Frenemy Mine

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Frenemy Mine

Postby The Midnight Hood » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:17 am

The beach was the second best thing about living at the home. Sure, they weren't the sun and sand of California or Florida, but he loved the smell of the ocean breeze as it blew past him and headed inland. Port Oakes had miles of beaches, and he ran them each day morning and night. Every member of the order had different methods and different mentors, and it gave the team a unique strength. O'Connely had agreed to train him in fighting and tradecraft, but it was up to Oliver to get himself ready.

Running on the beach was one part of that. Growing up in Grandville he had been so close to the water, but there was nowhere like this. No open stretch of sand where a person could simply enjoy the sun, and the water. The view was easy on the eyes, the sand was tough on his legs. He remembered quietly mocking the idea of running on the sand when his track coach had suggested it, but he could feel for himself how right the man had been as his body worked to adjust to the soft and shifting ground.

He had always been better at the physical stuff than his classmates, but had never known why until last week. Mutant. They had said he was pretty much normal physically, but they couldn't preclude the idea that the mutation might have made him stronger or faster. Oliver wanted to believe that all of his accomplishments had been because of his hard work, but now he could never really be certain.

Athletics had been good to him, made him popular, made him happy. The guys wanted to be his friend, the girls too, though usually not in the same way. He smiled as he ran, reminiscing on the good days.

His attention snapped back to the present as he stepped on a half-buried piece of driftwood and nearly tripped. Twisting, looked back at the bone-white piece of wood and marked its location in his mind so he could pull it free and out of the way when he came back. It was things like that could hurt you the worst: hidden, innocuous, and ignored.

Running on down the beach, his mind clear and focused only on the task at hand, he nearly missed the woman waving at him. When he did notice he was nearly on top of her and had to spin out of the way to avoid slamming into her.

“What's your probl...” Oliver's voice trailed off as he got a good look at her. Woman wasn't quite right. Girl, young woman, maybe, she looked about his own age.

The looked at him, then back the way she came. “I'm sorry to bother you, but I think I'm being followed.”

“Followed?”

The girl nodded, “Two guys. All the way from the ferry. They're over there,” pointing towards the sidewalk she strains to see them. “I don't live far from here, but I could really use an escort. Please!”

Oliver would have said yes to anyone in need of help, but his heart skipped a beat as he nodded to the beautiful brunette with the dazzling green eyes. “Of course I'll walk with you. I'm Oliver.”

“Maria.” She stopped and stuck out a rather dainty hand. Oliver shook her hand carefully, afraid he might hurt the girl. After an awkward moment of silence they both turned and continued walking toward the street.

As they walked up the steps to the street Maria moved closer, their bodies almost touching. “Those guys.” She pointed to two guys trying entirely too hard to look like they weren't looking.

Oliver nodded and put his hand on her back to urge her forward. He doubted they would try anything with him around, but he still wanted to get her safe as quickly as possible. They walked in silence for the next couple blocks, as Oliver looked back occasionally to check on Maria's followers. They were still there, and Oliver got the distinct impression they were both carrying guns. They had made up ground, but were still at least a block back when they finally made it to Maria's house.

Not that house was the word Oliver would have used for it. Mansion, palace, and estate, all came to mind. Two men by the gate didn't even bother concealing their weapons, and as the two of them approached the guards snapped to attention and headed straight for him.

“Hey Maria, who's this guy?”

“Relax Tony, there were a couple of Mooks following me home. Oliver here was nice enough to escort me.”

Tony nodded to the other man who pulled a cell phone and made a phone call in a language Oliver didn't understand, but what he guessed was Italian. In the mean time Tony unlocked the gate behind him, and motioned for Maria to head inside while keeping an eye out for the Mooks.

Oliver turned his attention away from the guards and back to Maria, only to be caught off guard by a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks Oliver. You're like my own personal hero.” She pulled away and headed through the gate as men began flooding past her onto the street, each looking meaner than the last.

The one on the cell phone caught his eye and gestured with his thumb, telling Oliver to get lost. He paused only a moment, looking after where Maria had vanished into the house before putting foot to pavement and heading back toward the Home. The fluttering in his stomach was something new, but the nerves he felt as he glanced back at the Family assembling on the street was all too reminiscent of Arcachnos patrols back home. He quickened his pace and took as many detours as he could, just in case the two men had decided to follow him.

He was already scrambling over the wall into the backyard when he remembered the driftwood.
Faint hearts never won fair ladies.

The Midnight Hood, Archery/Trick Arrow Corruptor
The Midnight Hood
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:07 pm
Location: Not Calgary, AB

Re: Frenemy Mine

Postby The Midnight Hood » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:52 pm

Oliver reached the far end of the beach and turned back towards the home. Already his runs were paying dividends, and so he pushed the pace. He had made the run quite a few times since that day he'd met Maria around here, but hadn't seen her since. Then again, her mansion probably had treadmills and a gym inside, with air conditioning. No need to venture out into the humid air amongst the peasants.

What a drama queen you are.

Again he was interrupted from his thoughts by an approaching figure, this time one he recognized. It was the guard from the gate. Tim? Tom? Tony? Yes, it was Tony. He was simply walking, signalling for Oliver to stop. Oliver didn't want to stop, but he also didn't want to get shot in the back, and he had a feeling people usually did what Tony wanted them to.

He came to a halt about ten feet from the man, late twenties to mid-thirties by Oliver's estimation. Breathing hard, and waiting for his mind to slow down to the pace he was actually moving, Oliver closed to within a few feet of the gangster.

“Come. Someone wants to see you.” He didn't wait for Oliver to respond, simply turned and headed back toward the street.

Oliver caught a glimpse of the kind of heater one might use to drop elephants strapped under the man's unbuttoned over-shirt and followed along without a word. They travelled in silence the rest of the way, Oliver always a few steps back and Tony never turning.

They passed through the gates with little commotion, the other guard from last time holding the wrought-iron open for them. It was the same at the door, with yet another door opening for Tony and Oliver. As they passed into the entry room Oliver felt the cold air wash over him and took a deep breath. He'd always kind of hated these moments, when he got to see how much better life could be.

His eyes wandered over the room. From the high, arching ceilings, to the gold leaf picture frames on the wall, the entire place was... opulent. Tony simply stood there, waiting, and so Oliver continued to look around, interrupted only when he heard footsteps.

He turned expecting to find Maria, but instead finding her mother. Oliver had never met the woman, but he felt safe in that assumption. She was as beautiful as Maria, just older. Her heels clicked on the floors as she walked, announcing her to everyone. Tony and the man by the door both stood a little straighter as she entered.

“Ah, so you must be Oliver. Maria tells me about you; her hero.” Her English was perfectly understandable, yet heavily accented with again what Oliver assumed to be Italian. “She watches you run by every night, and I see her and say, 'I should meet this brave young man.' So come.”

She motions for Oliver to walk beside her, and he can only do so, the whole situation becoming surreal. Tony falls in behind them. Oliver keeps his mouth shut and follows along as the woman leads him into the next part of the house, pointing out beautiful art, and Oliver can see that this isn't just drug money, or crime money, or whatever they're into. Maria's family is old money.

“So Oliver, where do you live?” The woman's question catches him a little off-guard as he looks at a painting. He'd hoped it wouldn't come up, so of course it did. C'est la vie, as his mother would have said.

There wasn't really a great way to say you lived in an orphanage, so he figured he'd get right to it. “I live at Father Henri's Home, down by the old fort...”

Oliver had planned to say more, but he was pretty good at reading people and knew when it was time to shut up. Her eyes widened and her cheeks flushed with color. Oliver looked Tony and saw nearly an equal reaction, though his was more menace than indignation.

“Che diavolo!” The woman's voice started loud and only got louder as she was soon tearing into Tony with a withering onslaught that Oliver could only be glad he couldn't understand.

When he'd heard enough, the gangster grabbed Oliver roughly by the arm and started roughly dragging the teen back to the entryway. As he was hauled through the door, Oliver caught a momentary glimpse of Maria on the stairs, a shocked look on her face. Then she was gone and he was stumbling to keep up with Tony who shoved him right out into the middle of the street, nearly underneath an approaching car that swerved around him, honking madly.

“Don't ever let me catch you around here again you...” Oliver only caught half of what Tony shouted over the honking of the car and the pounding of his heart, but he got the important part, and took off running.
Faint hearts never won fair ladies.

The Midnight Hood, Archery/Trick Arrow Corruptor
The Midnight Hood
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:07 pm
Location: Not Calgary, AB

Re: Frenemy Mine

Postby The Midnight Hood » Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:36 pm

It's too late. You waited too long.

Oliver stood looking at Maria's house from across the street. It had taken some damage during the recent Rikti attacks, but it was mostly repaired. New windows, new shingles, new wrought iron fence, it was pretty impressive what could be done if you had the money and the power to get it done. Two guards stood by the front gate, the one Oliver recognized from his previous visits, the other Tony's replacement.

He had wanted to come by sooner, to say something, to see her, but things had gotten so busy lately. Between the fire and the Rikti attack, he'd been kept busy all day long every day. A quick jaunt into enemy territory to give your condolences for a guy you barely knew wasn't high on the to-do list, and getting away from the watchful eyes of O'Connely and the other instructors was another problem.

Yet here he was. And now that he was here, he had no idea what to say. Seeing Maria again was probably out of the question, but he felt he should at least say something to someone. The image of Tony, lying there burned and broken still stuck with him, maybe even haunting him.

Oliver found himself three steps across the street before he even realized he was walking. After a quick check to make sure he wasn't going to be crushed by a car, he focused on the guards ahead. The older guard, watched him with a weary resignation, while the new guy seemed a little jumpy as he shot to his feet off of the stool. He slid his hand under his coat to where Oliver was sure some kind of pistol grip waited to comfort the man's nerves.

The old guard held out an arm before the new guy even wasted his breath, nodding for him to sit back down. He knew the score, and there wasn't any point to wasting time bringing the new guy up to speed. As Oliver stepped up on to the sidewalk the man held up a hand and Oliver came to a halt a few feet away, certainly more than arm's reach.

The man shook his head, crossing massive arms across his chest. Those arms surprised Oliver, he usually noticed people who would be obvious trouble in a fight, the way he'd noticed the way Tony carried himself. He glared at Oliver before speaking.

“Whaddya want?”

Oliver stood there for a moment, stumped by such a seemingly easy question, even if it wasn't easy at all. Pushing all that other junk aside he collected what thoughts seemed relevant for the conversation at hand. “I... I wanted to know if Maria is okay. If I could talk to her?”

The man shook his head at that last bit. “She's fine.”

“Oh. Good.” Oliver glanced down at the pavement for a moment. “And I wanted to say I'm sorry about what happened to Tony. With the aliens and all.”

That struck a nerve, and the man grimaced slightly. He glanced back at the new guy sitting in Tony's spot, before turning back to Oliver, the grimace now more of a scowl. “Yeah, he was a good guy.” Oliver nodded, not really having much else to say about the man he'd barely known.

Oliver stuffed his hands into his coat pockets, “Well, I guess I'll go.” He turned to leave, stopping only when the other man spoke again.

“Look kid, it takes a lotta guts or a lotta stupid to keep coming back here. Either way, it's pretty impressive. You ain't gonna be seein' Maria any time soon, but if I sees her I'll let her know you stopped by.”

Oliver grinned, “Thanks...,” and it was then he realized he didn't know the man's name. It had never come up before.

“Joey.” Even as he said it he turned and began talking to the new guard, leaving Oliver by himself on the sidewalk.

Oliver headed down the streets towards the docks, not ready to go back to the Home and all his new responsibilities there. Just being out here, able to think, without a dozen people trying to talk to him was relaxing.

I think that went pretty well.

Despite those thoughts, he was still troubled. He still hadn't seen Maria since that first day, and he still thought about her. Other girls practically threw themselves at him, but despite everything he thought of her.
Faint hearts never won fair ladies.

The Midnight Hood, Archery/Trick Arrow Corruptor
The Midnight Hood
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:07 pm
Location: Not Calgary, AB

Re: Frenemy Mine

Postby The Midnight Hood » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:54 pm

Reaching the end of the beach, Oliver executed a wide turn and headed back toward the Home. The beach was technically Family territory, but they didn't enforce it down here, so he kept using it for his training runs. His breath came hard; he'd been neglecting his conditioning for a while now with everything else that had been going on. But after the incident at the dance class, he'd needed to clear his head.

Too bad those terrifying times were all he thought about as he pounded sand, his body on cruise control as he ran. Nothing had ever scared him like she had, and as a child of the Etoile Islands he had a pretty high threshold for scary. Oliver glanced up at the back of Maria's house as he jogged by, hoping to catch a glimpse of her at the window. Anything other than her.

“Hey! Oliver!”

For the second time that day Oliver nearly levelled someone he knew. First Tammy at dance class, and now it was Maria standing before him in the sand. He had no choice but to bail to the side to keep from hitting her. Scrapping his arm on a rock buried beneath the sand he made a mental note to stop running while so distracted.

As he gathered himself Maria walked over and knelt down beside him in the sand. He'd nearly forgotten how graceful she was. Then again, after his demonstration, a drunken three-legged elephant would have been graceful. He pushed himself up and sat cross-legged in the sand. Maria waited while he wiped sand and perspiration from his face with the bottom of his t-shirt.

“I can't stay long. They'll know I'm gone.” She whispered, leaning in closer to be heard, though the surf and the wind would likely drown out a dirt bike from a few dozen yards away.

He stared at her for a moment, committing her to memory again. “How have you been?”

“Good,” she brushed a few strands of loose, black hair behind her ear, looking out to the sea as she replied. “Lil Joe told me you stopped by after the attacks. Thanks.”

He nodded, at the same time feeling stupid that that was the best he could come up with, all the while glancing up at her place. His attention snapped back as she began talking again.

“You know, I was thinking of going to the late show of Deathkiller 6 tomorrow at the theatre downtown.” Her eyes locked with his for a moment. “I was also thinking it might be kind of cool if maybe you happened to show up there too, by some crazy, random happenstance.”

She looked at him, waiting for an answer to her 'not question'. Words escaped him again, and so he just went with a nod. She smiled sweetly, and began to rise to her feet. Stopping halfway she dropped down to the sand, before leaning in to kiss him. It lasted only a moment, before she stood and walked away, but it still managed to knock what little sense Oliver had left right out of his head.

“See you there,” he finally managed to say, though a quick glance informed him she was already out of view.

Strawberries.

Oliver stood, and began running down the beach, a whole new experience dominating his thoughts.

Down the beach an unremarkable girl looked on.
Faint hearts never won fair ladies.

The Midnight Hood, Archery/Trick Arrow Corruptor
The Midnight Hood
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:07 pm
Location: Not Calgary, AB

Re: Frenemy Mine

Postby The Midnight Hood » Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:10 pm

“So, what did you think?”

It was a simple enough question she asked him, but Oliver's mind had been muddled for days. “Huh? About what?”

“Deathkiller 6, you said you went to see it last Friday. Some of the other kids are mad jealous. Most couldn't get in.” She looks him over a moment, “Must be the goatee, or the muscles maybe.”

“Huh.” His mind was wandering again. “Oh the movie! It was good. Not as good as number 2 or 5, but better than 1 and 4.”

She's watching him again, with that curious look on her face, trying to figure him out. “Are you nuts? Everybody knows that 1 and 4 were the best in the series. Maybe the best action movies ever made!” He's staring off into space again, ignoring her, “But maybe the movie wasn't what you were paying attention to...”

He snaps back to attention, “What!? No, I mean I was, uh, kinda tired. Long day, you know?”

“Hmmm...”

He doesn't like the sound of that one bit, but before he can make a better argument, she stands and leaves him there on the couch. He's already spent most of the afternoon staring at the same magazine article while thinking about Friday night. Tossing the magazine down on the table he rises to his feet and stretches his back, before straightening and looking after the girl who had just left.

Oliver realizes he doesn't even know her name... one of Petra's friends. He hasn't said anything that'll get them in trouble, but decides he better not say anything else until his head is focused a little less on Maria, and a little more on the rest of his life.
Faint hearts never won fair ladies.

The Midnight Hood, Archery/Trick Arrow Corruptor
The Midnight Hood
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:07 pm
Location: Not Calgary, AB

Re: Frenemy Mine

Postby The Midnight Hood » Sat May 25, 2013 7:17 pm

Oliver watched the tail lights as the car drove away. Away from the mansion, away from the isles, and away from him. He caught a glimpse of her as the car turned the corner down the block, before disappearing for good. In that split second he saw those green eyes staring right back at him as Maria was pulled from his life for good, his heart being torn out with her. He thought it only fitting that it was a cloudy day, but then again it was always cloudy in this corner of hell.

Maria's father had gotten a promotion and would be overseeing the Family's operations in Detroit. That meant uprooting his family. That meant taking his daughter away from that orphan kid down the street. He'd let her finish the school year and say goodbye to her friends, but neither she nor her mother had any real say in his choices. They were going, and they were going to like it. Detroit presented an amazing opportunity for the Family to expand, it's financial situation lending well to those who wanted to sink a little money into real estate.

Maria had told Oliver as much the last time they spoke on the beach, although it didn't really matter to him why she was leaving. All that mattered to him was that she was leaving. Maybe he should cry, or scream, or... anything, but all he felt was numb. He'd suffered enough loss to know that you couldn't change things. Shit happened and you kept going.

Still, this just sucks.

Oliver looked back at the Home, at the family and friends he still had, before turning and heading deeper into town. He needed time to think on what he was doing with his life. A few months at Father Henri's was all he had left, then it was back into the cesspool. He knew he could keep his head above the surface, but he didn't know if that was enough for him anymore.

((The last of Oliver's ill-fated romance.))
Faint hearts never won fair ladies.

The Midnight Hood, Archery/Trick Arrow Corruptor
The Midnight Hood
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:07 pm
Location: Not Calgary, AB


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