Now and Then
A/N: Thanks for the lovin', people. This chapter is a bribe for jezaeiri. Call it.... motivation for updating Life Past Death
. One chapter now, one chapter after delivery of update. :)
And if there's anything you people would like to see in this verse, tell me. I don't make any promises, but I'm bored right now. Enjoy.
+Then and Now
Things used to be different.
They used to be easy. Steal a wallet, have a good time, tune a bike, have a better time. Easy peasy. Don’t sweat the law, or rules, or the future. Live in the moment. Be happy. You never know when it might end.
And then, trying to rob some old fart of his antiques. Only the old fart turned out to be a guy that could squash him like a fly and immortal to boot. And Richie Ryan’s world view tilted.
But that was okay. There was a new kind of a fun all of a sudden. The fun that comes with having food without stealing it, of having a friend to bicker with and a hot woman to feed him and hug him like a mother might. People to lean on. People to go to the movies with and hang out. Like he said, a new kind of fun. And it was good.
Sure, there was the occasional maniac who tried to take Mac’s head and use it for a bowling ball, but Mac was Mac and that meant he always kicked ass.
So his new life could be summed up like this: working in the shop, going to the movies, washing blood from his favourite jeans, helping Tessa make dinner, running for his life, tuning Mac’s car and getting kidnapped once every couple of months. And it was all easy, all cool, because for the first time in forever there was someone there
. When he messed up there was a second chance and when he did something stupid, there was a third chance and when he asked why the hell he was getting all these chances Tessa smacked him for cursing and Mac told him that that’s what family does.
That left him kind of speechless.
The fun times turned a little less fun when the Watchers entered stage left but Mac saved the day because that’s what Mac does. And there was that friend of his, tiny, blonde, sexy thing, who saved Darius’s life so it was all good.
He would go so far as to use words like warm, fuzzy, happy, comfortable and content to describe that year. It was the best of his life.
And then it ended. It ended with a bullet that came at him, straight as an arrow, straight as a fucking bullet
fired from the gun of a guy who wasn’t worth the dirt he stood on. The bullet came, and came and came and he swears, if you ask him, swears that he could see it, watched it as it came closer, closer, closer and then…
It killed him.
Richie Ryan left the building, kicked the bucket, gave up the ghost, threw in the towel, bit the dust and simply, fucking died
And then he woke up. And he was glad, so very glad for a few hesitant heartbeats. Glad that he was alive, yes, but most of all glad that things could go back to normal. He hadn’t died and everything would be all right. His shirt was ruined. He’d throw it away and put on a fresh one and the three of them, Mac, Tessa and him would curl up at home and watch a crappy movie and the good times would come back.
Except they never did.
Tessa dead, Mac a mess, the store sold, happy life over, all fun-ed out.
He wants to say, story of my life, but it’s not. It’s not supposed to be. He survived getting killed, damn it. Doesn’t that somehow entitle him to being happy? To having a good life?
So Richie Ryan’s world view tilts again.
Antiques are replaced by punching bags and exercise mats, tuning cars becomes learning to wield a sword and there is no Tessa anymore to put a smile on Mac’s face, to cook dinner and remember to pick up movies for the weekend.
Instead of Tessa there is another blonde suddenly, the one that saved Darius. But she is sharp and dangerous underneath the sweet packaging, hard and cold. There is nothing homely about her, no comfort, no peace. No hugs and words of encouragement. Where Tessa spent her time with Mac messing around with ice-cream on the kitchen table, this new girl spends it fighting with him.
They beat on each other for hours and hours, fighting until they are both bloody, Mac more so than her. And when they are finished the look in Mac’s eyes is soft and mellow, not with peace, but with fatigue, with bone deep numbness, with physical pain to dull the emotional one.
When Tessa died, Mac broke and this new blonde lets him wallow, lets him hate and be silent. She sees the dead look in his eyes – has to – and she leaves it there, untouched. All she does it fight with him, make him angry, get him to scream with rage. She burns him out.
“You’re hurting him,” Richie says one night, after Mac has gone for a shower and he has scraped together his courage. She is sitting on the mats in the dojo, picking on a chipped nail.
At the sound of his voice she looks up, blinking slowly. As if she didn’t know he was there. Yeah, right. Bitch, Richie thinks.
“Yes,” she says after staring for a long minute. “I probably am.”
“Well then, how about you stop!?”
Her hands drop into her lap as she pulls her legs under herself. “And then he would do what?”
He rolls his eyes, amazed by the woman’s arrogance, and riled by it as well. “I don’t know, get over it?”
She laughs. He flinches. “Get over it? Oh, honey, you’re sweet. Have you ever heard the saying, time heals all wounds?”
He nods. Sure he has. She laughs again and looks up at him with earnest eyes. “Well, that’s bullshit.”
She stands suddenly, smoothly. “The only way to heal a wound is to clean it up and burn it out. Leave nothing behind that can hurt you anymore.” She takes a few steps closer and looks at him with an intensity bordering on a glare, “Time, Richie, doesn’t heal. It breaks you. It breaks Duncan. Breaks us all, eventually.”
Then she spins on her naked heel and marches toward the door, intent on leaving. And Richie bites his lip and calls after her, “Yeah, well, I still think you’re doing more harm then good.”
She stops and looks at him over her shoulder, looks and smiles a smile that is condescending and older than some of the antiques he handled, back in the happy days. Then she walks out and Richie is left to clean up the savaged training area and scrounge up something to eat for Mac and himself.
Things used to be different.
Before all the tilting and dying, they used to be easy.