Ray stopped by to see me. If I didn't know better, I'd think Case had called him- but Ray has always seemed to know when I need to talk.
He brought the Chili and cornbread. All I can say is Gwen's missed out on one wonderful human being. We talked for quite a while. I filled him in on what happened, and he just smiled and nodded.
"You know Jess- most people like to do romantic things on their honeymoon," he finally told me.
"I don't know," I answered with a wink. "Fireworks- New Years celebrations... "
"Gun play.. Ritual magic."
"Story of my life," I sighed.
"And you wonder why we never made it as a couple," he answered with a wink.
I almost pointed out that he was the one who decided we were too good of friends to ruin it with anything more. Its an old battle and I ended up with what I really wanted. I only wish he could too.
But then again, he's doing what he loves to do and its hard to feel sorry about that. I ended up telling him about Fin- they never really agreed on anything, except that I was a better friend than anything else. Still, he understood.
He ended up helping me say good-bye after work.
I was leaving- heading back to the condo, when Ray pulled up in a pickup. He took me out to Lake Union and made a paper boat. He handed me a lighter and let me set it on fire and let it sail into the lake.
Not quite a Viking funeral pyre- but the thoughts were there. He took me back to the station then followed me home.
We stayed up late talking and finally just crashed out on the couch. I didn't really want to be alone.
Cats just do not understand 'I've just worked four 14 hours shifts and I don't feel like playing'. Most of the time it's a bad thing, but sometimes... sometimes it's just what you need. I think this was one of those times.
I wanted and needed to sleep, but with everything that's happened- its been hard in coming. Memories, visions, fears... they all crept in making sleep next to impossible. Add to that the antics of two neglected cats in need of attention and you get the picture.
I think the silliness did me more good than just sleeping off the exhaustion. The day hadn't been exceptionally difficult, maybe that was part of the problem. I had too much time to think- and now that I'm off shift until Tuesday morning...
I ended up indulging the cats with a little bit of catnip. After the last time they'd found the 'nip I'd stashed it in the fridge. The three of us ended up sprawled around the living room, staring at nothing in particular.
I finally fell asleep, only to wake up with a giant, purring mass on my chest. There is nothing like waking up from an exhausted sleep to find a cat butt in your face.
Thank heavens for small favors.
Maxwell gave a slight, questioning, meow as I levered him off of my chest so I could finally go to bed. I gently rubbed his head behind the ears and he gave my hand a playful bat.
Its amazing how the simple things can make you feel good. Its nice to be needed- even if it is just to get the catnip.
It was kind of a lazy day today. I don't know how many of these I can take. Especially when Case and the boys are away.
After two weeks of Case always being there- a week without him... okay, 5 days without him and I'm already climbing the walls. I packed up my stuff and looked around the condo. It wasn't home anymore- but neither is Case's place- not without him there.
I think that's why I've been staying at the Condo- it's the closest place to home I have right now. That and the fact that it doesn't remind me as much of Case.
I know he'll be back- I know this is only temporary but still- I keep expecting him to call, for the boys to walk in the door- for Fin to come dropping in through the ceiling...
That's a sobering thought. Case and the boys- they'll be back and I know it, but Fin's gone forever. Its hard when you realize that.
And then I think about how close it came to none of us coming back. Its funny, I can deal with the possibility of getting hurt- even dying on the job, it happens. But there's a difference between dying trying to save someone, or even hydroplaning into oblivion on the way to a call and ending up being the power source for someone's blood ritual.
I guess it's the age old thing about wanting my life- and death to mean something.
Fin was a fighter. Sometimes his cause was money, but he didn't deserve what they did to him. Alan didn't deserve what they tried to do to him. And I know somehow, no matter how much research or information the boys can provide- it will still come down to a 'rogue mage' who just happened to work for AZT.
At least with the statue back where it belongs, that threat is gone. I wonder what will turn up to replace it.
I got a call from Case. He told me it was over and that he'd be home on the 1400 flight from Lima. I was so excited and happy about it that I never noticed the fact that he hadn't mentioned the boys.
Looking back- I'd just figured it was all over now and they'd be there- that we could all live happily ever after. I guess I wanted that too much.
I remember hugging Case as he came down the gangway and then I was looking for the boys. I can't begin to describe the letdown I felt when he took my hand and forced me to meet his gaze.
"Jess," his voice was even, but sad. "They won't be coming back."
I could feel everything closing in on me again as he led me to the waiting area and helped me sit down. "But... its over."
Case shook his head as he tried to explain to me what he and the boys had discussed. They had indeed survived their dealings with AZT and Ninancoro- but there are some things that you can't walk away from. They can never come home.
They were alive and out of danger for now- but their score with AZT will never be settled, they'll always be targets. They have to start a new life, and I can see that I do too.
He had a message from them, but I was in no shape to view the disk. I'd run the full gamut of emotions and I was just too numb to start that ride again.
Case took me home and did what he could to make it home for me too. We're together and I guess that's the most important part of things.
I should probably see about selling the condo, although I can't send the boys the money. That's the hardest part of this whole thing: knowing there won't be any contact with them- there can't be.
We won- why do I feel so miserable?
Case had to go to work. He was going to take some time off, keep me company- but I really needed to be alone. I think he understood. I ended up just riding around the city. It was rather aimless, but by the end- I found myself on Council Island.
Jonathan was happy to hear that we were back and that we'd found the boys- but it was Mrs. Walker who noticed the catch in my voice-- the look in my eyes. She took me into her inner sanctum. We ended up talking for quite a while.
I think she understood- better than anyone. The boys were alive but they were lost to me- forever a part of me and forever apart from me.
I guess I should call the others back home and let them know- but it doesn't really matter, they'd already said their good-byes. I was the one who couldn't let go a year ago- and now...
Now I have a new life and I need to start living it.
I've never understood how Mrs. Walker could effect me the way she does, but I'm grateful for it. I think, in my own way, I have found replacements for my brothers. Jonathan has been my big brother, Michael my little brother.
Mrs. Walker explained that life is a series of circles- I'm finally beginning to understand that now. We can't win every fight, but we can claim our victories where we find them.
We talked a lot about my experiences in Amazonia; about the statue, the coatl; about Fin. He tried to protect me and in the end he did- they all did.
Mrs Walker seemed quite concerned about the statue and its 'choosing' us. She was even more amazed when she found out that it had scanned and spared Case.
I think deep down I didn't want to think about it- about how close we'd come to losing him. I could tell she wanted to know more, but that she understood.
She ended up calling Case and he met me there for dinner. I think I was better company than I was yesterday.
Well- at least some things never change. The world may come to an end, but bureaucracy will keep right on like nothing's happened. I reported to work on schedule- handled the morning rush and kept things rolling until lunchtime when I was called into the Captain's office.
I had no idea what was going on.
Cap sighed as he pointed to one of the chairs. "Miller," he told me. "I don't know what this is all about- but personnel just called. Something about paperwork and you're to report to them.
"Whatever it is, can't it wait until Monday?"
Cap shook his head. "Sorry but they say that until the paperwork's finished- you're out of service.
Just like that... 'boom.'
I tried to object, but personnel is always right.
When I got there I was sent to the 'blue line' which leads to records. New employees- returning employees and me. After almost an hour in line it was finally my turn.
Then I finally found out what this whole thing was about: since I was now married, they assumed I wanted to change my insurance information and all my records. They wanted a copy of my marriage licence, name change forms etc, etc.
I asked why couldn't they just have me come in on Monday and do it and they told me that wasn't the way they did business.
So instead of doing my job, I spent the day running around facing bureaucrat after bureaucrat. City records, Citywide, Federal Records... Citywide.
They wanted to know why I wasn't changing my name- why I wasn't switching my insurance to Case's, why I wasn't putting Case on mine. It's a wonder more people aren't climbing clock towers these days.
When I finally got home- I found out Case had been through pretty much the same thing. Except now it seems that the feds are doing a background check on me to see how much of a security risk I might pose.
Sometimes I wonder if the boys didn't have the right idea- just drop off the face of the earth and start over somewhere else. Only thing is- I think no matter where we'd go bureaucracy will have already staked its claim.
I will be so glad when the next training class is out and working downtown. Between working 14 hour shifts to cover both rush hours and managing half the program's paperwork I barely have enough time to breathe. And now I'm also handling the program's publicity.
Yes, after giving me nothing but bureaucratic grief yesterday- they've got me writing up all the promotional information on the program. I need to tabulate the call/response time increase and all the pertinent stats for the program.
Takoma has become our test bed- and I'm afraid I'm now the defacto administrator of the program.
Its funny, a year ago I was one of about 20 motor medics in Baltimore about to head off to Seattle. I'm still the same person- but I feel so much older now. I've done what I set out to do, but none of it turned out like I'd planned.
I was only going to say here for a year. I was going to find my brothers. I was going to have them back in my life.
Now I'm staying.
I found the boys, but that didn't turn out exactly as I'd planned either. I helped them but I couldn't save them from themselves or the enemies they'd made.
Sometimes I feel like everything's an uphill struggle- like every time I avert one disaster a chain reaction starts, and I can't stop them all.
But maybe- just maybe... I can pick up the pieces afterwards and help people move on.