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Found 96 results

  1. Kindar

    Chapter 38

    The Missing Son 38 With fall's arrival he didn't get to see his family as much. His brothers went back to school, even Aaron decided on another year, instead of enlisting. They all got together every few weekends to play football or baseball at the park. Patrick tried to get his mother to join them, but she declined, using her job at the diner as an excuse. * * * * * "Patrick?" His mother asked, knocking on his bedroom door. "can I talk to you for a moment?" "Sure." Patrick turned off the display on his phone and set it on the bedside table. She entered, looking around and shaking her head at the clutter before focusing on him. "It's about your father." It had been a month and a half since the dinner, and she hadn't said a word about it. He hadn't pushed, he knew she wasn't comfortable with the subject. "I've been thinking, and... I mean, I think we should invite him, well them, for thanksgiving." "Their whole family?" Patrick was surprise she was making the offer. "No, no. Just him, and his brother, of course. We couldn't fit all of them, how many children did they say they have?" "Seven." She shook her head. "Right, no, we definitely couldn't fit all of them." "Are you sure it's a good idea? They could be celebrating Thanksgiving with their family." "Yes, you're right, what was I thinking?" She turned to leave. "Wait, I'll call and ask them." If she was inviting them, that was clear progress and he didn't want to discourage her outright. She gave him a weak smile. "Alright." Then left his room. Patrick wondered what had brought that on, she hadn't shown any interest in spending time with them before. he shrugged, just happy she did, and called his father. "Hi dad." "Hi son, what's up?" "Well, my mom wanted to know if the two of you would be interested in having thanksgiving dinner with us." "She invited us?" "Yeah, I was surprised too." "I'd like to, considering she's making the effort, but I'm going to have to check with the kids. We usually go all out as a family on that day." "I understand." "Let me call you back in an hour or so, they're all working on school work right now." "Sure." And hour later his father called back. "Me and Donny are all good to go. The kids are insisting we go, they really want your mom to come to the birthday party and if that's what it takes to make her comfortable, they are all for it." "I'll tell my mom, and we'll see you both on the 26th." * * * * * The meal was simpler this time, since his mother had to work the noon shift at the dinner. Chicken with stuffing out of a box, store bought bread, but the cranberry sauce was home made. His fathers only brought one bottle of white wine, as he's asked. For dessert it was going to be a chocolate cake with a choice of maple walnut ice cream, his favorite, or vanilla. They were in the middle of the meal, with his mother regaling them about a customer who demanded to have the whole thanksgiving experience at the dinner, when someone knocked at the door. She'd been telling them how He'd gotten into a shouting match with the cook because they couldn't do the stuffing to go with his turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. She stopped talking and looked down the hall. "Did you invite anyone else Patrick?" she asked, then looked at Donald, how was wearing a purple button-down shirt and Daniel, how had a plain white one. "We didn't, promise." Daniel said. Patrick went to stand but she waved him down. "I'll get it." Donald chuckled bitterly. "I guess even here you aren't immune from the door to door sellers." "Looks like it," Patrick replied. "Maybe we should have a talk with Dam," Daniel said, "have him outlaw the act." Patrick stared at his father, mouth open. "He's kidding," Donald reassured Patrick. "Anyway, it isn't something Damian is going make happen." They exchanged a look that made Patrick question that statement. Okay, just who the- "Father Durony! What are you doing here?" Patrick cursed under his breath. "Hello Margarette," The priest answered. "This year I decided to visit all my parishioner on this special day and help them give thanks." "Ahh, that's very good of you, Father, but..." "No need to thank me, Margarette, it's simply my duty to my flock." Footsteps moved toward the kitchen, the hard-sole shoes of Father Durony clacking on the old wooden floor in the hall. "Patrick, how are you," the old ram said as he entered the room. "Oh, you have guests, I had no idea." "Yes," Margarette said, just behind him. "That is Donald, this is Daniel. They are, err, friends of the family." "I am so glad to meet you. Which church do you go to?" "We're from the other side of the city," Daniel said amicably. "I doubt you've heard of it." He gave his brother a warning glance. "I hope your pastor takes good care of you and your soul." His mother pleaded with Patrick, mouthing 'I didn't know.' Patrick gave her a small nod. He believed her, but he had trouble believing the priest was here by accident. "And you Patrick," the priest continued, either unaware, of ignoring the looks being exchanged. "How have you been." "I've been okay." "I'm glad to hear it. Have you seen your father since we last talk? Have you been able to talk with him about his sins, and how to get back on the Path?" Daniel gave Patrick a questioning look, but Patrick was looking at Donald, whose face was hardening. It was his mother who spoke up. "Father, please. this isn't the place for such talk." "Of course, please accept my apology." His mother nodded. "Patrick, why don't you go get an extra chair for Father Durony." Patrick stood out of reflex, even if he didn't want the priest to stay. They had a couple of old foldout chairs in the linen closet down the hall. "Please Patrick, no need to bother, I won't be staying. How about I lead us in a short prayer to give thanks?" His mother forced a smile, "of course." Father Durony closed his eyes and brought his hands together. Donald opened his mouth, but closed it again at Daniel's glare. "We thank you, our heavenly Father, for the food you give us, for the time you allow us to spend with our family and friends and we ask that you give us the strength to withstand temptation. Amen." "Amen," Patrick and his mother echoed. Father Durony eyed Patrick's fathers. "I don't believe I heard you say Amen." Daniel smiled at the priest. "We didn't feel it was needed." It was clear to Patrick Donald was keeping his mouth shut through will power. "At least please tell me you joined in the prayer. It was the Christian thing to do." "Alright, why don't you shut up." Donald erupted. "Donald!" his mother exclaimed. "Dad," Patrick warned. Even before the silence fell Patrick realized he'd made things worse. Father Durony was the first one to find his voice. "So, you're the sinner." He turned to Daniel. "How can you let your brother carry on living in sin? don't you care at all for his soul?" "Shut the fuck up." Donald growled. "What me and Danny chose to do behind closed door is none of your fucking business." "Don't you dare take that tone of voice with me. I'm the voice of God. You will show me respect." "Like Hell I will after you spoke to me that way. You get what you throw out, you can't swallow it you keep your muzzle shut." "Can't you get it through your thick skull that I'm trying to save your immortal soul?" Father Durony screamed. "Bullshit!" Donald was on his feet, fingers almost jabbing at the ram's muzzle. "You're just hoping to make yourself feel better by trying to make me feel bad. Well I got news for you. We're perfectly fine with who we are, so you're going to have to get your cheap kicks somewhere else." Father Durony swatted the finger aside. "If you think I'm going to let your heathen ways infect Patrick's soul..." "Silence!" Patrick's roar stunned everyone into it. "dad, sit down." Patrick stood. "Patrick." "Sit your ass the fuck down." Donald's expression was pained as he sat. The priest smiled in victory, but that lasted only until Patrick grabbed him by the collar. "And you're getting the fuck out of my mother's house." He dragged him to the door and it was only with effort that he didn't throw him out. "Patrick, I implore that you listen to me." "Shut up Durony. There's nothing you can say that I want to hear." "But that man is a danger to your soul." "No. He's my father. You're the danger here. I'm done listening to your bigoted opinions. I can't stop my mom from going to church, but I fucking hope that after your display she's going to know better than to think that anything you have to say comes from Gods." "I am God's voice on Earth." "Bullshit. God doesn't speak of intolerance and bigotry. He speaks of love and tolerance. You're the bigoted one, and you're hiding behind God." "You are making a dangerous mistake young man, in letting that... person in your life. He will drag you off the Path." Patrick wanted to scream at him to leave his family alone, but he found he didn't have the strength anymore. He didn't want to spend any more time arguing with this bigot. He sighed. "You know what father? I'm going to pray for you and hope you eventually find God's love. Now go home." The ram huffed as if what Patrick had said was an insult, turned and left. Patrick didn't watch him go he went back in and gently closed the door behind himself. He took his seat at the table and joined the others in the loud silence. When his mother spoke he voice was tentative. "Patrick I swear I didn't know he was coming here." "I know, mom. I'm guessing Old Dame Lambert saw we had guests and reported it to him." They were silent for a moment again. Then she placed a hand on Donald's and Daniel's. "I am truly sorry you had to be subjected to such hate." She took a breath. "I don't know how I feel about you living in..." she stopped herself. "About you being gay, but I know you're a good person, and that you wouldn't do anything to hurt Patrick, our son." Daniel nodded. Donald sighed. "I'm sorry I lost my temper. I shouldn't have let him get to me like that." His mother smiled. "Well, I have to say it wasn't entirely unexpected. Patrick does have your temper." That made them chuckle, and they set about continuing the meal.
  2. Kindar

    Chapter 37

    The Missing Son 37 Patrick leaned against the wall and watched his mother work. He couldn't help chuckling. He'd never seen his mom put so much effort in a meal. He'd gotten up at ten to the sound of her cleaning the house, and the moment he stepped out of his bedroom she gave him a list of ingredients to go buy. When he'd come back she had her cooking gloves and apron on and she set to work. He'd offered to help, but other than peeling potatoes and chopping vegetables she wouldn't let him in the kitchen. He'd watched her make bread, and a cake. He wasn't sure if that was the last time his mother had baked, but he had a memory from when he was six or seven. It was Christmas, for some reason she didn't work that day. They had spent the day making bread, cookies and cakes. He'd helped as best as he could, even improvising gloves to avoid leaving fur in the bread dough. He smiled at the memory. "Patrick, can you make sure the bowls and plates are clean?" "Sure thing mom." He knew they were, since he'd been the one to do the dishes last night, but he washed everything again, both to please her and to have something to do. After drying them he set the table. A moment later his mother sat down. "All done. The roast is resting, the bread is going to be ready in twenty minutes. the soup is..." "Mom, I know, I watched you do all of it." "I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed cooking." "Well, you should try to do more." She shook her head. "No, tonight is a special occasion. I can't afford to take the time off to cook." She smiled at him. "Once I retire. I finally have a retirement plan that will let me do that." Patrick considered things for a moment. "You know. with the odd jobs I've been picking up in Richard's neighborhood, we probably have enough money for you to quit the waitressing job." She placed a hand over his. "No Patrick, that's your money. We can split the groceries and bill, but it's your money. " "Mom, I can..." "No, Patrick. What these last few weeks have made me realize is that you are an adult now. You need to have your own things, that means your own money so you can buy things you want." Want? He didn't want anything that required money, did he? "Now, go change into something more presentable." He looked at what he was wearing, jeans and is wife beater. "This is fine." "Patrick, we are having guests, put your church shirt on." She stood and headed to her room. It was his fathers, not the president that was coming over. Still, he went to his room and pulled out the shirt he wore when he went to church, then looked at his jeans. They were faded in places and almost worn through in others. He probably had a pair in better condition. He found one, a black pair that wasn't quite as worn. Dressed he headed back to the kitchen. As the timer beeped his mother came out wearing her best dress, a gray and gold summer dress that went down to her knees. He almost commented, and would have made a fool of himself, but there was a knock at the door. "I'll get it," he said. He opened the door and his greeting died on his lips. His fathers were standing before him, wearing brown slacks. One had a black shirt on, the other an orange one. "Hi Patrick," one of them, in the black shirt, said. Patrick shook his head. "Sorry, you're wearing different colors." "It was Danny's idea," Donald said, nodding to his brother in the black shirt. "I thought it might make things easier on your mother." "I'm sure it will, come on in." "We weren't sure what we'd eat," Donald said, showing the bottle he was holding. "So we brought a bottle of red and one of white." Daniel raised his bottle. "Thanks." Patrick took the bottles and eyed them suspiciously. "Don't worry," Daniel whispered. "They aren't expensive." They took the few steps taking them to the kitchen. His mother was fidgeting next to the table. "Mom, you remember Daniel and Donald," he said, indicating them, and then placing the bottles on the counter. "Yes," she replied, "welcome to our home." She hesitated before offering her hand. Daniel took it. "It's a pleasure to see you again, Margarette." "Yes, it is," Donald said when he shook her hand, although he didn't sound as enthusiastic as his brother. "Please, have a seat." She indicated the table. "Patrick, you too." "I can help serve the food." "Go sit down, I'll take care of that." She took the bottle from him. "I'm afraid we don't have wine glasses, I hope normal ones will do." "That'll be fine," Donald replied. Patrick took a can of orange soda out of the fridge before sitting down. His mother place an empty glass before him and then glasses half full with red wine before Daniel and Donald and her place. She collected the bowls and filled them with soup. They ate in silence for a long moment. Patrick tried to find a way to break the uncomfortable silence, but it was Daniel who did it. "Where do you work, Margarette?" "I work at Olympic Mattress, it's a mattress factory. I'm a team supervisor. I also work at a diner a few blocks away." "Two jobs?" Donald said. "That can't be easy." "It can get tiring, but we do what we have to. Actually, today I should have..." she paused, then shook her head. "That isn't important. But that might chance soon, I decided to apply to the position of floor supervisor when it opens." Patrick looked up. "Really? I didn't know that." "I'm not sure when it will happen," She said, "and I can't be certain I'll get it, but I want to try." "That's great, mom." "I hope you get it," Donald said, raising his glass to her. "What does being a team supervisor entails?" Daniel asked. "It mostly mean I make sure my team works efficiently, if one of them had a problem I help them resolve it. But me and the other supervisor have started polling everyone for ideas on how to improve the work flow. We take an hour every week to refine our choices, and at the end of the month we present the best one to management." "Are they receptive?" Donald asked, "Very much so. Last month we suggested a new layout for the sewing machines that will help the flow of production. When we came back after that weekend, a quarter of the floor had been rearranged, and two teams are working on it." Donald finished his soup. "Why didn't they do all of them?" "The layout isn't proven, so they don't want to risk disrupting the entire production. They are going to leave it like this for six month, to give everyone on that line the time to get used to it, then they are going to compare it to the rest of the floor." She took the bowls away and brought the roast to the table. She offered the knife to Donald, and he sliced it while she place the salad on the table and cut the bread. "That's really impressive," Daniel commented. "Me and Donny aren't exactly team players." "What do you do?" she asked. "We're computer game designers." "And you do well?" "Well enough," Donald said. "They made Castle Crash," Patrick said. His mother's eyes grew wide. "To be honest," Daniel said, "it hit it big after we sold it. And it would never have become as successful if we'd kept it. We don't do a lot of marketing." "Or try to gouge the player base," Donald grumbled. "What do you mean?" Patrick asked. Daniel finished his piece of roast. "The company we sold it to made it so a lot of the big bonus can only be bought with cash, instead of earned through play. That isn't the way we do things, but I have to give them this, the controversy did have everyone talking about it for a while." Margarette buttered her bread. "don't you have to work with others to make games?" "Not really," Donald said. "Sometime we have to hire someone for part of the game, like the music, but they are working for us, not with us." Daniel took over. "Our current game has us working more closely with others because we've been hired to make it for a new game system, so there's a lot of conversation, but even that isn't really working with a team. We do our part, test it with the system. If it doesn't work they decide if they want to adjust the system or the game." Donald looked thoughtful for a moment. "You know, I think the last time we worked as part of a team was in high school." Daniel nodded. "Our senior year, chemistry." "Right. We were teamed up with... That wolf guy, the one who was on the baseball team, and this cow, I think. Anyway, yeah, that was a disaster." "What happened?" Patrick asked. "The project was about demonstrating an exothermic reaction." "So, being the down to earth, dependable teens that we were," Daniel continued, "we decided to make a fertilizer bomb." "You what?" Margarette exclaimed. "Just a small one." Donald nodded. "And the ingredients weren't in a sealed container, they were on a board so we figured there wasn't going to be a 'bang'." "Because of that I'm guessing there was one," Patrick said. "It was more of a loud 'paf'," Daniel said. "A lot of smoke and heat." "And singed fur, don't forget that." Donald chuckled. "Danny was the one who lit it so he was right next to it when it went off. He ended up on his ass." "Did you get hurt?" Margarette asked. "No, just my fur that got singed. for about two months my face fur was uneven. Donny was the one really troubled by it." "Why?" "We're twins. We've always looked alike, and for the first-time people could tell us apart easily. I wanted to shave my fur to match him, but dad wouldn't let me. I think that was the only time I was really angry at him." "He knew you wouldn't be able to do it." "I know, but I was still pissed at him." Margarette nodded. "It isn't always easy to do what we think is the best for our children," she said thoughtfully. Daniel raised his glass. "Amen to that." Donald joined it. "Very much so." Margarette looked at them surprised before lifting her glass. They looked at Patrick. who chuckled and raised his own. "How about I get back to you in twenty years or so." He drained his glass. "Do you want more?" he pointed at the empty glasses. "Who's driving?" Donald asked. "I will, go ahead. I'll have water." "Mom?" "Sure, why not. I have the afternoon shift tomorrow." He filled both the glasses halfway, then rinsed Daniel's and filled it with water from the fridge. he got himself another soda. Margarette got praises for the food, and the banana walnut cake impressed Donald so much he asked for the recipe. They talked for a while after they were done eating, until Margarette let out a yawn, which spread to everyone else. Donald and Daniel stood to leave, and Margarette called to them. "Patrick told me that you've invited him to celebrate his birthday at your house." "We'd like for both of you to come," Daniel replied. "Who is going to be there?" They looked at each other. Donald was the one who spoke. "Well, the kids invite their friends, and the parents come too." "How many people are we talking about?" "Possibly close to seventy-five." "And what will be happening?" "we have a pool, so swimming, talking, someone usually starts a volley ball game. If the weather isn't on our side we'll be inside. we have a few game consoles." Margarette nodded. "Alright, We'll think about it." Donald nodded. "That's all we can ask for." Patrick escorted them outside, where they hugged. Patrick found he didn't want to let go of them, holding both close to him and breathing in their scents. They kept their arms around him, and he stayed like that until he started to feel aroused. He let go of them. "No matter what my mom decides, I'll be there." "We're looking forward to it." They turned to leave. "You two drive safely." "No worries there," Donald replied. "Slow-mo here is the one driving." "You had that extra glass of wine, now you pay the price." his brother said. Patrick smiled and watched them walk away. He watched their ass and tails until they got in their car. He stayed outside for a time to give his heart time to settle before going in. "Mom," he said, entering the kitchen, "go to bed, I'll clean up." She put plates in the sink. "It's okay. I can take care of this." "Mom, you spent the day cooking. It's my turn. Go to bed." "Are you sure?" "I am." He hugged his mother. "Thank you for doing this. I love you mom." "I love you too Patrick."
  3. Kindar

    Chapter 36

    The Missing Son 36 Patrick didn't go directly to his mother's house. She wouldn't be home until five thirty, and he didn't want to be there alone. He walked the neighborhood, nodding to the people he saw. He had no doubt the old rhino would call his mom, she was always poking her nose into other people's business, but for once he didn't care. Mister Omaka was watering his roses and they talked for a bit. The ocelot had worried something had happened to Patrick, and he explained about the fight with his mother and staying at a friend's place. Patrick promised he'd let him know how the talk with his mother went. At five forty-five he headed back. His mother would be waiting for him and it would be unfair to let her worry needlessly. The door opened with its usual creaking. "Patrick?" his mother called. "Yeah, it's me." He put his jacket in the closet before heading to the kitchen. He stopped in the opening, she wasn't alone at the table, an older ram was seated across the table from her. "Hello Patrick," Father Durony said. "Would you take a seat?" Patrick didn't move. "Why are you here?" "I am here because your mother asked me to come." What was his mother doing involving the priest in this? He looked at her, but she was looking at the table. "She explained the argument that lead to you walking out." "Yeah, so?" "Please Patrick, sit down." Patrick didn't move immediately. He wanted to yell at his mother, this was a private matter, but that wouldn't help anything, specially not before father Durony. He took the closest chair and sat down. The ram looked at him, one eye was going cloudy. "Patrick, I want you to know that I'm not here to pursue any agenda. Your mother told me that she opposes you seeing your father, and I told her she was wrong." Patrick couldn't stop his ears from moving forward. "I would never advocate for a son to be kept away from his father unless there were safety issues." His mother opened her mouth, but the ram raised a hand. "Margarette, you agreed to let me talk." She looked at the table again. Father Durony looked at Patrick again. "Now, your mother has some concerns. Is it true that your father lives in sin?" Patrick considered going into details about what he knew his fathers got up to with his brothers. It might be good to see the old ram shocked, it might even send him off screaming. But the priest was being reasonable, for now. "He's gay, he and his husband are raising their kids." He kept things vague. He doubted his mother had given details. "She said you have visited them." "A few times now." "Have they done anything to you?" What was he talking about? "Have they tried to touch you inappropriately?" Patrick laughed at the old ram. "Of course not." "Patrick, please, this is serious." Patrick got his laughter under control. If only this priest had an inkling of how well behaved his family had been with him. "No, they have not done anything inappropriate. They are good people, and my brothers are pretty fun to hang out with." "That's a relief. And your brothers, are they... normal?" It was with some effort that Patrick kept his features neutral. "Normal?" "You know." "How the Hell," Sorry, "would I know that?" "You must have talked about it with them." Like there was any chance Patrick was going to discuss that with him. "Maybe you go about asking your family members about their sexual preferences, father, but I don't. I've gone swimming with them, I've played cards, and we've talked about life. And just so you know, if they had told me about their sex life, I wouldn't tell you." "Patrick, I'm asking out of concern." Patrick barely stopped the snort. "I don't care. I don't see them coming here to go to church, so that isn't any of your business." Father Durony raised his hands. "Alright. You are right, they aren't my parishioners. That is between them and their priests." He folded his hands before him. "Is it true they claimed that you are gay?" "They did." Patrick prepared himself for the next question. "And are you?" "No," he lied. The ram peered into his eyes and Patrick maintain the gaze. "Good," the priest said. "I'm proud of you for resisting temptation." It was a good thing his hands were out of view because they clenched. Resisting temptation? The ram smiled. "I'm happy to say that you have my blessing to continue seeing your father." His blessing? Like Patrick needed that. Just who the Hell (sorry) did he think he was? "And hopefully, with your guidance you can help him see the error of his ways, and guide him back on the Path." The ram stood. "I will leave the two of you to continue talking." With all his self-control Patrick stood without shoving the table out of his way. He hoped the priest wasn't going to say anything more because Patrick was inches from throwing him out of the house. Instead he escorted him to the door. "God be with you," the priest said and he stepped outside. Patrick forced the words out. "And He with you, father." Patrick was certain now he didn't want to have anything to do with Father Durony and his church. he closed the door and went to the bathroom. He rubbed water in his face. He needed to calm down. he couldn't let loose the anger the priest had stirred on his mother. He toweled his face dry and went back to the kitchen, taking the chair father Durony vacated. Patrick sat down opposite his mother. He waited of a moment in case she had something to say. When she didn't he did. "I want to make something clear, mom. I'm done tolerating your narrow-minded point of view." She looked up. "What does that mean?" "It means I don't want to hear anything about this sin bullshit." Her eye went wide. "Patrick, they..." "Stop." "Patrick." "I'm warning you mom, stop." They were both silent for a long time. "If you expect me to like him because he's your father, Well I don't." "Mom, you don't even know them." "I know all I need to know." She crossed her arms over her chest. "How can you? all you know about them is that they're gay." "That's enough. I could never like someone like that." The statement hurt enough that he almost told her he was gay, but he stopped himself. He wasn't ready for that argument. "Fine, then I'm out of here." "What?" "What do you want me to do mom? I told you, I'm not dealing with this anymore. You want to be some intolerant woman, fine, you be that, but I have no interest in being around someone like that." "I'm not..." "Bullshit. You hate my dad because he doesn't fit your narrow definition of perfection. one thing that you've decided is a sin, and he isn't fit to be around. Well, let me point out something. You lie, and lying is a sin, and if I remember my bible correctly it's actually mentioned in the ten commandment, While being gay isn't. So you tell me who between you and them are in deeper shit." "Patrick, I'm sorry I lied to you. I'm trying to protect you, don't you see that?" "I'm not a child anymore mom. I don't need your protection." He stood. "And to make it clear. They are not the reason I'm leaving this house. You are." He turned to head out of the kitchen. "Patrick, don't go." He turned and looked at her. "Please. Don't abandon me." "Why should I stay mom? so I can listen to more of your intolerant bullshit about people you're not even willing to get to know?" She winced. "Please Patrick, I'll try." "Try what?" "I'll try to get to know them, somehow. Just stay." Patrick sat back down. "Are you serious?" She nodded. "Alright. Then lets invite them to dinner." "What? we can't do that?" "Why not?" "They're..." she shut her mouth before Patrick could say anything. "Mom, they are my father. If you want to be part of my family, that means you're going to have to interact with them. If all you can do is explode anytime they are around, I'm not going to be around. You need to realize that, and you need to decide what you're willing to do about it, because I've made my decision." She nodded. "Patrick, do you have any idea what you're asking?" "yes, that you stop seeing them as this one thing and start seeing them as people. Mom, by inviting them here, we're in control of the environment. This is your house. They will respect that, I will make sure of it." She looked around the kitchen. "This place is a mess. What are we going to cook? I can't afford the kind of food they're used to." "Then we make them our kind of food. I'll pitch in so we have enough for four." She looked at him, uncertainty in her eyes. "When do you want to do it?" "Soon. Friday would give us the rest of the week to prepare." She shook her head. "I work Friday, I can't have anything done in just an hour. but I can take Saturday off. I'll owe Beatrice a shift, but I can manage that. That's going to give me the day to clean this place and prepare the meal." "Alright." "If I do this, you're going to stay?" Patrick took his mother's hands in his. "Mom, I want this to happen because I want to stay here." Her smile was uncertain, but it was there.
  4. BigPuppyStuart

    Ship types

    Player Ship types Human: Modular industrial Ship System (MISS) Class 1-5 class 6 is in development. Manufacturer: New Hope Drive yards Type: Multi role configurable/modular Affiliation: Civilian, widely Available. Plug and play is the design philosophy behind these craft. Instead of being a single vessel this i set of modules that all fit together so you can customize a vessel for to fit its needs. This also means that in a matter of minutes a ship's command section can be fitted onto a new set of modules and the ship can change roles or be reequipped without the crew waiting around. Each one of the ships comes with a command module which houses the bridge and crew quarters and a Drive section which houses engineering and the engines. The command module does have engines so it can act as a life boat to get to civilization if they loose their engines. The Classes of these ships indicate their size with Class 1 being smallest and class 5 the largest. The Nature of these means that companies can quickly disconnect a cargo section from the command section then immediately replace those cargo sections and set the crew off on a new assignment in minutes, making it a bit of a nightmare for pilots as they don't get a chance to rest or stretch their legs before being set out again. Luckily there are entertainment files in the computer at all times so crews don't go stir crazy. Crews make the command modules home since they will be in them for the long-haul. This aspect makes it a boon for people who use it as explorer craft as they have a relatively comfortable space to inhabit on long surveys while remaining a nuisance to cargo haulers as they are often given no chance to get a change of scenery. The Command module has moderate weaponry, a chin mounted hard point for main gun and mounts for turrets on the dorsal and ventral sides. Larger classes of this will be more well armed but each are considered moderate for their size. In emergencies these can be fitted with weapon modules that turn them into reasonably effective gunships. Available modules are: Cargo module: Pretty much just just series of four Cargo bays that all connect in the central hallway. Drop cargo modules: These are much the same as above but are designed to be ejected over a planet and the cargo containers will enter atmosphere on their own and land. This is a quick way to deliver supplies to needy people on the ground. They can fit less cargo than the dedicated cargo modules but it is more efficient to drop these, go get more then drop another set than it is to land, unload then take off again. Dorm modules: Extended living space modules suitable for passengers or giving long haul crew more living space. Weapon modules: These are self contained weapons platforms that generate their own power/ammo and have their own targeting suites. You essentially plug one these onto a command module and you turn an unassuming cargo hauler into a gunship. Full Science modules: these are made up of a lab, a stellar cartography room, a computer room to speed up processing and a long-range scanner room. Each of these rooms can be put on as a submodule individually but are issued together. Manufacturing modules: These modules are filled with automated manufacturing stations and 3D printers that can turn Refined materials into goods. Refining module: This module turns raw materials like ore mined from asteroids into refined or and building materials. Blank modules: These are unfinished modules that have all that is needed to build a customized module. Almost anything can be made from these as long as you have the skill. Empty connector: This is a blank connecting hallway with 4 empty sub module slots. Basically this lets you take sub modules off other modules and made a customized set. Launch bay module: These are Modules with doors to launch smaller craft. Mini Shuttle Manufacturer: many Affilliation: any This is a small 1 to 2 person craft that can be used to get around and explore or conduct repairs. Larger classes of MISS vessels such as class 3-5 come with these while class 1and 2 need launch bay modules. This is like the Smart-car of space. Full shuttle Manufacturer: many Affilliation: any This is a more useful small craft in that it can fit up to 8 people and a pilot, its seats fold down for small cargo runs. Most have a single weapon slot. StarOrca medium-light Freighter Manufacturer: Red Abyss heavy industries Affilliation: Civilian Mildly modular but not to the extend of the MISS system vessels these are non the less versatile in their own right. What makes them so versatile is that they remain effective in space, atmosphere and underwater. The have 4 variable vector engines that leave them exceptionally maneuverable in space, moderately maneuverable in atmosphere and passable underwater. These were Manufactured to work in the Oceans of Hecuba and act as a way to bring cargo from space to the ocean bottom settlements humanity had established off the coasts. This design worked well enough to make it the go to vessel for those who want to be ready to work in any environment. It is well armed making it a match for pirate vessels and hostile Alien vessels alike. It is sturdy and powerful while still being useful for non combat assignments. This versatility and durability means it is perfect for operating away from established civilization and maintenance yards making it perfect for colonial activity. Non-player ships/ NPC ships. Human Colony cruiser: A massive ship with a modular interior that is mostly cargo space and living space. It is mostly a huge Cargo ship that ferries equipment to colony worlds. For long term Terraforming they can expand to become small space station with habitation blocks and a small ship yard to repair smaller vessels. Hecubite FTL barge AKA "Shroom ship"
  5. Kindar

    Chapter 35

    The Missing Son 35 Patrick growled as he nearly wrenched the shutter off its hinges, and even worse, he almost threw it to the ground. He forced himself to put it down gently. It had cost Mister Michaud three hundred dollar, he couldn't just toss it about because he couldn't focus. He had to admit he couldn't do this, not right now. He kept thinking back to Adam's scared expression and Damian's smirk. He'd hoped that a couple of days distance would have allowed him to put that behind him as much as he could, but he was still furious that someone would hurt his brother. He placed the shutter back in the box with its twin, closed it and took that to the shed. Then he knocked on the house's back door. The late forty badger opened it. "Yes Patrique?" "Is it okay if I put up the shutters tomorrow? I have some family issues on my mind and I can't concentrate." "Of course, Of course. Dat is perfectly fine," he replied in his slight French accent. "How much should I pay you now?" "Nothing. You can pay me tomorrow, once I've finished the work." "Are you certain?" "Yeah. I'll be back about the same time." "Very well. I will see you tomorrow." The badger closed the door. Patrick took his phone out. He needed to resolve this and the only he could was to have a serious talk with Damian, with his uncle. He accessed the directory and did a search for Damian Orr, tiger, to get his address, his name didn't come up. Nothing came up at all. He remembered the difficulty Rich had had in finding his father's address, and Damian had said something to the effect he shouldn't have been able to find anything. If he wasn't in the directory, he could find him on the web, he had before. He switched to a general search, and like the other time there was a lot of results, all linked to the business world. He called up a result that had a picture, and that stony expression with those blue gray eyes looked back at him. The article talked about him and his corporation, Diamond Enterprise. Right, Patrick remembered the name from the card. The company was the fourth largest multinational corporation in the world, and the largest privately owned one. The article called Damian Orr one of the most influential person of the twenty-first century. Alright, so he couldn't find his home address, but his company had to have a listing. A quick search got him that. And Damian had to be there at some time. it wasn't even noon yet. Once he was downtown lunch time would be over. He could find him there and have that talk. * * * * * okay, Patrick thought, this might be a little more difficult than he'd expected. He looked at the tall glass building. He wasn't sure why he'd expected something less imposing, after all it was a multinational corporation. Walking by the two entrances showed him they had guards in the lobby. They wouldn't let someone like him in that way. He was going to need a different way in. * * * * * The phone on his desk ringed, but it wasn't its usual sound. it was the one that said the call was on his private line. Damian looked at the incoming number then answered. "Hello August." "Mister Orr," the person on the other end said. "We might have a problem." Damian leaned back in his chair. "Go on." "The guy you're having us follow, he's at your door step." "He's welcome to come in, my company has an open door policy." "Yeah, well, from the report my guys just sent me, he's not looking to come in the front door. He walked around the building a few times and now he's at the mouth of an alley across the street from one of the parking entrances." "Which one?" There was a moment of silence. "The one on the south west side." "Alright. Tell your people not to follow him inside the building." "Sir, is that wise? If he found out you're having him watched he might be looking for retribution." "Don't be ridiculous, August. Even if he knew about you, why would he seek retribution for being protected?" The horse on the other end didn't say anything. "Look, I appreciate the concern, but I have my own security people, they can handle him if he causes problems." "Alright sir." Damian disconnected the call and stood. He knew why his nephew was here, although he didn't understand why he didn't walk in through the entrance like everyone else. He left his office and stopped by Alice's desk. "I need to look into something, I should be back before my three O'clock." "Yes, Mister Orr. Should I contact you if something comes up?" "Only if it's an emergency." "Yes, Mister Orr." Damian took the stairs down four floors and went to the security office. The large room was well lit, with a wall of screen and six security officers manning them. Damian stood next to the koala in the second left chair. He glanced at the control board and caught the reflection of his name tag. Damian had read every employee's file, but he couldn't remember every individual name. "Willis, please bring up the camera looking out from the south west parking entrance." The koala looked up in surprise, then did as he was told. The closest screen to them switched and they looked out on the street. The alley was in darkness and he couldn't see his nephew hiding there. "Call the guard at the booth, on his personal phone." The koala only had a moment of hesitation before bringing up the guards' schedule, then he inputted the number. Damian asked for the handset once that was done. "Phillip, this is Damian Orr." "Sure, Okay." Damian didn't say anything. He expected not to be recognized immediately, the bobcat had no reason to expect a call from him, and while Damian didn't demand attention and salutes, he wanted to be certain the guard knew who he was talking to before giving him his orders. "oh shit," the bobcat said and there was the sound of a chair being shoved away. "Sir, Mister Orr, sir, I'm sorry. What can I do for you." "I want you to go to the bathroom, and stay there until you are told to return to your post." "Err, sir?" Damian had hoped that he could avoid this uncertainty once the guard realized who he was talking with. "Please don't asked me to repeat myself Philip." "Sir, that's going to leave this entrance unguarded." Damian approved of this reaction. People who obeyed blindly were easier to manipulate. Damian handed the handset to the koala. "Phil, it's Will. it's okay, we have the entrance on the screen. Do what the boss says." * * * * * Patrick had been standing in the shadows for ten minutes trying to figure out how to get in unnoticed. He wanted to catch Damian unprepared. He'd decided he was going to wait for a large enough vehicle, something like a delivery truck, then quickly run across the road and use that to hide him from the guard. He was waiting for that when the guard left the booth and walked deeper in the building. Where was he doing? How long would he be gone? he couldn't waste this opportunity. he made sure the road was clear and ran across it. He stopped by the booth to make sure the guard wouldn't see him from where ever he was, and dashed for the closest column. He hid behind the column closest to the stairwell door, once the guard was back in his booth he'd go in and... then what? He didn't know where Damian's office was, and he couldn't wander the halls, he'd be noticed. He didn't look like anyone here. he didn't even know if Damian was here today. It would be a waste if he was caught and Damian wasn't even here. How could he find out? There had to be a directory screen somewhere, he could use that and call his office. They might not tell him. Patrick leaned his head back on the concrete column and looked around at the cars around him. Wait, cars. He knew which car Damian drove. It was distinctive enough he'd be able to tell if it was here. * * * * * Damian watched his nephew hurry between the cars looking them over. "What is he doing? checking if there's anything worth stealing in them?" The Koala asked. The others glanced their way and then went back to their screens That wasn't what his nephew was doing. he wasn't looking in the cars, he was giving them a quick look over. He wasn't seeing if one was worth stealing, Patrick didn't know how to drive, and he was too honest to steal cars. The only thing he could be doing was trying to find a specific car, and in this garage, there was only one car he could be looking for. Patrick was fortunate that the car he was looking for was indeed parked here, even though it wasn't Damian's regular car. Damian watched as Patrick moved through the garage, heading away from the booth and toward the ramp going down to the next level. "Call Philip." The koala entered the number and handed him the handset. "Philip, this is Damian." "Yes sir." "You can return to the booth. On your way there, you might catch a glimpse of a young tiger among the cars. You will ignore him." "Err, yes sir." Damian handed the handset back and followed his nephew from one screen to the next. He was less furtive on the second level once he noticed there were no guards, but he had to hide a few times when people walked to their cars, or parked and entered the building. At no time did his nephew try to avoid the camera, or even looked around to see where they were. Living in his low-class neighborhood, reading fantasy novels, not watching entertainment shows, and hardly having any presence online his nephew was sorely unprepared for the modern world. Damian would have to remedy that at some point. Finally, his nephew reached the third parking level. The car he was looking for was in GK-36. If he moved at the same speed he had on the second level, even considering the odds of interruptions were lower, the cars on that level were mostly long-term parking, it would take him ten minutes to get close enough to notice it. "Shut down all the cameras on the third sub level." "Sir?" Damian didn't say anything. He didn't even look at the koala. If he had to repeat himself to get this done he needed to replace him. One by one the screens showing the third sub level went dark. "Leave them down until I tell you to bring them back up." "Yes sir." Damian hurried to the stairs on the other side of the building. those would let him see the car from the door. He'd be able to plan his arrival that way. * * * * * Patrick had no trouble identifying the car at a distance, it was silver, and stood out among darker color cars. Closer he confirmed it didn't have a model name. He looked around and located the elevator. He needed a hiding place that would let him keep an eye on it while not being seen. He found it between two large cars further back. He sat down, took out his phone and settled in to read, keeping an ear for the ding of the elevator doors opening. Twenty pages later it wasn't the ding that pulled him out, but the click clack of shoes on the concrete. Patrick checked the time, not even two. Someone was leaving early. He peeked up and quickly lowered himself. It was Damian. Fear gripped him for a moment. He had no business doing this, he was just a school drop out from the bad side of the city, but then he remembered Adam's face as he ran through the dining room. he put his phone away and gritted his teeth. He stood. "Damian," he growled. Damian stopped, looked around for a moment, searching for him, then saw him. "Patrick? What are you doing here?" The surprise in his tone was clear and Patrick smiled. "You and I need to have a talk." He stepped out from behind the car and walked to his uncle. Damian crossed his arms over his chest. "Really? about what?" "You know damn well about what." Patrick's fists were clenched at his sides. Damian shook his head. "No. I'm afraid I don't." "Adam." he growled again. Damian canted his head to the side. "Adam? What about him?" "What did you do to him?" his growl was deepening. "I didn't do anything to him." "Liar. someone doesn't have the fear Adam had on his face unless someone hurt him really bad." Damian leveled his gaze him Patrick. "Patrick. Stand down before you do something you will regret." Patrick screamed. Not words, just anger. He didn't realize his fist was flying at Damian until it stopped so suddenly his arm hurt. The shock killed his anger. Damian was holding Patrick's wrist. "Do not ever attack me again, Patrick." Patrick tried to pull, but he couldn't. Damian's arm didn't even move. "You are family, and I'm not allowed to hurt you, but I would make you regret it." Patrick pulled left and right and Damian's arms didn't move. he pulled back as hard as he could, just as Damian opened his hand and Patrick fell back on his ass. He looked up, pissed, as Damian took a step toward him then crouched down. They studied each other. "What happened to the wise young man who was afraid of me?" "He found out you're a fucking bully to gets off on hurting kids." Patrick spat. Damian's thoughtful expression didn't change. "I don't." "Right," Patrick snorted. "Then what happened to Adam?" "It isn't my place to say." "And Aaron? I've seen the hate he has for you. what did you do to him?" "It isn't my place to speak to that either," Damian said, except this time Patrick thought he heard something in his voice, regret? "So, what? you get off on people being afraid of you? Well I'm not. You think your money's scary? you think because you can buy anything and anyone we should be afraid of you? Well, I've got news for you. Some of us don't give a damn how rich you are." Damian didn't say anything, his gaze unwaveringly on him. "Why are you so angry, Patrick." "Why the fuck do you think? You hurt my brothers, your own nephews. You have any idea how sick that is?" "You've barely known them for three months." "What does that have to do with anything? there's my family. They're yours! how could you hurt them like that?" "I didn't. I'm not allowed to hurt them." "What the fuck does that mean?" Damian took a moment to reply. "If I explained it to you, would you understand? Would you even try to understand?" Patrick looked at him, mouth open, why did he sound pained? He started to ask him what was wrong, but his phone buzzing interrupted him. He ignored it, but Damian looked at his jacket's pocket. "How long are you going to let her suffer?" How did he know it was his mother? Patrick had no doubt it was her, she'd been trying to reach him multiple times a day, but how did he know? "Why do you care?" "I have to look after my family. That includes you. You need your mother. You're angry at her, but you won't be able to resolve that if you don't talk with her. The chasm will only get larger and larger, and it will hurt you. If you wait too long, you may not be able to fix things anymore." "Why do you even care?" Damian stood. "I made a promise, Patrick. I believe that you understand how important promises are." Patrick found himself nodding. Damian turned to leave, then stopped. "I know that with the life you've lived you know that things are complicated, but some things are even more complicated than you can imagine. Go home Patrick." He left him alone. Patrick sat there for a while trying to understand what Damian had meant, but in the end, he had to admit defeat, he just wasn't smart enough to figure it out. He stood and took out his phone, looked at yet another entry for a missed call with his mother's number tagged to it. He spent more time thinking, about what Damian had said, about how he felt about that guy, and his mother, what he wanted out of life. then he sent her a message. 'I'll be home for dinner.'
  6. Kindar

    Chapter 34

    The Missing Son 34 Patrick didn't know how long he was going to stay this time, and he had no intention of taking advantage of Richard's generosity. He spent Sunday walking around that neighborhood looking for any type of small jobs he could do. It was slightly higher class than where his mom lived and he made some money mowing lawns, washing windows and started painting one house, with the promise he'd be back every day until it was finished. With Don paying him after work, and the money he made doing odd jobs, Patrick had to get a bank account. It proved simpler than he expected, he did it online, and all they required was his ID number. He picked a local branch, so he could make deposits now, instead of having to wait the two days until his card arrived. When she called him for the first time, he had a moment of concern about his mother, wondering if she'd have enough money without his income. He pushed the though aside, she didn't care about what he wanted, he wasn't going to care about her either. He didn't answer. He spent the week doing odd jobs when Joey didn't need him at the junkyard. That Saturday his family invited him to a picnic, which he accepted. It was a fun day, they played football, five versus five, with a dad on each team. A few times he found himself in a pileup, and his father's comment about why he liked football would surface and he found that he agreed, having guys on top of him did feel nice. At least until he remembered they were his brothers and fathers, then he was just uncomfortable. When they stopped playing Patrick lay down, and within moments his brothers were snuggled up to him, lying next to him, Aaron and Anakin were half draped over him, Arthur next to him. For a moment he wasn't sure how he felt about it, but none of them said or did anything other than lie and look at the sky, so he enjoyed the closeness. "Alright everyone, lunch is served." Patrick raised his head to see his fathers bringing two large boxes the closest table. Everyone was off him and running to them. Patrick went slower, watching them jostle each other playfully. For a moment he wished he could experience that, then joined them, staying on the outskirt. They had dug out plates and patters of sandwiches, a lot of platters. His father looked at him. "I hope you're not going to be disappointed, but these were catered. We didn't feel like spending hours preparing them." "Do you normally prepare the food yourselves?" "No they don't," Alex said. "Yeah, they get us to do it," Adam added. "We made it clear to them if they pulled that on us again," Aaron continued. "We were going to tie them up and leave them at home," Arthur finished. His fathers looked at one another. "You know," one said. "I think they've picked up," the other continued. "This bad habit of finishing each other's sentence." "From you." Patrick looked at everyone. "do you guys do this kind of thing often?" "Not as often," one started. "As you'd think," the other finished. "This is going to get annoying fast," Patrick said. His father chuckled. "Don't worry, we're done." "For now," the other added, and got a light slap upside the head. "Don't contradict me Danny, I'm the oldest." "No you're not, I was born a full minute before you." "Did not." "Did too." They went back and forth. Patrick stared at them then at his brothers who were rolling their eyes. "And we're supposed to be the teens in this family," Arthur commented. Silence fell and Patrick looked at his fathers, who were kissing. He blushed. He wasn't the kind of lecherous kissing he'd seen when he checked the pornos online, but it wasn't chaste either. It was kind of hot he found himself thinking. "There," Danny said, "We've made up." "Like you two need an excuse to kiss like that." Albert said. Patrick was sure he caught a hungry look in his brothers, and he knew it wasn't for food. He knew his brothers had sex together, but no one brought that up around him. And suddenly he knew they also did it with their fathers. He had no idea what to think of that, he was... he was... jealous? He couldn't be, they were his fathers. He pushed that thought to the side. He couldn't deal with that right now. He was here to enjoy time with his family, not freak out. The moment passed and everyone piled up food on plates and sat on the ground. Patrick looked around plate in hand, and his gaze fell on his fathers, seated together, and his brothers in twos and threes. for a moment he hesitated in choosing a place to sit, then went to his fathers. They made a space between them for him to sit. Patrick was extremely conscious of their legs touching, and snippets of his dreams came back to him. His fathers, naked, embracing him. he looked at his family again, and they looked like normal guys, brothers talking and laughing, fathers discussing their programing, and he told himself he'd imagined the sexual hunger he'd seen there. He was projecting his subconscious desires on them, that's what had happened. * * * * * Patrick was trying to read the latest Iluminar novel. Now that he had his own money he hadn't had to wait for it to become available on the lending site, he'd bought it. His phone was on his lap, projecting it at eye level. He'd reread the fifth page for the third time. Jaremis, the illegitimate son of Duren'El'Tig, the hero of the first three novels, had just found him to inform him his mother had died. Duren had just held his son and cried, telling him he wished he'd been there for him as he grew up. The scene kept bringing his fathers back to his mind, and the dreams he'd had. He wished he had someone to talk with about it, try to make sense of it. He couldn't bring it up with Mother Rosetta, as tolerant as she was, he didn't think she'd approve of this. Joey would probably be okay, but Patrick wasn't comfortable talking about his fathers to him, he didn't know why, but it felt wrong. Natalia might understand, he had no idea how witches felt about incest. He closed the book and did a search for father/son incest, and quickly decided the net wasn't the place to look. the top three links were sites for guys looking for sex, the next five were popular porn videos of fathers having sex with their sons, and after that more of the same, with written stories thrown in. It was clear a lot of guys got off on that, but that didn't help him figure out how he should feel about it. He looked at the tent in his pants. Other than turned on. He put his phone away. He was going to sleep on it. He didn't have an answer by morning, or by the end of the week, or even two weeks later when he showed up unannounced to his father's house. He should have called, he thought, after pressing the buzzer. There was no telling what he was interrupting. The door opened and Aiden stared at him. He was wearing sweatpants, his fur was ruffled and he smelled. Yeah, no telling what he was interrupting. "Pat, hi. We... We weren't expecting you to come over." "I know. I'm sorry. I just wanted to see you guys." Aiden looked over his shoulder. "It might take a bit for everyone to... err... finish what they're doing." He moved out of the way to let Patrick in. "Don't rush them. I should have called. I'll wait in the living room, unless that's where it's happening." He remembered his first time here, the mess in the living room. Now he knew what had been going on there. "We're in Albert's room." Aiden's ears turned read. "Sorry, I didn't mean to say that." Patrick chuckled. "It's okay, I sort of figured that's what you guys would be up to." "You're okay with it?" "I'm okay with you guys doing it. I'm not joining in." Aiden nodded. "Do you want me to setup the game system?" "Nah, I have a book." Aiden hesitated when they reached the living room. Patrick shooed him away. "You go finish it. Don't rush it on my account." He watched his brother step away and turn the corner to go up the stairs. Aiden was smaller and not as wide shouldered, but he had good muscles on him. For a moment Patrick considered following up the stairs. He freely admitted to wondering what it would be like to be with his brothers, but he wasn't comfortable with the idea. He stretched on the couch, and read. Ten minute later his had a message form his father. the ID was D/D. He hadn't been joking when he said they had the same number. 'Just learned you were visiting, we're going to be home in in time for lunch, in a meeting. Are you staying for dinner?' 'Yes,' he replied. 'I have no plans tonight.' 'Staying the night?' Patrick thought about it. Thought for longer than he expected. It would be nice to sleep under the same roof as his family, in rooms near him, probably wishing they could be with him. 'No, I'm not quite comfortable with the idea yet.' He knew they wouldn't pressure him, but that wasn't what he was afraid of. 'okay. the kids should have lunch ready when we arrive. love you.' Patrick smiled at the words floating before him. 'love you two.' He went back to his reading, but caught the scent of wet fur. He looked behind him, Arthur was standing there, wearing jeans and a worn t-shirt with 'I heart Geeks' on it. "You shouldn't have rushed it," Patrick said, sitting up. "I didn't we'd been at it for a while when you got here. The others are going to be down soon." he sat next to Patrick. "Dad's going to be here in a couple of hours. he said you'd be making lunch. I was expecting them to order something." "We usually cook lunch over the summer." "You enjoy cooking?" "No. nothing's set to my height." "Oh, yeah. I'm surprised dad didn't make sure it would be." "It'd be too much trouble. There's only one of me, and eight of them." "I'm guessing when you get your place it's all going to be your size, and when we visit we'll have to crouch down to walk through doorways, sit on the floor to eat with you." "And sleep on the floor, with your legs to your chest because the guest bedroom will be extra small," Arthur added with a chuckle. "and you won't fit in the shower." "Why won't he fit?" Alex asked, joining them. "We're talking about how much trouble normal size people will have in my house." Alex sat on the floor, between Patrick's legs. "Really?" The others joined them before Arthur could expand on it. "What do you guy want to make?" Aaron asked. "No idea. what's do we have?" Anakin asked. "Not much, grocery is later today." "That means we have to scrounge the shelves for something to eat." "Come on," Patrick said, "you guys can't be that hard off on food." "Oh there's stuff," Albert said, "Just not enough of any one thing to make enough to feed everyone." "It can't be that bad." "Yeah? you try making a meal out of a few of eggs, some potatoes, left over ground beef, carrots, beets and cheese," Aiden said. "Is that what's in the fridge?" Patrick asked. "It was this morning when I looked in it." "Do you have any flour?" Patrick asked. "Sure." "Butter, salt and pepper?" "Of course." Patrick looked at them. "And you can't make a meal out of that?" Blank stares regarded him. "You guys are lucky you're rich. you'd die in my part of town." He got up. "come on, I'm going to give you a course in survival cooking." He spent the afternoon showing them how to turn what they had into a hearty meal. during that time, he found out that Adam was off camping with Damian. By the time their fathers arrived they had turned the flours and eggs into pasta, sautéed the vegetables they had and made a sauce from a few cans of mushroom soup they found in the back of the pantry. Their fathers brought up cases of soda, including one of orange soda. They sat down to eat. Patrick bowed his head and silently gave thanks, surprised they waited for him to be done before starting in on their food. * * * * * After the meal was over they cleared the table and the dishes went into the washer. Then, to Patrick's surprise, they turned the top of the table into a gaming surface. It had looked like dark varnished wood while they ate on it, it had even felt like it, but now it was a dark screen with a list of game. "State of the art textured enabled screen," his father said. "So, what are we playing?" "We haven't played poker in a while," Aiden suggested. "It's going to have to be plain regular poker, with Patrick here," his father replied. "I don't mind," was Aiden's answer, and the others nodded. "Okay, everyone has their phones?" Patrick pulled out his. "Does everything turn into sex with you guys?" The question was out before he could stop it, but he surprised himself at the genuine curiosity behind it. "Nah," Arthur answered, looking at the transparent display over his hand. "But strip poker is a favorite of ours. I'll be right back. I'm going to need a standard phone for this." He ran up the stairs. "If I find out you're cheating," Alex said, looking at Albert who was putting on wrap around glasses, "I am so beating your ass." Albert rolled his eyes. "Like I need any help beating you." He gestured in the air and Patrick guessed he was interacting with what he saw in his glasses. "You know how to play poker?" Anakin asked. "Sure, but I'm used to playing with cards. Not with my phone." Don was a big fan of the game and on really quiet evenings he'd pull out the deck of cards and they'd pass the time playing it. Anakin showed him how to connect his phone to the table so he could see his cards and then the few commands he'd need. Arthur came back with a phone from his box and sat next to Patrick. "What are we playing for?" Patrick asked. "I can't really play for money." They looked around. "Right," their father said. "If we're not playing for clothes, we need something else." Their other father went through the game's options. "there, it comes with a currency option. we'll use that." Five thousand dollars appeared on the bottom of Patrick's phone. Even knowing the amount was fictitious, he asked for the game to start with a low ante. They agreed to start at twenty-five dollars. It quickly became apparent to Patrick his family didn't play to win. He wasn't a great player, but he was racking up the wins. He got the distinct impression that when they played for clothing, they wanted to end up naked as fast as possible. They were on the tenth game, which looked to be Patrick's eighth win, it was down to him and Albert, and he had three kings, when the garage door rumbled open. "Adam's back," Aiden said. Patrick called, and they showed their hands. Albert had a straight. Anakin randomized the deck and passed the cards. Patrick looked up from his phone as heavy footsteps stumped up the stairs. Adam appeared, and ran to the other stairs, disappearing before anyone could say anything. Patrick only realized what the expression on his face had been moments later. It had been fear. Not long after that Damian appeared, an unconcerned smile on his face. Patrick looked at him, then the other stairwell, and back. Adam had been camping with him. Patrick growled as he climbed over the table to reach him. With curses his brothers got out of the way. As he landed on the other side his fathers grabbed him. "Let go of me! that son of a bitch did something to Adam!" "Patrick," his father said, "calm down." Damian studied Patrick with an amused expression. "Fuck calming down." He struggled in his fathers' grasp. He was going to wipe that smug smile of his face. "Damian, leave!" "But I just got here." "Leave my house, Dam, now!" "Alright, fine." The tiger went back down the stairs. "No! You can't let him get away with what he did!" Patrick struggled harder, but his brothers joined in to restrain him. They only released him once the garage door had rumbled close. Patrick turned and stared at them. "How the fuck could you let him leave!" "Patrick, you need to calm down," his father said. "I'm not fucking calming down. he did something to my brother and you just let him walk out of here." "Patrick, please. You don't understand." "Then fucking explain it to me. And don't give me anything of that I need to have sex with the lot of you before I'm going to be ready." His fathers looked at him with a confused expression. "I said he'd have to be comfortable having sex with us first," Arthur said. His father sighed. "Patrick, it's complicated, but Arthur's right." He stared at them. He could clearly see the pain on their face. How could they not want to go after him and make him pay? He caught Aaron's angry expression and something clicked. He'd also suffered at Damian's hands, that was the reason for his animosity. He was the only one who looked like he'd want to make Damian pay, but he hadn't gone after him, he'd also stopped Patrick. what kind of hold did Damian have over them? Patrick swore and went up the stairs. He knocked softly on Adam's door. "Go away!" "It's Patrick." There was a moment of silence. "Just go away, please." "Adam, what happened? What did he do to you?" Another silence. "I don't want to talk about it." Patrick seriously considered breaking down the door. His fist was raised, before he realized that wouldn't resolve anything. He took a moment to calm himself. "Adam, I want you to know that if you ever need to talk to someone, I'm here." "Thanks." He leaned his head on the door. "If he ever touches you again, I want you to tell me, okay? No one hurts my brother. do you hear me? Absolutely no one." "Pat, don't do anything." Adam sounded closer to the door. "I'm not afraid of him." Adam's next words were soft enough Patrick wasn't sure he heard them correctly. "You should be." Then he heard Adam move away from the door. Patrick wanted to scream at him. There was nine of them, how could they let one person cow them like that. he spun on his heel and went down the stairs. He grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and his phone off the table, daring any of them to comment. They were his family, but as he left he despised each and every one of them.
  7. BigPuppyStuart

    Orgy In the woods part 1

    Stuart Phip propelled his portly body through the woods outside of town. His step was lively for a guy of his girth and his tail was positively wagging. He was excited to reach his destination. He traveled light, he had nothing but a range bag with a camera, a knife and a box 50 condoms. The need for the condoms is what put the wag in his tail and the spring in his step. He has been invited to a small set of houses in the woods with a rather wild reputation. It was run by a small discreet group of men all look for visitors of a certain type and a certain build. Stuart met those requirements with his round belly and thick arms that were not entirely muscle. He was dressed plainly as instructed as this group wanted no real indications of social class. He had no trouble doing so, he wore simple clothing, a pair of blue jeans, suspenders and a tight red shirt that hugged his ample middle. He had heard of the things this group got up to and was excited to be invited. He had only one reservation when he received the invitation. Only huskies were invited. After sending some follow up messages after receiving the message he had found out that it was less to do with race biases and more something to do with something in the woods that would chase people unless they were of husky descent. After some reading up on the area it turned out there was some ancient beast that lived there and guarded the land for the descendants of its former followers or people that could pass for its former followers. This was one of the few cultic beast territories. The owner of the house was a distant descendant of the cult so he honored the tradition of only inviting people the beast would not assail. The thing that really tipped him in favor of coming was his boyfriend practically demand Stuart attend. “ Dude, you need to go and get mega laid, you will regret it forever if you don’t. Also take your camera and take lots of pictures.” He had been convinced to go. He walked through the wooded path toward a clearing with a muted yellow house as the sun was falling low in the sky. The thought of what was waiting for him inside caused him to speed up. He had been told to go right in. He approached the door and it opened to show a potbellied brown and cream male husky in nothing but a pair really short shorts. The man smiled and said, “ You are the first to arrive but some others should only be minutes behind you. Come on in!” Stuart Gladly entered the door that had been left open for him. He followed his host into a living room and followed the invitation to sit down on the couch. His host sat next to him rather closely and casually put his hand on Stuart’s thigh in a blatantly sexual fashion, but it was alright since there was a clear understanding of what this place was for. “ So first thing’s first the thing in the woods will be prowling around for a few days so don’t be alarmed if you see a figure in the woods. It won’t hurt you if it hadn’t tried to chase you off already.” His host said rubbing Stuart’s leg affectionately. “ And second, there is a little tradition I would like to indulge in, I like to have first timers put their seed in my belly before we all get started if that is alright.” “ Oh sure go ahead.” Stuart says cheerfully. His Grinning host moved his hand from Stuart’s thigh to his zipper and unzipped his pants. Stuart pulled up on his shirt exposing his gut to both untuck his shirt from his pants and move it out of the way so he didn’t get anything on it. He lean back and splayed his legs a little. He felt the other man’s fingers slip in and part his underwear and press on the stiffened sheathe of his member. He let himself extend fully erect to fill his host hand. He felt the pot bellied husky press his muzzle over his cock and the pause to work his tongue over Stuart’s glans. Stuart sat there grinning stupidly like most men do when they have a mouth wrapped around their dick. The pot bellied head giver put one hand on stuart’s tummy then began bobbing his head with wet sucking noises. Stuart just leaned back even more and let his host go to town on him. As he lay back relaxed with a guy’s head bobbing hungrily on his crotch another person came in. The New comer was a large doughy bellied man with a grey brown coloration and no shirt, He as grinning at what he saw. “ Hi Harold, how’s it going? Don’t talk with your mouth full.” The newcomer says jovially. The brown potbellied husky ignores this and keeps working his muzzle up and down Stuart’s dick. Stuart gives a little wave to the hefty newcomer and idly wonders what it will take to feel that doughy belly pressing against his back. “ Oh I see I have caught the new guy’s eye, well sorry new guy, I am mostly here to watch and take pictures. In fact…” He brings up a camera and snaps a few shots of Stuart getting his knob polished. Stuart just smiles mildly for a few moments before his smile tightens and brightens as he feels his member spasm and the pot bellied man’s muzzle press firmly onto his meat. Stuart can swear he feels the man’s uvula resting on top of his cockhead as he pumps his load into the warm eager throat. The photographer grins toothily as he takes a few snaps of Stuart’s O face. With a wet slurp as he expertly cleans off all cum from Stuart’s meat, the guy give head leans back and stands up, licking semen from his lips. He goes over and hugs the Doughy bellied new comer warmly. “ Get set up, more should be on the way and they are gonna want to get right into it.” They wonder off leaving stuart alone for a moment, sitting in the afterglow with his fly undone. In the email he was given express permission to wonder around and make himself at home, and to not worry about clothing when doing so. He unbuttoned his pants and slid his suspenders off his shoulders. He Dropped his pants and underwear to the ground and wondered the house, looking around and actually looking for spaces that would be fun to copulate in. He had surveyed 2 bedrooms and what looked like an empty office when he heard someone opening and closing the doors, possibly checking the place out like he was. He peeked out and saw a reasonably attractive fellow with a medium paunch in a Tshirt with some sports team on it. He was also without pants so Stuart got a nice look at his junk. He was nicely endowed. The man caught sight of Stuart and gave an approving grin and a slightly nervous wave. “Hello there I am Roderick.” He says in a friendly deep voice. “Stuart. I am the new guy, or one of them.” Stuart comes out fully into the hallway. Roderick’s eyes briefly dart down then back up to Stuart’s face. “Don’t be shy, you can look.” Stuart says reassuringly. “I am hoping to do more than look if that is alright.” Rodrick returned. “Well there is a bedroom right here if you want take your time.” Stuart says with a sly grin. “Well yeah there is, but in the spirit of this even, let’s take it out to the garden.” Rodrick says giving Stuart’s gut a pat. Roderick takes Stuarts hand and leads him into the back garden. They walked through the living room to see some more guys have arrived. One of them must have been another new guy ‘cause he had his jeans around his knees and the host of the even was kneeling in front of the guy and stuffing cock into his face. Another guy was leaning against the wall looking a little bored but perked up by the sight of 2 fat guys with no pants walking out the back door. The guy, a hefty very light gray husky in T-shirt and jeans came off the wall and made to follow them. Once outside Stuart takes a seat on the grass and sets his jeans and little bag in pile next to him. Roderick looking shy and excited sits next to him and he leans in. They cuddle on the grass for a moment as the fully clothed gentlemen walks over and stands a few feet away as if to not intrude. “ Mind if I watch?” He asks. “ Fine with me.” Stuart says “sure” Roderick said then leaned in to whisper to Stuart. “I kinda want you to dominate me with your bulk. It is my thing if you don’t mind.” Not saying anything and in a rather smooth motion the hefty husky rolled over and was straddling Roderick, pressing him against the grass with his stomach. “like this” Stuart asks. His mouth slightly open and his ponytail falling over the side of his neck. Stuart could feel the pinned man’s breathing increase and a warm hard object pressing into the bottom of his belly. “yeah, like that” the guy beneath Stuart said beginning to pant lustfully. “ You got a nice ass” the fully clothed guy says. “Yeah he does, but mine is better hon” comes a new voice behind Stuart. Stuart doesn’t bother to look back he is too busy putting more of his weight on Roderick who responds by pumping his crotch lightly and rhythmically poking Stuart’s gut. Both Stuart and Roderick look over at a thump and the clothed guy who followed them out plops onto the ground on top of the guy getting head earlier. Their mouths are locked and the clothed guy is grinding on the other while the bottom starts pulling his pants down. In moments they are making love slowly next to the pair. “Looks like a good idea, want to copy them?” Stuart asks Roderick who just panted and grabbed onto Stuart’s thighs. Taking that as a yes Stuart grabbed his little range bag and pulled out a condom from a pocket on the bag. Stuart sat up so he was kneeling over Roderick’s pelvis and handed him the condom then pulled his red shirt off over his head. Rodrick had gotten the condom on and had pulled a little packet of lube from somewhere and doted his tip with it. “In ya go.” Stuart laughed and squatted down smoothly, letting out a satisfied hum as he felt Roderick’s member press into his pucker then fill him. He only basked in the feeling for a moment then began working his hips gently but quickly worked his way up to a steady bounce. Rodrick squeezed Stuart’s hips and rhythmically pulled him down onto his member though it was pretty useless as the fat ponytailed Gray husky was in complete control of the pace. Having settled into a stead rhythm Stuart leaned forward without interrupting his pace and pushed Roderick’s shirt and began rubbing his nipples. Stuart continued to grind his backside against Roderick’s pelvis. After a few minutes of this a crowd had gathered to watch and chat. Stuart could hear and smell that beer was being opened and passed around as people commented on what they saw. “ The big one knows how to ride” “ He must be fitter than he looks to move like that, I hope he gives me the same treatment.” “ I swear I have see that guy somewhere.” “The bottom guy has a great dick, or is he the top since he is penetrating? Whatever, great dick.” “You weren’t kidding when you said this was nothing but a no frills orgy hon, I won’t have to make small talk we can just fuck.” This all came as white noise cause Stuart was too into what he was doing, his behind was singing in pleasure and he felt himself hardening as he was sufficiently recovered from the blowjob on the couch. He was thinking about how he would take care of it, wondering if the other couple snuggling and gently making love on the grass wanted a player 3 or if the wanted to be left alone. As he continued pumping his backside onto Roderick’s nicely portioned member he realized that he was most likely going to go off from that alone as he felt the building throbbing pleasure in his depths move out into his dick. “ Ohhhh yeahh aUGHGHHGHGGGGGGGHHHH” Rodrick bellowed out and pulled on Stuart’s hips as he he jammed his pelvis against Stuart’s ass as hard as he could. After a few pushes and pumps Roderick falls limp onto the ground and his dick soften’s and slips out of Stuart. Stuart was a mere instant from going off himself and was left hanging. Roderick was laying on the ground panting his eyes rolled back into his head looking like he didn’t know what planet he was on so no chance of getting a finishing handjob. This was confirmed when Roderick began snoring gently. Stuart was too polite to wake him up to finish so he stood up in a fluid motion and turned to see the crowd of men staring at him. One of them, a truly round fellow with a flabby face and a yellow long sleeve shirt step forward and handed Stuart a beer then pointed at his dick. “May I uncockblock you?” He said teasingly. “Have at it.” Stuart says in a mixture of good humor and desperate hornyness. The Round fellow gets down on his knees and opens his maw wide before taking Stuart’s dick in hand and pulling it down to rest on his tongue. He gave a squeeze and 2 strokes before Stuart grunted and sprayed his load into the round man’s open mouth as he Stood there panting and pumping his load into the guys open mouth he felt an intense gaze on him and he looked into the forest to see an indistince figure watching him from the forest. He stared back and concentrated on it to the point he barley noticed when the round guy closed his mouth fully around his member and squeezed Stuart’s balls as if to make sure they emptied fully into his mouth. Some of the other guys were also looking into the forest. The figure faded into the shadows and Stuart no longer felt its stare. His mind came back to the guy sitting in front of him. “Thanks for that dude.” “Thanks for dinner, guy” the round faced man said looking up “ Can you help me up, I am a bit too plump to stand up by myself….” “How about you stay there and have a second helping” a guy chuckled out. After the man on the ground agreed Stuart cracked his beer and mingled with the crowd. He found him talking to a Stocky shorter man of maybe 40. “ The thing in the woods, I think it is feeding off the emotional aura of the orgy.” The guy said eyeing the forest. “Yep, that Is what I am thinking, instead of live sacrifices this Totem beast thing feeds off of energies from copulating people, lends credence to Voctor’s theory that ritual orgies were more than just tribal bonding.” Stuart responded. “ Man, we must be boring as hell to start talking magic and anthropology at an orgy.” The stocky guy who is fully clothed says. “ I don’t mind, I need a few minutes to recover before I try and do anything else tonight.” Stuart says. “ Yeah I saw you going at it earlier, looked fun, I wish I had the courage to talk a guy into boning me stupid, but I just stand here to shy to talk to anyone until I get wasted and don’t remember anything.” The man says ruefully. “ Well you are chatting up a dude with no clothes on who wouldn’t mind fucking you stupid if that is what you are after.” Stuart says, and the stocky guy laughs. “ heh well if only my ex could see me now, academic talk actually getting a guy to mount me.” “ Want to go inside or…” “Nah, I need to get into the spirit of things why not do me up against that tree.” He says and points to a nearby tree that is still in view of the crowd. The guy goes up and leans against it. Playing along Stuart walks over and undoes his pants and pulls them down. He feels himself quickly growing read for a round 3. He quickly puts a condom on and slowly pushes himself in till his belly is resting on the guy’s back. He reaches down and takes hold of the guys thighs before giving gentle thrusts. “I’m gonna take my time” Stuart says. The Stocky guy just laughs and pushes back onto the penetrating member. Stuart just stood there and basked in the feeling of warm flesh squeezing around his throbbing meat, nothing but a thin layer of latex between them. He slowly pulled back then pushed himself back in looking down at how his belly jiggled slightly as he pumped slowly in and out. As the minute drew on the stock guy leaned farther and farther and Stuart speed up, getting faster and firmer in his movements. After 10 minutes of this the bottom pipes up. “My legs are getting weak,” the stocky guy says. His legs trembled as he lowered himself to his knees. Stuart Lowered with him, taking much of the stock guys weight. The stocky guy was now resting his head against the tree and huffing as Stuart’s hips speed up a little more. Stuart leaned in as much as his big belly would allow and cuddled closer, going from just a casual banging to a more tender cuddlefuck. “Hey, guy, when it is time to go to bed, why not join me in the second bedroom in the east hall. Bed is nice and big enough for both our fat asses.” The Stockyguy says between breathy huffs of pleasure. “Sure. If I fall asleep after boning you stupid, you will carry me right?” Stuart teases. Then firmly presses his hips against the other’s backside as he begins filling the condom. “Not a chance tubbo.” The Stock 40 year old says as he pushed back onto stuart’s thighs then layed on his side as Stuart gripped the base of the condom and pulled out. He tied off the condom after he slipped it off then lay next to the panting bottom. “ Now that we fucked, My name is Stuart. ” “Bellowen. My name is Bellowen. But you can call me impressed because damn.” “ Tell me about it, it isn’t even 8 and have been blown twice, rode a dick, and taken a handsome guy up against a tree after talking magical anthropology as foreplay. Not a bad start to the night.”
  8. Kindar

    Chapter 31

    The Missing Son 31 Patrick was sweaty and itchy. the whole week had been hot, a lot hotter than it should be for only a few days into summer. And they kept saying that They'd fixed climate change back in the thirties, Patrick thought gloomily. He grabbed another broken lamp and threw it with the others. The ear clip beeped, letting him know a call was coming in. He'd gotten it after a week of holding the phone to his ear while talking with Arthur. It was well worth the five bucks. He pressed the stud. "Hey Arthur, how is it going?" "Hi Pat," someone he who wasn't Arthur said. "It's Aaron." "Hey Aaron. sorry, Arthur usually calls round this time." "I know. I let him know I'd be monopolizing you today, that is, if you're interested in having lunch together." Patrick grabbed the phone out of his jacket off an intact tall lamp Joey had say was called a Pixar, because of the way it looked. Patrick had no idea what that was supposed to mean, but it was one they could still sell. It was five minutes after noon. "Yeah, I guess I could, but just to warn you. I'm kind of grummy. Sweating and dirt don't mix well. Where do you want to meet?" "Well, I'm standing at the gate of Joey's Junk, being eyed by two canids like I'm on the lunch menu." Patrick had a moment of surprise at Aaron being at the junk yard, then laughed. "That's just Livid and Angry, Joey's pooches. They're harmless. Head to the office, and I'll be there in a few minutes." When Patrick made it there, shirt and jacket in hand, Aaron was seated on the stairs, holding two wrapped sandwiches. "You didn't have to bring food," Patrick chuckled. "we could have gone somewhere." Aaron looked sheepish. "I didn't. Joey introduced himself. When I told him I was your brother and we were going to have lunch he gave me those, then got in a pickup and left." Patrick sat next to his brother. "He usually provides lunch when I work." He took one of the sandwiches. "If you prefer, we can go somewhere, I'll have to grab a quick shower first. I'm not fit for even this area's diners." "It's okay. And I did bring something." Aaron pulled a can from behind him and handed it to Patrick. Orange soda. "I know you don't want us to buy you stuff, but I thought in this heat you might enjoy a drink." He pulled a second one for himself, a strawberry-kiwi soda. "This is fine." He popped the top with a claw. "It's the stuff I couldn't afford at any time in my life that makes me uncomfortable." He took a long swallow, then a large bite of the sandwich. Aaron sipped his soda while looking around. "This is so surreal. I didn't even know a place like this existed." Patrick nodded. "Joey managed to grab the last permit before they passed the recycling act, in... twenty-eight, I think. The others went under because the intake more or less dried up, but Joey specialized in large appliances and other big things that aren't easy to recycle. By the time the recession hit he was the only one left, and people started coming in with smaller stuff. Stuff they should be recycling, but they can't get money for that, and as tight as the economy became they needed even the few pennies Joey gave for what they brought." "The city let him do that?" "Looks like it. even if things are picking up now, people still come. but now we get collectors and people looking to dress up their place for cheap, so he's seeing a return on it." Livid chose that moment to drop herself on her haunches next to Aaron and look at him with baleful eye. She licked her chops. "Don't give her any food. Joey don't let them eat people food, but she keeps trying." Aaron rubbed the black canid between the ears and she panted. "So it's just you and Joey working here then?" "Nah. He has two cousins that come in whenever they feel like it, but this isn't exactly a busy place. He just calls me in when someone brings something big, or when there's something he doesn't want to deal with." Patrick finished his sandwich and soda. "That why I'm here today. He'd got eight years of lamps piled up in the back and he's decided to get rid of the ones too broken to be sold. I've been sorting all morning. When I'm done we're going to shovel that in his pickup and he'll drive it to the recycling center." Aaron nodded and nibbled on his food. "Pat, I hope you're not going to find the question offensive, but how much money do you have?" "Thirty-three bucks and eleven cents." "And that's literally everything you have, right?" "Yeah." "Fuck," Aaron whispered. "I'm sorry, I really thought Alex was trying to pull one over us." "It's okay. I'm kind of surprised no one called to double check." "Not something we wanted to do over the phone." Patrick smiled. "So that's why you're here?" "Only part of it." He looked at the sky. "I've been going through some stuff." "Okay." Patrick waited. "Sorry. This is weird. You're my brother, but at the same time you're not part of my family. You're the only one I could think of to talk with about this." "Shoot." Aaron took a breath. "A couple of years ago something happened to me. Ever since I've had this anger festering inside me. I keep it in check, mostly, the dads haven't realized anything, but I'm pretty sure Arthur suspects, and if he does the others do to. I had to stop competing, because the last time I did my opponent kind of cheated and I lost it on him. I broke his leg." "Why are you keeping it from your fathers? wouldn't they help?" "They'd want to, but they can't. It's complicated." "Okay, what are you hoping to get out of talking with me about it?" "Am I wrong to say you have something of a temper?" Patrick chuckled. "No, you're not." "How do you deal with it?" "I pray, a lot." "Oh." Aaron petted Livid and she rested her head on his lap. "Seriously though, I try to think about what I'm doing. I've learned to noticed the signs I'm about to lose it and I try to catch myself." "So no mantra? no secret recipe to keep in check?" "No. I'm afraid not. Not keeping it bottled up would probably be a good way to start though. And for me, my faith that God hasn't burdened me with something I can't overcome helps." "And that's enough, faith?" "Most days. I have dark days where I curse God. I'm not perfect. Just like the rest of us, I'll falter, step off the Path, but at some point we get back on it. You don't believe in God I take it." "Never really spent any time thinking about it. Historically, my family and the church hasn't gotten along all that well, with us being gay and all." "How far back does it go? I mean everyone being gay." Aaron shrugged. "As far back as we know. Great-grandpa Robert had the family tree done, and it went as far as some guy in France, in the fourteen hundred I think. He was the first one to take the name Orr. According to the stories, we've been persecuted throughout the centuries. We have it good now, none of that phobia anymore, but I think the church's been breed out of us." "You don't need a church to believe in God." "Okay, but how do you deal with science." "What?" "Doesn't the bible say that God created everything? doesn't that mean you can't believe the theory of evolution is real?" "Wow, okay, now you're sounding like one of those Anti-religion extremists." "Sorry, I didn't mean to, but I am curious about it, how do you reconcile religion and science?" "Well, I'm not a scientist, so that isn't really a problem for me, but yes I do believe in science. I do believe that earth is older than what the bible states, and that somewhere in the far past, Livid there and Joey share an ancestor." "Doesn't that go against the bible and the things it teaches?" Patrick shrugged. "It doesn't matter. It wasn't written by God. God doesn't dictate how things are. He set them in motion and he's watching what happens." Aaron was silent for a moment, then he chuckled. "You're a lot more thoughtful about this than I would ever be." "Finding out about you, dad, and being gay has forced me to do a lot of thinking. I wasn't quite that deep when I was seventeen." Aaron nodded. "I'm not really a deep thinker." Patrick put an arm around Aaron's shoulders and pulled against him. "That's okay. Sorry if I couldn't help with your anger." "S'okay, I have a backup plan. I'm going to join the army." "Isn't that a bit extreme?" "I don't think so. That way I can channel my anger into protecting my country." "And here I thought you guys were going to sit on your money and live the easy life." Aaron laughed. "Oh no, we're all going to get jobs." "But your dads have money." "And it's their money. We're living off it now, because we're too young to get jobs." Patrick eyed him. "okay, because we're still in school. Once we leave school we're going to have to come up with our own money." Patrick looked at Aaron eyes wide. "What?" "That sound you just heard, that was my expectations being shattered. I mean, I liked you all, even when I thought you were going to have it easy all your life. You're good guys and I like being around the lot of you, except for Damian. That guys just gives me the creeps. But now.... What?" Aaron looked away. "You're instinct about him are right." "What do you mean?" His brother started to say something, then stopped. He shook his head. "Look, just be careful around him. That's all." Patrick considered the words. "I will." Aaron checked his palm. "Shit, I should probably let you get back to work. I don't want you to get in trouble." "I won't, but I should get back to it." They stood, and Patrick was the one to hug Aaron, much to his brother's surprise. "Thanks for talking with me, and if you ever need to talk again, you have my number." "Thanks for listening. I love you." Patrick didn't know how to reply to that, and by the time he decided he loved him back, Aaron had already left.
  9. Kindar

    Chapter 30

    The Missing Son 30 The phone he bought was ten dollars. The most basic model, Holo, but hardly any customization settings. He didn't get the earclip. A quick call to Richard and both his phone were on the same number and shared the basic functions. He silenced his expensive phone and stashed it in his underwear drawer. Then he gave his number to his mom and prayed that she wouldn't notice it was his name or know how expensive it was to get. He got use to having a phone over the week, putting all the numbers he knew in it, then find out he could get a reader function for it and moved his books to it. He wouldn't have to be at his computer to read anymore. The dreams with his fathers continued for a few more days, then they faded. He still woke up with morning wood, but it wasn't accompanied with erotic dreams anymore. He did find his mind returning to them more often than not, when he took care of it in the shower. After two weeks his friends had his number and Patrick found he had to silence his phone otherwise he kept being bothered by their call, and all they wanted to do was chat. The one person he chatted with every days was Arthur. They spent at least ten minutes talking over lunch. No subjects were off limits except for sex. Patrick found out Arthur was addicted to candy corn, loved Japanese music, despised red bell peppers, was keeping busy over the summer by taking classes and was going to find a cure for dwarfisms. For his part, Patrick told him about making up stories about the father he dreamed he had when a kid, that he liked his music on the quiet side, twentieth century jazz, and some classical composers. He liked all kind of food, not being in a position to afford not eating something. And that one day he'd probably own a bar. * * * * * This Sunday had kept Patrick busy. There had been a group of trouble makers within fifteen minutes of starting. They'd tried to intimidate him, but after the Sarantos, no one could scare him anymore. He dragged them outside two at a time. Then he had to deal with a guy who tried to force one of the new waitress to sit on his lap for some 'quality' time. Another one escorted outside. Then it was a woman who, after one too many, wouldn't leave Patrick alone. She pressed herself on him while he carded the newcomers and glowered at any other women who even smiled at him. He was set to endure her, since she just couldn't take the hint he didn't want her there, then she tried to put a hand in his pants. He almost decked her. That she was a woman made him hesitate, and that Jen pulled her away probably saved him a very embarrassing moment. After that things quieted down and his nerves settled too. Influx had picked up again. The group filled the stairwell and from what he could see a good number were also outside. He quickly checked IDs and they were all legal. Then, as he handed one back the name on it registered. He looked up at the tiger. "Alex?" "Hi, Pat." He put his ID away and moved aside so the others could pass. Patrick couldn't talk with him as he finished checking the group. Finally, once they were all in and crowding the bar he turned to his brother. "What are you doing here?" Patrick looked his brother over, and he actually looked like he belonged here. His jeans were worn, his running shoes scuffed in many places. The only thing that was a little out of place was the jacket he wore over his white shirt. It looked expensive. "I wanted to see where you worked." "How did you even know about it?" "I asked Arthur." Patrick shouldn't have been surprised Arthur had shared their conversations, it wasn't like he hadn't wanted him to, he simply hadn't expected it. "Can you join me for a drink?" Alex asked. Patrick checked his watch. At this hour he had half an hour before the next bus, arrivals should be calm until then. They went to the bar once the group had moved to tables. "Don, this is Alex, one of my brothers." The panda eyed the tiger. "Brother? You never mentioned you had a brother." "It's something recent." Don quirked a smile, but he didn't say anything. He offered his hand. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you Alex. I'm Don, I run this joint." "Likewise." Alex shook it. "It's a nice place." "Thank you. What can I get you?" "How about an Hawaiian?" "Ahh. I'm afraid I don't carry that beer. It's a little too expensive for my customers." Alex's ears turned red. "I'll have whatever you recommend then." Don poured him a glass from the tap, set it before him and then filled a glass with orange soda for Patrick. "This one's on the house," Don said when Alex tried to pay. "Think of it as a welcome to the family drink." "Thanks." "I'm going to take a break," Patrick said taking his. "Things should be quiet until eleven-ten." "Take as long as you need. I'll have one of the girls cover the door." Patrick led Alex to the last available table. "I guess you can't drink while working," Alex said, indicating the glass. "I don't drink at all. I don't get how Don can after seeing the troubles the drunks can cause in here." He eyes Alex's glass. "You drink much?" "No. I've only been legal for a few months, so I haven't had the occasions. If I go to a club I still go to Gentrify, it's an underage club so no alcohol. As a family we don't really drink much. Dads enjoy a glass of wine here and there, usually on special occasions. I've never seen uncle Damian drink. I've only seen Uncle Dominic drink once, at Grandpa's funeral." "Do any of the others drink?" "Aiden and Albert got plastered once." Alex hesitated, "After we visited you. They got really sick, and I haven't seen them drink anything since. I expect the rest tried it, but they didn't overdo it to the point where we found out." Patrick couldn't stop the smile. "That's right, you guys haven't been around alcohol as long as I have." Alex frowned. "How long have you been around alcohol." "Since I was fourteen." "Does you mom drink?" Alex asked, horrified. "No. That's when I started working here." "How did you manage that?" "I had my growth spurt early, and I was already wide shouldered. I'd gotten a fake ID that said I was eighteen. Don didn't buy it, so I told him I was really seventeen. he didn't buy that either, but he didn't say anything. He tried me out for the night, and I've been here ever since." "Man, When I was fourteen I played video games, and worried about Aramis hooking up with Porthos." "Who?" "They're characters on a show I watched then. I was really into Aramis." "Never had much time for entertainment shows." "Arthur said you read novels." "Lots of fantasies. I'm actually reading more now that I have a phone." He took it out. "What happened to the one Arthur gave you? Aaron's old one?" "It's home. It's too valuable, if the wrong people see it they'd steal it. I got this and linked them." "It isn't that expensive, you know. Arthur mentioned you weren't happy about the number." "Do you know how much it cost?" Alex shrugged. "Sure." Patrick was annoyed at the lack of concern his brother showed. He wished he could get him, all of them to understand how different his world was from theirs. He smiled as he thought of something. "Alex, how much money do you have?" "On me? a couple hundred bucks in cash." "Is that all you have access to?" Alex looked at him suspiciously. "No, why?" "If you need more, how would you do it?" "I'd use my bank card. Pat, why do you need to know that?" Patrick dug in his pocket and dumped its content on the table. He had a five, and three ones neatly folded with not even fifty cents in various coins. "This is all the money I have." Alex look at the bills and coins. "Okay." "Alex, this is 'all' the money I have." His brother looked at him, confused. "I don't have a bank card. I don't have a bank account. Until Don pays me when he closes tonight, this is all the money I have to my name." Alex looked at the bills, then at Patrick. his eyes grew wide. "How? What?" he grabbed the bills and counted them. "How much are you going to get tonight?" "A hundred and fifty, plus whatever Jen and the other waitresses give me" "For the night?" "No, that's for working the weekend. And most of that is going to go to my mom for the bills. I'm going to keep fifty, and most of that is going to be spent on groceries." Alex stared at him, his mouth didn't seem to work for a moment. "How can you do that? What if you want something?" "There aren't any wants in my world, only needs, and those don't always get filled." "Then why were you angry at Arthur? Because of him you have a phone." "It isn't the phone that angered me. If that was it, with the plan, I would have been fine. It's the casual way he threw away," Patrick lowered his voice, "fifty grand on a phone number. You and him act like I would if I'd forgotten a penny on the table. That's what angered me. You have so much money you don't understand what it's worth and how it makes me feel to have that dumped on me without second thoughts." Alex drained his glass. "Shit, I didn't realize." "I know. you and I, we live in different worlds. I want to be part of your family, but I'm not sure I'd ever want to be part of your world." "But you have to work at a job like this. How can you want that when you could have it easier?" "Because that way I know the worth of what I have." "Do I want to know what you think of us?" "You? I like you, I like the guys in our family I've met. well, except for Damian, he kind of gives me the creeps. But like I said, you live in a different world. I'm not going to judge you by the world I live in." Patrick noticed an ermine make a fuss with one of the waitresses. "Excuse me." Patrick went and informed the guy that the staff was to be treated with respect. The ermine tried to get in his face about it, about the amount of money he could spend in this place. That if he didn't leave him alone, he was going to complain to his boss and get him fired. Patrick hadn't planned on laughing in his face, but after the conversation he'd just had with Alex, he couldn't stop himself. Once he stopped he told the guy to feel free to complain, but that he was either going to treat the waitresses with respect or leave. Patrick didn't wait for a reply, just rejoined Alex, but he didn't say anything, keeping his eyes on the ermine. After five minutes of the ermine behaving Patrick stopped focusing on him. Alex was looking in his glass. "You okay?" "Yeah, I'm just realizing a thing about stuff I'm planning to do." Patrick waited for him to elaborate, but he didn't. "What time do you normally leave?" Alex asked. "Between two thirty and three." "Do you mind if I walk with you?" "Of course not. you didn't drive here?" "I did, but I'll come back after." "Okay." Patrick finished his soda. "I should really get back to work." He put the money back in his pocket and stood. Alex stood with him. "I'll get myself another beer." "Well, hello there." A fox holding a tray joined them. "and who are you, handsome?" "Jen, this is my brother, Alex." "Patrick, please tell me he's single." "I am," Alex replied, smiling. "Not that I think it's going to help." "Oh, and why's that?" "I'm gay." "Of course, you are. That's just my luck. You wouldn't happen to have any brothers?" "I do, but they're gay too." Jen look at Patrick. "Are all the guys in your family gay?" Patrick opened his mouth, but then surprise froze him. She patted his shoulder. "Of course, I know." "How?" he asked, baffled. "Oh, you don't scream 'I'm gay', but I've seen too many beautiful women throw themselves at you only to fall flat on their face to think you were straight." "I don't call what that rabbit was doing 'throwing herself at me'." "No, I wasn't including her, she was looking for a lawsuit. but there's been plenty of others." Patrick tried to remember when a woman might have hit on him, but he couldn't. "That's what I mean," The fox said. "That confused look you have. You never even noticed they were doing it." He turned to Alex. "It's good to meet you, Alex. Were you leaving or heading to the bar?" "I was going to the bar." "Can I get you anything?" Alex gave her his glass. "I don't know what this was, Don served it to me, it was on tap." With a nod she left. "Pat, how much tip should I leave?" Patric chuckled and gave his brother a quick primer on tipping before going back to the door. The rest of the night was quiet. One girl came on to him when he refused to let her in because he ID was fake. He paid attention to what she did, and he could remember other women doing similar things before. He suggested she should leave. The customers behaved, so Patrick kept a discreet eye on Alex. He talked with the waitresses who approached him, and they all left disappointed. Jen hadn't told anyone he was gay, and neither did the waitresses who talked to him. They all seemed to enjoy seeing the next one try her luck. As he said he would, Alex nursed his beer for the rest of the night, switching to a soda at last call. With the door locked Patrick rejoined him. "What happens now?" Alex asked. "They finish their drinks and leave. You've never closed a bar before?" Alex chuckled. "I think the longest I've stayed at the club was two hours. Once I'd found a partner or two, there wasn't any point in staying." Patrick looked at him, then his ears reddened. "Oh." "I'm heading out," Jen said, "Here you go." She handed Patrick sixty dollars. Patrick pocketed it. "You're leaving early tonight." "Yeah. Bonnie's been sick and waking up at all hours. My sister's watching her, but she shouldn't have to deal with that any longer than she has to." She pulled Alex out of his chair and hugged him. "It was a pleasure meeting you." "Likewise. I hope Bonnie gets well soon." "Thanks. See you on Friday, Patrick." The fox sashayed away, drawing the eyes of everyone except the two tigers. "Bonnie's her daughter," Patrick explained at Alex's quizzical look. "One year old now. The father just up and left a couple of weeks in the pregnancy. No one knows where he went to, which is fortunate for him. A few of us would have had words with him." Alex nodded. Mary appeared next to them. "Patrick, Don wants to see you." "Thanks. I'll be right back." The panda was behind his desk and handed him an envelope as soon as he entered. "You can take off if you want." "Are you sure? There's still a lot of people here." He pocketed the envelope. "It's fine, if some of them start something, I'm still able to knock heads together. You go and enjoy some time with your brother." "Thanks, see you Friday." Patrick grabbed his jacket on the way out and nodded to the stairs when Alex looked his way. "Normally I'd be one of the last one to leave, but Don figures I should spend time with you." "That's pretty nice of him." "Yeah, he's a good guy. I don't know what you want to do. Normally I just walk home, but if you have any ideas I'm game." "Do you mind if I walk with you?" "No, but didn't you say your car was parked around here?" "Yeah, I'll come back for it afterward." "Are you really sure? This isn't exactly a safe neighborhood." "That's okay. I might not be a black belt like Aaron, but I've gone a few rounds with the fighting game. I can hold my own." Patrick thought it over then started walking. "I'm only agreeing to it because the gangs have been rounded up. It's a lot safer now." "Yeah, that was quite a coup for the commissioner, wasn't it?" "I guess. She seemed pretty happy with the results and I'm guessing her popularity is going up." "Yeah, she really wanted to clean up the city, that was what motivated her to become commissioner." Patrick chuckled. "You sound like you know her." "Oh no, but I met her, when I was twelve. Dads went to a fund raising for her campaign. The theme was protecting the children, so they brought us. I got to shake her hand." "She made quite an impression it sounds like." "Yeah. I kind of decided then I wanted to do what she did." "Run the police?" "No, be a cop." "You're going to be a police officer?" "Yeah, I'm joining the academy in September." "Wow. I didn't expect that. I figured you'd go in programing like dad." "No way. I couldn't do that. I had a mandatory computer class in my freshman year and I was so bored. No. I want to help out people, keep them safe." "Does dad know about that?" Alex glanced at him. "What?" Patrick asked. "You said 'dad', singular. you said the same a moment ago, and I think you did a few times at the bar." Patrick blushed. "Oh, yeah. I keep finding myself thinking of them as one person. I know there's two of them, obviously, but they look the same, dress the same they even talk the same. When I'm not around them, they just blend into one person." "That's cool. I was just worried that you were still fixated on having just one father." "Oh, no. I wouldn't have it any other way anymore." The memory of his dreams resurfaced and Patrick had to rearrange himself discreetly. "But yeah, they know. They're concerned, police work isn't exactly the safest job, but they're supportive." He sighed. "of course, I'm not sure if that's going to last once they find out I want to work on this side of the city." "Why would you want that? Wouldn't it be better in your area? there's hardly any officers around here. Before they were rounded up the gangs owned the neighborhood, but even now, I don't think I saw one police car drive the streets all week." "That's kind of why. I know the precincts in this area don't get much money and hardly no one wants to work here, so that makes it the perfect place to make a difference. My part of town is fully covered, everyone wants to work there, I wouldn't matter, I'd be one among hundreds. Here I'd be able to make an actual difference." "We could certainly use you." Before Patrick could say more there was a yell ahead, and they saw a form run out of a house. Patrick took off after him. He didn't even think to warn Alex. An old skunk was in the doorway screaming after the thief. Mister Woo then had a coughing fit. Patrick redoubled his effort and caught up to the squirrel. He grabbed the collar and stopped, yanking the youth off his feet. "Let go! let go of me!" The squirrel tried to get out of the shirt, but Patrick pull him up and wrapped his arm around his neck. Patrick was stunned for a moment as the Squirrel's face came into the light. "Xavier?" Then he saw the large, thick book, he was holding. "Xavier Patrosky, what the Hell," sorry, "Are you doing with mister Woo's stamp collection?" Alex arrived next to him, but Patrick ignored him. Xavier was struggling as hard as the fourteen-year-old could. He slammed the heel of his foot on Patrick's, and while the tiger winced at the pain he didn't let him go, barely restraining an impulse to tighten his arm around the neck. "Let go of me!" "Not until you tell me what you're up to?" "What do you care?" "Kid, I beat up those two bullies who were trying to force you to rob the convenience store with them last year. I did that because you were screaming your head off for them to leave you alone. What happened to you not wanting to steal?" The Squirrel continued to try to escape him. "Things change, okay? Unlike you I'm not going to be stuck in this hellhole all my life. I'm going to go places." "Yeah, you are. You're going to go return this and apologize." "Fuck you!" Patrick felt like smacking the kid, but then he remembered Alex. He turned so they faced him. "Xavier, say hello to my brother, Alex." "What are you talking about, you don't have any brothers." "It's a recent change. Now, Alex is a police officer. So, your choices are very simple. We go see Mister Woo, you return his book and you apologize, or I give you to him, and you go to prison. You wanted to go places, well prison is most definitely out of here." Alex showed momentary surprise, then his face hardened. The squirrel looked at Alex with fear and then hardened his face too. "You wouldn't dare," he stated. "Xavier, when have you ever known me to be afraid of getting in the way of someone hurting the neighborhood?" "I'm fourteen. You can't send me to prison." "Sure I can," Alex said, trying to sound tough. "I can charge you as an adult if the damage you caused is high enough." Patrick had to bite back a laugh at the very exaggerated attitude, but Xavier cringed. "It's just a book," the squirrel said with defiance. "The old man you stole it from looked like he was having a heart attack. If he gets injured, or even dies as a consequence of your theft that gets added to your sentence." Xavier started shaking. "I don't want to go to prison." "Then you know what you have to do." Patrick released his neck, but took hold of his collar again, and led him back to the house. The skunk, whose fur was almost uniformly white in the poor light watched them approaching. "Well?" Patrick asked Xavier, once they stood before him. The squirrel looked up at the tiger, who nodded to the skunk. Resigned Xavier looked at the ground as he offered the large book back. "I'm sorry." Mister Woo grabbed and cradled the book in his arms. "Mister Sanders, it was fortunate you were close by." He looked at the other tiger. "And who's that?" Alex offered his hand. "Orr, sir, Officer Alexander Orr." The old skunk looked at him dubious, and Alex winked. "Now," Alex continued. "I know your property has been returned, but it's still within your right to press charges. This young man did steal your collection." The skunk tightened his arms around the book and glared at the squirrel. "Depending on the assessed value of your collection, this squirrel could find himself in juvenile detention, at the very least, for a few years." Xavier looked up in horror. "Or," Patrick said, "I'm sure we can reach a more amiable way for Xavier to make reparation." The old man considered the squirrel for a moment. "Well, my house could do with a fresh coat of paint." "You can't be serious?" Xavier complained. "I am." "If you don't want to do that," Alex said, "we can proceed with pressing charges." "No!" "So, you'll paint this man's house?" Xavier sighed. "Yeah." "Good. When do you want him to start?" "Tomorrow, ten am." "Alright. Let me give you my number, if he doesn't show up let me know and I'll pick him up. I know a judge who really doesn't like people who break their words." The skunk took out his phone and Alex gave him his number. "So, you'll be here at ten?" Patrick. The squirrel looked at him, dejected. "Yeah, I will." "Alright. Now go home, and I better never catch you stealing anything, got that?" The squirrel ran off the moment Patrick let him go. They watched him until he vanished in the darkness. Mister Woo looked at Alex. "Are you really a police officer?" Alex smiled. "No, not yet anyway." "Alex is my brother," Patrick said. The skunk looked at him, dubious. "I found out about him and my father a few days after my birthday." Mister Woo looked Alex over and then at Patrick. "What are you doing still living here then?" "This is my home. I'm not going to abandon it." They wished him a good night and went back to their walking. "That stuff about him being charged as an adult, was that true?" Alex shook his head. "No. I was just looking to scare him. I mean I know there's cases where it can happen, but I doubt it would apply for something like this. Out of curiosity, what would you have done if he'd asked to see my badge?" Patrick laughed. "No idea. I'm just glad you played along." "Happy I could help. So, you're the area's guardian angel?" "No, but I'm not going to stand by and let a thief by if I can stop him. God gave me good running legs and strength, I'm going to use that to help the neighborhood." "Hmmm, you very much a Christian, aren't you?" "Yeah. Is that a problem for you?" "Nah, But I guess it does explain your initial reaction to us being gay." "Yeah, but it doesn't excuse it. I didn't realize it then, but I was raised with a rather narrow-minded version of what Christianity is about. Finding out about your family forced me to break out of that. I'm still working through some of it, but I don't think I'll be running off screaming at the mention of gay sex anymore." "Have you done it?" "No. I don't think I'm ready for that yet. I still have this sense that sex has to be with someone you love, so I can't see myself just hooking up." "I'm not going to disagree there, if you love the guy you're with it's definitely better." They were quiet for a time, until Patrick noticed Alex was scanning the shadows. "Is something thing wrong?" "No, why?" "You're acting like you're looking for someone hiding in the shadows." "oh, no. that's not it." "What is it then?" Alex took a moment to reply. "Well, Arthur said you didn't really like talking about sexual stuff." "He's right, so don't give me the gory details, but at least tell me why you're peering into the shadows so much." "You know how everyone in our family has an eccentricity, right?" "Yeah, I remember Aaron liking older guys." Alex nodded. "Well, mine is semi-public sex, and I've been noticing a lot of nooks where I could bring a guy and have some fun." Alex shivered. "Wouldn't that be dangerous? What if you get caught? I don't think indecent exposure will look good on your application to the police academy." Alex shrugged. "That's part of the thrill. Doing it while being quiet enough, not moving so much you give away what's happening." He almost said something but closed his mouth. Patrick looked at him, but Alex shook his head. "You asked not to get the details." "Thanks for the restraint then." Patrick pointed to the house. "There it is." "I guess this is where we have to part ways." "Yeah, as much as I'd like to, I can't invite you in. Mom would freak." Alex hugged Patrick. "Thanks for letting me hang out with you." Patrick needed a moment to get over the surprise, then hugged him back. "Hey, it was my pleasure. Hopefully we'll be able to do it again at some point." "Definitely." they let go. "You take care, Pat." "You too Alex." He watched his brother walk away for a moment before heading to his house.
  10. Kindar

    Chapter 29

    The Missing Son 29 "Hey Don," Patrick said as he peeked in the panda's office. "I have a phone, you want the number?" "'bout time you got one, give it to me." The panda took his out. "728-7425" "And you're going to keep it on you?" Patrick pulled it out of his pocket. "Yeah." "Good. Could mean more work for you if I can reach you at a moment's notice. By the way, Malcolm did a decent job, but I'd prefer you don't abandon your post like that. You and the girls have a good working relationship." "Don't worry. That was a one-time thing." He went and sat at the bottom of the stairs. The night was quiet, the customers behaved, the two guys who tried to get in with fake IDs didn't make a fuss when he caught them. The next morning, he woke up to another dream with his fathers. He'd been walking by their room, the door partially opened, and he'd heard their grunting. He looked in and they were having sex. The one on the bottom looked at him and invited him in. Patrick joined them, and then he was lying between them, both grinding against him. He felt one of them enter him, and he woke up. His cock was hard. He had a sense that if he hadn't woken up just then, a moment later he would have been in the throw of an orgasm. His cock wouldn't be ignored. He needed to cum. For one moment he wasn't sure he should do it, since he knew he'd think of his fathers, but decided it didn't matter, he wasn't hurting anyone. Once showered and dressed he had a quick breakfast and headed to the junkyard, where he gave Joey his number. The bulldog entered it in his phone, then had a perplexed expression. "Huh. Just how did you score this number?" "It's just the one I got, why?" "It's your name. Check it. if you punch your name, it matches to the numbers you gave me." Joey was right, Patrick hadn't noticed before. "So how did you manage that?" Patrick shrugged. "My brother got it for me." "He must have paid a lot for it." "What do you mean?" "You know numbers are assigned randomly, right?" Patrick shrugged. He'd never thought about it. "Well, if you want specific numbers, like to spell a name, you have to pay. The more numbers you need, the more expensive it is, and on top of that the more numbers you want, the less chances are it's even going to be available. Your name needs all the numbers, that means there's only one of it in our area code. You were doubly lucky, you had someone willing to spend the money and it was available." "How much money are you talking about?" "I don't know for the full number, but when I got mine for this place I wanted it to have Joey, or Junk in it. Four digits would have cost me five grand, and that was ten years ago." Patrick cursed. He didn't want them spending money on him. He headed for the door. "Hey, since your here, you want to work?" "Yeah, just give me a minute, I need to make a call." He stepped outside and called Arthur. "Hi Patrick," his brother said. "Arthur, why did you-" "Arthur can't answer his phone right now, he is in his," There was a hiccup, "biology," another hiccup, "class. I've made a note of your call and unless this is an emergency, I will notify him as soon as his class ends. Is this an emergency?" "No." He disconnected. Joey walked out of the office. "Ready?" "Tell me it's heavy lifting. I need to burn off some anger." "It is. I have a client coming in the afternoon who is looking to get some old Westinhome appliances for one of his customers. He said he'd probably take whatever I have that's in good condition. Since you're here I figure we can start sorting them right now, make it easier for him, and make sure he takes as many of them as I have, and not just what he can reach while he's here." Patrick was happy to do the work. It was almost noon when his phone buzzed. He was hot, sweaty, but at least no longer angry. It was Arthur. "Hi Arthur." "Hey Pat. Sorry I didn't call back sooner, but I only have five minutes to get from one class to the next I didn't want to run the risk I'd have to cut your call short." "It's probably for the best. I might have bit your head off earlier." "What's wrong?" "I know about my phone number." "What do you mean?" "Don't play dumb Arthur. If you're going to try to pull one over on me have the decency of owning up to it when you're caught." Arthur sighed. "So it's your name, what's the big deal?" "I know it wasn't cheap." "So?" "Damn it, Arthur. I don't want you spending that kind of money on me. How much was it?" "I don't know." "Arthur." "I mean it. I don't know. I just requested it, and it's going to be on the next bill." "You're getting our dad to foot the bill?" "They're not going to mind." "How the H..." Patrick shut up. Arthur was silent while he forced himself to calm down. "Arthur. How can you know they won't mind?" "For one thing we all have personalized numbers, so it makes sense you have one too and I doubt they're even going to notice it on there." "How can they miss extra thousands on their phone bill?" "Okay, fine, they're going to see it, but they won't care, it isn't like fifty grands is a lot of money." Patrick couldn't believe what he'd just heard. With that kind of money, he could buy his moms house, she wouldn't have to pay rent anymore. it would be one less bill she'd have to worry about. He went to speak, but he wasn't holding his phone. It was in the dirt. he picked it up. "Never again. Do you hear me?" he growled. "You are never going to spend money on me again, do you hear me?" "Pat..." "No Arthur. You are going to swear to me you're not ever going to spend money on me like that." Arthur was silent. "How about for Christmas?" "No, not for Christmas, not for my birthday, not for fucking give money to you brother day. Never. Swear it." "I swear." In the silence that followed Patrick thought he could hear Arthur sniffle. "I'm sorry." Patrick hadn't meant to hurt him. "I know, but Arthur, you need to understand that I don't see money the way you do. I have to scrounge for every dollar I have. When you dump something like this on me, it makes me feel like you're trying to buy my affection." "I'm not." "I know, but that's how it feels to me, I can't help that. I don't want this need to pay you back to conflict with my desire to be part of your family." Patrick breathed silently, trying to figure something. "If I change my number for one that's free, will you get the money back?" "No, it's billed on activation, and since you've used it I don't think we could even convince them it was a mistake." "Alright, I'm stuck with it, I'll find a way to deal with this. I've had to deal with much worse than having a number I can't afford. Just do me a favor, tell the others, okay? I don't want to have to go through something like this with each one of them." "I will. I'm sorry." "It's okay. You made a mistake, I know it. God knows I've made my share of them. I'm not really angry Arthur, this was just a shock." "Okay." His brother didn't sound like himself. "Arthur, how about I call you tomorrow? You don't have classes at this time, right?" "You don't have to. You don't have to feel obligated to talk with me." "I'm not. I really like you, and I'd like to talk with you again. How about we chat every day?" "Really? you'd like to talk every day?" "Yes, I want to get to know my brother and what better way than talking for that to happen?" "Yes, Sure. I'd love that. it couldn't always be at this time, on Thursdays I have a class at this hour, I have to take a late lunch on that day." "Okay, so I'll call later on Thursdays." "Actually, let me send you my schedule, that way you won't have to remember." "Arthur, It's okay." His phone beeped to inform him he'd received a message. Patrick chuckled. "Shit, I have to go. My chemistry partner needs my help. Thank you for understanding Pat, and I'm really sorry." "It's okay. I'll talk with you tomorrow." The call disconnected. Patrick looked at his phone. Fifty thousand dollar. This thing was worth fifty thousand dollar. Shit, he couldn't walk about with it. It looked like it was worth a lot of money. now he really had to buy himself a phone, something cheap. He'd have to call Rich to find out how to redirect the calls. He gingerly put the phone his in jacket and moved that further away. He didn't want to risk breaking it.
  11. BigPuppyStuart

    Codex: Fauna

    Gai'talar is home to many animals that are recognizable to earth inhabitants but there are some that are different enough that they need to listed. Note that names for many of these creatures are mostly in english because all the races of Gai'talar have different names for them. Worldly: Creatures found on Gai'talar Magus sharks: A type of large shark that has somehow become imbued with magical energies. They are different enough in appearance from normal sharks to be recognizable. Seem to be able to use rudimentary magic. Magus Sharks along with more mundane Varieties are considered pests by Lutrondae. Ascendant Magus sharks: Like the more common magus sharks these are imbued with magical energies but are also gifted with greater intelligence. They have been seen working together to perform tasks and seem to have sophisticated communication. Ascendant Magus sharks have markings that are capable of emitting light as well as bending it. These Sharks are able to render themselves nearly invisible. Not much is know about Ascendant Magus sharks but it is noted that they seem to be non hostile toward seagoing vessels and have never attacked sailors in the water. Like normal magus sharks the Ascendant magus sharks use magic but are rather adept at it. It was once observed that a pair of Ascendants used a floating sphere of water to peer above the surface of the sea and observed the tropical port town of Mad Rat's Landing. Harper whales : This is a carnivorous cetacean that resembles an orca but is dark blue and grey instead of black and white. Harper whales are very intelligent in that they seem to be able to tell land dwelling species apart and may even be able to recognize individuals. They have a well established pattern of not bothering hesken but displaying extreme hostility toward Ulvaltar the hesken's close relative species. This has led to a practice among Ulvaltar to avoid beaches during certain times of year. There are a myriad of hypothesizes about why this is but no evidence to back any of them. They get their name because ancient Ulvaltar or Hesken used to use the jaw bones of washed up dead Harper whales to make harps. SeaBears: the catch all term for a group of predatory pinniped of large size. Their behaviour depends on which species of Seabear it is. There are 3 species. Domesticated SeaBears: Coastal Hesken have long taken to herding and breeding Seabears and have done so long enough for them to become domesticated. They use them as farm animals when they farm the coastal waters for kelp and use that as herding animals when fishing. it is not sure how large land based animals like the Hesken started domesticating large marine mammals but it happened all the same. Domesticated Seabears are only Dangerous if threatened or aggravated and are generally considered safe. The Alo still dislike Domesticated Seabears generally though despite the Alo and Hesken having a long standing close alliance. Wild Seabears: Are curious and playful and are no more aggressive than sea-lions. Wild Sea bears are still a threat to Lutrondae children. These exhibit the behavior of normal wild animals. They appear to be the species from which hesken domesticated their sea bears from. Malicious SeaBears: Larger, spotted, far more aggressive and territorial than other seaBear species they seem to enjoy cruelty and will swarm on land to attack villages and communities by the sea. They are particularity fond of attacking skitritch and Alo communities for some reason. They show some level of intelligence in that they attempt to cut off escape by guarding boats of villages they attack. They also seem to recognize different species. They seem mortally afraid of Hesken and Ulvaltar and will flee at relatively small forces of these species even when they attack larger numbers of other peoples. The theory is that Hesken and Ulvaltar are recognized as predators as the 2 species have been hunting seabears for hundreds of thousands of years. Hesken on the other hand love finding Malicious seabears as they enjoy hunting them ,provide challenging combat, a good source of meat, pelts and bones for art or tools. It has also been noted by a renowned SeaBear hunter turned naturalist that he and his wife both derived some extra glee from fighting seabears beyond what they can get from them. His wife put it this way "It is like i am fulfilling some old vendetta but I have no idea what the original grievance was." While he in his notes put it like this, " Seabears seem to enjoy terrorizing our Alo neighbors and i rather like the Alo so that seems as good excuse as any to kick the crap out of something. Though there is more to it than that, i just like fighting seaBears." Otherwordly: Creature that come from other realms. Shadowland creatures: Creatures that come from a particular realm called the Shadowlands. Not All Creatures from here are evil but it is home to so many unpleasant things it is not fondly regarded. Shadow Vipers: indistinct masses of darkness that are vaguely snake like and have a deadly bite. Appear to be matte black and completely non reflective. Evaporate into nothing when killed and don't seem to have a flesh body. Some mages are completely immune to their venom and can somehow eat them despite the serpents having no real flesh on them. Eating these creatures gives the mage some form of sustenance but it is not known exactly how. Anyone who tries to eat them that are not the particular type of wizard immune to their venom gets sick or dies and the creature just evaporates. These creatures are considered extremely dangerous but their bites are treatable and they can be easily killed. They shy away from intense normal light and retreat from most magical light. Divine light produced by a priest or religiously devout wizard causes them to burn. They can be killed using shadow based magic but it is not as easy to do unless you know what your are doing.
  12. Kindar

    Chapter 27

    The Missing Son 27 Patrick knocked on the door, then remembered the buzzer. He didn't have the time to consider pressing it. The door flew open and a small tiger latched himself to him. "Hi Arthur." He hugged him back. "I'm so glad you came back." "I'm sorry I hurt you." Arthur took a step back. He was only wearing knee length shorts. "It's not your fault, I'm just happy your here." Patrick looked in the hallway. no one was there. "Are you always the one who answers the door?" "No, but this time I was by the window looking for you. I almost reached the door before you knocked." Patrick chuckled. "Where's everyone else then?" "In the pool. Come on." But before Arthur could pull him in, their father joined them. he had sweat pants on. "Hi Patrick." "Hi dad." They hugged. When they stepped back Arthur was grinning wide. Their father ruffled the short tiger's hair. "Go join your brothers. Patrick needs to change, we'll join you after." Arthur glared at his father and rearranged his hair. He hugged Patrick again then ran off. His father put a small ball of cloth in Patrick's hand. "That should fit you." Patrick unruffled it. It was black and smaller than his briefs. "You're joking." "What? It's Lycra, so even if it's a little too small it stretches. Aaron volunteered it." "Maybe I should just go in my underwear." His dad chuckled. "Just try it on. you'll see Speedos are very comfortable." He opened a door a few steps away to a bathroom the size of Patrick's bedroom. Patrick looked at what he was holding dubiously. There was no way that would fit him. Still he went in and closed the door. The room had the same dark floor with gray walls. a sink, toilet and large shower stall. He shook his head in disbelief. A shower by the entrance. He guessed it was useful when coming it dirty. On the back of the door was a full-length mirror. Taking another look at the swimsuit he undressed and put it on. "Shit." His father had been right, it stretched, but it was hugging his form so tightly it was showing every detail of his junk. He rearranged himself a few times until his cock no longer showed so much detail. "Dad? I don't think this is a good idea." "How about you show me?" Patrick opened the door. "Looks good on you." "Dad, it shows everything." His father looked him over critically and Patrick felt his ears heat up. "No, it doesn't. It just hints at what you have. There's nothing wrong with that." "Dad, that isn't hinting. I wouldn't be showing much more if I was naked." His father reached for him, hesitated and then put his hands on both of Patrick's shoulders. "Son. You have a beautiful body, you should show it, even flaunt it a little." "Isn't the point of flaunting getting someone's interest? Everyone here related to me. I'm not sure that's a good idea to have that happen here." "Among family is the perfect place for you to get comfortable wearing it." "I didn't see Arthur wearing something like this, or you. This is starting to feel like you're tr..." Patrick lost track of what he was going to say as his father stepped out of the sweatpants and showed he was wearing a yellow and green stripped Speedo. Patrick quickly looked away when he realized his father hadn't tried to keep the details of his package from showing. "Arthur had his shorts on to avoid freaking you out. Come on, let get to the pool. you can leave your clothes in there." Patrick hesitated only a moment before following his father. "Fuck, feels like I'm naked." "You'll get use to that." Patrick wasn't so sure. He was too distracted by how it felt to pay any attentions to the frames on the wall again. The patio door in the kitchen led to the backyard. Patrick stopped on the threshold, taking it in. It was gigantic. his whole block could fit in this yard. The grass was green and well cared for, not the patchwork most of the front yards in his neighborhood were. The pool in the middle of it. That pool was at least three times the size of his house. Everyone in the yard, except for him and his father were in the pool. "How deep is it?" Patrick asked. "Thirty feet at the diving board. two at the shallow end, going down to four for a few feet, then five. After that it levels at six for three quarter of the pool. It drops quickly after that. Danny is the diving fan." They had a diving board just above the water and another one maybe twenty feet in the air. "Come on. Let's join everyone." His father ran to the deeper side and plunged in. Patrick stepped in at the shallow end and walked until he was at the five feet zone. The water was cool, but not as cold as he'd expected. As soon as he got comfortable there he was mobbed, dragged under the water lifted back up hugged and limbs accidentally bushed against his crotch multiple times. "Alright guys, give him room to breathe. we don't want to send him running off in terror again." Patrick laughed. He didn't think his family could do anything that would scare him. They tried to get him to the deeper end, where they started a water fight, but Patrick declined the invitation, holding on to the edge and letting himself float. One of his brothers swam by him twice then stopped. Patrick studied him. "Aiden, right?" "Yep." He pushed himself off the side, swam under water to the other, came up for air and returned to Patrick. "You don't know how to swim, do you?" "No." "I kind of figured since you didn't have a swimsuit. You want me to show you?" "I don't think there's any way I can learn how you do it." Aiden chuckled. "That's pretty advanced stuff. we've been swimming since we were three. But I can show you basic stuff, the waving and kicking to keep you afloat in place and the quad paddle. Those two are so basic that if you don't panic when falling in the water you start doing one or the other almost automatically." Wanting to do something with one of his brother, instead of staying on the outside, Patrick agreed and Aiden had him moving about the pool in short order. Everyone then joined in, doing quad paddle races, and endurance test by swimming in place. That lasted for almost an hour before they decided to call it a draw. After that was a game of water polo with an inflated beach ball. Which had them climbing on over the others at times and the ball outside the pool more often than in it. At some point someone cursed and everyone scrambled away. Not knowing what was going on Patrick was still looking around when his father jumped off the twenty feet high diving board. Patrick looked at him mesmerized, not quite understanding what it meant when the tiger made himself into a ball. The water explosion when he impacted hit Patrick hard enough that for a moment he couldn't find his footing. When he surfaced again coughing his father was swimming in his direction. "Can someone go get me a swimsuit? This shredded another one." Patrick looked down and couldn't see any green or yellow. He tried to work out how he'd hit for the swimsuit to be destroyed. The only thing he came up with made him wince. "Didn't that hurt?" "Not anymore." Patrick almost asked what he meant but decided he didn't want to know. "Come on guys. we have a guest. I'm not stepping out of the pool without a swimsuit." Someone went inside. Patrick looked around and noticed someone else was missing. "Where..." he searched for the term to use in his case and then shrugged. "Where's dad?" "He went to deal with dinner." "What are we having?" "Dinner's here!" the other adult said, stepping out of the house with a tall stack of pizza boxes. He put them on the table and spread them, opening them. "Danny, Patrick, aren't you coming?" "Not naked I'm not," Daniel replied. Donald looked like he would comment, glanced at Patrick and nodded. "Right, I'll go get it." "Anakin's already gone, he should be back... there he is." Anakin threw the red and black Speedo in the pool then grabbed a pizza slice. Daniel swam to it, grabbed it and sank under water. Patrick waited for him to come back up, looking around when he hadn't after a minute. he screamed in surprise as he felt himself lifted in the air. Daniel broke the surface his head between Patrick's legs and his son's knees on his shoulder. he tried to straighten but lost his balance and both of them fall backward in the water. They resurfaced, sputtering water. "Okay, not doing that again," Daniel commented, turning to check on Patrick. "You okay." "Other than almost having a heart attack, sure." "You're way too young for one of those. come on, let's go eat before there's nothing left." "Dominos?" Patrick asked on seeing the logo on the boxes. "What's wrong with Dominos?" Adam asked. "You guys are rich and you ordered Dominos?" "It's good pizza," Albert said, finishing his slice and taking another one from a different box. "And if you pay more for pizza than this, you enter 'gourmet' territory, and that stuff's crap." "Watch it Alex," Aaron said between bites. "Patrick maybe a foodie." Patrick laughed. "I'm way too poor to be a foodie. I've had more than one breakfast where I had to put water in my cereal. What's the selection?" There was a moment of uncomfortable silence then Donald said. "There's two of everything, so don't worry about it." He looked at Daniel. "Really? Anakin, you grabbed those for him?" Anakin finished chewing. "He didn't specify." Donald looked down at his swimsuit then Daniel's. "What's there to drink?" "Albert, you and Adam go grab a few cases," Daniel said. "Do you have any preference?" He asked Patrick. "Do you have any orange?" That earned him a few disgusted faces. "No. I'm afraid we don't." "I'll have whatever they bring then." Patrick quickly ate a slice of meat lovers then had a second one. Donald followed Albert inside and came back out a minute after he and Adam brought cases of coke, root beer, sierra mist, and grape out. His fathers stood one next to another and again matched fully. The ten of them decimated the pizzas, except for the two vegetarians, they lounged on the grass for a time. Patrick found himself with Arthur snuggled out against his side and Aaron's head on his thigh. For a moment he wasn't sure how he felt about it, but then he figured it was innocent enough. After half an hour Adam and Anakin stood. "We're going inside to play Battle Crowd. Who's coming?" Patrick didn't move, neither did Arthur or Aaron. "Are you guys coming in?" Albert asked. "Maybe in a bit," Arthur replied. "I'm enjoying this." "Okay. Be nice then." He went inside. Patrick wondered what he meant by that. "I hope it's okay," Arthur said. "You're really comfortable to snuggle with." He had a hand on Patrick's chest and was tracing circles in his fur with a finger. "It is. I've never done this before. I like it." Aaron repositioned himself so he was lying against Patrick's other side. "Never? not even with your mom?" "Sure, when I was a kid, but now? It would just be weird." "It isn't weird," Arthur offered. "Snuggling is always nice." "Are you saying you snuggle with your dads?" "Or course," Aaron answered. "We all do. Sometime we'll watch a movie in their room and we'll all pile on, a big snuggle pile, all together. And that pretty much always becomes..." He stopped talking. Patrick looked down to catch Arthur giving Aaron a warning glare. "Always fun." Aaron said. Patrick rested his head back and looked at the sky. "Yeah, I guess it could be nice." He liked the image of his fathers holding him tightly between them. He closed his eyes for a moment, and came awake when he felt Arthur move away. "Sorry," the small tiger said. "I didn't mean to wake you, but it's getting chilly and I don't have as thick fur as you do. I'm going inside." The sun was at the horizon, with the sky darkening. Patrick could feel the chill too. "I didn't mean to fall asleep. I'll go in too." "I guess that means I'm going in," Aaron said standing and offering his hand to Patrick. As soon as they entered the kitchen they heard exclamation of joy and anger from the living room. Aaron ran there. Patrick and Arthur ran after him. The couches were moved to the edge of the room, freeing the center for the four tigers standing there, one of his fathers, Alex, Albert and Anakin. They were facing the large screen and making gestures at it. The three seated screamed encouragement. "What are they doing?" Patrick asked moving behind the couch. On the screen characters were moving around on a field striking each other. "It's Battle Crowd," his father answered. "Okay, but where are the controllers?" "On their hands and legs. Come on Danny! how can you let your son trounce you like that?" Daniel swore at Donald, and while his father laughed, Patrick's ears burned. He paid attention to the players and he could see they had rings at all their joints on their fingers, on each wrist and ankles. "I've never seen a game controlled that way." "It's a new system by Aguiron. It isn't on the market yet." "I guess that's an advantage of being rich." Donald laughed. "no, it's the advantage of designing a game for it. They had to let us have one so we could test it." "You make games?" "Yeah, didn't you see the framed covers on the wall?" "I didn't pay attention to them." "All games we made. This new game is more challenging to make since it's... Danny! watch out!" Donald winced and Patrick looked at the screen in time to see a character disappear in the distance. "I thought you were good at that game, you're being shown up by your children, that's not very adult of you." Daniel glanced over his shoulder then back at the screen when his character reappeared. "You keep dissing my playing and I'm going to kick your ass later." "The way you're playing, I'll be the one to..." Donald didn't finish what he was going to say. He looked at Patrick, then back to the game. "Anyway. The Aguiron Room is more than the controls. It's a projection system that lets you play a game in three dimensions." He pointed to multiple small boxes around the room at the top of the walls. "Yeah, but for playing Battle Crowd it sucks," Anakin said. "Aaron kept kicking my ass." "You kept moving in front of me." Aaron replied. Patrick looked at Donald, not understanding what they meant. "Crowd isn't made for the Room, so it didn't convert very well, made it tough to judge distances and on top of that, we started moving with the characters, instead of standing in place. That's what lead to being kicked and punched." The game ended, and Anakin was proclaimed the winner. The players changed and Daniel flopped down next to Donald. he looked up at Patrick. "Do you want to play?" Patrick looked at Arthur, Adam, Aaron and Aiden getting ready. "I'll pass. I'm not much for video games." He watched them play, joining in the cheering. Watching the game was surprisingly engaging. Anakin seemed the be the best player, with Arthur a close second. An hour later a car honked repeatedly on the driveway. Aiden ran to the window and peered outside. "It's uncle Damian! Adam! he has a new car!" Adam quickly took off the control rings and dropped them on floor before running off. The other players cursed and Anakin jumped in, awkwardly putting the rings on as he tried to keep the character from being killed. As interesting as the game was, Patrick was more curious as to what would make Adam run like that. He followed him down stairs, and a corridor ending at a large garage. A silver car was stopping next to a blue sedan. there was another car next to that, a sportier dark red model. On the other side of the garage sat two minivans with still space for three more cars. Patrick looked at the silver car while Adam studied it carefully. He didn't know anything about cars, but Patrick could see some odd things about this one, for one thing it didn't have any logos, model, brand or manufacturer names on it. The door lifted open and Damian stepped out. He left it open while he watched Adam. Adam ran a hand over the side. "Okay, this is from a GT-R." He crouched and studied it. "The 2814?" Damian nodded. Adam opened the passenger side door, observing it as it lifted. "I think the doors are original, I can't think of any models that has doors that look like this, but the opening system is obviously inspired by Ferrari." He ran his fingers along the side as he walked to the back. "That's off the F-Type, the one made in 2019" "I didn't think you'd get that," Damian commented. Adam stood behind the trunk and studied it. He frowned leaned in close and ran a hand over it. Curious as to what caught his attention Patrick moved closer. he didn't see anything unusual, the surface was smooth, without any imperfections. "Why don't you have a spoiler? This is a sport design, what's the point if you don't have a spoiler. I expected it to be recessed, but there's nothing here." Damian raised his key chain and pressed a button. The top of the trunk shimmered, making Patrick back up a step. Then the surface melted up and into the shape of a spoiler. "Oh, my, God!" Adam exclaimed. "This is amazing." The shimmering stopped and the spoiler looked solid and to be an integral part of the trunk. Adam touched it with a finger, then used his hand to push on it. It didn't move. "How is that done? Nanotech?" Damian nodded. "I didn't realize anyone had gotten that level of control." Adam continued around the car, ending up in front of the hood. "What engine is in it? It is the Tesla XP? Or the Edison MAX? And whose turbo is in it? GE?" Damian didn't say anything, he simply kept his gaze on Adam. "Come on, you have to tell me. At least give me a hint? Is it an original design? Please, just open the hood." Adam was jumping form foot to foot. "How about I make you a deal?" Adam stopped moving. He looked at the car and back to his uncle. "What? What kind of deal?" Patrick felt his hackles rise at the worry in Adam's voice. He fought the urge to interpose himself between the two. He didn't know what this was about, maybe it was normal? Damian placed a hand on Adam's shoulder. "We go camping for a week, just the two of us. I'm thinking this summer, once you're done with your classes." Adams ears folded back. "A week?" His tail stood still, between his legs. For a moment Patrick thought he was going to bolt. "You don't have to give me an answer right now. I'm going to be here all night. Just think it over." Adam nodded and headed back to the hall in a daze, Damian a few steps behind him. Patrick grabbed his arm, forcing the older tiger to stop. "What the fuck was that about?" Patrick whispered between clenched teeth so Adam wouldn't hear. Damian looked at the hand holding his arm. "Patrick, let go of me." Patrick thought about tightening his grip. He didn't like how this guy was ordering him about. Then those cold blue eyes bore into him and he let him go. "Thank you." Damian straightened his sleeve. "Now, what did you mean?" Patrick looked to make sure Adam had gone up the stairs. "You just offered to go camping with him, so why does he look like he's headed for the electric chair?" "Ah, that." Damian smiled, and Patrick had to hold down a shudder at that mirthless smile. Damian ran a finger down Patrick's cheek. "You can always come camping with me and find out." "Absolutely not!" Patrick's father said, hurrying along the corridor. Damian looked him over. His father was still only wearing this speedo, just like he was, Patrick realized and suddenly felt naked. "And why not? He's old enough to make his own decisions." "Because he has no idea what he'd be getting into. I saw the state Adam is in, I don't like it, but he knows what's in store. Patrick doesn't" "Look." Damian pointed a finger at him, paused, studied him, then cursed. "Which one are you?" "Daniel." "Wait," Patrick said. "You can't tell them apart either?" "No." Damian growled. "The only time I know which one's which is when we're having sex." "Damian," Daniel warned. While Patrick stared. "You have sex with them?" "Damian." Daniel's tone was hard this time. "Of course," Damian replied, ignoring his brother. "How else should brothers show their loves for each other?" He canted his head at Patrick. "How do you think the kids do it?" "This is just fucking great," Daniel grumbled at Patrick's sick expression. He reached for him but Patrick bolted out of the room. "You just had to go and say that, didn't you?" Damian took a step back, raised his hand in a pacifying gesture. "How was I to know he was going to react that way?" "Don't bullshit me. You knew exactly how he was going to react. You don't love us, so you said that specifically to get a reaction out of him." Damian kept his face still for a moment. He had been rather blatant about it, hadn't he? Then he smiled. "Okay, you got me." "Damn it Dam. Why? Why did you go and do that? he's getting comfortable around us." Damian considered multiple expression to express his annoyance and settled on rolling his eyes. "Of course, he is. Look at you, wearing a swimsuit. Alex told me how you wouldn't get out of the pool because you were naked. I'm guessing everyone upstairs is behaving, keeping their hands to themselves? If I let you take it at a comfortable speed, Daniel, Patrick is going to go to his grave a virgin. He hasn't even had sex yet." "How do you know that?" Daniel's eyes went wide. "You're having him followed?" Damian stared at him. Didn't his brother know him? "Really? That comes as a surprise to you? What did you think I'd do? Close my eyes and hope for the best? This is my family we are talking about. I am not going to leave anything to chance." "I told you we would handle it! Damn it." he tuned. "I need to go check on him." Damian grabbed his arm. His brother wasn't the right person to deal with Patrick at this time, he could comfort him, tell him how Damian was blunt and had no tack, that he shouldn't think too much about what had been said. "Let one of the kids handle this." Damian already knew which of his nephews would go see to Patrick. They were now close enough the harsh truths would be easier to absorb. Daniel glared at him. He pulled once to try to get out of Damian's grip, but it wasn't enough. he didn't try a second time. * * * * * Patrick was bent over the bowl, but he hadn't thrown up. He was grateful for that, but he didn't move, his stomach still felt like it might decide to heave at any moment. When his stomach finally calmed down enough he believed it wouldn't rebel he closed the cover and sat on the floor, leaning against the wall. What the fuck had he gotten himself into? His clothes were by the door, he could get dressed and leave. they wouldn't stop him. Someone knocked. "It's busy." "I know. It' Arthur, can I come in?" Patrick thought about it. He wasn't sure he wanted to see any of them right now, but Arthur had been nice to him. maybe it was because he was so much smaller than the others, but Patrick felt safer with him. "Sure." Patrick was in the process of standing when the door opened. "Do you have a key?" Arthur looked at the handle. "No, it wasn't locked." Patrick stared at it. He'd forgotten to lock it? He had been in a hurry to make it to the bowl. He sat back down. his eyes fell on the large shower stall, only now he noted the entire family could fit in it. He stopped that image from forming, he didn't want to think about that. "Are you okay?" Arthur sat next to him and rested his head against Patrick's side. Patrick placed an arm over his shoulders. "Not really. No offense, but your family's crazy, you know that?" Arthur shrugged. "I guess it can look that way, unless you grow up in this environment." "And you're okay with it?" "What are we talking about at this moment?" "Your fathers and your uncle." "Ah, so it's finding out they have sex that sent you in here?" Patrick rested his head against the wall. "No. It was a shock, but I think I could have accepted it. It didn't trigger the reaction learning you guys do it too did." He paused. "How can you do that?" "Why shouldn't we? "Because it's wrong." "Says who?" "The..." He'd been about to say the bible, but after as many conversations about it with Mother Rosetta they'd had, he knew it wasn't much of an argument. He tried to come up with something better. "Everyone!" was all he found, and he knew that was as lame as it got. "Why?" "Because you're brothers, damn it!" Arthur looked up at him. "Patrick. I'm going to say something, and I want you to keep in mind it isn't a judgment on how your mother raised you, okay?" Patrick nodded. Arthur took a deep breath. "My, our, fathers, they raised us not to have any hang-ups about our sexuality. we've had sex for a long time. Way longer than you're comfortable knowing. I love my brothers, so I have sex with them. For us, it's as simple as that. we don't see anything wrong with it. Actually, it's people like you out there that we don't get. Why do you feel there has to be so much baggage when it comes to sex?" Patrick couldn't answer. He knew, deep down inside him, that it was wrong for them to have sex, but he couldn't say why. "I guess you guys are expecting me to just jump in bed with you?" "No. we'd never want you to be forced into it." Arthur smiled at him. "What we hope for is that you'll reach a point where you're comfortable with that, because we love you Patrick. You're our brother and we love you. We would love to be able to show you how much." He stretched and kissed Patrick's cheek. Patrick was surprised at the gesture. No one but his mother had ever kissed him. His ears warmed. "Do you think you're going to be able to continue hanging out with us? Or do you prefer going home?" Patrick thought it over. If he left now, he'd be able to go to the bar, work and earn some money. but what did that say about him? Yes, he was uncomfortable about how his fathers and his brothers lived their lives, but it was theirs to live, right? Did he want to be one of those guys who judged others even though what they did didn't harm anyone? No. he didn't. he also didn't want to let discomfort dictate how he acted around his family. He squeezed Arthur's shoulder. "I'm staying. Your uncle Damian isn't the most sensitive guy out there, is he?" Arthur chuckled. "That's putting it mildly." "You guys all have eccentricities. What's his?" Arthur shook his head. "No, you're not ready for that, thrust me on that. You're not comfortable with the idea of us having sex together, you're not ready to know that about him." "It has something to do with the camping trip, doesn't it?" Arthur looked him in the eyes. "Patrick, if you press this you're going to run away screaming. Uncle Damian is more extreme than the rest of us. That's all I'm going to say." The seriousness in Arthur's face and voice took Patrick aback. "Alright." They were quiet for a time. "Can I ask you something?" Arthur asked. "Of course." "How come you don't have a phone?" "I've got one at home." "But that's your mother's, not yours." Patrick nodded. "We can't afford more than one." "Is it really that expensive?" "Don't you know?" "We have a family plan and our dads pay for it. I never thought to ask how much it was." Arthur was silent for a moment, then he got up. "I have an idea. Come with me." "Where?" Patrick followed him. "My room. I have something for you there." The walked by the living room, where the others were still playing. Patrick then stopped by the frames. "So, these are games your dads made?" "Our dads, yeah." Patrick counted fifteen frames. most of the pictures were in bright colors with simple graphics. One was called Mountain top, showed a very simply mountain with a goat climbing it. The one next to it had a more detailed image in darker colors and was called Undertow. "That's a lot of games." Patrick indicated he was ready to move again. "Most of the games they create are pretty simple, so they can come up with three or four a year. The one they're making for the new system is more complex, they've been working on it for almost a year already." They went up the stairs, and there were more frames on that wall. Patrick checked the titles, not that he knew them, he didn't play. He stopped moving. "They made Castle Crash?" "Yeah, that was one of their big success. Have you played it?" "No. I don't have a phone, remember? But a few of my friends play it." under the picture was a number, thirty-three million. "It's still being played? Wow." "What's the number?" "That's how much they got for the game when they sold it." "They sell them?" "Sure. They wait until the game's popularity peeks and then sell it. I guess they miscalculated with CC if people are still playing it." Patrick counted twelve frames, and while the Castle Crash had the largest number by far, none of them were below three million. Arthur lead Patrick in a large room. Patrick chuckled as he realized his house could fit in it. "What's funny?" "Sorry. It's becoming a game to use my house as a way to measure the rooms in yours." The shelves lining the walls didn't go up above five feet and were filled with paper books, electronic component, clothing and a clear, unmarked bottle. The bed was larger than king size. A desk had a really impressive system, and on the opposite side was a closet, taking up almost the whole wall, except for a door next to it. Arthur pulled a box that was in the floor, under the lowest shelf. "I hope it isn't making you uncomfortable." "Not anymore." He looked at some of the book titles. "But when I came here before, I was really put off by the size of the place." Advance Bio chemistry, Programing, physics, Electrical schematics. "You like science I take it." "Yeah. what about you?" "Never really thought about it. Most of my reading is fantasy" "I'm not much of a fiction reader. Aiden is though. I did try the Iluminar Cycle, but I couldn't finish the first book, it was too boring." "Yeah, a lot of the first two books is world building and setup. I forced myself through it because everyone I knew who'd read the series raved about how good it got on book three, but that you needed the first two to get a sense of what was going on." "I didn't know. Aiden left his reader out and that was the one on it, so I tried it." He pulled a hand size rectangle out of the box. "There, that'll work." Patrick was about to ask what that was when he realized it was a phone. Arthur turned it on and the air above it filled with icons. He searched through them, swiping over to the next page, then the one after that. Finding what he was looking for he activated it and went on doing... Patrick had no idea what Arthur was doing now. Satisfied with what the holographic display showed him the small tiger moved on to another function. "What number do you want?" Patrick looked at him. "number for what?" "Your phone. I'm setting it up, you need a number." Patrick couldn't say anything for a moment. "I can't afford one, I told you." "I've set it to be on the family plan, you won't have to worry about it." "I can't accept that. I'd never be able to repay it." Arthur shut the display down and looked at him. "You don't have to worry about repaying anything. I doubt dad's even going to notice it, if they do they aren't going to mind." "But that can't be cheap." "Look around Patrick, money isn't something we're short on here." "That doesn't mean you can go and waste it!" Patrick eyed the door and thought about getting out. He wasn't worth it. Arthur looked at him and what Patrick was eying. He stood and gently took the taller tiger's hand. "Pat, it wouldn't be a waste if it means I could call you." "You don't get it," he whispered. "I don't get to have stuff like that. It probably costs more than I've earned in my entire life." "Maybe, but it isn't worth anything in my old phone box, is it? It would mean a lot to me if you had it. I know it would mean a lot to the others too. It isn't like we can call you on your mother's phone." Patrick looked at it, in Arthur's hand. It was black, the length of his hand from wrist to finger tips, and a little narrower than the width of his hand. "Do you have a lot of old phones?" he asked. "Yeah." Arthur chuckled. "Every time someone upgrades I take the old one and throw it in here." "Why?" "Dunno. I guess I'm something of a packer. This was Aaron's phone. It's last year's model. It doesn't have the clip, because Aaron left that in his pocket when he washed his clothes and it was ruined." "So, your dads just bought him a new one?" Arthur laughed. "Oh no. Aaron had to work to get a new phone. This one still works fine, but he just couldn't live without the clip, and they'd come out with a newer model, so he had to have that." "So, he had to 'work' for it?" "Yeah." "I see." Patrick squirmed a little. he didn't like the image that was forming in his mind of how the phone had been worked off. Arthur looked up at him quizzically and caught him as he glanced at the bed and away. "Wait, what? No, no, not with sex. He had to repaint every room in the house." Patrick could breathe again. He pulled the chair away from the desk and sat in it, his knees coming up very high. he stretched his legs out. "Pat, sex isn't a currency. It's something you do with someone you like because you like doing it. We don't use it as an incentive, although I guess if our dads wanted to prohibit it as a punishment it would be really effective." He thought about it for a moment. "Except they'd have to call the guys we know at school, as well as all the guys we could possibly hookup with there." Patrick stared at him. "You guys don't just have sex together?" As soon as he said that he realized the idea of them having sex outside their family bothered him a little. "Of course not. That'd get boring." "And you have sex at school?" "No. That's against the rules." Patrick saw the glint in Arthur's eyes and found he was smiling. "And you always obey the rules, right?" "Mostly. I did almost get caught under the bleachers having sex with Zack. I also know Aaron and the school's janitor have done it more than once in a closet." Patrick's ears were burning, but he watched Arthur and the casual way he was talking about it. "You're making me realize that for someone who's never done it, I have a lot of baggage when it comes to sex." Arthur opened his mouth, then closed it. He turned his head but stopped before he was looking at the bed. Patrick realized what his brother hadn't said, and he found he was strangely touched at what he'd though to offer. "Thanks for the offer, and for not saying it, but I'm not ready for that." Arthur nodded, then brought up the phone. "We got side tracked. Are you okay with getting this phone?" Patrick nodded. He couldn't see himself disappointing Arthur again. It was only an object, he'd learn to deal with it, even if it meant hardly ever using it. "Okay, so what number do you want?" "It doesn't matter to me." "Okay." Arthur brought the display back up and went to work, by the time he was done he was grinning. "okay, it's setup. This is the phone function." He swiped to the previous page. "That's the calendar." he had to search through multiple pages to find the next icon. "This is your number's list." He activated it and a lot of numbers came up. "Right, I'm going to clean that up. I don't think you want all of Aaron's buddies." With a few gestures there was only one number left. "That's your number." Patrick nodded. "What are all the other icons for?" "They're functions Aaron installed." "Can you remove them? I just want to have the phone function." "I can't remove what came already installed, but the rest's easy." A few more gestures and only eight icons were left. Arthur pointed to the up. "Those are your management functions." "I'm familiar with them. Mom's phone isn't holo, but it has those." "Okay, hold this." Arthur handed him the phone. Then he flicked his hand open and a holographic display appeared over his hand. Arthur quickly went through pages and functions until he had a list of numbers up. He grabbed them and threw them at Patrick's phone. Eight new numbers appeared in the list. As he watched names added themselves to the numbers. "Those are our numbers." Arthur said. Patrick looked at the display floating over Arthur's hand. "Where's your phone?" Arthur tapped the thin band at his wrist. "I have the wearable version of it." Patrick had noticed it before but thought it was just a bracelet. Arthur closed his hand and the display vanished. Patrick studied the numbers on his phone. "What are you doing?" "I'm memorizing the numbers." "You don't have to do that. That's why they're in the phone." "Yeah, but what if I lose it, or forget it at home. If I know the numbers I can borrow someone's phone and still call." Arthur gave him a surprised look. Obviously, that had never occurred to him. When Patrick was done he showed him how to turn the display off. "Do you have a charge plate?" "Yeah, the one that came with mom's phone." "So it's a few years old?" "Yeah, six." Arthur went to the shelves and pulled a plate among all those staked there. "I have no idea what kind of range they had six years ago. This is the one that came with Aaron's phone. It's got a hundred fifty feet of range. That should be enough." Patrick looked around the room. "so you have one per room? do all the room have one?" "Oh no. The entire house is wired for remote charging." Patrick eyed the box of phone. "So those are all being charged?" "Except for the bottom ones, they needed to be plugged in the wall back then, the rest, sure." "Isn't that a waste of energy?" "Considering we can have up to eight cars in the garage being charged, a box of old phones won't really be noticed." Patrick shook his head. It was still wasteful. He didn't say anything, it was their money they were spending. "How about we join the others?" Patrick looked for a place to put his new phone and was reminded again he was only wearing a very tight swimsuit. He couldn't believe how natural it felt when no one drew attention to the fact he was pretty much naked. "Where are your clothes?" "In the bathroom you found me in." "We can drop it off there before joining the others." They exited the room and walked by a partially opened door. Moaning and groaning came from it. With a quiet curse Arthur quickly closed the door. Patrick stared at it. "That was...?" "Our dads. It's their room. they're usually better at closing the door." Patrick wasn't really listening to him. His fathers were in there doing it, having sex. He swallowed and marched to the stairs. Arthur rushed after him. "Are you leaving?" Patrick shook his head, repeating to himself that he wasn't going to let what his fathers did in the privacy of their room chase him away. While studiously not thinking about the thing he really wanted to do, which was go peek in that room and see what they were doing. Back in the living room three of his brothers were playing, the other three on the couch, watching them while snuggled together. Patrick noted theirs hands were caressing each other in a way that was definitely more than casual. That stopped when Arthur cleared his throat. "There you are." Albert said. "We through the folks kidnapped you." "No, I gave Pat Aaron's old phone, and I had to set it up." Patrick nodded, his gaze on the guys' crotch, the way the swimsuits showed everything made it even more clear what the intent of the caressing had been. There was a cheer and he looked up, ears burning. "Alright, we'll finally be able to call you. what's your number?" "I'll give it to you later," Arthur said. Not wanting to look at his brothers again, he looked around the room, and realized Damian wasn't there. "Where's Damian?" "He went with the folks." Adam said. "To their room?" Patrick said in surprise. Adam hesitated. "Y, yeah?" "They forgot to close their door," Arthur said. "We heard what they were up to." His brothers looked at Patrick with concern, but he didn't pay attention to them. He was reeling at the realization Damian was having sex with his fathers. He'd said as much in the garage. something else bothered him, underneath the shock, Patrick was a little jealous of him. He forced the feelings aside. He didn't want to deal with that right now. He wanted to spend time with his brothers, with his family. he couldn't do that if he dwelt on what happened behind closed doors or when he wasn't in the room. He answered the worried looks with a forced smile. "I'm not leaving. I don't have any rights to dictates what happens in their room. But, is there any chance we can all put on something a little less revealing? I get you guys are really comfortable with yourselves, but being able to see how... err... excited you are is kind of uncomfortable." With a series of curses the guys on the couch covered themselves before running off. The ones standing laughed. "I wouldn't laugh too much," Patrick said. "You might not be, err... hard, but you aren't leaving much to the imagination." "Sorry," Albert said, trying to act casual as he covered himself. "We didn't mean to make you uncomfortable." "It's okay," Patrick tried to be casual too. "Most of the time I kind of forgot about it, it's just here and there that I get reminded we're not wearing much, and some of you really shouldn't be wearing something that tight." Aaron tilted his head. "What do you mean, some of us? You also fill yours nicely." Patrick blushed hard and was happy the couch hid his lower half. The idea they had ogled him during the day made him uncomfortable. He very much wanted to leave, to retreat to the safety of his mother's house. But again, he forced himself to stay and think. They had looked him over, but he hadn't noticed it and they hadn't made any sort of comments about it until he brought it up. He came out of his thought when someone draped sweat pants over his shoulder. He put them on quickly and felt much less exposed after. Everyone else was also less self-conscious now. "How about we get back to the game?" Albert said. "Patrick, how about you join in?" Patrick shook his head. "I don't really see the point of it." "It's fun," Adam said. "I have fun watching you guys play. I'm not interested in trying it." "Actually," Aaron said. "You fight, right?" "Please tell me you aren't planning on sparring with him," Aiden said. "Of course not. So, do you fight?" "No, of course not." "But you were attacked and won, so you have to be pretty good." "I was shot, and I defended myself. If it wasn't for my friends I'd probably ended up dead. Look, I'll fight if I have to defend myself, but I don't like it. I don't like hurting other people." "Okay. I wasn't thinking of having you fight me or one of us, but the system has a fighting game. You against a virtual opponent. I'd love to see how you measure up against it." "I doubt I'm any good." "Let's find out. Come over here." Patrick hesitated before walking around the couch. Aaron had him put on the controls on his hands. He hadn't noticed when the others were using them, but each ring was linked to the other one on the finger by a thin wire. Aaron also placed arm bands on his forearms, biceps, ankle, top of his calves and thighs. "You guys weren't using that." "CC doesn't really use arm and leg movements. just foot forward and back to move. everything is in the finger motion. For the fighting game it uses more points. The projectors also have sensor that tracks out your body, but they can't do fine details." He moved to the side and a blocky male figure appeared with no features. It had a fist extended in front of itself. "Put your main hand on his fist. It's a calibration thing." Patrick did it and his hand went through it. "Is it suppose to do that?" "Yeah. We don't have a sensory suit. Just put your hand where you see his and hold it there. He'll move once he's calibrated. The game uses a point system. the more vital a spot you hit the more point it's worth. Forearms and shins don't have any value." "So I use that to block." "The points you've accumulated shows above his head. When it resets it's because you've advanced to the next level. It gets progressively more difficult." "I don't know any fighting styles, is that going to cause problems?" "No, the game has enough learning capability that it will adapt to challenge you." The opponent took a step back and brought his hands up. "It's ready, have at it." Aaron moved to the side Patrick stood there, waiting for it to make the first move. "You have to attack it to get it started." Patrick reminded himself it was a game, he wasn't going to hurt anyone by starting this fight. He punched it, it moved back and responded. He hadn't expected the punch and it struck him in the side. the fist stopped as if it had made contact, but he didn't feel anything. When he struck it again it dodged, he expected it and hit it hard across the jaw to knock it out. His fist went through the head and he lost his balance. "You okay?" Anakin asked. "Yeah, didn't expect that." "You don't have to make actual contact, if you get about an inch from the image it counts." "Okay, got it." He punched at it, not putting any force in the blow, just aiming it. he struck it a few times in succession, easily blocking of avoiding it's blows. Then it started avoiding more of his. He focused on what he felt were the holes in its defenses and got in more blows. After that it had him on the defensive for a time. At some point Patrick stopped thinking. he used his fists, knees, feet, elbows to attack it and it countered faster and faster. He was sweating, but he was enjoying himself, forgetting it was just an image, but still knowing it wasn't a real person. They exchanged blows after blows until Patrick found he couldn't keep up with it and it stuck him in the chest a quick half dozen time. There was a chime and his opponent disappeared. "What happened?" Patrick asked, panting. No one answered. He looked at them, and they were staring at him, his fathers and Damian included. "What?" "I thought you said you didn't know how to fight." Alex said. "I don't." "You made it to level eight." "Okay, is that good?" "Level eight would be purple belt if you want a martial art analog," his father said. "I still don't know what that means." "You know what a black belt means, right?" Aaron asked. "Sure, the guy's a master." "Not really, he's proficient and can move on to the advance stuff. Think of it as having enough schooling in something to get a job. Purple puts you only two belts away from getting a black one. Considering you said you didn't know how to fight, that's really impressive." "I guess I do know how to fight a bit, I've been attacked enough over the years. I just never thought about it as 'knowing' how to fight, you know? What?" he asked Damian, who was watching him carefully. "You adapted very quickly to changes your opponent threw at you. It only got the best of you once your stamina ran out." "Okay." "If you build up your endurance, you'll be able to last longer." "Ignore him," his father said. "Dam's always analyzing everything." Patrick noticed their fur were wet. they'd taken a shower after they were done. they must have arrived close to when he lost. How long had the fight gone on? "Are you going to spend the night?" his other father asked. "Ah, no. I want to head home at some point." "Are you sure? we can find you a bed to sleep in." "You may have to lock the door," Damian added. "Dam," his father warned. Damian rolled his eyes. "He has a very fuckable body, and you're all thinking it." "Damian, that's enough. If you can't behave I'm going to ask you to leave." Damian sighed. "Fine, I'm sorry." "No, you're not," Aaron mumbled. Patrick had a moment of discomfort, but by now he was used to dealing with them, well, pushing it to the side to be dealt with later. "I'm going to take that as a compliment," he said, which earned him surprised looks. "That doesn't mean I'll take you up on it. I'm not sure I'd be able to deal with spending the night, even if I locked the door." "Alright. What time do you need to be home?" "At some point tonight, maybe even in the morning. So long as I can sleep before working tomorrow night I'll be fine." "How does working nights affect your studies?" His father asked. Patrick froze in the middle of removing the armbands. His ears burned. "I'm not in school." he whispered, focusing on taking off the controls. "Why not?" His father's tone was very casual. Patrick handed the bands and controls to Arthur and sat next to him. "Look. I dropped out in my freshman year because even with working three jobs my mom could barely pay the bills. I had to get a job." "Have you thought about going back?" "After missing four years? No. I'd be an old man compared to the kids there." "You could take the equivalence tests. you might need a few remedials, but you could probably catch up to your age group in a year or so." "And how do I pay for all that?" "The test's free I think." Patrick shrugged. "I don't see the point in going through that since I can't afford to pay for school." His father placed a hand on his shoulder. "We could pay for that." "No. I'd have to explain where it came from to my mom, and there's no way she'd accept that." "I could arrange it so she wouldn't know it came from them," Damian offered. "Right, like you could hide that." "I can be very sneaky when I want." Patrick shook his head. "Look. I'm okay with the life I have. Especially now that you're in it. Just accept that, okay?" "Alright. Just know that if you ever change your mind, we'll be here to help you." His fathers hugged him, and they went back to playing games. Patrick watched, always having two of his brothers snuggling up to him. It was late in the night when things quieted down. They talked about games, books and shows, whiles snuggling. Somehow Patrick found himself seated on the floor, Aiden behind him, Arthur between his legs, Alex on one side and Albert on the other. Eventually, some of them started falling asleep and they called an end to the night. Damian offered to drive Patrick home, but he refused vehemently. He was never getting in a car with him again. Albert volunteered. Everyone hugged him before they were willing to let him go. He dressed and Arthur hugged him again. In the garage Patrick saw that the hood on Damian's car was up. He guessed that Adam was going to go camping with him, whatever that meant. The ride was quiet and comfortable. Albert talked about his drawings and paintings, and made Patrick promise to check them out the next time he visited. They hugged again at Patrick's house, and then he went to bed. * * * * * Patrick walked into the living room. The large room was empty, the screen on the wall was off. Where had everyone gone? He'd just left it for a moment to... What had he gone to do again? He couldn't remember. He went to the couch. The controllers were on it, so they had to be close by, right? He turned to leave planning to check the rest of the house. He froze. His brothers were on the other side of the room, naked, gyrating and rubbing against each other, looking at him invitingly. He swallowed hard and took a step back into someone. he spun and looked into his father golden eyes. The older tiger ran a finger down Patrick's cheek. "I'm so happy you've agreed to become part of our family. We are going to make you so happy." Someone leaned into him from the back, hugging him, his hands rubbing his stomach and then lower. "You are such a handsome guy." His other father whispered in his ear. A hand cupped Patrick's balls, and another rubbed his cock. He felt good, but why was he naked? He felt a cock press between his cheeks, moving back and forth. "Whenever you're ready," His father said, "we will be here for you." And he kissed him. * * * * * Patrick woke with a gasp. He had trouble breathing and his heart was beating a mile a second. What the fuck had that been about? His fathers touching him like that? At the memory his cock twitched and he realized his crotch was wet. He lifted the covers and stared at the cum there. He couldn't believe it. He was eighteen years old. He hadn't cum in his sleep since he'd started masturbating. He swallowed hard as he felt those hands against him again. And realized he wished it hadn't been a dream.
  13. Kindar

    Chapter 26

    The Missing Son 26 Patrick's mother was at the table when he got home for dinner. "Evening mom. What are you reading?" She had a booklet and papers in front of her. He went to the coffee machine, but there was no coffee. He must have arrived only seconds after her. He got some coffee going and turned. She was still looking at the booklet. Or maybe she was very absorbed by that. "Mom, are you okay?" He sat opposite her. She looked up. "Oh, hi Patrick." "What's that about?" "It's information and forms for the supervisor training they've arranged." "You planning on going? How much is it going to cost?" "Nothing. It's paid by the company. They're really better than the previous owners. They even had these on paper for those of us who didn't have readers." The machine beeped to indicate the coffee was ready. He poured two cups and put them on the table. He took the milk out of the fridge and shook it to check how much was in it. He placed it in front of her and wrote a note on the board about buying more. He'd have his black tonight. "Free training? that's pretty good. When is it?" "It's on the weekend of the twenty third." Patrick nodded. It was a week and a half away. "But I don't know if I'm going to sign up for it." "Mom, why wouldn't you?" "They can only take twenty people. What if more than that sign up and I'm not picked?" "Then you're no worse off than before." "What if I don't pass the training?" "Then nothing changes. Mom, why are you hesitating? it's free. What do you have to lose?" "I'm going to be gone for a whole weekend. They fly those who go to New York City on Friday after work and they come back on Sunday evening. The weekend is the only full shift I get at the diner, we need that money. And it's the only times I know I'll get to see you." Patrick took her hands in his. "Mom. I think we can manage not to be in the same house for a whole weekend. And as for the money, I can tighten my belt. You can't pass this up. You were right when you said the new owners were good people. The previous ones never bothered trying to educate you or anyone working for them. Do you want to go mom? don't think about me, or the money. Do you want to grasp this chance to get a better job at the factory?" He kept the guilt he felt from showing, because he had another reason for hoping she'd go, a more selfish reason. She gave him a small smile. "Yes, I want to go." "Then go mom." She nodded. "I'm going to borrow your computer and fill the forms online." Patrick did a quick mental check of what was easily accessible on his system. He'd deleted the porn he'd been watching, and he'd erased the history like Richard had showed him. She wouldn't see anything inappropriate. "Go ahead. I'll start on dinner in the meantime." He didn't grab the phone as soon as she left. He needed restraint. He couldn't make the calls if there was any chance she would come back. After dinner, while she was watching her shows would be the time. * * * * * His hands were shaking as he punched in the number. He tried to calm himself while it rang. "Hello?" the voice he was learning to recognize said. "Hi dad." There was silence, then a soft. "oh my God." and then. "Patrick?" "Yes, it's me." Was something wrong? "It's Daniel. Donny was right. It hit me pretty hard when you called me dad." Patrick had a moment to wonder why he'd thought he was Donald, then remembered they were twins and sounded the same. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you might be the one answering." "Both our phones have the same number. Whoever's closest to his answers. Give me a moment, I need to sit down." Patrick found he was smiling. He was talking to his other father. "Okay, I think I'm going to be okay now. I sort of promised myself that if this happened I wasn't going to cry. Are you still there?" "Yeah, I am. Sorry, I was just letting it sink in that I'm talking to you." "Does it feel surreal to you too?" "A little bit, but in my case it could be because you and Donald sound exactly the same." "Well, we are identical." "That must have driven your folks crazy." Daniel laughed. "No. We have no idea how he did it, but dad could always tell us apart." "Could your mom?" "She left us when we were two." "Oh. I'm sorry." "It's okay. It was a long time ago and to be honest, we never missed her." "I couldn't imagine being without my mom." "I get that. So, why did you call?" "When I talked to Donald on Monday I said that I didn't know when, but I wanted to visit you again." "Yes, he said that. The kids were overjoyed when they found out, especially Arthur." "Yeah, he seemed pretty heart broken when I said I wasn't coming back." "He has a big heart, and he'd not afraid of becoming attached." Patrick thought about it for a moment and felt a little guilty at having cause him, his brother, pain. "Well, if it's okay, I'd like to come over on the twenty third." "Yes, that's perfectly fine," Daniel said quickly. "If you have something already planned that's fine, I can come another time." He didn't want to impose on them, but that day was ideal. With his mother doing the training he wouldn't have to arrange for Don or Joey to cover for him. "No, no. it's fine. With the kids being still in school we don't plan anything big on the weekends. Just some quiet time at home. Some of the kids might have been planning on hanging out with their friends, but I'm sure they'll prefer spending time with you." Patrick felt like he was imposing, and he was about to say they shouldn't break their plans when Daniel continued. "The forecast calls for a warm and sunny day. We have a pool so bring a swimsuit." "Ah, a swimsuit?" Patrick tried to think if he had anything that could be used as such. He could probably cut his oldest jeans into shorts. "I can probably manage something." "You don't have one?" "No. swimming hasn't been something I've done." "I'm sure you can borrow one of the kids'. Alex or Aaron are close to your size." "Dad, you don't have to bother with that." There was a light choking sound. "Damn it. I wasn't going to cry." A moment later Daniel sounded calmer. "It's okay son, oh, I like how that sounds. It's okay, they have spares, and I know they won't mind." Patrick couldn't say anything for a moment, he was the one crying now. "I'll be there early afternoon." "Do you want me or Donny to pick you up?" Patrick considered it. He would certainly save a lot of money that way, but he shuddered as he remembered the one time a tiger gave him a ride. "I'd prefer taking the bus. I'm sorry, I'm just not entirely comfortable with the idea of being alone in a car with you yet." "I understand. We'll all be eagerly waiting." "I can't wait to see you dad." "I can't wait either son." They disconnected. Patrick needed a moment to regain his composure, but he hadn't cried this time. Once he was okay he called Don. "Don's Cup." "Hey Don. Patrick." "How is it going?" "I'm good. I won't be able to come in on the twenty-third I have some personal stuff to take care of." "That's a Saturday. We're normally pretty busy. That puts me in a bit of a bind." "I know, I'm sorry. I can talk to Kenneth, you met him a few months ago. He's the bull that dropped by on my birthday." "Do you mean the one I've been seeing everywhere online?" "Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. I'll see if I can talk Malcolm into taking my place. but even if I can't, I'll find someone and I'll make sure he comes by on Friday so you can meet him and tell him what you expect." "Alright, but really, if you can't find anyone, don't worry about it. We'll manage." Then he called Joey to see about getting more work. He'd need the money to cover the day he wouldn't work and to pay to go visit his father. He'd found a faster way to get there, since he'd taken the time to go through the options. There was no way he could afford the fast rail, but its predecessor was still running, and while much slower it was also much more affordable. All he had to do was convince Joey.
  14. Kindar

    Chapter 25

    The Missing Son 25 Patrick waited a few days before calling Mother Rosetta. Primarily because he'd been working all Friday at the junkyard, and then the weekend was busy for him and her. He also wanted to give himself time to think on what had happened, get some distance. But he hadn't meant to call her quite this late, it was almost five. Joey had called at ten, waking him, and needed his help with a surprise load of lumber. He'd just gotten home from that. He had some food slowly cooking in the oven, and by the time he was done with his calls it would be ready. "St-Benedict," she said. "Good afternoon Mother Rosetta." "Patrick, how are you doing? how is your shoulder?" "It's good. I'm basically all healed. One more visit with the therapist to go." "I'm glad to hear that. Did you go to the bar like you intended?" "I did." "How did that go?" "Not how I hoped it would." "What were you hoping for?" "Something normal," he sighed. "Instead I got this guy all over me, grabbing my ass and groping me even after I tell him I'm not interested and I'd left the bar." "He followed you out?" "Yeah, he was pretty sure that what he wanted was what I needed." "Oh my. That certainly isn't an appropriate behavior. What did you do?" Patrick sighed again. "I decked him. That's when he groped me, I didn't think, my fist just flew of its own accord." She was laughing, holding the phone away. She cleared her throat. "Yes, I hope you realize that wasn't an appropriate response either." "You might want to avoid laughing next time." "I know. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have." She paused. "I guess that soured you on the idea of being part of the gay community." "Actually, no. I mean I don't want to have anything to do with guys like him, but this other guy who was heading for the bar stopped to make sure I was okay." "That's certainly good of him." "Yeah, and it made me realized that I had this single image of how gay people had to be, they were either all good or all bad. It made me realize that people aren't that way, some are good and some are bad. I can't hold the whole community accountable for the actions of a few assholes." "That's a good start, but you must realize that it's still not quite that simple. Even individual people aren't all good or bad. We're all shades of the two." "Yeah, I know I'm over simplifying it, but it really helped me accept who I am, it's weird, isn't it? What I was afraid of was that by saying I was gay, I'd have to fit into this image I had on some level of what I thought that meant. if they ended up being bad, I'd have to be that way. Now I know what others are doesn't define who I am. I get to decide if I'm going to be a sleaze or a decent guy." "Yes, you do. I'm happy you've been able to see that. Does that mean you're ready to tell someone?" "Yes. I'm actually going to call her once we're done." "I thought it was something you wanted to do face to face?" "I'd prefer it that way, but I don't want to wait until she's back. I'd like her thoughts on some things." "Alright, then I'll let you get to it. God bless you." "You too." He got up and walked around for a bit and stretched. He checked on dinner, the lasagna was coming along nicely. He was in the middle of cleaning the shelves in the living room when he realized he was procrastinating. He went back to his room and called her. "Hey Natalia." "Patrick? wow, I never expected you to call." "Yeah, sorry. Are you busy?" "No, I just got back from classes and my roommate's off with her boyfriend. Look, I want to apologize for not staying while you were in the hospital." Patrick laughed. "Nat, I already got the six messages you sent me to apologize, and like I said on all of them, it's okay. I understand you had to go back." "I still felt bad about leaving you there." "Don't, at least you got to miss the media circus. I had half a dozen stations wanting to interview me. Even after I said no, some were still trying to pressure me in giving them my side of the story, like it would be different from what I told the police." "Did they call you a lot?" "No. one of the doctor told me it's illegal for them to do that, and if they call I can sue them for harassment." "I didn't know that." "yeah, but it turns out they lost interest in me after Ken talked with them. To hear him say it, he took down Emilio." "Yeah, that sounds like Kenneth, conveniently forgetting that Bruno and Trevor were part of that." "Yeah, and now he's something of a social media star, if you look online you'll find dozens of interviews he's given. He showed up on at least one family show, and he's lined up for a few more." "Wow, he's really milking it for what it's worth." "Yeah, well, they say everyone gets a week of fame. He's welcome to mine." "And mine. That isn't how I want to be known. So, did you just call to bring me up to date on what's going on in the Brownstones? That doesn't sound like you." "No, I have something to tell you." "That sounds serious, is your arm okay?" "Yeah, it's fine. The doctor did a good job. I wore a healing bandage for a few weeks and now the scar isn't even visible. I haven't lost any flexibility or strength." "That's good. So, what do you need to tell me?" Patrick had done it again, he'd found something else to talk about. He took a breath. "I'm gay." "Okay." They were both silent for a moment. "Wait, that's what you wanted to tell me? Not, you're gay and you have a boyfriend?" "Hell no," (sorry) "I'm nowhere near ready for that. You're not surprised?" "That you're gay? I guess. To be honest I never thought about it." "How about when we were thirteen. Our moms kept putting us together, hoping we'd become interested in each other." Natalia laughed. "Is that what that was about?" "What did you think it was about?" "I just thought my mom brought me over because she didn't want to get a babysitter or deal with the kind of troubles I'd get into without supervision. And she had us play together because that way I was out of her hair while she talked with your mom." "Huh. I never considered it could be anything other than a matchmaking attempt." "I never even thought about it that way. I was happy to be your friend, but I never considered anything more serious, did you?" "No. like you said you were my friend, and there were enough people our age in relationships in the neighborhood that I could see I didn't want anything like the nightmare it seemed to be for them. At least that's what I told myself. maybe I was just justifying my lack of interest in you that way." "You didn't know you were gay?" "No. I don't think the thought even occurred to me back then, and if it had, it wouldn't have stayed. Not the way our moms went on about sin and God." "Yeah, my mom was devout to the extreme. Is yours?" Patrick thought about it, how she'd reacted to his father's visit. "Well, she is devout." He left it at then, not wanting to be unkind to her. "My mom flipped when I told her I was becoming a witch." Patrick sputtered. "You're a witch?" He and an immediate image of Natalia being burned at the stake. "Yeah. I got into it on my first year here. It's a more tolerant belief system." "So, no spell throwing?" She laughed. "No, this isn't like in the entertainment shows. We just pray differently." She went on to explain her religion to him, and Patrick found himself intrigue by it. Not that he had any interest in abandoning God, but he'd never had someone described a different belief system to him with such intimate knowledge of it before. He had to stop her when he smelled the lasagna start burning. He took it out just in time, only the edges had burned. He promised to call her again then set the table. His mother arrived moments later and they had a pleasant meal. After he'd done the dishes and put the leftovers away he took the phone to his bedroom. His mother was watching a show in the living room, so she wouldn't hear him. He dialed the number. "Hello?" a man said. Patrick hesitated for a moment. "Hi, it's Patrick." "Patrick? Hi, it's Donald. How are you? Is your shoulder doing better?" Patrick felt his eyes getting wet. "It is. I should have called sooner. I was touched that you called." "I'm just happy you're okay. I'll get the others." "No, don't. I just... I just wanted to say thank you for calling." "You're welcome." The sound of a chair scraping against the floor. "Will... will you be visiting?" "Yes. No. I don't know." "I understand." "I'm not... whatever I was when I left that time, you can tell them that. I think Arthur would like to know that." "I'll make sure to tell him." "Dad, I just... I mean..." Donald was sniffling. "I'm sorry," he said. "I never thought I'd hear you call me that." "You're my dad, you and Daniel, you're my dad. I dreamed of having one for so long and now I do. I don't want to lose you. Yes, I'm going to visit again. I just have to figure out when it's going to be." "Thank you, son. I don't know if you realize how much that means to us." Patrick couldn't reply, he was sobbing now. He was someone's son. "I should probably let you go. It's a school night, you probably have to study, and I should share the news with Daniel." Patrick didn't tell Donald he wasn't in school. He dried his eyes and wondered how they would take the fact he'd dropped out. "Okay. I'll try to call again at some point." "We can call you. I know the kids would love to talk with you." "I'd rather you didn't. It's my mom's phone, we both use it and there's no telling who'll have it when you call." "Alright, I understand. Have a good night son." "Have a good night dad." Patrick cried for some time after that. He hadn't realized how desperately he wanted a father until now. After he was done crying he erased the call from the history and returned the phone to the kitchen table. His mother was still watching a show. Something more recent this time, a police drama from what he caught. He was surprised at his lack of anger at her for keeping his father secret from him. As angry as had been on learning about the lie, he'd imagined that the day he accepted his father in his life he would hate her for keeping him fatherless for so long, but he didn't feel that. She was his mother, and he loved her. She had her faults, but he loved her anyway. But she wouldn't keep him away from his father. It was his life to live and he wanted his father in it. She'd have to find a way to deal with that. He bent over her and kissed her head. "I'm turning in. Joey needs me to come in the morning, we still have a lot of stuff to move from today's delivery." she smiled at him. "Alright. you sleep well I'll see you in the morning." "You too. I love you mom." "I love you too Patrick."
  15. Kindar

    Chapter 24

    The Missing Son 24 Patrick rolled his shoulder again, the healing bandage had been off for a week now, but it was still tender. It had ensured his shoulder healed well, the scars at the point where the bullet went in were so thin his growing fur already hid them. he still had a few weeks of stretching exercises to do to make sure he didn't lose any flexibility, but he did those at home. One more visit with the doctor in two weeks and he'd be done with this. He'd gotten out of the house immediately after dinner, his mom wasn't working tonight, so he told her he was just going out for a walk, maybe visit some friends. When he saw the bus, he knew what he was going to do instead. He'd been finding reasons why now wasn't the right time to go to the bar, at first was because his shoulder was still healing. Then it was because he wasn't a hundred percent, then he didn't quite feel like it. He'd had enough of procrastinating, this was something he'd told himself he'd do, He was going to do it. He'd talked about it with Mother Rosetta, with himself, and even with Joey. So, he got on the bus. He'd been saving money, planning for this trip, scraping every penny he could manage, since he hadn't gotten more work. he had enough for the bus both ways and a couple of sodas, if the bar didn't over charge for them. Tonight was a good night to go, being Thursday, Don wouldn't need him at the bar and it was probably going to be less crowded at this one too. It took two hours to reach the area the bar was in, and then he had to walk thirty minutes to get to it. It wasn't impressive, a low brick building with dirty windows, graffiti covered walls. The rooster sign above the door wasn't lit up. Getting closer it looked like one side was broken. A parking lot across the road had a few old cars in it. He hesitated at the door, wondering if he really wanted to do this. Just like when he'd entered his father's house, he couldn't shake the feeling that crossing this door would change everything for him. He reached for the handle just as the door swung open at him and he stepped out of the way. A tiger wearing a cowboy hat and a tan trench coat walked by without acknowledging him. Patrick found himself looking at his feet and he was wearing cowboy boots. Patrick had never seen someone dressed as a cowboy outside of the old movies his mom watched every so often. The man took a few steps toward the parking lot then stopped. He turned to look at him. "Can I help you with something?" he growled. Patrick immediately looked away with a quiet. "Sorry." And just to get away he entered the bar. Only realizing what he'd done once the door closed behind him. Well, he was in now, he couldn't really back out anymore. The room was smaller than Don's place, maybe half the size. the bar was in the opposite corner to the door with a few tables scattered about, only three of which were occupied and four of the six stools were taken. Like their website said, the atmosphere was calm. The music, something old and country sounding, was soft enough he couldn't make out the lyrics. No one paid him any attention as he crossed the room and sat at the bar. Looking at them, he was happy to note most wore jeans and shirts, so he didn't stand out too much in his jeans, T and jacket. He asked the bartender, a skinny brown bear, if he had any orange soda, and got a strange look in return. "Are you even legal?" Patrick showed him in ID. "Okay, how about a beer then?" "No thanks. what soda do you have?" "Got coke." "I'll have one." The bar man shrugged. "It's your money." He filled a glass for him and asked for six dollars. Patrick paid it without commenting. Don only charged four for soda and he kept a wider selection. Patrick sipped his soda slowly, watching the other men in the bar in the mirror. At the tables they were paired up but weren't acting the way gays would. they weren't holding hands or doing lewd things to each other, they were just sitting there, talking and enjoying their beers. The gayest thing he saw was when two of them left. They waved to the barman, then held each other's hands had they walked out. Maybe this being gay thing wasn't going to be all that bad. "Hey, buddy." An arm fell across Patrick's shoulders and he froze. "You new here? Never seen you here before. And trust me, I'd remember a body like yours. Patrick forced himself to turn his head and look at the man almost completely draped over him. he was a dog of some sort, rottweiler maybe? He didn't sound drunk, but his breath stank of rum. The dog leaned in. "You know, we kind of have a tradition here." "Harold, leave the kid alone," the barman interrupted, but the dog just waved him off. "Yurick, why don't you get this fine fellow another rum and coke on me?" Patrick wanted to refuse, but he couldn't get his mouth to work. he was horrified to see another glass appear before him and smell the alcohol wafting off it. The dog leaned in even closer. "come on, just drink them up, it'll help loosen you up, you're all stiff. After that I can show you a good time." The arm on his shoulder dropped off and Patrick felt his ass being groped. Patrick bolted off the seat, finally able to move. "This was a mistake," he said and he headed to the door, although what he wanted to say and do was a lot more vulgar, and violent. He pushed the door open and stalked out. "Hey Buddy!" the dog yelled after him. Patrick ignored him, the closing door cutting off what else he said. Yeah, this had been the worst mistake he'd ever made. He'd hoped that with a quiet atmosphere it would be different from the other placed he'd read about, like the fuck markets down in the gay district. He'd stayed away from those because he wanted nothing to do with that kind of life. He'd been an idiot to believe this place would be any different. Fags were the same everywhere. Was this what it meant to be gay? sleaze? His father hadn't seemed like that, but he'd seen him only twice, how did he know how he behaved the rest of the time? as far as he knew they could be stalking the bars, looking for anyone to take advantage of. Patrick shuddered at the though. If that was true, he didn't want to be related to them. "Hey buddy!" the voice came again. Great, the dog had followed him outside. "Leave me alone." The dog grabbed Patrick's shoulder and spun him around. "Listen here buddy. You don't get to come in here, parade that yummy body of yours around and then run off when someone responds to the advertisement." The dog licked his maw. Patrick wriggled out of the hold. "What the fuck are you talking about? Just go back inside. I'm not looking for any trouble." The dog leaned in close. "I'm not offering you trouble. I'm offering you a good time." He grabbed Patrick's crotch and squeezed. He didn't think. Patrick's fist flew and the man staggered back. "Don't you fucking touch me you fag," he growled. "I don't care what you say. I know you want me. I can smell it." The dog's speech was starting to slur. "I'm just going to have to convince you to come with me so I can show you a good time." The dog came at him. Patrick sent a jab at his muzzle and then swung hard, sending the dog spinning back and crashing to the ground. Patrick looked at him, panting. For a moment he thought he'd killed him, but then he saw his chest move. He was still breathing. He turned and walked away. Fuck, this hadn't been what he'd wanted. A hand landed on his shoulder and Patrick spun around, fist raised. was that asshole already back for more? A jaguar with is hands raised was backing up. "Whoa kid, calm down." "What the fuck do you want?" "I was parking and saw what happened. Are you okay?" Patrick hesitated a moment, looking over the man's shoulder at the parking lot. He couldn't remember what car had been there when he arrived. He realized he was being paranoid. He lowered his fist. "Yeah, I'm fine." "Okay, that's good. You look a little rattled. Do you need me to give you a ride somewhere?" Patrick had a memory of a car stopping next to him, a window lowering and a tiger saying. "Come in, kid. I'm going to give you a ride home." That had been an uncomfortable ride. "I'm fine, thanks. I can manage on my own." "Okay, kid, you be careful out there." The jaguar turned and headed back to the parking lot. Well, at least he hadn't punched that guy. He actually seemed nice and considerate. He'd cared enough to check in on him, a complete stranger. Not like that fag who'd been all over him and thought they'd have sex just because he said so. Patrick stopped moving. Okay, he had something. The fags were the sleazy ones, and the gays were like that jaguar, normal guys, other than being attracted to guys. okay, he could make that work. He was gay, but he wasn't a fag. He'd never be a fag. He turned. "Hey mister." The jaguar stopped and turned. He was at the edge of the parking lot. "Thanks for caring." The jaguar just looked at him for a moment, head tilting to the side. "You're welcome," he finally said. "Have a good night." "You too." * * * * * Tom watched the tiger walk away. Thanks for caring? jeez, what world did that kid live in that he had to thanks someone for that? Once the tiger was out of sight Tom headed to his car. Sitting in it he checked again to confirm the kid hadn't double back and he placed a call. "Tom Bracha, reporting in." He reached back and groped at the back seat. "The kid had an altercation. he took care of it, but I had to expose myself to make sure he was okay." "Will you be able to stay with him?" the man said. His hand closed around something and he pulled it up. "Yeah, I can follow him on foot, but if something else happens there's no way he's going to believe it's a coincidence if I have to intervene." It was one of his baseball caps, but not the one he wanted this one had holes for his ears. he threw it on the passenger seat and looked back. "I can have Donovan Carmichael in your area in ten minutes." "That works." He grabbed his sport jacket. Under that was the cap he wanted. "Do we have the busses on this route covered? I doubt he'd going to walk all the way home." "I'm arranging that right now." "Okay. You also need to send someone at my location. The guy the kid punched will have to be looked after. I don't think there's anything wrong with him, he's getting up now, but we need to make sure he doesn't cause further troubles. He's a rottweiler, right ear notched. he's got on a blue shirt, black jeans and he's got a split lip." "Alright, I'll dispatch someone to keep an eye on him." "If they get him drunk enough he'll forget the night. I know the type." He knew from first-hand experience. It had been years ago, but something like that didn't leave you. "Understood." Tom ended the call. he took off the suit's jacket and replaced it with the sport one. He stepped out of the car, folded his ears back and put the baseball cap on. There, with that and keeping his hands in his pocket his silhouette was completely changed. There was no way the kid was going to make him. He ran to get eyes on him again and then followed him at a good distance. Tom didn't know why the company had the kid followed. it was strange, but after all the company had done for him, he wasn't going to nitpick why this one kid deserved the protection and all the personnel they had devoted to him. It wasn't as much now as it had been in the start. When they first started watching him there had been four teams on him at all time. The orders were simple, keep the kid safe and unaware he was under surveillance. Tom had stopped three attempts on him by gang members. He wasn't familiar with the local gangs, but they always wore the same colors. He knew of five other attempts over the first three weeks. In all, he was under heavy surveillance for a month or so, then the teams were pulled out. It matched the arrest of most of the gang leaders in the city so Tom figured that had been the threat on the kid. Until then he'd wondered if he was someone important, even with living in the Brownstones, then he figured he was an informant and someone within the police didn't want his involvement known but wanted him protected. The kid had been without protection for a few weeks, then the order came down to restart watching him. He'd been attack by one of the gang members. At the same time his boss had been replaced, which again made him wonder how important the tiger was, no ordinary target would cause that kind of reaction. the new surveillance wasn't as intense, a few people at first, now it was down to one on him at all time, with support when required. Someone fell in step behind him. Tom didn't react, but he paid attention to who was following him. A zippo flicked open, was lit and then the prickling of a cigarette burning. "You know Donovan, those things are going to kill you." Smoke flew over Tom's shoulder. "I'm more likely to die of lead poisoning." "Where do you even get those things? As far as I know no one sells them anymore." "Same place any other vices are filled. The internet." Another cloud of smoke passed him. "Anyway, I've got the kid. You go back to your girlfriend. We have Sandy on the bus we expect him to take and Emerson on the next one, so he's covered." Tom didn't say anything. He made the next right. He kept going for three blocks, then took an indirect route back to his car, regularly making sure no one was following him. Once in it he checked his watch. She would still be up. She answered on the second ring. "Tomas?" "Hi hun, how are you doing?" He smiled. hearing her melodious voice always did that to him. She was the best thing to ever have happened to him. "I'm good, I was about to stretch out and listen to a book. You don't usually call at this time, is everything alright?" "Yeah, I just wanted to let you now I'm heading home so I'll be there within the hour." "Really? that's wonderful. I wasn't expecting to see you until I got up tomorrow. why are you coming in early?" "They have to close the building for the night, something about a problem with the gas lines, we can't have anyone in so I'm given the night off." "And will you have to go in tomorrow?" "I won't know until I call them. I'll probably have to at least show up for instructions. I'll see you soon, I love you." "I love you too. drive carefully." As far as Ania knew, he was a security agent, and the company he worked for did building security. He had a varying schedule because he didn't always work at the same building. He didn't like lying to her, although except for it being people instead of buildings what he'd told her was sort of true. He felt it was better than her worrying about his life being in danger when it rarely was. His military training, his years doing black ops, saw to it that he could take on everything. Well, almost everything, a voice at the back of his head reminded him.
  16. Kindar

    Chapter 23

    The Missing Son 23 Aaron was putting his books away in his locker, classes were finally over. It had been a long day, three exams, and a chem lab. He was looking forward to going home, and getting a massage from Aiden, but he'd have to wait some more. Only Adam and Alexander were here, the others must have been delayed. Adam was talking with Barry, someone he knew from shop class. From the sound of it they were talking about classes, and not making plans to have sex. That's what Alex was doing with Rufus, from the chess club, not that Aaron could hear their whispers, but the tent in the aardvark's pants made it pretty clear. Aaron hadn't been planning on doing anything, but then he heard the distinct whirl of the floor cleaner. He looked around his locker door and the old goat was pushing it down the end of the row of lockers. "Hey Fred," he called. The white goat looked up and smiled. "Hello Aaron." Aaron motioned him over. Fred took a moment to shut down the cleaner and walked to him, his steps deliberate. He was pretty spry for pushing ninety. His skin was starting to hang loose on his face, making folds of fur. He kept in shape although his muscles weren't what they had been when he was younger. He'd shown Aaron pictures earlier in the year. "About to head out?" The goat asked, nodding to Adam and Alexander. "That was the plan." Aaron ran a hand up Fred's side. "But that was before I saw you. I could stay and help you." He leaned in and nuzzled the goat's neck. What he really wanted to do put his hands on his ass, pull him close and grind against him like crazy, but they had rules. Public displays of affection were fine, but hands had to remain above the belt and over the clothes. But fuck did the old goat turn him on. Fred gently pushed him away. "Do you think you should be doing this in public?" Aaron indicated Alexander and Rufus, who were now kissing, with hands roaming each other's back. "No one minds them." Student were walking by without looking at them, Or the guy and girl making out further down. "Well, they are the same age. I'm old enough to be your grandfather." "So? I still love making out with you and having sex, let's not forget the sex." Fred chuckled, and Aaron could smell his arousal. "If you help me out, how are you going to get back home?" "I'll just take the bus." "Isn't that risky? You never know what kind of people you'll meet on there." "That's what makes it fun. I should tell you some of the great sex I've had on busses." Okay, so he'd broken the rule a time or two. "Actually, you should ride the bus with me one of these days." "I don't think that would be a good idea." Aaron leaned in. "Come on, just think about it," he whispered. "Pinning me against one of the poles, pounding my ass right there in front of everyone?" The goat swallowed. "You are going to give me a heart attack, young man." Aaron chuckled. "I doubt it." He rubbed over Fred's heart. "You had that replaced at the start of the year. It's going to pump for years to come. I mean, it works well enough to get this hard." Aaron almost groped the old goat. Fuck it was sometime difficult to control himself around him. He couldn't wait for them to be in his office after they were done. bent over the desk, the goat moving in and out of him, braying and swearing. Fuck it was going to be hot. "Guys! Guys!" Albert yelled running down the length of lockers. "We have to get home ASAP, Patrick's in the hospital!" "What happened?" Adam asked. It took Aaron a moment for the words to register. Patrick was in the hospital? "I don't know, I just got the notification of his admission a moment ago. The others are at the van waiting for us." Aaron looked at the goat. Fuck. "I'm sorry, I really didn't plan on turning you on like this and ditching you, but this is an emergency." The goat nodded. "I get it, and I know you'll make it up to me." Aaron kissed him hard. "I promise." He couldn't help himself, he groped him. He was definitely hard. Fuck he wanted that. He forced himself to step away. His three brothers were already halfway down the row and he ran to catch up. He took the passenger seat as usual and turned to Albert once Adam had the minivan moving. "What happened?" Albert was putting on the glasses. "Give me a minute." He moved his hand around in front of him, moving files only he could see. "Okay, I have the initial report. He was shot." "Shot?" Alexander asked. "Why in Hell would anyone shoot him?" "This doesn't say." "Is he going to be okay?" Aaron asked. Albert read for a moment. "It's shoulder wound, the right one." "That's the side where his scar is." Aiden said. "What hospital is he at?" Adam asked. "The Four Clover." Adam told the van and the information appeared on the windshield. "That's way north, and at this hour it's going to take a few hours to get there." "I don't think we should go," Arthur stated. They stared at him. "We can't let him go through this alone," Aaron replied. "We're his brothers, we have to be there for him." "He doesn't want to see us." "That doesn't matter," Alexander said. "Yes, it does. How do you think he's going to feel about us if we show up mere hours after his admitted because Albert's been a virtual stalker? It isn't going to endear us to him." Everyone was silent for a long moment. "He's right, you know." Adam finally said. "I know." Aaron looked over his shoulder. "Thanks for being the voice of reason again." "It's becoming a bad habit of mine, isn't it?" "No, it isn't," Anakin stated, "But You must be getting really tired of keeping us in line." Arthur shrugged. "Let's just go home," Aaron said. "Hopefully the dads are going to know what we should do." * * * * * They filed into the kitchen, where Daniel and Donald were preparing dinner. The adults looked at them then the clock. "we weren't expecting you for another hour. Dinner won't be ready till then." "Patrick's in the hospital," Albert said. "What happened?" "He was shot, but it's only a shoulder wound, nothing life threatening." Daniel and Donald exchanged a look. "You deal with this, Donny, I've got dinner." Donald sat at the table. "When did this happen?" "A couple of hours ago. He was admitted just as class ended." "Sit down, everyone." He waited until they did then looked at Albert. "How do you know this? It can't have hit the news yet" "I had a sniffer functions floating around the web looking for any mentions of him." Donald and Daniel sighed together. "You can't do that Albert," Donald said. "There are laws against cyberstalking. you know that." "I'm not stalking him, I was just wanted to know a bit more about him, I mean he left pretty distraught and I wanted to see what he'd say about it, but he doesn't have any social pages. As far as I can tell, he isn't online at all. all I found were pictures he's in with friends of his. So, I got the sniffer going to look for whatever it could find, which isn't much." "Shut it down, Albert." "Dad, come on. I'm not hurting anyone." "I know, but the law doesn't care. If anyone from the cyber-crime unit comes across your sniffer they are going to track it back to you. You're eighteen, you'll be prosecuted as an adult." Albert looked down. "Oh, I hadn't thought about that." "I know. I know you didn't mean any harm, but the laws are in place because before you were born a lot of people caused harm that way." Albert nodded, put his glasses on and manipulated the functions for a time then took them off. "I've erased it. How much trouble am I going to be in if they find traces of what I did?" Donald patted his shoulder. "I don't think they'll bother looking at the history unless they get a complaint, so you should be fine." "Dad, what are we going to do about Patrick?" Aaron asked. "There's nothing to do. He isn't our responsibility." "But he's our brother, we should be there for him." "Aaron, you can't force yourself on him. If you try you're just going to push him away. We have to let him come to us." "What if he never does?" "Then he doesn't. It's his choice." "But we could call him, right?" Adam asked. "Once his shooting hits the news feed," Donald agreed. "No, we can't," Albert said. "The number uncle Damian gave us is his mothers." "Why would he give us her number and not Patrick's?" "He doesn't have a phone." "How can he not have a phone?" Arthur asked. "You've seen where he lives. Phone cost money." "Come on Dad. Phones are cheap. I mean okay, ours aren't." He tapped the bracelet he was wearing. "But basic models hardly cost anything. They could afford that, right?" He looked at Albert. "Don't look at me. I don't know what their finances are like. I didn't go look into their private life." "If he doesn't have a phone," Donald said, "It's probably because he can't afford one." "If he can't afford that, how is he going to pay for his hospital stay?" Anakin asked. Worried expressions filled the table. "I can probably cover a good part of it," Aiden said. "My first album is selling pretty well." "Isn't that going to make him feel like your forcing yourself on him?" Alexander asked. "I just want to help him out," Aiden complained. "We can't force it on him. Maybe we can call his mother and offer to help?" "We can try that," Donald agreed. Albert looked at his father. "What if he didn't know the money was from us?" "It would be difficult to pay the bill without him finding out." "That's not what I'm thinking. He has friends who have online presences. we could talk to them and arrange for a crowdfund to be setup. I'm sure they'd want to help, and once people start putting money in it, so long as we keep our donations in the same range as theirs, no one would notice." "And we'd be able to give often," Aaron added. "that way we can cover whatever the others can't." "That sounds like a good idea," Daniel said, from the stove. "Just be careful you don't force it on them. It might not be sex, but no still means no." "Why would they say no?" Aiden asked. "I don't know, I just want you to be careful. Because we have money isn't a reason to force our ideas on those who have less." Aaron shared nods of agreement with his brothers and they left to set it up. * * * * * Patrick lay on his bed trying not to mess with his bandaged shoulder. The doctors had warned him against that, it was full of micro stuff that would help the wound heal. He had to wear it for three weeks, after which they hope it would be fully healed. Unfortunately, during that time Patrick couldn't do any heavy lifting, which meant working at the junkyard was out. At least, he could still bounce, so they wouldn't be too short on money. It was already enough of a miracle they hadn't gone broke paying the hospital bills. He listened to the saved call again. "Hi Patrick, it's Aaron." "And Alex." "And Arthur!" "Come on guys, we said I'd be the one talking," Aaron sounded exasperated. And multiple voices talked over one another for almost a minute. Patrick couldn't help smiling. "Alright, that's enough." An older voice sounded. "Hello Patrick, it's Daniel. Since the kids can't make up their minds as to who is their spokesperson I'll do it. we heard on the news you got shot. We thought about visiting you in the hospital but considering the way you left we weren't sure you'd want us there, so we agreed to call and let you know we hope you'll get better soon." There was a pause, and the silence was complete. "We hope that..." Now Patrick could hear some labored breathing. "Just get better Patrick." The call ended. His mom had been the one to listen to it first since he'd been in the hospital. She'd brought the phone on her next visit so he could listen to it. He'd been touched that she did, considering what Daniel and his family represented. And he'd almost cried when he listened to it for the first time. They'd cared enough to want to visit, and he did wish they had. He almost called them back, but his mother was there. What would she think of them all here. Now he wished he had called them anyway. He had to stop making decisions with his mother's wellbeing as the deciding factor. He had to live his life for himself. Holding the phone, he saw the time and it reminded him of the call he needed to make. he punched in the number. "St-Benedict, Mother Rosetta Speaking." "Hi, It's Patrick." "Hello Patrick. How are you doing? I saw on the news you got shot. I've been praying for you." "Thank you. I think God listened to you." "How so?" "We don't have insurance, so I expected my mom to have to get a loan to pay for my treatment, but some of my friends got together and setup a social site for people to donate money toward my medical bills. So many people donated that it's all covered, as well as my checkups. Whatever's left over afterward I'm thinking I'll donate it to the hospital." "That's very generous of you." Patrick chuckled. "I don't know about that. I'm just not comfortable keeping it. To be honest, as grateful as I am for the donations, I feel a bit weird about it." "You have friends, you should cherish that." "I do, I just never realized how many people actually cared. Except for a few friends, I always thought of myself as a loner." "You don't have to run around shaking everyone's hand to have an impact on their lives. A kind word, or a gentle action are sometime all that's needed. From our conversations I have no trouble believing you've affected the people around you in a positive manner." Patrick felt himself blush. "I suppose so." He fell silent, still not quite believing he'd touch the lives of so many people. "And about your other situation, have you made a decision?" "Yeah, I'd decided to follow your advice and start exploring the gay culture. I've found a gay bar a few miles away, but with getting shot, I didn't get a chance to go. I'm going to wait until my shoulder's healed before going." "Alright. And have you told someone? Your mother?" "No, not my mom. there's no way I'm telling her." "You should." "You don't know her. I've tried to bring it up, well, to bring my dad up and she always shifts the subjects. When she doesn't, she acts like he's a threat to me." "You've never mentioned your father before." Patrick was silent for a moment, then told her about their visit. The only thing he left out was that they were brothers. "So, you're father's gay too. And he knew you were gay?" "Yeah, he said every man in our family is. I don't know if that's true, but I am." He didn't mention his brothers. It was such a strange idea, he had brothers. He hadn't really thought about them since visiting their house and he wondered how they were doing. Maybe he should call them? go for another visit? "Well, I don't know anything about genetics," she said, "but I'd think it couldn't be all of them." "I guess it doesn't matter, not really. If they are, or aren't, it doesn't affect who I am, and I'm the one who needs to come to terms with this." "True. So, you haven't told your mothers. anyone else?" "No, well, Joey knows, but he was kind of instrumental in screwing my head on straight. I was thinking about talking with Natalia, I've known her for years, I'm curious if she knew, but she's out of the city until summer." "You could call her." Patrick smiled. "I'm not much of a phone user. and for that kind of conversation I prefer face to face." "Then have a video call." "I mean in person." "Are you sure you're not just finding reasons not to ask her?" Patrick considered it. Would he know if he was? "I don't think so. I know that on the day I was shot I wouldn't have asked her, but during the few days I was in the hospital, I had lots of time to think. That's when I decided to ask her, but I couldn't manage to have her alone, and by the time I was released she had to go back to her college." "Hopefully you'll be even more comfortable with yourself by the time she'll be back, asking the question won't feel uncomfortable. Speaking of your shooting, how were you during the fight?" "I don't remember it clearly, it happened pretty fast and I lost blood. I got angry, but I think I stayed in control. I slashed him a few times, claws out, but I don't think I was trying to do more than force him to back off." "The news made it sound like you just held your own until your friends intervened." "Yeah, I heard that too, and I guess that's true. It's a blur and I'm just happy it's in the past." "Well, I'm glad you're alright." "Me too. I think I'm going to nap. it was good talking to you Mother Rosetta." "And to you too. God be with you Patrick." "And with you." he disconnected the call, placed the phone on the bedside table and fell asleep as soon as he closed his eyes. * * * * * The beep sounded from his comm system. "Yes Alice?" "Miss Tremaine is here to see you." "Send her in, Alice, thank you." He wiped his desk clean of the file he was working on and brought up the one that was relevant to this meeting. "I see you're still using a flesh and blood receptionist, Damian." She said as soon as she'd closed the door. "You really need to get yourself a reception kiosk, they're a lot cheaper" "Please take a seat Josephine. Alice does a perfect job. I don't see any need in replacing her with a machine. I take it you are using one?" "More than one. I have them anywhere I can make it work. Now, what did you want to see me about?" Damian studied her for a moment. Her reddish-brown fur was graying, unusual considering she was the same age as him. Genetic predisposition? Stress? She was relaxed. It wasn't the first time she'd been in his office in the ten years since he'd appointed her to run the security company. She'd been the only one in the company who hadn't given into corruption when he bought it. She'd been an army captain when she was kicked out for bringing her corrupt superior to justice. She hadn't been very discreet in the process, and the army, like most large organization hated it when it's disgrace were made public. Josephine paid for it by being discharged with honors. She'd done a good job running the company, as far as Damian knew. He didn't micro manage, she was a competent leader with an exemplary record, so had been the perfect choice. He hadn't heard anything until this incident, and her comment about saving money made him wonder if she was still the right person to run it. He tapped the file and slid it to her. "I'd like to know what happened." She activated it, and a news report played before her eyes. It was short, simply stating that a young tiger had been shot in the Brownstones while playing basketball. That the incident seemed to be gang related. and that he had been hospitalized but the wound was minor. The report was from one of his news company, and they all had rules to keep to the fact and avoid theorizing. Other reports from other news agencies went more in depth, and tried to interview Patrick, but wisely he'd turned them down. Damian hadn't worried about how that might have affected the family, there was nothing out of the ordinary here, but Patrick would have found that once he'd let the news media get its teeth in him, they would have been reluctant to let go. He felt his life was difficult now, it would have been more so under the constant eye of the news hungry public. If not for his friends, the news might still have stayed focused on him, but three of them, a bear, an ermine and a panther with bleached fur had been more than happy to relate everything, and how this was affecting them, making themselves a spectacle the news was happy to consume. She looked up once it stopped. "What do you mean, what happened?" He looked at her blankly. He found the result far more interesting when he didn't ask questions and let a person's paranoia speak for them. he did note her pupils were dilating. "Look, you can't be blaming us for this. We had no way to know this was going to happen. We did everything you told us to." We? she was including the whole company in this, trying to shift the blame. She knew she'd done something wrong but didn't want to take the blame. "What did I tell you to do?" "You told us to protect that kid from the gangs." "What else?" Was she misremembering or purposely altering her recollection? "What do you mean, what else?" She was becoming agitated. She was worried. Was this the tip of an iceberg she didn't want him knowing about? "You know what I mean Josephine. I was quite clear in my instructions when I gave them to you on the eighteenth of March. I want to know if you still remember them." She gave an exasperated sigh. "You said to protect him from the gangs and make sure he didn't know we were doing it." "Good. Now, please answer my question. What happened?" "I just..." "No, you didn't. You made sure I knew this wasn't your fault. You did not explain how it was that, not only did someone wearing gang colors was able to get close enough to this young man to shoot him, but the young man and his friends had to be the one to deal with it." His voice was cold, something he knew made people uncomfortable, they expected the heat of anger, not cold calculation. "Considering your instructions, I'd like to know how this happened." "Damn it, Damian. What did you expect me to do? The gangs were all arrested. I needed my personnel for other jobs. I didn't see a point on leaving people on him if there were no threats." "If there were no threats, how do you explain he got shot?" "I couldn't know that was going to happen." Damian nodded to himself. "I see." When had making money become more important to her than protecting someone she was told to protect? "Very well, that's all Josephine." "What do you mean that's all?" "I mean, I have no more questions, and you can leave. Unless you have something you'd like to add?" She opened her mouth to say something, and then must have realized the situation she was in because she closed it. "No. I don't," she growled. She glared at him and Damian could tell that gaze had intimidated many people over her carrier, but it was wasted on him. When he didn't react, she got up and left, slamming the door behind her. He waited a moment going over what she'd said and what she hadn't. It was apparent she was no longer the person to run Royal Securities. "Contact Audit." there was a beep. "Auditing department, Emil speaking. "Emil, Damian." "Mister Orr, what can I do for you?" "I need you to get an audit done on Royal Securities. If anything criminal is found, get an outside agency to redo the audit, otherwise forward me the results." "Yes sir." He disconnected. "HR." there was three rings. "HR." "This is Damian." "Oh shit. Yes Mister Orr. I'm Beltane." Beltane Dupree, nineteen, been with the company for a year. "Beltane, let me start by saying I expect more professionalism from the people working for me." "Yes sir. I'm sorry sir." "Now, I need you to go through Josephine Tremaine's employment record. I need her transferred to a position better suited for her, not a leadership role. Then go through the personnel at Royal Securities and give me a list of the ten most qualified to run it." "Yes sir." "And Beltane, as you are doing this. consider that Miss Tremaine is someone who didn't measure up to my expectations." Damian disconnected the call before the young possum could say anything. He brought up the files he'd been working on before. It was his nephews crowd sourced funding for Patrick's hospital bills. He was pleased with them. They had beat him to it, setting it up within hours of the incident, and in a way Patrick wouldn't know they were involved unless he got his friend to dig into it, and Damian had seen to it there were a few level of security added to make it much more difficult. He was glad to know they were this eager to help their brother even if they haven't gotten to know him quite yet. At this rate, Patrick might actually manage to join the family without any intervention. That would certainly be best for him.
  17. Kindar

    Chapter 22

    The Missing Son 22 Patrick had trouble believing how much of a difference three week made, not just with him, but on the whole neighborhood. Three weeks without the gangs walking around like they owned the place, intimidating people, breaking into houses, stealing cars. It hadn't happened over night, but now people were sitting on their porch after work, drinking beers. Kids were playing on the lawns and running around the houses. He'd mentioned it to Mother Rosetta, and she'd said much the same of her parish. The gangs had been this dark cloud over the area that no one really mentioned but that affected them all. The gravity of the change made itself clear not long after that, when the smell of cooking meat had drawn him outside and Mister Omaka, an older ocelot, three houses down the road, was barbecuing on his lawn, people coming over with food from other houses. Patrick had rushed back in and gone through the cupboard looking for something he could bring. He put together a quick potato salad from the bag of potatoes he'd cooked a few days ago to keep them from going bad. He walked to the ocelot, realizing he should have asked first if this was open to anyone or a private affair. "Mister Omaka, I hope I'm not intruding, I saw everyone coming with food and I thought I'd offer some too." "Patrick, call me Jinko, you know that." The ocelot's fur was very pale, an indication he was quite advanced in age, but he didn't show any other signs. Patrick had seen him running some of the younger gang members off his lawn more than once. "And of course, you're welcome. today's such a fine evening I just had to grill something, and seems everyone's feeling much more neighborly these days." "Yes sir. I've noticed that too. I brought potato salad, I hope that'll do." "Of course it will. Just put it on the table there and tell me what you'd like." "I'd take a sausage roll, and if I can I'd like a burger for my mom, she'll be back from work in a couple of hours and I know she'd enjoy something different from what we've been eating" The ocelot looked Patrick up and down. "You only want one? Seems to me a boy your age should be eating more." "I don't want to impose, I'm sure plenty of others are going be asking for some, and I didn't bring that much food." "I'm sure everyone is going to want some, but I've got plenty, and Gillian brought a few packs of sausages too, not to say of all the burger patties I have." "Well, if it isn't going to cause problems, I'll have two." Mister Omaka snorted. "You'll have four and you won't complain about it." Patrick's ears warmed and he fought a desire to refuse. He much preferred to earn what he got, but Mister Omaka was insistent, so he couldn't make too big of a deal out of it. He put the salad on the table and saw there were two other bowl of potato salad, but each smelled like different spices had been used, so he didn't feel too bad. There were three cakes, two platters of vegetables, three pies, and a large bowl of lettuce. Party plates and bowls were stacked at the end of the table. In a cooler filled with ice he found lots of soda cans, and even a few of orange soda. Patrick was surprise, he didn't realize anyone else drank the stuff. He grabbed one and Mister Omaka had his food ready. "I've set aside two patties for your mother, I'll cook them when she comes home." "You don't have too, if you cook them now I can take them home and put them in the over." The ocelot gave him the evil eye. "If you leave our little gathering, I am going to chase you down and beat you, got that? Now, go find a place to sit and eat." Patrick couldn't stop the grin from spreading on his face. "Yes sir." The rest of the evening was spent talking with people he'd seen daily, but hadn't spent the time taking with often, everyone then too busy looking over their shoulders or wondering who would cause problems next. When his mother got home, she saw the gathering and came to investigate. Mister Omaka handed her two burgers, pointing to the condiments. She tried to refuse, but like Patrick, she lost that argument and settled next to him. Someone brought her a coffee. The gathering lasted until late in the night. * * * * * Patrick ran across the court, stopped, dodged his opponent, looked for his teammate, waved to indicate he was clear. The ball was bounced to him. he caught it, dribbled two steps, leaped in the air and threw it at the basket. The ball hit the back board, then the rim and bounced outside the playing field. "You still can't get a ball in to save your life, Sanders," someone said. "I told you I sucked when you insisted I play," he replied, running after the ball. He grabbed it before it rolled on the street and threw it back. Of the people he was playing with he only knew two, Natalia was a tigress he'd met because their mothers worked at the same factory. He strongly suspected his mother had arranged it hoping he and Natalia would hit it off, but while they got along, the chemistry had never been there. Patrick had never thought about it before, but now he knew why. He wondered if she'd guessed it back then, but he hadn't worked up the nerves to ask her since it would mean telling her he was gay. it was one thing to have admitted it to himself, another to tell someone else, well, other than Joey, but somehow Patrick felt he didn't count. The other was the bull who lived across the street from him. he was a year older and heavily into sports. he'd managed to avoid being dragged into the gangs because he lived most of the time with him mom on the other side of the city, being here only every other weekend. He was the one who had insisted Patrick come play. Patrick jogged back to the court, an unused parking lot that had been a Soranto gathering point before their mass arrests. Someone had procured the two basketball hoops and set them up. Natalia pointed in his direction and yelled something he didn't get. He turned to see what had gotten her attention. Thunder rang through the air and something punched him in the shoulder, sending him twisting and then falling to the ground. He looked up to see a horse walking in his direction, waving a gun around, He heard screams over the pounding of his heart. His shoulder was hurting now, a lot. he glanced at it, and it was bloody. He made the connection between the gun and his shoulder. "You fucking shot me!" Emilio pointed the gun at him. "I said you were a dead man." Patrick couldn't believe he'd been shot. Fuck, this was going to cause so much trouble. How long would he be off work because of this? Things had finally been starting to look up, His mom had had a slight raise at the factory so she'd been able to put some money aside. this was going to wipe all of it away. "I thought you were in jail," Patrick growled. "Didn't they arrest the lot of you?" "Yeah, I guess me showing up is a surprise. I guess you thought getting your buddies the cops to rough us up and then arrest us would free you, but guess what. when I promise something to someone I make sure it happens." Patrick winced at the pain as he forced himself to stand. he was woozy for a moment but kept his footing. "What the fuck are you talking about?" "Ohhh, you think we wouldn't notice you had people watching out for you? What? you were so scared of us you made a deal with the cops so they'd take us down?" "You're not making any sense, as usual. I didn't call anyone, I didn't make any deal. I deal with my problems myself, without a gang to back me up, unlike someone I won't bother naming." Anger crawled up the horse's face as the words registered. "I won't have some mangy cat bad mouth me!" Patrick didn't wait for him to raise the gun. He ran at him. The gun went off, but he didn't feel anything. He slammed his good shoulder in Emilio's chest, sending him flying back, but Patrick almost blacked out as the impact caused his other shoulder to erupt with pain. The horse was standing up when Patrick could see again, but he wasn't holding the gun anymore. Patrick was going to kill him. He had fucking enough with Emilio and the Sarantos. Each step he took made his shoulder complain, but he didn't listen, he shoved the pain to the side, he'd pay for this later, right now he just couldn't give a damn. Patrick struck the horse across the face, hand open, claws extended. he felt them dig into the skin and rip. Emilio took a step back in surprise, four bloody lines on the side of his face and a piece of his ear ripped off. The horse was furious. He looked around, then fear replaced the fury. He didn't have anyone backing him up. He'd never gone up against Patrick alone. "I'm not going to let a punk like you do this to me and live," Emilio threatened. Patrick slashed again, but the horse moved back. Patrick slashed back and forth with his good arm, but all that did was keep the horse at bay. He was losing blood. How long could he keep fighting until he lost consciousness? If that happened, he was dead. he wasn't going to let that happen. He wasn't putting his mom through this kind of tragedy. He staggered, putting on a show of having trouble moving. his slashes were lower and slower. He panted heavily, but that wasn't an act. He lounged at the horse, even if he was still out of reach, and he saw the smile of confidence on his face. Emilio did a quick lunge in. Patrick forced himself not to flinch back and let him strike him on the chest. It wasn't very hard, the horse hadn't gone all in, but when he staggered back Patrick almost couldn't stop himself from falling. The horse pressed his advantage, and Patrick struck him. he'd aimed for his throat, intent on ripping it out, but his hand hadn't gone up that far. He ended up slashing deeply at Emilio's chest. He almost lost his balance, and a hand caught him. he lashed out, but that was caught too, then he saw the fur was striped instead of brown. "I've got you," Natalia said, and then he was unconscious. * * * * * Patrick came to with a start, felt hands on him and saw brown fur. He trashed, trying to get away but the pain in his shoulder screamed. "Hold him down damn it!." Hands pushed him down, tan fur, long tapered muzzle, canine. "Calm down kid, we're here to help." The brown fur again, round ears, short muzzle, small eyes. Bear. Not horse. The fight left Patrick. He closed his eyes and panted. He could hear beeps and whirls. he opened his eyes again. He was in the back of an ambulance, on a stretcher. The bear was scanning his shoulder. He looked around, but didn't recognize any of the equipment. "Sorry for trashing about. I hope I didn't hurt either or you." "It's okay kid," the bear replied. "We've had to deal with far more difficult customers than you." "How bad is it?" "All thing considered? not bad at all, the bullet's intact and lodged in your muscle. I'll give you some local anesthetic and pull it out." "Fuck." The canine, a coolie regarded him. "I don't have insurance," Patrick explained. "I can't pay for any of this." The collie looked at the bear and then out the door. "Don't you worry 'bout that. Our job's to do what we can, not to bill the customer. Wallace there'll take out the chunk, then we'll take you to the hospital so they can make sure nothing bad happens. Infection and all that." "Can you give me antibiotics? I can't go to the hospital. You're not charging me, and I'm grateful, but they're going to bill me for just looking at me. I don't want to think what it's going to be when they actually do something." "Look kid." The bear injected Patrick's shoulder, "Sure, we can give you stuff to make sure it doesn't get infected, but you've got muscle damage. If you don't get that looked at you could lose a lot of flexibility in your arm, is that what you want?" "Of course not, but It's not worth ruining my mom." "Maybe you should call her so she can make the decision?" The collie offered. "I don't have a phone." "That's okay, I'll lend you mine, you know her number?" "She's at work." "I'm sure they'll let her take the call, this is something of an emergency." Patrick thought it over. He didn't want to bother her with this. But no matter what happened, she was going to be affected. He cursed halfheartedly and recited the factory's number. The paramedic punched it and unhooked the top of the phone, bending it so it would fit around Patrick's ear and placed it there. He heard the ringing, then a click and a man's voice. "Olympic Mattresses, where we make mattresses fit for Gods, how can I improve your sleep?" "Hi, I need to talk to Margarette Sanders, she's one of your seamstresses." "I'm sorry, but this is the sales department." "Sorry, this is the only number I have. Can you transfer me her supervisor? I really need to talk to her." "I'm sorry, but I don't think floor employees are allowed to take personal calls during work hours." Patrick sighed, feeling tired all of a sudden. "I'm her son, I need to inform her I've been shot." "You've been shot? Oh my God, do you need me to call the police? an ambulance?" "No, they're already here, I just need to talk to my mother." "Yes, of course. I'm going to put you on hold while I find her." Patrick closed his eyes, and then opened them, he didn't want to risk falling asleep. He felt pressure on his shoulder and realized the pain was gone. He looked and the bear had thin pliers in the wound. There was a slurping noise as he pulled out and he had the bullets. "Can I talk to him?" a police officer asked from the doorway. "He's trying to reach his mother," the collie replied. "By the time he's done we'll have sanitized and sealed the wound, you can talk to him then. I'll call for you." The yak nodded and left. Patrick was about the thank him when his mother was on the spoke in his ear. "Patrick? Are you alright? They told me you've been shot, how bad is it?" "I'm okay mom. Just a shoulder wound, nothing vital. Look, they want to take me to the hospital." "Of course, doctors need to look at it. I'll explain things to my supervision and go there immediately, do you know which one they are taking you to?" "Mom, I can't go. We don't have insurance." "That's fine, I have some money aside." "Mom, this is a hospital, I don't think your savings are going to be enough." "Then I'll get a loan. Patrick, you are going, it's final. I'm not going to risk your health just for money, do you hear me?" "Yes, mom." He sighed. "Which hospital are we going to?" "Four Clovers is the closest one." "Four Clovers, mom. That's where I'll be." "I'll see you there as soon as I can." He took off the ear piece and handed it to the collie. "Don't worry, if Clovers can't take you I'll call her to tell her where we'll end up." "That the factory number. She doesn't have her phone." The collie looked at him questioningly. "We only have one phone for the two of us, so it stays at home." Patrick got two horrified looks. He was too exhausted to laugh. "If you're done I'm good to talk to the police officer now." That was going to be a pleasant conversation, he thought wryly. The collie called the yak over and stepped out so he could come in. The bear stayed and continued scanning his shoulder. "I'm officer Androny," the Yak said, "we're taking statements from all the witnesses. Can you tell me what happened?" Patrick took a breath. "I was playing basketball with my friends. I missed a hoop, the ball bounced away so I chased it. got it and was coming back when I heard thunder and fell. My shoulder was bloody. Emilio was pointing a gun at me. I defended myself." "You knew the man who shot you?" "We're had altercations before. He's been trying to force me to join the Sarantos for years now. I thought he'd been arrested with the others." "During the fight, did you slash him?" Patrick sighted. "Yes. my claws were all I had to defend myself." He really didn't need this. He's managed to avoid getting in trouble with the law his entire life. Now because of that horse he was going to end up with an assault charge on his record. "Look, I need to know. what am I going to be charged with?" The yak stared at him. "Charged? what for?" "I clawed him. That's assault, they teach us that really early at school." "Buddy, he came at you with a gun. What you did was self-defense. No judge is even going to want to see you in her court. All you're going to have to do is go over the statement to make sure it's accurate and sign it. Your buddy Emilio is sitting in the back of my cruiser right now, and he's looking at prison time for possession of an illegal firearm, not to mention shooting you." He stood. "You just focus on healing, we'll contact you when everything's ready for you to sign." He left. "So, you're ready to head to the hospital now?" Patrick smiled. "Yeah, I am."
  18. Kindar

    Chapter 21

    The Missing Son 21 The Church was smaller than he expected. The photos on their web page made it look larger. The outside was worn, but well maintained. They had replaced one of the tall wooden doors recently, the varnish hadn't bleached in the sun yet. He entered and, as always, he felt a little smaller. This was the House of God, and he was just some insignificant tiger. He dipped his fingers in the basin of holy water and crossed himself. He walked between the pews, relieved they were unoccupied. It made sense, it being the middle of the afternoon. He would have been even more uncomfortable if it had been crowded with regular parishioners. As it was, he was nervous and starting to doubt the wisdom of coming. Part of him said it would be better to just bury his head in the sand. Ignore the growing list of evidence and go back to living the way he had been. And blowing up at strangers for imagined slight? He sat down and looked at the cross. Like every depiction of him, well, those who accepted Jesus was cervid, he now knew, his antlers were broken off and made into a crown, with the points sharpened and pressing in his head. His punishment for preaching the existence of Eden and that the Path was the way to return there He couldn't look at him for long without feeling like he was being judged. Looking down he saw a bible someone left in the nook on the back of the pew in front of him. He took it and leafed through the pages. He looked back up. "God," he whispered, "Why did you make me this way?" Someone put a hand on his shoulder. "Can I help you?" a woman said. Patrick jumped out of his fur and landed a couple of feet away panting in fright. He turned and looked at an otter in a cassock. She was also panting, a hand over her heart. It seemed his start had frightened her as much as she had him. "I'm sorry," he apologized once he found his voice. "It's alright." She gave him a small smile. "I should have made sure you knew I was there." She sat on the pew. "I'm Mother Rosetta. I don't remember seeing you here before." "I'm Patrick." He sat a respectable distance away. "I'm not in your parish, I live in Brownstone." "That isn't exactly nearby," she commented after a moment's thought. "What brought you to our church?" Patrick hesitated. "I need a different point of view on something. I've been looking online and came across the blogs on your site. They were refreshingly balanced." She tilted an ear in his direction in an invitation to continue. "Father Durony, the priest at my Church, he's.... Well, I've come to realize the way he interprets the bible isn't the way others do. From the reading I did, he takes a very old fashion view of it." She gave him a knowing smile. "He's one of the Revivalists then?" Patrick nodded. "Yes, they do tend to view God as being fire and brimstone. Why don't you tell me what you need help with?" "I'm...." He froze. He couldn't say it? He'd been practicing it in his head on the way here and yet the words didn't want to come out? "You don't have to say it, if you aren't comfortable," she reassured him. He breathed in, to calm himself. "I have to say it. I've been 'not saying it' for too long, it feels like each time I don't I'm actively encouraging a lie." Worry appeared on her face. Patrick closed his eyes and breathed some more. "I'm gay." There, he'd finally said it... and nothing. No being struck by lightning, no bursting into flames. He opened his eyes in surprise and she was smiling at him. "I take it you were expecting something to happen?" "I know it's stupid, but yes I was. It isn't like God has turned anyone back into an animal recently." She nodded. "I can see how growing up in a revivalist church would cause you to have problems coming to terms with your sexuality." Patrick leaned back. "Yeah, ever since I've been a kid I've been told how being..." he sighed and forced the word out. "How being gay is the quickest way off the Path. How God hates gays, that they are the work of the devil, stuff like that. If being... gay is so wrong, why did he make me this way?" She studied him for a moment. "God doesn't hate gays." "But the bible says he does." he shook the bible he was holding. "That it's against His will." She took hold of the bible and gently brought it down to his lap. "This book was written by us, not by God." "But they wrote the words of God, didn't they?" She smiled and was thoughtful. "Alright, let's say, for a moment, that we accept that those who wrote the bible were indeed, let's call it channeling God. Let's say that's true. "Do you really think that one of our minds could hold the thoughts of God and not miss something? Or misunderstand what He thought? God's mind is infinite. He knows everything, he sees everything. Our minds are very much limited. Even if we were to try to hold all that God is, we couldn't. At best we could only old a very small part of it. "If his mind is even a little bit like ours, it's a chaotic place, it isn't like a library where everything is ordered with a computer listing where to find everything. It stands to reason that anyone who tried to write down His mind couldn't put everything down, and what they did write might not be correct." Patrick looked at the book. "So, you're saying that the bible isn't accurate because we couldn't understand everything God had meant." She patted his hand. "No, that's not what I'm saying. That is something someone could argue as being valid. I, personally, don't believe the bible is the word of God. Patrick stared at her. "Shocking, I know." She grinned. "Thinks about it. We've had evidence the bible has been modified, rewritten, for decades now. We also know that many of those changes were done to bring the bible in line with what the rulers of the time wanted. Now, I'm not saying there aren't some good ideas in it, but in the end I'm not willing to believe God would have a hand in penning something with so much hate and anger in it. "God doesn't hate you. He doesn't hate anyone." "How about his enemies?" "God doesn't have enemies." "Of course he does. All those terrorists. The attacks in the early twenty first century, what was going on in Kenya on the thirties?" "They aren't God's enemies. God made them, he made all of us, how could they be his enemies?" "But they follow other Gods." "No, they don't." She paused. "At least, I don't believe they do. They might have given Him a different name, but there is only one God. Not one true God, simply one God." "Then why did they attack us? why did they call us heathen? The massacres in Kenya, the deaths in the Congo?" "Because they are people, they aren't perfect. Like you and me, they are flawed, and for whatever reason they decided to use God as an excuse to make war instead of following Him to peace." She was right, Patrick realized. He'd seen it in his neighborhood often enough. People proclaiming God's name while doing something He would never approve of. "Then what about God's first creation? He had to hate him for disobeying Him. He destroyed them after all." She canted her head. "Did He? The bible simply says the He removed man from Eden for eating the apple. I prefer to think that he took them somewhere else. Maybe a world of their own, where they could learn the consequences of their action. After all, when we asked permission to eat the apple, he warned us we would have to leave. That once we had the knowledge the fruit brought, Eden wouldn't be for us anymore. "After man was removed from Eden," she recited, "God elevated the animals to take his place, to care for Eden." "Except the snake," Patrick added by rote. Mother Rosetta smiled. "Yes, except the snake. For the part it played in offering the apple to man it has been fated to always crawl on the ground as a simple beast. But for the rest of us, we grew and cared for Eden, until the day our curiosity grew too strong. We tasted the apple and left Eden." "Do you think we'll ever make it back there?" She didn't answer immediately. "I don't know. I'd like to think God wants us to, since he sent his Son to show us the Path." She leaned toward him. "Did you ever think about why Jesus came to us as a cervid, instead of, say, a lion, or a tiger?" Patrick shrugged. "Not really." "I believe it's so we would see that power, or strength, wasn't what would get us back to Eden. Cervids aren't exactly known to be strong, although they certainly aren't the weakest of us. He wanted us to see it was our actions that would lead us back to Eden." Patrick looked at the bible in his hand, rubbed the worn cover. "If I can't use the bible to figure out what the Path is, how am I ever going to find my way to Eden?" "God gave you the only tool you need to find your way back." She reached over and put a hand over his chest. "He gave you a heart. He gave you the ability to feel, to care and to love. If you follow it, are nice to your neighbor, eventually you'll find your way back." Patrick let out a sardonic chuckle. "I hate to break it to you Mother but being nice doesn't exactly cut it in this world." "You're right. When I say nice I don't mean you should lay down and let others trample you. God wants you to defend yourself. He wants you to defend others, if need be, but do so without malice. Don't seek revenge, seek justice. Keep anger out of the fight." Patrick was silent for a moment. "That might be easier said than done," he sighed. She looked at him inquisitively. "I have some anger issues," he admitted. "How bad is it? have you ever wanted to hurt someone?" Patrick wanted to deny it. "Sometime. Mostly I scream a lot, but recently, with... this, I've been lashing out at things." "Do you think that will go away once you resolve the issue?" Patrick considered it. "I think so. I've been calmer ever since realizing that what I knew of God might not be all there was." She nodded. "If you don't mind me asking, what made you start questioning your sexuality?" "I'm not ready to talk about that, not yet. But it isn't that I had sex. I'm not ready for that." "I understand. When you are, you know where to find me. I'm just what, a five hour walk away?" Patrick chuckled. "Closer to three." She smirked at him. "Closer to three, he said, like even that's an easy walk." "I like to walk." She shook her head in amusement. "Tell you what. Let me give you my number." Patrick chuckled. "I don't have a phone." She started at him. "How can you not have a phone?" Patrick shrugged. "Never had one, I can't afford the plans, so I managed without." "Well, I'm not sure how I can give it to you then." "Just read it out, I'll remember it." She looked unsure but pulled out her phone and read off her number. Patrick repeated it to her, then a few times in his head. "If you ever need to talk, call me, day or night." She stood. "Will you be staying? Mass is in about an hour." "I can't. I'm working and with the walk, I'll be there just in time." "Alright, you're always welcome here. have a good day, and God bless you." "Thank you, Mother." Patrick stood in the aisle, looking at Jesus. He crossed himself and headed out. He stopped before leaving the Church. Next to the door was the donation box. He didn't normally give anything, he had so little already, but he dug in his pocket and pulled out the ten and twenty. He didn't have time to go home, so he'd have to buy something on the way. What could he afford to give? food wasn't exactly cheap. He put the twenty in the box. He'd buy a sandwich and soda on the way. He'd eat more at the bar. Don didn't have food, but he didn't mind if Patrick ate a lot of the peanuts.
  19. Kindar

    Chapter 20

    The Missing Son 20 Patrick paused by the living room, his mother was sitting there, watching the news. It was such an odd sight, her being home this early in the day that he took a moment to appreciate it. The television had woken him up and it was barely noon. For a moment he thought he'd forgotten to turn it off when he got home, but then remembered he'd headed straight to bed. "Hey mom, what are you doing home?" She looked over her shoulder and muted it. "Hi Patrick. The factory closed early." "Closed? in the middle of the day? They've never done that before. is everything alright there?" "It's fine. I guess the new owners wanted to look over the machinery." "New owners? Are they going to close it down?" Patrick hoped not. "No, of course not. They assured us everything would continue as normal before giving us the rest of the day off, with pay." Patrick hoped she wasn't being too trusting, sending everyone home didn't seem like a good sign. They couldn't afford for her to lose that job. He doubted he could bring in that kind of money even if he did odd jobs all day, every day. "What time did you get home last night?" she asked. You still weren't in when I went to bed." "About four in the morning. Don asked me to help out with a private party and it ran late." She frowned. "You know I don't like it when he keeps you out that late." "I know, but it's extra money, and we need it. I put it in your checkbook." Not to say that being offered two hundred dollars by a woman to get him to dance on the table had been a strange experience. He'd been scared of the idea, of making a fool of himself in front of them, but tempted by the money. When she pressed, and told him there could be more, if he took off his clothing, He'd been even more conflicted. There was no way he'd ever undress in public, was there? Just how much money was she offering, and why had he been excited at the idea of doing it? Fortunately for him, the decision was taken out of his hands when Don reminded her his bar wasn't *that kind* of place. "I hope you've kept some." "Thirty bucks. That's enough to see me through the day." By her lack of reaction, he didn't think she's seen how much he'd left. Even with disappointing the woman, it had been a good night. They tipped heavily, and she slipped him a fifty after he'd agreed to dance with her. The dance had been - interesting. She'd rubbed herself all over him in the process, ran her hands over his entire body. The way she licked her lips as she gyrated against him made it clear, even to someone as clueless as he normally was, what she really wanted. Even if he'd been interested in giving her what she wanted, for all the touching and rubbing she did, his body hadn't reacted. He'd done his best not to show it, but once they were done he spent ten minutes in the bathroom dealing with the shock, the disappointment, of realizing he truly wasn't straight. He might have spent longer there, but he had a job to do. "I'm going to head out after I grab a shower. There's something I need to take care off this afternoon." "Alright, are you going to be back for dinner?" "No, it'll take most of the day, and I'll go directly to the bar after that." The Church was close to ten miles away, so it would take him most of the afternoon to walk there. He stopped by again after his shower. He was wearing his best everyday clothes, not that they were that great, but at least they didn't have any holes or rips. He wanted to make sure she was okay. He didn't think she would have lied to him about her job, she would have told him if she'd lost it, but now that he knew she'd lied to him before, he felt like he needed to verify it. He watched her silently, and she did seem unconcerned as she watched the news. On the screen a gazelle in a deep blue suit was standing behind a podium. Someone said something to her and she nodded, putting papers in order. the 'live' icon flashed in the left corner and next to that 'police commissioner Hyacinthe press conference' Patrick had been about to turn away when he saw the words, 'gang violence down.' crawl at the bottom of the screen. "Thank you for coming," the gazelle said. "I called this press conference because today we are celebrating a major victory against gang violence." 'Leaders and lieutenants of Saranto, Claws and Infernals arrested. Gang in disarray.' scrolled at the bottom. "Over the last few months we have been conducting a series of undercover operations with the goal of infiltrating multiple gangs. This morning, using information gathered from those operations, we arrested the leaders of the Sarantos, the Claws and the Infernals as well as all their lieutenants and most of the gang members. "When I became commissioner, I promised the citizen of San Francisco I would address the city's gang problem. This is only the start. Know that the police aren't going to rest until all the gangs have been broken. Gangs are parasite on this city and it's time we got rid of them. "I want to thank this fine city's citizens, who are in large part responsible for making this possible. Your donations helped us properly fund the gang task force. The information you provided allowed us to pinpoint who to target and where to find them. a long time ago the gangs declared war on this city, and now, together, we are fighting back, and winning." Patrick took a moment to let what she'd said sink in. This certainly explained why the Sarantos had been leaving him alone. was that also why they'd tried to kill him that last time? They thought he'd inform on them? They were idiots if they thought that, Patrick would never bring the cops into his private business. Then he remembered something that stole his breath. He went to the kitchen and sat down. "You'll never have to worry about your safety." Damian had told him, during that unnerving car ride. Had he made this happen? How could he? She said they'd been working on this for months, and the ride hadn't been that long ago. But it couldn't be a coincidence either, could it? He forced himself to calm down, pushed the disbelief aside so he could focus. Damian was rich, a quick online search had told him that. He owned so many companies he hadn't been able to read the entire page listing them. So, he had the finances to do something like that, but why have the commissioner say they had been working on it for months then? To make his involvement less obvious? He shook his head. This was something out of the novels he read. No one would spend that kind of money on him. It had to just be a coincidence. He looked up. God sure did work in mysterious ways. He made himself a sandwich and ate it on his way to the door. As he put his jacket on he looked at the frame, on the table by the door, of his mother and 'father'. He didn't feel the ache he used to when looking at it. The wonder about what it would be like to have a father was a memory. He wondered why she kept it here, now that the lie had been exposed. Was she trying to keep it going? or was it simpler, she'd grown used to the idea of the family they represented. The family she dreamed they had been? were? He didn't have to imagine anymore, he had a father, well, two. That was confusing. He hoped that in time he could get himself to do see them again. Even with them being... the way they were. He wanted them to be part of his family. Now that he had a father, he didn't want to never see him. His mother didn't have that. he didn't know if she'd ever be able to accept them as his father. So she kept her illusory family alive with the pictures. He found he didn't blame her for that.
  20. Rod_3rich

    Prologue

    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.”
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. BigPuppyStuart

    A wider world

    The world famous linguist Jeanauques kaywaagh was surrounded by admiring colleagues as they swaggered off their ship into the bustling capital. They were on their way to give a lecture at the most prestigious university in the Valperet kingdom. Speaking there was a once in a lifetime opportunity and a privilege that only the most well connected and meritorious academics got the chance to speak at. It was not enough to be wealthy and well connected, it was not enough to be the best in your field, you had to be both to get such honors as speaking at the Royal capitol Academy and he was on his way to it do it. He and his entourage were strolling up the docks toward their waiting ride to the Academy. It did not fill him with the pleasure it should have. He was about to give the most soul crushing speech anyone in his field could give. It was essential a speech presenting the argument that there was nothing else to be discovered. Every language had been catalogued and codified, cross referenced and put down on paper. Everything from the most elegant Valperet dialects to the cumbersome complexities of the oldest forms of Djarlendt to even the obscure human languages only spoken in the desserts of the Fanock regions. There was nothing new left out there to discover and all he and his esteemed colleagues could look forward to would be trying to decipher the remnants of the Thethen language which linguists have been working on for a thousand years now. It was a disheartening prospect for someone as young as he. He had just turned 50 and while that was a respectable age it meant he had to figure out what to do for the 170 years he had remaining. He hid his feelings well, he cheerfully bantered with his colleagues and they discussed the fine dinner that would be waiting for them when they got to the Academy and the luxurious accommodations they would stay in before they got to their lectures to the best, brightest and most well connected the next morning. They even made haughty jokes about the riffraff that dock sides, even this one, exclusively for the wealthiest vessels with the most high class passengers was crewed by roustabouts and laborers. Valperet were fond of pointing out class divides and this was a perfect opportunity to exercise that pastime. They even laughed to each other when they caught the workers rolling their eyes as they picked up on what the group was saying. You had to be fluent in Valperet to work here so they all knew everyone understood them as they reminded themselves of their higher status. Jeanauques was so wrapped up in his thoughts and presenting a veneer of haughty cheer he almost missed it, but the moment he turned his attention to what he was hearing and stopped dead as if he had just slamed into a wall. He was utterly astonished at what he was hearing and what he was hearing was singing in a language he couldn't identify and who's roots and phonology were unlike any he had heard. It was issuing from the mouth of a large Hesken male whole was singing as he carried boxes. Jeanauques stopped to listen. " Oy, na hori karchata, a v dolyni divchata, Sichy-rubay derevo, kudy hlyanesh, zeleno, karchata. Des' uzyavsya Ivanko, des' uzyavsya Ivanko, Sichy-rubay derevo, kudy hlyanesh, zeleno, Ivanko. Vsich divchat vin rozihnav, lysh Mariyku sobi vzyav, Sichy-rubay derevo, kudy hlyanesh, zeleno, sobi vzyav. Poviv yiyi u sadok, narvav yiyi yahidok, Sichy-rubay derevo, kudy hlyanesh, zeleno, yahidok. Yiz, Mariyko, yahidky, zabuvaysya za divky, Sichy-rubay derevo, kudy hlyanesh, zeleno, za divky. " The singer stopped and looked over alerted by the sudden silence and a group of 10 Valperet staring at him one with a gaping mouth and wide eyed shocked face. He stared at them for a moment then when they didn't ask him anything he picked up a box and begin walking off. He had gotten a few feet away when Jeanauques came to his senses and gave chase. " WAIT COME HERE LAD" he shouted in Valperet. He was about to repeat the plea in Djarlendt when the worker responded. " No, I'm busy" he said without looking around and turned sharply to carry his box up a ramp and onto the deck of a ship. Jeanauques annoyed but still ingrigued waited for him at the bottom of the ramp impatiently tapping his cane. He was considering storming up the ramp to find him when he spotted the lad coming back down. " Move, i have work to do." The hesken ordered. Jeanauques bristled at the impertinence but Politely plyed him with questions. " My good lad, i am rather interested in that song you were singing, please repeat it slowly so i may record it." Jeanauques requested more politely then a person of his class was required to a laborer. He prepared a small book and a pencil to mark down the phonetic symbols linguists used to record language. The Hesken lad who was at least 6 feet tall and had the common heavy build of his race looked annoyed and Jeanauques thought he was about to be shoved out of the way. Instead the Hesken snatched the book out of Jeanauques hands and begin writting in it himself. The Valperet all begin to mutter and looked about to make a scene when the laborer handed the book back and made his way around the crowd and went back to work. Jeanauques started walking as he inspected what the lad had written. The page was covered with small, neatly efficient writing in the universal phonetic alphabet outlining the sounds used in the song and how they were separated into words. At the bottom of the entry was a list of the song and its place of origin. He stared at this part intently. " Ii say the nerve of that Roustabout, we should have him flogged" on of his companions put in indignantly with the special petulance the privileged have for when they are treated like everyone else. Jeanauques waved this away without even looking at the speaker. he was too busy skimming the text again and again. They loaded into the luxurious carriages and he stayed absorbed in the few neat lines of text. Mid way through the trip he looked up from the little book and asked aloud. " What do any of you know about Earth, Specifically a place called Ukraine. " He stumble over this last word, it was written both in the universal phonetic alphabet and in a set of characters he had never seen before. There was some general muttering but nothing new was said. none of his companions had ever heard of Ukraine and there was some muttering about earth being a filthy place since humans came from there. " Lads i won't be at dinner tonght, i have some reading to do, i will be in the library." He announced He no longer cared about pretentious speeches or grand dinners. He had just been introduced to a wider world of possibilities. he was going to have to alter his speech. End of part one. part 2 His compatriots were used to his fevered research habits so he was left alone and brought any books he sought from the were supplied by the Academy. His efforts did not pay off as well as he had hoped but they definitely supported his new conclusion. He found reams of references to books compiled by the mage's guild of things that humans had said shortly after their arriival on this world, and even before the peoples of gai'talar learned the trade language from the humans, a language that at the time was called English. The most intriguing thing was that when the humans first tried communicating they had used phrases that were purportedly inquiries as to weather the people of Gai'talar could speak certain languages. In Valperet lands it seems multiple groups of humans had used the same phrase over and over. " Est-ce que tu parles français" The phrase sounded very much like someone trying to speak Valperet but using strange words. Sadly instead of trying to understand the human visitors the Valperet army of the time had chased the new comers northward and had pursued them until they left valperet territory. The independent sionact villages had taken them in but never wrote down their utterances so Valperet sources were fairly lacking. He was not the only one who seemed to be irked by this. He did find a diatribe from a scholar at the time that a perfect opportunity to study a new people was wasted. There was a further entry that again lamented this because it seemed the Hesken of the Djarlendt kingdom of Hrectfuldahm had compiled a massive amount of information about humans and their languages. At the time the Hesken were not on good terms with the Valperet Royalty and so that information had not been available for 150 years and by then no one really wanted it. Luckily that was more than 500 years ago. Unluckily there was no way for him to get a copy of those texts at the moment. He did however have enough information to revise his speech. He feverishly wrote it down and worked it into his speech then retired to the Lavish bed supplied by him. He fell asleep thinking of the renewed passion he hoped to see in the faces of his listeners in the morning. His dreams were in vain though, he gave his speech to a packed crowd of intellectuals and wealthy patrons of the Academy. They seemed to take in the first part of his speech with a smug assurance that the languages of gai'talar were all mapped out and known down to the last detail by Valperet society. When he droped what he thought would be a world shattering revelation that there could be more Non-native languages to study he was met with a mixture of disinterest, confusion and outright politely masked disdain. They even seemed disinterested when he read off the strange song that had hinted at new avenues to him the previous day. His position as one of the world's foremost linguists kept anyone from outright jeering but the majority seemed to tune him out. Still he finished strong and didn't let the crowd know they had wounded his pride by dismissing him. He Took questions and many of the were intelligent as expected from this crowd but did not touch on his new interest. Then one question utterly baffled him. A young very well dressed student from what looked to be a fine family asked him: " Sir, have you visited the Grand Merchant's Plaza at midnight of the midweek day?" Jeanauques looked baffled for a few long moments before responding. " No lad, i have not, what reason do you ask." " I think you will find it enlightening" Was all the youth responded with. The evening finished up and he went to dinner with his cohorts. It was somewhat subdued, they had also picked up on the crowd's disinterest. Jeanauques kept a good face on and just lamented that no one was excited about new possibilities. The whole time he was wondering about that last question though. He now knew that the youth had been trying tell him to go there and just disguised it as a question. He would be at the Acadamey for another 3 days before he went up north to speak at another University. A hesken university. One that would likely have some of the books he couldn't find here stocked. But that was weeks off considering travel time. He ate in calm silence and decided that he would visit the grand Merchant plaza tomorrow night. He resolved to go alone so he did not inform anyone of his intent. To allay any suspicions he did say he looked forward to getting access to a wide range of reading and would spend tomorrow night in the library. He went to bed found the idea of covertly stealing off to the city chasing a clue to light knows what rather exciting. If he got nowhere with this new line of inquiry it would be worth it to just have something exciting to do. After spending an uneventful day meeting casually with the faculty and asking after books. He made it clear he would study all night in the library and wanted as many volumes as possible concerning linguistics mad ready for him. He had resolved to then send an apology to the Librarian claiming illness. The subterfuge was intriguing and he felt like a naughty child filching sweets from the kitchen instead of an aging linguist. He bidded his time till night fell and he walked into the library stayed long enough for the librarian to wander off then he snuck out the maintenance room window. He had spent the day talking to students and professors and had picked up a sure fire way to sneak off campus. in 15 minutes he was on a tram to the merchant quarter. He noticed some Students from the Academy also on the tram but never made eye contact. When he arrived he walked in a different direction than they did and then circled back and made for the Plaza when he was sure no one was observing him. As he neared the plaza he saw it was packed. There were people everywhere and they all seemed to be waiting. The majority of them were humans but he spotted Valperet, Hesken and Lutrondae all rubbing elbows. He also saw the group of Students who he had been trying to avoid on the tram. They all saw him and looked away uncomfortable at him noticing them. " I believe you will have a better view if you all follow me." The students and Jeanauques all turned to see the Student who had asked the question that had brought him here. He was accompanied by a female Skitritch maybe in her late teens who looked to be a sailor of some sort. She was dressed like one anyway. They all followed in silence as they were led into a building and up a flight of stairs. They paused at a landing and the Skitritch girl opened the window and climbed easily up the side of the building. soon a rope ladder lowered and the Student that had lead them here climbed up. The other students looked around and then one by one climbed after him. Jeanauques went last, taking his time as he wasn't as spry as he was in youth and found himself on a little flat part of the roof between large windows in the side of the building. The spot overlooked the Plaza and the crowd. There seemed to be a group of musicians in the middle of the plaza on this side of the grand fountain. The Musicians were of many Species. One of them he recognized as being the young Hesken Dock worker who had been singing that strange song. The woman at the drums a dark skinned human with ribbons in her hair beat out 3 loud bangs and the muttering crowd fell silent. Then the music started. Jeanauques was wondering what a public concert would concern a linguist until the vocals came in. " As më jep nj'er ujë moj balluk' e prërë As më jep nj'er ujë moj balluk' e prërë Me se të të japë trendafil me ere? Me se të të japë trendafil me ere? Jarnana, jarnane, jarnana moj të keqëne, Jarnana, jarnane, jarnana moj të keqëne O me dorënde tënde moj balluk' e prërë O me dorënde tënde moj balluk' e prërë Dora m'u ndodh zënë trendafil me ere? Dora m'u ndodh zënë trendafil me ere? Me se t'u ndodh zënë moj balluk' e prërë? Me se t'u ndodh zënë moj balluk' e prërë? Me unazëne tënde, trendafil me ere Me unazëne tënde, trendafil me ere O me dorënde tënde moj balluk' e prërë O me dorënde tënde moj balluk' e prërë Dora m'u ndodh zënë trendafil me ere? Dora m'u ndodh zënë trendafil me ere? Me se t'u ndodh zënë moj balluk' e prërë? Me se t'u ndodh zënë moj balluk' e prërë? Me unazëne tënde, trendafil me ere Me unazëne tënde, trendafil me ere " Jeanauques being an expert linguist and speaking every known language immediatly realized that this was something new. It was different from the song he heard at the docks and he could tell from the phonetic pallet that it was a seperate language. He whiped out his notebook and began copying as much as he could into the universal phonetic Alphabet. He could see the student that had got him here tonight grinning at his furious writing. He was only half finished when the song changed. " Krummi svaf í kletta gjá, - kaldri vetrar nóttu á, verður margt að meini; verður margt að meini; fyrr en dagur fagur rann freðið nefið dregur hann undan stórum steini. undan stórum steini. Allt er frosið úti gor, ekkert fæst við ströndu mor, svengd er metti mína; svengd er metti mína; ef að húsum heim ég fer, heimafrakkur bannar mér seppi´ úr sorpi´ að tína. seppi´ úr sorpi´ að tína. Öll er þakin ísi jörð, ekki séð á holta börð fleygir fuglar geta; fleygir fuglar geta; en þó leiti út um mó, auða hvergi lítur tó; hvað á hrafn að éta? hvað á hrafn að éta? Sálaður á síðu lá sauður feitur garði hjá, fyrrum frár á velli. fyrrum frár á velli. 'Krúnk, krúnk! nafnar, komið hér! krúnk, krúnk! því oss búin er krás á köldu svelli. krás á köldu svelli.'" He began furiously writing that as well thinking it sounded somewhat like Djarlendt but with unfamiliar words. He couldn't keep up so he soon put his notebook Away and just listened. The players went through various songs many of which were in different languages and had different cadences. He was no musicologist but Jeanaques was sure they were from different cultures. The singer, the big hesken dockworker Amazed Jeanaques by singing away in several different languages all of which were new to him. When the performers took a break Jeanauges turned to the grining student and just said. " Explain." " What makes you think i can?" the student replied. Jeanaques started to get annoyed. " I just knew of this concert and the unknown languages that the singer uses and thought you would be interested given the subject of your speech. That is all." The student says. Jeanaques was sure there was more to it but the music had started again so he thought that questions could wait. The other Students from the Academy seemed as wrapped up in the performance as was physically possible. They were already making plans to sneak out and come to another one of these. Jeanaques was listening to the students making plans so he almost missed it. The singer had started again but this time it was a language he recognized as Viatorem, the mystery language that was widely used in Academic and mage circles. The language was well known but its origins were a mystery. The big lad was singing in a deceptively high sweet voice. He began writing it down phonetically and would translate it when he got back to a library. It was the same words repeated with vocal flourishes added to them. Kyrie eleison Christe eleison Kyrie eleison Kyrie eleison He was so intent on writing this down that he started violently when something flew past his face and struck the wall wiith a loud crack. He looked over and was startled to see what looked like a bullet hole in the wall of the little flat spot they were sitting in. Everyone else turned to look at it for a moment then scrambled away from it in panic. Someone was shooting at them and it could have come from anywhere. "up the roof to the other side boys" the Skitritch girl commanded and then scampered off to follow her own directions. They did not need told twice. While they scrambled to safety another round impacted the roof and sent a cloud of shattered roofing tile shards into the their midst. They double timed it and huddled panting in safty on the other side of the roof line. " Oi which one of ye has enemies bitter enough to shoot at ye?" The Skitritch demanded of the frightened group of Valperet. They looked around nervously and some gave petulant shrugs as if resenting the implication that they might have such enemies. The student that had gotten Jeanaques her with his question spoke up. " Well we can determine that later, right now we should get to safety. What is the safest way back to the Academy." " I would say across the rooftops iffin' this be normal but since some one be snipin at us i would suggest the street down there, take it to the dockyard then ride a supply train to the Academy. I know the tram operator 'e can drive us into the loading bay at the Academy." The Skitritch girl suggested and none objected. They followed her as she nimbly scrambled to a decorative outcropping that had a long rope coiled up out of sight from the ground. She deftly tied it into place then Dropped the rope down to the street bellow. It was a long thin rope that while long enough was distressingly thin and looked as if it would not hold much weight. " Will that Hold us?" Jeanaques asked Nervously. "yeah it will not to worry, it is a stevRipit, what you Valperet like to call a 'theif's rope'. " The skitritch replied then began climbing down. Jeanaques had heard of these. Ropes that were strong and thin and were supposedly made as a theif's tool so they could hide them more easily. On his travels around the world Jeanaques had learned that they had been invented by mountain climbers. The name StevRipit meant mountain rope and was used because its light weight and thin profile made room for other supplies. Knowing the root of the device and how it was named didn't mean he knew how to use it any better, the thin profile meant it dug painfully into his hands as he climbed the thin cord. He was glad to get to the ground and compulsively straitened his suit. He froze when he caught sight of some dangerous looking character squating on the sidewalk looking over at him. They were all armed and rather rough looking and almost dirty. They looked like Skitritch sailors. They had knives and revolvers at their side. After a tense moment of observation Jeanaques realized that none of them reached for a weapon or had a hostile expression. They were squatting in a loose circle around a candle lit playing field Strewn with cards and little tin playing pieces with a small pile of loose coins of small denominations. It was nothing more than a penny ante card game. The skitritch girl barked out an order to get moving and they all followed her down the street toward the docks which were a few blocks away. All the Valperet followed even if some of them bristled silently at taking orders from a Skitritch. In the Valperet capitol skitritch were excluded, politely of course, from most of valperet society but were tolerated as dock workers and couriers. Valperet believed each race had its place in the world and should not expand beyond their predetermined path. To valperet, skitritch should never lead but no one else seemed to know what to do so they followed sullenly. They made their way down the alleyways and along the street only if necessary, their eyes darting nervously. They eyed every group with trepidation wondering if they may be a threat and they were woefully conspicuous about it. Jeanaques knew they must have looked obviously nervous and hoped they were ignored. By the whispering and glances they were getting that likely wouldn't be the case. " What are you so furtive about gentlemen?" They all started at the voice and looked over to see a policemen, tall and strongly built for a valperet. His physique was displayed in a finely fitted uniform with brass buttons shined to high polish. He had a firm suspicious expression as he eyed the group of young men in student attire and the old well dressed gentlemen all with bug eyes darting around in what must have been a guilty fashion. Jeanaques was about to spin a tale of him guiding some students around and being unnerved by an attempted mugging, a modified version of an excuse taught to him by a sionact linguist who had tried to pass as Valperet if he ever got caught acting nervous in a part of town that was Valperet only to explain his unsettled behavior. He was composing himself to say this when he noticed the Skitritch girl was taking charge again and was facing the policeman and moving her hands. At first he was terrified she was casting a spell but he recognized it as a form of sign language. The officer seemed to be paying intense attention and even signing back, perhaps asking questions. Suddenly the officer nodded and went off at a near run toward the plaza. " what excuse did you give him?" Jeanaques asked. " No, excuse, i just told him the truth, we got shot at and are heading to safety. If anyone suspicious is near by they didn't hear our plan." She whispered, The started off down the sidewalk. They must have been close because they heard a ship's bell. The Skitritch girl veered off and walked parallel to the sounds of the sea then walked up and tapped on the window of a small building next to a cargo tram station. The window opened and a grinning scruffy gray Sionact peeked out. " evening Miri, whats amiss?" The jovial sionact woman asked. The Skitritch Explained with hand signs and then pointed to the tram. The Sionact woman didn't look jovial any more, she looked concerned. She hurried off and moments later a brawny Hesken came from around the building and motioned them all to follow. The skitritch girl went without hesitation and the Valperet all hustled up to not be separated from the person who had seen them through all this. They came to a cargo tram that was being loaded by Hesken, though not all of them appeared to be laborers. There were 3 shirtless lads loading boxes but their pants were too decorative to be that of common workers. They also all wore boots which hesken usually didn't except in the coldest weather. There was also a hesken woman carrying iron boxes and she was wearing a shirt and tabbard embroidered with the symbol of the mage's guild. They were all loading things into the second tram down the line, the burly man that had motioned them was opening the first in line. He motioned that they should enter and the Skitritch did. The rest of them paused and stared. " Do you want a ride to the Academy or not? " The Burly Hesken ask impatiently. They piled in and took seats on the boxes inside. Jeanaques was settling in when he noticed the driver had a gun. He was about to cry out in terror when the driver handed the gun to the Skitritch girl then reached into a locker and produced another then held it out butt first toward Jeanaques. He just looked at it confused. " If you are going to ride then you can act as guards." the Driver said. He sounded slightly cheerful and his expression seemed to indicate he was amused Jeanaques discomfort at seeing the gun. Jeanaques suspected he was thinking he was nothing more than a useless intelectual or a labor averse elite. Jeanaques took the weapon and checked the chamber with some knowledge. " Good weapon, a little more power than i am used to." Jeanaques commented. He had carried a pistol while on expeditions and so knew how to use them. He usually carried a smaller caliber and half feared this would fly out of his hand if he tried to fire it. He glanced over at the one the Skitritch girl had been given. It was an 8mm pocket pistol that was more his comfort zone. " I ain't trading." the skitritch girl said flatly. If Jeanaques couldn't handle his pistol she couldn't either. She was petite and most likely still in adolescence. The hesken had pulled out another pistol and was offering it to the group of students who shrank back from the proffered pistol. All except the one who had asked the question that had drawn him here. He reached into his sleeve and produced a wand. " I better stick to this, i actually know how to use it." He said calmly. " Almost know how to use it more like." the skitritch girl muttered. The Tram driver shrugged then put the pistol away before taking out a short shotgun of the type Jeanaques had seen Hesken explorers carry. This was a semi automatic 10 gauge monstrosity that could reduce even large predators into ruined masses of flesh. He was quietly glad he had not been given that instead. The tram driver sat down and layed the shotgun across his lap and then Started the tram. " We are going straight to the academy and it should take about an hour." He shouted over the sound of gears and springs rumbling to life. There was a tiny shaking as they started off. "Can't it go faster?" one of the students said with a trembling voice. " Not as loaded down as we are." the driver says calmly " Besides if someone is after one of you, rushing will draw attention. And before you get all suspicious" the Hesken tram opperator says and glances back at the group of Valperet who had indeed looked at his broad back suspiciously " kaileewen told me, that Miri said someone was shooting at one of you." Without looking at what he was doing he worked the levers and the tram switched gears as it started up the track gradually speeding up. The cargo rails carried supplies to the whole city so they would be moving sideways before they switched track toward the academy. They rode in uneasy silence until. "Alright so which one of did somthin worth being shot at." The Skitritch demands. " How dare you!" one of the Valparet students snaps. Then he adds " You should teach your street servant some manners" the same student demands of the Student with the wand who was sitting quietly. " I ain't no servant and someone be lobbing lead at me because one o' you so speak up." She responds undeterred. " I am sure i have the most Enimies here but they are more likely to write scathing reviews of my work" Jeanaques said. " I don't think any of us know why we were fired upon." They all went back to sitting in nervous silence. Eyes Darting around the drive section of the train and occasionally at eachoother before sliding nervously away. The silence was as pressing as a sickly heart beat. The gears of the train churned and chugged in a manner that seemed to highlight the silence among them. " It is Awefully quiet, mind if I sing?" The driver says into the silence. He sounded like he was enjoying the awkwardness of the situation. " Please no, someone talk about something, he sounds like a vomiting seabear when he sings." Miri said with an actual hint of desperation in her voice. " Professor why did you come to the plaza concert, does it have something to do with some horribly complicated feild of study it will take an hour to explain?" The Hesken train driver laughed at this obvious diversionary tactic. " Well it does, in a way, I came because i heard a lad singing at the docks today, but it was in a language i had not documented so i revised my speech that i was giving to mention new possible lines of inquiry into human languages. After the talk i was asked if i would be attending the events of tonight by this student here." He motioned to the Student with the wand. After a moment of silence when it was obvious he wasn't going to continue the skitritch spoke again. " For the love of the light keep talking or 'e will sing" she pleaded. Just then the door rattled as if someone was trying to open it. They were moving at a goodly pace so someone trying to get into the cabin must be determined or up to no good, and both was likely. After some more rattling the door stopped. Jeanaques Peaked out the small Grimy window to see who would be trying to force the door. He flintched back when something struck the window and cracked the glass. He withdrew to the middle of the compartment and another blow shattered the small window and in was thrown a segmented metal sphere that was smokiing slightly from the top. Without thinking Jeanaques caught it. Then he realized it was a grenade. In panic he stuffed it out the broken window and moments later a boom rang out and the Cargo train shook. " BANDITS!" one of the students screamed in panic. " Naw bandits use smoke bombs to choke the drivers and force them to open the doors and leave cargo undamaged, they be trying to kill anyone inside, cargo be damned." Miri said an pulled her little pistol. She went to the door and grasped the handle. " On three, let im have it." She commanded. All that were armed pointed at the door. " one, THREE" she shouted then threw the latch, the door slide open a bit and they caught sight of a tall masked figure in a long coat preparing another grenade. Jeanaques saw their danger so he didn't hesitate and raised his pistol and fired. The kick of the Hesken pistol was not as bad as he feared but it had the wonderful effect of knocking the figure back as the round struck its chest just as he had yanked the cord of the grenade. The grenadier toppled back into the night and slammed to the ground and rolled off away from them. As miri and 2 of the students that weren't cowering pushed the door closed they heard another boom. " I am putting on the bandit lights." The driver said and flicked a few switches. A bell started to clang insistently and orange lights started reflecting on the windows as they began flashing on top of the train. Moments later thought close by gunfire range out and the lights stopped and with a lound PANG the bell flew off infornt of the conductors cockpit and feel to the tracks. " There's at least one more out there." The conductor said and stood up holding the shotgun. He oppened a little hatch in the ceiling and fired upward. The loud bang of the shotgun was followed by a splatter of blood that strayed then driped through the hatch. The Hesken driver's face was spattered with it as he calmly sat back down after closing the roof hatch. " We are coming up to the hill that will take us up toward the Academy, it will also mean we are the most visible so lets hope who ever it is isn't desperate enough to draw that much attention to themselves as to attack where all can see." The conductor said as if he hadn't just splatted someone with a shotgun. They rounded the bend that brought them up the hill so they could see the Academy in the distance. They all looked toward what they thought would be safety. Their jaws dropped in horror, the Academy library was on fire. " I don't think we want to go there right now." The skitritch Miri commented blithely. " Yeah lets go somewhere else." the Student with the wand commented. " Where else? there aren't many stops between here and the academy and non are expecting us." The conductor said cradling his shotgun like he was about to need it. " I may have an idea, let me at that hatch." The student with the want said then practically crawled into the Hesken's lap and stood up. He oppened the hatched and thrust the his arm up through it and fired off some sort of flare from his wand tip. The hesken looked up. " Mage in distress, attacked, need... uh it is to fast for me to read." He commented while looking at the flare as it changed color rapidly sending out code. The Valperet climbed down and looked out the window soon a green flare that strobed red a few times before returning to green. " We can pull in there." The young mage said. " It will be safe, it is my aunt's warehouse." In a few minutes the Train pulled up to an unloading bay. Instead of Workers there was a robbed figure With a staff standing looking intently at the train. They pulled in and the conductor brought the motor to slow but dind't fully deactivate it, leaving it to idle with whisper quiet clicks of internal workings. These gentle sounds were the loudest silence after the rumbling of full power and desperate gunfire. The conductor peeked out a side door he open cautiously leading with his shotgun. There was a shouted conversation about assurances on cargo safety before the conductor shut down the engine fully. The wand weilding Valperet student pushed forward and practically climbed over the hesken conducctor to shout out his own question " What has happened at the Academy?" "Get off me!" the conductor orders before any answer comes, then pushes his bulk out the side door after the Student gives him some space. To be continued.
  25. 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."
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