Word count: 905
He called in sick to work at exactly twenty-four minutes passed six, but only after battling with himself over the deicision as he prepped ingredients for his typical hangover breakfast. The motions were so engrained in him that he moved about the kitchen automatically, though his mind was entirely focused on whether or not to go in.
There was work to be done, on both sides. That was why there were two men assigned to the job; one to be hiding in plain sight, the other to be maneuvering the chess pieces outside, unnoticed. He frowned deeply, shutting down a few budding thought processes he wasn't ready to chew on, whisking the eggs in a glass measuring cup until he was satisfied. He poured them into the hot pan and moved on.
He wondered how much progress Jonathan had made. He knew he'd gone out scouting and on a few reconnaissance missions, but he wasn't sure he'd gotten the most recent updates. So what to do, then, he wondered. He wasn't consciously aware his hangover burrito was ready until he bit into it. It tasted the same way it always did.
He wandered into Jon's room to see if he had any files or documents around but, as was protocol for their careers, there were none. He finished his burrito.
After a quick shower and change of clothes, he slid his blades into their shealths and stuffed the Glocks into the criss-cross holsters under his arms. He shrugged on a leather jacket and left the house. His first thought was to return to Culborrow's, but he doubted anything of much use would be there.
He went anyway. He had to start somewhere, so he started in the bedroom he'd found the dead kids. He scoured the room for an hour and a half; lifting blood-stained carpets, unscrewing electrical outlet faces, checking floorboards, moving the, also blood-stained, furniture.
He was looking for anything, really.
A scratch along the base of the ceiling fan caught his attention. It was strangely thick and came upon the metal at an odd angle. He wondered what the impact would have looked like on another surface; he expected it would have taken a chunk out of most.
He peered around where the scratch ended and noticed a small hole that went clear through the ceiling. He stepped off the chair he'd been standing on and returned it to it's original position in the room.
The bullet hole could have been missed by the police, he thought to himself. It certainly hadn't been in the report he'd stolen. He supposed anyone might miss something like that when inspecting a room with three recently deceased children.
A thorough inspection of the rest of the house took him two and a half more hours, and he left with only the cartridge he'd rooted around in the attic for over an hour in search of. When he finally left, he was starving. It didn't take him long to make his way through traffic to his favorite Indian restaurant. His dashboard clock read 11:56.
He slammed the Jeep door shut and lifted his gaze across the parking lot. Parked along the street was a familiar F150. Christian stopped moving, squinting through his sunglasses to be sure of what he was seeing. There was a striking brunette in the passenger seat, whom Christian could see clearly, and beyond her was Jon, one hand on the steering wheel as he turned to talk to a petite redhead at his window.
Christian frowned and crossed his arms over his chest, watching. The brunette looked around, attempting to politely wait for the conversation beside her to end. Her eyes landed on him and he smiled at her, curling one side of his mouth up in that easy, aphotic way he had about him. He wasn't entirely sure it was an unconscious gesture.
She tensed visibly.
His long legs pulled him across the small section of parking lot and adjacent street in no more than eight or nine seconds. He came to a stop in front of the truck, removing his sunglasses and crossing his arms again. He was mildly irritated with Jon, though it was nothing he couldn't brush off. Sometimes, he understood, a guy just needed to get away for a little while. Jon had only spoken the truth, anyway.
They both had.
It wasn't until the redhead's piercing grey eyes glanced to him for the briefest second that Jon finally turned toward him.
He narrowed his attention down to Jon, to work, to the cartridge in a ziplock bag in his pocket. Anything except the wide eyed, frightened looks of the women. He knew the shocked stare, the stilted breathing, the rising pulse. Too well, he thought; it was always the same. The stab of rejection had ceased years ago, followed shortly thereafter by the wave of self-hatred and the screeching reminder of the things he'd never have again.
He didn't feel any way about it anymore.
What was he to do about it? He couldn't change the gnarly, twisted scars that littered his body no more than the women could change the deep, instinctual, and probably rightly developed, fear for the man bearing them. Two plus two is four, and a nasty life is worn like a badge, willingly or not.
He said to Jon, "Did you come back to work or to socialize?"