Spoilers: ATS, season 2. Bloodmoney.
Feedback: Don't make me hunt you down!
Disclaimer: Not me!
Author's notes: yes, it's true. I do get most of my plot lines while playing The Sims. My world is very strange...
Summary: Boone: "I've known Angel since Juarez in the twenties. We had a little disagreement over a senorita. I called him out. We fought for three and a half hours."
Juarez Mexico 1924.
That's what I'll remember the most about my time here.
Not the waves of heat that shimmer underneath a scorching sun, mesmerizing me as I peer out from the curtains of my home. Home. Shack. Hellhole. Whatever it is, I've made it. It's mine and I don't have to share it with anyone.
Tequila? I will remember that. But tequila's tequila and during the day when I'm sleeping off the effects of its comforting oblivion... it doesn't make much of an impression. Not like the darkness. Back in Ireland, it was whiskey that I used to block out everything... my father, my life, and my failure as a human. Now it's just a different bottle that wipes out my failure as a vampire.
I had sought this solitude. Searched the desert for a space that's isolated, for a pit of misery that I could call my own and I've found it here. Nearest neighbors fifteen miles on either side, fifteen miles of paranoia and distrust that might as well have been fifteen hundred. People here are running, everyone was. It's not the kind of environment that invites plates of cookies or welcome to the neighborhood fruit baskets. Now a gun barrel to the side of the head, and a 'Get the fuck off of my property' that's a polite welcome. For those who aren't feeling so friendly, a bullet and a shallow grave is also an attractive option.
I don't have any questions and fewer answers, so I fit in perfectly.
When the sun goes down there's nothing left for me to do but stand out on the porch, clutching a bottle and staring up at the sky. I usually don't bother with any lights, there's nothing for me to see... not inside this shack.
I don't think there's a window left intact. There used to be. When I try to remember what happened to them, I just get a hazy image of blood on my knuckles and the tinkling sound of glass crashing to the floor. If I forget to draw the curtains, the sun comes in and reflects on the shattered fragments on the floor before dancing on the surface of the bottles I've decided not to pick up anymore. Sometimes that wakes me up; sometimes it's the flies.
Fat flies, sluggish in the heat. They're everywhere, descending in a squirming, buzzing blanket. I can't wait for the sun to go down so I can get away from them. No coffin was ever this claustrophobic. Many times I find myself swatting them frantically, crushing their bodies as I mutter, "Sun go down... go down... go down." When the last orange rays disappear, I gratefully stagger onto the porch.
There's nothing outside except stars stretching overhead, millions of stark slashes of white that begin to blur as the alcohol takes effect. The Mexican desert turns grey as my brain seeks the shelter of... nothing. My brain seeks that place where there is no guilt, no remorse, and no cravings of a life that I've lost, a darkness that comforts me and makes no judgment. It's a ritual I've performed every night, but I'm interrupted tonight.
A snuffling grunt and a high-pitched squeal alert me to a commotion in the yard. I set my bottle on the rail of the porch and stagger down the steps, wading my way through the bodies of sleeping pigs. Picking my way past each one as it lies, sides heaving and shuddering with the occasional sigh. I wonder briefly what pigs dream about. If their dreams are anything like mine... poor bastards.
Wouldn't my father shit himself if he saw his only son here, like this - a miserable pig farmer in a border town in Mexico.
Wallowing in filth? ::check::
Whoring good for nothing? ::Well, halfway there::
Pigs seemed a natural choice to me. A steady blood supply that saved curious stares from locals wondering what the large pale man wanted with that much pig's blood. After the slaughter, the salted flesh brought some income, not a lot. But I didn't need much beyond the bottle; the alcohol I needed to drown out the memories. I just needed enough to forget my existence. It was a never-ending endeavor.
I located the animal that was making the noise, a shrieking wail coming from behind one of the outbuildings where the beast had wedged itself. I saw the wriggling forms of it's brood and couldn't tell if the mother or one of her babies was injured, surely that was the only explanation for such an unholy howling. I bent forward, trying to see better in the shadows.
You know, pigs are very unpredictable... and vicious.
I know it was going to happen seconds before I hear the scream of rage from the animal, but I couldn't seem to move fast enough. I tried to back away as I felt teeth rip into my arm and only as they imbedded into my muscle did instinct kick in. When I ripped my arm away, I felt the tearing, as a chunk of my flesh remained clamped in its jaws. I fought a wave of nausea as the searing pain slammed through me. My brain kept repeating: fuck... fuck... fuck as I scrambled backwards in an attempt to escape further attack.
There really wasn't much room to maneuver and a 300-pound pig is surprisingly agile, not to mention fast. I found myself staring up at it while it ripped into my belly. A sense of calm washed over me and I thought 'this is how it ends?'
Then I heard the gunshot.
The animal's head slammed into my thigh as it flopped to the ground dead. Bruised or broken? I couldn't tell at the moment. My shirt was shredded and marred by a blooming field of red as torn flesh and muscle spilled through the material. It as so surreal, my flesh pale and waxy.
Looking up, I saw a large, blue demon extending his hand to me. Funny, I thought as I clasped his palm, I've never seen a demon around here. "Who are you? I managed to ask before I passed out.
"Boone," he grunted as he hoisted me onto his shoulders.
A gentle pressure on my spine urged me to arch up from the mattress. When I did, fire ripped through my belly and I gasped out loud.
"Easy now." Boone threaded a roll of gauze behind my back and brought it around. He pushed the flayed edges of my skin together and tightly cinched the bandage before passing it behind me again. His left hand rested on the small of my back, keeping me clear of the bed. "I'm almost done," the demon said as he wrapped another circle of gauze around my abdomen.
When he'd finished, I sank back into the bed. "You should have left me there."
He smiled as he gathered the leftover supplies and returned them to a pack sitting on my chair. He turned to face me and crossed his arms over his chest as he studied me lying on the bed. "What I can't figure out is why a vampire is pretending to be a pig farmer. I would've expected a town this size to be drained in a week." He looked around the interior of the building. "And while this is a little sparse, it does look like you've been here for a while."
He obviously wasn't from around here or he would know the unspoken rule. "Well in this part of the world, we like to mind our own business."
Boone nodded his acceptance. "Understandable." He turned back, rummaged in a pocket of his pack and removed a folded piece of paper. He smoothed it out before handing it to me. "Maybe you can help me... I'm looking for this girl."
Large words: Wanted. Underneath the printing was a girl's picture. Really more of a sketch, it captured not only her dark eyes and hair, but also managed to convey an aura of the hunted. I found myself staring at her eyes and recognizing the desperation there. I looked up when I realized I'd been holding the page a little longer than necessary. I shoved it in his direction. "You a bounty hunter or something?"
He refolded the paper, taking special care to align the edges with their previous creases. "I'm someone who's interested in justice."
The bold REWARD printed at the bottom of the page lingered in my mind. "And you're not afraid to be compensated for that interest?"
He shrugged. "She's a criminal. I've tracked her this far... it's only a matter of time. Have you seen her?"
I attempted to sit up fully and grimaced. (Damn.) "No," I said through gritted teeth.
He walked over and swung the pack onto his shoulder. "Would you tell me if you had?"
"I haven't," I repeated a little more forcefully.
He shook his head. "Okay... you probably shouldn't move around for a couple of days. That is if you don't want your guts to fall out."
"I'll be fine... shhhiiittttt!" I doubled over in pain as I tried to stand up."
"I can't figure you out," he said as he watched me. "Obviously you're living on pig's blood here. Why are you sparing the humans?"
"I don't kill humans," I grunted as I eased myself back onto the bed.
"Why the hell not? I thought that was the whole purpose of vampires."
"Well I can't," I snapped as my head hit the blankets. "Fucking gypsies gave me a soul." (It's funny that what should have filled me with hope was actually the very thing that had damned me for eternity.)
It started out a soft, extended chuckle, but soon mellowed into true laughter. "That's brilliant... ah." He tried to catch his breath as the sound, rumbled from him. "A vampire with a soul."
"Why don't you get the hell out now? You've done your good deed for the day, maybe it can wipe out some of the shit you've done in your life. I'll be fine now."
"Actually I have a better idea. I'm going to stick around here while I make a few discreet inquiries in town. That way I'll attract less attention and you'll get some help for a day or two until you're healed. You know you'd be dead if you were human."
Boone wrapped the rope around his wrist for better leverage and pulled until veins started popping out against the blue flesh of his chest. I was glad he'd decided to stay, because although I'd nearly healed, the idea of hauling three hundred pounds of swine off of the ground started a twitching at the edges of my abdominal wound - not good.
The carcass started to swing as it hung from the ceiling by its back legs and Boone tied off the rope before slapping the side of the pig heartily. "So now what? No heart beat..." He ran his hand over the jugular. "Or not much of one. You're not going to bite it are you? Without anything pumping it, you're not going to get much blood."
"No, I'm not going to bite it," I chuckled as I came over. I placed a large bowl on the floor underneath the animal and made a quick slice across its neck with a razor sharp blade. The liquid made a pinging sound as it hit the bowl, which quickly muffled as the vessel filled. I was glad Boone had stayed. It had been a long time since I'd had anyone to talk to. I realized suddenly that I'd missed that.
"Well, I see you're nearly recovered," Boone said as he watched me wipe the blood from the blade of the knife. "I haven't heard anything about the girl I'm looking for in town, so I'll help you dress this hog to sell and then I'll be heading out."
I'd been expecting that news for the last two days... so, no surprise. "Okay then." Saying the words out loud was some kind of appeasement to the dullness that began to seep back into me. My future unfolded before me and though it wasn't any different than I had imagined it two days ago, this time I wasn't as prepared to accept it. If I could hear myself saying it, maybe that would help me unearth that old resignation I'd spent the last three decades trying to find.
"I'm going into town tonight... have a little drink, maybe do some gambling. Come with me. We'll celebrate your recovery."
(We'll celebrate your bleak future hiding here in the Mexican desert. Then we'll raise a glass in salute to the fact that scorching daylight and a quick end are only steps away and you're too much of a coward to follow through.) "Okay."
We had to leave this establishment, something about being cut off... going home... sleeping it off.
"That's why I never come here, you fuckers are so tight..." I jabbed the bottle at the closing door. "I was the fucking Scourge of Europe for one hundred and fifty years, you assholes, nobody tells me when I've had enough!" I stepped forward and felt Boone's hand on my arm restraining me.
"Come on, Angel. There's another cantina down the street. We can cut through here." He gently tugged at my arm, then increased the force when I made no sign I'd heard him. I had. There was just something about the feel of him touching me - that sense of companionship, partnership that I'd been running from. I never thought I'd feel it again.
Packing with other vampires wasn't an option and humans... well, that always ended badly.
I followed him through an alleyway, but had to stop as tequila and pain caught up with me. I leaned back against a wall and called out softly," Boone."
He was beside me in a second. "What's the matter vampire, can't hold your liquor?"
I rested my head back against the wood and glared at him through half open eyes. "When I'm recovered, remind me to kick your ass."
He laughed and opened my shirt to check the bandage, prodding me with gentle fingers as he squinted at my midsection in the darkness. "I'll send you a postcard where to find me."
His face started swimming before me and I closed my eyes quickly to try and reorient myself. I suddenly realized that I didn't want him to go, that I didn't want to be stuck here alone for the next century or longer.
"Boone, take me with you."
"Yeah Angel, rest here for a minute. It's just down the street, take it easy and we'll head on down there." He started rebuttoning my shirt, satisfied that I wasn't bleeding.
I grabbed his hand and forced my eyes open to look at him. No I mean with you. I don't want to stay here in Juarez... I can't anymore." I tried to keep the edge of desperation out of my voice, but even to my own ears I sounded somewhat manic.
I kept having a vision of the sky pressing down on me, of the stars tattooing their pattern on me as they burned into my flesh. It was irrational I know... chalk it up to the booze.
"And take you away from your duty as vice president of Misery town?" He joked before he realized that I was serious. A look of bewilderment crossed his features. "I..."
Impulsively, I leaned forward and kissed him. His lips were still and warm, I imagined that warmth coursing through me, invading the cold dead spaces that were empty inside of me. I needed something to fill up the space that the soul hadn't been able to touch. I pushed my tongue into his mouth as if I could crawl inside of him and leave my body behind like an abandoned shell.
He tried to back away and finally grabbed the back of my head when he realized I wasn't gong to stop. "Angel, you're going to hurt yourself," he added soothingly, in atonement for his rough method of getting my attention.
"I don't care, I'm not going to last another day here," I muttered tersely. "You know, the sun casts beautiful orange shadows on the sand when it rises..."
"Angel!" He managed to look shocked, then added, "Don't say that." His hand was still at the back of my head and he held me still while he touched his lips to mine. I felt his teeth scrape the line of my upper lip.
Some spiral of hope, or desire or something kindled in me and with a sob I reached for his waist, pulling him into me.
//A filthy soul//
Boone stepped me back against the wall, grinding his hips into me, but careful not to put pressure on my wound. "Then you'll come with me," he whispered as his hands cupped my face, then slid down to span my throat and rest on my collarbone. "We'll leave here tomorrow when the sun goes down."
//Instead, God gave me you//
I could hear the demon inside me laughing, how could I think that I would ever find something in this world that would come into my life to stay. I ran my hands down over the back of his thighs and felt the strength that would keep me anchored in this world, the only solid hope that would keep me from walking into the sunrise. I tried to cut the voices off.
//A terrible disappointment//
Boone breaks the contact of our mouths and brushes my face with his fingers. Angel, you're such a martyr. I don't know how you've survived this long."
"I'm a stubborn Irishman." I pull his shirt from the waistband of his pants. The sound of voices and drunken laughter makes me realize where we are, how public this place is.
Boone's thinking along the same lines, he kisses me once again and then steps away. He adjusts himself, and then helps me fix myself. I let him, because I like the feeling of his hands on me, claiming me.
"Come on, I want to show the picture at this place. Then we'll go to your place."
The promise makes me smile in anticipation and I fall into step beside him.
Inside, he nods to a table. "Go get a drink, I'm going to ask around."
"Okay." I head over to a corner of the room and wonder if I'm grinning like a fool, because that's how I feel right now: happy, giddy... insanely positive about the future.
As soon as I sit down, a girl comes around to ask me what I'll have. I open my mouth to say tequila, but stop in recognition. It's the girl; the one Boone's looking for. I'm struck with curiosity about her. She is, after all, the reason that brought him here. "Hey," I manage.
"What'll you have?" She asked with bored indifference.
"Tequila." I can't help but study her and compare her to the sketch I saw. In person, there's an added sadness... a hardness that comes from running. What are the odds that she and I both ran to Juarez and what past is she trying to escape?
She's noticed my attention. Her eyes glance nervously around. "I know you, Mister?"
"We've never met." There's a deadness in her eyes that's so familiar it hurts. For some reason I want her to make it, to have the same chance I've just been given. I grab her wrist. "Get out of this town... get out while you can. Whatever you're trying to leave behind, it'll find you here."
She gasps as she looks over my shoulder and sees what to her must be a nightmare come to life. "It's you! How did you find me... how do you always find me? You're some kind of devil."
I stand up and place myself between them. "Let her go Boone. Just this one."
"No, Angel. I can't do that. I've got to take her back."
//I smell fear//
//This whole place reeks of it//
"Don't let this place be the end for her... anywhere but here." I don't know exactly why, but I can't let this be the end of the line for her. It was for me, but I've been spared that. I want the same for her.
I hear her running behind me, heading for the back door. Boone moves to step around me and I block him.
"Get out of my way Angel."
"I'm sorry," he says just before he punches me.
It's a good, solid hit. I feel the trickle of blood sliding down from the split in my lip.
"I don't want to hurt you, but I'm taking that girl in."
"What did she do?" I ask, stepping sideways, mirroring his actions as he tries to follow his escaping prey.
"I don't give a shit what she did, all I care about is that I said I'd bring her in... and that's what I'm going to do."
"She could be innocent."
"No one's innocent." He pushes me down into a chair and follows after the girl.
I catch up to him as he's standing in the middle of the street. "Boone."
He sighs and turns around. "You're not going to let me do this are you?"
"You'll have to go through me."
"Let's get this over with then." He rolls his sleeves up and waits for me.
I hobble over to him, proud that I manage to keep silent as pain knifes through my abdomen. I think I tore something open when I twisted and landed in that chair. I'm going to blame the soul for this stubborn streak of chivalry. Maybe the fight will kill me and it'll be all over. Here's hoping.
"Can't we postpone this for another day or two? By that time you'll be able to put up a better show? We'll take her with us, and you can fight me on the outskirts of Durango? How does that sound?"
"Nope, now." I circle him and attack.
//I am ashamed to call you my son.//
//I've lived down to your every expectation, now haven't I? //
My father was right. I'm not a very good champion. I never was... I don't think I ever could be. I know I can't win a fight with Boone, not now. I'm tired of fighting, wouldn't it just be easier to stop.
"Isn't it enough now Angel, we've been out here for nearly three hours. The sun's going to come up soon."
"Are you trying to use me as some bizarre suicide method? It's just a girl Angel, snap out of it. There's a thousand more just like her. Are you going to fight me over every one."
"Nope, hopefully this will be the last one."
Boone grunts and hits me again. I fall in the dust and everything goes black.
I've got the girl, I'm taking her back.
Don't do anything stupid. Here's some money,
Meet me in Durango.
I won't do anything stupid, but I am leaving here. Boone gave me hope, but I think I have to learn to stand on my own.
Back to top
Arrive at this page from an outside link? Get back into frames.