percy has never once thought of october as cruel, never had a reason to think that. even that day they had first met, it wasn’t cruelty really that percy had seen– it had been a sense of danger and cold rage in odd but beautiful blue eyes. he had been scared of him, then, yes. but afterwards– percy saw how gentle october could be that night at the concert, and every day since– felt how carefully october touched him, afraid that he might perhaps mar percy’s skin or break a bone by applying just a touch too much grip to the boy’s hand as they laces their fingers together. percy saw october’s gentleness in how he treated animals, always careful with jonquil and the dogs– and he saw it in the man’s eyes when he looked at someone he cared for, cold blue thawing momentarily when he thought no one was looking– small fond smirks curling the corners of his lips when he saw his kids.
and percy knew he was likely in love with october, despite the man’s flaws and the demons that still clung to the man’s mind. how could he not be, when the man’s very presence drew your attention. it wasn’t his height or his clothing that drew someone’s eye, no– it was the fact that his very existence seemed to be so captivating that one couldn’t help but be aware of him when he stepped into a room. maybe it was the man’s confidence, or how he held himself– but percy was both in awe and jealous of october for that reason. he was jealous that the man could step into a room and demand everyone’s undivided attention without a word, while percy struggled not to be spoken over with frequency enough to make him hesitant to talk in the first place– though that had faded some over the last year, the hybrid more eager to share his thoughts and feelings with those around him without fear of being ignored or dismissed– like he had been so used to.
the man in front of him was a protector, not a monster– not truly the villian he tried to play in front of people, but not faultless either. the man definitely had flaws of course, everyone did, and denying that reality was a flaw in itself. something haunted him, put terror into those blue eyes percy thought resembled the deep fresh water pools he had seen in textbooks growing up– wondering about the world outside the walls of his bedroom, the world he saw glimpses of through windows of his grandmother’s house and the van. the world he had watched other children participate in, while he sat quietly with a teacher– a book in small hands that had never so much as touched the chains of a swing. in front of him was a man that had gone out and experienced the world, had perhaps seen nearly a majority of the mortal realm– a place percy had begun to drawn to see, had foolishly thought perhaps that he might be able to with october. and maybe they could, they were both immortal– surely this reign wouldn’t last forever, right?
but for now that wasn’t possible anymore, and percy didn’t know if it ever would be again. but he thought that perhaps he was lucky to be stuck inside the tall crystal walls with the man– lucky perhaps that october hadn’t been on tour when the walls were raised, and luckier still that they had even met each other in the first place. he felt safe with the other man, undeniably so. each brush of the man’s fingers on his skin set his nerves a light, and he wanted nothing more than to let himself melt into the other man– and he had considered it with frequency over the last year, but the idea of sex still made him anxious despite those budding thoughts and curiosities that prickled at him more and more each day– thoughts that got louder when october’s lips were agains this own, when large hands gripped his hips tighter and pulled him closer– when stubble tickled the sensitive skin of his neck, and when chapped lips kissed along the line of his jaw before finding his lips again– thoughts that got louder the hotter his body burned for the man
how many time had percy laid on october’s chest, just looking at the man with those three words tingling on his lips and hanging off the tip of his tongue? how many times had he nearly blurted it out, only to stop himself out of fear of the man’s reaction? scared that the man wouldn’t accept them, or worse– turn him away? if he told october he loved him, what would his reaction be? what kind of face would he make? would he be happy? sad? would he laugh at him? percy wasn’t sure, nor did he want to risk it.
so them being “just friends” was enough, and this time he would try his best to keep his mouth shut.
he laughs as october says the dog’s aren’t that tall, giving the man an exasperated look. “nothing is tall to you! they’re up to my hip, y’know– and jonquil’s legs are only three inches tall! even if they meet in the middle, their legs will be long.” he nods to himself, his cheeks puffing up slightly as he breaks into giggles. “i could make them little jackets, i bet it would make calem laugh.” he grins, hugging october’s arm close– resting his cheek on the sleeve of the man’s jacket, looking up at him with those wide eyes of his– filled with undeniable warmth. “i think jonquil would charm loaf into simply not barking, actually. he’s such an odd but chill cat,” he laughs, humming at the mention of food. “i mean that doesn’t narrow it down, really. most places have coffee.” he teases, flashing october a cheeky grin. though the thought of october watching him eat like a weirdo makes him laugh– nudging the man slightly. “not like you haven’t before at your house. suddenly shy because we’re going to be in public?” he’s teasing, and soon enough the two are down in the backroom of the shop and percy is locking the door up behind him before stashing his key’s away in october’s coat– not wanting to pull his backpack off again just to put them inside, his cheeks still pink from the ‘pretty boy’ being cooed in the man’s deep, rumbling voice.
“i dunno, you’re huge and it’s me-sized. i think it would be crushed.” he scrunches his nose at him playfully, giving bryn a happy little wave as the two make their way out to october’s jeep– percy having to physically climb up into the passenger seat after setting his backpack on the floor– his legs dragging partly off the seat as he buckles himself in, sticking his tongue out at october. “yes, yes. i’ve seen how you drive, of course i’m going to put the seatbelt on.” he pulls his legs up, crossing them in front of him as he settles. at the question about where they would stop to eat percy considers for a moment, then nods to himself. “the diner would work, it’s on the way and benji and ivy both know to make sure my food so i don’t get sick. i would hate to have to call off our d- outting just because i have an upset tummy.” his cheeks colour, looking away for a moment– hoping october hadn’t caught that little slip up. he breathes in the smell of cloves, and relaxes in the seat– looking out the window for a quiet moment before the movement of october’s arm out of the corner of his eye grabs his attention– glancing towards him and seeing that the other man had placed it on the center console slightly upturned, a clear invitation for percy to take it. he blushes a bit darker, and slips his fingers between october’s– lacing them together, his hand disappearing in october’s own.
his heart beats just a bit louder in his chest as he squeezes the man’s hand, turning his attention to the world outside the car– unable to stop his eyes from finding the wall in the far distance. he licks at his lips slightly, then turns his head towards october again– speaking quietly, hesitantly.
“…i’m sure that the walls can’t remain for… forever… so… um… when we can eventually leave again, would… would you come with me to the mortal realm? i’ve… i’ve always really wanted to see the sea with my own eyes, instead of just in the pictures in my books or on the internet.”
Maybe there was a comfort in the uncertainty October had found himself within. It wasn’t a lot, of course. But there was plausible deniability afforded to Percy if he wasn’t... Attached, to October. He knows his reputation, and fifty years of monstrous behavior is not forgiven in one year of trying to get better. His own children estranged for most of their lives because of his fear of the reputation he cultivated coming back to bite him. But was he really in control of how he was perceived any longer? After 20 years in the limelight he had lost control of the beast he fostered. “October Roulette” was as much a force of nature as he was a man who had longed for attention enough to seek it within the cogs of the grand fame machine. He’d been pulled in and spat back something new, something driven by ego and addiction and lust and want-
He was not sure, even now, if it was obsession or love that burned his chest the way it did when he spent time with Percy. He realizes he doesn’t care when smaller, softer hands thread through his, gently squeezing. He listens carefully, as the hybrid hesitates, brows creasing gently. would you come with me to the mortal realm? The question hangs for a moment. The wall couldn’t persist forever, could it? But they would. October had died centuries ago, and Percy? Well, death would never run cold hands through soft curls, not naturally- and not unnaturally, as long as October’s head remained on his shoulders. No, October would be the closest Percy would ever come to something death had graced, a bitter amnesiac coroner with a kindness in him he’d hidden for perhaps too long to make good on it now. Percy had been instrumental in that change, hadn’t he? Melon’s lingering trust in him from what felt like ages prior had helped, fleeting kindnesses he didn’t deserve from others- but Percy had never thought ill of him- not after he apologized, at least.
But still there was a hatred for what he’d done. That concert invitation hadn’t been offered in good faith, he’d wanted to see Percy scared, hadn’t he? Eventually decided to cut his losses and feed off the boy, get him high in the green room surrounded by drinking and drugs he’d never been exposed to. October had wanted to destroy the person he knew Percy to be, and there was a recognition even now that he had wanted it in the first place, even if all he wanted now was to preserve exactly the traits he believed betrayed the boy as weak. He loved- without fail, Percy loved others- even people like October, who didn’t deserve it.... does he love you? A voice wonders in the back of his mind. But then he realizes he’s been quiet far longer than he meant to be. “Mm? Sorry, I’m a little far off.” he admits, focusing back up and turning to Percy with a slight, fanged grin. “Of course I’d come with you. I thought it was a given that you’d tag along at least for part of a tour someday. You should get to see the mortal realm for all it has to offer- I could take you to a zoo. an amusement park or an aquarium or something. All of it.” he insists. “There’s a whole other world out there you’ve never seen- of course I’d come with you to see it, sugar.”
He wants to see the sea. October’s been to most of them, the cold banks of the UK, the picturesque shores of tropical locales. He’d been submerged in both-willingly and unwillingly. There was no real awe remaining within him for the ocean, but a respect- something so beautiful so deadly all the same. He wonders if Percy would see the same thing in it as he does- something so lovely but so willing and capable of killing. He wonders: Would Percy love the sea for the same reasons he seems to like October? For his more kind surface while ignoring- or perhaps still unaware of cruel depths below? “I could take you to see the ocean.” He insists. “We’ll schedule a coastal tour. something that hits both sides of the states or goes somewhere even prettier than that. You know what? If these walls come down, and the band’s still going, You pick a couple places. And I’ll take you.” He promises after a moment. “And if it’s not... then we’ll take a vacation together.”
He doesn’t have long to linger on the ‘together’ before he’s parking the few blocks back from the museum, moving to the passenger side of the jeep to wait for Percy and smiling when the younger man’s feet hit the blacktop beside his own. It’s clear once again how different they are, in both appearance and personality. He’d often worried, before softening himself, if people assumed he was menacing Percy again when they were simply spending time together, towering and clad in black and slogans, if it looked as if he meant the boy ill when he hadn’t for some time. He was a beast, barely restrained, even now the chains around his neck remained, though lesser in number- to perhaps warn others. He straightens the collar of his jacket and offers Percy his hand with a soft smile. “We’ll stop by the diner, grab something to lunch on, and then I’ll let you drag me around the entirety of Faerune’s natural history.” he teases, as if Percy could drag him anywhere.
as if he wouldn’t follow behind him willingly.
He holds the diner door easily, following behind and settling with the other man into the booth he’s chosen, taking a moment of pause to stretch his arms across his chest before placing his drink order- his usual black coffee, to be doctored with a bit of sugar and creamer when it arrived. “I can’t believe you’ve lived here this long and have only been to the museum on a field trip, honestly.” He admits. “Though I suppose with the prospect of the walls, we’ve not got much ‘going somewhere else’ as an option. You know I went to a science museum in the mortal realm somewhere. they had a giant human body. it was weird.” he laughs. “I think I have a picture of Rory standing on the ass.”
Even with the constant ache in his chest there’s never been anything but comfort surrounding Percy. October had lost it in front of him, that day at the flower shop, and it had been a secret kept from everyone else since then- at least, as far as he was aware. He hadn’t questioned the things that triggered his misery, simply did away with them, and told October he’d be okay. It was a moment of weakness. October should have hated even having been seen like that. But there was a comfort in it. Something in his mind always insisted magic would hurt him.
But Percy knew magic like an old friend. And Percy had never dared- unless October tried to hurt him first. So maybe there was a caveat to that fear. That magic was not the thing he should hate. Just the people who taught him to fear it in the first place.
“You know this place always smells real good, it’s a bummer I can’t eat anymore without regretting it in like, twelve hours.” He laughs. “Would maybe steal a couple fries if I could.”
And I know this isn't enough
I still don't measure up
And I'm not prepared
Sorry is never there when you need it
And I do want you to know
I'll hold you up above everyone
And I do want you to know
I think you'd be good to me
And I'd be so good to you
I'll take your loneliness, 'cause I know what it feels like
All your uncertainty, I'll make into mine
I'll take your punishment, 'cause I think I deserve it
All your never ending condescending arguments
So lay me out on your table
Let's get straight to the heart of this.
The problem with anger, is that it’ll pull you down, eventually. Rory’s is righteous- October’s is bred into him- The tides clash here and now- may the combatants come away... alive?
TW: Violence, Blood
“I just don’t know why you’re taking it so fucking hard- It’s a joke not a dick, brokeback mountain.” Rory knew better than to think this was going to be easy. October was stubborn at his best moments, and Rory pushing back against his norm was likely to get the older vampire up in arms. He’d tried to be gentle about it- as gentle as one could be about the fact his so-called ‘best friend’ treated him like shit on the regular- had waited until everyone else had left the clan meeting, until it was just the two of them sat in The Hive well below his home. He’d hoped, in privacy, the usual bravado that colored October’s presence would soften the way it often did, dropping the ego and bravado to be the friend he’d made in college, a bit terse, sarcastic and rude, sure, but he’d never been cruel- Callus and unkind and willing to jump to the physical the way he’d become now. He’d hoped that therapy would have made him better- He realizes now that perhaps he wasn’t something October saw as important enough to mention, because the mistreatment had continued, even as the other vampire became more visibly kindhearted toward others, his children, the clan, his other friends.
Everyone but Rory. So perhaps he was angry, perhaps he was angrier than he had ever been, when October pushed genuine concern, a request for peace, to hang up the way he’d broken the man’s bones for little more than a minor infraction and be treated like his friend again off to the side like it was some kind of passing thought, a fleeting, momentary want after a joke that he couldn’t take.
“Are you fucking shitting me?” Comes the response, and Rory loathes the way his voice breaks on the words. “A joke? You punched me so hard I saw stars, you coulda cracked my skull, Eight!”
“And I didn’t. and if I did you would have healed. Why’s this such a big fucking deal for you now? Christ, you start spending more time with your bonky sister and fainting couch and you start actin’ like I’m some kind of supervillain.” October doesn’t grasp it, but who could expect him to? He’d spent nearly 20 years with things working... this way. Rory taking a beating, an insult, and declaring he’s okay, bouncing right back. He’s not seen the mental wounds left behind, the younger vampire desperate to keep them tucked away- Would he have stopped if he saw the ache in dark eyes? The desperate want to be accepted keeping Rory from standing his ground? Would he have been kinder if he knew that the other man’s submission to suffering was a self-inflicted punishment brought about by October’s violent tendencies?
Neither of them know, because now, with October stubbornly digging in his heels and Rory’s temper flaring, is the first time either have spoken to the dynamic they’ve served for three decades. Patience finally strained too thin, with hospital visits and the stress of someone having attacked Edgar (A fact that certainly made something in Rory hunger for revenge, so he could only imagine the way it made Felicia feel) and Kirby’s true parentage bearing on him in tandem with the constant stress of being an estranged father desperate for time with his daughter, it’s hard to place which straw broke the back of the camel- but the beast is lame, and the gate it guarded is straining open once more.
“When’d you become such a little bitch, man?” October questions, finishing his drink and rolling his eyes. “I’m going home.” He declares, pushing away from the bar to leave- only to find himself held fast, Rory’s grip at his wrist sudden and tight. “Fuckssake.”
“I’m askin you to stop treatin’ me like shit, and you’re just gonna leave? Felicia and Edgar have names, I have a name, but you don’t respect anybody who isn’t you enough to fucking care about that, do you? Have to find the first fucking thing you think of about somebody’s looks, or personality, and then that’s their name from then on with you, right? God damn it’s no reason you don’t have any fucking friends who aren’t beholden to you by a fucking band contract! Face it, nobody would put up with you if they knew the real you the way me an’ the other guys do. But fuck me, right? Stupid fuckin’ Rory, some simple fuckin’ idiot who can’t take care of himself, can’t think unless you tell me what to do? But which one of us was top of the class in college, October? because it wasn’t you.”
October yanks his hand free, angular features darkening with a scowl. “What, get your feelings hurt and now you need to brag about shit that happened 30 years ago? Come the fuck on, Riordan, I was kidding.” October snaps, Rory letting out a manic laugh.
“You punched me in the head! You threw me through a glass cabinet two weeks ago, and oh, for the sin of spilling a little liquor on the new object of your fuckin’ obsession I got my arm broken and my jaw fractured! Yeah- kidding.” The last word is dagger sharp, the younger’s fists clenching at his sides. “Admit you’re a dick! for fucks sake! I’ve given you a pass for years because I thought you knew! I assumed anybody as fucking awful as you knew he was the absolute worst! Now you’re pretending to be some paragon of good and kindness and a good father when I- I know you. Whichever one of you is the real October, I don’t fucking know anymore, but the guy I know isn’t a good fuckin’ person and I gave him a pass on that because he was my friend and now I’m watchin’ you parade around like you’re some kind of kindhearted leader only to haul off and hit me because you think it’s funny. It’s fucked up! you’re fucked up! Don’t look at me like I’m crazy- You’re a dick October. The least you can do is fucking admit that so I don’t feel like I’m going insane for being upset!”
The older vampire arches a brow, runs a tongue across the fronts of his capped fangs. He seems about to say something, crosses broad arms over his chest. Rory hopes beyond hope that it’s an admission, maybe an apology. What he gets makes him see red, instead: “Are you finished?”
Maybe he overreacts, because with a shout, he throws himself at October, cocking back and punching the other vampire in the nose, planting one steel-toed boot against his knee and kicking sharply, not letting up until it buckles back, October hitting the floor of the speakeasy with a snarl and a hiss. They scuffle for a moment, Rory landing a few solid swings to October’s face- feeding regularly had its benefits, he supposed, the pop of cartilage under his knuckles a thrill he’s not soon to forget- before his anger is quickly overwhelmed by a flame more frequently stoked. He doesn’t realize what’s happened at first, head suddenly ringing, nose suddenly bleeding, but by the time October snaps his nose back into place and wipes his own blood on his sleeve, Rory’s well aware whatever follows will make the fight in the motel room 17 years ago look like chump change. He staggers, coughs and watches as one heavy, ring clad fist cocks back, closing his eyes and turning his face down and away- at the very least, he’ll deserve this one.
October’s about to punch his lights out, jaw aching, nose likely broken in a way he’s going to need to feed to heal- and then Rory folds in on himself and there’s recognition, perhaps, a faraway look in his eyes for a minute. Which is just long enough for Rory to haul off and hit him again. “Ow! motherfucker-”
“I’m still angry!” He manages, spatting blood on October’s boots. “You- You don’t get to do shit like this and be a good guy! You don’t! You don’t get to pretend my suffering means nothing, you don’t get to abandon a kid an’ pretend they don’t exist, okay! you don’t.... You don’t get to be what I’ve been trying to be for so fucking long so fucking easy when you’re still a monster underneath it all. You don’t get to retreat into being somebody kind when I’ve spent 2 centuries feeling like I’ll never measure up to being good.” He spits again, cocking back to punch October again only for the older vampire to catch his fist.
“You don’t get to be good if I’m not, god damn it! If I deserve the way you treat me then neither of us are good men and we’re both doomed to our suffering so I need you to quit pretending to be a good person and admit you’re a dick.” The last word comes out on a sob, accent decidedly german and voice breaking. “I have tried so long to attone for what I did and you just decided you weren’t that guy anymore. I watched you do what you’ve done- you can’t just hang it up, if you can just move on then I should have been able to and-” There’s no trace of anything from the American south left behind, rambling desperate and german afflicted as he tries to wrench free from October’s grip.
“RORY!” He barks suddenly, the younger vampire jerking to attention. “I’m a dick, okay? is that what you needed to hear? Christ! Yeah, I treat you like shit because you let me. But you’re not me.” He insists, forcing the shorter’s fist back down to his side. “You’re a hell of a lot better than me, in fucking... everything. So yeah, maybe I... Maybe I took it out on you.”
“So I definitely took it out on you.” He sighs, wiping a trail of blood from his nose once more, a cut on his cheek from Rory’s scant rings dripping absently. “I didn’t know, you know.”
“You wouldn’t have stopped if you did.”
“no, I wouldn’t have.”
“So the point is moot.”
“Then why won’t you let me beat the shit out of you for catharsis?”
“Because I make money with my face, and I don’t think beating each other up solves any of this?”
“Terribly rich statement, guy who broke my jaw on a whim.”
“I’m sorry. I know it means shit, Rory, but I am.” October sighs, eventually releasing his grip on the younger’s hand. “It’s fucking weird that you sound like this.”
“Yeah, well, it is usually only temporary. I’m not doing it on purpose, you fucking dummkopf.”
“So I’m gonna... turn around and leave.” October insists, Rory sighing, shaking his head. “And I’m... I’m gonna let up. okay? Clearly you’re serious about this and you’re under a lot of stress with everything that’s happening for you and-”
“Don’t act like you care, October.” Comes the response, voice flat. “You’re my friend, I love you, but don’t pretend like you give a shit just because you got called out for this.” He sighs, October frowning, but nodding slowly. Stopping at the doorway and turning to glance over his shoulder. “What?” The younger questions, dropping himself into a booth.
“I didn’t abandon anybody here in the city- the kids are... Well, it’s complicated but they’re... around.” Rory swallows hard. “What do you know, Willingham?”
“I’ve been asked not to tell you.”
“And we can go back to beating the shit out of each other over something different, if you’d like.”
“I can always reset a broken nose a second time, Rory.” October warns, and the other man sighs. “I don’t want to fight you, man, but that’s not something you should- that you should keep from me.”
“One of the tenders at my bar. Kirby. He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to talk to you, so don’t fuck with them, alright? I shouldn’t have said anything, it was the heat of the moment, I was mad.”
“You can leave now, I’d like to bleed on myself on my own terms. In private.” He mutters, placing his face in his hands and listening to the doors throughout the house close behind October.
“What’s up, old man? When are you gonna take me for ice cream? It’s been a hundred years. I have dentures now,” Dodie said, skateboarding into October’s office. She stomped her skateboard up into her hand, placing her other on her hip as she looked over at him.
(( @morgueroulette ))
Eventually he’s gonna have to get used to his kids just turning up at work. It’s not every day, of course, and they at least have the wherewithal to show up when he’s in his office, not elbows deep in a body- but he’d appreciate it if Dodie stopped skating in the precinct. “Keep that up and your brother might arrest you.” He teases, motioning to her skateboard. He removes his glasses, rubbing his eyes with the flats of his palms. “Well, you’ve lucked out, Little Red, if you’re not too old to gum down an ice cream cone, I’m just about done here for the day.” He rolls his eyes as he moves to put his contacts in. “A hundred years? I knew they weren’t payin’ me what I’m owed.” He declares dramatically, blinking contacts into place and standing up, reaching down to ruffle her hair softly. “I’m not changing out of the sweater vest either. Mostly because I know it’ll embarrass you to be seen with me in it, more than me to be seen in it.”
percy’s cheeks colour as october reassures him, leaning into the vampires palm as it comes up to gently pat his cheek– raising his own hand to trap the other’s there for a moment, nuzzling into it affectionately, pressing a soft kiss to the man’s rough palm– heart fluttering in his chest as he swings their other hands between them, giggling as he releases him again to bounce a bit in place in excitement– a bright grin lighting up his expression, eyes soft and adoring as he looks up at the much taller man. “it’s alright, it’s just temporary, right? besides, you’re helping a lot of vulnerable people right now, i would never fault you for that.” he’s more reassuring, than asking. “once things get settled you’ll definitely have more time for m– everyone.”
stop trying to hog him all for yourself. pathetic. he doesn’t even like you enough to want to be your boyfriend, and you’re still convinced you’re special?
the thought comes and goes with a blink, the boy used to such intrusions at this point– his expression not wavering as he squeezes october’s hand.
it’s okay if he doesn’t want to be my boyfriend. this is enough. he reassures himself calmly, cheeks colouring slightly. october being here next to him, holding his hand and kissing him– and the man’s steady weight when the two are laying spooning in either of their beds, or laying on the couch with his face in percy’s curls or lips feathering over the column of his throat– they were enough for him. he was content, happy– even if he felt moments of insecurity, he could ignore the small ache in his chest whenever he got too into his head about what his relationship was with october because the man still made time for him– still treated him in a way that percy dared to consider special, even if october was satisfying himself elsewhere once he left percy’s apartment. the latter stung deep down, but percy refused to acknowledge it.
we’re not together, he doesn’t owe me anything.
at the sudden question he giggles, shaking his head– swinging their arms again in thought. “no, i think then they would both have oddly long legs.” the compliment catches him off guard and he sputters a bit in embarrassment, his cheeks warming to a deep red as he ducks his head a little. “t-thank you,” he moves a little closer to the man, hugging the other’s arm to his chest as he mentions talking a walk and grabbing something to eat for him before they get there– his eyes lighting up in excitement, nodding quickly. “can we really? i would love that.”
he rocks on the balls of his feet, “i’m really excited! i haven’t been there in such a long time. i think it’s been almost two decades now, i vaguely remember a field trip when i was in elementary.” he notices when the man bends again, leaning up on his tiptoes to meet him as best he can– eyes fluttering shut into the kiss as he returns it, october’s stubble tickling his face and making him giggle against the man’s lips before he pulls back again– snorting softly at the mention of his change of attire. “i think you look handsome in anything,” he says it without hesitation, even as he flushes in embarrassment. “the black trench coat looks really good on you, though. i think it’s my favorite addition.” that and the gloves, though he’s not sure why those are at the top of the list.
“i would love to make a day of it, it’s been a while since we both had the time.” he giggles, leaning into him slightly. “and yes, yes– we kind of have to take the jeep, you’d break my vespa.” he’s teasing, if him sticking out his tongue is any indication– thought being called ‘pretty boy’ visibly flusters him, the hybrid letting out a choked whine at its use– turning red all the way up to his ears, and hiding his face as a hand comes up to cover it. “y-yes, i just need my backpack from by the d-door.” he sputters, letting go of october’s hand for the moment to hurry over to the hook next to the door to grab that– checking inside it briefly to make sure he had his wallet and anything he might need inside. once he’s sure he turns towards october again. “i don’t think he’s opening the doors himself, though that would be impressive for such a tiny man. i’m pretty sure he’s sneaking out when i’m not paying attention when i come home. sure enough, jonquil has perked up– realizing that percy would be leaving shortly. he lets out a quick meow and stretches, trotting over to the door and looking up at percy expectantly.
“no, you little goblin.” percy teases, bending down to scoop his cat up into his arms– giggling when jonquil immediately starts vibrating as hard as he can, the sound easily audible– even for someone without heightened senses. he puts jonquil up into his cat tower next to the window, and the feline seems to huff before flopping over– curling up to take an afternoon nap as percy shrugs on his backpack, the boy leaning to press a soft kiss to the orange cat’s forehead once he’s grabbed his keys. “i love you, jonquil. i’ll be home later, okay? be good, i’ll talk to lucas about helping me install a cat door so you can show my customers your wares without getting stuck where your blanky isn’t.”
percy turns to october, making a grabby hand motion at him– grinning in excitement, realizing that the two would likely be able to spend the entire day together for once– heart fluttering in his chest at the thought. “okay! i’m ready!”
October doesn’t miss the correction. He’s not so dense he doesn’t realize that Percy values his company, misses him when he’s gone. But there’s a constant reminder within him that he’s cruel, something that takes life and works with death where Percy gives life to flowers and brightens rooms he enters- October demands attention, sure, a presence even if he wasn’t nearly seven feet tall, but he demands awe, respect- he is something towering and dangerous, he is celebrity and confidence held in firm muscle and odd, sharp eyes. People are drawn to and recoil from him in equal measure. He wonders sometimes if it’s worth being both in equal measure- because he thinks so terribly highly of Percy, and there is no fear in Percy’s presence. The hybrid is kind, seeking the good in all those he meets. October wonders for a moment how he became so jaded, waking up all those years ago with no trust in his unbeating heart and a pain in his neck. He wonders if it’s that very presence that may hinder Percy’s own. He’s just selfish enough to ignore that, if the younger man wants him to stay around.
He’s unaware of the turmoil in Percy’s mind, just as Percy is unaware of the storm swirling in his. How many times had he stopped just short of saying something? He smiles at the absent squeeze of his fingers, the laughing declaration that if Jonquil and the dogs met in the middle, they’d likely just both be strange and long. “Are you sure? I mean, their legs aren’t that long. I feel like Jonquil and Loaf need a support group.” Calem’s corgi had already made himself well acquainted with Percy on multiple occasions, the head vampires regularly taking their pets to the park for a meeting that could be held in public- with the hybrid present, of course. “Little Leg Guys Support Group or something. They can discuss the quality of life of being like, two inches off the ground. Or, I mean, Loaf could just bark at him. That’s more likely.” He grins, nods when Percy presses closer, hugs his arm tight. There’s warmth, the soft fft ftt ftt of Percy’s heartbeat in his ears, things that he’s come to focus on without realizing it.
“Well I gotta keep ya well fed, don’t I? It’s not like you can just tap any random joe or jane on the shoulder and snag a bite to eat like I can. I’m glad to take you for lunch. Your choice.” He insists. “I ask only we pick a place I can get a coffee or a soda from, so I don’t spend the whole meal just watching you eat like a weirdo.” He chases away his doubt, long enough to embrace the things he does know. Even if Percy doesn’t want him the way October’s heart burns at him to be wanted, they’re friends, and the little hybrid’s friendship is something he won’t take for granted. He’d seen October at his worst, lost to memories and terrified, palms itching with phantom scabs from the time he’d spent with split skin there. He’d not looked at him differently, given him the space he needed to get his head right.
Healing wasn’t immediate, or linear, but the vampire could trust himself more now- the fear he might hurt somebody he loved far away and fleeting- the harassment of the fae he knew now was called Jack now resolutely turned on the city at large instead of him alone. It was reprieve, something he needed to get better- and he had never been good at telling himself no, possessive and selfish even at his best- he wasn’t going to stay away from Percy for long. He was just thankful that the state he returned to him in was a better one, somebody who was capable of caring for him in the depression that had followed the crystals closing in around Faerune.
Percy chatters on about how excited he is to go to the museum a moment later, then declares that he thinks October is handsome no matter how he chooses to dress, the vampire’s features splitting into a grin. “Ah, sugar, ya flatter me.” He teases, humming as the boy giggles into his lips, straightening carefully. “I’ll admit, sometimes I miss the punk getup, but it’s safer for all of us if I don’t go advertising how I feel about the government anymore.” He reasons. “Is that so? Maybe I shoulda worn the black one instead of the red then. Coulda really leaned into the tall, dark and mysterious thing I’ve got going.”
His heart speeds up noticeably, flustered at a ‘pretty boy’ cooed past dropped fangs- he knows it’s excitement, not fear. “Well, I’m excited for you to show me around, because I’ve never been, not once in the 52 years I’ve lived here, actually.” He admits, waiting for Percy to gather his bag and making certain his keys and wallet are still where he left them in his pockets. “And I’m sure I wouldn’t break the vespa. I’d unbalance it terribly though. Completely off-kilter.” he laughs, shaking his head as Percy snags Jonquil before his next jailbreak attempt, ensuring the cat remains in the apartment as he declares he’s ready, October leading the way out of the apartment and down the stairs into the shop, waving his goodbyes to the staff member behind the counter and unlocking the jeep parked out front, the bright orange vehicle had been a purchase out of necessity, needing to transport the dogs, but it had more than proved its worth in the time since Founder’s Day, allowing him to transport far more than just a backpack and a motorcycle allowed. He takes a moment to slide up into the driver’s seat, waiting for the younger man to join him as he procures a cigarette from his case and lights the end, taking a long drag and putting the windows down.
“Seatbelt on, if we crash the one guy going through the window like a crash test dummy is gonna be him.” he insists, motioning to the ghostface bobblehead stuck down to the dash, reaching one ring-clad hand to bop it, sending the head wobbling as he pulled out onto the road proper once he’s sure Percy’s safely belted in. He smokes absently, exhaling and ashing out the window as he drives. “So, where are we thinking for lunch, sugar? I mean I already know what I’m getting, but I can put down a coffee most anywhere.” It’s more than clear by now, he knows, that he’d go where Percy leads, willing to follow him to the ends of the earth, though if it’s loyalty or obsession, he still can’t quite tell. He knows only what his heart is willing to say- that it hurts to be in his presence the way it hurts to be around the clan, around his kids- but in a way that burns more cruelly than he thinks he’ll ever be able to get used to.
He wonders if he’s simply doomed to the ache, the fire in his veins- Because he’s not a man known for his self preservation, and he wants to remain here. He releases one hand from the wheel, placing it in the center console of the Jeep for Percy to hold, should he want to.
The only girl who ever gave me the time
Was the one who only wanted
five minutes of mine
Knocking boots in the back
How degrading is that? I decline.
“Good gods,” Julian threw his head back and stared at the ceiling for a moment, “I miss it so much. Like I don’t know how to explain how much I want a normal bar fight. Little werewolf domestic violence instead of feeling like Big Brother is watching me all the fuckin’ time.” Shaking his head before he continued, “I mean don’t get me wrong. All of them are hot. And most of them could definitely get it. However, I’m lowly white trash and they ain’t wandering into this bar so I would like to be so far removed frmo their bullshit I don’t even know their names.” With a devious smile he pour another drink for October and set it in front of him, “And that’s exactly why that’s on me. I would sell tickets and take bets. We could profit off a Chad and I think that’s beautiful.”
“Ah, big brother was always watching us, Julian, the difference is that this big brother doesn’t know how to work a fucking cell phone and probably used magic mirrors for their long distance calls for the past several centuries. Different kind of surveillance- the council wasn’t squeaky clean, but at the very least they kept the peace between species and were incompetent enough I could give them a pass to worry about werewolf Jersey Shore instead of Keeping Up with the Fuckin’ Lulens.” He’d prefer a change of the channel, really. Constantly looking over his shoulder was getting insufferable, and it had only gotten worse with the creation of the Rex Vespidae. “Even if I was still in the game of whoring around, I’d like to pretend I know better than to fuck a nepotism baby. Maybe.” He shrugs, grinning and taking the drink settled in front of him, taking a long swallow and drumming ringed fingers against the glass.
“Well, far be it from me to turn down a free drink, I don’t see a lot of them in Faerune, I blame the fact the band and I are mortal realm famous.” He laments playfully. “Though I’d say it’s best to specify what you’re charging for the tickets- had a guy try to trade me a weird feywild critter he caught for a new bridle for his horse a couple months back, I’ve already got puppies I’m trying to get rid of, I don’t think coming into the possession of a... glow in the dark squirrel or a snake with hair is the move for me- probably best to trade tickets to the brawl for material goods and not something that might give you Magic-Rabies.”
Atlas groaned, shaking his head. “I’m not starving myself, October. I know better than that. But I’m also not going to take the risk that I murder someone when I can’t be watched 24/7.” He paused, reaching his hand up again to chew on his thumbnail. “I remember every single one - the sixteen year old was the worst. I ripped her throat out completely. Once I start, I can’t stop. It’s like I have no control over myself anymore, like I’ve been replaced with someone else - someone who doesn’t care who lives or dies. Edgar’s seen it once. You almost tripped it once.”
He ran a hand through his hair and shook his head. “I don’t - like being that person, October. The one with no regard for the living, who delights in death. Aut would tell you it’s not me.” He’d had long conversations with Autumn over his own feeding. He’d been drinking more animal blood, even if he hated the smell and the taste - he certainly wasn’t starving himself. He knew his own limits well enough now that he could judge his own hunger. He’d never gone off the rails - not since before he’d come to Faerune.
“So what would you suggest? Are you gonna babysit me every feed until I’m good? I know where my limits are when it comes to my hunger. What are you going to do if I do go too far? Or after, when I panic because I realize what I’ve done and didn’t stop?”
“And I’m telling you that relying on the black market is a bandage on a wound that’s started to fester. I’m not telling you to give it up, I’m just saying that being reliant on it- while simultaneously being afraid of letting yourself feed isn’t conducive to you coming into your own as a vampire.” October’s own fledglings were taught how to hunt and feed safely- in small amounts, only enough to sustain, to stave off hunger. October himself had fallen victim to the cycle that Atlas knew all too well- the guilt, the knowledge that he could kill, allowed to go unchecked. It was perhaps why he was so worried about this now.
“Most of us have a guilt tied to the bloodlust, Atlas, not many of us asked to be vampires. Not that I remember how I turned.” He remembers some part of it, sinking his own teeth into the guy who’d seen fit to bite him. Fleeting awareness of coming to in an alley... somewhere. Italy? He’s Italian, right? He speaks it, fluently. He doesn’t have the time or mental fortitude to worry about that, shakes it off. “Point I’m getting at is that it’s now the beast we’ve become, and with curfew in place I have concerns that you- and the other younger vampires in the clan, may get into trouble. Go too long without feeding properly, and you may sink your teeth into a courtier. I can’t have that for the clan, and I’d much rather none of you get sent to... well, that’s surely a dungeon trip, isn’t it?”
Atlas questions what he suggests he do- implies simultaneously that he needs a babysitter and doesn’t want one. “I’m already teaching mine and Calem’s fledglings to hunt properly and feed safely, what are you, if not a bigger, meatheaded baby vampire? The bloodlust comes with our species. It’s not us- but if you’re afraid of it, Atlas, you’ll only let it win when it surfaces. It’s not your enemy, either. You didn’t have the training of your sire, it’s why you’re in the state you’re in, it’s my duty as head to ensure all of those under me are looked after. Not that I don’t trust fainting couch- but he’s no hunter. And if he slips up and bites somebody he’s just as dangerous as you. Befriend the thing you become and acknowledge it as part of you now. Don’t lock it up completely. That makes you a timebomb.”
Oooo Big fancy head vampire Calem NoLastName oooo! Rex Vespidae meetings go on too long and I get bored, sue me.
“Right, sorry.” Zeke started feeling bad about what he said, he enjoyed giving the vampire shit sometimes but remembering everything they’ve had to work on mixed with just a sudden guilt he decided to shut up.
He was confused for a moment as October was explaining everything, realizing the other thought he was talking about work and not the clan. “I meant- nevermind it’s not important but you’re right. I uh, just send me the files and I’ll get it done.” He turned his attention back towards his desk, leaning back in his chair a bit starting to zone out slightly.
It’s October’s turn to be confused a second later, shrugging slightly as he continues to dress down to go home, taking his phone from the table beside him and tucking it into his pocket. “Hey, you asked. Most coroners don’t do this for any reason that ain’t noble. I suck, sure, but this is rotten work. Wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it mattered.” He understands the guilt, he guesses- Zeke had worked the bombing at the clubhouse alongside him, had listened to the vampire lament that some people didn’t leave enough behind to identify and bury. Rolled him out of one of the drawers drunk off his ass after an overnight. He knew Zeke knew he took the job hard. Maybe that’s why he was confused- then he paused.
“Oh. The Clan.” he clarifies. “Because at the end of the day, Zeke, the only reason we had a peace treaty between my people and the wolves is because of the council. Three hundred years of peace makes people itch for war. It’s my problem, because vampires are my family, the hybrids are our children. Blood or not, if I can do something to keep us safe- and on good terms with the already established packs around the city, I’m going to. Tensions are up because of the monarchy. I know better than to think we’re safe. Not even from the fae- for all my complaints of the council, they at least prevented baseless wars related to our species.” He’s got a dog in this fight, after all, wolves had been created to kill people just like him- by extension, his friends and children. “And having something to focus on that isn’t how much I hate that new medical examiner is good for me.” He shrugs, finally moving to the door of the morgue to step into his office, grabbing his coat with a sigh. “I’ll send the email with the paperwork your way. You need anythin’ else before I head out? I’ve got dinner with my kid and a few custom orders to finish up for journals tonight.”
To be despised, To be loved
To be dreamt of, to be sought
From the inside, I don't care.
Be my Unholy- My one and my lonely.
Leo takes the time to actually listen to the vampire’s response. He has to admit that the apology seems sincere. “Well, I do appreciate and accept the apology, October” he nodded, though he knew he wasn’t the only person that needed one. “But I’m not lifting the ban. Not yet at least. Actions still have consequences no matter how genuinely sorry you are.”
“Ah, well, can’t fault me for tryin’- and the apology was owed anyway.” He shrugs, the vampire’s response certainly out of character for who he’d been even a year earlier, picking up another bottle of wine and scrunching his eyebrows. “I’ve got kids, I’ll just send them to pick up groceries- they’re the ones who eat all the shit I’m bringin’ home anyway.” He doesn’t eat, after all, the wine he’s waffling over something he was picking up largely for Atlas and Sloane- unsure if the psychic would want something they could cook with, even if Atlas didn’t eat, he knew the rest of their ‘odd couple’ did. “I could just text them. I could just ask and this would be easier.” he mutters, putting both bottles of wine back only to turn around and stick a bottle of whiskey in the basket on his arm. He deserved a reward for all this thinking. Eventually he snags another two bottles by the neck, adds them to the basket and shrugs. “It will do.” His focus returns to the conversation at hand a moment later. “In any case, I’ll live with a ban, not the first nor possibly the last place I’ll ever be barred from. First one I wasn’t informed of the ban before I bonked into a magic wall though.”
Am I talking to myself?
I need someone to hold me steady
Someone to fix this mind of mine
Mind of mine
Mind of mine, yeah
A mind that left me on the floor and shaking
Scared to death and suffocating
God I think I'm running out of time
To make it right
And fix this mind of mine
Highs and lows are all I know
I don't wanna be a fucked up father.
percy was pittering around his apartment getting ready for his trip to the museum with october– it’s a date– his brain supplies, but his cheeks heat at the word and he shakes his head, shoving that thought away in embarrassment. he stands in his bathroom for a moment, checking his outfit over when he feels the little tingle in the back of his head when the front door to his apartment opens– pausing for a moment before giggling as october calls out to him.
“i’ll be out in a minute!” he calls back, then pauses. “hey! be nice to wis!” he scolds gently, his cheeks puffing up a little. he shakes his head with a small giggle, and starts brushing his teeth– trying to ignore the giddiness tugging at him at the fact that he was about to spend an afternoon with october, smiling to himself.
jonquil doesn’t announce his presence before suddenly jumping up on the counter, spooking percy enough to make him jump and flail a little– having been lost in his thoughts. he pouts at jonquil but reaches out, gently scratching his fluffball of a cat under the chin and pressing a soft kiss to the cats forehead. “oh? and where have you been, little man? were you sleeping?” he cooes softly, kissing him again before leaving the bathroom– skipping out of his room and into the living room, his face lighting up when he spots october on his couch– his stomach fluttering happily, a grin spreading over his lips as he runs right over to him.
his arms lift as october stands, meeting him half way as the man kisses him– melting into it, his eyes fluttering shut as he hums against the other man’s lips as he leans up to follow after october when he pulls back. his eyes flutter open again, and he blinks slightly.
“he wants to be in the shop really bad lately,” he sighs, frowning a little. “he doesn’t go past the front doors, so maybe i should ask lucas to help me install a cat door on the front door? i think jonquil’s also worried about hen, honestly. he likes to go down there and keep her company, but he hasn’t yet figured out how to sneak back into the apartment where his favorite blanky is so sometimes i just find him crying at the door.”
percy giggles at the mention of jonquil’s legs, grinning a little. “i love his dumb little legs. theyre little drumsticks.” he gives october one more peck before pulling back, instead taking the man’s hand and swinging them between the two of them for a moment. “i’m excited for the museum,” he giggles, “thanks for making time for me today, i missed you a lot. how’s everything with the clan?” he says it almost apologetically, squeezing the man’s hand.
“Come on sugar, I’m always happy to make time for you. You wanted to go to the museum, and I needed a day off desperately- Just so happened it worked out that we can do both, yeah?” October pats his cheek fondly as Percy takes his hand, the kiss lingering against cool lips as the vampire adjusts the collar of his coat, the red coat having replaced much of the... rebel with a cause, sense of dress, his usual wasps pinned near his neck and the rest of him draped in black. It was a more simplistic way of dress, his scarred fingers not covered now with the black leather gloves he tended to wear when working with the clan. “It’s a lot of busy work lately, but we’re settling into the swing of things, got a lot to attend to most days, but eventually, maybe I’ll be able to spend time with you and my kids without having to schedule you all in like I’ve got business meetings. Feels a little wrong, if I’m honest.”
He doesn’t want to have to schedule time to spend it with people who matter to him- clan meetings are one thing, visiting with people who he’s certainly come to regard as family, people who require his protection, look to him for leadership, even if it’s with a grain of salt- well aware of the man he’d been less than a year prior. It’s been a lot of change terribly fast, and October’s at the very least thankful that through it all, Percy’s been a steadfast friend. His worst habits seem... distant, now. No hunger biting at him to kill, no loss of control over the world around him making him cruel- He’s not perfect, still equip with a poor temper and a biting, harsh tongue, he’s softened, learned how to better cope with the rage that boils in his chest from time to time- he’s still no mediator, turning to Calem’s more careful, calm view of the world than trusting his own to break up a disagreement or fight- but he can lead, and ensure the safety of his clan- and those they protect, like Percy himself.
“You think if one of my dogs and Jonquil met in the middle of leg distribution they’d both have normal sized legs?” October wonders after a second, finally taking Percy in with a slight grin. “You look cute, sugar.” He chimes, kissing his forehead and producing his phone to check the time. “We’ve got time, I figure we could park a little further back from the museum and take a walk, grab a bite to eat or something for you before we get there and you spend a not-small amount of time rattling on to me about spider-deer or dragons or those weird nightmare horses in the natural history portion. I’ve never seen a dragon skeleton and they’ve apparently got a few of them, that’s exciting, right?” He bends at the waist to pull Percy up into another short kiss, giving himself and the little hybrid a once over. “Well, at the very least since I started dressing to run the clan, I look less like I’m gonna kidnap you.”
They’re still wildly anachronistic to one another, Percy bright and happy, clad in browns and yellows with pretty orange eyes sparkly and eager. October remains autumnal like his name despite the season, a cold in odd blue eyes and deep blacks and grays accented by jewel tones. If Percy is summer and light, flowers growing under careful hands, October is his namesake, bare and biting, cutting and cold when he sweeps through. He wonders if perhaps Percy notices the poetry of it all, when the vampire sits down to write songs that have no place in the tracklistings of a Porphyria album, they never say the word proper. But the fire burns anyway, threatens to eat him alive if he’s not careful. He’s grown to like the way it burns, will let it swallow up his dry sticks and snow if it means a few seconds longer with soft sunlight and wildflowers.
He thinks perhaps if he could say it, he would. Knows that Percy doesn’t like him like that. So he’ll take kisses and trips to the museum on days he’s not trapped in the morgue basement or busying himself with the safety of other vampires in the city. Little, soft hands wrapped in large, rough ones. “Let’s make a day of it. I don’t get proper off days a lot, anymore.” he points out- much of his time spent with Percy spent now in one of their beds or a couch, curled close with the Vampire’s face in the hybrid’s hair, the pair asleep or talking softly- or lips roaming Percy’s throat, hands touching like he might break beneath them. It’s not often he gets to go somewhere, and he’s excited at the prospect.
Even if that ‘somewhere’ is a museum where he’s sure to wind up having to learn about magical creatures while Percy gleefully flits from exhibit to exhibit. He likes making the boy happy- he’d have gone anywhere he asked. “I will insist we take the October sized jeep I drove here rather than anything Percy sized.” he teases. “You got all your stuff together, pretty boy? Once we’re sure Jonquil hasn’t worked out how to escape to give people great deals on monsteras and daisies We should probably get going.” he reasons with a grin. “He might benefit from a cat door, definitely long as he sticks to the store and the apartment he’d probably like going back and forth. Though again, if my legs were as little as his I feel like I’d choose to make most of my trips from the bed to getting food then back to bed again.”
“I was in fact just fuckin with you but now I’m a little concerned at the fact that you have put extra body parts with the wrong people before. Remind me again how you’re in charge?” Zeke poked fun at October a bit, he knew he’s been doing this job way longer than he ever has and possibly ever will but he can’t pass up an opportunity to mess with the vampire.
“Yeah I got it,” He walked over to the body moving it from the table to a rolling gurney and bringing it to 1G before depositing the body in the drawer. “Hot chicks name is Olive, you know you can use it or at least give her something else as a nickname.” He rolled his eyes at the other, “Alright fair point, just send the shit over I’ll work on it later. Why do you make their problems your anyway? I would understand the family but I never pictured you as the guy to help people who weren’t if I’m bein honest,”
“What, I’m not allowed a learning period? you think I came out the pussy fuckin... Supercoroner? Give me a break, we all started somewhere and I’ve been doing drugs like it’s my job since before you were alive.” October insists, rolling his eyes behind his glasses. “Sometimes parts get mixed up, especially in big fuckin’ accidents.” There’s a brief sadness in odd eyes, perhaps remembering the last ‘big fucking accident’ as he runs his tongue over his fangs. “In any case, I just like to be sure. The dead deserve respect from the morgue to the grave. I lose track of it, sometimes, sure. And if you don’t have fun with it you’ll lose your mind. But at the end of the day maybe the least I’d ask, of the person dealing with the last remaining ‘me’ when I’m dead and gone, is a little respect.”
It’s guilt. Gnawing and cruel. That there are people in the feywild who will never get a proper burial, never know peace. It’s Jack, the very fae enforcing the curfew that knows his secret. It’s Jack’s apathy to the lives of others that spares October any of this coming out. He is so kind to those who cross his path in his work out of guilt that those who cross it in hunger never see a final resting place chosen by their families. He always tries to pick a nice place for them, at least. “Because if I don’t solve it who will? At the end of the day I’m often the last chance somebody has for justice, if they’ve been killed, by malicious intent or negligence, by accident or divine right- We’re the first and last step for answers, Zeke. And the strange cases keep me up at night. The murder on New Year’s never saw justice. her killers run the city now. The victims of the earthquake, and that gang bombing years ago. Nobody answered for them. I found the COD. And now they rot in an evidence locker. I don’t like that feeling, Doctor Hunt.”