Author: notmanos PM
Infected series - While Roan investigates the suicide of one of Dee's exes, Seattle is plagued by deaths connected to the tiger strain of the virus.Rated: Fiction M - English - Mystery/Fantasy - Chapters: 17 - Words: 46,846 - Reviews: 25 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 11-12-11 - Published: 04-20-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2909208
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
17 - All That Burns Is Burning
In the car, Holden was treated to the story of Mandy and her internet boyfriend in a meandering, compulsive bout of verbal diarrhea that made him want to pull over and put her in the trunk.
It turned out internet boyfriend was "like, fat and old" (thirty), and she was pretty disgusted by him, so she took off for the Church the first chance she got. Holden had to repress the urge to gasp dramatically, and proclaim, "Someone lied? On the internet? The police must be informed!" But he didn't, because she might think he was serious.
Anyways, she found some people at the Church who allowed her to crash at their place, and that brought them up to date. She didn't know if she was infected or not, but she kind of "hoped so", and she had hoped to get in on that whole tiger thing, but she never met the right people, and besides, "some kinda shithead kitty fag guy ruined it all". Holden winced, because she was talking about Roan, and he knew damn well what was coming.
Scott turned to look back at her, and said, "Not only is he a friend of mine, but he's the guy we work for, so shut your ignorant mouth."
She snorted, crossing her arms over chest. "He's a fucking traitor."
"Say it to his face. If he doesn't rip your arm off, I will."
"Do me a favor," Holden interjected, before it could get really ugly. "Explain to me how he's a traitor when he wants to keep people from dying horribly."
"'Cause being infected's fucking awesome," she explained, with the aggressively bored tone of someone who honestly can't believe anyone could possibly be as stupid as the person she was talking to. "You become something else! A big cat! That's fucking cool."
Holden shook his head. "You're an idiot."
"Fuck you, old man."
"Before you came here, did you know a single infected person?"
"Online doesn't count."
She shifted in her seat, arms tightening even more across her chest. Her lips twisted, but she didn't allow herself to frown. "Are you infected?" she finally asked.
"No. But that kitty fag is, and I've known him for a while. He'd tell you what a fucking joke it all is."
She shot him an evil look in the rearview mirror, but Holden found it easy to ignore. Just like he found her misguided and deeply stupid beliefs easy to understand as well. He was the son of a preacher, after all, and he knew how powerful denial could be. It could trump reality, and the more outrageous the belief, the more reality was helpless against it. You would have thought that shouldn't have been true, but there was no end to which a person would push themselves to avoid facing life as it actually was. Life sucked; any belief, no matter how outrageous, was better.
Scott was lecturing her, but he tuned it out. There was no talking Mandy out of her stupidity, and besides, their job was done. They found Mandy. Sure, she'd probably run away from her mother again, possibly before they even reached Sea-Tac, but who cared? They were just hired to find her once.
He'd be glad to get rid of them both. They could go home and be idiots there. There were enough idiots here as it was. A whole city full of them.
Roan had a change of heart, and asked Dylan if he minded going home for lunch instead, and he had no problem with the alteration. They picked up some Vietnamese food to go and returned to eat at the breakfast nook and discuss plans. Not that there was much to discuss. Roan just told Dylan what Doctor Rosenberg had told him, about the apartment and what she wanted to do. Dylan's reaction was the same as his, wondering about the déjà vu of it all.
Dyl all but refused to make the decision for him, since he felt it was Roan's decision to make. But he just didn't know what to do anymore. Dylan asked him if he knew what he didn't want to do, a work around that was cheap, obvious, and helpful. He didn't want the lion to ever hurt Dylan; he'd never forgive himself if that happened. So Roan thought maybe he could try the monitored apartment for a week. He'd be back here as much as he could during the day, but that would be it. Dylan wasn't as worried about the lion coming out as Roan was, but he got the sense this was Dyl being Zen - read: fatalistic - about it all. Roan understood it, but didn't like it.
They had just finished lunch when there was a knock on the door, which caused them to exchange a wary look. "Did we lock the gate?" Roan asked. Suddenly he couldn't remember if he had or hadn't. Dylan shrugged, indicating he couldn't remember either. Goddamn it. It had been a long day - week, year, decade, millennium - so perhaps they could be forgiven an occasional lapse.
Roan went to the door, actually kind of hoping for a fight, as there was nothing complicated in violence. He knew he could handle it. But a glance through the door's peephole told him a different kind of fight was on the way.
He almost didn't open the door, but then he figured fuck it, and undid the locks as aggressively as he could before throwing open the door. "What?"
Agent Monica Flores barely raised an eyebrow at that. "That's a nice greeting."
"What the hell are you doing at my house?"
"You've been blocking my calls."
"Which would indicate I don't want to talk to you, so why are you here?"
She remained stoic and unflappable in the face of his obvious hostility, which just made him more pissed off. She had a manila envelope under her arm, which she pulled out and handed to him. "We're not enemies, McKichan. I wish you'd stop treating me as such."
"What is this, a subpoena?" he asked, opening the envelope and looking at the contents. There was an impressive collection of paper, and Roan recognized the top sheets were standard background check forms. All concerning him. "What the fuck is this? You've been checking up on me?"
"It's standard procedure," she said, tapping a piece of paper near the bottom. He scanned the rest of the pages before he came to what she had been indicating, which was a security clearance badge. It had his name on it, but the photo was missing.
He looked at her in disbelief. Was this an elaborate practical joke? He could see Dee doing this, he really could. Maybe Grey if he was really bored. "Why are you fucking with me? You know I'm just out of the hospital, right?"
"What's going on?" Dylan asked. Roan sensed him behind him, and he knew Flores made eye contact with him, but from the way her expression remained neutral, he knew Dylan didn't nod or acknowledge her in any way. He was waiting to see if she was friend or foe.
"Crimes against infecteds and by infecteds are up across the country," Flores said, as if that explained anything. "We could use a consultant with genuine field experience, and experience being an infected. Even if you are an … unusual one. But, worse case scenario, at least we have a consultant who could fight a tiger with their bare hands."
"No," Roan said, trying to hand the papers back. "You can't conscript me."
But she didn't take them, crossing her arms over her chest to indicate she wasn't going to take them any time soon. "Think about it. The fact that we're even thinking about this should give you a good idea how desperate we are. My number's on there if you want to call." She gave Dylan a polite nod and turned and stalked away.
"I already made up my mind!" he shouted after her, but she ignored him. Of course she did. She was just paying him back for his aggressive ignoring of her. He slammed the door like a drama queen, aware that she couldn't give a shit, and it hardly made him feel better.
"What the hell is this about?" Dylan asked, starting to sound a little peeved. "Ro?"
He hastily flipped through the sheaf of papers. There were legal forms in here, rules of conduct, stuff he absolutely had to get Dennis to go over. There was no way they could force the issue, was there? "The F.B.I. want to bring me in as a consultant on infected cases."
Dylan seemed quiet for a long time, so Roan glanced at him from the corner of his eye, and saw his jaw had unhinged slightly. He was staring at him in slack jawed disbelief. Finally, he said, "The F.B.I.? As in the feds?"
He nodded, still disbelieving all of this. It had to be a joke. Flores was doing this to needle him. "Yeah. Flores has made me a personal project. I think she's bored." And on to his more than human status, but Dylan didn't need to worry about that as well.
Dylan put a hand on his arm, squeezing gently, just enough to get his attention. "Hon, is this bad news or good news?"
Roan shook his head and shrugged. Not sure what to tell him. "Pick one. All I know is it's trouble." And this was just what he needed more of right now.
Damn it. If he ever needed proof the universe was out to fuck with him, he had it now.
Author's note: Due to some contractual obligations - and the writing of the Infected: Paris prequel (oh yes, that's happening), there will probably be a longer than average gap between Roan stories. But fear not! This is not the end. Just a brief hiatus until I can get ahead of my deadlines. Thank you for your patience, and for reading. (Infected: Freefall is out November 25th, in ebook and paperback form, in case you need a fix before I return.)