11: Decisions, Decisions
Garrett watched from a distance as Sagira and Miranda went through a routine of chores that was well established. He'd tried to help – even asked to assist, but both the women had brushed him off. They were making short work of the job, and even he figured that he'd be inept – slowing them down rather than make it more expeditious.
He had to face it – he hadn't done a single chore since he was sixteen.
Garrett pushed off the corner of the hall and left the area. At first, his wandering had no actual purpose. He poked his nose into some of the rooms lining the hall – at least the ones that were unlocked. He passed several of the lingering Seconds, all of them projected death toward him, knowing his reputation, knowing what he had done to their leader. One hissed and lunged for him, before cowering back as a small fraction of Garrett's power licked across his cybernetic arm.
He was still the enemy.
Before, that wouldn't have bothered him. He reveled in being feared, getting a certain kind of high off of the notion that people avoided being near him. It was empowering. Now… there was pain at the thought of being the outsider.
He laughed at himself for such a notion. After sixty years, he actually wanted to be part of something.
All because of a girl.
"Daemon, I'm getting soft."
As he delved deeper into the bowels of the facility, the signs of invasion faded to non-existence. This is where they started running rather than fighting, collateral damage tended to be minimal when predator and prey were both on the move. The sporadic fighting that happened between Meirakat's crew and the demons Garrett had summoned showed here and there. Luminescent blood stained one wall, in evidence of one near-fatal wounding of a familiar.
He frowned, still feeling the remnants of the pain from each blow his demons received. He wished he'd known that when he'd started practicing to be a demon-summoner. That connection to the demons made it very difficult to keep his concentration during the fight – as if he was fighting two battles at once.
When he reached the ward level, he slowed, knowing that the man responsible for saving his ass was still suffering from his wounds. Not sure why, Garrett drifted through the door to the infirmary where Cabal was being kept.
With the women upstairs, no one was in the room but the other dhampir. Garrett stopped halfway across the floor, knowing he was intruding, but unable to help himself as he stared at his fellow dhampir.
Cabal was rolled onto his left side, his head nearly hanging off the pillow and at an angle that ensured a cramp when the dhampir returned to consciousness. His mouth was slightly agape and his long canines were exposed. As he breathed a slight popping noise tainted his exhalations. It was obvious that he had been off and on again vomiting. There was a bucket by the bed, and the slight smell of stomach contents lingered in the air. Garrett didn't know why Cabal had been ill, and the vampiress of the house wasn't forthcoming with the information. He only knew it didn't have to do with the wound Meirakat gave him.
Blankets and covers were pulled all the way up to Cabal's ear as if he was freezing, and Garrett could see nothing of his body. His skin was probably about two shades paler than normal.
Truthfully, he looked like shit.
Despite himself, Garrett jumped when Cabal's eyelids flicked open. His pupils were as full as moons, and ate his iris until it was merely a rim of blue. His gaze was aimed, unseeing, at the far corner where ceiling and wall met. They rolled in their sockets, the pupils shrinking quickly until his gaze was pinned to the intruder in the room. Cabal's head followed the motion until his eyes looked natural in his face once again.
The covers undulated as the other dhampir's body shifted, lengthening under the covers and then pulling back towards his chest again. Bare feet poked from under the comforter and then swung down as he pushed himself upright. There was an obvious tremor in his frame as he fought to gain a seated position.
Cabal's expression told Garrett that he was expecting a fight. He wasn't in any kind of shape to defend himself, but Garrett wouldn't put it past him to try and scrap anyway.
"What do you want?" Came out as a raspy whisper, and Cabal winced, barely sitting on the reaction to cup his still injured throat.
"I'd love to say I came in here to see how you were progressing," Garrett shrugged, "but I'd be lying my ass off."
The hostility in Cabal's gaze intensified.
With a shrug Garrett added, "Was bored… drifted in here. I can go now."
He turned to follow up on his promise.
When Garrett glanced back over his shoulder, he was privy to Cabal shaking his head and pain while cradling his throat.
"Why…" He pressed his fingers into his throat as if to stabilize his vocal cords. He seemed to rethink what he was going to say and began again. "They tell me… you… helped."
He patted his throat, unable to complete his thought aloud. His eyes fell as he cleared it once more.
Garrett couldn't remember ever being more uncomfortable in a conversation. "You saved my ass… you and Miranda and Sagira."
"Hrmm! Was only defending… home," Cabal managed.
"And allowed me to join the party," Garrett replied.
"Sagira wouldn't leave… had I insisted you stay behind."
Garrett glanced away.
"She thinks she loves you. She…"
Garrett looked up to find Cabal studying him.
"You used her… to get into this house."
"I won't deny that..."
Cabal's expression was a storm cloud as he hissed, "You son of a bitch."
"Let me finish!" Garrett snarled, effectively halting whatever epithet Cabal was going to lash him with. "That was my original objective in making contact with her, yeah. And sure, I pressured her to bring me here. You should be proud of her, never buckled. Refused to bring me here, never gave an inkling of a notion of where this place was." He pursed his lips. "Shit, I still don't know where here is."
Cabal's expression grew inscrutable.
Garrett continued now that he had the man's attention. "I stopped suggesting it after a month and a half, realizing that it wasn't getting anywhere. Besides, by then it didn't matter anymore. I no longer wanted to upset what I had – have – had with your daughter by coming here."
"Then why did you?" Cabal's voice was steadier, even though he swallowed painfully.
Heat moved into his cheeks. "I wouldn't be her at all if Sagira hadn't kidnapped me in my sleep. She really can be forceful. Definitely her father's daughter." Garrett grinned and shrugged.
"Why would she feel the need for that?"
"None of your fucking business," Garrett growled defensively. Not at all ready to talk about his collapse with his enemy.
Cabal straightened further and one dark brow rose above those icy eyes. "It is my business when your presence endangered my family."
Garrett was no less mortified by the idea that Cabal had a valid point. "She was worried about a medical incident," he finally blurted.
"Oh?" Cabal stated flatly.
Garrett raised his right arm, rubbing the scars where flesh was ruined by the explosion so many years ago. "Since Renate's grenade? The nerves in my arm – in my body have started to degenerate. Can really fuck me up."
Cabal's lips parted a moment, exposing the tips of his canines, before pressing together again. Finally his expression closed down. "I don't believe you."
"You can ask Sagira. I'm sure she hates me right now, but not enough to lie about that."
Silence fell for long moments, and those unnervingly bright eyes scoured Garrett once more. He had more on his mind, but the terse conversation was interrupted.
"What are you doing in here?"
Garrett wheeled to find Miranda standing, hands on hips, just inside the door. She stormed across the room, glaring at him as she swept by to Cabal's side. The dhampir didn't even acknowledge her presence. He was still focused on Garrett.
She tried to keep her voice low, but Garrett overheard her say, "Cabe, you shouldn't be up."
He growled, "I'm fine," in protest.
"You're not," she insisted, pushing with growing force on the close shoulder. At first, he didn't budge, but Miranda wore him down. He relented finally, lowering himself onto the mattress and pillow once again. When Miranda had bundled him back under the covers, she wheeled on Garrett.
"You can leave now," she growled. "He's not to be disturbed – especially by you."
"You're welcome for the save, by the way," Garrett sighed and turned to leave. "Can't leave the past where it belongs, I see."
If Miranda heard his derision, she made no indication.
Shaking his head and stepping back out into the hall, he found Sagira lying in wait. She looked positively livid, but somehow refrained from blasting him right there in the hall. Turning, she waved him forward, heading for a less traveled section of the complex. Garrett fell in behind, even knowing this wasn't going to be a pleasant conversation. An all-out screaming match was better than not being able to confront her and make her say whatever the hell was on her mind.
Finally, she stopped and wheeled on him, startling him into an abrupt stop.
"Tell me she made it up! Tell me it's not true!" There was a knife edge to her voice.
"What?" Garrett evaded.
"Mom told me what you did to them… her and dad. Deny it!" she demanded.
Garrett could only shake his head. "Sorry, 'Gira, I'm not that good a liar. They got a right to be mad with me."
"You recruited my father in 2967?"
"I didn't… personally." Garrett did his best to keep defensiveness out of his voice. "Victor Sierra did, in fact, lay a trap for and captured him, yes."
"You were in charge of the recruiting department, weren't you?" she countered.
Though he frowned he replied, "I was in charge of recruit training and curriculum, yes, but I was on a field assignment when Cabal was picked up."
"Then what was your involvement with my Dad's case?" She crossed her arms under her breasts, making the cleavage that much deeper.
While he appreciated the view it only distracted him for a few seconds.
"I was recalled to the Cathedral, because your father tried to escape the facility. As collateral to his attempt, he attacked and nearly killed one of the yard wardens."
Her eyes told him she couldn't believe her father was capable of such actions – even after she'd seen him in action.
"Don't look so shocked. Your father's no saint, honey, trust me." Garrett got straight to breaking her rose-colored glasses. "He may wear a cross, and pretend that he's trying to get into heaven, but he can dance with the devil as well as any of us. Did it for hundreds of years, 'matter of fact."
Her face set into hard lines, refuting his truth with her ignorance.
Drawing a calming breath and letting it out slowly, he went on. "I was in Victor Sierra under false pretenses at the time. I'd covered up my heritage. Cabal outed me on camera when I first met him. Our ensuing conversation didn't go the way I had hoped. Cabal escaped my office, and when I chased him down the ensuing fight left me for dead."
To her horrified expression, he said, "Yeah, your dad – he did that. He's killed every unit sent by Victor Sierra to detain him – including someone close to me. Yeah, I wanted him dead – I wanted revenge."
Another look, this time of awe crawled across her features before she marshaled her emotions again.
"How 'bout my mom? Did she deserve what she got?" Her face pinched in anger once again.
"Uh…" Garrett grimaced, running his artificial hand over his head and creating static in its wake.
"You going to deny kidnapping her too?"
"No… her recruitment was my assignment."
Without warning, Sagira slapped him across the left cheek. Her claws had come out and the trailing cuts burned.
"You deceitful sack of shit!" she snarled.
He didn't even reach for the bleeding slashes, but rather leveled a deadly glare at her. "I'm not going to make apologies for my line of work, Sagira. Your mom… your dad? I was doing my job."
"You trafficked in lives!"
"Every Talent brought into the Cathedral was treated well, better than your father will ever let on. Every single one of them was given a gift of control over their powers. The only thing asked of them in return was to protect the populace from the resurgence of supernaturals bent solely on their destruction."
"Which populace, Garrett? Human?"
"All of them, Sagira!" Garrett snarled helplessly, knowing this argument was a losing proposition anyway. "Rogue factions get negative attention for all of us. If we don't deal with them, then the entire race is hunted… which would you rather?"
She glared at him silently for a long time. Finally drawing a breath and saying, "You actually believe that, don't you? All that bullshit propaganda? You've been with VS so long that they've actually got you believing the tripe they feed you."
Sagira cut him off. "Fucking hypocrite! You're a dhampir, Garrett! How have you been sating your thirst all these decades? Surely not some neat little blood bank! You've got your own little string of victims, I'm sure!"
Garrett averted his gaze, realizing that she'd struck a point in his hypocrisy.
"Well? SAY something!"
He made himself calm down before growling, "There've been sacrifices, 'Gira… lots of them. Not that you'd know what the fuck that means!" He worked up a full head of steam before adding, "Don't presume to know what I've been through. Not when your idea of strife is Daddy not letting you go to a party with your friends!"
"What?" she hissed. "Fuck you."
His incredulity exploded. "No, fuck you! You play at being a predator, knowing you can retreat to this insulated little world when things get to real."
She continued to glare at him.
"Spare me your high and mighty judgements." He started toward the door to the hall. He paused in the frame glaring at her over one shoulder. "At least your mom and dad earned their try for peace and solace."
"Now wait a minute!" Sagira thundered. Her claws drew lines of red along his bicep as she grabbed him and halted his advance. "Don't change the subject! You still lied to me!"
"Yes," Garrett stated simply.
"Everything you said to me? All that crap you said down below? It was all just bullshit to get access to…."
Garrett interrupted her tirade. "Maybe at first. Things changed. "Why'd ya think I stopped asking you to bring me here? I knew it would ruin what we had goin'. What I said down there? I meant every word."
He shrugged as his gut twisted. "Not that it matters, same result."
"Not really, no. You're still a bastard!" Sagira stung him.
"Perhaps. But consider this, if I had wanted your dad dead? I'd have left well enough alone. He was on death's door and knocking." He shook his head. "I don't make a habit of sparing people I want to kill, Gira. I'm not that generous a person."
"I don't believe you."
A heavy sigh left Garrett's throat. "At this point, I don't expect you to. I figure I've screwed up my chance to be with you beyond repair. Doesn't make what I said any less true." He shrugged, turning away.
A/N: This is one of those chapters I had to literally go look at my webcomic because what I did with dialogue on it was WELL tighter than what was in the chapter! I hope that you'll agree!