7. Exiled – Competition


chap 7

News came to me that there was a funeral to attend. Maven would be going hence, I was expected to be there. I was raised with her – she’s like a sister to me. I look out for her. She tries to be part of the gang every so often, and if it’s a simple job, I let her. It’s not that she doesn’t have talent; it’s more that I don’t want to see her hurt. I neglected to mention her earlier because it just seemed so obvious that she’d be important to me. Her, Colt, and Irish. They’re the most important things to me. I’m older than Maven by a few hours. We grew up together, I don’t know. Her father’s dead too, but she’s still got her mother. Everyone helped raise everyone. Her and I were raised by an entire series of people.
Back to the point. There was a funeral to attend. One of the owners of the Black Dragon was dead. Syn. She was the owner of that place for years. She ran it with a guy named Pike. They were together. Not married or anything. Just…together. For years. Never had kids. The circumstances of her death were bizarre – being such a prominent name in the community. And to top it off, Pike had disappeared. Rumor was that he skipped town. Stories started that he killed her and ran. I knew better. Most everyone knew better. Pike was one of the best kinds of guys you could ever find. He was sedate and calm and he wouldn’t hurt a fly unless he had to. He skipped town to save his own skin.
Irish and Colt joined me at the funeral. To pay their respects. A lot of the demons came actually. Syn was known by almost everyone in the area. I started to make my way to the front, to stand with Maven and her mother, but decided against it. I stayed where I was, with Irish and Colt. With the rest of my boys. I had to stay where I was needed. We stood and silently watched the coffin lower, my eyes scanning the crowd. I could see Maven and Pandora, her mother, from here. And I could see two matching forms, swaying in the transparent mist. They seemed to appear and disappear. We’d all heard the legends of the Endless, the black clad forms that came and carried away the dead, anyone killed in/by the streets. But nobody had actually seen them since the last set was killed. And that was years ago. When my cousins reigned.
They were there though, sure as all hell. Their eyes were surveying the scene. I could feel their gaze burn through me as they scanned the attendants. They were actually there though. In the flesh and everything. Irish and I conversed about it quietly for a few minutes, paid our last respects, and shifted away from the scene. We decided to go back to the bar for a drink or two, wash off the overwhelming despair that comes with burying another legend. It’s like losing a part of yourself, where you come from, who and what you are. Syn wasn’t the most well loved person, she was very…cold. And distant. Even with Pike. I don’t know. It’s not a heartbreaking loss or a great tragedy, but with each body that hits the dirt, we lose part of the stories that made these streets alive.
We walked back to the Drown in silence. That’s what it was for short. We got our drinks and all. Harley was there; she must have walked back from the funeral faster than we had or something. There was an entire group at the funeral that we felt we should have known but didn’t. There were two guys at a table talking back and forth near us. One was also decked head to toe in black, hiding his face. And the other just felt shady. I went up to the bar.
“Hey Harl, what’s doing?”
“Not too much. Just come from the funeral?”
I nodded. “How could you tell?”
“I don’t recall you looking that respectable all the time.”
I laughed and pointed at her. “And look at you, huh? A skirt and everything. Who knew? Lucid must have been shocked to find skin under all that black when you two first went at it.”
She put down a glass all types of abruptly, raising an eyebrow. She had this sarcastic grin on her. I was still laughing a bit. “Excuse me? Went at what, Rev, darling?”
“Harley, you’ve got a kid, who are you trying to fool?”
She put our drinks on a tray and pushed it over to me, “I’m sure you can handle carrying that. Being such a big, strong man and all. Right Rev?”
I nodded, smiling big. “Damn straight.” I was walking away when she grabbed me from behind, sending the tray down. I was covered with booze, as was the floor. The two strangers looked up and laughed. Harley had jumped the bar and grabbed the back of my coat. She still held on, pulling me closer.
“Don’t ever talk about my sex life again, alright, kid?” And she let go. I turned around to face her, finding her still smiling. She handed me a dustpan and broom. “You don’t mind cleaning that up, right?”
I nodded, chuckling still. She’d gotten me back fair and square. I cleaned up the mess, we got fresh drinks and we had a good long laugh over it. Before we could move on, a call came from Maven. There was business to be taken care of.
A kid from the circus was being abused. She needed help. So I sent Irish and Colt to
round up a few of the boys to take care of it. I had business elsewhere. I finished my drink, bid farewell to Harley, and started out for the tattoo parlor. My presence was requested. And hence, I would appear. After all, it was for family. I loved them dearly – they were all I had. Course, I had the gang, the street family, but it wasn’t the same. I made my way to the shop through the rain. Even with my coat on, I was soaked by the time I got there. Random downpours…fun.
I got in the door, finding the place packed. Pandora was at the counter talking to two people, a guy and a girl. I recognized them by description – their legacy preceded them. Payge and Set Drake. They were the same two I’d seen together in the cemetery. They were the Endless. I was putting pieces together when I caught sight of Maven. I smiled at her. She was looking elsewhere; I followed her line of sight.
Everyone in the room was engaged in some sort of conversation. Except for Maven. Myself. And a stranger in the back. She was leaning against the doorframe, smoking. Of all the people in here, I think she was the only one smoking. She seemed distant, turning her eyes over the crowd with a bored enthusiasm. She caught sight of Maven and straightened up a little. And when her eyes rolled over to me, they lit up.
The girl in the corner belonged here – she must have been the new artist. She seemed at ease here, like she was the queen idly watching the commoners. There was a sort of regal air to her. She was almost misplaced here though. I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t seen her before, sooner. The way she carried herself…my type of girl. She had sin in her eye and a lie ready on her tongue but she had innocence burnt into her. She made it work though. I started toward her, meeting with Maven along the way.
And that was my immediate impression of her, the solitary smoker in the corner, watching the mourners, even though she herself wasn’t mourning. Her eyes were dark, and flawless, not one streak detectable anywhere from a stray tear. That was how I met her.
Angyl Hunter. There was something that got under my skin about her, but I didn’t let it take over. I’m suspicious of most everybody. Being the street boss, I think I have reason to be. There are people after my life all the time. I have to always be on my guard. Constantly careful. Maven was at my side when I met with Angyl. And introductions went around the circle. We began to talk idly, about minor stuff. Minor details, which built into larger discussion. And we stayed there and spoke for a while, hours, retreating into the back, comparing ideas and strategies we’d come into over the years. Angyl was open to anything, having notes of her own to add.
We decided to resuscitate the Trio of Treason. Bring back the old idea, just with new members. We were each the last member of a legendary, and deceased, family line. We were going to set out with the purpose to attempt to trust each other. Which isn’t the easiest of goals. I wonder if we just said it, to say it, or if we actually meant that we were going to try to bend.
It was the new project though. We all got along – it seemed logical. Then again, most of the more logical ideas in this world aren’t as logical as we think they are. And when dealing with crazy people, every so often you have to lower yourself to their level. Otherwise, how the hell are you supposed to decipher anything?
The Trio of Treason – reborn. We would attempt to restore it to its former state of glory, before its previous occupants screwed it up. We would stand for something. Between the three of us, we had power, influence, intelligence…you name it and it was there. I had the gang to back me up, as a shield to hide behind. If this turned on me, I had my vengeance. And I would make sure that Maven had hers as well.
And so the wheel turns. Another cycle continues. We talked for a while longer and parted ways. I was eager to get another drink, but I remembered seeing Harley milling around here somewhere, I figured the bar was closed. I went home instead, finding Irish at the door. Colt had already shuffled off.
“Hey Hun,” she whispered. I bent in and kissed her.
“How did it go?”

She smiled. “Flawless.”
“Good,” I told her. I opened the door and we both trudged in, exhausted. I felt like days had passed since I last saw her. We both shifted off to change, meeting after boots had been pulled off and emptied out. We were both fairly soaked.
“Have fun?” she questioned. I shrugged.
“Business, you know. Family and all.”
She nodded. I curled up on the couch and she crept over and curled up with me. I put an arm around her, thinking about the day. Thinking about meeting Angyl. I could feel Irish trying to see into my eyes, my soul.
“Where are you?”
I smiled down and kissed her forehead. “Here. Now. With you.”
And we went to sleep, my worries and suspicions put to rest for the moment. Because I wouldn’t let it take up my entire life. There was more to life than that. Time had to be taken to relax and take things in. I’d handle things as they came at me, but until then…here’s to now.
And to family.

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