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4. Living in Yesterday

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I think the bar was called the Drowning Raven, but most of the drunks called it simply, the Drown. The bartender was another old acquaintance, Galat and I would come in frequently to see him, he ran the place mostly on his own; the top waitress was his little sister. Hadrien and Morgan. He made her work there, it didn’t suit her, but he wanted to be able to keep a close eye on her. He was older then us, she was my age. Her and I had a thing, once upon a time. To say the least, it didn’t work out well. Bad times, all kinds of trouble, I don’t know, it’s kind of complicated to say the least. Somehow, Hadrien and I had kept connections and made ends meet. Another kid from the old gang hung out here, Ashe, he worked at the Dragon now. Him and Dyre were in the bar a lot. None of us went far, tragic huh?

            We went to the back somewhere and sat down. Ashe was sitting at a table not too far away, talking with Dyre awhile. I think they were brothers actually, Dyre never was into the gang drama; he had a steady job, a level head. He had gone through hard times, I seem to remember them coming from a large family. A lot of tragedy due to gangs; Dyre sided with art. Ashe and him kept in touch though. There’s a story about Ashe getting into trouble and Dyre bailed him out. You need all kinds of influence for something like that. The end result, they both end up at the Dragon. Like I said, it’s a story. It’s a possibility, a maybe. We’ll see.

            We sat and Morgan came over to get our order, which we gave calmly. She looked from me to Dev and back again. You could see the questioning look shining in her eyes, hidden behind pain. She didn’t belong here; where she belonged, I don’t know. Hadrien kept her on a short leash, if it got any shorter – he’d choke her with it. That’s their drama though; we all have our own little tragedies. I wanted to be safely out of harm’s way when it came. But Fate stared me in the face, emotion lost, expression distant. Morgan came and went, pain emanated from her too. She had better talents, this job was below her. I could feel Hadrien’s eyes following my own, an inescapable feeling of impending doom.

“Why didn’t you tell me that he’s your brother?”

“Why does it matter?”

“It doesn’t.”

“Point and match.”

“Don’t you mean game and point?”

“There are no games anymore. All prices paid in blood. All bets made in flesh.”

“Maybe.”

“Definitely.”

“You sure?”

“Positive. I’d bet my life on it.”

“That’s a fool’s bargain.”

“Then call me a fool.”

“Perhaps.”

Drinkers don’t need small talk or chitchat. Alcohol heals all wounds, what can’t be mended can always drown. Ironic but true. The Endless, Elysium and Entropy, dropped this misfit in my lap, what was I supposed to do with her? For now, I’d deal with her.

Hadrien wandered over eventually, looking the two of us over. He stood at my side, signaling that I get up to talk to him. I rose politely and stepped off to one side.

“I don’t want no trouble, but that’s a gang leader. I can’t vouch for sanctuary here.”

“We didn’t expect you to.”

“And she’s not legal to drink.”

“Legal? Johnny Law break you? Come on, we weren’t legal either.”

“Once upon a time.”

“Wasn’t all that long ago.”

He shook his head, “No, maybe not. Still, you’re asking for trouble.”

“Always Hadrien, always and forever.”

“Any trouble comes up, you take it outside, understand?”

“Course, have I ever done you wrong?”

“There’s always a first time.”

We laughed a bit and parted ways as old friends, which we were. Long ago, which was only half a decade. Time flies, right? Dev was behaving, whether it was out of respect or the charms of the alcohol, I’m not sure. But she was all types of agreeable. Hence, I instigated.

“How did the two of you end up in opposing gangs?”

“Sibling rivalry.”

“No, explain.”

“Vince disappears, Toryn gets drawn away, Marcellus was supposed to be next in line. Everyone knew that Cellus and Vince had rivalry, hence he was skipped. Feeling betrayed, he left the gang with accusations of betrayal screaming at his back. As my older brother and only blood family, he demanded that I follow. I refused.”

“So he tears what should have been his out from under you?”

“That’s half of it.”

“What’s the other half?”

“The body-count so far.”

“Minus one; he missed you.”

“He didn’t intend to kill me.”

“No? Could have fooled me.”

“He’s good at that.”

“What?”

“Fooling people. Years of practice. He’s mastered the art of persuasion.”

“Good for him.”

The atmosphere was everything you’d expect in a bar. Ashe and Dyre were still there. They’d stay for awhile, they seldom ever had time to spend together. They were all they had left. Street demons usually don’t have families; it’s a package deal. Your only family is the band of brothers…and sisters, that you live and die with. They are loyalty. They are trust and honor. Everything.

Not gangs or hoodlums. Not freaks or outcasts.

Street demons.

Catchy huh?

I might be slightly insane, only slightly. I sat back and forgot where I was and why, the smoke faded away. And I was anywhere I wanted to be, whenever I wanted to be there. All I had to do was process the thought, the idea and poof…there you are. Maybe I need more sleep, then again, there was a lunatic sleeping in my bed, well, not yet. Return to the world of the waking, blink, think. There we go.

We rose to leave, Hadrien and Morgan acknowledged our departure. A figure crept in as we stepped out the door, movement – pause. Stay, breathe, countdown to catastrophe. In five, four…blink, three. Marcellus stood barely a foot in front of me. I pushed Dev behind me. Two. Crouch down, get out of the way. Hadrien set in motion. One. Door opens again. Bang. You’re dead. But you’re still breathing. Cellus stood motionless, I saw the legendary shapes in the doorway – the Endless. I was okay, Dev was alive. Morgan was down. Marcellus moved to the Endless, who parted and let him leave. Elysium moved to the hysterical Hadrien and took Morgan. The girl was still breathing – Elysium is the best doctor this side of eternity. Entropy moved to me, pulled me away.

“A war’s coming. I want you to keep her alive until then.”

“Why me?”

“You are the timekeeper. You’ve been on the sidelines. Experience the pain you record. Bear witness to the madness you cherish.”

“Been there, done that.”

“No, you ran before. Now – you’ll stay the duration.”

“I’m not a babysitter.”

“Consider it repaying old debts, Havok.” He turned his back to leave.

“I owe you nothing! If anything, you owe me. Give me back my life!” I screamed.

He turned in the doorway, “It was never yours to begin with. I’ll be seeing you,” he whispered. “Havok.” And they both left, Hadrien and Morgan too. I put my arm around the slightly intoxicated/slightly shaking Dev and headed home. There, we slept. Everything turned black.

Wake up, it’s bright, daylight. New day.

Soft bed, check the time.

There’s a girl with me…where’d she come from?

Headache. That’s Dev. Gears move forward again. Good morning Dev.

What I think happened was we got back to the apartment and passed out in my room on my bed. I woke up to her curled up in my arms. Figures. My mind stalled, I kept turning the key, but no response. Oh well. I stayed there until Dev moved, she stretched slowly, looked around and rolled over. Good night Dev. I got up and padded around quietly. I found Galat in the kitchen. He handed me a cup of coffee and sat down. I sat down with him. Headache.

“I heard what happened.”

“Sorry?”

“Morgan’s alive. I saw her this morning.” I realized he was still dressed.

“Sorry?”

“That was pretty irresponsible Dean, taking her out like that.”

“I’m sorry.”

He slammed his fists on the tables, the cups jumped. “Sorry won’t fucking cut it. You’re supposed to be the rational one. God damn it, what were you thinking?”

“I wasn’t…thinking.”

“Christ Dean…”

“Havok.”

“Excuse me? Hell no, that’s a dead gang name. Hell no…”

“I have to.”

“You’re hijacking our stables lives for…?”

“The Endless.”

“Christ. And that makes it better. Dean, we got out. You can’t go back.”

“Maybe.”

“If I didn’t love you like a brother, I’d beat the hell out of you until you wised up, and you fucking know it.”

“You could beat me up?”

“Shut up Dean.”

“Havok.”

“Fuck off.”

“You could beat me?”

“I could try.”

And I merely laughed in reply.

And that was that. We were better than brothers, we could curse each other off up and down the streets for days on end and still be buddies. Years of rehearsal, half of forever practicing. Might have finally mastered the technique.

A side note about Marcellus. He had the ruthless means to be a leader, the cunning in his mind and methods, but ultimately, poor people skills. According to legend, Cicero was highly influential, hence his power – manipulation is essential. According to fact, Vincent was the same way. To maintain that much power, you needed good communication skills. Dev was blessed with the power of persuasion and Marcellus had the raw power. Funny how things like this always seem to be hereditary. She was dark and foreboding, but Marcellus was only dark, not quite charming. Just felt like you should know that.

A war would come; it would have to. Dev wasn’t healing overnight, her success rate was low to start with. I was Havok again, push a button, here I am. Havok, the name that blessed my more reckless former self. I’m not schizophrenic, I just give my past a name to separate it more easily from the present. It makes some semblance of sense to me.

I think I was still at the table with the coffee cup when Dev emerged. She sat down, got caffeine for herself along the way, and…silence. What was there to say? A knock on the door scattered my thoughts. Galat opened it; I heard voices, a half-thud and Hadrien came rushing into the room. I rose to meet him and found myself on the floor. My jaw ached.

“Get up, you son of a bitch, get up!”

“Now what?”

“She’s dead. You bastard.”

Click. Mind – shut down. Sanity breakdown, closed for repairs. Please try again.

“What?”

“You heard me. Dead. They killed her.” He was bleeding, there was a fight. “They got in, screwed up her meds, I tried to stop them, too late…” and his voice gave out. He collapsed into the chair, crying uncontrollably. This is the beginning of the end.

To get moving again. Welcome to war. Dedicated to Morgan and the suffering that she’d no longer endure. Forever.

Told you she didn’t belong there. Another fatal “oops,” is anybody keeping score?

My name is Havok.

And it’s wonderful to be back. Absolutely fucking great.

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