abetterlie: (Default)
There is nothing like a splitting headache and waking up in a strange place. Note to self: aspirin best human invention ever, except possibly for emails. Alcohol hugely overrated. Also, I’ve got find a way to say thank you to Peter and apologize to MJ for crashing on her couch.

On the bright side of things, it did make me face up to the fact the “make exit for Harry’s own good once Harry is back” option is patronizing bullshit. It has to be his decision.

He keeps writing emails, and I’ve stopped imagining vampires and axe murderers around every corner on his way. Which seems to go through Kansas right now. I looked the city he wrote from up in the map, and then I looked up the easiest ways to get there, and then I stopped. I’m not a stalker. I’m not. Plus he sounds happy, you know. And makes plans for our future.

Bernard made me go through Harry’s fanmail with him. He said it was because security is my business and so on, but he never did that before, so I guess it had something to do with either whatever he worked out about the Chilton disaster. Or maybe with the hangover. Or both. Anyway, turns out Harry gets lots of letters from strangers which fall roughly in the following categories: a) requests for money, b) people wanting to get laid, c) threats/complaints from people who didn’t get laid. Though Bernard didn’t call them that. C) isn’t just about Harry, either. There were some letters from Bruce Wayne groupies because of the article the other week accusing him of corrupting the Sainted B., and letters from Lex Luthor fans threatening to kill him if Lex is next.

I’d say they make vampires sound harmless if I didn’t know better. My favourite was the one from the girl who had this entire theory about the Sainted B. having a secret relationship with the Bald One with Harry as their cover. The proof was apparently them wearing the same tie in tv interviews filmed within a week, or something. Harry was supposed to confirm this. I don’t think these girls are demons, but I’ll keep an eye open anyway.

Harry being on the road, the headmaster of the school he volunteered doing readings and stuff needed a replacement, so I went and read. It’s scary. Not the reading, the reading in front of kids. Plural, and lots of them. Very different from telling Emily stories. I don’t talking out loud in front of the class being that scary in school. Which just goes to show all my high school memories are fake, I guess. Anyway, the kids didn’t try to kill me for not being Harry. They did say they hated the book and threw stuff. Then they wanted to know whether I really was a psycho killer like their mom/older brother/sister had said I was and whether I could show them some knife tricks. It ended up by letting them tell me some stories about themselves. There were was one kid, Jamal, whose mother had just left his dad, and the headmaster later told me that was a good thing because the father beat his wife and kids, they just couldn’t prove it without the woman testifying, and she had always been too scared to. Jamal and his brother and two sisters wouldn’t, either. So now she had left, but didn’t really have a place to go to and the women’s asylum or whatever it was called is way overcrowded.

I remember living on the streets, after Angel kicked me out. I could defend myself. But I looked at those kids and knew they couldn’t. The headmaster said she’d probably go back because she didn’t have much money of her own.
So then I had this idea. About the penthouse Chilton had leased and lost when Harry bought the entire building. Which means it is empty right now. I went there, and used the override code from security to get in. It still smelled of Chilton and I felt sick. But it is huge, nearly as huge as the Osborn place. So I figured, what the hell. I looked whether there was any stuff about me or Harry and there wasn’t. There was an address book which I took, but other than that, not much personal items at all – not surprising, he hadn’t been there very long. I went back to the school, got the address from the women’s shelter, and tracked down Jamal and family. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent persuading Mrs. Ortega – that’s Jamal’s mother – that I wasn’t an axe murderer, and then helping her and her kids move in.

They really liked Chilton’s stereo player.

Not sure whether to mention this to Harry in my next email yet. He sounded so happy in his last, and if I bring up the thing that nearly ate him, it’ll remind him just why he left, but it’s his penthouse.

Bernard just asked me whether I intended to move any more ghetto families into the building. I said this one needed a safe place to stay. He just gave me a look ™. Elizabeth, on the other hand, made cookies.

It’s late, but very warm. I think I’ll go to the Empire State, that’s high enough so the smog isn’t too much to see the stars. I really want to. Somewhere, Harry is looking at them, too.
abetterlie: (Innocence Drowned by Marciaelena)
The thing about being a murder suspect with a high profile runaway lover, lots of reporters camped outside and a staff inside who just went through losing a friend and know you have something to do with that and with the guy they raised like a son running away: opportunities to vent are really, really limited. Which could be a good thing. Last time I went and looked for a vampire to fight instead of patrolling to protect people I ended up with the one who did this to Harry and Mario Ribisi. And smashing the interior of the penthouse is sort of pointless, too. It might piss Norman's ghost off, if he's still around, but other than that. it would just mean destroying yet more of Harry's.

What I did on Saturday after going through the letter a couple of times was pretty silly, I guess, but it sort of helped. I took a pair of scissors from the kitchen and cut my hair and burned it in the fireplace. There's a practical reason hidden somewhere, something about not wanting to give someone an opportunity to grab it when I'm fighting, but I mostly did it because Harry has a thing about longer hair and made me not cut it for eons. Yeah, behold my maturity.

Then I thought he could be dead on a road somewhere, just like father, and I nearly threw up again.

Sunday was when the reporters, who still hadn't realized Harry wasn't around anymore, decamped for the most part. I had no idea why until Bernard put the Sunday papers on the breakfeast table with that look he has. Apparantly someone named Trixie Delight (is that a real name?) claimed to be bearing Bruce Wayne's love child and says she wants at least double the amount Prince Albert of Monaco has paid for his illegitimate children.

I so get why Harry wanted a break from this life, you know. Sometimes I think we should do what we joked about, making a tour around the world, and do it now, not when I finished college. A normal journey, not the jetsetting kind. But then I recall he wanted a break from me as well and that in any case I'm a violence magnet and what he wants most of all is a break from that. And that I am supposed to prepare to do the responsible thing once he's back, and leave.

It's just that his scent is here everywhere and I can't - I can't imagine being without it, yet.

Once the reporters had left for the Gotham side of the Force, there was phonecall from the police station where they had interrogated me the first couple of times. So off I went again. There was a new detective there, someone I hadn't seen before. A black woman in her 50s or something. She introduced herself as Lt. Vanessa Capote and said she had taken over the investigation. Then we had a little chat in the room I'm starting to get to know pretty well. Only this time there was no second cop present.

"So," she said, "Mr. Osborn left us a pretty extensive statement."

I said nothing.

"Tell you what, Mr. Riley. I'm either your nightmare or your lucky break, depending on how you'll play this. Let me give it to you straight. Half the guys here think it's a clear case of a rich boy and his taste for the wild side, and according to his files, he clearly has one. Masochist takes up with bad boy, bad boy carries game too far and kills bystander, masochist gets scared and runs after giving testimony that he hopes will be enough so bad boy doesn't come after him."

"Shouldn't there be two for a good cop, bad cop game?" I asked, because I thought that was where she was headed. I guess I should have made that phonecall to Alan Shore by now. I wanted to. Though I don't think he'll represent me. But there is that idea that maybe prison is exactly what I deserve, and that this would be option number 3, after quitting the fight or walking away again.

Then she did something I hadn't expected. There was a paperweight on the table, and she took it and threw it straight at me, at my head. So I caught it.

"Interesting," she said. "I had a friend once, Mr. Riley. Many years ago. She had those kind of reflexes, too."

"I'm into sports," I said, but she continued as if she hadn't heard me.

"My friend," she said, "was the reason I became a cop, and boy, that wasn't easy in those times for a black woman. She died in the subway. After some white guy had stalked her for weeks, at least that's what her kid told me. Nobody cared, except for me and the kid and a guy from England she was friends with. She was a black woman whose neck got broken in the New York underground. Big deal. Nobody bothered investigating. It wasn't like some rich kid was involved, after all. But see, my friend, she had made the neighbourhood safer for a while. When we were teenagers, there were a lot of deaths all around us. Sort of like Mr. Ribisi's death. And Nikki, she didn't look away. She tried her best to stop them, and she did, for a while. Are you with me, Mr. Riley?"

I thought I was. I just wasn't sure whether or not she wasn't playing me. And then I thought: what difference does it make?

"I'm sorry about your friend," I said. "Nobody deserves to die that way."

"Including Mr. Ribisi," she said. "So here's my question, Mr. Riley. As we haven't found any sign of the man the restaurant staff has described and nobody has seen him since. Do you think he'll do it again, to someone else?"

This was the point where I had to make a decision. If this was a game, she wanted me to admit to killing Tony Chilton, so that even if they couldn't pen Mario and the assault on Harry on me, they could nail me for Chilton, lack of body not withstanding. If she said the truth, if her story was real and she had been friends with a Slayer, then she wanted to know whether the vampire was still around looking for more victims, or staked.

"No," I said, looking straight at her. There was a long beat.

"I thought so," she said. "Now get your ass out of here, kid. And for Christ's sake, be a little faster next time."

That probably means I'm off the list of suspects. I guess. At least I haven't heard from the cops since.

Mario Ribisi's funeral was scheduled for Monday afternoon, and I figured I had no right to attend. So after that conversation with Lt. Capote on Sunday, I went to St. Patrick's and lit a candle for him. My father taught me prayers in Quortoth, and though I have no idea what I believe these days, they stuck with me. When I was done, I thought: please.

I don't know whether I meant "please let Mario be in heaven", because like I said, I don't know what I believe about that anymore, or "please let Harry be okay and not encounter an axe murderer wherever he is now" or "please let me know whether I should go or stay or what the hell is the right thing to do now".

I didn't get an answer anyway. But I got hungry on the way back, and bought some of those horrible New York sausages.

Also a reply of sorts.
abetterlie: (Default)
after this

As soon as Bernard hands you the letter, you know. When you actually read it, on the balcony because the sudden lack of air makes you nearly throw up, the words mix and mingle with two other letters, one written to you, one written by you, and it's hard, so hard, to keep them separate.

Dearest Stephen, this is a most difficult letter for me to write.

..You're probably going to understand what motivated this letter, but there is a good chance that you're going to be pissed off that you're being told in a letter instead of me in person...

Dearest Justine, don't tear the letter up before you've read it. I know you'll want to after anyway.

You mean more to me than anything in this world or any other.

...I love you. I told you in the hospital room that no matter what went down, that in the end I would always love you...

Thank you for being with me. I know what you think about lies, and how we all use them. But you're the most real person I've ever known.

by the time you receive this, I will be gone. I hope one day you will be able to forgive an old man's weakness, which compels him to say these things in a letter. But to attempt a good-bye in your presence would be impossible for me.

...the reason you're reading about it instead of hearing me tell you is that I'm not sure I would have the guts to awalk out of the door if I had to face you first...

I know I'm betraying the mission, but there is a Slayer in Los Angeles now, so there is someone to help people. I'm betraying you by leaving as well, but that's better than getting you killed, or hurting you again...

I'm comforted by that certainty and the knowledge that with him you will discover your true purpose and come to know who it is you are meant to be.

But I have to get away from Manhattan, and the life of Harry Osborn so I can figure out who I am on my own.

What happened with my - what happened wasn't a coincidence. It keeps happening, again and again. They all die. Everyone I care about. He said each time I get a family I destroy everything, and he was right. But maybe I can stop it from happening if I just go away.

Full circle. It always comes full circle. And the one thing that keeps you from jumping off that balcony, not to die but to hunt him down, because two hours is nothing, not to you, is that he did what you and your father had not. He promised to come back.

He also made it a question of need and trust not to follow him. That's another thing. He knows you so well, he knows that being told he needs something, being asked to have faith is what works invariably, every time, and for a moment you hate him a little for having that power. Then you think of him bleeding on a table with the corpse of his friend next to him.

That was all about you, baby.

It's not a suicide note, he isn't lying in an alley somewhere after having wished for his death, any more than you did when you started walking in Los Angeles. Though how would you know if he were? If he wasn't caught by the next mugger, never mind vampires and demons? You don't. Nobody knew whether you were still alive or dead, either, for three days, until you started sending brief email messages.

He had been your lifeline then, hope personified while you tried to figure out how the hell to exist with yourself. He hadn't been above pressing buttons then, either.

You know, Connor, I don't care about that other stuff. It happened and you can't change what has happened, but you can make a difference now. If you die or you give up on people then you give up on saving others. If you aren't around to fight the demons? Then who will be? If you aren't around to keep me from doing something stupid? Who will be?

That was almost a year ago. He would not write these words to you now. You two have changed positions, and it is the last thing you ever wanted for him.

Do you have any idea how frustrating and terrifying it is to know that the only reason you are slammed on a table and having your throat ripped away is because some psychopath wants to make your boyfriend hurt?

No, Harry, but I know what is to be an instrument. The only reason I exist was to bring Jasmine into the world. I was her instrument, and I was my fathers' to wreak vengeance on his enemy. It wasn't about me, either. Yes, I know it's not the same thing.

You talk to him in your head because he did not give you the chance to talk to him in person. (Any more than you had given it to Justine, and by the time Justine finally found you, there was little left to say.) Harry Osborn, who hates being lied to, who hates being ignored even more, who considers the fact Peter Parker left him to rescue MJ and never came back that night to talk as near to unforgivable, who told you to never hang up on him again after that early morning argument on the phone you had when you were in Vegas, essentially hung up on you. And what was that last sex but a lie so you would not realize what he truly had on his mind?

You know what it was. Same thing Cordy gave you. Some people call it "I want you to have something real". The rest of us refer to it as a pity fuck. Congratulations, son. Full circle indeed.

Thank you, Daddy.

It occurs to you that this kind of selfish thought train is exactly why Harry should be far away from you while trying to work through everything. It's not Harry's fault that you have tainted Manhattan for him. Or that you can't be to him what he was to you then. You're part of the problem. Not the solution.

Read the letter again, and try to think for a change. If Bernard has a way of calling him back in the case of an emergency, he keeps in contact with someone. Which means at least there will be someone regularly checking whether or not he's dead. If you try to find out who it is, if you try to track Harry down, you'll prove to him that you don't trust him at all, that he is incapable of not being a victim.

Consider something else. He promises to come back before Egypt. That gives you time to think as well. You can't restore the dead to him, or what was lost when Chilton nearly killed him. You can't even promise, credibly, that you will never fight another vampire again, and not just because of the part in you which craves violence. You have been given your second chance when so many died because of you, starting with a girl in white. All those Jasmine killed to nourish herself. A cop on the roof of a Los Angeles skyscraper, with a family waiting for him. Your parents and Mere. And now, in a way, all those victims Angelus and Darla claimed, because fate had presented you with the moment of the fall, two hundred and fifty years ago in Ireland, and you found yourself incapable of doing what needed to be done. The very least you can do is to use what freakish nature has given you and try to keep others from dying.

I think he knew that as long as he was Spider-man the rest of us were at risk. And he was right.

There is of course another option. The one you saw when you started your own walkabout, leaving Justine and Los Angeles behind, as it turned out for good. Something you can give Harry.

When I think about my dreams and the life I want to have, it doesn't involve hiding from the demon and the criminal of the week.

Say he's not lying somewhere in an alley, even now, dying. Say he comes back in a few weeks, as he promised.

Maybe then you'll be able to do the responsible thing, finally. The one you know you should have been doing all along.

To be perfectly honest with you, it's what I want to give myself.

But you can't, Harry. Not unless someone cuts out the taint in your life altogether.

You're not the one who should have been walking away.

I am.
abetterlie: (Default)
„Let’s go through this one more time, Mr. Riley. You just happened to show up at Mario’s because…?”

“I wanted to apologize for the incident the other week.”

“Where you pulled a knife on Mr. Osborn and Mr. Wayne.”

“I didn’t pull a knife, I used one of the knives of the table to cut a pizza and used too much force because I was upset, so it went into the table.”

“…naturally. You went there to apologize on your own instead of going with Mr. Osborn, whom you happen to live with, and who had left for the same destination only forty five minutes earlier.”

“I did not know that.”

“Naturally. And then you arrived and found Mr. Ribisi dead, Mr. Osborn bleeding and the culprit gone.”

“Yes.”

“But you did not check for other survivors.”

“I saw Harry was bleeding and in a bad condition. He needed medical attention at once. So I took him to the hospital. I didn’t have time for anything else.”

“Hm. Guess Mrs. Ribisi and the others were lucky that Spider-man just happened to drop by only a few minutes later…. You really expect us to believe all this?”

“Yes.”

****

“Look, Connor, I don’t know how to put this, but – well, you shouldn’t take part in the demonstration on Saturday. We just might get tv coverage this time, and some of the papers. And it would be just typical if they spotted you and asked whether psycho boyfriends who are suspects in murder cases are a really good argument why same sex marriages should be allowed. No offense, buddy, but with that article – no. Just no. We can’t risk it.”

****

“Mr. Riley, Mr. Osborn is sleeping right now. He doesn’t want to be disturbed. I’ll tell him you were here when he wakes up.”

“I can wait. I have brought some books along, so -”

“Oh, I don’t think so. There were more than enough visits for one day.”

****

“… let’s go through this again. You have no idea who the man in his late forties whom Mr. Ribisi and the others saw pulling a gun on Mr. Ribisi was?”

“No.”

“Mr. Riley, we just got an interesting fax from Las Vegas. Seems a young drugged woman was handed over to ambulance by someone matching your description. Guess whom she described has having drugged her in the first place once she recovered? A salt and pepper haired man in his late Forties. She claims to have some vague memories of driving around with you and him in a limousine. Any comment?”

****

“Mr. Riley, you remember the purpose of summer classes? As in actually attend? You are late again.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Any additional explanations?”

“Maybe he beat up his boyfriend again. Or stabbed another restaurant owner.”

“Nobody asked you, Mr. Elias. Mr. Riley, sit. Now, where were we? The Hittite period…”

****

“Let’s go through this again. You were at Mario Ribisi’s because….?”
abetterlie: (Default)
ooc: after this

It was Peter's night for patrolling, so Connor avoided any areas where they could cross paths. He really wasn't in the mood for a chat with Spider-man right now. He just wanted to kill something, or at least beat it up and get beaten up in return.

It took a while before he found a vampire who obliged. As it turned out, this particular specimen was, like the late Russell Winters, whom Connor had never met, a business man, in town to check on some contacts, which made him perfect. He even had the requisite casual-chic-suit and two Fyarl demon bodyguards with him, and was dark haired to boot. Unfortunately for Connor, he was also far more intelligent than your avarage vampire and had dug up all the information he needed about the local superhero scene. Thanks to the recent Harry-Osborn-Comes-Out articles, he even made the connection between Kid Vicious and the guy Harry came out with. After observing the fight between his bodyguards and Connor for a while, he asked:

"Interested in a job opportunity, kid?"

"No," Connor said, managed to break off the first Fyarl's left horn and plunged it into the creature's gut.

"Pity. You have the right instincts," the vampire, whose name had been Arminius once upon a time but these days was simply and less flamboyantly Tony Chilton, commented. "And you'd be more more presentable than my current lot. I mean, considering the Osborn boy taught you how to behave in public. Hey, I could do with some private service as well."

Connor stopped wasting time with the second Fyarl and attacked Chilton directly, which turned out to be a mistake. Tony Chilton, aka Arminius, was a vampire going with the times, and, as mentioned before, prepared. He had a taser, and had gotten it ready while his bodyguards had done their duty.

The last person to taser Connor had been Peter, during the Griffin showdown, and Peter hadn't followed it up the way Chilton and his surviving Fyarl did, Peter had just wanted to stop him from killing a human being. Chilton, on the other hand, had long term plans, and a lesson to impart. Which made for the most thorough trashing Connor had received since Angel cut loose on him during Jasmine's day.

"Ts, ts," Chilton said while delivering kick after kick. "Overconfidence. Young people these days. Want to know why I don't just kill or turn you?"

"Not really," Connor gasped, trying to get a hold on Chilton's feet, but he couldn't move his arms properly, and then the surviving Fyarl's foot stamped on his hand.

"Because you cost me a daylight bodyguard, and I still want you to replace him. After you've learned your lesson. Stop playing around with humans, kid. You're not one of them, and you never will be."

By the time Chilton and his Fyarl left, Connor was a bloody mess on the ground. It took him two more hours before he could move again, but the advantage of supernatural healing still held. He made it to the subway upright, collapsed gratefully in the next train and nearly missed the right station to exit. It was three in the morning by now, but for one of the few times, he wasn't even tempted to take the short cut and climb up to the balcony. He took the elevator. Thankfully, everyone at the Osborn apartment appeared to be asleep or at least pretended to and remained in their rooms. Connor didn't go to the bathroom he shared with Harry, he took the one next to the guest room Illyria had used during her brief stay, and showered. Watching the blood disappear, he felt mostly numb.

As days and nights went, this was certainly not one of the better ones.

Rubbing the water stain away from the mirror, he checked his face. There were some visible bruises, but nothing spectacular. It would be healed by mid-morning. Next evening at the latest. It still hurt like a bitch, though, and so did his ribcage. Perhaps he had needed a reminder that enhanced powers didn't mean immunity from pain, and vampires weren't there as a convenient venting for one's issues and temper. And of course, it hadn't solved anything.

It had just allowed yet another smug bastard to triumph over him while Connor made an idiot of himself.

With a grimace and the taste of blood and bile in his mouth, he switched off the light and made his way to the bedroom to check whether Harry was there.

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