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Old November 27 2008, 05:32 PM   #21
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Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Bookends


Even the attempted levity didn't really do much for the drive. It had been pretty cold in the skimmer until it had time to warm up; usually, it could be remote started and toasty by the time it was used, but they didn't waste time waiting for that, and didn't want Corry's parents to hear it running outside anyway.

Corry had fallen silent, mostly focused on driving and probably some on seething. He didn't pay much mind to the speed limits; part of working on the skimmer last year had been disabling the computer that recorded its speed, a tattle system, and the other part had been adding a small sensor array that would pick up and disperse any scanning from law enforcement, either automated or otherwise. Scotty didn't have any real qualms about engineering either modification -- initially, just for fun. Now, apparently, they'd get a real test.

He didn't venture to ask what kind of trouble Rachel was in. He'd only seen her a few times in the past few years; she was going to college in Boston, and didn't come back to Maine very often. He probably spent more time there anymore than she did. When she was around, she didn't seem the same as she had when they'd met and he'd briefly fallen madly in love with her -- she was more aloof, for one, and seemed to only be around because she was expected to be.

At first, it had been easy to sympathize with that. But after awhile, he had to kind of wonder why she wouldn't want to be home.

He didn't really pay attention to the speed or the drive. It was kind of funny to him, sometimes, that he'd never actually bothered to go and get a license for a skimmer. He could pilot a shuttle, and he'd even piloted a starship in a simulator, and he'd held the helm of a schooner in a gale, but he'd never actually gotten a skimmer license. Not that he hadn't driven one before. But he just never got his license.

He was still a bit sleepy, even after the cold and the worry, and left his head leaning on the passenger-side window, mostly watching the narrow crescent moon. It felt kind of dream-like... surreal, in a way. A wee hours of the morning, way-too-fast drive down the coast, glowing dash lights, moon, silence.

"She's high," Corry said, probably an hour into the drive. Like he couldn't believe it, and was pissed off about it, and scared, and not knowing what was going to happen. "Pretty new drug on the market called Tee on the streets. We were just studying this shit two weeks ago in class."

Scott didn't even begin to know what to say about that, but he picked his head up and looked over, frowning.

"This is stupid." Cor stared fixedly ahead; Scotty could hear his teeth grinding together over there. "What... I don't know. It's really Goddamn stupid."

"Aye," Scott said. No doubting he agreed. It was hard to process the idea. Even harder to wonder what the Hell a drug would do for her, when she was going to college, and had a loving, supportive family at home, and how anyone could be idiotic enough to risk that kind of thing. Still, that line of thought was filtered a bit, even now, through that surreal cast. It was hard to believe. It didn't really work with how he wanted to view reality, even if it was reality.

Cor growled, though Scott knew it wasn't directed towards him, just towards this... this madness, this stupidity that dragged them out in the dark hours to pick up an idiot girl. Corry because it was his sister, Scott because he wouldn't let his best friend go into a bad place alone.

"You shouldn't be here," Corry said, after another few minutes of grinding his teeth.

Scotty wasn't entirely sure how to reply to that one, either. But he gave it his best shot, crossing his arms. "Why? 'Cause yer sister's an idiot and ye don't want me knowin' that?"

Corry spared only the briefest glance over, but it proved that he hadn't been thinking that at all. Then he went back to glaring at the road. "No."

Well. It didn't take long for the real reason to click, but they didn't say anything else. Scott frowned to himself, going back to watching the moon.

He'd never really connected with his own sister, not after they were older. There were any number of reasons why, some big, some small; the last time he remembered really feeling like she was there was when she was just a toddler, and it was before she got into art, and he remembered that he felt like he'd do anything to protect her even if she did steal his stuff. But it had been most of a lifetime ago now, and what little they did interact nowadays tended to be stilted or even outright hostile. He still tried, though, sometimes. Even if it usually ended badly.

He didn't have any brothers, and hadn't really gotten to understand the concept of siblings from an adult perspective. For that matter, he hadn't even started understanding the concept of friends until he was out on his own; he'd been certain, for the longest time, that he didn't really need any friends so long as he had something to tear apart or put together or design or fix.

He wondered if this was what it was like to be a younger brother. He thought that it was. It was easy to want to believe that Corry didn't want him there because Cor didn't want him seeing anything less than the happy side of that family's life.

Except, it only took a look and a word to explain it, and the reality was that Corry didn't want him there because you don't put someone you try to protect into dark places. Yank them back out, maybe, but you don't put them in there.

"Ye're not allowed to do that," Scotty said, decisively, though it surprised him when he did.

"Do what?" Corry asked, his frustration fading for a moment in light of confusion.

Scott gestured, aimlessly. "Ye're not allowed to watch my back at th' expense of yer own. It's give and take, or not at all."

"It's not always that simple."


Corry shook his head. "You're here, aren't you?"

It wasn't for a moment that Corry wanted him to be, and Scott knew it. But it was a good enough answer for now. He let it go there.

"I suppose it's a moot point to ask you to stay put," Corry said, calmly, as they stood in front of the house.

"I suppose it is," Scott replied, surveying the building critically. It looked like it was about a month away from being condemned. A few lights were on, little shards of brightness that came through the holes in the dark colored drapes meant to keep prying eyes out.

It wasn't really surprising that he wasn't the least bit apprehensive. Scotty wasn't sure what that said about him, that he could work himself into a nervous wreck around wonderful people in a beautiful town, but that he didn't even feel a flicker of fear at the idea of walking boldly into some drug house to retrieve a really stupid girl. He wasn't sure he wanted that answer, either.

Cor had resigned himself to the fact that he had someone at his back, though he still looked unhappy about it. But after a few moments, he went into business-mode, and Scott knew Corry wasn't really afraid for his own safety either; any apprehension he had was for his sister and his best friend.

Well, all right, they shared that.

Corry didn't say anything else. He walked up to the door like he owned the place and pounded on it; Scott stayed a few paces behind to the right of his shoulder, waiting to jump in if anything bad happened. He would have taken point, but this would have to do.

Nothing terrible happened. Some guy opened the door, obviously high, totally oblivious to the other people behind him screaming at him that he shoulda checked to make sure it wasn't the police for several moments. He turned around to tell them to shut up, then when he looked back, he got a face full of Corry, who spoke in chillingly normal tones. "Where's my sister?"

"Whu...?" the guy asked, wavering back and forth some.

"Rachel. Where is she?"

"Oh. Man. She's upstairs. You her brother? That's really--"

He didn't get much of a chance to say what that really was; Corry shoved him aside and walked in, and Scotty followed, picking up the vigilance his best friend had left at the door. No one really seemed all that interested in interfering, though. Half of 'em were strung out on some extremely ragged looking furniture, and all of them looked like they'd be lucky if they could recite the alphabet.

Still, he kept himself on alert as they climbed the steps. Even if he could out-think these twits with three quarters of his brain missing, they still had him and Cor outnumbered at least five to one. He didn't pay so much attention to the actual surroundings, though this was the first time he'd ever been in this sort of place -- just stepped over the occasional body sprawled out in the hallway and kept on edge for any kind of attack.

If there was any real apprehension, it was when they were checking rooms. The silent fear being that they would find Rach dead or worse in a place like this.

Luckily, that turned out not to be the case. She was laying on a bed, alone, the long legs that Scotty used to admire nothing more than dead-weight hanging over the side. Corry stepped over, shaking her; she didn't really do much stirring, though. Just enough to swat at him.

"I'll carry her," Cor said, still business-like, but the shaky note in his voice gave away just how badly this was bothering him.

"Ayuh," Scott replied, and it had the effect he intended. Corry shot him a slightly exasperated look, but looked more centered after it.

It didn't really take long. Cor slung his sister over his shoulders in an entirely unceremonious manner; no damsel-in-distress ride for Rachel tonight. It was only then that she really roused herself and started cussing dazedly at him.

They both tuned her out. Down the steps, though her pissing and moaning managed to catch the attention of some of her buddies or whatever-the-hell they were. A couple struggled up, and the one who'd answered the door turned around and just about got in the way.

Scotty pretty much had the empty, discarded whiskey bottle in hand before he even really knew he did; his mind caught up, though, and he smashed it on a nearby table, causing the entire group to jump. And without a blink, he tipped his head to the side a little and pointed the jagged neck of it at the guy in the way. "Step aside, or I'll gut ye like a fish."

It was an even tone, and they must have realized that he meant it.

He was still watching the door and still gripping the broken bottle when Corry came back from putting Rachel in the back seat of the skimmer.


Scott pulled his attention from the door and looked at Cor for a moment.

Corry shook his head. "C'mon, Wolf. Let's go home."

It was as much gentle warning as it was anything else, and then he had a past again; a before, to go with the now. Scott nodded, tossed the broken bottle aside, and headed back for the skimmer without looking behind him.

The ride back was, if anything, quieter than the ride down. And that said a lot. Rachel fell asleep; Corry offhandedly related that she'd probably be sobered up again by the time that their parents were awake, and that was it.

The moon was gone, and that just left them and the occasional groan from the backseat, and no sign of the sunrise. Just dashlights. The world was a whole lot sharper, though, in that way that things get clearer when you're really too burned up inside to think much, just observe.

The road from Boston went from being new territory to being something more familiar; the last couple of legs, from Wiscasset, through Damariscotta, then down to Rutherford Island and South Bristol were the same as the road to Augusta. Scott wasn't too sure exactly when this had become familiar ground, and he didn't really devote any of his thoughts to trying to pick apart why it would feel like relief, being back in this area, and why (at the exact same time) he could feel such a spike of irritation at Rachel about it. It just was.

It was only after they parked the skimmer, and just before he went to carry his sister in that Corry said anything, and then it was only two words. "I'm sorry."

A million years and a million words wouldn't explain what that meant, but it was about brothers and dark places, and Scotty understood it anyway. And even if he would have had a million years to come up with an answer, it still would have been the same one:

"I'm not."

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