge?" He sat at the table and looked at the top like it was the first time he's ever seen it. Considering how much stuff had been piled on there it was a distinct possibility. "Not my place. I didn't open anything except under the sink to get the garbage bags." He took twenty out of his pocket and put it on the table. "Here, buy something to eat." "Shit man. I can't take your money. I already owe you my life." "Would you take it if you did a job for me?" "What kind of job?" Patrick took out the card Daniel had given him, it was blank except for a hand-written number on it, and handed it to Richard. "I need the address that goes with this number." Richard took the card, looked at both side of it. "Who's is it?" "My father," Patrick replied after a moment. Richard nodded. "He owes you child support?" "No, nothing like that. I just want to talk to him. I guess I don't feel comfortable doing it over the phone." "Sure. You do know you can get that info by doing a reverse lookup, right?" "Sure, but you can use the money." The rat chuckled. "Okay, I'll do it. Shouldn't take more than a minute to get your info. Hell, Starting the system is going to take longer." "Alright. I'll go out and get myself breakfast while you're doing this." "Get me something too. There's a fast food place two blocks that way. Get me a number two combo, and that'll be my fee for getting the address." "are you sure that's enough?" "For a minute's work? that's plenty, and I finished my previous job so I'll be getting paid later today. I'll be able to fill the fridge then," "I'll be right back then." * * * * * Patrick returned fifteen minutes later and Richard was still at the computer. "Food's in the kitchen when you're done." He sat down, said a silent prayer then ate. He was in the middle of his second breakfast sandwich when the rat sat down. "Okay, who is he, really?" Patrick looked at him questioningly. Richard put the card on the table and slide it toward him. "Who is he?" The tiger swallowed. "He's my father." Richard studied him for a moment. "Okay, but 'who' is he? He is a spy or something?" "What? of course not... I mean, I don't know what he does for a living. I've only met him once at this point." "It was a lot harder getting the address then it should have been. I wrote it on the back. Nothing came up on the reverse lookup. Even the sites that hold private numbers didn't have anything. I had to hack the phone company to get the information." "Is that going to get you in trouble?" Richard chuckled. "Nah. Their security's decent enough, but it was nothing for me to slice through it. They don't even know I was there." Patrick turned the card over. "Can I use your computer to figure out how to get there?" "Sure. I'll go get it. It's on the south side of the city, in the Hills." While Richard was in the other room Patrick went through the money he had left. forty-eight and change. It had been a while since he'd looked at the cost of tickets for the busses, but he through eight dollars was enough to cross the city. Realistically he couldn't walk across the city. Not if he wanted to get there in a reasonable amount of time. "Here." Richard handed him his phone. It was a large black model with a homemade casing. Patrick took it and looked it over before raising his eyes to Richard. "I added a few things to it. I don't like that the government can track it or listen in to my calls. If you want I can do the same to your phone." "I don't have one." Richard didn't have as many programs on it as he expected. "Really? I can get you one, if you want. Wouldn't be as powerful as mine, but I don't think you need something that can slice through the city's security." "That's okay," Patrick said, starting the mapping program. He put in the address. "I can't afford a phone plan." It was pretty far. In the Saratoga Hills, just outside of Old San Jose. It would take a good part of the day to get there, but at least he'd remembered right. It was only six bucks for the trip, but a lot of transfers. He looked up. "Sorry?" "I said, I can get you a plan that wouldn't cost you anything." It took a moment for Patrick to realize what Richard was talking about, phone, right. Free plan? that could work, except. "That wouldn't be legal, would it." Richard shrugged. "Who's to care if they don't know?" "Thanks, I appreciate it, but I'll pass. I've lived this long without a phone. I'll be fine." He wrote down the list of busses he'd have to take on the card and stood. He put forty dollars on the table. "What's that for?" "To pay for the work you did." "I told you breakfast would cover that." "That was when you thought it would just take a minute. It was harder than that, so you deserve more. Look, just take it, Rich. Get some food, you look like you haven't had a decent meal in ages." Richard chuckled. "I guess I owe you again." Patrick shrugged. "I'm not keeping score. I'll probably be back late again. is it going to be a problem?" He'd have to walk back. "Nah, I don't expect to be working, but I never go to bed early anymore." "Thanks again for letting me crash here." He squeezed Richard shoulder on his way out.
  10. Kindar

    Chapter 12

    The Missing Son 12 Patrick wanted someone from the Sarantos to show up, as he walked hard toward... He didn't have a destination in mind, he just needed to get away from his mother and her lies right now. He'd have to figure out something soon, if only because he needed a place to sleep, but right now he was burning energy, and spoiling for a fight. His expression kept the people on the sidewalk from accosting him, and no gang member caused trouble. Why couldn't they be there when he actually wanted them around? Instead of making his life miserable the rest of the time? Brooding on the gang kept him from thinking about what those two men had said. Eventually he had to slow down, his legs were hurting from the forced pace, and he was hungry. That he couldn't do anything about, He'd given his mom all his money. He should have kept some. Hell (sorry) he should keep what he made. It was his money, not hers. He looked around, where was he? He didn't recognize any of the store fronts, nor the intersection he was at, Alida way and Country club. Okay, he'd walked longer than he thought. The area certainly looked better than his neighborhood. It took him a few tries before he got someone willing to give him directions to Don's Cup. The first people he tried to approached looked at him once and walked faster. Eventually a woman, a sheep, cautiously let him approach and she pulled out her phone to find the bar. Okay, he definitely was further than he expected. He thanks her and started walking, keeping his pace reasonable this time. The bar only had a few people there, even for a Tuesday it was a slow evening here. Mary smiled at him. "Pat, I didn't know you were working tonight." "I'm not, I just need to make a call. can I borrow your phone?" "It's in my bag, in the back. Once I've served these beers I'll go get it." "I'll handle it," Don said, suddenly standing next to Patrick. for a large man he could move quietly at times. "Come on, you can make it in my office." Once there the panda handed him his phone, and it took a moment for Patrick to find the call function among all the others on it. He thought, as he entered Zack's number, he had to be the last person left who memorized numbers, everyone else relied on their phone to keep them. "Hello?" "Hey Zack, it's Pat." "What's up?" "Can I crash at your place tonight? Had a fight with my mom and I don't want to go back home." "Yeah, sure. but you're going to have to be gone before seven in the morning. That's when my dad comes back and you know how he is about my friends spending the night." "Won't be a problem, thanks. I'll be there in twenty." That was tonight taken care of. "You okay?" Don asked. "You want to talk about it?" "No, I don't want to talk about it." Patrick forced a breath to calm himself, he'd almost snapped at Don. "I'm okay, just stuff with my mom." The panda nodded and motioned for Patrick to follow him past the store room. Don opened the door next to it, just before the back door that led into the alley. it revealed a small space with a cot. "I set this up a couple of years ago when me and the wife went through a rough patch. Haven't used it since, but never needed the room for anything." Don took a key off his keychain. "That's a key to the back door. If you need a place to crash feel free to use it." "I can't do that," Patrick protested. "Bullshit. You work for less than I'm legally required to pay you and you don't bitch about it, and you do a good job bouncing." "I don't need the money that badly." Patrick said, even though that wasn't true, but he didn't want Don to feel like he had to do this. "Fuck you can be stubborn." He put the key in Patrick's hand. "Take the fucking key. You're in a rough patch, make use of it if you need it." "Okay, thanks." He added the key to the ring containing his house key. "I better get going, I don't want to keep Zack waiting." * * * * * Patrick was taking lamps out of a pile of them as the Ocelot pointed them out. She wanted something antique looking, ideally from the nineteen-nineties, So Patrick was treading on the treacherous ground made by those lamps. Lamps weren't worth much so Joey only had them thrown in this pile. they were all broken in some way because of that, but it didn't stop her from excitedly pointing to one and then another. Over thirty minutes Patrick brought her eight lamps, all of which she loved. She hated having to choose only one of them. He pointed out the her that if she wanted all of them, Joey was sure to be happy to give her a great deal on them, just to be rid of them. She was brimming with joy and had him bring them all to her car. Joey asked for forty bucks and she happily paid it. "Come on in," Joey said, after she'd left. He sat at his old desk and reached in the older fridge behind him. He pulled out a beer for himself and a can of orange soda with a deli sandwich for Patrick. "Okay, what's going on? You were at the gate before I got here and you said you didn't mind working for free. You've never been someone who requires a lot of money to work, but I've never taken you for the kind to give away the work. So, what gives?" Patrick took a bite of the sandwich and a long swallow of the soda to give himself time to formulate an answer. Unlike with Don, he didn't mind talking about this with Joey. There was something comfortable about the bulldog in his ripped, dirty, jeans and grime covered t-shirt. "My mom's been lying to me about who my father was. He isn't the war hero she told me. he isn't even dead. He's a..." Patrick found he couldn't say it. He'd hurled it at them easily enough when he was angry, but he'd realized they didn't deserved it. That they were... the way they were wasn't their fault, and they hadn't done anything to him. It was his mother who had lied. And he found that if he wasn't saying the word in anger, he couldn't actually say it. "He's a homosexual. And he said I was too." "Are you?" "No! Absolutely not! There's no way I'm a fag!" Patrick yelled. "That's a pretty energetic denial," Joey said, unaffected by the anger directed at him, "for someone who said he isn't one." Patrick glared at him, but the bulldog just took a sip of his beer without taking his eyes off him. Patrick looked away. "I don't want to be one," he finally admitted. "Why?" "Really? You have to ask? even forgetting that it's a sin, you've seen the news. They molest kids, breakup marriage. Who in their right mind would want to be one of them?" "Really, Pat? I thought you were smarter than that. You're using the news? You know damn well that's nothing to go by, ignoring the fact that most of what gets reported isn't verified, of course those who make the news are the bad ones. Why else would the news talk about them? There's been a bunch of hyenas on the news recently for murder, are all hyenas murderers then? You're a tiger who's poor, are all tigers poor?" Patrick looked at the floor, finding his appetite vanishing under Joey's rebuke. "But it's a sin. I don't want to walk off the Path." Joey shrugged. "Look, you're talking about the bible now. A book that was written thousands of years ago. I never read it, but I have to say I'm suspicious of a book that old having any relevance in today's world." Joey didn't get it. He couldn't get how important God's opinion was to Patrick. It showed how to stay on the path. To set off it was to start walking toward Hell. "Let me ask you this." Joey finished his beer. "Do you think I'm heading for hell?" "What? of course not." "How do you know? Maybe I'm gay." Patrick started to answer but stopped. his reaction had been to say that of course Joey wasn't... "Are you?" "No, but that's beside the point. The point is, how do you know? You told me that gays are just the ones who see on the news, they do the bad stuff, so everyone else you see on the street is straight, right? You're assuming how people live their lives base on some fears you have from a book that's older than... Older than anything I know. Seems to me you're doing all of them a disservice." Joey stood. "Anyway, it isn't my place to tell you what you should do or think." Patrick shook his head. "No, thanks. I think I needed someone to give me a reality check. You're right. for all the reading I do, I haven't really tried to get to know all that much about them." "Look, don't worry about it. Maybe try to get to know him. You say he's your father, right? wouldn't it be better to know your father, even if he isn't perfect?" He took twenty out of his pocket and handed that to Patrick. "Here." "You don't have to do that. I said I'd work for free today." "I know, but if you hadn't been here, I'd have been the one to help that woman and fight with the mountain of lamps. And I only pay fifty cents per lamps, so even with paying you twenty bucks, I've made a really good profit on this." "Thanks." "Are you going home after this?" "No. I don't want to be in that house for now." "Okay. Do you have a place to spend the night? My place isn't much, but the couch is mostly clean." "Thanks, but I'm good." He'd call some of the guys he knew, hopefully one of them would be able to let him couch surf for a couple of night. and if not, he might take Don up on his offer to use the cot. "Once I'm done eating, I could use a shower, unless you have something you need me to do." "No, you go get clean and then enjoy your day." Patrick thought about the card in his pocket. Joey was right, he'd spent his childhood wishing he had a father, and now he did. He couldn't ignore him, and him being... what he was, was part of the package. he'd have to find a way to deal with it.
  11. Version 1.0.0

    A Familiar Death is the second book in the Death by Predation series. if you want to read the first chapter, you can go here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/19415184 or you can find the e-stores selling the novel through here: https://books2read.com/u/3k0a8n Here is the back-cover blurb for the novel Out of the Jungle Forced to return home to investigate a death, Marlot finds himself confronted with all the reasons he left. With council more interested in getting him to close the case quickly than getting the real killer to pay, his family expecting him to stay and having to deal with the male while killed his first love, and is now the town’s Enforcer, is it any wonder all his insecurities are coming back? Can even having Trembor at his side be enough, when the danger of being exposed as lovers would bring the town folks on them with deadly intent? And how can Trembor be surprised when Marlot grabs the opportunity to get back at the council for the way they treated him his whole life with all his claws and won’t let go of it. Getting the killer to pay might not be certain, but Marlot knows he can get his revenge on all of them. So long as he keeps to the hunt. But can he look past his anger to see the cost of what he wants to do?


  12. Kindar

    Chapter 11

    The Missing Son 11 Patrick had just added the beans to the rice when the door opened. He quickly poked his head in the hall. "Hey mom, I didn't expect you'd stop by before going to the diner." His mother looked up from taking off her shoes, a tired expression on her face. "I'm not working tonight." She rubbed her feet. "Amanda owed me a shift for when I took hers a few weeks ago. I asked her to take mine tonight." "Cool. Then I'll have dinner on the table in fifteen. I'll grill some bread to go with the rice and beans." "Thank you, Patrick, that's very nice of you." She was still leaning against the wall when Patrick headed back to the stove. He stirred the beans in the rice, then turned on the oven. He took six slices of bread and put them in. The bread was going stale. He was going to have to find something to do with them before long. He put ice in a pitcher and filled it with water from the tap and put that on the table. He tasted the rice and added a bit of salt and pepper. They were running low on salt. They were running low on a lot of things. His mother let herself fall in a chair and rubbed her face. As tired as she was, she looked a lot older than forty-four. Patrick wished he could do something so she wouldn't have to work so much for them to make ends meet. "How have you been?" she asked. "It's been a few days since we've been here at the same time." "The weekend was good. The bar was pretty busy, so the girls were able to give a bit more of their tips. And I worked a few hours at the junk yard. Joey got a few pickups of stuff from one of the manufacturing building that closed. I put what I made in your check book." She gave him a tired smile. "Alright. I haven't had time to look at it today. I'll do that after dinner." He filled a plate with the rice and beans and placed it in front of her then filled his plate. He took the bread out of the oven and that went on another plate. Margarine went on the table. By the weight he could tell there wouldn't be enough for both of them. His mother cut a slice in quarters, spread margarine on them and put the pieces on her plate while Patrick grabbed glasses for them. He sat down, and she put her hands together. "Thank you, God, for the food before us, for my son who works hard to make his mother happy. I thank you for the work we get, and the blessings you send our way. Amen." "Amen." He broke a slice and forked his food on it before shoving it in his mouth. She took a small fork full of hers. "Slow down, Patrick. You don't have to rush off anywhere... do you?" Patrick shook his head and forced himself to eat slower. "How was your day?" She let out a heavy sigh. "It was okay. My department's getting a new supervisor, so everyone's nervous. They hired someone from outside, so we don't know what to expect." "Wasn't the position open internally?" She shook her head. "I'm pretty sure they have to offer it to their employees before they can look outside." She shrugged. "They're the ones who run it, they can do things however they want." Patrick decided to change the subject. "Since you're here, do you want to go do groceries after dinner? We're pretty much out of everything. If we can get a few eggs and some milk, I can turn what's left of the bread into dessert before that's inedible." He looked at the cupboard. "If we have any sugar left. I didn't check that." "Yes, that would be nice, going out together. I'll see how much we have available for food once we're done." She indicated the margarine as he took another slice and broke it in half. "Have some if you want." "Thanks, I'm okay. Don't worry about it." he forked more rice on the piece and bit it in half. She narrowed her eye at him but didn't say anything. Once they were done eating he did the dishes while she went to her room. When he was done she came back. "We have forty-two dollars for food this week." "Just that? No food credits?" "We already used what we had for this month." She sighed. "The electrical and phone bill came in today, the water's on Friday. Unless you know you're going to be making some money by then?" Patrick shook his head. "Joey isn't expecting anything large this week. I'll look for something, but not many people want to hire a stupid school dropout, even for labor jobs." She took his face in her hands. "You're not stupid, Patrick. I wish you hadn't had to leave school to help be pay the bills." "It's okay, Mom. I'm not complaining. It's the way things are. we'll get through it. God will see to it." She smiled at him. "Yes, He will." They went to the door. "Do you want to hit the day-old food store before or after the grocery?" he put on his jacket. and opened the door for her. "Let's do that first. Hopefully we can get most of what we need there." Patrick hoped so too. When he worked Joey fed him, so with him being here all week he'd have to go hungry if he wanted there to be enough food until next week. That or go to the soup kitchen at the back of the church. * * * * * Patrick looked around as they walked back home, unable to shake the feeling he was being watched. He kept expecting to see Saranto colors darting about, not that he thought they'd do anything on a busy sidewalk, that wasn't their style, they liked things more under their control. Now that he thought about it, it had been a few days since he'd seen any of them. That kid who attacked him was the last time. Five days? That had to be the longest he'd gone without one of them making his life difficult. Maybe one of the other gangs was giving them troubles. He could hope any way. "Is everything alright?" His mother asked. "Huh? Oh, yeah. Just looking around." She obviously didn't believe him, but didn't say anything. Still, he wished he knew why he felt like he was being watched. * * * * * Donald and Daniel sat in the car, silent. "I don't know if this is a good idea." Daniel said. "What's the alternative?" Daniel didn't say anything for a time. "You heard what Aaron said, Patrick thinks his father, singular, died years ago." "Even more reasons to have the talk with him. He needs to know this stuff, otherwise it's going to drive him crazy." Daniel sighed and nodded. He hesitated a moment then got out the car. The kids hadn't been kidding when they described the neighborhood. He knew some part of the city had been hit hard by the recession, but he hadn't thought any place had been hit this hard. Daniel's steps faltered at the house's front yard and Donald took a few more steps before looking back at him. Daniel looked at the small house, the faded blue paint, the weed covered lawn, the gray door and barred windows. Who could live in such a place? He forced himself forward and together they reached the porch. Donald knocked, and a moment later a tigress opened it. "Hello Margarette," he said before she could greet them. Her expression was tired, but curious. "Hello. Can I help you with something?" "Yes, we'd like to see our son." She was confused for a moment, then her eyes grew wide, before her expression hardened. "No. Absolutely not. He's my son, not yours." She tried to close the door, but Donald held it open. "Margarette, you sighed a contract, which you broke when you vanished. We didn't pursue it back then, but if you don't let us talk with Patrick we will drag you to court over this. Our brother has an entire law firm at his disposal and believe me, we will make use of them." Donald's tone was hard. Daniel put a hand on his brother's arm. "Donny, please calm down." He looked at the tigress. "We're not here to take him from you. We have sons, and we're happy, but he's our son too. And because of that there are things he needs to know, you too." "He's not here," she replied, "and even if he was, I wouldn't let two fags like you get anywhere near him." "Mom?" someone asked, further in the house. "Who's at the door?" Donald sneered at her. "Not here, huh?" He tried to push his way passed her, but Daniel held him back. "Danny, don't take here side on this. He's our son. She'd probably poisoned his mind already." "Donny, please calm down. I'm not taking her side, I'm trying to avoid this blowing up. Margarette, regardless of how you feel about us, Patrick is our blood, and that means he needs to be told some things. I really don't want to bring lawyers into this, but we will talk with him. You can either let us do that here, now, with you present, or we can go to court, and you will lose him." The tigress' face was a study in stubbornness, broken only when her son appeared behind her. "Who are you?" he asked. "Hello Patrick. I'm Daniel, this is Donald. We're your fathers." The tiger eyed them for a moment. "Is this a joke? Mom, who are these fuckers?" "Watch your language, Patrick," She whispered reflexively. Then her body deflated. "Come on in." "Mom? what's going on?" Patrick moved aside as his mother ushered the two tigers in. Daniel an Donald entered a small living room, crowded with Christian symbols, crosses on the wall, angels on the tables. The small couch was upholstered with Cherubs. "Sit down, Patrick." Her voice still barely above a whisper. She indicated two seats for Donald and Daniel to take, but they sat on the couch, close together. Donald smirked at her. Resigned, she didn't say anything. * * * * * "Mom?" Patrick was worried about her, he'd never seen her look so completely defeated. Not even when she'd lost the job she had before the diner, for not putting out to the owner. She sat and didn't look up from the floor. "one of them is your father." huh? "What? What do you mean, 'one of them'?" "I had sex with them and nine month later you were born. He stared at her for a long moment, just repeating what she'd said in his head. she wouldn't look up at him. he clenched his teeth, grabbed the picture frame on the side table and shook it at her. "Then who the fuck is that?" She looked up at it, then away. "You told me my dad was a war hero! You said he was deployed to Kenya just after I was born and died there saving his men! Are you telling me that was a lie? That I'm the son of one of those fags?" One of them made to stand, but the other held him down, getting a glare in return. Patrick could see the one glaring about to explode in anger, but he contained it and sat back down. The one holding him looked at Patrick, and Patrick realized who they were. They had seemed familiar on first seeing them, although he'd had no idea why, but now he realized they were those guys' fathers. He also realized he couldn't tell them apart. "You're gay too, Patrick." "No!" he yelled, his mother echoed him. "You can deny it all you want," he said, "but it's in your blood." "No, I'm not a fag," Patrick growled. "I'm straight. I'm no sinner." "What the fuck does sinning have to do with anything?" the angry one growled back. "Donny," the other one warned and was glared at again. Patrick let out a sardonic laugh. "What's it got to do with it? Everything. I'm a church going Christian. I've read the bible. I know right from wrong. I know being a fag's a sin." He wasn't a fag. There was no way he could be like that. "So is lying," the calm one said in a soft voice, looking at his mother, who looked away. He turned his gaze on him. "Patrick, if you don't want to act on it, that's your choice, but you need to know who you are. As our son, you are gay. That's in your blood. You can deny that you get turned on by watching guys in the locker rooms, but it doesn't change the fact that you do." Patrick tried to stare him down, to prove to him, and himself that what he was saying was wrong. He wasn't going to admit it to him, of all people. He was unable to hold the gaze for more than a few seconds, his ears burned as he looked away. "It isn't a sin," the tiger continued. "And it isn't a choice. If you decide not to act on it, make sure it's because you're making an informed decision, not because you're afraid." He stood. "Come on Donny, it's time to go." The angry one, Donny, startled then his face twisted in anger. The other one, Patrick through he'd said his name was Daniel took a card from his wallet and handed it to him. "I understand that this is a shock. If you want to ask us questions this is our number. Any time, day or night, call us." He took Donny's arm in his hand, but it was wrenched out as Donny stormed out. Patrick watched as the door closed behind them. he wasn't a fag it kept telling himself. He didn't care what they said. They couldn't make him one just by stating it. He realized he was still holding the frame and looked at it. His mother, in her early twenties with a man she'd claimed was his father. "Who is he?" She looked at him and he shook the picture. "Who the fuck is the guy in this picture?" She eyed it, and her face softened. "He's a friend." "He's alive?" She shrugged. "I guess. I don't know. I knew him when I was studying in Iowa." "And did you fuck him too? Is there any chance I'm really his son?" She shook her head. "That's great, that's just fucking great. I've got a fag for a father and you never through to tell me that? You just made up a lie about who my father was?" "I wanted you to be proud of him, not afraid he was going to hell." "And what about my soul? didn't you ever think about that? you heard them, I'm a fag too." "They're lying, you're my son." "How the fuck do you know?" the words slipped out and he couldn't take them back. But he wasn't going to add anything. Let her wonder what he meant. The dreams he'd had would stay in his head. How he'd felt in the locker room at school would stay there too. "I took you away from them to protect you. Don't you see? If I'd let them have you, you would have been drawn into a life of sin." "And living a lie is so fucking much better." "Watch your language Patrick Sanders." "Don't fucking tell me what to do!" "I'm your mother! You're going to do as I say!" "You're nothing more than a fucking liar!" The picture frame flew by her head before exploding on the wall. Patrick didn't stay to watch her reaction. In a few steps he was at the door, his jacket in hand, and then he was out the door, slamming it shut. * * * * * Daniel sped up to reach the car first. He didn't want Donny behind the wheel in his state. He grabbed onto the door and blocked his brother, which earned him another glare. For a moment he through Donny would shove him out of the way, but with a curse he went on the passenger side. Daniel sat and put his hands on the steering wheel. For a long moment the only sound in the car was Donald's heavy breathing. "Go ahead," Daniel whispered, "Let me have it." "What the fuck was that?" Donald yelled. "You saw what the woman's done to our son, He's fucking terrified of who he is!" Daniel closed his eyes. He hated seeing his brother when he lost his temper like that, so he wasn't going to look at him. "What did you want me to do, Donny?" He kept his voice calm, a counter point to his brother's scream, but all he wanted to do was cry. "We can't change things just by sitting down and having a talk with him. something like this isn't going to happen overnight." "So that's your idea? leave him with his mind twisted mother so she can add to the damage she's already inflicted?" Daniel flinched at the accusation. He could feel his eyes getting wet. he took out his phone an offered it to his brother. "What's that supposed to be for?" he growled. It took effort to keep his voice steady. "Go ahead, call Damian. Tell him to come take our son and bring him to that bedroom he has ready so he can do whatever he thinks is needed to fix him." Donald was silent. "Fuck." A fist slammed on the dash. "Fuck." Again. "Fuck!" Again. "FUUUUUCK!" When the scream ended the silence was deafening. Daniel let the silent hang for a long moment before opening his eyes. Donald was crying. He pulled him against him and rested his head on his shoulder and both of them cried. When he looked up and dried his eyes, he saw Patrick walk down the road, away from them. He thought about going after him, but there was nothing he could do right now. They all needed to take some time to let the night settle.
  13. Kindar

    Chapter 10

    The Missing Son 10 The minivan moved slowly through the neighborhood. Adam was driving and peering out, looking for the address his uncle had given them. The others were looking at the houses with lawns over grown with grass and junk, rusted cars in their driveways or parked on the street. The people walking by stared at them. "This can't be right," Aaron said, from the passenger seat. "Well, this is Caliban street," Adam noted. "And the numbers are going down, so we have to be getting close." "Maybe there's another Caliban street?" Arthur offered, "Or maybe the numbers restart at some point?" "Doesn't look like it." Alex raised his phone to show the map. Adam Brought the minivan to a stop against the curb. "It's that house." He pointed to the small one-story house with faded and pealing blue paint. Unlike the other lawn, this one was mowed, but there was still a lot of weeds on it. "Uncle Damian must have given us the wrong address," Anakin commented, which got him stared at. "Uncle Damian wouldn't have given it to us if he wasn't completely certain that was it," Adam replied. "Look at it," Anakin insisted. "How can he live in that if he's one of us?" "I wouldn't want to live there," Aiden agreed. "You have to remember, not everyone is as fortunate as us," Aaron contributed, "That doesn't make them any less good people." "Would you want to live there?" Aiden challenged him. Aaron didn't reply. His bedroom was probably larger than the whole house. They probably didn't have a pool in the backyard or workout equipment. Did it even have a backyard? "How about you Arthur? would you live here?" Aiden asked his brother, only to discover he wasn't there, and the door was open. Arthur was running toward the house. With curses, everyone left the minivan to run after him. They caught up to him just has he knocked on the door. * * * * * Patrick sat down to eat, his fur was still damp from his shower. He'd made a stew with the cheap meat his mom had bought and some of the vegetables that were getting a bit old. His mom had taught him all the tricks he knew for cooking, like the one about cooking tough meat for a very long time at low heat to tenderize it. He'd set the stew to cook as soon as he got up at two, and now he was going to enjoy it. There was a knock at the door. Patrick looked at the stew, fork in hand. Of course, his first meal in a few days where he can sit down and not have to worry about going to bed right after, and he's getting some door to door salesman. It wasn't like anyone else would knock at his door at seven at night. He thought about ignoring it, but he stood. It could be a neighbor who needed help with something. "Yeah?" he asked as he opened the door. A bunch of tigers were standing there, with one who couldn't be more than four feet at the front, gawking at him. They were dress way too good for the neighborhood. The taller of the group moved forward, standing next to the dwarf. He was wide shoulder and the muscles stretched what had to be a silk shirt. "Hi, I'm Aaron. we're your brothers." Patrick stared at him. Brothers? These guys were going to claim to be his brothers? He burst out laughing, then slammed the door shut. That would have been a good one, if they didn't look like they were Hollywood stars. He thought about going back to his food, but instead looked through crocheted curtain over the tall window next to the door. They looked utterly confused. What? had they expected him to go along with it? They exchanged a few quiet words, and Patrick noticed a few of them had wet eyes. What the Hell (sorry) was going on here? The tall one turned and they left, shoulders hunched, heading to a minivan parked on the opposite side, a little farther up. Patrick hadn't expected that. They were obviously rich, so why wasn't it a limousine? They entered it and stayed there. Okay, so why weren't they leaving? Well, whatever it was, it wasn't his problem. He turned and took a step toward the kitchen, only to stop and turn around. Fuck, he couldn't just let them sit there. Obviously, they were invested in coming here if some of them were crying. He grabbed his jacket off the coat rack * * * * * "I'm sorry," Arthur said, closing the door. "I shouldn't have run there. maybe it would have gone better if I hadn't been the one to knock." Anakin ruffled his hair. "No, I'm pretty sure we'd still be sitting here, debating what to do, or commenting on his house, but we certainly wouldn't have gone there and knocked on that door. You got the ball rolling, good on you." "Did we sound that crazy?" Albert asked, drying his eyes. "He laughed at us." "I guess it was a shock to him," Alexander offered. "Seven guys he's never seen before show up at his door and announce they're his brothers." "Maybe uncle Damian can get his phone number?" Aiden offered. "One of us can give him a call and try to explain the situation?" "And what could we say?" Adam said dryly. "The situation hasn't changed." "Hey guys?" Anakin nodded toward the tiger that was walking toward them. He'd put on a denim jacket over his wife beater. The jacket had seen better days. Aaron lowered his window as the tiger got closer. He could see fur through rips in his jeans, and he was pretty sure those rips weren't professionally done, but actual wear. "Look," the tiger started. "I'm sorry for laughing at you and slamming the door. But there's no way you guys are my brothers. I don't have brothers. My dad died right after I was born." Aaron had no idea what to say to that, so he did the introductions. "I'm Aaron, this is Adam, Anakin, Arthur, Alex, Albert and Aiden." The tiger didn't immediately say anything. "I'm Patrick." Most of the brothers winced to that. "What?" "We were kind of expecting your name to start with an 'A'," Adam said. "Why would you expect that?" "It's a family tradition," Aaron said. "Look, I already said I wasn't related to you." Aaron eyed him. "okay, on what day were you born? March thirteenth? Fourteenth? or fifteenth?" Patrick eyed him back. "Fourteenth." "Us too!" Aiden exclaimed. Patrick smirked. "Right, all seven of you were born on exactly the same day I was." Aaron realized it did sound a bit preposterous. "No, we were born between the thirteenth and fifteenth, but instead of having birthdays over three days we always ended up celebrating them on the fourteenth, so we decide to make it easy on everyone and picked that day as our official birthday." "So what? you guys were born a year apart, but basically on the same day?" "No, we're all eighteen, just like you." "Oh, so you guys are tube babies." "No, we have mothers," Albert said, "but our dads didn't want-" he didn't get to finish. "Dads?" Patrick stiffened. "Yes," Albert tried again. "Our fathers wanted..." "Look," Patrick interrupted again. "I told you. I'm not your brother. Now leave me alone." Patrick headed back to the house. "What just happened?" Albert asked. "I have no idea." Aaron sighed. "Okay, let's go home. We can ask the dads what we should do next. * * * * * Patrick slammed the door shut, but by now the anger was directed at himself. He shouldn't have snapped at them like that, but he'd just been taken by surprised when they said they had two fathers, which meant they were... Well, living in sin. He should go an apologize. The minivan was leaving when he opened the door. Oh well, it didn't matter anyway, they obviously had the wrong guy. He closed the door and looked at the picture of his mom with his father. It was one of the few his mom had kept around. She said the others just brought up too many memories. There was another one of him, on her bed side table, and Patrick had one on his, and he knew she had one in her wallet. As far as he knew they were the only pictures of him she'd kept, but she had so many stories of him Patrick felt he'd known him. He did wish he'd been around though.
  14. DouglasKim

    Call me Father - Page 18

    From the album: Call Me Father

    Whew! Look at that Skyline and that diverse crowd! D: But most important of all, look at that distraught tiger dude… I hope you guys enjoyed this last page and as usual, I’ll go on a few weeks hiatuses from posting. In the meantime, you can check out new Pages in my Patreon, where chapter 3 is well underway already! You can support diverse crowds, opulent backgrounds and read more pages of CMF at www.patreon.com/douglaskim
  15. Kindar

    Chapter 09

    The Missing Son 09 Damian edged his car to his brothers' garage, and a moment later it opened. He parked next to Adam's Navaho, the hood was up, and tools carefully lined up on the liner. As he expected the minivan wasn't here. His nephews still had three hours of classes. He got out and smoothed the wrinkles out of his suit. His brothers ribbed him any time they caught him doing that. They also had many choice comments about the amount of money he spent on those suits, but Damian owned and ran the largest private multinational corporation, he had to dress the part. He looked at the Navaho's engine. The injector was off, he looked around and found it on the work table that lined the east wall. He looked at what else was taken out or disconnected. Adam was still trying to figure out how to turbo charge it, but he'd made progress. Damian was confident Adam wouldn't be asking him for help, so he was going to have to find something else to get him to take the trip with him. He ignored the doors on his right, all storage rooms, but peeking into the first one on his left, the lounge, not that they used it as such. Hooks on the ceiling for when they felt like using slings, as well as places against the walls for securing guys. lined the back. His brothers and nephews weren't into overly kinky stuff, but once in a while they felt like being kinkier than usual. In front of that three full sets of exercising machines, so the whole family could work out together. Staying in shape was a tradition every member of the Orr family embraced, except for Dominic, who'd been turned off it because of how Dietrich's ego got over inflated the bigger he got. The next door was Anakin's room. He didn't open it, even though he knew it wasn't locked. Other's privacy was a concept Damian had struggled with when he was young and his father spent a lot of time explaining it to him. In the end Damian filed it as something else that only applied to his family. The stairs took him to the main level. He walked down the hall dividing the house in two, currently the kitchen on his left and the dining room on his right. The wall past the opening had multiple picture frames, the extended family on one side, which he ignored and the other wall had the covers to computer games. He stopped just before the stairs going up another level. A new frame had been added, Future Action. He remembered his brothers putting it on the market four years ago, but he hadn't realized they'd sold it. He would have to look into it. Past the stairs, were Alexander, Albert and Aiden's bedrooms. He went up to the top floor, where he could hear someone typing. That would be his brothers, in their office. He passed Adam, Arthur and Aaron's bedroom, and arrived to his brothers. The door was open, the sound came from the open door on the right. Damian put a scowl on his face and stormed through the bedroom to their office. "How the fuck could you let that happen?" He yelled. "Hi Damian," his brothers said in unison, not looking up from their screens. They had repainted the wall since the last time he'd been here, they were now a rich earth red brown. The shelves were the same, with books after books of computer languages. Their desks were in the center of the room facing each other. They stopped typing and looked up at him. He studied them, like he always did, looking for something to tell them apart, any difference in the stripe patterns. He growled in frustration. "One of these days, I am going to carve your names in your foreheads. I shouldn't have to wait until we're having sex for me to tell you apart." He took a moment to calm himself, this was one of the few things that truly vexed him. "Now, who's whom?" "I'm Daniel," One said. "We can always start wearing name tags, if that'll help," the other, Donald, offered. Damian thought the idea ludicrous, they could switch them at will. Carving the names might be a bit extreme, but he could always scar one of them to create a difference, except that would go against his promise never to hurt a family member. "No. If father could tell you apart, then I will manage it also." Daniel smiled. "Good luck with that. Now, what has you screaming at us?" Damian crossed his arms over his chest and settled an angry expression on his face. "how could you let that woman leave with your son?" Donald sighed. "Well, that explains why the kids have been so well behaved for the last week. So, they told you." "Yes, on Wednesday, and don't you dare blame them. You had no right to keep something like that from me." "Hey, our lives are our own," Donald growled, pushing himself up. "We don't have to tell you every damn thing we do, Dam." "No, you are right, you don't." Damian made his tone reasonable now. "But when it affects the family, I have to know. I promised father I would look after everyone." "Dam," Daniel said, "Dad didn't mean that you have to be our guardian angel. we're perfectly able to look after ourselves, the lot of us." "You go tell that to Dietrich," He grumbled now. "Look, this isn't up for debate. He's an Orr and I'm going to go get him." "No! Absolutely not!" Donald got in his face. "You're not going to go there, storm in and breakup that family. He might have our genes, but he's her son now." Damian looked at Daniel, the less emotional of the two. "He's eighteen and no one has educated him. Do you have any idea what he's going to go through?" "The same thing the rest of the world does," Donald stated. Daniel continued. "So, he isn't going to be perfectly adjusted. So, what? Most people seem to manage." Damian couldn't stop the growled that escaped him. Why did these two have to be so obtuse at time. He expected this kind of emotional nonsense out of Dominic, but even Donald was normally much more rational for all that his temper tended to get away from him. "You are not thinking this through. His mother is a devout, old style, Christian, and she's raising him the same. She has filled his head with nonsense about sin and an angry god. Have you considered what will happen if he is the one who has a family? Do you really want our line to become tormented people, repressing what comes naturally to them? Because I promise you, if you don't do anything, that will happen. His religion will compel him to find a girl, have kids and raise them the same way he was." They were thoughtful now, so he continued. "I cannot let that happen, and I don't need your permission. Not if you are not going to see him as your own son." Donald sat down, shaken. Damian looked at Daniel. "Do you have anything to say?" His brother rubbed his temples. "Alright, you're right. We have to do something." Donald gave him a hurt look. "But Donald's also right. You can't be the one to deal with this. I'm sorry Dam, but you're not exactly the most well adjusted person. Your idea of helping him probably involves kidnapping him, locking him in a bedroom and twisting his mind until he doesn't know what he is anymore." Daniel locked eyes with Damian. "I can't let you do that to my son." Damian felt a tingle of excitement at the core of his being at having manipulated one of them into considering the child their son. "Very well, give me an alternative." He wasn't surprise Daniel had basically outlined his plan, of all his brothers, he was the one who could always work out how Damian thought. Daniel thought about it for a moment. "I think we need to let the kids handle it, at least at first. They're the same age, experiencing the same things, so it might be easier for him to accept it coming from them." Damian nodded, while he would have preferred his brothers take a direct hand in it, this was satisfactory, and it had the added benefit that if his nephews became attached to him his brothers would have no choice but to take him in. "Alright, and afterward?" "We handle it," Daniel answered. "As you pointed out, he's our son. he's our responsibility." "And if you screw this up?" "Then it's on our heads. We all screw up sometime, even you, we accept that. We'll do the best we can and see what happens." Damian nodded. He didn't screw up, but he knew he was capable of miscalculating, as the trip with Aaron demonstrated. He smiled at his brothers, now that this was resolved, he needed to take care of his tingle this manipulation had given him. He reached out and grabbed them by the collar. "Let's go seal this agreement in your bedroom." It wouldn't be as satisfying as when he was with one of his victims, but sex with his brothers had its own kind of satisfaction
  16. Kindar

    Chapter 08

    The Missing Son 08 Patrick walked to the bar. It was Sunday night and he was feeling good. His knee no longer hurt. He'd used some of the tips the waitress gave him to get some medicine for it so that by the time Friday came about he was okay to work. He'd called Joey to get a few hours at the scrap yard, but the bulldog wouldn't talk to him until Monday. His mom hadn't been happy about finding out he'd been in a fight, but she knew he hadn't started it. She called the police, over his objections, and two officers took his statement, but since Patrick couldn't give them anything more species and gang affiliation, they weren't optimistic. Patrick didn't think they'd even bother looking into it, after all this was the Brownstones, the police didn't exactly care what happened here. Patrick lifted his jacket's collar and pulled it tight. Tomorrow was the first day of spring, and he hoped it would bring a change in the weather because he was getting tired of this cold. He caught movement out the corner of his eye, a flash of color, Saranto colors. He turned, but whoever it had been, wasn't there anymore. Patrick cursed. He was only half way to the bar. Was it worth running? His knee could take the run, but what if this led to an ambush? He couldn't afford to get hurt again. He couldn't spend any more time off work. He paid more attention, and he caught the colors again in a reflection. As far as he could tell it was only one person, with mottled fur. He didn't see enough details for a species, but he seemed on the smaller size. With this gang member tailing him he made sure to keep an eye in front of him for any indication more were waiting. They knew his route, he always followed the same path, which was stupid on his part, now that they wanted him dead. He couldn't afford to make it easy on them. He turned on a side street and picked up his pace. If there was someone waiting for him they'd have to reposition themselves now. Steps quickened behind him. This street had fewer people on it. Patrick wasn't sure how he felt about that. The Sarantos wouldn't attack him in crowded places, but now? Fuck it. He stopped and turned to face his pursuer. and barely ducked in time to avoid the baseball bat. The kid, a rabbit, wielding it couldn't be more than fifteen. "What do you think you're doing kid?" Patrick asked. "I take you out, I become a big man." The rabbit swung at him again. Patrick stepped back. "Kid, I took on three of yours last week and I walked away. I don't want to fight you." "Way I heard it, you had help. Don't worry We're going to find them too and make them pay. No one goes against the Sarantos and live." Figured they'd make up something. They couldn't just say he'd gotten lucky. "You got to be stupid, why else you'd refuse to join?" Patrick looked around, both to see if more Sarantos were coming and if some of the passerby might help. The few people there had moved to the other side of the road. He was alone, yet again. Patrick stopped and raised his hands. "look kid, you don't have to do this. The gang isn't going to do you any good. It's just going to drag you down with it." "You want me to be stupid like you? I'm not. I'm a Saranto. I'm going to be an important guy after I kill you." he swung at him, but this time Patrick was ready. He caught the bat in his hand and ripped it out. His hand stung and he could barely hold on to it as he threw it in the street while he caught the rabbit by the collar with his other hand. What the fuck was wrong with kids these days they'd want to join? When he was that age, threats were used to get kids in the gang. The rabbit's hand flashed and Patrick dropped him with a yell of pain. Three lines of blood appeared on his hand. "You little son of a bitch, that hurts." "You're going to hurt a lot more by the time I'm done with you." "Okay, kid. I'm going to teach you something about taking on someone who's bigger than you." It only took two steps to reach the rabbit and grab him by the base of an ear. He pulled him hard, making him scream in pain, and dragged him until he was against the wall. "That hurts doesn't it?" He slammed the kid against the wall a few times. "This is what pain feels like. you like it? You think this is just for fun? You think being in a gang's going to keep you from getting hurt?" Patrick stopped talking and moving. The kid was bawling his eyes out, his hands on his; trying to get him to let go of his ear. Fuck. what was he doing? He was just a kid. He let him go and took a step back. The rabbit crumpled to the ground holding his head. At least there was no blood anywhere. He would only have bruises. "I'm sorry kid. I shouldn't have done that." The rabbit looked at him, hate blazing in his eyes. "You're dead. you hear me? You think you can treat me like that and walk away. I'm going to kill you. you hear me?" Patrick just stared at him. he was threatening to kill him, after what the tiger had done? What was wrong with the kid. "I give up. You want to kill me, fine, you come and take you best shot, but you're going to want to bring backup, because next time I'm not going to be as nice." Maybe what had just happened to him finally registered because the rabbit's hateful gaze turned to worry. Patrick didn't stick around. He had to go to work. Fuck, why couldn't his life be nice and peaceful.
  17. Kindar

    Chapter 07

    The Missing Son 07 Damian walked back to his office. "Alice, I need you to find out what and when the next event that Commissioner Hyacinthe is attending is, and who we normally send there." "Yes sir." He entered his office and was about to close the door when she called to him. "Actually sir, there's one tonight." "Good, who are we sending?" She took a moment to find the name. "Benita Johanson, out of finances." It took him a moment to remember who she was. Benita was an armadillo, she was married, had been for twelve years now. She had a son and two daughters, twelve, eight and thirteen. She was a good worker, often stayed late when it was needed. "Tell her to do enjoy her evening, I'll go in her place." He started to close the door, then paused. "Wait, is this a woman only event?" "No sir, it's a gala to raise money for the police's retirement fund." "Alright, good, is there a required dress code?" "Yes, it's black tie. Do you want me to inform them of the change?" Damian shook his head, "No, there's no need. I'll simply look for Benita's card." He closed the door. He would have to stop by his condo and change. He still needed to decide what he was going to do with what his people found on the woman who had kidnapped his nephew. He could simply go take his nephew and fix him, it wouldn't be too difficult. But he was family, and he had to consider what that meant for the mother. The promise he'd made to his father only involved taking care of his family. The situation with his nephew wasn't covered by it. He wouldn't be breaking his word if he ignored the mother. Or he could approach this from multiple angle, set things up for him to take him, while approaching his brothers with the information and seeing what they did with it. There was one thing he needed to get started regardless. The meeting with the commissioner was one part of it, the other would be handled by the security company. He sent the necessary messages to get that started, then settled in for the rest of his day. * * * * * The gala was held at the Old City Hall, the room could easily host a thousand people, and it was almost full, even if Damian had arrived half an hour early. Finding out where the Commissioner was seated had only required him talking to the host. Having his card, Benita's, moved to be seated next to her was only a question of paying one of the servers to move it. He waited for the gazelle to sit down before heading for their table. Before he reached it, a slim black bear looked like he was going to sit next to her, noticed the name on the card, read it again, before heading out, searching for someone. Damian sat down. "Commissioner," He greeted her, setting his untouched glass of Champaign down. The gazelle looked at him, then the card in front of him. "Benita?" She asked. He gave her a charming smile. "Actually, it's Damian. Miss Thortorne's youngest daughter fell sick so she had to go home. No one with the right seniority in financial was available, so as owner of the company, it fell to me to come. I just had time to stop home to change and come here." "And which company do you own?" "Diamond Enterprises." Her ears went up. "Really? I know your company has given a lot of money to the police over the years." "The police do important work, I believe it's also important that as a company, and a citizen who benefits from that work, I show my appreciation for it." She looked at him. "You certainly have a concise way of putting it." "Thank you. Actually, it's fortunate that I'm here tonight, I've been thinking of contacting your office to discuss funding your anti-gang task force, I believe it's something you've been looking to do for some time." "Yes, but It wouldn't look very good for the money to come from a corporation as large as yours. It would make it seem like you're trying to buy our services." Before Damian could reply the lights dimmed and a hyena in police garb stepped on the stage. She talked for a time about the kind of work the police did and the financial difficulties the recession had caused. Here and there she must have said jokes, because people laughed. Damian patterned his reaction after those at his table, two police chief and their spouses. Damian felt the speech was boring, it wandered all over the place. If the speaker had taken the time to formulate it she could have said what she wanted to say under three minutes. Twenty minutes later she introduced the commissioner, who left the table to go say a few words. Her speech was better prepared, and well-rehearsed. Damian could hear the cue cards she'd memorized in the tempo of her voice. She didn't meander, and was only there for five minutes. What she said was summed up by, the police work hard, so those who reach retirement age need to be able to afford to enjoy it. And the people in this room were responsible for that to happen. As she came back to the table, and someone else took the podium, a server placed a plate of food before him and the others. It was a platter of expertly made sushi with a variety of fish meats and vegetable, each piece had a card indicating the provenance of the fish that was used. All of them came from well-regulated fish farms, he was pleased to see. "That was a good speech," he said as the gazelle sat back down. The others at the table nodded their agreement. He gave her time to savor one of the piece of sushi before whispering to her. "I promise you, I have no intention of trying to buy the police force. I already have enough to manage with just my company" She chuckled, and Damian wondered what might have been amusing in what he said. He let her eat some more, but she was the one who talk to him. "Regardless of your intentions, the public would see it as such." "Only if the public knows it came from my company. It's easy enough to route the money as donations from multiple origin." She eyed him. "That doesn't sound particularly legal." He smiled. "I assure you, it's completely legal. Politicians have made sure there's enough loophole in the donation laws I could drive your money in an armored car through them." She looked at him thoughtfully before going back to eating. He must have said that wrong, except he was certain he'd repeated it exactly as Rigel said it went. Another example of why he didn't bother with humor. He let them finish the plate in silence. When the server cleared the table, he looked at Damian's still full plate, but the tiger nodded for him to take it away. They brought a streak, from the smell of it, basted in a red wine sauce with garlic and sesame. He expected it to be quite tasty. "You seem quite determine to get me to agree to this, I have to wonder why." "Well, eliminating gang violence was part of your platform when you became commissioner six years ago. Since then you haven't seen much successes in that. As with many things lack of resources is why. I agree that gangs have become too strong in the city. I could certainly use the money to pay private security company to deal with them, but I expect you would frown on such actions." "Frowning is a very mild word for the reaction I'd have." Damian nodded. "Which is why I propose to give that money to you so you can fund more personnel, better tool and training." She was silent as she ate, and Damian didn't interrupt. once their plates were cleared, with another odd look from the server at Damian's full plate. "The food isn't to your liking?" she asked. "At two thousand dollars for the meal I'd expect you to want to enjoy it" "As I said, I wasn't supposed to be the one coming here, I had already eaten a substantial meal before coming." "You could have cut your food, made it look like you ate some of it." Damian looked at the desert placed before him, a rich looking cheese cake drizzled in a kiwi coulie. "I suppose I could, but I don't see the point. By leaving the piece whole, they are in a position to donate it to someone who is in need." She smiled. "I have to say the way you look at things is refreshing. How about we do lunch tomorrow to discuss this proposal further? I know a nice place by the waterfront that's very discreet." Damian smiled. "That would certainly be agreeable." She wrote down the address for him and they agreed on the time. He watched them finish the meal and then left. * * * * * Damian entered his condo and headed for his bedroom, where he undressed and folded his tuxedo. In the morning he would drop it off at the cleaners. After that he went to the kitchen, where he took out a thick steak, the making of a lemon rosemary glaze and a salad with a raspberry dressing. Watching those people eat made him hungry, so he allowed himself a larger portion than usual. After that he called Jimmy, his driver. He was slowly prodding how far he could push the wolf, and he was finding him pleasurably malleable. A few hours forcing him to have sex would be good before bed.
  18. Kindar

    Chapter 06

    The Missing Son 06 Adam parked the minivan in the school's parking lot. He looked to Aaron. "Well?" Aaron sighed. "Yeah, yeah. I know." He turned to the back. "Alright, Alex, you have all the stuff we found in the attic?" Alex patted his bag. "Alright, we're all agreed we need to ask uncle Damian for help?" "Well," Aiden said, "We agreed to it, you sort of just went along with it." "I said I'd go with the majority. Okay, so it's important the dads don't realize what we're doing. Make sure you all call one of them to let them know you're going to be home late and that you're going to arrange for a ride yourself." "Got it." They replied. Aaron wasn't looking forward to that visit, but they'd spend three days going through the documents from their births and hadn't come up with anything. He knew they could manage it on their own, but he couldn't know how long that would take, like them he didn't want to have to wait before meeting him. they had been separated for eighteen years, that was eighteen too many. Which meant Damian. Aaron shuddered then exited the minivan. "Hey guys," a broad shouldered wolf, in the green short of the football team, greeted them. The seven of them turned as one to look at him and they all smiled. "Hey Zack," Arthur said, licking his lips. "To what do we owe the pleasure of this encounter?" "I... errr..." The wolf rubbed the back of his head. "I was wondering if any of you were going to be at the football game this Saturday." "Oh yeah, we're going to be there." the brothers answered, Except for Alex. He stepped in front of the wolf. "I don't know." He ran a finger along the wolf's jaw. "What's my incentive for showing up?" Zack panted, then tried to swallow. "I can show up early, and ... you know." Alex smiled. "I'm kidding. I'll be there, you don't need to offer yourself to me for that." "Really?" The wolf sounded disappointed. "He's right," Arthur said. "You don't need to offer anything, but." He ran a finger down the wolf's chest. "If you were to lead your team to a victory, I know I'd be willing to reward you properly." "Yeah," Aaron added, "I'm sure we all would." Zack looked at them, then swallowed hard. "All of you?" Nods. "At the same time?" The smiles on the tiger's faces became even wider. "Oh, err, I, Okay. I have to go, errr, practice, yeah, right. I have to go practice." The wolf left in a hurry. They watched him go, their eyes on his ass. Aiden sighed. "He does have a great ass." "Yeah, he does," Adam agreed. "I don't know," Albert said, "I prefer his pecs. Don't look at me that way," he added when he felt his brother's stared at him. "You six as all ass obsessed. I happen to think there's more to him than just his ass." "You are absolutely right," Adam agreed. "He also has an amazing cock. Thick and veiny. I can't wait for him to fuck me." "You think he'll be able to fuck all of us after the game?" Aaron asked. "Sure," Alex replied, "but only one of us gets to feel him cum." Aiden discretely readjusted himself "Well, now that we've made sure I'm going to be hard all day, I need to get going. I have a music class in ten minutes." "I have a chemistry class," Arthur said. "I have math," Alex groaned. "I'll walk with you and offer moral support." Albert put an arm around his brother's shoulder. "I'm heading to the library." "alright," Aaron said. "I'll see you all here after class." and with that they went their separate ways. * * * * * Adam parked the minivan in the first available parking spot he saw on the street. They were downtown, and only his intimate knowledge of city streets allowed them to make it before the office closed. "Why don't we go in the underground parking?" Alexander asked. Adam looked over his shoulder. "Right, because they would let this heap in there. You probably didn't notice, but just in the time we reached this spot two Cadillacs exited while a Bentley and a Ferrari entered. This is a building where they only let people with money in." "We have money," Aiden commented. "Dads have money," Adam countered, "We're just the kids, and a minivan doesn't exactly scream 'rich family coming through'." "It's uncle Damian's building," Arthur said, looking up in awe at the tall skyscraper. "He'd let us park inside." "What's there to be impressed about?" Alex asked. "You've been downtown before. You where there when Dads won the game designer's award last year." "Sure, but this building is in our family, and it's the tallest one in the city." Alex looked out the window and smiled. "Okay, when you put it that way." "Well, we can't count on him cutting us any slack," Aaron commented. "He doesn't know where coming, so we'd have to pay anyway. It's going to be cheaper to put money in the meter. We won't be here long. Hell, he might not even see us." "You didn't call him?" Adam asked. "No." "Why not?" Aaron sighed. "Because I don't want to be here. Look. I'm sorry. I know I should have. I just couldn't get myself to do it and talk to... him." Adam looked at him with worry. "It's okay," Alexander interjected, "we're family so he's going to see us." "This isn't a family gathering," Aaron replied, "where everyone jumps from one bed the another as he pleases. This is his company; uncle Damian is a busy man." "Isn't that why it would have been better to call ahead?" Arthur asked. "No, it's a good thing Aaron didn't call," Adam replied. "For all we know he would have called dads, and we wouldn't have been able to leave school without them escorting us home. Alright, let's go." Anakin put the eight dollars in the meter and they now had half an hour. The lobby was large, with a water fountain in the middle shooting a jet of water in the air. Albert whistled at it. They attracted a few looked from the security people at the desk, but their school clothes were good enough to fit in with the other people. The elevator that took them to the top floor was large and luxurious, but played the same kind of muzak every other elevator they'd ever taken. Aiden hummed in time to it, and got stared at by his brothers. "Do you really have to do that?" Alexander asked. "I don't have my guitar to play along with it, so humming has to do." Aaron chuckled, glad for the distraction. Aiden was the musically talented one in the family. He played the guitar, the flute, the piano and the trumpet. He had perfect pitch, sang in the choir and composed his own songs. Their fathers had suggested he become a concert pianist, but Aiden didn't care for that kind of pressure. He preferred recording his songs on YouTube. He'd developed enough of a following with all the songs he'd uploaded there that he'd be an instant success if he decided to publish an album. Aaron looked at the numbers and his dread climbed with them as they come closer and closer to one hundred. "Adam," He whispered to his brother. "I can't do it. I can't be the one to talk with him." Adam squeezed his hand in comfort. "Don't worry, I'll do it. I just wish you'd tell us what happened between the two of you." Aaron closed his eyes, fighting back tears and shook his head. When the elevator dinged and the doors opened he'd gotten his tear under control and dried his eyes. They stepped out and looked at a wall with a diamond shaped glass in the middle of it. Above that a sign read: "Diamond Industries", Under the glass another sign: "Because diamonds are just coal under pressure". They stared at it for a moment. "Does that make any kind of sense to you?" Albert asked. Heads shook. "Uncle Damian must have been the one to come up with it then." Arthur said. Everyone nodded. They walked around the wall and the space opened up to cubicles and glass offices. It didn't look like there was a lot of people in the room, but they looked very busy. They headed for the largest office, at the back of the room. Like the others if was glass, but double the size, and the blinds were closed. The sign on the door read: "Damian Orr" Adam opened it. It was a reception. A gazelle was seated at the desk. She looked up from her computer at them, then at the clock on the wall. It was five forty-five. Her ears shook for a moment then she got them under control. The wall behind her was opaque, and had a door in it. "Can I help you?" she asked as they reached her desk. the plaque on it read 'Alice Turbone'. "We'd like to see Mister Orr." She looked at the clock again. "Do you have an appointment?" Adam shook his head. "Mister Orr is a very busy man." Her tone was friendly, but firm. "He doesn't have time for walk-ins. Specially not fifteen minutes from closing." Adman's smile faltered. "We're-We're his nephews. Could you check with him? Please?" She looked at him, then the others, studying them for a moment. She picked up the phone. "Mister Orr," she said after a moment. "I'm sorry to disturb you during your meeting, but there's a group of youth here who would like to know if you can find the time to see them." She listened for a moment, then looked the tigers over. "Seven of them, sir. Yes, tigers." She was silent, then surprise on her face. "Very well." She hung up. "He's wrapping up his meeting and he'll see you." "Thank you, Alice," Adam said, "thank you very much." Albert moved to the wall, studying the painting there, while the others found seats, purposely avoiding sitting close to one another. "Excuse me," he asked, looking over his shoulder, "is this an actual Rembrandt?" "No, dear, it's a reproduction." He looked at it again. "Are you sure?" "Yes, the original is in a museum." Albert frowned and moved his muzzle until it was almost touching the painting and he sniffed it. "Smells about right for the era," he mumbled to himself. He checked that she wasn't watching him and ran a finger over the part of the bottom, feeling the paint's texture. "This isn't a reproduction." He took out the small flashlight attacked to his key chain and used its powerful light to study it up close. "There's even cracks in the paint." and he thought he could see dirt in there, although that would require taking the painting to a lab to confirm. Albert took a step back and looked at the painting, the tumultuous sea, the gray sky with sun rays making their way through. The boat and the people fighting to keep it from overturning. It felt real to him. "If this is a forgery, I want to meet the painter." "Albert, stop peering holes in it and come sit down," Aaron said. Albert sat down next to him and started leaning against his brother, who cleared his throat and indicated the secretary. Albert straitened. "I don't get your fascination with those old painting. Your stuff is as good at them." Albert shrugged. "I'm no master. I just dabble in painting." "You dabble, just like Aiden plays with toy pianos. You have to stop selling yourself short. You should be studying to be a painter instead of planning on doing restoration work. There's no money in that." Albert sighed. "Can we not have this conversation again? You know I don't care about money. I want to make sure the work of the masters will survive." Aaron might have said more, but the office's door opened and an angry elephant in a very expensive gray suit stormed out. He glared at the tigers then left, slamming the door behind him. Alice didn't flinch at the sound. "Mister Orr can see you now." The seven of them entered. The office was larger than their living room, and they'd had parties with more than fifty people in that room. They now realized this office extended the entire length of the cubicle room. The only things in the room was a black desk, with two black seats, standing out against the polish white marble floor, and in front of a glass wall looking out over San Francisco. Damian stood behind the desk. "Come on in!" He had a wide smile. "I have to say this is quite the unexpected surprise. I'm afraid most of you will have to stand, this is the most people my office has ever seen at one time." "Hey uncle Damian." Adam realized he was nervous. What's wrong with you? he asked himself, you're never like this around him. You've had sex with him for God's sake. Snap out of it. But this wasn't home, in the living room or one of the bedrooms. He was in his office, and for all that he was smiling, right now the tiger before him didn't feel like his uncle, who could get him to try things he'd never dare, would be afraid to even contemplate, but would end up loving. No, here, in his environment, his uncle looked like what he was, one of the most powerful man in the world, one of the most feared. Damian directed his smile at Adam, and the teen felt himself relax a little. He knew that smile. he'd seen it often while on his back, his uncle thrusting in him. "There," Damian said, "that's better. You all know you've always been welcomed here, even if it's taken this long for you to visit." He came around the desk, hugged and kissed each one of them. leaving them smiling, blushing and sporting a hardon. even Aaron, who went stiff when his uncle wrapped his arms around him, couldn't stop himself from reacting when those lips pressed against his. He might hate his uncle, but the man was one hot kisser. Damian leaned back against his desk. "To what do I owe this pleasure." It took Adam a moment to find his voice again after that kiss. "We found out we have a brother we didn't know about." He then went on to recount the discussion with their fathers. Damian listened intently, standing eerily still. When he was done with that Alex took out a stack of papers from his bag. "We went through the attic," Adam continued, "And found a lot of papers about our births and the times before that, but nothing that helped us find out which woman disappeared with our brother. We though the contracts would help us, but that wasn't there." Damian took the papers Alex proffered. "They wouldn't keep those in the attic. They have a safe deposit box for those kinds of documents." "That's what we figured. Can you help us find him?" "Yes, I can." "What's it going to cost us?" Aaron asked. "Nothing," Damian answered. "This is family business, I wouldn't think to put a price on that. Leave these with me, and I'll let you know once I've found him." Arthur hugged him. "Thanks uncle, you're the best." "You're welcome. And if I don't see you before that, I'll make it up to all of you for missing your birthday during the summer picnic." Damian watched his nephews leave. "Alice." His phone beeped, then rang. "Yes, Mister Orr?" her voice came form the speaker. "You should have left after ushering my nephews in." he speed read the papers. "You aren't required to work pass six." "I know sir, I just wanted to make sure they wouldn't have any trouble leaving." "You are a horrible liar, Alice. You want to make sure I leave the office." "Well, you do have a bad habit of spending far too much time here." "That comes with owning and running a multinational corporation." "It doesn't mean you should be sacrificing your health to it, sir." "I promise you, Alice, I take excellent care of my health. Now, go home. Unlike me, you have a husband waiting for you, and while I'm certain he appreciates that with the kind of salary I pay you there comes some sacrifice. Tonight isn't one of those." "Does this mean you'll be leaving with me?" "Unfortunately, not tonight. I still have some work to do, but go home, Alice. Go enjoy your evening." "Alright, have a goodnight Mister Orr. I'll see you in the morning." The phone disconnected the call and he put the last page of the stack on his desk. His first instinct was to go see his two brothers and knock their heads together. What had they been thinking, letting one of their sons get away like that. What was this nonsense about them having enough kids? It wasn't about how many kids they had, it was about him being raised right. He spent the next hour making calls. Putting his best people on sifting through each and every scrap of information about his nephews' conception and the events around it. After the calls were placed he went home. It would take a few days before he had anything he could use. A good meal, some exercise, then a full night of sleep. Alice would be pleased he didn't spent the whole night in the office.
  19. Kindar

    Chapter 05

    The Missing Son 05 Patrick came awake with a start and winced as he jostled his knee. Joey was shaking his shoulder. "You said you needed to leave at six thirty. It's six fifteen." Patrick started stretching, then stopped as he pulled on his side. "Thanks." Joey handed him two twenties and a ten. "For the day." "You shouldn't be paying me for not doing any work." "I said I would. Now take it before I shove this in your pocket myself." Patrick keep the money. "Thanks." "You're welcome. I know I can't stop you from working at the bar tonight, but take it easy. And then stay home and rest up. You're not going to be helping anyone if the Sarantos get to you in this state and cut you up." "I will. It isn't like I have any work lined up for this week anyway." The bulldog nodded. "Sorry, but I'm not going to call you if I get a large delivery this week. I'll check in with you next Monday. If I believe you when you tell me you're feeling better I'll schedule some time for you." Patrick put the ice pack off his knee and handed it to Joey. "Keep it," the bulldog said. "It should be good for another twelve hours, and it's a one time use. Buy me a new one next time you're working." "How expensive it is?" "A couple of bucks, five at the most. Just grab whatever is cheapest." "I will, thanks." Patrick stood and put some weight on his leg. His knee was numb enough that the pain wasn't too strong. He took a few steps to reach his jacket. "Fuck this." Joey reached his jacket first and handed it to him. "I'm going to drive you." "I can walk. I'm not an invalid." "No, but if you force yourself to walk on it, you're going to become one. Don't argue. Come on. I'll help you." Patrick felt bad for taking Joey out of the scrap yard. At this hour there was no one else here and he could miss customers. The drive to the church took less than ten minutes, so he was there very early. "The bar you work at is only a few blocks that way, right?" "Yeah, Don's Cup." "Okay, that's not too far. Stay off that leg as much as possible Pat. I'm not kidding, if you don't take care of it, it isn't going to heal right and you'll end up limping for the rest of your life." Patrick looked at the bulldog. "You know, you're going dad on me so strong right now that you should probably think about adopting me." "Don't tempt me. There's a few times where I've felt like throwing you over my knees and spanking you for the stupid stuff you've done." "What stupid stuff?" "Don't act that way. I saw you climb that tower of junk so you could reach the sink the customer wanted." Patrick shrugged. "Nothing happened, and she really wanted that one." "Damn it, Pat. That's why I feel like spanking you. Nothing happened? it's pure fucking luck you didn't bring that whole thing down on you and her." "No, it wouldn't have, not on her anyway. If I'd felt it move in any way I would have made sure to be on the opposite side." Joey glared at him. "You are so lucky I know your mom would skin me alive if I dared lay a finger on you. Now get out, I'm sure your priest is waiting for you so he can get things started." "Yes dad," Patrick laughed as he exited the car. The bulldog glared at him again, made sure he was clear and drove away. Patrick watched him for a moment before entering the church. It wasn't large, serving only the community, and the seven pm service didn't get many people. There was only a two already seated. Most would show up closer to the start. He dipped a finger in the holy water and crossed himself before heading to the confessional. He knelt down and a moment later the panel slid open. "Forgive me father for I have sinned. It's been a week since my last confession." "What have your transgressions been my son?" "Well, I got in a fight." "Did you start it?" "No." "Did you do all you could to keep it from happening?" "I think so, but by the time it was going I was pretty angry." "Anger is a dangerous emotion my son, it often leads to sinning." "Yeah, I know." "Anything else?" "I've been angry at a few customers at the bar who were mistreating the waitresses." "And what did you do about it?" "My job, mostly. I tried to get them to calm down and leave them alone. If I couldn't I escorted them outside." "Why did you say 'mostly'?" "Because at least once I might not have been as gentle with him as I should have been." "I see." "I've also been having impure thoughts." "Of a sexual nature?" "Yeah." There was a slight chuckle from the other side. "You are a young man, those will happen." "But they're still a sin." The priest didn't reply immediately. "It's the acting on them which is the sin, and will lead you off the Path. Keeping impure thoughts out of your mind is certainly commendable, but the important thing is to keep them out of your actions. Anything else?" Patrick thought about it. "No, not that I can think of." "Very well. Say an our Father and three Ave Maria and go in peace my son." Patrick crossed himself and left the confessional to take a seat in the middle of the pews. He put the ice pack on his knee and said his prayers. People sat around him, then the service started. Father Durony was an older ram whose black fur was graying. He always spoke with passion and fought hard to keep his followers on the Path to Eden. Patrick used to listen intently to everything he said, but as he got older Patrick noticed that the ram focused a lot on the negative side of things, instead of the positive, so he wasn't as attentive an audience anymore. He wondered what he was going to do while his knee and sides healed. Maybe he could try some of those computer games he heard about at the bar. Don was addicted to Castle Crash. Jen played a lot of StarFuries. He'd listened to both of them talk about the games, but he didn't see the appeal. He'd see what books were in his list and read that. He'd have to tell his mom about his knee, and the fight, since that meant they'd have less money coming in this week. He really hoped he'd be in better shape by Friday. He couldn't afford not to work at the bar, that was where the bulk of his money came from. "And God sent two of his angels down to Sodom," Father Durony's voice boomed, "for he had seen they had lost their way. Lot, still God's servant waited for them in the city's gateway. The bowed to the winged beings with his face to the ground. 'My Lords,' he said, 'please come to your servant's house. There you can wash your feet, spend the night and be on your way in the morning.' " 'No', they answered. 'Our father bid us observe your people, and judge them on this night.' Lot insisted, for he knew his people, and they would not be judged favorably, but they insisted. 'Then, let me feed you before the night, that your mind not be clouded by hunger.' "The angels acquiesced and followed him to his house, where Lot Prepared a meal for them, Baking meat on wood of Ash, and they ate. As they finished the men of the city surrounded Lot's house. "They called to him. 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we can have sex with them.' "The Coyote went outside to meet them. 'My friends, do not do this wicked thing. Remember the path. Remember the reward for walking it.' " 'Get out of our way', they replied. 'that they came to judge us, they must know what we do.' They pushed forward, pushing Lot back to the door. "The angels stepped outside and the others were pushed back. 'Our Father sent us here on this night to judge how to bring you back to the Path. The Path is lost to you, All you follow is Sin.' "They told Lot to take his family and leave. Run as fast and as far as they could, for on this night, Sodom would be no more." The ram paused, catching his breath for a moment. "What does Genesis nineteen tell us? It tells us that God can, and will judge us at any time, and if we stray too far off the Path, God will not bring us back. It tells us that Sin is the surest way off the Path to Eden. We must fight Sin as hard as we can, or God will pass judgment on us and we will never find our way back to Eden." Patrick felt the sermon was a little harsh, after all, didn't God forgive the repentant? Or was there really such a thing as sinning so much there was no coming back from it? Patrick hoped not, although the verse did seem to indicate the sin of homosexuality was a sure way off the Path. Once the service was over Patrick waited for most to have left before standing and limping out. The air was cool again, he hoped it would start warming up soon, as he walked to the bar. Once there, Don had him sit on his stood and ordered him not to move from there. He did that even before Patrick told him about his knee, so Joey had stopped by. Fortunately, Patrick didn't have to escort anyone outside that night. Once everyone was gone, Don Drove Patrick home, against Patrick's objections. once home he put the pay from Don in his mom's check book, ate the meat pie in the oven and went to bed.
  20. WindTide

    Birthday Tease (Logan, Mendo, and Wind)

    From the album: Wind Tide's Collection

    "Happy Birthday Wind!" The shark was having a birthday gathering at a restaurant, enjoying the close company of his friends over a lively meal at one of his favorite hangouts. All that Wind could muster was a hearty gale from his lungs as he blew out the candles, meet with the applause of his dear friends. Soon afterwards everyone helped themselves to the dinner set out before them, enjoying the festivities and the feast fitting for the man of the hour! "Thanks guys for setting this up for me. I couldn't ask for anything more than to enjoy the company of my friends. This has been a blast!" Wind couldn't help but take a bite out of the birthday cake before eating the entree first, savoring the dedicate chocolate flavor. "Don't thank us yet dude! There's a special surprise we have for you we all pitched in to get you something special." A voice shouted from the crowd, hard to discern whose voice it was, but this only got Wind flustered as he tried to take it all in with modesty. "Awww come on guys, this is plenty enough for me. You really didn't have to —" The shark's thought was cut off as he soon found himself looking at the elongated neck of a giraffe, the color draining in the shark's face as he recognized who it was. "OH SHIT!" Wind almost knocked his chair backwards from the shock, thinking this was the worst birthday surprise he could have gotten. "Logan! I swear, I didn't do anything this time! All I did was just ogle over your —" The giraffe raised an eye brow, completely straight faced as he stared down the shark behind his wide sunglasses, before he said "I'm not here for any of that crap." Wind perked up as he heard the news, finding himself relaxing in the wake of sheer terror in his body. "Oooohhhh~! Ahahahaha.... hahaha.. ha ha..." The lemon shark played off his confession as he tried to keep cool, setting upright in front of the giraffe. "Well... shoot. What is it that you're here for?" Wind asked inquisitively, only to see that Logan the stern giraffe handed him a handkerchief. "After your dinner, put this on. One of your friends will guide you over to a room. No questions asked." Logan let the words sink in before he made sure the shark complied. "Got it?" Given the bad graces that the shark had with the giraffe, he was very timid with the tall man, only swallowing what left of his courage he had before saying "G-got it." "Good. Enjoy your meal now." With that Logan left the birthday dinner, leaving the shark's stomach twisted in knots to think about what was in store for him later. Wind had been blindfolded and lead by one of the party guests into a room all to himself, having nothing but his party hat and whistle blower for the birthday festivities. Wind wasn't sure if eating anything was a good idea, but at least he wouldn't be hungry waiting around for the special surprise. The familiar stern voice filled the room, as Logan's voice commanded the shark "Okay Birthday man, take off the blind fold." Dexterous fingers had worked their way through the knot behind Wind's head to unfasten the cloth, though Wind saw nothing but darkness. Wind wasn't sure what to do or say, only that he tried to cut the tension by asking "I hope my birthday present isn't some B rated horror movie parody." Wind's quip was answered as the lights above him turned on to shin a light right above him, blinding the fish momentarily as he needed to adjust his eyes to the scenery. Out from the shadows, a tall figure emerged from the shadows, enough to draw the shark's gaze at the newcomer that entered into the fray. Never had the shark opened his mouth so wide in his life... the whistle blower soon fell out of his mouth from shock. A sea lion had nothing on but a baseball cap, sunglasses, a gold chain, and a towel over his waist. There was no mistake that it was the figure of Wind's deep crush he had on since seeing the pinniped in California. The man sauntered close to the shark, swaying his hips before he would let the towel unravel and walked closer to the shark. "Happy Birthday Mr. Tide. I have a special present to give to you, courtesy of your friends." Mendo didn't have to introduce himself, as the shark already knew the name of the man he chased after in his fantasies. Of course, to spoil the moment, Logan's head peered out as he said to Wind "Look, but don't touch." Wind groaned both in despair and in arousal. Oh boy! Wind Tide got the birthday tease of a life time with this special present from BGN. Just when the shark thought he would get his time alone with Mendo, a certain Giraffe boyfriend had to spoil the moment! Who knew they would be so protective of their sea lion boyfriends in the first place? A great birthday gift that I got from my dear friend! And hopefully many more! Wind Tide © Wind Tide Logan, Mendo, and Art © BGN Find BGN's other works in these following websites!  BGN Twitter ↔  Red Chair Tumblr ↔  BGN's Picarto Channel  BGN's Deviant Art ↔  Broryx Guy Now Instagram

    © BlueGuyNow

  21. DouglasKim

    Call me Father - Page 17

    From the album: Call Me Father

    To be fair, Nathan is in the wrong on this one. But also look at him, he seems so distressed :( You can support distressed tigers and read more pages of CMF at www.patreon.com/douglaskim
  22. Kindar

    Chapter 04

    The Missing Son 04 The bed the tigers were sleeping on was their fathers' bedroom. The room was large, but felt smaller because of the large custom bed in the middle of it, a square ten feet on all sides. The walls were mostly bare, a few family pictures hung on one of the cream color wall, around the windows. On the opposite a few plaques for awards they received. The back wall was a series of mirrored panels, a few slid aside to reveal another room, with clothing hanging throughout it. Opposite that the wall had a few shelves with books and small statues. the door in the middle of that wall was open and the sound of someone typing at a computer came from there, two someones. The seven tigers on the bed were naked, laying haphazardly, limbs strewed on or under one and other. One of them stirred, pulled his arm out from under one of his brother. He turned to spoon against another one, pulling him tighter. He nuzzled the back of his neck. "Aiden, what time is it?" Aiden groaned and ground his rear against his brother's crotch in reply. He was groped and moaned. "Oh yeah." "What time is it?" "It's time for you to fuck me Alex." Alex nuzzled Aiden. "that's a given, but I was hoping for numbers." The others were waking up, their yawns quickly replaced by moans and groans as they moved on to having sex. "It's ten twenty-two," Aiden answered, eyes closed. Alex pushed his brother on his stomach and entered him. He was still lubed from the after party, they all were. For the next hour and a half very few words were exchanged, other than to tell someone to fuck harder, or to change position. When they were done they were still sprawled over each other, but they were awake now. Arthur looked at the ceiling. "Guys, do you ever wonder about our mothers?" "What do you mean?" Aaron asked. "What mothers?" Albert interjected. "I thought we were test tube babies." "Of course, were not test-tube babies." Arthur looked at his brother. "You think I'd be here if we were?" "What are you talking about?" Aaron rubbed Arthur's back. "The fact that I'm..." he waved at his body. "Short?" Arthur rolled his eyes. "A dwarf. That would have been apparent pretty early. They would have aborted me." Aaron pulled his bother against him with enough strength to make him lose his breath. "Don't ever say something like that. They would never have aborted you. They love you, and we do to." "Yeah," Adam added, "It isn't because you're the runt of the litter we love you any less." He nibbled on Arthur's big toe, making him laugh. "Cut it out." Arthur tried to pull his foot away, but Adam wouldn't let go of it. "Okay, okay. You're right, they would have kept me anyway." he caught his breath for a moment once his foot was free. "But it's still apparent we have different mothers. Our fur colors are too different. As are our body shapes, even ignoring me." "We never would." Anakin turned to face his brother, but because of his position he ended up looking at his groin instead, so he nuzzled that. Arthur let at a slight moan. "For example, You Ani, your mother was obviously from Sumatra, and Aaron's mom from Bengal." "How about me?" Alexander asked. "You and Adam I'm not sure of, you take a lot more after our dads I think. I think Albert's mom was Indochinese, Aiden's maybe Malaysian. I can see traits in you two, but you also take after our dads a lot." "Okay," Albert acquiesced, "so we have different mothers. we could still be test-tube. Plenty of people at school are." "No, I'm with Arthur on this," Alex said. "I can't see our folks forgoing having sex to make us. Can you?" Albert took a moment to consider this. "Okay, you got me there. They definitely had sex." "And since we were all born at the same time, it means seven women were involved." "Could be less," Albert countered. "Some of us could be twins." Aaron reach over to give his brother a light smack across the head. "you're just being dense. Do any of us look like we're twins?" "Could be fraternal twins," Albert replied, rubbing his head. "We could ask dads," Anakin offered. They were silent for a time. Alex untangled himself from his brother and scooted to the edge of the bed. "Do you think they'll want to talk about it? I mean they had to have sex with women to get us. how pleasant can that have been?" "It was sex." Albert said. "Sex is always fun." "Okay, sure, but can you see yourself having sex with a woman? Just how much willpower did that take?" "We can ask them about that too." Adam suggested. They all looked at Aaron. "Anyone know when they got up?" Shakes of the head all around. "What time is it?" "Twelve thirty-six," Aiden answered. Aaron stood. "Okay, well, it's Sunday so they're going to stop working around three. Let's wash up, eat something, and keep busy till four. That's going to give them time to get their heads out of the game they're programing." Everyone agreed to that plan. * * * * * Aaron stood in the doorway to the lounge, his brothers behind him. He looked over his shoulder and they silently urged him to proceed. Like him they'd put on pants. They didn't want to send the wrong message by showing up naked. He took a couple of steps in the room. "Dads?" His fathers were naked, stretched out on the couch snuggling. he took in their bodies and attempted to say something, but no words came out. Aaron felt his brothers crowd the space behind him. One of his father raised his head. "Aaron, what can we do for you?" The other one turned so he could look at them. "Come on guys, don't just stand there, come on in. Aaron looked over his shoulder and back to his fathers. The two of them exchanged a worried look, untangled themselves and sat looking at their sons. "What's wrong?" Someone pushed Aaron and he took a step forward. Aaron looked over his shoulder, but none of them looked like they had been the one to push him. He looked at his fathers again. "We have something to ask you." "Of course, come closer, all of you." Their fathers looked at them, noting the pants and exchanged another worried look. Aaron and his brothers moved closer to the couch, but kept the love seats between them as a barrier, in case they needed to run off. "You're worrying us, guys. What do you need to know?" "It's, it's about our mothers." Aaron paused, looking at his fathers for a reaction. When they didn't show any anger, he continued. "You've never talked about them. We're pretty much worked out we have different mothers, but, how did it happen that way? why?" They smiled. "We'd been wondering why none of you had brought that up before." "I've been curious about it for a while, but I didn't know how to ask, then this morning Arthur brought it up as we came down from the sex. And we agreed to ask you." "You guys are going to want to sit down." The brothers exchanged concerned looks. "You don't have to worry. We're not angry that you're asking. You're not in trouble." They hesitated a moment then sat on the love seats, in twos and three, snuggling. The behavior calmed their fathers. "Alright, like Danny said, you're not in trouble. I'll admit we don't particularly care to talk about them, but that isn't because anything bad happened. We simply don't consider them all that important." "As you can imagine," Daniel continued, "eighteen years, nine months ago, me and Donny had sex with your mothers. We'd spent the year before that looking for the right tigresses to give birth to you. We wanted good genetic stock." Arthur straightened, ears straight with interest. "Yes Arthur, even your mother," Donald said. "Unfortunately, nothing's guaranteed when making babies without machines, and we didn't want you engineered. Because of that, you ended up with genes that mean you're as tall as you'll get." Arthur nodded. "Because of my mother." His tone had disdain in it. "Or us," Daniel corrected. "We didn't do a thorough genetic test. we weren't interested in all the of markers they might have, just that they were in good health and that they didn't carry high risks of anything that could ruin your life. We also never got ourselves gene typed. We don't care why you have dwarfism, we don't care that you have it, you know that, right? We love you anyway." "I know. it's just that if it's because of her, then I don't..." he didn't finish his thought. Albert hugged him. "We told you they loved you." then nibbled on his ear. Arthur's ear twitched. "Stop that!" But he was chuckling. "We found ten tigresses," Donald continued once they settled down. "They agreed to have sex with us, so we wrote up a contract. We didn't want any miscommunications, they were being paid a decent sum and they got any girls born. We got the boys." A chuckle ran through the kids. "Dad," Adam said, "There's never been a girl born in our family." "I know, but we felt it would look strange if we acted like there was no chance of there being girls." "Was it tough to have sex with them?" Alex asked. Daniel canted his head for a moment then looked at his brother. "Not really. We wanted sons, so we had to do that." "You could have gone with tubes." "I guess we could have, but it didn't feel right to do it that way." "So you just had a big orgy?" Anakin asked. Donald chuckled. "Hardly. You have to remember that we travel in rather peculiar circles. Outside of those not that many people are into them. No, we rented ten hotel rooms and spent a week going from on to the other." "The sex was okay," Daniel continued. "Sex is always pleasurable, but it was rather utilitarian. We were there primarily to get a job done. "Why did you do it that way?" Aiden asked. "I mean, why arrange it so we'd be born at the same time?" "Me and Danny, we saw how it was for our brothers to become sexual at different times. Dietrich would wonder what Dad and Dom were up to. I know they tried to not to make him feel excluded, but there was two years difference, but we could tell it didn't always work." "Didn't you feel left out?" Anakin asked. "We had each other," Daniel answered. "We were curious about what was going on, but we supported each other, and being always together, we started exploring our bodies a lot sooner." "We didn't want you to have to go through a staggered sexual awakening," Donald said. "And we really didn't feel like having a woman in our life for years," Daniel added. "It wasn't like she was going to stick around no matter what we did, so we figured to get it all done and over with at once." "Okay, so what happened?" Aaron asked. "you said there were ten tigresses, there's only seven of us." "Well, after that week we had them followed by a fertility clinic. But even with that, two of them had miscarriage." "What happened to the other woman?" Arthur asked. "She disappeared a few months before giving birth," Donald said. "Wait." Aaron straightened. "We have another brother?" Daniel shrugged. "Possibly. We don't know. We never looked for her." "Why?" they all asked as one. Donald leaned forward. "We had the seven of you, and you are all precious to us. We just figured that if she wanted a child that badly, she could have him." "We need to find him!" Arthur exclaimed. "No." Daniel's tone was firm, but calm. "But he's our brother," Albert added his support to Arthur. "He's eighteen now, just like you, but he hasn't grown up among us. Can you imagine the kind of shock our lifestyle would be for him?" The kids looked at one another, then nodded. They were all silent for a moment. "Do you want us to track your mothers down?" Donald asked. They shook their heads. "We were just curious about how we came about," Aaron said, speaking for all of them. "We're not interested in them." "Okay, now that that's been resolved. how about we spend the rest of the afternoon together?" Daniel patted his lap. Aaron stood, shoulders slumped. "Thanks, but I have a paper I need to finish." "I really should study," Arthur said, standing. "Me too," Adam added. They all found a reason to leave. Donald and Daniel looked at their back as they headed out of the room. "They aren't okay." Daniel said, once he was sure they were out of ear shot. "You think?" "Do you think we should start looking for their mothers, even if they said they didn't want to." "Let's give them a couple of days for the information to sink in. Then we'll ask them again." Donald pulled his brother against him and nuzzled his neck. "Now, how about we get back to what we were doing?" Daniel smiled, pushed his bother on his back and straddled him. * * * * * Aaron stared at the screen. He'd been staring at it for fifteen minutes, trying to type in the next words, but all he could think about was what he'd learned. There was a knock at his door. "Come in." Anakin walked in. "Can we talk?" "Yeah, sure. This isn't going to happen." He pointed to the screen. Anakin pushed the door close, but a hand stopped him. Adam poked his head in. "Can I come in?" Aaron smiled. "Sure. Are the others on their way?" "I don't know. I heard Anakin knocking on your door and figured it would be a good time to come." "You're not here to have sex, are you?" Anakin and Adam looked at each other than shook their head. Aaron sent a text to his other brothers. 'family meeting, my room.' Within five minutes the seven of them were seated on the bed. "What are we going to do?" Arthur asked. "That's easy," Adam answered. "We have to find him." "But should we?" Alexander countered. "Dad made a good point, he hasn't grown up in the sexual environment we have." Adam rolled his eyes. "So? we don't drag him into an orgy on the first meeting. I don't want to find him to fuck him, I want to find him because I want to know who my brother is." "Okay, so how do we go about finding him?" Anakin asked. "We can go through the attic," Aaron replied. "You know the dads haven't thrown out those contracts. We can find the mother through them." "It kind of means we'll know about our mothers too," Aiden said. "We're going to have to match them so we can eliminate them. the last one left will be her." "Are we going to have to actually meet them?" Alex asked. "I'd really rather not." "Why?" Arthur asked. "They aren't monsters or anything. "I know, but I don't want to run the risk of them getting attached. I don't need a mother, I don't want her to force herself into our lives." "It wouldn't happen," Adam stated. "We're all sexually active. The mother never sticks around pass that point." "But that's only based on her being there from the start. In all the family history, there's never been a situation where the mom's kept away from the start. And," Alex continued, "You're forgetting Grampa's wife. She came back, and most of them were active by then." "Sure, but she was there for what, a few hours? then she disappeared again. That's what I mean. I don't think we have to worry about any of our mothers wanting to be in our lives. that isn't how it works." "We might not even have to meet them," Aaron interjected, raising a voice slightly over his brothers. "As far as we know, there enough information here to work it out." "And even if there isn't," Adam said. "It isn't like we have to be the ones to do the work." "What do you mean?" Aaron asked. "We can ask uncle Damian to find him for us." Aaron stared at his brother. "You can't be serious." "Why not? He has a lot of resources. I'm sure one of his companies can do something like that." "And what is he going to do once he has our brother in his grip? Is he going to try to 'fix him'? We can't let him know." "Aaron, what are you talking about?" Anakin asked. "Even if there's something wrong with him. Uncle Damian wouldn't hurt him. He'd never hurt family." Aaron got off the bed and paced. "You have no idea what you're talking..." He closed his mouth. "Aaron?" Arthur asked. Aaron stopped moving and took a few breaths. "No, you're right. I don't know that he'd do something like that to him." He faced them. "But how about we try to work it out ourselves first? If we can't, we'll take what we did find to him for help. How does that sound?" Everyone agreed. Aaron hoped they would be able to find their brothers themselves. His brothers hadn't seen what their uncle was capable of.
  23. Kindar

    Chapter 03

    The Missing Son 03 Patrick turned on his side and came awake with a bit-off scream of pain. His arm pressed against his cracked ribs when he moved. Panting he looked at the clock. Ten am. Well, seven hours of sleep was good enough. He sat on the edge of his bed, wincing as he bent his knee. He should have iced that while he ate. And he was still dressed. Good thing he was doing laundry today. He carefully stood. Fuck his knee was stiff. He should stay home, put some ice on it and not move. Except they needed the money. Anyway, the best thing he could do for his knee was to move it, prevent it from getting stiff that way. He limped to the tiny bathroom, closed the door and locked it. The hamper was already on the washer. He took the whites out and put that in the washing machine. He got the bleach and detergent ready then undressed. Jeans and t-shirt went in the hamper, underwear and socks in the machine. He ran the shower cool while he washed. He applied as much pressure on his injuries as he could stand as he lathered himself up. Pain wasn't something new for him, and he dealt with it by not being gentle with his injuries. This wasn't going to be the last time they attacked him, he'd had to learn to live with the pain. His cock demanded attention and he gave it in spite of his pain. If he didn't it would bother him all day, forcing thoughts he didn't want to think about. He knew enough about the biology of sexual urges not to be bothered by masturbation, well, not too much, but if he didn't deal with it the things he thought about throughout the day bothered him. Once he was done he finished lathering up, then rinsed off. Completely clean he turned the water as hot as he could stand and stood under it, letting the jet force his muscles to relax. He closed his eyes, and tried to think about nothing for a time. He wanted peace and quiet for this moment. He didn't want worries about the bills, the Sarantos, The scrap yard, the bar, or his urges. He had fifteen minutes of quiet, then the water turned cold and pulled him out of it. he shut off the hot water and let the frigid jet invigorate him for a moment before turning that off. he rubbed as much of the water out of his fur as he could before stepping out. He started the washer, poured the detergent in the basket for it and the bleach in the pocket in the lip of the cover then dried off. A towel around his midsection he headed back to his room. he dressed in one of his less ripped jeans and a wife beater. Don would understand if he wasn't as well dressed as usual. The white board had a new message from his mom, with a ten dollar bill stuck behind one of the corner. 'If you're not coming home to eat between your two jobs, keep enough money to get something to eat. I'm going to the eight am service, then to the dinner. Since I won't see you today have a good day, and keep God in your thoughts.' He pocketed the bill. 'Thanks, have a good day too.' He had a bowl of cereal dry. There wasn't enough milk for that and for his mom once she got back from work. That done he tidied up his room until the washer finished. He transferred that in the dryer and started it. He grabbed a cleat t-shirt before going back to the kitchen. 'I did the whites, it's in the dryer.' He put the t-shirt in a pocket in his jacket, then hesitated at the door. He looked out the peephole, then out the window next to the door. Miss Harminio was puttering in her flower bed across the road, so it was safe to go out. She wouldn't risk it if any gang members were around. "Morning," he greeted her. The squirrel looked up and waved at him with her dirt covered hand. "Good morning Patrick. Are you doing okay?" "Just woke up with a stiff leg Ma'am. Nothing a good walk won't fix." "So, you weren't involved in the fight this morning? The screaming woke me." "No Ma'am. It must have happened before I got home." The look she gave him told him she didn't believe him. "It's sad, this neighborhood used to be safe. Now we can't even walk home after dark without someone accosting us. Used to be we stuck together when those gang caused trouble. Now we just hide in our homes hoping they won't break our door in." Patrick nodded. He doubted things had ever been better around here. "I was still a kid in the early thirties, I don't remember them, but I'm sure you're right." There was no point in taking away the little comfort she could find in the past. Comfort was a scarce commodity in this neighborhood. "You have a good day. Hopefully your sleep won't be disturbed tonight." He saw the tricycle on the front yard of the Jessalyn's. It would be little Suzie's then. The front wheel was bent. He'd see if he could fix that tomorrow. Joey might know how to do it. His shoulder hunched in, he walked through the crowds, not looking at anyone, but making sure to keep an eye out for Saranto colors. He really wanted to be left alone, but he couldn't count on it. For four years they'd tried to recruit him, hard. He rubbed his right bicep. If they had decided he was to die, they weren't going to rest. Fuck, all he wanted was a quiet life, was that too much to ask for? He glanced at the sky. Sorry God, I know it isn't your place to keep me safe. All I ask is that if they manage to get me, you make sure my mom's going to be okay without me to help out. Amen. Maybe God was looking out for him today, or maybe he given the Sarantos something to think about this morning. Whatever the reason, he made it to the junkyard without trouble. The gate was open and someone was dumping appliances out of a pickup truck. Patrick knew where he'd be starting today. "Morning Joey," He called out as he walked into the office. His limp was barely noticeable now. He was use to the pain in his knee. The bulldog looked over his monitor. "Hey Pat. We have a bunch of stuff that needs to be sorted." "I saw. Appliances." "That's just the latest. had a family dump a lot of housewares. They must have bought one of the wrecks on the outskirt. We also had a truck load of rims. Deal with those last. I put in a call with Alison, she's supposed to come by take anything that's still usable. Maybe She'll get here before you're done with the rest." "Sure. I got to leave around six fifteen. Going to church." Joey scuffed, but all he said as "that's fine." He wasn't a religious man, and that was fine by Patrick. To each their own. Was Joey going to Hell for not believing in God? Patrick didn't know, but he didn't think it was his job to worry about other people's souls, his own was work enough by itself. He also hated it when someone tried to shove his or her beliefs in his face, so he didn't do that. He hung his jacket and turned to head back out. Joey was standing. "I'm going to help out for a bit, get some sun in my fur, maybe get it lighter a shade or two." Patrick opened his mouth to comment, but Joey clapped in on the shoulder with enough strength to make him bend into his side and buckle his hurt knee. With a yell of pain Patrick grabbed on to the counter to avoid falling down. "What the Hell Pat? You hurt?" "No, no. It's okay." He was panting fighting against the pain. "Bullshit, sit your ass down." The bulldog didn't give him a choice in the matter. He forced a chair under him and made him fall back in to it. "Now. What happened?" Patrick sighed, relived to be off his feet. "The Sarantos jumped me this morning after work." Joey went around him. "Haven't you thought that it might be better to just join them?" He gently pressed the tiger's knee and Patrick held back a hiss. "Painful?" "Yeah, but I can deal with it. And giving into them wouldn't have solved anything, just validated their bullying. Anyway, they don't want me in anymore, they want me dead." Joey looked at him. "Fuck. What are you going to do?" "What else can I do? I'm going to keep standing up to them, until I can't anymore." "Well, you're not doing any standing at this time." He pulled out a crate and placed it under Patrick's foot. "You're staying off your feet today." "I can't. I need the money." "Bullshit. You're not going to be able to work if you ruin your knee. If you're worried about the money, I'll pay you your day's wage regardless." "You can't pay me if I don't do the work." "You do three time the work of anyone else who helps out here, and I'm not paying you anymore than them. so, consider this earned. Now shut up and tell me what else they did to you." Patrick wanted to argue. He wasn't a freeloader. He earned what he got. Instead he slumped back in the chair. "I think I have a few cracked ribs." "Lift up your shirt." Joey ran his hand over the area the tiger indicated, pressing until Patrick winced in pain. "Okay, yeah, that doesn't feel broken, but I should still tape it up to make sure it doesn't get worse. Anything else?" "Just a sore jaw." Joey gave him a look. "I swear, that's all. No teeth fell out, none of them feel broken. It's just sore." "Well, you certainly are thick skulled enough for that." Joey pulled out a rusted first aid box from his desk. He grabbed a pack, bent it until something cracked inside then shook it. "On your knee," He said as he handed it to Patrick. Humidity was already frosting over it. "How do you know so much about injuries?" He asked applying the pack to his knee. "Do you have any idea how many people ignore all the signs I have around the yard about not trying to carry stuff themselves? about how precarious some of the stacks are? Every week I have to patch up an idiot or two." "Really? I've never seen that happen." "That's because you're big and strong. People see you and they automatically ask you for help. If I could afford it I'd have you here every day just to keep the injuries down." He wrapped the length of fabric around Patrick's chest and adhered it to itself. He attached a dial to it. "Let me know when it's tight enough." He slowly turned the dial and the fabric tightened. "That's good," Patrick said through clench teeth. "You're a fucking masochist." The bulldog turned the dial back two notches, detached the dial and handed it to Patrick. "You know how a compression band work?" "Sure. Clockwise to tighten counter to loosen, in a pinch center button to return it to his slack state." "Good, now you relax there and I'll make sure things get done outside." Relax? Patrick wasn't one for sitting around not doing anything. At least in church he had someone to listen to. He dragged himself back until he could reach Joey's computer. He went through the music sites in the memory. He ran each for a minute, to get a feel for them, and settled on one that played jazz. He liked the soothing feel of the instruments.
  24. Kindar

    Chapter 02

    The Missing Son 02 The house was in a community built on a hill on the outskirt of the Greater San Francisco Area. The people who lived in this community had money, but they didn't display it in an extravagant manner. The house was large. larger than needed for the nine people it housed, but while it was aesthetically pleasing, It was subdued. Built on three levels climbing the hill, the color was a tan only sufficiently darker than the surrounding stones to prevent the house from getting visually lost against them. The roof had solar panels, as well as water heating panels. The family of tigers was currently in their large yard. The back of which was occupied by a large in ground pool with an in ground hot-tub next to it. The rest was vibrant green grass and outlined by a tall cedar fence. The two adults, both male, wore tight speedos and open shirts. They setup the barbecue, cleaning the grills and the insides, while the teens were bringing out folding tables and chairs, also dressed in speedos. "The grills are clean, Danny." One of the men said, balling the towel and lobbing it in to a basket containing other soot covered cloth. "Good," the other man replied. "Then you can help me with this. It's taking a lot more rubbing than I remembered." The tiger leaned the grill against the wooden fence before standing with a grin. He moved behind the other and pressed himself against him. "Oh, I'll be happy to do some rubbing." He rubbed his partner's groin. "Oh Donny, I do like that kind of help." "Cut it out dads," one of the teen, Aiden, said. "The guests are going to start arriving shortly." He unfolded the table open and set it on the ground. "Yeah," his brother, Alexander, said. "Keep it for the after party." He handed a chair to Aiden and they set them up around the table while Aaron and Albert placed two other tables. "I suppose the kids are right," Donald said, grinding against Daniel. Arthur, the smallest of all of them at three-ten, stepped out of the house carrying a tray of plastic cups. He stopped and stared at his fathers. "I swear, you two are the teens in this family and not us." Donald straightened up and readjusted himself so he wouldn't be poking out of his bathing suit. "We're not the ones who got almost caught with Zack behind the bleachers, are we?" Arthur's ears turned red, but he grinned. "It was worth it." "Yeah," Aaron added, "He's a great lay." Daniel looked up from his scrubbing. "You slept with him too?" Aaron nodded. His father looked around. "Have you all had sex with him?" The seven teens nodded their heads. Donald chuckled. "No doubt about it, they are our sons." "Is uncle Damian going to make it?" Anakin asked. "Oh, right, I forgot to pass along the message," Adam exclaimed. "He can't make it. He has a conference call with one of his subsidiary in Sidney. He's probably going to be at it all night." "Good," Aaron said, "I don't want him around." Arthur looked at his brother, who went in the house, then shook his head. "It's been over three years," Alex whispered to him, "Has he said anything about what happened?" "No" Arthur whispered back. "I wonder if uncle Damian did something to him." "No, he didn't." Their father said. "Do you know what happened?" Alex asked him. "No, but I know my brother. Something definitely happened during their trip, and I know Damian had something to do with it, but he didn't lay a finger on Aaron." "Didn't you ask uncle Damian about it?" "We did," their other father said, stepping next to his partner, making it impossible to tell which one was which. "But he won't say. If we want to know, we need to ask Aaron, and he won't talk about it. We'll just have to wait until he's ready." "I do hope he'll start lightening up before that at least. He used to be a lot more fun." Alex went back to setting up the tables. Not long after that the side gate opened with a creak and a young lioness entered, followed by her parents. "Samantha!" Adam ran across the yard to hug her friend. "I'm glad you came." Samantha took a step back and looked at him snobbishly. "I get invited to a birthday party hosted by the Orrs, and you thought I wouldn't show up?" She held the pose for a second longer then bursts out laughing. "Of course, I came. I wouldn't be able to give you this otherwise." She took out sheets of paper and handed them to him. "Oh my God, these are actually drawn on paper. I didn't know you drew on paper, all you've given me before were printouts." Someone cleared his throat behind Adam and he looked over his shoulder at his father. "Are you going to introduce your friend and her family?" "Oh, yeah." Adam's ears burned. "This is Samantha Ilsing, Sam, this is my father." "Daniel," he said, extending a hand to her. "It's pleasure to meet you." "Like wise." she shook it back. "This is my mom, Lianne, and my dad, Archibald." "Please, call me Archie." They all shook hands. "I don't mean to pry, but why didn't Adam give us your name?" "He didn't know which one I was." Daniel pointed to his brother at the barbecue. "we're twins, no one can ever tell us apart." "Ah, I see. So, both your family are here to celebrate Adam's birthday?" "no, we all live here." "Dad?" Adam tried to interject. "Both your family live in the same house?" "No, we're only one family." "Daaad?" Adam whined. Archibald gave Daniel a confused expression. "Me and my brother are lovers." Adam sighed. "Damn it dad, can we keep your sex life out of my birthday party?" "Sorry Adam." "No, I'm the one who needs to apologize," Archibald said. "Samantha had warned us Adam had two fathers, but she forgot to mentioned they were brothers." Samantha shrugged. "I didn't think it mattered." "You're right, it doesn't, but It would have avoided my making Adam uncomfortable if I'd known." she made a silent 'oh' and now it was her ears that turned red. "I'm sorry Mister Orr, I didn't mean for things to be uncomfortable." "Don't worry about it. I'm just glad your parents are comfortable with it. Come on in, we don't have any hot food ready yet, but we have a few vegetable platters, if you like that. as well as beverages, although the strongest things we have are coolers, because of the kids." Adam and Samantha let the adults move away, then he looked at the papers again. "Wow, this is a Ferrari Lightning." "Yeah, that's the car we're giving Steve 'smoking tire' McTire in the next series." Adam winced. "I hate that nick name." He flipped through the pages. "You do know that if you're going to keep having him smoke tires like that, you'll have to give him a blow out, right? Race car rated tires are not meant to be smoked like that?" "Let's call it creative interpretation." Adam chuckles "Hey, you asked me to be your technical adviser on the cars, just giving you my input." He handed the pages back to her. "No, keep them, they are your birthday present. I've already scanned them." "Really? thanks." they joined the others, passing by her mother talking with his father. "Do you think the sun will come out? With the wind it's a bit too chilly for the kids to go in the pool." "The forecast calls for the sun being out most of the afternoon, but even if it isn't, we're heating the pool today, and we have plenty of thick towels for anyone who gets chilly." He led her to one of the lounge chairs Aaron had set out and he went back to the barbecue, where Donald was wiping it down. From there on there was a steady stream of people arriving, friends of the kids with their parents. "Uncle Dominic!" Arthur yelled and ran out of the pool to hug him, getting his shirt and jeans wet. Dominic hugged his nephew with one arm, the other one holding a bottle of champagne. "Let me give this to your one of your fathers, then I'll change and join you in the pool." "Cool." The diminutive tiger ran back to the pool and jumped in it. "Dom, Glad you could make it." Dominic placed the bottle on the table and they hugged. "I wouldn't miss this for the world, Bro." He pulled away. "Which one are you?" "Donald." "Where's Daniel?" Donald looked around. "Inside. It's getting close to dinner time, I'm guessing he's taking out the patties and hot dogs." "You can tell him about this when he comes out then." He handed him the bottle. Donald looked it over. "How the hell did you manage to score a 2010 Dom Perignon? Wasn't that the most difficult year for them in the last thirty years?" "It's from Herbert's cellar. He insisted I bring it to you." "I can't... I don't know what to say." He looked at his brother. "I mean, thank you. Thank him for us. I take it he couldn't make it?" "No. He'd like to meet the family, but he hasn't been able to justify coming to the west coast yet." "Does he need a reason that badly?" "He does since he doesn't want his wife to find out about us. It isn't like the senator from Virginia can just fly off to California and not attract attention." "I know you're happy with the way things are, But I'm worried you're expecting more than what he can give you." Dominic smiled. "I know exactly what I'm getting, and I'm okay with it. I don't want him to be my boyfriend, just my master." Donald nodded, visibly uncomfortable with that statement. "Have you heard anything from Dietrich?" he asked to change the subject. "No, still nothing. You were there the last time anything about him surfaced." "Yeah, when those collection agencies started harassing us." Dominic nodded. "I think Damian bought and dissolved all of them when he found out about it. He mentioned Dietrich was in Nevada then, but when I went there he'd left." "I'm thinking of asking Damian where he is. It's been over nine years now. I'm worried about him." "He doesn't know where he is. He stopped keeping track of him. I think he washed his hand of him, too high maintenance." "Yeah, but he could find him if he really wanted." "Hey Dom," Daniel greeted him, carrying a large platter of meats. "Hey Danny." They hugged once the platter was on the table. Donald showed him the bottle. "Look what Dom's master sent us." "Champagne?" he commented after looking at the label. "cool. I'll be back with the bread, make sure the heat is going. If we don't have anything to feed them soon, the kids are going to devour us instead." Daniel turned around and headed back inside. Dominic looked at his brother's disappearing back and then to Donald. "Don't worry," Donald said. "I'll explain the value of the bottle before we drink it." He handed it to him. "Put it on the counter inside. then change and take a swim. I want you in the pool in case the kids get hungry before the food's ready." "So, I'm to be the sacrificial tiger?" "You're the oldest, you have duties to uphold." Dominic laughed and headed in. * * * * * Dominic was able to keep the kids from eating him by playing water polo with them, water tag and get the people seated around the pool wet by making bombs in the water. The sun didn't come out, but the wind died down, making the air comfortable. The food was enjoyed with laughter and stories of the year. One of the twins stood and raised the raspberry cooler he was holding. "I want to thank you all for coming here to help us celebrate our sons' eighteenth birthday. This is an important one. From now on they can legally drink, and if they manage to stay sober, they'll be able to vote." laughter answered that. He looked at his sons. "Aiden, Arthur, Aaron, Alex, Anakin, Albert and Adam, you are the gems in our lives, we will always love you." "Until the day we all bring guys home at the same time," Alex yelled, and people laughed again. The other twin and Dominic left the table. "Even then, although I'm not cleaning up that mess." More laughter. "Now, celebrating seven birthdays at the same time always causes some logistic issues. Those who were here last year will remember the one giant cake with seven times seventeen candles on it, and then almost setting fire to the house." nods and some chuckles. "That's right, you laugh, you weren't the one having to explain the blackened wall to your insurance. They still call back once a month just to get me to tell that story again and get a good laugh." He waited until people stopped laughing. "So, this year we're keeping things simple. One cake, eighteen candles and all your names on it." Their father and Dominic came back, carrying between them a three foot in diameter cake. People moved to makes space for the large cake. "Alright sons, gather around and blow out the candles." "Make a wish first!" Samantha yelled. The seven of them stood at the end of the table, and as one they blew out the candles. Applauses exploded all around. Arthur climbed on a seat and bowed to everyone. Everyone had a slice of cake, and half of it disappeared over the rest of the evening as the teens played around the yard or in the pool, and the adult talked. Hours later, when most of the friends had trouble staying awake. The families left, taking with them more of the cake to enjoy later. Once the last of them had driven away the teen strip out of their speedos to screams of 'After Party!'. The three adults chuckle at their antics. Dominic got the bottle of champaign and three glasses. Donald explains to his brother about the grapes almost all going to waste due to rot that year, and how expensive the bottle had to be, before they enjoyed a glass, giving it the reverence it was due. Afterward they got out of their bathing suits and joined the teens for the after party.
  25. Kindar

    Chapter 01

    The Missing Son 01 Patrick sat on the stool at the bottom of the stairs, arms crossed over his chest, which exposed the long scar through the orange and black fur on his right bicep. He wore his best pair of jeans, which he kept for the few days a week he bounced here, but they were still faded. At least they weren't ripped, like most of his other ones. He had to buy a new pair soon. The gray t-shirt didn't show as much age, but it was snug across his muscular chest. It's what he got for shopping at goodwill. He watched the line of people walking down the stairs. Men and women of various species, but all definitely blue collar. Don didn't serve beer that cost more than four dollars a bottle, so the finicky drinkers went elsewhere. He stopped a Rottweiler and asked for his ID. Mildly annoyed the dog handed his driver's license over. Patrick examined it, checking the hologram across the picture, while feeling for the indentations on the back most of the amateur forgers didn't realize were coded and not just wear. This one looked and felt legit, that's all he cared about. He handed it back and waved him in. A couple more then no one. It would be quiet until the next bus showed up in fifteen minutes. He turned on his seat and looked over the room. Forty tables, half of them occupied. Not as busy as Saturdays usually were, even past midnight. He followed the three waitresses as they moved through the tables, and he was about to focus back on the door when one of them, a brown hare, glanced his way, worry on her face. He headed in her direction, locating another waitress, with her tray under her arm. He indicated for her to go keep an eye on the door. She nodded and he focused back on the table. The waitress turned to step away from the table, but someone caught her arm. The hand had coarse dirty gray fur. Patrick took a step to the side to see who it belonged too, a gorilla. A chimp was seated at the same table. A good dozen empty bottles on the table. "Is there a problem, Mary?" He asked as he reached her. She didn't have to say anything, he could see the pain on her face, but he'd asked the question more to announce his arrival than to inquire about her. The gorilla looked over his shoulder at him. "Piss off wanker." Normally Patrick would start by asking for him to release the waitress, but this time he just grabbed the gorilla's wrist and squeezed. "Now, why don't you let her go so she can serve other customers." "She can go do that after she's done serving me." Patrick squeezed harder, and now pain registered on the gorilla's face. "She can't get you another beer if you don't let her go." "I don't want her to get me another beer. I want her to give me a blowjob." Okay, that was it. Patrick twisted the wrist and the gorilla screamed in pain, finally letting her go. He felt like grabbing his head and smashing it on the table, but he controlled his temper. Don didn't like it when he hurt customers, and if he broke some of the bottles in the process he'd feel obliged to pay for the damage. His pay wasn't so big he could afford it. Mary had retreated to the bar, and Don was looking in their direction. Patrick placed a hand on the back of the gorilla's neck, dug his fingers in the flesh there and he pulled, forcing the gorilla to stand. He was careful to keep his claws in. He didn't need the trouble with the law this would cause if it escalated to an assault. The gorilla tried to use his free arm to stop Patrick from causing him pain, but he couldn't decide which spot to start with, so his arm was just flaying about. "I think you've had enough to drink tonight, so I'm going to escort you outside." He fixed his gaze on the chimp. "Are you thinking of causing trouble?" A quick shake of the head answered him. "Wise decision. Did you drive here?" Another shake. "We took the bus." Patrick started pulling the gorilla toward the stairs. "Then you're in luck, the next one should be here in a few minutes." Jen, the fox watching the door for him, hid a smile as the gorilla whined at being forced up the stairs. Patrick put his back against the push bar to open the door and someone, an otter, had to quickly step out of their way. A dozen steps and they were at the bus stop. Patrick sat the gorilla down and let go of him. The ape glared up at him. The tiger smiled back. "We're outside the bar. Please start something so I have a reason to blow out some steam on a self-entitled asshole like you." The gorilla continued to glare, but he reached behind him, running a hand across the back of his neck. "If you cut me I'm going to drag your ass in court." Patrick rolled his eyes. "I didn't cut that precious skin of yours. Unlike you I know what I'm doing. Now don't bother coming back in the bar tonight. I'm just going to have to kick you out again, and I'm not going to be this nice about it if I have to do it a second time. And the next time you come here, you better start by apologizing to Mary for being an asshole." "Go fuck yourself." Patrick turned around and the chimp moved aside. "Same does for you. I don't know if you're an asshole, but you're trouble by association." He went inside without waiting for a reply. Jen finished carding the otter when Patrick reached the bottom of the stairs. "Is he still alive?" Patrick shrugged. "Did he qualify as a living being when I dragged him out?" The fox thought about it. "Barely." "No change then." She vacated his seat. "It's back to being ogled, having my ass grabbed and waving aside advances." Patrick frowned. "You know you're supposed to tell me if they get grabby." "It's okay. They give me bigger tips is I let them touch my ass." "You shouldn't have to put up with that just to earn a living." "And you shouldn't be stuck down here barely making one yourself. A nice guy like you should have a decent job and a girlfriend." Patrick snorted. "No one's going to hire a dropout in this economy. I'm just happy for what I have. It isn't much but me and my mom get by." "If God was fair He'd give you more." "God doesn't play favorite." "He should." She kissed him on the cheek and did the rounds of her tables. Patrick smiled and sat back down in time for the next crowd of arrivals. A group of construction workers by the look of them. They nodded to him and pulled two tables together. An hour later they had gone through two pitches of beer. "Sanders!" Don Yelled, catching Patrick's attention before throwing him a key chain. "Alright Folks," the panda said, "this is the last call. and you have half an hour to finish it, after that you get kicked out." Patrick locked the door, so only the push bar could open it. No one was getting in after last call. He waited for the glut at the bar to thin out before taking a seat there and handing the keys back to Don. The panda placed a tall glass with a red liquid in it. The rim was covered with celery salt. Patrick eyes Don. "Stop worrying. It's a Virgin Mary. And don't worry about paying for it, it's your birthday." Patrick took a sip. "So, how old are you? Twenty-four, twenty-five?" "Eighteen." Don looked at him, eyes wide. he put a hand over his heart. "Are you telling me you were underage for all these years you've been bouncing for me?" "Yep." "Well, I never. How could you do that to me?" Patrick smirk. "Considering you provided me with the false driver's license so I could work for you, I don't see how you never noticed it. But now that I'm legal to work here, I guess it means you can start paying me above the table now." The panda ermed and ahhed. "Well, it isn't like I make that much money. I mean I'm willing to pay you minimum wage, but I wouldn't be able to afford to have your here the three nights a week I need you." "Don't worry about it. I'm okay with what you're paying me. It isn't like there's that many people out there willing to hire someone like me." "Well, you're legal now, the least I can do is make this a Bloody Mary." "Please don't. I've seen enough of what happens when people drink. I'm not going to do it. I don't see how you can stand drinking, considering the kind of people you've seen me throw out." Don slapped his ample belly. "I have enough mass to soak it all up." Patrick chuckled and turned around, watching for last minute trouble. A female cheetah ambled to the bar, passing and then leaving his field of view as he focused on a table where he thought the drinkers there, the otter from earlier and a Dalmatian, would start fighting, but they burst out laughing after slapping each other's shoulder so he relaxed back against the bar. "Tell me, handsome, is there any way I can get you to escort me home?" He turned to look at her and she moved closer. "Sorry, I need to head home myself after this." She ran a finger through the fur on his arms, tracing one of his stripes. "You could sleep at my place, I'd let you sleep in." He smiled. "That's kind, but I need to be up early." She pouted at him. "How about we exchanged numbers then? You can call me when you're available." "Sorry, I don't have a phone." She glared at him. "You could just have said you weren't interested, you know." She left in a huff. Patrick watched her leave, trying to understand what had just happened. "You really should get a phone, you know," Don said. "You have to be the last person on earth left who doesn't have one. They aren't that expensive." He pulled out his from his breast pocket and Patrick turned. "This was ten bucks." He showed him the screen with all the apps on it. He swiped it to show him the other pages of icons. "And how much is your plan?" "Sixty bucks a month." Patrick nodded. "Considering how much you're paying me, how little Joey can pay me, and that most of what I make goes to help my mom pay the bills, how am I supposed to afford that?" "There has to be cheaper plans out there." "Yes, there is. the cheapest available is forty-five. that's the one my mom has. That all we can afford. We can't even afford to put a second phone on it." Don looked at him, then his phone. "Fuck man, I wish I could pay you more now." "Don't worry about it. I've lived my entire life without a phone. To be honest I don't see the good in having one." "What about when your friends need to reach you?" "They leave a message on my mom's phone. She leaves it at home. That's the number you have as my number. When I'm there I answer it." "Still, it's got to be rough." Patrick shrugged, then went to help a woman trying to stand. the lioness definitely had too much to drink. He escorted her to the bus stop. When he came back he had to help more of the customers to the bus stop. Finally, the bar was empty. Patrick grabbed his jacket out of the back. "I'll see you tonight Don." "Yeah, have a good day." Jen caught him before he could leave and he put thirty bucks in his pocket. "You know you don't have to give me part of your tip Jen. You don't make that much." "You earn it. You keep the riffraff in line. and I know you can use it." "Thanks." He kissed the top of the fox's head. Every night he worked they went through this. the waitresses gave him some of their tips. He could usually make an extra hundred over the weekend this way. It went a long way to making sure he and his mom ate good food. He stood outside the door for a moment, pulling his jacket tighter against him. He'd forgotten it was March. Inside, so many people in one room making it feel very hot. Don never had to run the heat when the bar was open. Of course, he had to run the AC twice as hard in the summer. The bus had collected the last of the customers. That was something else he couldn't afford. He walked almost everywhere he went. He looked around carefully before stepping away from the doorway. A few cars on the road, but no pedestrians. Good. He'd gone two blocks when two guys stepped out from an alley. They stepped in his way. Patrick stopped moving. Great. He'd really hoped he wouldn't have to deal with this tonight. He didn't recognize these two, a mole and a rat, but there was no mistaking the colors they were wearing. Saranto colors. He took a step back, then heard the distinct sound of a knife being flicked open. Fortunately, it was a few feet behind him. He turned and moved against the wall. A short horse holding the knife. and a canine of some sort a step behind him. This just got better. This wasn't the usual initiation, send a couple of newbie to take down the tiger who humiliated the leader's right-hand man. Tonight, said right hand man was making another one of his other attempt at forcing him in. He kept his hands at his side, no matter how much he felt like rubbing the scar they'd given him that first time. "You really want to do this again Emilio?" Patrick asked the horse. Emilio pointed at him with the knife. "You don't get to say no to me and walk away." "You've been trying for four fucking years. Haven't you figured out by now I want nothing to do with you and your fucking gang?" "Oh, this isn't about persaud... persode... getting you to join, stripes. It would have looked great if you'd joined us, especially after refusing for so long, you got will, the boss respects that, but he's decided you're becoming an embarrassment for us. So now he just wants you dead." The canine startled. "Milio? Rob didn't..." "Shut up." the horse snapped. Patrick gritted his teeth. Happy fucking birthday to me. He glanced up. God, I really don't need this. There was no way he could win against the four of them. The rat and the mole looked young, so they were probably newbies, but Emilio was strong and he knew how to fight. The canine also had a lot of muscles on him. Patrick took a deep breath, made fists and stepped forward. "Fine. Let's do this. Come on Emilio. You and me, one last time." The horse snorted. "You think you can goad me into being stupid?" He motioned at the mole and the rat. "You two soften him up." The newbies didn't even hesitate. They ran at the tiger, hands open. Of course, if they were going to kill him they weren't going to worry about using their claws. Patrick surprised them by sprinting in their directions. Their moment of hesitation cost them their chance. The tiger punched the rat across the face as hard as he could then kicked the mole in the balls. He kept running. He didn't look behind him as he heard Emilio scream after him. calling him names in English and Spanish. Patrick didn't give a damn about being branded a coward. He wasn't suicidal. He didn't know if they chased him for a while, but he did know they couldn't keep up with him. They made a hobby of making his life miserable, so he made it his job to keep in shape and have a lot of endurance. He ran for ten minutes, then slowed to a jog, but he didn't stop until he was a few blocks from home. He knew how the Sarantos thought. They wouldn't count on Emilio to kill him. He'd escaped him too often. They had someone waiting for him. He walked the remaining blocks slowly, looking in every driveway he crossed, in the shadowed sides of each houses. He normally had decent night vision, but the street lights weren't helping him in this case, making the shadows deeper. If they got the drop on him, he was dead. The one advantage he had, that he hoped he had, was that the Sarantos had never gone for the sneak attack before. That didn't mean he was going to be careless. And it was why he saw the shadow detach itself from the side of the building, three houses away from his. She came at him silently, head down, horns forward. Patrick barely moved out of the way in time. He heard his jacket rip. At least he had a few seconds while the momentum took her away. he could prepare himself for her. Nope. He caught motion out of the corner of his eye. he dropped and a clawed hand flew through where his neck had been. he kicked out at her knee. The wolf howled in pain and fell to her good knee. Patrick stood and kicked at her. She rolled back with a growl, stood on her good leg and readied herself for him. He took a step toward her and someone hit him in the side hard enough to send him flying. He saw massive arms before he hit the ground, rolled and came to a stop. he looked up. How the Hell (sorry) had an elephant snuck up on him? His side really hurt. He was lucky those didn't have claws, she could have opened him up. He forced himself up, wincing. The wolf was hanging back, which was lucky for him, but the antelope was coming back. There was no way he could take on two of them. He Ignored the pain and ran at the pachyderm. She smacked a large fist in her hand and smiled at him. She swung, and he dropped low, but he didn't stop. He turned at the last minute and planted his elbow in her chest. He didn't know much about female anatomy, but he really hoped a woman's breasts were as sensitive as a man's balls. His ribs didn't like that move. She backed up, clutching her chest. He grabbed her trunk before she could get too far, pulled her toward him, and down, getting her off balance. As she fell forward he raised his knee. Her face collided with it, there was a loud crunch, pain lanced up his leg. She hit the ground and didn't move. He put some weight on his leg and winced. He cursed and limped back from the wolf, only to get within reach of the antelope. He didn't move in time, she punched him across the head. He spun away, put weight on his hurt leg and dropped to the ground screaming in pain as he rolled. He kept himself rolling, he had to get away from them. He wished someone would come out to help, but that wasn't going to happen. People knew better than to get involved in the Saranto's affairs. He rolled off the sidewalk and onto grass, having to stop when he hit a tree and his side made him scream again. He forced himself on his back. The antelope was striding toward him. he couldn't take his eyes off her. Fuck he was so fucking dead. He groped on the ground for something, anything, he needed a weapon if he had any prayer of surviving this. His hand closed around a wheel, six, seven inches in diameter? He searched around if and his hand closed around a metal tube. A cart? a tricycle? he didn't know on whose front yard he was, but a few of them had toddlers. God, please let this be a tricycle and not something too heavy for me to use. She came to him, hands open, at her side. She wasn't going to punch him. He watched her hips. she wasn't tensing them. she wasn't going to kick him either. She reached down with both hand to grab him. With a scream he swung what he was holding at her head. For a moment he thought it wouldn't move. Then it arced across the air and smashed in the side of her head. The object pulled him on his side as it continued its arc and hit the ground. She fell down a moment later. Patrick looked at what he was holding. A pink tricycle. He didn't let go of it as he used the tree to stand. The wolf was looking at him, muzzle open in astonishment. Patrick pushed himself away from the tree and took a step toward her. She backed up. "Now. I'm going home to clean up and eat. You want to try and stop me, and I'm going to put you down just like your friends." He used the tricycle to point at the elephant and the antelope. "I really don't want to do that. I'm fed up with you and your gang, and I am NOT going to be pushed around. Are you getting me?" She nodded. He threw the tricycle down and she startled. Patrick limped home, never taking his eyes of her. She didn't stop watching him either. He got in and relocked the door before leaning back against it. Fuck that had been close. He put his jacket in the closet, shaking his head at the tear on the side. At least it was old enough his mom wouldn't know this was recent. He'd see about mending it when he wasn't in so much pain. He went to the kitchen to clean up, since that was closer than the bathroom. He looked in the living room, in the off chance his mother had fallen asleep there. It didn't happen often, but if she was particularly tired after work she'd sit down among her religious icons for a rest and fall asleep there. Not tonight. There was a note on written on the white board stuck to the fridge. 'Your dinner is in the oven. If you have the time see about doing some laundry tomorrow.' He wiped it and wrote. 'Thanks for dinner, it was really good. I'm working at the scrap yard tomorrow. I'll only have time to do one load before I leave. I'll try to do another one between that and going to the bar. I've put thirty dollars in your checkbook for grocery. Have a good day at work.' His mom worked two full time jobs. she worked at a mattress factory, sewing the fabric going over the springs, and she had a waitressing job. Even with them, and what he brought in they were barely breaking even. He looked at his message as he realized it was Sunday. He wouldn't have time to do the second load. He wouldn't be coming home. He'd go from the scrap yard, to the church for the seven-pm service and then to the bar. He rewrote the message to indicate that. He washed up in the sink, feeling around the inside of his muzzle with his tongue. It was a miracle he hadn't lost any teeth with that punch. Once the blood on his face was cleaned off he took out his plate from the oven and ate. It was cold but he didn't feel like reheating it. He washed and dried his plate, put it away and limped to his room. Across the hall from his mother. He quietly closed the door behind him, went to his bed and let himself fall onto it. He immediately regretted it as his ribs complained. Fuck, he wasn't going to be of any use at the yard. Maybe he should call Joey to let him know he couldn't make it. He fell asleep before he'd reached a decision.

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