The following story contains situations of a homosexual nature, and may contain depictions of sexual acts by consenting parties. If it is against the law in your area / country to read such material, Or if you find such material offensive please discontinue reading.

All material is copyright 2003 Blackheart and may not reposted on any Internet website with out the express written consent of the author.

I would like to thank the readers for the response I got from the first few chapters of the story. A big thank you goes out to Watch my editor (she chided me on capitalizing the W so I have) And many thanks go to the guys in the Niftywriters chatroom for their continued support. You all know who you are so save my fingers ok. < G > Check it out it's a great place to meet new and always interesting people!


http://www.nevernet.net/nifty/nifty-w.htm


Destiny of Time

Chapter 3 Twilight of Dawn


The piercing wail of the mournful trumpet played slightly out of sync with its fellow. The dull thudding of the drum could be heard for blocks as its deep cry sounded in a slow melodic trance. That aided in the labored steps that led the band. Their walk was slow, a step-by-step pace, almost like that of a somber bride to the altar of marriage.

The black clad brass band led a long procession down the avenue. The portly drum major kept the pace as he held his top hat and wore a sorrowful grimace on his dark features. A duo of trumpeters followed closely behind him. From their horns belted out the mournful sound of "Just a closer walk with thee". Just steps behind were the bass drum and trombone, adding their own voices to the melancholy melody.

Demitri watched the somber parade from the slat-covered window, the sun bright in the afternoon sky. The gentle sound of vertebra cracking pulled his attention to the bed. He watched the flesh as it stretched from a restful night.

"I bought some Beignets " Demitri said as he reached for a small white bag. The bottom of which was nearly clear from the settled grease. His eyes gazed back to Caleb who was now sitting upright his feet moving back and forth on the carpeted floor. Demitri smiled as he tossed the bag. It landed on the bed with an audible crackle. Caleb snatched up the bag and slid one of the powdered slices of perfection out. The confectioners sugar rested easily on the corners of his mouth, as a thoughtful look crossed his face. He slowly sat the half eaten pastry on the white bag.

"Is this how it will be?" disappointment resound is his voice "A small hotel room and pastry in the morning? Forever a shut in?" the mute green eyes locked on Demitri.

"Not the life you expected?" he sighed as a playful smile danced on his lips. "Rather bland I know" he kept going as Caleb got the hint and a smile spread across his face. He picked up the small pastry and finished it.

"So if not this" he said his head looking around the room. "Then what?" he asked as he pulled another one of the fluffy crunchy pastries from the bag and chomped down.

"Just like yesterday and the weeks before. It's a big change but you don't notice it. Soon the past fades into a vibrant dream, one that doesn't leave you when the sun begs your attention. It just lingers in the back of your mind." Demitri leaned over and wiped his thumb at the corner of Caleb's' mouth removing the powder that had collected there. He licked the sugar from his thumb absently. "You should shower, I picked up some clothes. They're already waiting in the bathroom." Caleb looked at Demitri and let out a contented smile.

"What time is it?" he asked looking around for a clock.

"Bout two thirty" Demitri commented as he stood up and headed for the dresser. Caleb got off the bed and headed to the bathroom. He slowly began to peel the boxers from his body as he stared at the mirror. He had forgotten the results of the early morning tryst and a surprised yelp escaped him as the dried mess pulled a few hairs. He quickly wet the front of his boxers hoping it would help ease them off.

Demitri stood at the dresser packing a duffle bag. He began laughing to himself as the shocked noise escaped the bathroom. It slowly died as a cascade of water could be heard. Caleb stepped into the warm water and his body relaxed. Slowly, willingly, he melted into the hot flow. He had found stolen time to think about the events of last night, the dream and the reality he had awoken to. He only felt trouble in the fact that he accepted all this, the fragment of yearning for his old life having died and withered away.

2:45 the numbers burned a fiery green from the small dashboard clock as Detective Marsh slipped the Ford Contour into park. As she stepped form the dull parish vehicle Mr. Kinsey pulled into his drive. She slowly walked up to him as he pulled his large frame from his small Geo Metro.

"Detective Marsh?" he questioned huffing for air. As the Geo's shocks squealed from release.

"Nice to meet you Mr. Kinsey." Her hand extended out and grasped his large clammy palm. "Is there anywhere we can sit and talk?" she questioned him eagerly as she pulled her hand away and looked at it.

"I reckon the porch will do" He commented as he moved away from her and made his way to the shade of the Houses' porch. As Marsh followed him to the porch she dug around in her bag and pulled the crumpled photocopy out. She took the chair opposite the man and handed him the worn piece of paper.

"Mr. Kinsey Is this one of the youths you saw?" She asked leaning into him.

"Call me Bob please," he said looking at her briefly before his eyes turned to examine the image of a happy exuberant boy. The color drained from his face as he peered on "He looks so happy, so full of life. I could never imagine him looking this way. The kid I saw was just a shell. I would be surprised if there was a soul still inside." The man let out a heartfelt sigh as he passed the image back to the Detective. "That's him, I can't forget that face."

"Do you think you could give me a good description of the young man that was that was carrying the kid?" Marsh slumped back in the chair. She couldn't believe someone had carried Caleb away. Her mind tried to work out the young man's motivation behind moving Caleb, but the answers wouldn't come. Whoever it was, he didn't take Caleb to get medical help; they had already checked the local hospitals. They had never seen Caleb, much less treated him.

"Those eyes shook me," the words brought Detective. Marsh out of her fog. "They were deep blue and belied his history."

Marsh squinted her eyes and looked intently at the man before her. As she stared on he seemed lost in reverie. "He looked right young, but his eyes knew more then I ever would. I've never seen anything like them," he paused for a moment. "Have you ever seen blue burn Detective? I'm as religious as any other good Southerner but I felt like I was staring into the eyes of God. That's why I believed him when he said everything was fine." A look of guilt crossed his rounded face as it dripped with perspiration. He looked at Marsh with apprehension.

"Did you see the direction he carried him?" She asked intently. Her eyes locked on his rotund form as he sat silently reflecting in his chair, watching for anything. She repeated the question when he didn't respond. He shuddered lightly, like his gaze had been ripped from a car collision. His face had grown visibly pale. "Mr. Kinsey Are you alright?" She questioned grabbing his arm.

"I'm Fine, just the humidity" he lied as he blinked rapidly. "He finished crossing the street and disappeared into that small ritzy hotel right there, La Petite Orleans. Once he was gone I got back in and drove away. It was the first and last I saw of him." Detective Marsh stood up and extended her hand once again to the man.

"Thank you for the help Bob." Mr. Kinsey labored as he pulled himself from the chair.

"Glad I could help Detective" he said as both of his sweaty palms grasped her offered hand. She offered a genial smile as she backed away and headed to her car. Soon she found herself outside of the small Hotel Mr. Kinsey had told her about.

A hand slid across the silky surface of the smooth glass dragging the thin layer of fog as it went. Caleb gazed at the face before him. He slowly checked out the person in the mirror, which elicited a shy smile that he shared. He looked at the water-spiked hair and ran his hand through it watching it spring back up. Caleb continued frolicking with his image as he went about the ritual of self-maintenance. Every now and then enticing the dimples in his cheeks to come out and play.

As his attention was lost in the cloudy mirror before him the door to the bathroom silently swung open. Demitri looked on as he leaned easily against the door, seizing this opportunity to fully admire Caleb. The skin was a breathtaking golden color where it had been lovingly caressed by the sun, and lightly pale where it had not. Demitri's gaze lingered on the flat stomach with its minimal definition and protruding belly button. The angry red appendectomy scar on his lower abdomen held his attention momentarily before his gaze began to rise. It danced over the nickel sized brownish red nipples, the nape of his smooth neck. The way the flesh softly indented in his cheeks, he couldn't help but note that they weren't the only dimples on Caleb's body. As he followed the jaw-line up past the tight curls at his earlobe Demitri noticed the moss green eyes watching him. Caleb smiled easily and his upper torso flushed lightly, as Demitri smiled nonchalantly.

"How long have you been there?" Caleb inquired as a hand slid slowly down his abdomen on a mission to protect his modesty.

"Long enough" He gave Caleb a knowing wink as his own cheeks reddened "Hurry up, we have to check out soon." He commented as Caleb turned around and began dressing, affording a view of his damp shoulders. Demitri watched for a while before he went back to the room and sat on the disheveled bed. In no time Caleb stepped out and the two together made their leave of La Petite Orleans, and the simple life that had ended there.

Somewhere in the starkness of night Caleb had found peace with his new circumstances, the great void in his soul filling if only by a fraction. In the sterile inky darkness he gained acceptance, and gave it as well. He was now looking forward to the dawn each day and the minuscule adventures it would bring. A feeling that had been suppressed for what seemed like an eternity to him.

On his new journey he harbored only one regret, leaving his mother. Even without being told he knew she was the price of this new existence. Never again would he see the wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. That showed with tenacity when she laughed so hard it brought tears to her eyes. He would miss the playful tone in her voice as she would giggle and called him a smart ass when they would play and tease each other.

Demitri lead Caleb in the fight through the crowded narrow streets of the touristy French Quarter. Pushing their way through the stalled walking tours that stared at yet another paranormal place. This time it was the office building that bore a brass plaque that said 1140 Royale. Caleb stopped and read the brief story that told itself on the brass tablet.

A simple rendition, one hinting at one of the oldest ghost stories in the lurid quarter. Retelling the history of the LaLaurie Mansion and all its sordid secrets. The story of a broken Master and a sadistic Mistress that reveled in the agony of purchased servants and tales of the secret room that hid the cruel and inhumane transgressions upon her property.

Her long rein of terror was brought to a halt one evening when a fire swept through the grand house. Some speculate it was started by the chef she kept chained to the hearth in the kitchen to bring an end to her reign of terror. The local fire brigade discovered her secret chamber and soon word spread to the local press. Stories of the atrocities perpetrated against her servants spread quickly through the quarter. Sparking the ire and venom of the locals who formed a ruckus mob that carried lynching ropes and cried for justice.

The story concluded with a dark carriage bursting forth through the angry mob. With horses blazing it disappeared into the inky darkness of the bayou. She was never seen or heard from again in the city of New Orleans.

"Have you read this," Caleb started as Demitri grasped the back of his upper arm forcefully and pulled him away from the villainous story.

"Owww!" Caleb exclaimed loudly as he tried to pull away finding his resistance met only with more force as the grip tightened to a death like hold. Causing more then a few stares, as he was drug away down the street.

"I'm sorry," Demitri whispered after they had made a safe distance. "I don't like that story or that woman." His brow was covered with a thin sheen of cold sweat, and his brilliant blue eyes were dark with horror. "That woman was the Mistress of the devil, the story told you she had disappeared never to be seen again. That's what they believe; they turn a blind eye to what's around them. She remained in the city after shedding those who would make her stick out."

"Pitiful Fool" The sultry thick female voice licked at the back of Demitri's mind causing him to shudder visibly as he relived the horror that was the woman later known as Ramon.

"What?" Caleb exclaimed a shocked look on his face. "You knew that woman?"

"Monstre" Demitri corrected him quickly, using the language he spoke at the time. "I beat myself up for a long time, She was the perfect answer to make the feelings I had of myself tangible."

Caleb still had an exasperated look of confusion on his face as his eyes scanned Demitri noticing how he had recoiled from his confidant manner seeming now more like a fidgety child. His fear shrouded eyes constantly scanning the world around him. His shoulders trembled every so often as his mind relived those black and white nightmares of the past. The dull tones often augmented with streaks and droplets of Technicolor red. His nose scrunched as the putrid coppery stench of old blood mixed with the scent of fresh leather whipped at his nostrils.

The sight before him scared him. He had hadn't seen Demitri look so helpless and he didn't understand what he was talking about. He had a feeling that what ever it was, it was too terrible for Demitri to express any way other than sheer fear.

"Demitri, " Caleb said softly. "I'm confused. It sounds like something terrible happened but I'm not making any connections. You're saying that you knew that LaLaurie creature?" Demitri's fear was now mirrored on Caleb's serene face. His demeanor spoke volumes of concern as he peered at Demitri when finally their eyes met.

"It was a dark night, The Light of the moon hidden somewhere beyond the thunderheads." Demitri paused as the thunder echoed through his memory. "I had found that door late one night after drowning myself in drunken sorrows. I knew the stories, but still the night and drink dragged me to a place I shouldn't have gone."

Demitri slipped further into his wary state as cloudy images cleared in his minds eye. The large door, the feel of the leather cord in his hand. Even the innocent tinkling ring of the brass bell compounded to make the nightmare more real. The sound of the squeaking iron hinges.

A Quadroon Male dressed in high fashion answered the ornate mahogany door. He stood on a base of fine Italian leather shoes. A pair of pitch-black breeches guarded his legs. A light blue-gray silk waistcoat covered a crisp white cotton shirt, ruffles cascading from the throat and cuffs. His medium-length hair pulled back into a tight bun at the base of his skull. He glared down his nose momentarily sizing up the dripping young man he saw before him.

The Gentleman servant, as he took him to be, bowed slightly and lowered his arm in a grand low sweeping gesture inviting him in to the residence. Demitri inhaled deeply summoning the courage to step into the manor. A shaky foot stepped over the threshold landing on the ornate marble mosaic floor. His eyes followed the intricate grapevine design as he finished entering the foyer. He marveled at the detail almost as if the artisan had grown the vine there and willed it to stay forever.

He marveled at the floor, as he hadn't seen anything like it for a long, long time. People these days usually just threw down a layer of varnished wood or polished squares of stone, but this was amazing. The floor led to walls that were covered in cream and sage striped silk that had a damask pattern. He was truly in awe; the opulence did not deviate wherever his eye wondered. From the crystal chandeliers and ornately carved plaster ceilings, to the detailed crown molding with its gold leaf work.

The heavy click of the door closing soundly behind him shook him from his visual feast. He became acutely aware as the quadroon silently approached him, his eyes cast down over his nose as he inspected the youth.

"This way sir" he said dryly in a distinctly French accent.

Demitri figured that if he himself looked more the part the statement would have been delivered in French.

"Oui maitre" he simply answered, his tone was near silent and submissive as he kept his eyes to the floor. Memorizing the vines that grew in the marble there.

The quadroon turned and looked momentarily. The look on his face was one of near shock, but it faded as quick as it appeared. He led on to a set of closed doors that he slid open seemingly effortlessly. He continued into the parlor before stopping abruptly and turning as he pointing a lengthy finger at the ground.

"Here" He said a thin well-manicured finger pointing to an aged copper dot in the middle of the doorway.

Demitri left a trail of droplets on the ornate floor as he traveled to take place on the copper disc. He stood slightly on the dot and slightly off, hugging himself to gather warmth in his wet clothes. The Quadroon walked away into the parlor where a woman sat on a fainting couch reading a book chuckling every now and then. Demitri watched as the servant approached her and leaned down to whisper something in her ear. Her position did not change to acknowledge the servant. She only cast a brief glance in Demitri's direction, a move that her quadroon servant repeated. Her eyes never wavered from him though, as he stood and looked into the parlor shivering and rubbing his hands against his upper arms.

The lady sat up and, set down the book, a leather bound volume with "Justine" emblazoned on the spine in gold leaf, her head cocked to the side continuing to listen to her male servant. She said something to the quadroon that was inaudible to Demitri as she stood gracefully. Her finery was no less distinguished than the servants. A maroon silk gown frothing with white ruffles, sleeves reached down to her mid arm the rest of the living sculpture was bare showing its slim perfection to all that would behold. Her black hair was done up in curls and pinned to her head. A large dark blue diamond suspended by a length of perfect creamy pearls clung to her flesh just above her bunched and gathered mounds of cleavage.

Demitri gasped as she slowly rhythmically approached him, opening a lace fan with a snap of her delicate wrist to cool herself. He watched as her bosom bulged up and down with her stride. He listened to the soft sound of the layers of cotton and silk dragging across the floor. It was giving a gracious song to her stride, and he found himself getting lost in it. The glorious symphony that played in his mind was replaced by the quick sound of the fan being snapped shut. The loss of the sound ate at him if only slightly. He longed to ask her to continue her stride just to be intoxicated by the sound.

She stood before him now eyeing him from toe to head, and back to toe slowly as if she was deciding on weather to make a purchase or not. He had seen the look before in the meat markets people called auctions. She shot a wicked grin over her shoulder to the quadroon. As Demitri began to look up a sharp slap flew across his right cheek forcing his face to one side. She followed quickly by placing one across his left cheek forcing back the other. The pain was more to his ego than it was physically even though the second hit had broken the skin. He felt the sting and the warmth start to dribble down his cheek.

"The first was for not standing where told boy" She said coyly pointing to the copper dot that was off center underneath his feet "The second was for making a mess upon my floor" she continued gesturing to the trail of water that led from the foyer. Her voice did not hint at anger or rage. It sounded smooth and calm, and on her lips there was a slight smile.

The first slap shocked Demitri almost enough to send him bolting to the door and running from this place he found himself. Perhaps that was her longing, maybe she and her quadroon servant just wanted to play with, or perhaps scare him. The second slap however brought the weight of the evening unto him, as he was quickly sobering to the gravity of the situation. Hearing her comment about not standing where told, he quickly moved, snapping his feet together over the patina covered copper disk.

He felt her eyes continue to watch him. He was slightly aware of the path she made around him. Ramon made another visual inspection of the youth before her. He felt like the prey of a lioness as she slowly circled him. A sly smile grew on her luscious crimson lips. He didn't see the mischievous sparkle in her eye. The quadroon did though. Learning long ago to be very observant to his mistress's tastes; he knew she liked what she saw. The gleam in her eye was that of a child that had just received a new toy mixed with the intentions of an adult who took different pleasures.

The grandeur faded as Demitri fell further into her realm. The mansions beauty being only skin deep as perversity coursed through its veins. The stunning silk covering was faded to a din of black painted wooden slats as the opulence of the mosaic floors retreated to worn bare timber. Bolts held chains to the stained walls at impossible heights, as the smell of decaying wretchedness stung his nostrils.

"Here" She purred in her deep smoky accent laden voice. Pointing to a set of shackles suspended from a wooden support timber.

Demitri dutifully complied, raising his arms as she snapped the iron cuffs around his wrists. He had now noticed that the quadroon didn't dare follow them to this place. Preferring to remain as distant as he could from this den of iniquities. He was aware of her breasts pushing against the wet fabric of his clothes as she locked him up.

"Look at the mess you've made" She said motioning down her exquisite gown. A look of hate bridled her face. She turned from Demitri and swished to a nearby table that was covered with a thick velvet cloth. Demitri couldn't see the various shiny silver tools the cover hid.

"Perhaps we'll just have to cut them away," She purred as she presented an ivory handled straight razor, the blade glinting it the sparse light. She made quick work slicing through the worn linen of his wet shirt not slicing it completely off, leaving enough so it could be torn easily. Which she did with a ferocious tug jolting Demitri against the chains as the fabric screamed in defeat.

She quickly repeated the motions on his pants, shredding them first with the razor and then tugging the mangled fabric away. Dragging the coarse fabric across his bare crotch as she did. Finally she stood back and admired the shackled young man before her. His knees had given out in pain as his nude form hung by the wrists.

Demitri was lost reeling in the pain from his sorely abused genitals. Too lost to realize the vicious woman had moved on to a large braided bullwhip. He body shuddered as it licked against the flesh of his back splitting the skin instantly. A blood-curdling scream escaped his mouth as the next volley connected. She continued to use the whip with expert accuracy. The tip of the dreaded instrument slapping across the skin as she intended it too, all the while a content smile graced her face and fire burned in her eyes.

Worry rushed over Caleb as he saw Demitri's features darken. It worsened as Demitri turned away from him trapped in the memories of that distant dark place. Caleb didn't know what to do; he stood there at first staring at Demitri's back. A deep feeling of wanting to help bore down on his young frame. Slowly he raised his hand as he took a tentative step forward placing a trembling hand on Demitri's shoulder.

"Demitri..." he started in a whisper but was unable to finish as Demitri grabbed hold of the nervous hand. Caleb's Face mutated in pain and terror as Demitri spun around blind with blind rage in his eyes.

It all happened quickly as Demitri's fist claimed a handful of the fabric and threw Caleb back into a brick wall. The teen yelped as his flesh made contact with the hard barrier and pain shot through the back of his head, causing him to fall to the grimy ground. He instinctively curled into a ball at the base of the wall his arms wrapping around his head trying to protect him from any additional attack.

Demitri took a menacing step forward clenched fist raised in the air his mind ready to defeat the phantoms that tormented him. Through the fog of rage he noticed the form curled on the ground. The heart beating rapidly in his chest froze and fell through the pit of his stomach, the resolve instantaneously melted from his face as he looked on the results with horror.

"Caleb," he whispered his throat dry, his voice horse, as he dropped to his knees and crawled to his battered victim, His arms reaching out. When his palm touched Caleb, the youth cringed in fear trying to pull himself further into the wall to escape Demitri's touch. The action horrified Demitri to the edge as tears began to slide from his eyes.

"Caleb please I'm sorry, I I didn't realize who you were for a moment" Demitri pleaded with the ball of flesh. "I would never knowingly do that, Caleb," he begged pawing at the curled up body.

Caleb pushed the hands away as he pulled him self up into a sitting position along the aged bricks. He wiped away the streaks that cascaded from his reddened eyes. A look of pain spread across his face as his feelings were bruised more then he was hurt.

"I'm trying to understand," He commented softly. "Please help me."

As Caleb whispered the words as the piercing sound of a department issue .38 being cocked sounded above the constant drone of the street traffic. Detective. Marsh had the menacing black weapon aimed squarely at Demitri's head.

"Get away from him!" She shouted down the alleyway at Demitri, her voice shaky with the surge of adrenaline drawing her weapon brought. "Caleb, Hun, Are you alright?" She questioned her eyes moving between the two boys.

***

Susan Mash pulled the chain around her neck that held a NOPD badge as she stepped out of her car. A hand reached into her pocket and pulled out the dull photocopy of Caleb's recent picture. She had it set in her mind that she would go to the front desk and ask about him. That was until the well-dressed gentlemen at the door caught her attention. Certainly the doorman would have been the last to see the boy if they had left.

"Excuse me Sir," she said walking up to the elderly African man.

His eyes sparkled with life, as if he enjoyed everyday to the fullest. They caught her off guard at first. What a stark contrast her stressed eyes must have seemed in comparison. His smile broadened as he turned towards her, removing his hat a bending just slightly at the hips in a welcoming gesture.

"No excuses warranted Madame," he spoke with a lighthearted airy sound that gushed southern hospitality. "What can I do for you today" he added as his hand reached for the long brass handle of the ornate cherry wood and leaded glass door.

"Actually I was hoping to ask you a few questions, I'm Detective Susan Marsh of the NOPD." She spoke as if she was sure of herself even though she knew she was probably grasping at straws.

Tobias's bright features darkened at the prospect of being questioned by a New Orleans Detective. He had done a few questionable things for some of the hotels more auspicious guests that coupled with the fact that only a short while ago almost every cop was crooked in some way.

"Yeah, I guess" his voice had become a little shaky at the prospect of being questioned. His hand slid from the brass pull of the door.

"Thank you Tobias" she said as she looked at the brilliant oval brass nametag.

"Toby, please" He commented clasping his hands in front of his person.

"Toby" she smiled reassuring him. "I only have one question," Marsh said as she unfolded the Xerox copy and held it before him. "Have you seen this boy?"

Toby's features brightened with the relief he felt as he accepted the picture. He was still half worried it was some street kid a regular rich patron requested. That disappeared as he saw Caleb smiling back at him. He smiled brightly as he gazed at it.

"Such a happy looking kid," he commented absently.

The comment bit at Susan, "if only he knew the whole story," she thought as he looked on.

"He was at one time, but life had different plans for him" She said pushing out an obviously fake and pained smile.

Toby glanced up at her remorseful expression. Instantly he knew the kid had a bad twist of fate in the future of the picture. For that he felt his heart melt slightly. He'd been in this city for the past 70 years. He had seen the Dark side of the Big Easy countless times. He knew many stories good and bad. Unfortunately the bad outweighed the good. He also knew something Detective Marsh didn't. A light still flickered at the end of this boy's path.

"Child," he cooed softly as he handed the picture back. "Living is hard, that's what it is. But we measure life by the way we deal with those hardships. This boy here," he said motioning to the picture. "Is in a good way, I seen him smilin' bout five minutes ago."

Susan stood there, momentarily in shock. But as the soothing gentle voice sunk in, her heart did a flip as a surge of life raced through her.

"Wh-what?" she stammered dumbfounded.

"Yeah" he beamed broadly as a hand went to her elbow to keep her standing. "Sure, they headed down the way towards Royale Street.

Her heart did a double summersault with the news. Tears of happiness began to creep from the corners of her worried eyes. She leaned and hugged the distinguished figure to her. Hugging him closely as the spiciness of his discount store cologne lapped at her nostrils. She squeezed him tighter before she let go and gazed at the shocked acceptance in his face.

"Thank you so much" she said her voice uneven as the back of her hand wiped away budding tears. "You must be some kind of angel," she whispered as she backed away.

The comment brought an easy light chuckle from Toby.

"I've been called many things many times, but never angel" He commented wryly. "No ma'am no angel in this ol' heart, Just a washed up man doin' the best he knows how." He smiled warmly at her one last time.

No goodbyes were exchanged as Tobias returned to his job welcoming guests and tending the ornate doors of La Petite Orleans. Their path in time had crossed and soon he would fade into a vague memory of a man that did what he could to help. His words were not lost on Susan, but would be in a matter of days.

She maneuvered her vehicle with frustration through the mid-day traffic of the Quarter, thanking God it wasn't anywhere near Mardi gras. She kept a constant vigil, scanning the sidewalks along the street, looking for anyone matching the description of Caleb and his friend.

A picture frozen in time, she saw Caleb dragged away by a blonde male out of the corner of her eye. At first she wasn't sure if it was Caleb, but as his profile came into view for a just split second, she knew. Marsh watched as he was pulled into an empty alley and her heart raced when she craned her neck trying to keep a visual on the pair against the flow of traffic.

She instantly went into cop mode. Tires squealed and the engine roared as she swung the car into a flipping U-turn, landing the car up against the curb as she slammed it into park. The door flew open on its hinges and a volley of irate horns greeted her exit. Pedestrians were yelling expletives and she caught the occasional extended middle finger, but she paid no attention to any of it.

Swiftly her hand reached under her coat and removed her gun from its holster on the back of her waist. She pushed her way through a crowd of milling tourists, all of them eagerly snapping off pictures of her as she passed. The small jazz band passing on the street stopped in mid note, their music falling flat.

She rounded the corner only to see Caleb straighten himself from the foot of a wall. She didn't know what happened but her mind instantly made the decision, her left hand flew through the air and grabbed the breach of the semi auto .38 pulling it back and chambering a round while her trigger finger deftly released the safety. The shrill sound of metal on metal echoed through the small alley.

"Get away from the boy!" She shouted down the alleyway at the unknown perpetrator, adrenaline coursing its way through every vein in her body heightening her senses and making her acutely aware of the world that surrounded her.

Behind her a group began to gather and stare at the proceedings with shock and perverse interest. Her eyes quickly scanned the small alley for escape routes.

"Caleb, Hun, Are you alright?" She asked, her eyes rapidly moving between the two boys.

Caleb looked nervously at the Detective and her pistol, as he slowly slid his body up along the old brick wall. His eyes wandered down to Demitri who was still crouched, frozen in place staring at Caleb's groin. Demitri's eyes glanced upward and caught the turmoil of Caleb's. He pursed his lips, shushing him, and then they spread into a reassuring smile as he began to rise.

"Easy," Marsh said watching Demitri rise. Slowly he spread his arms wide, open palms out. "Caleb, come here son," she said, her eyes glued to Demitri.

Caleb began to move toward her but stopped as Demitri's hand stayed him. Caleb watched as Demitri turned towards the cop. In the instant their eyes met she knew what Mr. Kinsey meant. Her resolve melted as she was filled with a warm comforting feeling. Slowly she lowered the hand that gripped the weapon and slowly approached the two young men.

The overwhelming feeling of comfort didn't sit well with the logical workings of her mind, it was screaming at her to raise her weapon again. Yet the blue pools on either side of his nose drew her close and told her to listen to what he had to say. She slowly holstered her readied side arm and stood exposed like a child in front of a parent.

"He needs to come home." She spoke softly to Demitri. "Back where he belongs."

"Susan," Demitri spoke lightly. "You know he doesn't belong there anymore, you know too well that picture in your pocket was just a shadow of what Caleb once was."

Susan was taken back a bit, how did he know her name? How did he know about the picture in her pocket?

"His mother, she's lost so much," she began to protest.

"I know," Caleb spoke up as he walked towards the detective, hugging her closely. "She has lost everything, our happy home went drown in the river that day," Caleb whispered as he broke the hug and stepped away.

The notion of one person carrying the soul of a family landed on Marsh as she remembered her father and his death. She hardly spoke to any of her brothers or sisters anymore. She had abandoned New York for that reason. When they buried her dad she ran away from her family, the sight of them bringing painful memories of better times.

She looked up from her thoughts and found Caleb standing next to Demitri. The two of them occupying space comfortably. Neither of them touching the other, but as they stood, their two halves made them a whole.

"This morning," Caleb spoke again "I woke up looking forward to the day, to the future." He sighed his face darkened slightly. "The last time I felt that, was before Seith drowned."

Marsh approached them slowly and let her hand curl around Caleb's face. Somehow she realized he was running away from a bleak past to a bright future, striving to find for himself a place in the sun, a place where everything held the promise of perfection. She knew the place well, and hoped this city held it.

Later she would find that such a place existed only in that fuzzy place between dreams and awake, when the light was perfect and everything had an ethereal glow. The world as she knew it was a dirty, dingy place where hope floundered on every corner.

"Don't take that feeling away," Caleb murmured as his eyes pleaded with hers. She could only smile at him. The loaded smile of a mother doing what her heart fought against, but what she knew was for the best, letting the young man before her go forward without her or his real mother.

"You take care of him," She said turning to Demitri. "He's a great kid, and deserves every opportunity life can give him."

Demitri nodded.

"I'll be watching," she said as she turned her back and walked away. "Always," she added as she started back down the alley shooing away the onlookers, already preparing to tell her superiors that it was a dead lead and mistaken identity.

The crowds slowly dispersed under her encouragement leaving Demitri and Caleb alone in the alley. Caleb grabbed hold of Demitri and gripped him tightly as he sighed.

"I'm sorry," Demitri whispered into Caleb's ear as he was squeezed tightly.

"I know," Caleb whispered back.

Marsh slammed the door of her car shut and pulled away, half of her was happy for Caleb the other half regretted her retreat. She planned her escape from the Crescent City as her car disappeared into the midday traffic.

"Atlanta," She said to herself "Atlanta would be a good place to try again."


To be continued...


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