Part 26

Jun. 16th, 2006 08:34 pm
[identity profile] posting in [community profile] if_i_trace
Sometimes, you have to walk away...


8 o'clock. The sky was dark, lit only by flashes of headlights and the distant glow of a city's light pollution. There might have been rain clouds gathering as the temperature dropped a few degrees. Tamsin hadn't been paying much attention to the weather.

Keiran wasn't answering his phone. With a grunt of disgust, Tamsin tossed his cell onto the passenger seat and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.

Exactly three seconds later, Calder's engine coughed once and went silent.

Cursing furiously, Tamsin grabbed the wheel and steered the now-coasting wyvern onto the shoulder of the highway. Angry horns sounded behind him, but traffic was light enough that they didn't cause an accident. Once safely on the gravel shoulder, Tamsin set the parking brake and slumped forward to rest his forehead on the steering wheel.

Five miles to the rest stop. Over an hour's walk, if he couldn't hitch a ride.

Calder made a whistling, distressed noise and Tamsin sighed. "There's nothing I can do," he said shortly, before checking the side mirror and getting out of the car. He moved around the wyvern, collecting his bags and phone from the passenger's seat. "Your damn creator's not answering his phone."

The whistle turned to a plaintive coo, and Tamsin slammed the door shut harder than he meant to. "It's no good," he said. "You've done as much as you can. Just wait here and Ran'll come get you." Somehow, he added silently. Because he always does. Settling his bags on his shoulders, he started walking.

Gravel crunched beneath his shoes, almost - but not quite - drowning out the soft wailing cry of the wyvern.


Night crept into Steve's car as darkness settled over the highway. Val stared out the window, not really seeing anything. There was a feeling in the back of his mind, a gentle buzzing, like something he should remember was calling his name, but he couldn't quite hear it. So he let his focus drift, relaxed and watched the miles roll by. Beside him, Steve practically radiated tension; not quite excitement, not quite nervous anticipation.

He wished he could just lie out in a field and watch the stars reel by overhead. It would be... safer... though he couldn't qualify the feeling any further than that. Better. And maybe the buzzing would stop.

"He's stopped," Steve said.

Val turned to glance at the GPS. Steve's partner had gotten them a fix on the car somehow, and they'd been tracking it up the highway. "How far?" he asked, frowning at the numbers and lines on the display.

"Close," Steve said shortly, lips clamped tight around his cigarette.

He wanted fresh air, the chance to stretch his legs. Maybe dinner. Steve had been so determined to make up for lost time that they had stopped only once for a restroom break.

20:42 the dash clock said.

Steve reached out, pressed a button on the dash, and the night was split by the dance of the police lights. Red, blue, white; Val squinted into the night, letting the light sparkle through his eyelashes.

"There," he said, as the white spot on the edge of the road grew large enough for Steve to see.

Nodding, Steve changed lanes, cutting his speed as they headed for the shoulder. Val started to put the window down but a glare from Steve stopped him.

"Bullet-resistant glass," he said shortly.

Val tried not to sigh. "He's not that dangerous."

"You don't know that."

Yes, I do, Val protested silently. Steve wasn't willing to hear him out, though.

The edge of the road was rough with grooved pavement, rattling his bones before Steve pulled the car over onto the gravel and stopped a few feet behind the white car.

Wyvern, Steve had said. Hybrid. And that should be familiar, understandable, but only resonated against the holes in his memory and left him feeling hollow.

The car was empty. Val could tell that before Steve even opened his door. It sounded like the radio had been left on, or... something. There was a weird keening music in the air.

The lights danced: cherry, blueberry, water. Val rubbed his forehead, closing his eyes to see the white car bearing down on him, engine revving high and hard.

"Stay put," Steve growled.

He nodded. Waited. Watched Steve stalking the car with drawn gun held firmly in both hands and was overcome by a sudden feeling of wrong that he couldn't explain.


Steve returned, holstering his gun and scowling. "It's empty."

Val just nodded, listening to the mournful sound of the car as they pulled away and headed on.

"You think he stayed on the highway?" he asked.

Steve shrugged one shoulder. "He stayed on the main route this far. Probably tried to hitch a ride. Might've walked as far as the reststop up ahead. Car was still warm, though."

Of course it was, Val thought, It's alive....

"What was wrong with it?" he asked aloud.

"The car?" Steve glanced at him. "Overheated, maybe?"

"Ah." Scrunching down in the seat, Val kicked off his shoes and put his feet against the dash. This time, Steve didn't yell at him.



Date: 2006-06-17 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Nnnh. Poor Calder.

... *continues on to 27*

Poor little Calder

Date: 2006-06-21 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Leaving Calder crying on the side of the road! How sad. Is Keiran just ignoring Tamsin's calls? If he is that is kind of cold for a twin (/ex-lover).

Re: Poor little Calder

Date: 2006-06-23 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's right, you did say it was after 8 before Keiran got a chance to check his messages and that it was 8 when Tamsin tried to call. Was the uneasy feeling that Keiran had tied to his brother or to Calder?

Date: 2006-07-06 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Horribly late in reading this, but on the plus side, tonight I needed the break like oxygen and what do you know? Fantastic fiction awaited...

I really feel for Calder. Strangely, I find myself also sorry for Tamsin because walking away from him had to be hard if the man has any heart at all, and annoying if he doesn't. Not to say that I'm not worried for anyone who happens to pick up that particular hitchhiker, but still.

More particularly, I enjoyed Val's characterization in this installment - that quality of tip-of-the-tongue memory and the dichotomy of knowing he should have valuable input but being helplessly unable to remember what it is. It makes of him a curiously thoughtful being which seems rather in keeping with his original classification as a "great sage."

Date: 2006-10-21 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay Tren for having prettier words than I, to say the same thing about Val that I intended to.


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