I needed a blood mage Jess could trust and the only one I knew of was from Nitro's "Two As One" Instead of just letting me use Diaz, Nitro agreed to play out the scene with me.
Another dreamless night thanks to Trina's pills. I'm really hoping that Fin comes through with something, and soon- I'm not going to last long at this rate.
Mario still won't speak to me. Case has given up trying to call.
Every time I think I've got a handle on things it just seems to fall apart in my hands. Its probably better this way. Probably better that Case isn't here to talk me out of this, that Mario isn't here telling me what I already know.
I know how bad it is- I'm in the middle of it, and there's no other way I can think of to free myself.
Trina didn't come back in the morning, but she called from the clinic around 1:00. She promised me that she'd stop by after shift, but I could tell that Mario had been lecturing her about what I was getting into and the consequences I faced, and that she faced if she associated with me.
When the phone rang around 7:00 I thought it was Trina. It was anything but. Looks like Fin found a blood mage he felt he could trust- but of course, at the time I didn't know what was going on.
"Miller," I answered.
"This Jess I assume?" the man on the other end asked.. His voice was gruff, and his image wasn't much better.
I looked at the screen warily, I did not need another cloak and dagger game right now. "Yes... this is Jess."
He seemed to be sizing me up- I guess I was doing the same. The man's face was half hidden in the shadow of his hat. I was contemplating hanging up when he told me that Fin had asked him to call.
Actually he said something about "talking to a friend of mine... one who seems like he has 2 brain cells an' they're both wrestling."
I had to chuckle at that. I've never heard anybody describe Fin like that, but sometimes- its appropriate. The laugh died when he finished his explanation of why he was calling.
"But, he figgered' out to come to me about somehin' nasty involving Aztech and you."
I froze. It was all I could do to nod.
I could see him finish off his drink before he continued. It felt... like he'd dealt with them a lot more than he wanted to- I wouldn't have blamed him if he'd told me to give up, but instead he told me that if my problem involved what Fin was hinting at, that he might be able to help me.
I could almost feel the world closing in on me, like I was drowning and he was the only one with a life preserver. I was shaking as I braced myself against the counter. "Thank ...you."
I waited tensely as he took another drag off his cigarette. Then he spoke again. ""Anyways, don't worry 'bout it. I've sorta got a little burr up my ass about the Big A and another one 'bout them fucking with people like you. Can ya give me any details on what happened, or am I gonna need to meet you in the meat right off the bat?"
The man was rude and crass, and probably just what I needed to break through what had happened. I wish I could have had something to tell him, but it was so vague- I told him as much.
He seemed unsurprised, told me that they'd probably messed with my memories. Still he was confident that he could help. Again, just what I needed. When he asked if I had any idea what they'd done I felt a little better- that I could tell him. The funny thing was, as I tried to describe it- to move through the nightmare, to the clinical side of it... it helped.
"I ... don't consciously remember," I said softly. "Nightmares mostly... Obsidian.."
I felt another tremor in my hands as the memories came back to me. I took a deep breath and forced myself to continue... it was almost as if I was in a trance as I described what had happened.
"They handcuffed me to what looked like an altar... I remember them cutting me, small cuts, but lots of them. I couldn't move... couldn't see... the wounds looked more like scrapes... the sort of thing I'd get poking around in the steam tunnels..."
I could tell by his expression he was not comfortable with what I was describing. Finally he asked, "what interest do the bastards have in you?" He explained that he had a good idea of what they were doing, but if he knew why... it would help him narrow things down.
Nervously I told him about my... experiences with AZT about the fiasco that Fin had arranged, and the pay data he'd giving me- the video tapes of the boys. I didn't think they wanted me, if they had, they went to a lot of trouble to just leave me for Aaron to finish off.
It had to be the boys. The man agreed with me. I lost it then, forgot a few basic rules of physics- Rock beats fist.
I told him about Raz and her comment about vengence. He took it almost as well as I did, throwing his shot glass somewhere. I was treated to some of the choicest Atzlaner-Spanish curses. Finally I learned that he not only knew the curse, he'd performed the ceremony before.
Its odd, his anger- outrage... somehow... it was calming. His next words were like... that life preserver. "I think I can fix what they fucked up- unless they've gotten creative."
Next thing I know, I'm on my way to O'Hare.
Arias Diaz knew what Jess needed, but Jess learned the cost of to the cure. Again, if you haven't, please check out Nitro's "Two As One"
Thanks again Nitro, it was a lof of fun playing this out.
I don't know what I was thinking- I guess that's the real problem. Arias Diaz, the blood mage Fin had found was gruff, but understanding. He kept my mind off of what was happening- until it was too late.
Mario was right. No good can come from that sort of thing. I don't... I don't even want to think about it.
What little of it I did see.
He took me to a warehouse he'd prepared. When I saw the circle I froze... it was spider-webbed with crimson lines... like veins. Suddenly I was back in the steam tunnels- the unknowing victim. I had come there, knowing blood would be shed... but I'd assumed it was to be mine.
I mean, I was the one who's blood had been used... it should have been mine to undo it... and it was- but.. There were other needs... I didn't know... I couldn't have known... I should have known.
I tried to get him to stop, it was just too much. I could deal with the possibility of this killing me, that was my decision to make... but...
The next thing I know he's apologizing- not for what he tried to make me do, but for what he was about to do... Next thing I know, I'm waking up on his couch. I could feel the change.. The strength returning, but the cost- the cost was too much for me to take.
Mario's words rang in my ears as I got my bearings. "No good can come from this... No good."
He was right, and I will have to live with the consequences. Diaz was helping me- the guilt is mine.
I don't know if I can live with myself over this. How can I... There's no way I can go home, not after this.
I got myself a cheap hotel room. I keep staring at the walls, trying not to see the ganger begging for his live and Diaz ... his eyes black... heartless. One worthless life for my brothers', that's what he'd said - One worthless life.
One worthless life... There is no such thing... you start thinking like that everything falls apart. Everything has fallen apart- I'm falling apart.
I tried- tried to find a way out, and now, I guess I'm still trying, but I can't undo what's been done. That's what got me into this mess in the first place.
I can feel a knot forming in my stomach. There is nothing I can do- nothing I could have done, but I should have been able to do something- or do nothing, stay at home... at least then... Then I wouldn't have that man's eyes staring at me- pleading.
Or the dark heartless eyes Diaz showed when the time came.
Not heartless... not to me- that's what makes it worse. He felt I was worth it, me and the boys. He even knocked me out... tried to take away the guilt maybe, I don't know. When I finally came to, he didn't want to talk about it and lord knows I didn't either.
I thanked him for what he'd done- it was... the only thing I could do... but... morally, legally- I'm the one who's responsible... I'd asked him to help, not thinking of the consequences.
The thing is- if the man had tried to hurt me... or someone I was protecting, I wouldn't have hesitated a moment- that would have been his decision, but this... this was different
What have I become?
I stayed inside again today. I have no idea what I'm going to do, but I'm fairly certain I can't go back, not to Seattle, not to what I was.
That would be a sham- the healer, with innocent blood on her hands.
I really wish I could get Mario's voice out of my head. Every where I turn I hear him. Why did he have to be so right?
I've tried everything I can think of to get him out of my mind, drowning his voice in Whiskey, in sorrow, guilt, pain- but it just grows more insistent.
Its as if I really did die in those tunnels, it's just taken me this long to realize it.
First thing I really remember was hearing was Fin pleading with me. He wasn't about to let me go without a fight. I tried to get him to go away, leave me alone, but he refused.
I really wasn't in any shape to argue with him. I don't think I'd consciously tried to kill myself, but from what I can gather I had enough alcohol in my blood stream to do the trick. I felt like hell.
Fin was so scared I was going to die- I was scared I wasn't. Tons of coffee, doses of stimulants- all the street techniques he knew to get me over the 'hump'. I was a mess and he didn't seem to understand: I wanted to be alone. Maybe he understood all too well.
Next thing I know, I'm on a flight back to SeaTac, the last place I wanted to go.
Waiting for me, was the last person I wanted to see, wanted to see me.
Casey was there waiting, a very worried expression on his face. When I saw him I just wanted to run and hide.
He represented everything I was, everything I thought I wanted., everything I felt I no longer deserved. I wanted to run away, from him, from me, from everything
He didn't let me run away, didn't let me hide- he just held me. And I promptly lost it.
I woke up at Case's place. He told me the only thing he could get out of me was how I couldn't go home. So he'd taken me here instead.
I'm not sure how much Fin told him, I'm not even really sure how much Fin knows. How do you tell someone- anyone, let alone someone you care about when you've done something like that?
There is so much I don't know- don't understand, and I seem intent on learning it the hard way. I've traded the nightmare of what Raz did to me for one of my own creation. Only now the nameless ganger's face keeps changing... Fin... the boys... the folks in the local gang...
I can't undo what's done and I don't know how to come to terms with it.
Case brought me lunch, something light- which was what I needed with the way my head and stomach were feeling. He just took care of me, waiting until I was ready to talk.
Only thing is.. I don't know how to talk about it. I mean, it sounds so simple... I went to see a mage about the things Raz did to me. Three spells, one for each brother... and then one spell to undo it, but the spell... it was worse because of the cost.
At least with Raz, they were doing it to me... Diaz did what he did for me. Now, now that its too late I understand. I wish Mario had explained more- I wish I could talk to him, but now... now I don't think he'll ever talk to me again.
Another fine mess- only this one doesn't have a happy ending. I'm a ghost of myself and I have no idea how to redeem myself- how to get myself back.
I want to talk to Casey, but I just can't- I can't stand the thought of him looking at me like Mario did. I really don't know what to say- or who to say it to.
I woke up this morning with Casey holding me. I must have been having more nightmares. When I moved he looked down at me. His voice was still soft, gentle- almost like he was afraid I'd break... or run away.
I've been doing a lot of that lately.
He all but begged me to tell him what was wrong.
I looked at him and finally found my voice, at least a little. "I... screwed up- big time," I told him softly.
"I kinda figured that much," he told me.
"I guess it's a good thing I don't play poker," I told him.
He laughed but we both knew I was still miserable. "Jessica," he said softly. "No matter what it is, not matter how bad- I'm here for you."
Looking in his eyes I winced. There was nothing but love and acceptance there- how could I have missed it. And now, now I'm trying not to lose him.
"Chicago..." I said softly.
He nodded waiting for me to unravel the mess I'd made of my life- unravel it and finally put the guilt into words.
"Raz and her people... they... did something to me," I told him.
His grip on me tightened, protective, loving- how could I have missed that?
"I needed information- something Mario and Mrs. Walker couldn't give me..."
"Blood Magic..." He stated knowingly.
I looked at him a moment, surprised.
"Jess," he said softly. "It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. What you remembered from the tunnels, the Jaguar- it all spells big Aztechnology trouble. And, more often than not, that means blood magic."
I shook my head. "I wish I'd known... that I'd figured it out sooner, or that I understood more about what was involved."
The bitterness was obvious even to me.
He watched me worriedly and finally I managed to get the rest out. I was crying again. He held me.
"Ah Jess," he sighed. "I wish you had told me..."
I looked up at him. "I... didn't really know... not until after... after I had you take me home... and by then..."
"And by then you weren't talking to me."
I nodded. "And all Mario would tell me was that... no good would come of it."
He nodded again. "Jess- you're right it can't be undone, and destroying yourself over it... that's not going to help..."
"I know that- but I don't even know where to begin..."
He answered with a gentle kiss on the top of my head. "You just did..."