So, here we are, another installment of the saga, good to get positive emails, people like the new more confident Will, thats what happens when you have to fight your own battles on your own, you become stronger.
Don't worry Andrew is in this book, later in it, and he is definately in book Five.
I am very interested to hear peoples interpretations of Marc, the stories in general... Will.. and especially Captain Charisma Brody.
As usual Comments or questions direct to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feed back is welcome.
It wasn't a long drive, he thought as he worked his way down through lower Scarborough towards the lakeshore and his inevitable destination at the Scarborough Bluffs. It was a place full of ragged turns and pretty little houses in that last bastion of Toronto just before it became Oshawa.
He was glad to get out of the main city; it was a place he always found smoky and cruel. He could feel his skin crawl whenever he was there. It was the sense of humanity doing what humanity did best; crushing other peoples spirits. He had been trying to escape it when he had been hiking east, he couldn't stand it anymore. The city with all its anger, its hatred, and its death, it reminded him of everything he had tried to escape, everything that he could never have. He wasn't good enough to do what he needed to do. He wasn't in love with her.
Libbet had understood when he had told her he couldn't stay at her apartment any longer. He had felt awkward there, going through the motions purely because he felt he had to and that was just wrong. He knew he could simply go on lying to himself, but did he really want to go through all of that again? He had tried to escape from himself, from Libbet, from the past, only to be drawn back into it before he could get too far. He knew it was what he was fated to do, pay for his mistake. He just wanted to run, sit in the sand and forget. And part of him needed to forget somewhere beautiful.
As he turned Libbet's Volkswagen off of Kingston road and onto a beach road he felt an instant sense of relief. He could see the Lake stretch out in front of him down below. It was an immediate sense of release and he reached out and turned up the old radio and let the angry rock pound itself into him.
Libbet's mother had bought a cottage here when she had been alive; what had made her buy a cottage down here instead of up in Muskoka was beyond Marc. Perhaps it was the same feelings that Marc felt as he looked over the Lake wind stirring his hair. The sun beat down on him as the music flowed from the radio and he felt free for a moment as he passed the empty snow covered beaches slowly melting under the warm spring sun, soon there would be kids playing in the sand, and teenagers basking on the shore.
He glanced at the scrawled directions Libbet had given him, and in minutes the Volkswagen pulled up to the front of a squat little cottage Libbet had given him permission to stay in for as long as he needed it. He wasn't sure what had made him say yes and agree to stay there. But as he stood there with the keys in hand and looking at the small home he smiled, glad that he was a few hundred feet away from the sand.
He unlocked the door and set his bags down, it wouldn't take him long to get unpacked and then he would look for a grocery store or a convenience store to get some food. He remembered Libbet had told him that the best place was a small hasty market about a mile up the road, and that seemed like as good a place to begin as any.
The sun was bright when he stepped outside; it illuminated the row of cottages dotting the shoreline and he looked up at the small houses and wondered at the people who could afford them...how could anyone afford two homes? He couldn't even afford to rent one, to him it was just another example of extravagance.
He drove across the road to the small market, pulling up out front and hopping out of the car, he could have walked it, but why bother? The breeze was still cool, but abnormally warm for March, and it played with his hair a bit as he marched into the store.
He grabbed a basket and wandered up and down the aisles picking up some coke and water, a couple sandwiches from the deli and some chips. That would do him for lunch, but he expected to be there a bit longer, he might as well start buying some real food.
The store was crowded, full of families and couples. A guy and girl, probably 18 or 19, stood in front of the beer case speaking to each other with all the sweetness each could muster.
"Get whatever you want, honey," the young guy said, small and scrawny he looked like a strong breeze could blow him over, all sun bleached hair and freckles. There was something vaguely familiar about him, something Marc couldn't quite place, but then everyone looked like some one else. The couple could very well have been him and Libbet when they had first met.
"I want whatever you want Lucas," she cooed at him. A beautiful young woman with a shock of blonde curls that formed ringlets against the delicate nape of her neck.
Shut up, Marc thought to himself as he stuffed a large bag of chips into his cart. At that moment he hated them, all of them. Every one who had managed to find love and have that love returned. All those guys that were happy with a person that was right for them, holding hands, staring longingly, giggling. They were in love and therefore Marc hated them for it. Love was something that he craved but couldn't find, if only he could bring himself to have feelings for her. He needed something more powerful than physical sensations, desire the fuel that had inflamed the soul and burnt all of them. Marc had a sacred duty to fight the forces of romance, minions of the greatest villain of them all, Cupid.
He stalked down the frozen food aisle, imagining himself in a ninja suit doing battle with all things cute and cuddly, take that care bear you suck! He was lost in his daydream of kicking the crap out of the care bears when a shadow loomed down on him and he saw shoes in front of him, he looked up. The mist curled as it rose from the open ice case, wrapping itself around his form his eyes locked with him. Before him, in his costume of track pants and a white tank top, white necklace around his throat and peering into him with deep brown eyes, stood Libbet's brother.
Marc knew him the moment he saw him, there was something in the eyes, and something familiar that reminded him of her. They were a deep soul full brown that reflected everything about him. He had known that he lived around there somewhere, but that still didn't prepare Marc to come face to face with him, in a grocery store of all places.
"You want some ice," Libbet's brother offered, as he looked seeming to recognize Marc's face but not actually being able to place him.
"Uh, yeah," Marc said as he reached in for a bag.
"Nice day for it, huh?" her brother said after a pause as he looked up towards the windows of the small convenience store. Marc wasn't sure what he had been expecting it had been a long, long time since he had met any of Libbet's family, and now to come face to face with her brother, the same one that had apparently wanted to kick his ass after he had hurt her. He had expected wings and a halo or something. Not an average looking guy in his late twenties commenting on the weather.
"Yeah," Marc said, throwing the ice in his basket. "Great day for the beach." Marc wasn't quite sure what else to say, he hadn't been prepared to meet any one that knew Libbet it was disconcerting to him.
"Yep. You on vacation?" as he spoke, he began to restock the shelf above the refrigerator. A rich kid that stocked shelves. There was a quiet confidence about him, something that said he was in control, that he didn't need to jump or yell. He was calm, collected.
"Yeah." Marc replied as he looked about him.
"Cool." He glanced down, giving Marc the once over. It was an almost imperceptible move, but then Marc was observant. "Well we're always open so if you need anything stop by." he said, as he gave Marc a tight smile and turned back to walk up to the cash.
"See ya," Marc replied, awkwardly.
Marc watched Libbet's brother walk past the two lovebirds standing in front of the liquor fridge. The way he walked, it was as if he had just noticed something was wrong, an edge of cold anger to his strides, and Marc shook his head as the guy admonished the pair.
"Tyrone," The young woman said stepping back from the young man as if she just realized their proximity.
"Emily," his voice adopted a harsh note, "you're supposed to be working the cash." He turned and looked over at the young man who was staring at him in surprise, "and you, did you need something or are you just here to distract my girlfriend?" There was a warning tone in his voice, as he stood with his shoulders relaxed. There was no doubt in Marc's mind; he was preparing to take a swing at Lucas.
He watched as they scattered, Emily hurrying to relieve the young man behind the cash register just as Marc moved up to pay for his groceries. He spared a last glance up to see Libbet's brother standing in the doorway to the store, watching as Lucas hurried away. Marc studied him a moment, then took his bags and loaded them into the Volkswagen.
He drove back to the cottage, contemplating the chance encounter. A couple of off hand questions to Emily confirmed that Libbet's brothers name was Tyrone, that his Dad owned the store. But as usual the information were disjointed, muddled and confused. He would have to be more careful in the future.
There was a dutiful part of him that considered waiting outside the store and talking to Tyrone, but he quickly decided against it, he wasn't ready to deal with formal introductions yet, especially not to her family members. And he dropped the hammer on the short drive back up the street to the shore.
The beach the house was located on was very secluded. Libbet had told him her mother had discovered it once after getting lost on a hike during high tide, that it spoke of her love of natural beauty. And the house was meticulously maintained if old: the walls had been painted several times and showed cracks of age, the wood was worn, and the furniture was a throw back to fifties functionality. At least everything was comfortable.
Marc glanced at the deserted beach and wondered at it. In the summer months the beaches would be full by now, especially on the weekends. But there was a feeling of solitude there, like it would still be empty as if it existed only for Libbet's Mother, and now for him. It was a place of solitude where he could just loose himself in his thoughts. There were other houses on his little road, but they were sill and silent, it was the off-season and they were probably empty.
He dropped the bags of groceries on the counter in the small kitchenette and after taking a moment to grab a couple of beers he was back out and walking past the rows of houses. Climbing up and over a hill he walked up a small set of wooden steps that was there to help people over the high sand bank. He sat down on them and stared out over the small set of cottages, the store at the end of the street and the main road that stretched into the sprawling metropolis of Toronto. It was a stark reminder that civilization lay on the horizon, and even though he was in a remote corner, tucked away from it, the dark skyscrapers would always overshadow it.
He realized then that the only way his life would ever change was if he took a chance and did something to change it. He grinned, knowing exactly what he could do.
He was glad to be free of the tie, slumped as he was in his chair responding to emails. He was utterly exhausted, the meeting had run on longer than any one had expected, and by the time he had finally made it back to the relative sanctity of his office there wasn't much left to the day. He rubbed his temples in a vain attempt to ward off the headache that had set in somewhere in the fourth hour of presentations. It also didn't help that he had been sick the day before. He made a mental note that he was getting too old for Tuesday nights at a bar.
That was a depressing thought, with the responsibilities he had, came the realization that he wasn't carefree and reckless any more. Back in university he had gone drinking with buddies on a Monday night, Tuesday was buck a beer night, Wednesday was always game night and so it was required. Thursday nights he had spent in the campus bar, Friday night was circling night clubs, and Saturday night was the same, and by the time Sunday night rolled around, they had been out every night so far, what was one more? Now the thought of partying on both a Friday and a Saturday was too much. Twenty-Six and already old. So much for the brash statement when he turned nineteen that he would never turn into his Dad. He was more like his Dad than he liked to admit.
Will caught himself; he was slipping into the past. His father had, at Twenty-Six, been married and a father. Maybe there was still some of that rebellious Nineteen-year-old left in him yet. He hadn't even come close to being married, something he was eternally grateful for. Who wanted Kids at his age? Stuck supporting a family when you had a career to maintain, and a life to lead. To Will the thought was chilling and he went back to his emails.
The daily pleasantries to friends and acquaintances that demanded a paragraph of small talk each and every day as a way of staying connected. It was an age of communication, but no matter how many emails you sent, a single phone call still went further.
The phone rang.
He stared at it dumbfounded a moment, was some one reading his mind? Purely coincidence, but even still it was unnerving. He glanced at the number "Bell-Payphone" well that certainly helped. He clicked the speaker button as he yawned, lifting his feet up onto the desk.
"Go for it." He said rolling his shoulders to relieve some tension.
"Will?" came a strange voice, half muffled by the roaring of traffic in the background.
"Yeah that's me." Will said, suddenly curious over who was calling him from a street corner. "Who am I speaking with?"
"Its Marc..." the voice replied.
Will frowned, who? He didn't know anyone called Marc. And he stopped, the young man from down town the other night, but how had he...? The sensible part of him bellowed a mental warning; there was no such thing as coincidence.
"I hope you don't mind me calling you at work, but I forgot to get your number last night and so I just 411'd your company and asked to speak to Will."
"Oh." Will swung his legs down from the edge of his desk and sat upright, picking up the receiver, "It's no problem what can I do for you?" he had that uneasy feeling; he guessed it was the feeling that some one going to so much trouble to call someone they had only met for a few minutes on a street corner felt wrong.
"Nothing, was wondering if you wanted to catch a beer tonight. I didn't get a chance to tell you last night, but I'm still really new here and all..." he sounded quiet, and Will relaxed a bit. Everything about Marc was just a little strange, but he was likable.
"I can't tonight, I've been in a meeting all day and I'm beat." It wasn't a lie, he was thoroughly exhausted, but he felt a little guilty so offered, "How about lunch tomorrow?"
"Sure, sounds great. I'll meet you at the Don Mills Subway station, the floor that connects to the mall. Twelve fine?"
"Uh cool." Will said.
"Tomorrow then." And with that the phone clicked dead.
Will reached out and hung up the phone, shaking his head at the peculiarity of phone call. Who did that? He had to be tired, if he had any sense he wouldn't go anywhere near Don Mills the next day. If he had been thinking clearly, he would have said no in a clear and concise tone. But he hadn't expected it.
He grabbed his leather bomber jacket off of the back of the door, leaving his suit jacket there, and shut off his computer while he put it on. It was the end of the day, and no one would think any less of him if he went home early.
Tiredly he scrubbed his eyes as he exited his office and crossed to Alicia's desk, "I'll be on the cell if anyone needs me, but I'm checking out for the day."
She looked up at him, her hands wrapped around a steaming cup of tea which she refused to put down, "Are you going to bother turning it on? Or should I just transfer them to your voice mail?"
"I'll turn it on!" he protested, holding up his hands defensively.
She stared at him levelly over the rims of her glasses, as she reached out a graceful hand to touch the speed dial on her phone. Somewhere behind him, in his office, a cell phone began to ring. She didn't say a word.
"Alright... I am not taking it," He glanced behind him and shrugged dismissively, "sue me."
He could still here her chuckling to herself as he stepped into the elevator, thrusting his hands into his pockets and looking wholly disgusted with the way his day was shaping up. He was long over due for a night on the couch with a hockey game. There was nothing Matts Sundin couldn't cure with a little magic. He was adamant he was going to make the most out of his time in this host.
He felt the elevator accelerate downwards, and finally stop on the ground floor. Avery-Wood's main sub basement was undergoing some work, and for the time being a makeshift executive parking lot had been rented from the building next-door, large and cold it was mildly inconvenient but better than taking Transit. He was going to be getting home right at the start of rush hour, which was a good thing in his opinion, right now, rather than over stressed business men, he would have to battle soccer moms, SUV's and school busses on the roads. Ahh the fun of driving.
He fished his keys out and walked towards his Jeep, parked conveniently near to the exit. One of the perks of being a manager in Avery-Woods was free parking, and although he couldn't afford a Mercedes or a BMW, at least he didn't disgrace himself driving a Jeep. He looked sporty enough without looking like he was a man going through some kind of identity crisis, or like he was trying to impress anyone.
He drew up in surprise as he saw Bruce loading boxes of file folders into the back of his car. No doubt eager to get on top of the Tri-Tech deal. He shook his head as he crossed to his own car and pressed the button on his key chain to power the locks. The audible sound of the locks echoed through the near silent parking lot.
Bruce jumped, surprised.
"Good night Bruce." Will said suppressing the urge to smile as he flipped open the door and swung into the drivers seat.
"Will." Bruce nodded; quickly slamming shut the trunk of his BMW 525.
Will shrugged, shutting the car door and starting the engine. Something bothered him though and he glanced back over his shoulder at Bruce getting into his car. Had those file folders been orange? What would Bruce need with Avery-Woods payroll and benefits records? But it was too late to ask him, as the 525 was already well on its way.
Will shrugged it off and turned on the radio, pulling out his sunglasses and pulling out of his spot. Home.
Alone in his silent study, Robert Avery stood staring out across the well cared-for estate that was his home. The thick glass of the tall window was slick beneath his touch, yet he ignored the condensation as he watched the stabbing forks of lightening that rent open the sky. The flashes illuminated the gardens and, or a moment at least, banished the shadows that lurked there. Safe away from the hammering rain, he felt oddly attuned to the great force of nature that shook the very foundation of his home. He experienced it, wondering at the great mysteries that lay locked within the heart of the storm, what destruction it could bring down. A rolling crash of thunder swept around the manor and echoed through the ancient halls.
The flickering flames of the log fire in the marble hearth did little to warm the room or its lone occupant. It simply cast the room in an eerie glow that blanketed the room in the illusion of warmth. He found his attention being drawn to the fire, without turning he could watch it's every detail; the dancing flames, the heat and the fascinating patterns it cast on the walls.
He remembered too many times when fires of a different kind had swept across the world; the flames of change and the dawn of equality still smouldered. It had consumed so much; friends, homes, lives all now lay in ashes. And he shuddered involuntarily at the memories.
He turned to regard the delicate portrait that hung above the mantle; it depicted a beautiful woman that had been his wife. Her beautiful, deep brown eyes were lost on a painted horizon, seeming to search for something beyond that line. He remembered when those eyes had burned with a luminous glow that had outshone the flames that consumed the rest of the world. Those eyes were gone now, lost in the vastness of time, lost to some ones bitter hatred of what was different. The rain hammering relentlessly upon the glass reflected the turmoil within his mind.
He thought on all that he had attained in the years since that last brush stroke had touched that canvas. His right hand moved to rest upon the back of the well padded chair, his aged fingers running across the finely tailored suit jacket draped across it, remembering a time long passed. He had travelled a long weary journey since those old days, and he had accepted that there was no way back.
A soft sound as a door opened and a flash of light was reflected in the darkened glass of the window he continued to stare out of. And he watched the image of his visitor resolve in the glass, framed in the lighted study door. He already knew who it was, long before the image had materialised, only one person would just walk into his sanctum. Bruce Weippert's image was as familiar as Robert's own reflection, and he could never fail to recognise the man that had helped Avery-Woods come so far. He turned slowly allowing a flush of pleasure to slide across face. Bruce leaned casually in the doorway; in his hands he held a tray bearing a pot of tea and a pair of cups. The future vice president of Avery-Woods Corporation's board of directors, his sharp blue eyes shone with intelligence as he studied the older man. Avery could feel his concern, even if it was buried beneath the casually dismissive air that the ambitious man always carried himself with.
Weippert crossed to the great oak desk, moving to stand across from him.
"It's good to see you old man." He stated setting down the tray the concern was now very evident in his eyes.
Avery moved away from the windows, seating himself in the desks high backed chair, mildly reassured by the pressure of the soft padding at his back. He was far away from his office and its boardroom, but it was a nice change.
"What's wrong Bruce?" Robert asked, skipping the pleasantries that were redundant between two men who spent so much time working around one another.
Weippert smiled softly "Just the pressures of this latest project. I've got a problem with the Tri-Tech merger on my hands. Their trying to block the companies bid for a full buy-out, its just a couple of stock holders, but I think they may try to force the price of stocks up." Avery's old friend shook his head slowly. "It's Rena Allison who is causing the problems..."
Rena Allison was a major stockholder of Tri-Tech, and proprietor of the huge series of government contractors that were a major supplier of American military contracts. She was the one woman who had stood between Tri-Tech and a full partnership with Avery-Woods. Avery shook his head slowly, so many years, and yet some things never changed. Allison had been trouble since the early sixties when she had competed against a fledgling company for a Canadian communications contract, that fledgling company had later become Avery-Woods. Some people never grew out of bullying people to get their own way.
"It's getting pretty heated in some of the meetings, some of their stockholders are buying into her independence bull... but our law Lawyers are working on other solutions to the problem."
Avery rubbed his beard thoughtfully. "Perhaps I should invite the Tri-Tech management to the house for a dinner, and see if I can talk them around by showing them the best and brightest that Avery-Woods has to offer. Maybe Allison will stop trying to turn this into a hostile takeover and listen for once."
Weippert chuckled "Rena Allison, listen to someone other than her financial advisors?"
Robert shrugged. "She might."
"Good luck." Weippert said with a shrug, "But I might have to raise our offer price, I'm going to need your permission to do what it takes to secure a deal."
Robert Avery nodded, "I can see that, I want to avoid a hostile take over, if we can. Let's try to keep this amicable. Though we are committing an awful lot of our assets to this -- try to avoid over-extending the company's finances."
"It shouldn't come to that," Weippert said sitting back into his chair, "Besides I have a few plans in motion to ensure that we don't run out of money. I just need you to authorize Gavin Jennings to deal directly with the brokers."
Robert blew out a sigh, "Do what you need to do." He said as he lifted a cup of tea and took a drink.