11.9 Be Careful

by Matt P.

“I don’t think you’re making the right choice, letting the kids run around telling people about what’s going on.” Ryan said as they cleared the dishes. All four girls had gone back to the twins conjoined rooms, and the younger Ryan out to the garage to tinker with his board. It left the two adults to talk quietly as they washed the excess food and put it away. The clatter of plates and hiss of water out of the sink covered their discussion.

“I know you do.” Walter responded seriously. “I could tell, from the conversation. And you’re not wrong…it is of course a risk.” He says with a laugh. “Of course everything seems like it is a risk right now, but that could just be the cynicism talking.”

“I’m serious, boss.” Ryan offered as he put away the last plate, and reached out to fill the soap tray. “They take this crap really seriously. You’re treating it pretty glibly, but this is a serious thing. There aren’t any of the things that live in the dark and scare mortals that like having their secrets told. And Morgan and Tania aren’t as benign as they seem to be, if they get you alone an they’re displeased with you.”

Walter nodded and sighed, reaching in to the refrigerator and pulling out two water bottles. Without looking he tossed one over his shoulder to Ryan, confident the man would both expect and catch the thrown drink, before he closed the fridge. “I get it. But this came to me, and for whatever reason we’re all tied up on it. So we get to have a say in how we do it. Or frankly they can go suck an egg. Damn, I should have saved that one for when the kids were out here, it’s proper and everything.”

Ryan snorted, and sighed as he cracked open the water to take a long swig from it, then set the bottle down on the island. “But they won’t, Walt. They won’t go suck an egg, they’ll come after you if they’re displeased with you. I’ve seen it. Hell…I’m a Knight of Faerie, Walter—I’ve made clear the displeasure of the Queens to their enemies.” He offered almost sadly, leaning on the counter and looking down at his hands.

Walter considered his brother-in-law for a long moment before he opened his own water. “Ah hell, Ryan. I probably am in over my head and still digging. Just like always. But at least I’ve got somebody who knows what’s going on watching my back, right?” He asked, raising an eyebrow—his tone implying he knew that it was a loaded question and that he might be a little bit sorry he asked it.

“You know that it isn’t as simple as that.” Ryan said wit a sigh in response. “You know I’ve always got your back as much as I’m able, man…but their oath of enlistment is a little bit more strict then the ones we signed. There isn’t a lot of backing out, and it’ll be worse than a night scrubbing the bathroom with a toothbrush if you break it.”

Walter chugged a bit of water before he nodded. “Then why the hell did you sign up for it?” He asked seriously. “Seriously, you had to have had other options. Even ignoring PMCs,” he shared a meaningful look with the man, “there are lots of places for a vet with your skills. Hell, they took me as a cop, they’ll take just about anything.”

Ryan shook his head, and waved a hand like he was waving away Walter’s joking. “I saw you in Kansas City, remember? That gang shootout?” Ryan laughed. “Besides, you want to help people. I don’t know how they take the little shit you were and turn you in to a responsible man and crap, but I’ll give the Army credit. By the time we graduated you were ready to be a leader, and that’s why you’re here.”

“You were too, Captain.” Walter pointed out in return, shrugging. “I just stuck it out longer.”

“No, we were different.” Ryan said with a sigh. “For me there was always the element of enjoying it when the bullets were whizzing by. George Washington said something about it too, and it’s always been true for me. You had a family to come back to that made you OK with the administration—I just wanted to feel alive a little bit, and they offered the most interesting buzz.”

“And what…” Walter asked, quasi-incredulously, “now you’re bored with Faerie enforcement? You want to move on to Vampire bouncing, followed by Werewolf death boxing?”

“No, Vampires are crazy when you have to deal with them. And Werewolves re predictably good t boxing.” Ryan responded immediately. That caused Water to come up short, blinking.

“I…I really hope you’re not being serious, but I get the feeling that you’re not.” Walter sputtered.

“I’m not. And I’m not bored—and I suspect after we tussle with Oberon, I won’t need a fill of excitement ever again.” Ryan finished seriously, toying with his bottle of water absently. “Listen…just be careful. That’s all I’m saying. These people are dangerous. The Sidhe…they’re gorgeous, and awe inspiring, and they will devour you from top to bottom if you let them. There’s a reason why Rhee and I left for a while, and she didn’t come back.”

Walter nodded, but let the silence stand as they drank their water in silence.