Read Contract, an outtake of Addergoole: Year Nine.
This comes after (in order:)
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/716973.html. You can comment here or there.
This is the fifth in a series of character profiles for my upcoming July Camp Nano Project.
The story follows a group’s flight from Rochester;in the midst of the apocalypse, safety may be might be the hardest thing to find.
But before they flee, many of them knew each other – and knew Raven.
Dorian likes a lot of things.
She likes the way Terry’s lips feel on her neck. She likes the way shot of whisky tastes on her lips and burns in her throat. She likes the way a particularly complex problem comes together like pieces clicking into place.
She likes machines, and how they talk to her, how they smell, how they work.
Whisky and Terry brought her into our circle, into Anelle’s parties and, possibly more importantly, into the the Oak and Rowan group. She doesn’t really hold with any of the psychic shit, but the people are nice, and, well, maybe once in a while there are phenomena that she hasn’t come up with an answer for. Yet.
Terry got her to the parties, because Terry does that. “Come on, get the car will still be there tomorrow. I know some nice people.” Whisky got her to keep coming to the parties, because Anelle notices things, and when she noticed that Dorian adored good whisky, she bought better whisky for the next party.
And a curiosity about the way things ticked got her to Raven’s drinking parties in the swamp.
Dorian – Mary Dorian Smithsen – is a short girl, not quite five foot tall. She wears her auburn hair cut close, so that it just curls over the tops of her ears, and spends a lot of time reminding herself not to hunch, because she spends every moment of free time bent over mechanical projects.
She’s got pale skin, usually stained brown with oil, grey-green eyes, and a ready smile. She’s skinny enough – and has short enough hair – to be mistaken for a boy on occasion, and does not mind at all.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/716649.html. You can comment here or there.
The first of two commissions I’m very behind on. Hi, Rix!
This story could go on for another ~4K, but I’d never get it posted. So here, have Luke & Doug in the Addergoole years leading UP to the apoc.
Luke stood in the doorway of the garage, studying his son silently. Superficially, they looked very similar – Doug had gotten very little of his mother’s coloration or face shape, except the set of her eyes and their startling blue.
The set of his jaw, on the other hand – Luke didn’t know who to blame for the sad, sullen expression his only living child seemed to carry around like a shroud.
Doug was dancing.
Mina had told Luke, privately, that their child had picked up the sport to tweak his father’s nose. Even someone as dense as Luke could hear the unspoken warning: So your nose had better not be tweaked. Not that he’d needed it.
Doug was dancing well; as far as Luke could tell, he was dancing beautifully, and he was dancing with strength and technical precision that beat his impressive armed combat skills. He did something odd with his feet, almost like the beginning of a roundhouse kick, and ended with a bow his Grandpa Mike would have been proud of.
Only then did he notice – or at least acknowledge – Luke’s presence. “Father.” He turned the bow from something courtly to something martial. His shoulders tensed up; his Mask was up (his Mask was always up), but Luke could imagine he was folding his ragged wing-stubs against his back.
“Son.” He didn’t bother with false warmth, not with the grandchild of a Daeva. Instead, he bowed back to Doug. “Impressive footwork.”
“Thanks.” He shifted stance, then shifted again. “What’s up?”
Doug had never been the vocal one. Of course, neither was Luke. “We’re starting the project I used to talk about.”
“The school thing.” Doug’s shoulders hunched forward for a moment. “For halfbreeds.”
“The school, yeah.”
Luke coughed. “Yeah. The school we’re building. And the students we’re, ah…” He frowned. “Asking people to have.”
His son actually looked at him. Glared, possibly. “Breeding. You’re breeding half-breeds.”
It was tempting to turn and walk away, to just tell Regine and Mike Doug wasn’t going to work out. But Luke had done enough turning away with this son. “There’s a good chance the returned gods are going to come back soon.”
“So you want an army. Disposable soldiers.”
Luke restrained a wing-flap that would just make things worse. “We want the people who will survive. We want to be able to rebuild if things go as badly as we fear they will.”
“Why not breed pure-bloods, then?” Doug turned his back on Luke and dropped his Mask, just long enough to rub the mess of his Change in Luke’s face. “Not the three of you, obviously.”
Luke sighed. He couldn’t help but sigh. But that didn’t keep Doug from misinterpreting it.
“Like you’ve never said it.”
“I have.” He waited a heartbeat. “I was wrong.”
“What, you can make real Mara now? Good for you.” Doug turned back away.
Maybe he should just fly away. Maybe he should just walk away and not turn back.
Maybe he should just follow Mike’s stupid advice.
“I was wrong; I was stupid. There’s nothing lesser about… about half-breeds.”
Doug didn’t turn around. “Little late for that, isn’t it?”
He’s going to say it’s too late, Mike. He’s going to say I should have figured that out when he was born, when he Changed, instead of being a…
It’s what you’re being, Bird-brain. A dumb, ham-fisted Mara. So cut it out.
That’s what I’m trying to do, Tree-feet. At that point, Luke had started flapping. He usually did, when he was talking to Mike.
Tell him it’s late, of course it is. Tell him…
“Of course it’s late.” Luke held out his hands, palms-up and weaponless. “It’s far later than it should have been. But we’re fae. We have just as long for me to make up for my stupidity.”
Doug turned – not a full turn, but he was shifting back, his shoulder facing Luke instead of his spine. “You do. You hope I do.”
“I do hope you do.” Luke took a step forward. “But I could be wrong. This is new ground.”
“Yeah, yeah. You keep saying.”
Don’t get angry, Luke. Right now, you don’t deserve that. You owe him enough that he can yell at you a little bit.
Mike’s advice was irritating even when it was right. Possibly even more when it was right. Luke took a breath. “Look. I’m sorry I was – I’m sorry I was a bad father. I’m sorry I was a stupid, hidebound ass about things where I should have known better.”
A heartbeat passed, and another, while Luke struggled not to feel like he was naked in a field of armed warriors. Finally, Doug finished his turn, facing Luke again. “You weren’t a bad father. Aren’t.”
“Thank you.” Luke found a smile crossing his face. “So. Consider the job offer?”
“Didn’t know you were making one.” Still, a smile was inching across Doug’s face. It made him look young. It made him look close to his actual age.
“Yeah. I could use a good fighter. A good combat trainer.” He tilted his head. “Keep going with the dancing, and I bet we could use a dance instructor, too.”
For the first time, Doug looked surprised. “You… what?” He looked down at his feet, in their soft-soled dancers’ shoes. “Doesn’t piss you off?”
“No.” There was nothing more Luke could say to that than the truth. “Think about it?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I will.” Doug nodded. “Yeah, I will.”
Luke was drinking in Maureen’s Tavern when Doug came in. Stomped in, really, looking grumpy and altogether unhappy.
Luke nodded to Maureen, who poured another glass of whisky and set it at the seat neat to Luke’s.
“Dad.” Doug slumped into his chair.
Doug coughed out something that was probably supposed to be a laugh. “Nothing big.”
“Perry?” He shoved the glass a little closer to his son’s hand.
“Yeah. Of course.” Doug shook his head. “I didn’t think…. I didn’t think.” He downed half the glass in one gulp. “She – him – fuck.”
“Yeah.” Luke could more than empathize. “We knew…”
“Fuckit. Knowing’s different.” Doug finished his glass.
Luke echoed him, swallowing the whisky faster than the nearly-as-old-as-him stuff deserved. “Yeah.” It was one thing to know that the project of Regine’s worked best if the women had more than one partner. It was another thing to watch it happening.
It was a third thing to watch it happening when you’d allowed yourself to get far too attached to the woman.
He stared at his empty glass for a moment, and tried, cautiously. “Is it -”
“Who knows, with her?” He looked up at Marueen; Lady Foxglove, her lips pursed, poured them each another glassful of whisky.
“Drink this one slowly, boys, or there won’t be a third. Fourth, in your case, Luca.”
“I hear you, Mau.” He took a very slow sip of his whisky; over his glass, he watched Doug do the same thing.
“Good boys.” She patted his shoulder in a way nobody else had been able to get away with – nobody but the boy’s mother, at least. “It’s unpleasant now, but it’ll pass.”
“How do you…” Doug shut his mouth on something that probably would have made Maureen slap him; he might be Luca’s son but he’d gotten some of his mother’s sense. He shook his head. “Never mind.”
“Even someone such as I loves, Douglas. Even I.”
He shook his head while Luke tried not to cringe. “Not that. Just-”
Maureen was better at translating Doug than Luke was. “It’s obvious, dear. And not only is it obvious, it’s relatively common around here.” She patted his shoulder in the same way she’d patted Luke’s. “Obvious to me, dear, not to, say, Perry, who is not being the brightest of women – or to Keiara, Luca, who might do with a primer.”
Doug looked at his father, just a stolen glance before he looked back to his drink. It made Luke feel twisted up inside anyway.
He growled into his drink. “Not the point.”
“No, I quite think it is the point. She is – they are – young women -”
“Not that young.” Doug glared at his drink, not unwise enough to glare at Maureen.
“Compared to your father and I, they are both very young. Compared to you, they are still a bit young. And they are in a place where their attention – their intimate attention – is craved and desired. Nobody here is calling them a ‘half-breed freak-’”
Luke tried to drown his snarl in his drink, but some of it still made it out. Maureen glared at him, both of her tails down and her fox ears pointed raked back.
“Luca, of everyone in this room, you have the least place to snarl at me about that.”
“I’m not growling at you,” he grumbled. “I’m… damnit.”
“Damnit indeed.” She slid gracefully into a chair across the table from them. “There is the world out there, and then there is the world in here. And here, a half-breed girl is another pretty girl, and people are queuing up to give her children.”
“We know.” Doug’s hands were clenched around his glass as if it was holding him to the table.
“Yes, dear, I’m sure you’ve noticed. But what I’m saying is, while the young ladies may be being a bit foolish, they are likely not being malicious – certainly not, in Perry’s case.”
“Keiara?” Luke hated himself for asking, and asked anyway.
“Keiara… unfortunately, she may be being a bit malicious.”
“Damnit.” He clenched his glass tightly. “By all the departed gods….”
“Luca.” Maureen’s voice never changed tone, never changed volume. But suddenly, Luke knew he was being yelled at. “Hunting-Hawk, you are making a mistake.”
“What mistake?” He tried to sound rational. Next to him, his son looked at him sympathetically. He was probably failing on the rationality, then.
“You are assuming things that are not true.”
“You SAID…” He dropped his voice rapidly. “You said she was being malicious.”
“Yes. But you are assuming motives.”
“How familiar are you with the minds of young women?”
“Not.” Next to him, Doug snorted in laughter. Luke didn’t even bother to glare at him.
“Then trust me to know more about them than you do?”
“Assume you were one, once.” Doug snorted again, almost a full laugh. If that’s what it took to get him smiling… Luke supposed he’d take it.
“Indeed. For quite some time. Luke, she wants to hurt you, not because she is feeling mean, per se, but because she is hurt.”
Luke stared at Maureen. His wings flared out.
“Easy.” Doug’s murmur was enough to surprise Luke out of his sudden anger. “Messengers and all.”
“Right.” Luke folded his wings. He found they wanted to flare again, so he coughed, finished his drink, and coughed again. “She’s hurt. Why?”
“That, dear, would be a question you should ask her. But I imagine that she wanted a baby.”
“Considering the nature of the Addergoole project…”
“Damnit, Mo, I don’t want to consider the nature of the Addergoole project.”
“It’s not just her, you know.” Maureen’s voice had shifted again. Luke found himself leaning forward, because when the Lady Foxglove sounded like that, something important was going on. “Luca, the way Mike is, Mike will have children for the project. Regine has contributed her daughter by Ambrus. And this is important. You cannot ask other people to do what you yourself are not willing to.”
“I have two sons…” He caught Doug’s glower, but it was too late.
“Don’t forget,” his surviving sons grumbled, “Luke’s sons are part of the reason for this little breeding project.”
Doug and Luke stared at the baby. Neither of them were looking at each other. Neither of them could quite handle that.
It was the right name. It was exactly the proper name.
It was probably the least tactful thing Luke had done in all his centuries of life, and Wil had even called him up to tell him that. Extensively. Keiara liked it, at least – but that wasn’t really the important part here.
Doug cleared his throat. Luke flinched. It’s not the literal wings, he wanted to say. Do you think I gave a fuck about that?
But that would have topped his current tactless record, because Doug sure as hell did care about the wings.
Not, thank the departed gods, why Aleron? Why name your third son “winged one?”
Luke cleared his throat. “Because ‘Murky swamp’ is a lousy name for someone. And when I named you, I saw you struggling, pushing through a deep, dark water.”
“What did you see with this one?” He tapped the cradle.
“Fighting against angels.” Luke allowed himself a sigh. “I’m afraid being my son isn’t a great bargain.”
Doug laughed, or at least expelled air. “Sure beats the alternative.”
1997 (Year 3)
Doug was drinking again.
Luke would be worried about it – was a bit worried about it – but he knew that there was a time when drinking was the reasonable answer.
He sat down next to his son, wondering if he’d been forgiven enough to try that.
Doug didn’t even look up. This could go one way or the other, then.
Luke coughed. No answer.
He gestured to Maureen, and she poured him a measure of the whisky he favored. He gave her a look, more plea than order, and she left the bottle.
“Massima?” He pitched the question quietly.
“Don’t want a lecture.” Good, he could still talk.
“Lecturing you was the last thing on my mind.” He sounded surprised. He was surprised.
“Heard you with Mike.”
It took Luke a moment to untangle that. “Ah. Mike, about Magnolia, her first year?”
Doug nodded; Luke sighed.
“Different situations, all around. And if I don’t give Mike shit, nobody will.” Mike VanderLinden had impregnated one of his cy’ree – Magnolia – after seducing her. Not that it really counted as seduction with Mike; the Daeva could blink its eyes and end up sleeping with a Pope.
“Both got a Student pregnant.”
“How many of your Students have you slept with?”
“One.” Doug’s voice was raw.
“How many has Mike slept with?”
“Well, he says not Agatha, and I believe him.” Luke shook his head. “I’m not here to yell at you, son.”
“Then why are you here?” Doug looked up, finally. His eyes were red; his face was red; his nose was red with broken blood vessels.
Luke took the glass away from him. It should have been a struggle; Doug hardly resisted. “To commiserate. And to dry you out. Come on, kid. We’re taking a walk.”
“I don’t want a walk.” This time, Doug actually struggled. Luke got a stronger grip on his arm and lifted.
“Too bad. You can walk or be dragged.”
“I’m not twelve anymore.” Doug got his feet under him with apparent effort.
“I didn’t drag you around when you were twelve. But you didn’t lose yourself in a bottle of whisky at that age, either. Come on.” Luke got Doug out to the meadow, the effort more than half his, his son’s feet dragging. “All right. So. The girl.”
“She lost the baby, Luke. I was training her, and she lost the kid.” Dough swallowed hard. “Our kid.”
Luke shifted his grip on Doug’s arm to something a bit less punitive and got them both walking, a nice, casual stroll out to the far corners of the meadow. “I know it hurts.”
“Hurts?” Doug yanked his arm away; this time, Luke let him. “Hurts? No, this isn’t pain. This is just what I deserve.”
Luke made a calculated gamble and laughed. It wasn’t a long laugh, but it was enough to make his son take a swing at him, which he let connect.
In a moment they were rolling on the grass, kicking and punching each other like Doug was a teenager again. Luke let it go on until Doug got him squarely in the jaw, and then he pinned the boy to the ground and let him pant until he started crying.
“Not funny.” Doug’s voice was harsher than usual, a rough pant of pain.
“No. No, it’s not. Losing a child always sucks.” Luke patted his son’s shoulder. “No reason to sound like a Daeva about it, though.”
Doug glowered up at him. “Quarter-Daeva.”
“Half Mara.” Luke rubbed his jaw. “And at least ninety percent your mother.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Doug pushed himself into a sitting position; Luke sat back and let him.
“It means you’re tough as nails.”
He thumped Doug lightly in the arm. “And this sucks now, of course it does. But you didn’t make her miscarry – I don’t think you could hold Sima back from sparring with gesa, chains, or ropes.”
“I’m her Mentor.”
“You are. And that means you’re going to have to man up.”
“How do you figure?” Doug was good at glaring. Luke wondered which of his parents he got that from. Probably both of them.
“You’re her Mentor. That means you have to find a way to deal with this. And then you have to help her deal with it. Because, believe me son, if you’re torn up about it, somewhere in her, she’s shattered.”
He patted Doug’s shoulder, feeling awkward. They’d better be the right words, because they were the only ones he had. “Come on. We can run off the rest of the booze, and then back inside with you.”
“Well, I am your father. And your boss.”
2005 (Late Year 10)
Luke was drunk.
It took an amazing amount of alcohol to do that, but it turned out Maureen had Meentik… whatever word made alcohol, and, at the moment, Luke wasn’t entirely sure. He couldn’t have said it, even if he had remembered.
He’d been pouring alcohol down his throat for something like three hours. Maybe five. He could almost, almost forget why he was here.
A hand landed heavily on his shoulder. “Dad.”
Luke swallowed something like a sob and something like a curse. Dad was the problem. But not with this son. “Doug.”
“The wing kid doing something stupid again?”
Luke caught another sound before it got out of his throat. “That obvious?”
“Yes. Come on. Time to walk it off.”
“Took a lot of work to get this drunk.”
“Time for more work.”
Doug grabbed his arm and hauled upwards.
Luke probably could have fought him off. Probably. He was a little more soused than he had been in a long time. “Isn’t this my job?”
“Not this time. Up. Up.” Doug yanked again. Luke stood.
“Maureen put a lot of effort into this intox… intox… drunk.”
“She always puts a lot of effort into drunks. I’m taking that off her shoulders.”
“Lots of words.”
“You seem to need ‘em. Come on. This way.” Luke wasn’t sure how it happened, but Doug had him outside and walking down the Village streets before he could actually argue with it. “What did bird brain do?”
Bird brain. “Don’ call him that.” Mike called Luke that. “‘leron’s smarter than me.”
“He’s not like acting like it.”
“He’s collared.” Luke wanted to fight, but he was having enough trouble just staying on the sidewalk. “Not his fault.”
“Were you this stupid about me when I was a kid?”
Luke gave that one some consideration. “Stupider.”
“I doubt it. So, what did the boy do?”
Luke swallowed. “Nothing.”
“Remember when I thought you’d be pissed about my dancing?”
“Thought? You were doing it to piss me off.”
“Well, yeah. Is that what the kid is doing?”
“He’s not doing anything.” Luke slammed his fist into his thigh. “He’s being done to.“
“That happens with Kept.” Something about Doug’s voice was strange. Luke tried to focus on his son’s face – his eldest – his eldest living son’s face, but found that it kept wavering in and out of his vision.
“Not. Not like that. Not in my locker room. Not in front of my cameras.” He hit his thigh again, and was surprised to find resistance. “What…?”
“You’re not invulnerable to yourself. Stop it.”
“You’re punching yourself, of course it hurts, you dumb Mara.”
“Not that.” Luke swallowed air. “Not that. That’s physical pain. I can handle pain. I can fucking handle being burnt alive.” That hadn’t been a fun time. “But watching him. Watching him be hurt.”
Doug stilled. “I remember. I remember, when that old Grigori said…” He wouldn’t say it. He’d never liked to say it. “What you did.”
Luke smiled. It hurt to smile. But he did it anyway.
“Yeah. Yeah, I could.”
“Why can’t you do it this time? You can’t tell me you’re not the biggest badass in the school.”
“I don’t beat students up just because they fucked my son!” If Luke roared it loud enough, maybe he’d believe himself. “I don’t beat up students at all. That’s not my fucking job.” He swallowed something that was too close to a sob. “Damnit. Damnit.”
“What happened?” They were outside one of the old cottages, one of the ones Regine had used during the “establishment” portion of the project.
Luke was pretty sure he’d spent time here with Keiara. With Aleron’s mother. He swallowed something else that wasn’t a sob.
“The little cy’Linden?” Doug’s voice was carefully neutral. Dirk was… an interesting case.
“Fucking… Fucking Aleron. Fucking my son across the bench in the locker room. Looking up at the blasted. Damned. Cameras the whole time. And he had the knife.”
“Thought we took that away.”
“Both know that doesn’t work. It’s not like you can’t Meentik a new knife.” He swallowed another sound.
“You’ve stopped rapes before. You’ve stopped rapes in the locker room before.”
“The boy.” Luke slammed his fist into his leg again. Something cracked, his hand or his leg; he could hardly feel anything and it would heal either way. “He was looking at the camera, too.”
“And? Hoping you’d help?”
“I can’t play favorites!”
Luke’s bellow shook his head; from the looks of the three Dougs he was currently seeing, it had shaken his son as well. “I can’t. I couldn’t when it was Donegal. I wouldn’t for Agatha or Kailani – or Ty, or Mark, or Indigo or Lolly. I didn’t for Niassa.” He swallowed. “Not for your kids, not for Regine’s or Mike’s. I can’t for mine, either.”
There was silence. A long, cold silence. Doug was not much for words – but this quiet spoke more than he normally did in a month. Finally, Luke looked up at his son.
His son was looking back at him his eyes narrowed. Doug cleared his throat, shook his head, and cleared his throat again.
“Dad…” And it was decades since he’d called Luke that. “It’s not playing favorites if you stop a rape. It’s just stopping a rape.”
Luke sighed, a quiet whimpering noise that he couldn’t quite believe was coming out of his own throat. “Fucking hell, I don’t even know if it was rape. It wasn’t even properly fucking.”
Doug hissed softly. “Ah.”
“Yeah.” Luke put his head down on the concrete. “I’m going to go back to drinking now.”
It was a good thing it was his son there with him, because Luke never saw the punch that knocked him out.
Late Year 13 – May 2008
Doug wasn’t drinking.
He was punching one of the magically-reinforced heavy bag that hung in the training room, which signaled similar things to drinking. But he was smiling.
Luke tried to remember the last time he’d seen an expression like that on his son’s face. With effort, he placed it – sometime in the boy’s early teens, before he’d Changed. He found his own lips curling in response.
He braced the bag as it started to swing. “Good sparring session?” Most of the cy’Doug this time around weren’t combat-primary, but that didn’t matter. Dancing or fighting, they all ended up sparring.
He caught a blush on his son’s cheeks. A blush. “Good.”
What… ah. Aleron had been in town, which meant that Doug’s Student Willow had been very occupied, which meant that Ana, Doug’s Student and Willow’s Kept, had needed distraction. “Ana?”
The blush only deepened. “Fuck. Yes.” He slammed against the bag. “She’s Kept.”
“You’re eternal. She won’t be Kept forever.”
Older than Massima had been, Luke was pretty sure. “So was your mother.”
“Of course it is. Everything is different. But… she makes you smile?”
“Yeah.” He couldn’t keep the smile off his face, it seemed. That was definitely new.
“Then go for it, son. I’ll mow down anyone who gets in your way.”
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/716455.html. You can comment here or there.