ANOTHER LATE NIGHT POORLY THOUGHT OUT POST ON TF2CHAN?
DON'T MIND IF I DO
It’s early Sunday morning. Too early for a sunrise or birdsong, but I can feel the cusp of daylight approaching and with it the summer heat. A peek out the window confirms that the sky is starting to pale. The squat apartment building across the street is dark and quiet, and a few pedestrians flit between sidewalks like wary robins. I let my hand drop and stalk into the bathroom. It’s cooler and feels good after a restless night. When I flick on the lights, though, the sudden flash is like a brand against my retinas.
The first time I see my reflection since yesterday isn’t encouraging. I’m a lightly built man to begin with, but now I simply look thin and tired.
Funny how knowledge can change everything, isn’t it? Yesterday, I thought myself quite healthy for a retired assassin. Sure, my blood pressure is a little higher these days and I really shouldn’t smoke and drink so much, but these are habits without consequence. Can you blame me for being so trite after the years I spent as BLU Spy? I’m used to death being violent and sudden. Not a subtle orchestra of genetics and plain bad luck.
Today, I’m looking into the mirror and seeing a man dying of lung cancer.
One day--soon, the doctors assure me--I will cease to exist. I’ll be gone. Just like that. My life is a footprint on the beach, erased by the many feet of those who come after and don’t know or care that I walked there before they did. And I, being the good spy that I am, encouraged that to the best of my abilities so I could erase the lives of others.
Jesus fucking Christ.
At least I’m alone. I’m afforded that dignity. Or curse. No wife or children to break the news to. I’ve been two one-night stands shy of chastity since the war ended and RED Sniper vanished into the chaotic jubilation of the Cold War’s end. He gave me his number in a fit of sentimentality that had made me laugh at the time, and it probably is disconnected now, but I have it. I don’t have to use it.
But maybe if I call once. Not to talk. Not to catch up or anything. Just--to hear his voice. At worst, he’ll be annoyed. He won’t remember me, either.
My phone is still off the hook. I can hear the dial tone as I enter the living room. A minor rebellion against the doctors who said I am sick and need to have my innards butchered just to have a chance at recovery. Fuck them. They lobbed a death sentence and salvation at me during the same appointment. They can wait.
It takes a while to find Sniper’s number. I’m always squirreling things away in fits of paranoia, regardless of the fact that I lose half of the things I’m trying to protect. My passport eluded me for two months before I found it again. It’s a silly thing. Something a lover would be fond of.
There it is, hidden under the counter. A tightly folded piece of lined paper is the only link I have with Sniper. It makes me want to start bawling, fucking damn it. There’s light seeping in from under the curtains when I sit on the couch. It’s still early, though. What time is it in Australia? I used to know. Shit.
Oh well. I’ll just let it ring until he wakes the fuck up.
If he’s still there.
Maybe he’s made this journey before me. Maybe he’s gone. Or maybe he has a wife and kids, and the perfect nuclear family I’m always hearing about. Maybe he won’t answer and it will be someone else who knows him better than I do. And what would I say to them? I’m just an old man with lung cancer lusting after a fuck buddy on the wrong side of a war that has been over for years.
I’m calling him anyway.
The ringing sounds different than calls made in Canada. It’s a weird thing to notice, I know, but it’s a reality check. I’m doing this. I have cancer. I’m dying and I’m doing this. And it’s Sunday fucking morning when I should be in bed.
I really need a cigarette.
“--Yea, alright alright.... Hello?”
God. It’s him. He sounds the same.
He has a wonderful voice. I remember the tone from spending many hours in that horrible van of his. We’d light a cigarette and talk bullshit while the desert sun slowly rose over the horizon.... He had smelled like sweat and leather with breath that reeked of coffee, and always threw an arm around me after sex. The disgust I used to feel when his sweaty armpit touched my shoulder is still one of the most intimate things I have ever experienced.
There’s an angry grumble and a click.
I call him back.
“Wot the fuck are you on about?”
Sniper’s voice always softens when he’s angry. It draws you in before the fatal strike. I used to piss him off just to hear it. It still has the same effect even now. It’s like a glimpse of colour after a lifetime of blindness. The first graze of sunlight on a newborn’s skin. I nearly forget the years that span between now and the gritty paradise of our past.
He sighs, which creates an explosion of static.
“If I gotta unplug this to get some sleep....”
It pops out of my mouth without forethought. Shit. There’s a long long silence I can barely hear over my heartbeat and I’m ashamed to admit I’m sweating. I should hang up but I can’t. I can hear him breathing and if I close my eyes, all the more terrifying now, I can imagine that breath is warm on my skin and he is with me, and there is no such thing as cancer.
It comes as a whisper, but feels like a kidney shot. It’s more intimate than my real name. Only a handful of people know about that and most of them are dead--either by age or politics. Tears prick my eyes despite all the effort I put in to retain any sort of dignity. Even after all this time, he knows it’s me from one goddamn word. I hold the phone at arm’s length until I can breath without choking on my own snot.
“How did you get my number, spook?”
And there it is. The golden note I followed right into his bed. A soft, gravelly tone like torn velvet that could charm the spots off of a leopard.
The first attempt to speak is a mangled croak. I have to clear my throat awkwardly and clearly before I start over. “You gave it to me before...before.”
I can hear the rumple of bedsheets and a clicking sound. He’s sitting up in bed. It triggers a rush of memories.The smell of old wood and dust is so powerful and unexpected that I can picture him perfectly in my mind’s eye. He must have a lamp by the bedside. Its soft, mellow light would highlight the dips and grooves of his stomach, the thin, dark curls that spanned from chest to navel, and silver scars that ran in silver bolts over his skin. It all wells up like blood from a wound. I can picture him on his side, leaning over me with that crooked smile on his face, and complaining about how skinny my legs are.
Like a giraffe, he had said. Long and knobby. He never complained when I wrapped them around his waist, though.
“Yea. I am.” He sounds tired and bewildered and anxious, though a person with less experience with him would never know it.
“Good.” I swallow the lump of grief that’s steadily creeping up my throat. I should’ve done this much much sooner. “I...are you married?”
There’s another long pause. I can feel him wondering where this conversation is going. “Nah,” he says in that divine goddamn tone again. “I am what I am. Couldn’t live a sham, not even for me folks.”
I have no right to feel as relieved as I do. “Children?”
He chuffs despite himself. It’s nice to know I can still make him laugh. “Wot do you take me for? No, no ankle-biters.”
“Do you ‘ave an regrets?”
“No,” he replies immediately. “You?”
I don’t know why, but the truth of it loosens the tension in my back. I hunch over the phone and stare at it’s old, worn faceplate. Somehow, it feels better to know you’re leaving behind people you love, instead of knowing that no one will miss you when you’re rotting in the ground.
“I was thinking about you the other day.”
Now I feel startled and off-kilter.
“Was wondering wot happened to you. Where you’d gone. If you were dead or alive.” There’s another blast of static. “Whether I’d want to know or not.”
After another long silence, I gather enough courage to ask, “And would you?”
“Course I would.” He sounds angry, then dips back into his velvety tone. “Where you calling from?”
“Fleuve-de-Tresse,” pops out of my mouth before I can think of a suitable lie. It’s an old spy reflex. Lie, evade, disappear. “My ‘ome. It’s near de St. Lawrence. You know, rustic and rural to attract all de tourists.”
He smiles. I can feel it over the phone.
“Got a similar set-up here. Except we have an airport.”
I shake my head to ward away a spark of hope. “As do we.”
More whispering of bedsheets and a loud creak. He’s standing up. Those calloused feet with their silly tan lines from his favorite sandals hit the carpet without a sound. I can see it all. It’s enough to make my eyes ache.
“Alright, then.” His voice is different. Deep and certain--as if he’s getting ready for battle again. “I’ll see you there.”
He hangs up.
I don’t call him back.
Instead, I drop the phone and rush to the bathroom and vomit. After that, I sit back against the bathroom wall and cry. Whether it’s out of joy or grief or some vexatious mix of both, I can’t tell. All I know is that I’m dying of cancer and desperately craving a cigarette. Even worse, Sniper is coming and I don’t think he’s going to tell me what flight he’ll be on.
I have to shower. Shave. Clean my apartment.
Really good so far. Got any more?
I don't know why I love the idea of a Quebecois spy so much, but I do. I really do. Maybe it's the Canuck in me that feels a sort of weird sense of camaraderie, but who knows?
Either way, I'd love to see more. I love this pairing, and I love the way you write them, and I love this whole scenario.
Brainspasms... I love this! oh please do continue this
Please continue, this is breaking my heart in a very good way. Spy's little descriptions of Sniper (the tan lines etc.) totally put me there.
Oh, this already made me cry. I would love to see more of this.
Our definitions of 'poorly thought-out' differ immensely.
This is probably one of the best pieces I've ever read. The characters, the scene, the scenario, they're all so fleshed-out and detailed they're practically tangible. The feelings are raw and real and alive, and it just... you sucked me in completely. It's gritty and honest and, just... I can't think of enough good things to say about this piece.
Thank you. Thank you so very much.
moar CX! i love the story!
Not gonna lie, I hugged my computer and got a bit teary eyed.
I could picture the scene just about perfectly in my head; a little dingy kitchen, a well scrubbed wooden table, one of those phones with the really long curled cord, and that all important crumbled bit of salvation.
The thought that a little piece of lined paper is the only thing he has to support himself...
Oh God, crushed my insides into weeping pulp.
Goddamnit I wish people would stop posting loving comments. YES, we ALL love it. Stop making me think there are updates. ;_;
Goddamnit! MOAR! We cry for MOAR!
GODDAMMIT, foiled again by doting bumps. Were it not for the updates in /afic, I'd be le sad right now.
I am le sad. We need an update, wry Lawlspy?! WRRRYYY?
I'm working on it, goddammit. The second chapter is nearly finished.
NEED AN UPDATE HEYAH!
I am le sad :( Update soon please?
I'm working on it. Life threw me a curveball so--dealing. I'm on the last page, though. And working on Reed Fields.
It may take a wee bit longer, but I am working on guys. Don't worry.
It's okay, it's worth the wait.
I suppose I shall have to continue to wait patiently. I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.
I can't believe we need updates, I think it's perfect as one. It should be framed.
Anon #22 lies. We need updates. Badly.
It's been over 3 weeks... Really looking forward to it, but the wait is killing me!
I APOLOGIZE FOR THE BUMP, BUT I NEED THIS
....I will kill you.
Bump was needed but I am in pain
I will rape a small animal every day that you do not update.
kidding, but no
this is awesome
Fucking Bitch Tits. I thought this was going to update like a year ago. Sorry, I'm a mother fucker and bumped this.
>>8 Pretty much covered anything I would have said. Simply fantastic writing.
>>29 Thanks for the bump. Wouldn't have read this otherwise.
Honestly I'll be a bit upset if this is left as-is, but at the same time I think I also like it as a one-shot. So either way, it's a win. The emotions are clear and crisp, and the scenario is like a breath of fresh air in an increasingly repetitive fandom. Good job.
(Captcha is "worry not". Thought that was interesting.)
Jesus Christ, guys. You're worse at nagging than my mom. Here is the next chapter, largely unedited. I do not give a fuck. It's also on my t u m b l r under 'stories'.
It’s quarter to twelve. It’s sunny and warm and humid as a jungle. The curb outside the airport terminal is filled by a steady stream of traffic. Tourists. The human locusts that swarm to any remotely pleasant location and devour all that’s good about it, then go home and tell others what a lovely time they had. Fuck off. They push past me and I have to stifle the urge to check for my wallet every time. I would have robbed them blind a thousand times in that short window of bodily contact.
Some ass has the nerve to eye my cigarette, put down his luggage, and ask, “Can I bum a smoke?”
“Non. Crisse de cave.”
He stares at me those big brown cow eyes that look even bigger against a receding hairline. “Sorry, what? I don’t speak French.”
“Pff, dans le cul.”
The pretentious cunt mimics smoking and I dare say I enjoy breathing in the smoke and blowing it out in a blue jet. He looks away first. Ha. That’s it. Take your bag and get into the cab. That’s it. Blush and don’t look me in the eye. Fucker. Get lost.
These are the very cigarettes that have killed me, but it makes them taste that much better. My chest aches and I feel a little bit out of breath, but the irony makes me smile for the first time in two days. I think I enjoy cigarettes more now than ever before.
As if to reprimand me, a stray itching pain causes a wracking cough to rake down my throat and reverberate through my lungs. It feels like a large fist is squeezing my chest and for seven terrifying seconds I can’t breath. There’s a faint tang of blood and sick on the back of my tongue. I clear my throat a little too loudly and people stare with a mix of curiosity and concern. When they turn away I walk to the garbage and discreetly spit out a pink glob of spittle and crush the butt of my cigarette on the garbage bin’s scuffed ledge. There’s no dignity in terminal illness, is there?
I glance at my watch to avoid the probing stares of passers by, nosey fuckers, and head inside. He will be coming in from Toronto and sadly there is a flight from Toronto every two hours. It’s very frustrating.
The airport is busier than usual today. Flocks of English-speaking tourists fill the small terminal. I can see the single car rental service is overrun and the Chinese exchange student working there is ready to pull out her hair.
Yes, I know her name. I know which part of Beijing she lived in and that she came here to learn medicine. She lives three blocks away from me and has regular dalliances with women when her cousin, the only relative she has in this country, is away getting into the same mischief. They have no idea what the other is up to and I dare say it’s the most entertaining drama in the neighborhood.
Hers is my favorite story, but I know every one of the employees in the airport. They don’t know me, but I have thoroughly scrutinized every aspect of their personal lives. It’s all on file now, which saves me a lot of leg work. It may seem excessive to some, but it is what keeps men like me alive. Only to die on cancer, yes, but still. I have this time. This moment. The airport is safe and I can meet Sniper without fear of reprisal. A spy is never truly retired until he is either dead or believed to be dead.
I walk past the bustling crowd and head towards the arrivals gate. She doesn’t even glance at me and yet I know intimate details about her life. If there is ever a time I forget why I became a spy, the power in moments like this reminds me. I could crush her fragile life unfolding here or help it bloom and she doesn’t even know it.
And yet I can’t find Sniper’s flight.
No, that is dishonest.
I won’t. I’m--afraid.
Another flight has landed from Toronto and my palms go cold and clammy all over again. I can guide wars and change lives, but waiting for Sniper sweeps all of that aside. He is unhygienic and by no means the most attractive or suave man I have slept with. It’s the silliest thing. Even as I walk back towards the domestic gate, the memory of his rough, calloused hands sends a thrill up the inside of my thighs.
It’s now 12:04 PM and I have done this dance several times this morning, but it’s still the same. Unfamiliar faces pour through the door. At first, it’s just a trickle. Then the whole damn flight floods the gate. Some are brisk and businesslike. Some are greasy-haired and exhausted. Some are bright-eyed and smiling. Some are greeted by families right away. Others walk by, alone. So many irrelevant, unfamiliar faces. For an absurd moment, I wish it was over with. All of it. Sniper, the cancer, my life. I can’t handle these in-between moments. Give me what was and what will be, and I’m happy. It’s the what if’s that I can’t handle.
His presence touches me.
His eyes are on me.
And there he is, pushed to the side by irritated passengers behind him. He’s looking at me. He’s taller than I remember. His hair is longer, too, with gray around his temples. His skin is darker, more deeply lined. It’s the same look the world over. An outdoorsman. A man who earns a hard living. Does he see the same in me? Does he see--it?
Here he is, and I’m just standing in the middle of the airport like a starstruck girl. Jesus. This is the part all those soppy romance movies forget to tell you about. You stare at each other with absolutely no idea of how to proceed. None at all. There’s so much riding on this first--second--impression, it’s nailed my feet to the perfectly polished floor.
But then we’re standing in front of each other. Jesus, when did he start walking? I don’t even remember. An unfamiliar scar slices his right eyebrow in half and leaves a silver notch on his eyelid. A story I don’t know about. Another thing I will have to fix.
“Well?” Sniper prompts and gestures to himself. “Not what you expected?”
I never thought it would be this hard not to kiss him.
It takes an age to find my voice. “You still look like a ‘orse.”
His brows quirk at that. The new scar stretches like a silver elastic. “And you still look like a bloody giraffe.”
I look at him for a moment. His stubble. His hair, greasy now from hours traveling. He’s wearing some horrendous shirt that makes him look like he went golfing with a car salesman. I would have never allowed him to buy it. Ever. I will have to find him something else. He raises his hand to--touch me? But we are in public. He passes it off as flicking away an insect. His palms are heavily calloused. His arms sport prominent veins. He’s all bone and gristle, really.
“Do you....” Christ, my voice is nearly gone. “Do you ‘ave many suitcases?” It takes all my willpower to stop looking at him and point to the carousels to my left.
“Nah.” He shrugs nonchalantly. “Just bought a ticket a came here.”
Why did I wait until now to call?
“I see. I’m parked out front.” I can’t even look at him or else I’m going to do something maudlin in front of everyone. “Dere is a mall near my place. You can sleep and I’ll pick up some basic nece--”
“No,” he says. Quickly. Too quickly.
I make the mistake of looking at him. His face is intense. Focused. Entirely too handsome. It’s been too long since I’ve had that look directed at me. He forces himself to relax. I can imagine all the muscles in his shoulders losing tension. Sculpted and scarred from years on the hunt. And from one or two nights in his van, too.
Okay. Stop looking. Stop looking. Of all the inappropriate places to grow amorous. Jesus.
“Let’s just get to your place.” Sniper tries to look casual, but he’s not a good liar. Never was. He’s close to the edge. Well, that’s somewhat comforting if not extraordinarily more inconvenient.
But how the hell am I going to drive 20 minutes feeling exactly the same way?
I love you!
It's not even smut, and I think I already came. Kudos. I really hope there's more soon, but I won't nag. Merely express my desire to read more of your work, because it's very very good.
you have a way with writing characters that is honestly entrancing. All the stories of yours I've read have really put me in the moment and made me feel what the characters are feeling. I really enjoyed this update.
you are godly and thank you for this incredible chapter gahhh
I knew there would be an update soon! I knew it! I love you.
I LOVE YOU!!! On there has to be more!
This is AMAZING! You have to make more! :D
Just read the latest update... indeed, this is amazing. Don't mind all the people screaming MOAR, take your time with this one. It's definitely worth it.
Anon loves you dearly and can't wait for more <3 apologies for the bump
Bump was needed!
Read the whole thing... It's amazing! Write more please!
I am so sorry.
First, don't say you're sorry for a completely intentional bump. You're not.
Second, stop wasting peoples' time and bumping shit and getting hopes up for no reason. If you have praise or a comment towards the thing that you are commenting on, then feel free to say so. Otherwise, don't say anything. Especially not "I am so sorry". That helps no one.
Third, screw you. I thought it was an update.
Not sorry in the least, this needed a bump badly.
Update soon? :(
It's not wasting anybody's time to bump good stories! As a writer, I'll often think that people have forgotten about my fic if it hasn't gotten a comment in awhile, and a bump every once in awhile reminds me to work on it! It's nice to the author to tell them you like their work, and saging doesn't always get their attention.
and speaking of the author, this story is just lovely. I keep rereading it, the characterization is mesmerizing. I'd love to read more!
And I like having my epeen stroked, let's be honest. I'm working away, guys, don't worry. I'm also on steam and t umblr if you want to reach me in person.
Thanks a bunch guys.
This is an fantastic fic, one of the best I've ever read!
please update! this fic is getting good
Shameless bump, get!
Never have I wanted to read about two old men snogging as much as I do now. ಠ_ಠ
Please update this story! We're begging you!
Oh my god, this is wonderful! Please update!
Every time someone bumps this I get a mini heart attack - ye gods, pretty sure we are all waiting on tenterhooks for the next update- this is a fabulous story :)
oh there's no update
I'm getting antsyyyyyaahhh
/please/ update this story. I have to see how this ends! /please/
You have all of my hate. All if it.
GDI, I'm actually working on it right now. I know I'm not the fastest author in the world, but I'm getting there. I'm also working on new chapters for Permafrost and tRF if anyone gives a crap.
You take as long as you gosh darn well need, gosh darn it. The wait is sooo worth it.
Amazing ! This is a somewhat 'new' way to approach things, ( in this fandom at least ) and I really like it ! Please do update soon :)
I love this as much as I hate it, lol. Ugh, cancer, never would have thought of writing it into a plot. There really is no way to save Spy at this point, but I do look forward to seeing him have a little time with Sniper (even though, I have to admit, if I were Sniper I'd be fucking pissed that he waited until he was about to die to finally call and get my hopes up."
Apologies for faking out the people waiting for this to update. It just hurts me to see this drop off the first page.
Y'all make me cry. Why's there a bump without content?
It hurts to see this drop off the first page :( *le bump of sadness*
Okay, I think >67 is the same person as >64
Also underage B&
if it isn't going to be updated anytime soon (and it doesn't look like it) let it go, and let it drop off the page.
Hey now. A bump once in a while is nice for my ego, but it does get everyone's hopes up. Just let it slide until I update it. These things don't get deleted until they fall off the third page.
This story is good and you should feel good for writing it
I love how >70 is telling people to let it drop off the page AS they forgot to sage their comment, therefore bumping it up the page again.
I love this. I got my hopes up for a big lush sex scene, then I remembered I was on /fanfic/. It doesn't matter; it's wonderful.
Merry Christmas motherfuckers.
With great difficulty, it turns out.
My car, a humble little Hyundai, is filled with Sniper’s scent. His hand is planted on the armrest and comes very close to grazing my thigh. His breathing is quiet with an occasional whistle from his stuffy nose. He scratches his jaw. The scrape of his stubble is deafening in the car. I should be watching the road, but it’s impossible not to drink in the sight of him.
“Better drop the anchor,” Sniper says, tensing.
I turn just in time to see the SUV in front of me brake for the red light. My car gives an embarrassing lurch as I stop three inches from the other vehicle’s bumper. Sniper’s sunglasses fly off the edge of his shirt and clatter across the dashboard. Jesus Christ. I can’t help biting my lip as the lights turn again. I can’t even look at Sniper.
He lets out a breathless wheeze.
Shit. I’ve killed him!
“Oh God, are you okay?”
Sniper bends forward until his seatbelt locks, then throws his head back and laughs so hard he starts coughing.
Only Sniper can make my face burn so.
“Shut de fuck up.”
Which, of course, only makes him laugh harder.
“You shoulda seen the look on your face. I thought you were going to pinch out a Bondi.”
Traffic eases as I turn off the main highway, though I can’t help giving that SUV the finger. The passenger, an old woman with greying hair, looks aghast. Bitch.
“What is a Bondi?”
I’m not even sure I want to know, but pride has its demands. Mine cannot let such a thing go unchallenged. He leans closer to me and his scent is everywhere.
“A Bondi Cigar,” he says.
I remember him laughing like this. Smelling like this. Long nights in his camper van with my knees over his shoulders.
“Y’know,” his voice plummets to a whisper, “a turd.”
I can’t help but stare at him. “Why are we talking about shit?”
Sniper smiles indulgently. “You asked.”
“And I ‘ave only myself to blame.”
His voice slides down my belly. He sits back and relaxes. It’s hard to look away from the perfect angle of his shoulders.
The irresistible urge to cough scratches my throat. I smother the sound into the crook of my left arm. It cuts so deeply. It’s exhausting just to breathe.
“Got a cold?”
“Sounds pretty bad. You should see a doctor.”
I do a shoulder check while changing lanes as an excuse to look at him. He looks suspicious already. Fuck.
“Speaking of which, what ‘appened to your eye?”
Sniper actually shifts. Then his jeans pull in all the right ways and--fuck, I nearly missed the exit.
“Jesus, mate.” Sniper braces against seat. “Where’d you learn to drive?”
My ears are burning again. Bastard.
“I dought you Australians were adventurous.”
“Not that sort of adventurous. Holy Christ, mate.”
It takes some creative maneuvering, but I manage to cut into the exit lane. Honking ensues behind us. Idiots. They don’t have a deadline.
“Welcome to Quebec.” I glance at him. “Now, about dat scar.”
“Ahh, it’s a boring story.”
He laughs. “Fine fine. I was doing a hunt in Africa. A leopard got a taste for men’s blood and was attacking the locals.”
“Indeed.” I swerve left down a secondary road. “Only you’d call ‘unting a man-eater boring.”
“Well, nothing really fancy happened. I hunted him for a bit. Was in my camp starting to doze off when he snuck up on me.”
“I used to do de exact same to you. Didn’t you learn anything?”
“Yea, well....” He shrugs. “I was half-asleep, mind you.”
Had he thought it was me? After all this time?
“Anyway, would’ve been dead right then if I hadn’t been half propped on a log. I moved and flopped over, and his claw snagged my face instead of tearing it off.” He shook his head. “Damned lucky thing. It was a young cat. The older ones can get you with one quick bite to the neck.”
Familiar houses come into view.
“And ‘ow did you kill it?”
Sniper looks at me. “He ran off. I was up and angry by this point. Did a bluff.” At my look, he adds, “a sudden move with lots of noise. Lots of prey animals do it. Leopards are ambush predators and this one didn’t want a direct confrontation. Had to hunt him down later and kill him. Took four more days.”
He rubs his scar. It’s a habitual gesture. Something he doesn’t even realize he’s doing.
“You’re very lucky.”
“Well yea. But that’s part of the job.” He folds his hands behind his head. A wave of body odor fills the car. “Sorry,” he mutters and lowers his arms, “been a long flight.”
I shrug. “When did dis ‘appen?”
“Three years ago? Four?” He rubs the scar again. “Feels like it’s always been there.”
It feels like I’m swallowing egg. Neither of us speaks after that.
My apartment complex comes into view. A tidy little high rise near downtown affords me a view of the river. It’s a surreal series of events. I stop, put in the code, drive into the parking lot, and back into my space. It’s cool down here, but I can’t stop sweating. A cough rips out my throat.
Something cold jabs into my flank. It hurts. The seatbelt? I look down. It’s--a knife.
Sniper simply returns my stare. “Now what’s the real reason you called me?”
I like this VERY much. Although the combo platter of thrilled-tense-happy-sad is not something I would have normally ordered on my own. Thank you for making me try a new flavor.
oh, oh my. It's a Smissmas miracle!
Oh good golly an update! This is wonderful, thank you!
I came in here ready to scream at the screen 'STOP FUCKING BUMPING', but then...oh! An actual update!
JOY TO THE WORLD! A new chapter is come! And I am very intrigued to see where this is going.
OH MY GOSH... This is a miracle! I thought someone bumped it... but no!
help, this is getting too good
I really hope we get an update less than 5 months from this one
haha but no really, I'd wait 10 months for the next update.
Look what the lawlly dragged in.
Of course he’d think that.
“I’m not planning to kill you.”
He presses the knife a little deeper. I can feel my skin stretch to the breaking point. God, that thing is so cold.
“Not what I asked, spook.”
I feel foolish now. Of course things wouldn’t be the way they used to be. I abandoned him. I hadn’t needed him anymore. And he has no obligation to forgive me. If I hadn’t been so goddamn desperate--
The knife breaks through my skin.
“Ow!” I jerk away from Sniper. “You fucker. Dat ‘urts!”
He gives me that deadpan look of his. Infuriating creature. “Answer the question.”
“I wanted to see you, is dat so strange?”
“Yea and it ain’t good enough.”
The cold burn in my side vanishes. I sit back in time to take a punch in the gut. The steering wheel headbutts me--or is the other way around? Everything turns into nauseating greyscale. Someone starts blaring their horn. Idiots. Who interrupts two world-class assassins with a car horn?
Things begin to clear. My cheek is pressed against the horn. My car is the one bleating. Sniper pulls me back. He looks scared.
“Wot the fuck is this?”
He’s in the my face now. He has morning breath mixed with coffee and alcohol. It’s hard to breathe. Like trying to inhale cement. All those cigarettes. And it’s such an awful thing, too. To top it all off, my nose is running.
“Tell me you didn’t call me here to watch you die.” He suddenly sounds out of breath. “Tell me that’s not the reason you called after all this time.”
“Of course not.”
Well, it’s not like I haven’t lied to him before. At least this time it’s for his own good.
He stares at me for a long time. “Lying son of a bitch,” he snarls and shoves the car door open. He slams it shut hard enough to make the car shake.
I wipe my nose on the back of my arm. Gross, but effective. Instead of snot, a long streak of blood sticks to my skin. Sniper stands silhouetted against the garage entrance in the rearview mirror. Head bowed, shoulders squared, hand over his eyes.
It hurts to watch him hurt.
There’s no getting around it. I push all the pain and discomfort aside, and get out of the car. The ground still veers under my feet and it hurts--to breathe, to walk, to look at him. I keep my hand on the side of my car and do all three.
“Don’t,” he says. Quietly. So quietly.
“It’s not allergies. I am sick and...I’ve been sick for a while.” I’m nearly within arm’s reach of him and he tenses. I laugh to disarm him, but it turns into a cough. “I take blood pressure pills, you idiot.”
It’s enough to make his head turn. “Wot?”
“One of de side-effects is a chronic cough.” I take another step closer. “I’m getting old, but I’m not dat old.”
He looks at me, stunned. Then embarrassed. “I thought.... You look so pale and skinny.”
I can see the conflict in him. He sees the inconsistencies. He knows better, but he wants this to be true. Well, I am a man who banks on illusion. I will make this true.
“Because I’ve been up all ‘ours waiting because someone didn’t give me deir flight number?” I jerk my head towards the elevator. “Come, I’ll make us some coffee.”
He goes absolutely red. The last time I caught him so off guard, I had lodged a balisong in his C-spine.
“Sorry about that,” he gestures to the blood stains on my shirt, “and the...y’know.”
“You mean punching and stabbing me? It’s fine. You know how much I love blood on my suit.”
Sniper hunches his shoulder like a scolded schoolboy. “Sorry,” he says again. His Adam’s apple bobs, begging to be stroked. “I just...why didn’t you call me sooner?”
Because I was arrogant and afraid.
“Because I wasn’t sure where I stood.” I lead the way into the elevator, which smells like stale cigarettes. The urge for another smoke hangs in the back of my throat like an itch. “I ‘ave other enemies outside of RED and to be quite ‘onest, I wasn’t sure if dey were going to come after me when I was no longer protected by BLU.”
It was true enough. The RED Spy had left a strongly worded note under my door about taking any more pictures of him and his lover. Well, wife now. His son kept mailing me letters to kill him and his mother sent me cookies as way of apology for his rudeness.
The elevator doors close. I press the top floor and feel ourselves lift off of the ground floor. Sniper watches me very closely. He’s desperate, but not stupid. I lean against the wall to ease the pain in my side. A little guilt goes a long way.
He bows his head. “So wot changed?”
“For some, years is not too long to wait for revenge.” I cough into the crook of my other arm. “But I never attracted dat sort of attention. Governments and terrorist cells might do dat, but I only pissed off middle men.”
Sniper gives me one of those ‘yea right’ looks that makes my face heat. It’s not fair a dirty, piss-throwing Australian can catch me in a lie.
“I found your phone number a few days ago and...well. I decided dat enough time ‘ad passed.”
He just nods, pursing his lips.
“Look, I know I....” Jesus Christ, I even rehearsed this part and it’s still hard. “I know dat I’m a total asshole for leaving you in limbo like dat. I know dat. And I know sorry doesn’t even begin to cover it. But I am.” I do the manly sniff and swallow as planned. “I am so....”
The elevator jerks to a halt and opens.
“Sorry. Right. Got it.” Sniper strides out into the hallway. “Which one’s yours?”
I stare at him so long the elevator doors start to close. The jeans he’s wearing cling to his ass like saran wrap.
“602.” I follow him out and point towards the end. “Turn left dere.”
He stands in front my door like a guard dog. It’s unnerving. I pull out my keys. My hands are shaking. It’s the most awkward moment of my life, opening my own front door, keys jingling like Santa’s goddamn sleigh bells.
The door swings open and I’m relieved to see the clean stretch of my apartment. Annabelle hops off the couch and comes to investigate the new arrival.
I don’t know what I expected once I had him behind closed doors. A kiss? A make-out session? Raw, passionate sex?
Sniper sees my cat and meets her halfway. “Oi, ain’t you a beaut.” He bends down on one knee in the middle of my home. “C’mere you. Ahh, aren’t you gorgeous?” He strokes her from nose to tail, and she flops onto her side. He obliges and gently strokes her belly.
I close the door and toss my keys on the counter. I’m tempted to ask about my belly, but I have the grace to know when I’m outclassed. I sit down and start unbuttoning my shirt. The cut in my side throbs.
“Wot’s she, then? Siamese?” He sat down on the floor and pulls her into his lap. She purrs, limp as a dishrag.
“Non.” I crane my neck to see the cut in my side. It’s wide but not deep. “She’s a Ragdoll.”
He scratches under her chin. She stretches her head back, eyes sealing shut. “Wot’s her name? She’s as soft as a bloody rabbit.”
“Annabelle.” I get up and wet some paper towel. The wound still bleeds, but not profusely. I daub it carefully. “Used to belong to a neighbor of mine, but she died and so I adopted her cat.”
He just smiles, leans over her, and teases her paws.
Now it appears her next owner will die and Sniper will adopt her.
To be honest... I don't have too much to say about this chapter. I'm thoroughly enjoying this story, and at the same time it makes me sad. I really enjoy how you keep both Sniper and Spy true to their canon appearance, while still creating something entirely new for the fandom.
This comment may be a bit late, but know that I started reading as soon as I spotted the update!
I'll be in my bunk.
Crying because I'll never be as cool as lawlspy.
So then this happened. Consider this an apology for waiting an age and a day for updates.
I hope I didn't fuck this up and it can still stick around in fanfiction.
I pour two cups of coffee, his black and mine saturated with milk and sugar, and set them on the table. Sniper looks at me, then gives Annabelle a fond scratch behind her ear before he sits down at the table. She hops up the chair closest to him, which happens to be mine, and meows when I shoo her back onto the floor.
“Aww,” he sits down, “leave her be.”
“None of dat. I’m bad enough with ‘er.”
He pays me no attention. As soon as my back is turned, Annabelle is back on my seat and he’s scratching her chin under the table. I go to the fridge and pretend not to notice. Sunlight catches his hair and highlights the tanned angles of his neck and jaw. That Godawful shirt rides up and I can see a hint of his lower back. The smooth funnel of his spine. The faint sheen of sweat.
Oh no no no.
The blast of cold on my crotch is like a mule’s kick, but it does the job. Things--settle down. I take the pie out and shut the door. Sniper is nose-deep in his coffee with Annabelle sprawled on the floor by his feet.
“I made dis yesterday.” I set the pie down between us, lay out some cutlery, and two glasses of water. “You may not feel ‘ungry now, but you will.”
Sniper grins. “No worries, mate. I’m starvin’. Wot kinda pie?”
The kind I should heat up instead of ogling his backside.
I settle down beside him. “Tourtière.” At his blank look, I add, “Meat pie.”
He accepts a slice. “Supposed to eat it cold?”
“Oui.” I gesture to the window. “It’s ‘ot outside.”
He gives me another look. “Alright.”
When he begins eating, he does so with gusto. I’m only half-way through my own piece by the time he starts on seconds. Then thirds. It’s like watching a piraña.
I set my fork down. “Jesus Christ, did dey feed you at all?”
“Mmhmm.” He shovels another forkful into his mouth. “This is better.”
Annabelle taps my thigh with her paw. I glance down at her hopeful little face and surrender a piece of my tourtière’s filling. I’m rewarded with a bunt against my shin before she saunters into the living room.
Sniper pays no notice. I swear the only things he pauses for are air and coffee. He sits bent over his food, arms and lips working constantly. The light behind him shines on that silly cowlick at the base of his skull like a curl of gold. His calloused hands rasp against the mug handle. And he smells like a gym bag.
I could have had years of this.
Sniper catches me staring. “Wot?”
Shit. I’m too old to be getting teary-eyed.
“Where did you get dat shirt?”
He looks down at himself, then grins. “Like it?”
I try to smile. He throws his head back and laughs.
“That much, yea?”
It’s been years since I’ve heard him laugh. Only once before with such abandon. Just before--we parted ways.
Happiness looks good on him. Makes him look younger. He’s got the most shocking blue eyes I’ve ever seen. Blue as the heart of a flame. Startling as a Himalayan poppy. That pale scar over his brow eases out of sight when his eyes crinkle. Just for a moment it all falls away and he’s there, we’re there, back in the war. I was mysterious and he was formidable, and it was just--less messy.
He finally puts the fork down. “That bad is it?”
I clear the lump in my throat by drinking the rest of my water. Getting up and refilling it is an even better excuse to hide my face and whatever minute tell he’s picking up.
His shirt is truly awful. It’s pale blue with small green diamond stripes across it. Even worse, the buttons are small, pearly, and done up to his neck. I’m not even sure if he doesn’t care or he’s wearing it to make my eyes bleed. The clothes he wore during the war are still the only ones he’s worn--to date--that look good on him. And though he’ll still deny it, I know his mother picked them out.
So, like a complete fool, I drink my glass over the sink and refill it. Drink it. Fill it again. I can kill men, women, and children without a sniffle, but thinking about Sniper’s clothes and his dead mother cuts to the quick. Stupid.
His smell and body heat are suddenly all around me.
I turn and bump my nose against his chin. The rasp of his stubble startles the shit out of me. He can move quietly when he wants to. We’re nearly of a height, with him having barely an inch over me, but the look he gives me makes me feel like a boy. I’ve been in his van with my knees nearly over my own head and I still can’t hold his eye.
His breath is hot on my mouth.
“Not fair, is it?” He brushes my cheek with his knuckles. They’re rough and scrape against my own stubble. “I didn’t even make fun of that monk’s tonsure you’re growing.”
I’m a grown man, a grown killer, and that makes my face heat. It’s like being a teenager all over again.
“You should talk. You almost became kibble.”
I can’t help it. I have to touch that stupid scar. It feels like a sliver caught beneath his skin. Though it’s faint now, it must’ve been a terrible wound.
His eyes quicken. Those blue blue eyes. I’ve never seen their like since.
And oh God we’re kissing. The kitchen counter is digging into my back but--fuck I don’t care. I can barely stand. He presses against me. All that gristly skin. I can’t breathe. I can barely get his fucking shirt open. He’s as hard as a pipe. Why did I wear dress pants? Fuck. I can’t even stand up.
I end up falling on my ass. He follows me down. Gets my pants open and--ah. The weight of him on top of me. It feels like a hand is slowly closing over my chest. I don’t care. He holds my jaw when we kiss just like he used to. And he hasn’t forgot that spot. Or that one! He freezes. I haven’t forgotten either. Thrusting just like--that. Yes.
And then it’s over.
I don’t even notice Annabelle until she puts a paw on my forehead. She bends over me, nose twitching. It’s indecent. Sniper is limp on top of me, his skull snuggled neatly against my chin. God, I’ve missed his smell.
“How long?” His voice sends pleasant heat across my throat.
I look at my watch. My arm is trembling. “Less dan two minutes.”
He laughs until his whole body shakes. I can’t help but laugh with him. Two old men humping each other on the kitchen floor. I should be embarrassed, but all I can feel is shaky and relaxed.
The pressure in my chest eases. I raise my arm just in time to cough into the crook of my elbow. He’s too forgone to notice.
Annabelle crawls on top of Sniper’s back and sits down. He laughs.
“No shame in ‘er.” I sling my arm around his head and hug him close. “Just like me, I suppose.”
He rubs my arm. It is enough.
The phone starts ringing. There’s absolutely no way either of us can move. It goes to the answering machine with an annoying click.
“Hello, Mr. Morrin?”
That nasally Anglophone voice.
“Dr. Ferrari here--like the car, remember?” There’s a brief pause. A chill sweeps through my body. “I know you must be quite shocked, but I’d like to arrange a meeting to discuss your options. Please call my office when you get this message.” There’s another long pause as if he’s waiting for someone to leave. His voice lowers to a quiet plea. “Please call me, Acelin. It’s important.”
Another click. The air feels like lead.
My one indiscretion. The one man I slept with.
Sniper doesn’t say anything. He just raises his head and looks at me. His eyes are incredibly blue.
Blue as Cherenkov radiation. Blue as the universe’s hottest stars.
The most lethal color in the universe.
It's becoming the case that the cat is my favourite part of the story.
That speaks very highly of the cat.
I'm shocked. I thought it'd be like next year.
I love that cat too.
I based Annabelle after my own cat. I'm not surprised he stole the show here, since he does it all the time at home.
omg. You don't know how much i love this story.
thankyou so much for updating, i truly thought you had abandoned it.
After seeing the title of this story both here and on AO3, I finally decided to give it a go. I'm so glad I did. I absolutely love the way you write Spy.
Since it looks like things are on a role with gay rights, Obama being re elected, and bigots across the world crying, have a chapter.
He doesn’t yell. Doesn’t even speak. Just rolls off me, sits up against the fridge, and tucks himself back into his jeans. I sit up and do the same. Annabelle lands on the ground and gives us both a contemptuous look before licking her paw. Who can blame her? Doesn’t help that I came all over a perfectly good pair of pants. I grab the tissue box and start wiping. Anything to avoid looking at Sniper and that blank expression on his face.
“Knew you weren’t the type to stick with one bloke. I figured it’d be different this time.” He sniffs and shakes his head. “Stupid.”
I open my mouth to retort, but what can I say? I remember our last night together vividly. He said he loved me. It wasn’t even deliberate. He mumbled it when he was half-asleep. As if it was something he thought every day. And I liked it. The sound of it, feel of it, the idea of it. Everything.
There was no way I could stay a spy with my heart wandering around in another’s keeping. So I ran. I was young enough and handsome enough to shake it off.
Except here I am, old and still bound by the very same feeling. All that time in-between totally, utterly wasted.
“‘e was de only one. I was,” lonely, afraid, sad, “bored.”
Sniper laughs, but there’s contempt in it. “You haven’t changed a bit.” He looks at me, then his face slackens. All the lines cut deeply into his face. “He treating you or you treating him?”
“What de fuck do you want me to say? We just ‘ad sex. No more, no less.”
“Oh yea. That sounded like just sex.” He stands up and rubs his hands on the back of his pants. “Wotever. None of my business is it?”
“Den why did you come ‘ere?” I stand up too, although my legs feel like elastics. “I didn’t ask for you to come.”
He jerks back like I punched him. “Then why the fuck did you tell me where you lived? I thought that was a hint.”
“Non. Dat’s not what I meant.” I can think of nothing else to do but refill my glass of water and drink until I have an answer. “I just--wanted to ‘ear your voice. I expected nothing. I ‘adn’t de right.”
His mouth twists upwards, but it’s not smile. “Bloody fucking right you didn’t.”
He’s killed me with that expression on his face.
“You’re exhausted. You should sleep. We can talk about dis later.”
“Right.” He crosses his arms. “You going to run off with Dr. fucking Ferrari while I’m sleeping?”
Alright, I held my hand out for that one.
“I just need to renew my prescription.”
He gives me a look. “Right then. You won’t mind if I come with you.”
I swear if I drink anymore water after this, my stomach will burst.
Now I give him a look. “I ‘aven’t forgotten what you did to my Demoman.”
He hunches his shoulders “He’s a cunt anyway.”
Some things never change.
I look down at my pants and catch sight of my arm. There’s been blood on it the whole time. I roll my eyes at him and scurry off to my room. God knows what he made of it.
I leave my door slightly ajar and quickly set about a new change of clothes.
“Well, to be fair I was cheating.” I furrow through my closet. “And ‘e took ‘is poker game very seriously.”
“Yea well, he’s still a cunt.”
His voice is much closer. Just outside the door.
“So leaving ‘im a day’s walk from de base without a stitch on wasn’t extreme?”
“He punched you.”
I can only shake my head between two pairs of dress pants. “‘e never played poker with me after dat.” I grab a blue set and lay it on the bed. “Who knows what you’d do to a man ‘alf your strength?”
There’s a low grumble I can’t make out. Probably for the best.
All these damn dress pants. All so generic. I leaf through them, but they’re all tailored to my size. He’s so damn thin--
A single pair of denims. Frayed. Folded four times and stuffed into the furthest corner. I shove all my pants aside and pick them up. Sniper’s. Stiff from neglect. The seams are worn by use, though. Pale, white-fringed jeans with an square in the back pocket where he kept his wallet. It’s like a pinprick to my eyes. Stupid thing to cry over. Stupid stupid stupid thing.
Annabelle lays across my feet and stretches. The brat.
“You’re not supposed to be in ‘ere.”
Like a complete fool, I turn around. He stands in the doorway, hands in his pockets, eyes fixed on my face. That scar of his is stretched taut across his brow. God knows what he can read in my expression.
I toss the denims at him. “I was talking to de fucking cat.”
“Oh.” He catches them with one hand. The wheels in his head are already turning. “These are mine?”
Annabelle nuzzles my foot in one of her not-so-subtle hints. I bend down and stroke her belly so I don’t have to watch him figure it out.
“Been looking for these,” he says after a moment. “Thought I’d lost them.”
They were his favorite pair and subsequently the pair I was always tearing off him. That’s the piece I took. Not his lucky croc tooth or his favorite mug or--him. Just his goddamn pants. I can feel the heat rising in my cheeks.
“I know, it’s....”
He bends down and holds out a hand for Annabelle. She makes an inquiring purr and claws her way along the carpet, still on her side, for another belly rub.
“You live with a pants thief, eh? Eh?” He makes sure to rub her chin. “Good thing you don’t wear any pants.”
I’m pathetically grateful to stick my head back into the closet. Sniper’s broader in the shoulder than I am, but there’s a few old shirts that might stretch enough to fit. Once it’s possible to stop sniveling, I step back and present two choices to him.
“Dese might fit, and I’m not a pants dief.”
He points to the blue one. “Grundies thief?”
“You’ll never know.” I hand him my brown shirt instead. “You never wear any.”
He snorts, but doesn’t contradict me.
“Go ‘ave a shower. Everything is ready in dere.”
“Thanks.” He moves to the door, then pauses with one hand on the fame. “Wait for me?”
I show enough hesitation to look honest. “Of course.”
He nods and heads in. A few moments later, the shower starts and I can hear water splashing against the tub. He’s definitely there.
Oh no no no. Not now. No time for that now.
I change into new clothes and wait outside the bathroom door for a moment to make sure all is well. Nothing out of the ordinary. There’s no way he can hear me, but I still walk as quietly as I can to the phone. I put my back to the wall and dial Jacob’s office number. Annabelle follows me out of the room as I hear the first ring. She sits on my foot and stares up at me, tail swishing back and forth.
Six rings. Seven. Eight.
“Merde.” I hang up and look at Annabelle. “You don’t suppose ‘e went ‘ome to ‘is wife, do you?”
She growls when the buzzer goes off.
I didn’t think so.
She makes an inquiring purr and claws her way along the carpet, still on her side, for another belly rub.
It always thrills me to see this story updated. And it's not because it's a particularly thrilling story. Not a lot cliffhangers or will-he-won't-he what-have-you. It's just so eloquently written that I look forward to reading for the simple sake of reading. I want nothing more than to fill my head with your words.
I think that's the best way to be addicted to a story.
>>92 I completely agree with this person. This story is a delight to read, and uses all of its elements well. I adore it.
Heeey, remember this thing?
The shower shuts off. “Wot’s that?”
“Probably a mail carrier. I ordered some dings last week.” I smooth my hair. “I’ll be right back.”
I step around Annabelle and she nearly falls over without my leg to lean on. She gives me a stern look before licking her shoulder. Poor girl. I grab a bottle of air freshener and spray myself before going out the door. God forbid Jacob smells sex on me. There’s still blood on my arm so I fold my sleeves down.
The buzzer goes off again.
I roll my eyes. “Demanding shit, isn’t ‘e?”
Sniper doesn’t reply. I leave my apartment in deafening silence.
The hall seems much longer than it did before. Things like this never used to bother me. I glance over my shoulder, then press the elevator button. It would be like Sniper to follow me, but he doesn’t. I suppose that says volumes, doesn’t it?
The elevator arrives. I step in and mentally prepare for the fight that’s about to happen. A coughing fit hits as the doors open. It feels like there’s not quite enough air left on the planet. When I can stand up straight, the taste of rust floods my mouth. I’ve been shot, stabbed, blown up, and set on fire, but this slow asphyxiation has to be the worst death I’ve ever felt.
I really had hoped it was someone just buzzing a number to get in, but Dr. Jacob fucking Ferrari stands at the door. He’s muscular, 15 years my junior, and despite being first generation Italian, wears a horrid fake tan. He’s still in his office shirt and slacks, but his white coat has been left at work.
He smiles at me. Yes, yes I see you, you great orange imbecile. There’s no need for waving.
I suck in a deep breath and open the door. “‘ello, Jacob.”
He pushes past and traps me in one of his ham-handed hugs. “You’re here, thank God. I thought you’d done something crazy.”
“Oh,” I wriggle out of his grip, “you know me.”
He manages a laugh. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“Ah, well....” I shrug and glance over my shoulder, but we’re still alone. “I was going to make an appointment, you know.”
Jacob just smiles at me. “I know you better then that.”
Bullshit, you do.
He grabs my shoulders and gives me one of those earnest looks of his. “It’s not the end of the world. There are treatments--here and in the States. We’re a long way off from giving up.” His right hand slides down my chest. This time, it’s not sexual. He’s just measuring the rise and fall of my chest under his palm. Sniper wouldn’t have noticed the crinkling resistance in my breath, but Jacob does. Jacob, fake-tanned fool that he is, folds that knowledge neatly behind another goofy smile.
Though many REDs, and probably most of my own teammates, would argue I have no sense of honor, it’s not true. Jacob has a wife and two children that he’s hidden himself from, but they sound loving in their own way, and they won’t be buried in six months time.
I look him in eye and try to be as gentle as possible. “I’ll make dat appointment tomorrow.”
It takes a moment for his smile to dim. “Why?”
Because I’ve lied and used you as a substitute for the man in my apartment, and now I’ve no further need of you.
“You’ve a family at ‘ome.” He looks flabbergasted and I have to smile at his naiveté. “Go with de living.”
His eyes brighten and for a moment, it looks like he might cry. Oh, please don’t. But no, I’m spared that much. He drags me into another chest-crushing hug and rocks us from side to side. It’s a little embarrassing.
“You’ve been smoking.” He suddenly draws back. “You have! I can smell it on you.”
I simply shrug. Better than smelling sex. “Allow an old man ‘is pleasures.”
“You’re not that old.” Jacob gives me a withering look. If he didn’t resemble a pudgy carrot, it might have been effective. “You’re in no position to be gambling with your health.”
I make a show of looking repentant. “Alright, alright. You’ve made your point.”
He cracks a smile. “I doubt it. Just...be careful. And I’m not kidding. We need to have a follow-up appointment really soon.”
“Tomorrow, I’ll call. I promise.”
He hugs me again. “I’ll make sure there’s room for you.”
“Oh for God’s sake.” He averts his face. “It’s what I do, don’t thank me for that.”
No one else is in the lobby, so I risk kissing him on the forehead. It’s a maudlin gesture and I feel silly doing it, but it helps him regain composure. An apology, of sorts, whether he ever realizes it or not. He looks at me for a long moment, then abruptly turns and walks out the door.
Another coughing fit hits and I have to lean against the wall to remain upright. Vanessa, an anglophone flight attendant who lives on the seventh floor, passes by in the hallway. She’s tanned, grey-eyed, and has hair so blonde it looks white. I turn, as if standing aside for her. A woman like her is used to it and walks past with a brief smile. Her high heels clack as she steps into the elevator. To my surprise, she holds the doors open.
“You look like you’ve been running a marathon,” she says. “Come on, pépé. Get in.”
Serves me right, I suppose.
It still feels like my head is covered in a plastic bag, but I manage to get in without collapsing. When the doors close, my breathing sounds even louder. Vanessa watches me with a gravity I hadn’t thought a 19-year-old capable of. Buttons for the sixth and seventh floor are already lit. I lean against the back wall and avoid her eye. The elevator lurches upward.
We stand side-by-side in silence. When the doors open to the sixth floor, I’m glad to step out.
She stares at me as the doors close.
Is it so obvious?
I take a deep breath before entering my apartment. It’s quiet. The air is humid and smells of shampoo. Faint snoring is coming from the living room. Sure enough, when I round the corner, Sniper is asleep on the couch. He’s sitting with his arms crossed and head bowed. His hair is still wet and starting to curl. The brown shirt looks good on him, though it’s still tight around his shoulders. His old jeans fit perfectly.
He trusted me enough not to go downstairs.
Annabelle is curled up on the cushion beside him. She lifts her head and trills at me.
“Wot?” Sniper opens one eye.
“Just me.” I sit on the armrest. “You must be exhausted.”
“M’alright. Who was it?”
The scar on his right brow looks even more pronounced. I trace it with my thumb and imagine the leopard that had marked him. He looks at me and I can see he’s thinking the same thing.
“A boy.” I press my forehead to his and close my eyes. “Just a boy.”
Hell yeah! An update! Also, did lawlspy go annon for other reason than forgeting?
Oh, pffff. No, I'm just a dumbass and forgot. Oop.
thanks for updating