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Author Topic: Xenophobia: Pride & Prejudice - Chapter Twenty-four  (Read 127982 times)
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AimingStars123
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« Reply #315 on: August 05, 2008, 04:42:21 am »

Personally, speaking as a writer and an artist, I[/I] don't mind where the story is going - god knows what I've thought of for some of stories (which have gone along the same line as what happened to Ripp); however - whether it's approriate for the generalized age of this board is another question... I know on some forums, the host themselves have age restrictions, not the creators of the forums themselves, so thusly have no choice but to follow what the hosting site asks for.

I can't really think of any way of toning it down except for hints and innuendos as stated above :/ You can create a general and vague idea to your audience (since I'm hoping most of us are over the age of 13 or 18+), and still understand or grasp the idea of what happened...

Well - up to you what happens; just be sure to re-direct us loyal readers if you have to pull this story from here and finish it elsewhere Wink
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« Reply #316 on: August 08, 2008, 09:58:19 am »

O.o I think I gotta pay more attention to what I'm reading.. I skipped the top bit where you warned about the rape thing, cos I was so impatient to read your new chapter and...I have a feeling I'm too young to be reading about that sort of thing... *gets glass of water and throws it over head* That's better.

Impatiently waiting for your next chapter! And this time I shall carefully read the warnings!
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Glamily
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« Reply #317 on: August 12, 2008, 07:58:15 pm »

i luv this story so much and i cannot wait for another chapter before going even more mental then i already am.. plz update this!! plz plz plz plz plz plz plll.... *froths at the mouth and falls off her chair* i did warn you!!! hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe
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« Reply #318 on: August 16, 2008, 07:38:12 pm »

Wow, thanks for all the feedback guys! Cheesy No reply from the mods, no complaints as such... looks like my fears were unfounded Smiley Okay, I'll keep it up - and try to behave better in future updates :angel:

Just let me get some pics and I'll post an update Smiley

PS: Mike and.. someone else you'll meet fairly soon started tapping me on the shoulder while I was away. Seeing as I really need to work on writing less pictures, I'll be posting it to a blog at some point Smiley
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« Reply #319 on: August 19, 2008, 12:05:59 am »

i really really really love this story. Its really cool. I cannot wait for the next update.
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« Reply #320 on: August 19, 2008, 06:08:10 am »

Thank you very much! Smiley Alright alright, here's an update for you Wink Finally got off my lazy bum to get some pictures...

Which reminds me. I was getting pretty tired when I took them, and stupid me forgot to give them school bags when shooting at school >_< I'm not gonna take 'em again though, so we'll have to make do :tongue3:



The shrill sound of the alarm clock pierced through the stillness of the room, causing Tank to wake with a start at the unwelcome noise. A tanned hand swooped upon the device to swat it as though silencing a buzzing fly. He felt the overwhelming urge to nestle back into the pillow, but being a naturally early riser he quickly brushed such temptations aside. The clock had been set for a reason after all – it was Monday morning, the start of what was now their last week of school for the year.



He found it more of an effort than usual to haul himself from the bed, rubbing at his eyes and grateful that his injury had healed, for the most part at least; still a little tender, but not as bad as it had been. His heart sank however when he remembered Ripp’s broken wrist, and was already rehearsing the story he’d need to give inquiring minds at school on his way to the bathroom.



The grip on his razor tightened as Tank peered into the reflective glass, fighting the rising sadness as images of the night before assailed his mind’s eye. This time he was alone, and felt it more than ever.



After shutting off the aggravating racket from his own alarm clock, Johnny succumbed once more to the loving embrace of sleep as he snuggled up to his partner. Just another half hour, he promised dozily as his arms encircled Ripp’s body.



“Come on you two!” Tank commanded, “If I can stay outta bed after a sleepless night, so can you!”
Ripp’s brow twitched into a frown as he sleepily rose, yielding to a large yawn as Tank approached the bed.
“What’s that meant to mean?” he slurred, his brain struggling to blow away the cobwebs of sleep as his older brother sat on his side of the bed.
“I mean I know what you two were up to last night,” Tank teased, now fully awake for now as a playful smile tugged at his lips. “Were you at it all night or somethin’?”
“Oh,” Ripp smiled sheepishly, glancing at his equally uncomfortable boyfriend who gazed at Tank looking no more alert than Ripp. The youngest frowned once more as he looked up at his brother, whose words earlier now filtered into his mind.
“What’s your story?” Ripp asked.
Tank smiled sadly in reply as he rose from Ripp’s bedside.
“I’ll tell ya later,” he muttered as he left, “Better get yourselves ready.”



Tank paced the front porch as he awaited an answer to his knocks, walking down the steps and idly scanning the horizon. His eyes locked onto the graveyard, a sensation of loss building inside as he now found himself pondering a possibility.
“Tank?”
He turned at the sight of his girlfriend, not hiding the despair in his face as he watched her approach. He glided his arms around her waist as she placed a greeting kiss upon his lips, but it was plain to her that all was not well with him.
“What’s wrong?”
“Is Mom here?” he blurted, nodding his head in a gesturing fashion at the domestic cemetery.



Ophelia swallowed a lump in her throat as a knot formed in her stomach.
“How do you know she’s dead?” she asked softly.
“Long story,” Tank explained, noting the look upon her face. “She is, ain’t she?”
She slowly nodded, hastily adding; “Look, I only found her after that shopping trip on Saturday, when I went to visit my own parents. Learned some things myself, and I don’t just mean about your mom.”
“What do you mean?” Tank quizzed, his head tilted in interest.
“That somewhere out there, I got a cousin,” she explained, but left it there. It wasn’t her place to disclose secrets her aunt had told her, that otherwise would most likely have been taken to her grave.
Tank’s eyebrows twitched in surprise, his head cocked in intrigue.
“Male or female?”
“Male.”
“Did she give a name?”
“Yeah,” she frowned, “Gene Thanasia, she said.” She gave a bemused shrug. “You know anyone by that name?”
His mouth now preoccupied by a large yawn, Tank could only shake his head in response. Any further questions would have to wait until he’d replenished his usually plentiful energy levels.

The teenagers boarded the bus, deciding to take the empty seats at the back. Tank drowsily rested his head on her shoulder, his eyes soon closing as he took a chance to catch up a little on some lost sleep.
“Oh dear,” she muttered with a smile. Knowing he was usually so alert in the mornings, she decided to let him rest. As she stroked his head though, she began to wonder what had happened to keep him awake the night before, and whether it had anything to do with unfounded knowledge of his mother’s death.

Tank’s eyes opened suddenly, the jeers ringing through his mind like the bell of an angry alarm clock. Glancing upwards and finding his brother heading for the back seats, he recognised the nature of the remarks as mainly referring to the green youth following him. As Johnny bitterly dismissed them, something snapped within Tank as he dove into his school bag, beginning to scribble into the notebook he’d produced. Ophelia leant over his shoulder as he wrote, inquisitively scanning the words as they formed on the paper.

“Such hatred pervades society today, under many guises or ‘phobias’ but with the same misguided anger. Funny really, phobia actually means an irrational fear of something, which suggests that hatred is born of fear. Hatred in turn breeds violence, something I am only too familiar with. As my eyes rest upon my brother’s injured arm I am reminded of the violence triggered by two forms of hatred, homophobia being one. Something our father had displayed time and again, that thankfully he never tried to force upon me; an unreasonable fear indeed, that I never could understand and probably never will. Sparked by the sight of two young men in love, yet, with one of them, enough to trigger a second phobia; one that had been pressed upon me with a degree of urgency, that now runs rampant through the school bus as the boys in question join our compulsory journey. One I had expressed myself without question, but now can understand no more than I could the first.

“The term is less familiar, but its existence is just as common. Xenophobia: an extreme or irrational fear of strangers, foreigners or anyone perceived as different. People like my brother’s boyfriend, an old adversary of mine before I had received the proverbial slap in the face that was long overdue. Aliens were the enemy according to our father and, like the blind fool I was before, I believed him. I hated Ripp for mingling with them as much as I hated the green lad himself. Yet I also hated Dad for leading me down the lonely road that bigotry of any form paves, for what Ripp had once said is true; the world would be a dull place if we were all the same, so hating anyone different only serves to isolate you from the majority of people. It is more noticeable once you wake from the dream that we should all be alike, to the reality that we all differ in some way. I have more friends now than when I was under Dad’s spell, two of them being the very people I once treated with contempt – two people who in fact are among the nicest I have ever encountered.

“Prejudice spawned of such fear is truly unfounded. They say look and you shall find; search within the fog of myth and hatred and you will uncover the hidden treasure…”


Tank trailed off as memories of his encounter with his departed mother replayed in his mind.
“It’s never too late to find the buried treasure.”
Tears stung his eyes at the image, and the waterfall of words that flowed so freely before now turned to ice. All he could do was stow his notebook back into his bag as he looked across at where Ripp and Johnny had taken their seats, adjacent to where he sat with Ophelia. A loving smile flickered upon his lips as he spotted them, fast asleep in each other’s arms and regaining some of the energy they had frittered away the previous night.



The couple rolled their eyes as they approached their school, looking about themselves as they noticed expressions of disgust. Johnny shook his head in mild disbelief as yet more derogatory comments hung in the air, this time taking on a different nature.
“I dunno,” Johnny muttered, “First ‘space invaders’, now it’s the pride march. What’s their problem anyways?!”
Ripp snorted in response, before a mischievous smile spread across his face. He nudged Johnny, arching a knowing eyebrow when his head turned to face him.
“What?”
“They want gay pride?” Ripp suggested, “Let’s give it to ‘em!”
With that he wrapped his arms around Johnny, who wore a sly grin of his own as he guessed at the meaning behind his words.
“Not a bad idea,” Johnny replied, taking the younger boy into his arms as the pair pulled themselves closer together. Without another word they were upon one another, their mouths firmly massaging each other as their embrace tightened.



Although their initial intentions were to antagonise their tormentors, they quickly became lost in the moment as various sounds of disapproval washed over them. All that now mattered was the expression of their love, and the desire to make that known to all who cared to watch.



“Oh, that is so gross…”
Dustin Broke looked across at his girlfriend Angela, his brow twitching in puzzlement as he glanced back at the gay couple.
“What?” he quizzed, “Not like they’re doing anything we haven’t…”
“They’re both guys!” she spluttered in reply.
“So?” he countered, gesturing about himself, “What’s the big deal? They’re just a couple… very much in love by the looks of it,” he finished with a wistful smile.
Angela arched a disapproving eyebrow at his remark, before frowning as he beckoned her over.
“What?”
He draped an arm over her shoulder when the distance between them narrowed, gently twisting her head in their direction.
“Now, look hard,” he mumbled into her ear, “And tell me what’s so different about those two that makes it worse than when we do that.”
Angela raised an eyebrow as she decided to humour him.
“Erm, one’s a guy, and…”
“Yeah yeah,” Dustin grumbled, “So imagine for a sec that Ripp’s a chick.”
Angela sniggered at this. Not so hard to do, she pondered with amusement as she continued to study the couple.



The more she did so, the stronger the twinge of sadness that tugged at her heart, as she began to wish she’d see even a tenth of that love displayed by her own parents. The light in which she now saw the boys changed through that alone, even when Rose had long since reverted to Ripp.
“I hate him so much,” Angela confessed, a tear trickling down her cheek.
“Who, your old man?” Dustin checked, already sure of the answer.
Angela merely nodded, brushing the trail of salty water from her face as he pulled her close. Dustin pecked her crown before glancing back up at the couple in the distance, becoming alert as their lips finally parted.
“Come on you,” he coaxed her, “Methinks you have some grovellin’ to do.”



The boys’ kissing had ended for now, but still they absorbed the heat from their lover’s body as they gripped each other, their noses intermittently rubbing together. Not a word was spoken by either of them, the silence broken only by their heavy breathing and the sound of Johnny’s lips meeting with Ripp’s forehead, yet plenty was said in their actions, even their gaze as they studied each other’s features intently.
“Erm, sorry to interrupt, guys…”



“Hey Dustin,” Ripp greeted with a smile, before spotting the girl by his side. His eyes instinctively narrowed on sight of her, although his expression relaxed on noticing her manner was sullen. He looked across at Dustin with a questioning air.
“Angie has something to say,” Dustin continued, turning his attention to his girlfriend, “Don’tcha babes?”
Angela slowly eyed Ripp with what he saw to be genuine apology as she spoke.
“Sorry I gave you such a hard time,” she said, before giving a broad shrug, “Guess it says somethin’ when two guys show more love for each other than your own damn parents.”
Ripp’s features softened at her words, giving a sad smile as he replied.
“Hey, it’s cool,” he accepted, his smile taking on a different manner as he addressed Dustin, “Don’t suppose you could work your magic on the other one too?”
“Oh, you mean Lilith?” he checked, before giving a snort of disapproval. “Trust the word of some street hawker dude? You gotta be kiddin’ me.”
“Don’t have to stay that way,” Ripp hinted, “You play bass or keyboard? We’re still looking for people…”
“Erm, yeah,” Johnny cut in, “Let’s wait for your hand to get better first, huh?”
“Oh yeah, I noticed that,” Angela remarked, “How’d that happen anyways?”
“Slipped off the front porch,” Ripp mumbled, studying his shoes.
Johnny caught sight of his friends and gave them a wave before excusing them both, leaving Dustin and Angela watching as they made for their usual table.



“Slipped off the porch?” she repeated, “How’d he manage that?”
Dustin scoffed in reply, prompting a strange look from Angela as she glanced at him.
“Slipped my ass,” he retorted, “So how’d he get those marks on his face?!”
Angela’s head slowly turned towards Dustin as it registered what he was implying. He smiled sardonically as he shot her a sideways glance, watching as the male couple engaged in conversation with the other two at the table.
“Come on,” he explained, “I’ve been on the streets long enough to know what can happen in a fight.”
“You think it was his old man,” she observed.
“You hear about it all the time,” Dustin agreed, “Parents beatin’ the crud outta their kids, an’ the poor guys won’t even admit it to anyone.” He looked around furtively, before adding, “I didn’t say that though, okay? None of our business what really happened, even with him being a bad liar. Don’t wanna add to whatever s*** he has already.”
“Well,” Angela agreed with a raised eyebrow, “Nice to know at least, we ain’t the only ones with problems.”
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Sam the T-man
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« Reply #321 on: August 19, 2008, 10:31:31 am »

Thanks Smiley I've played with Dustin for a while; he's a sweetie really :love2: I absolutely love the back-story he was given, opens up a whole realm of possibilities :twisted:

About Tank - very interesting piece of trivia here: I put the two teens in the wrong rooms, I discovered recently. All this Ripp the rebel business, and then I find one room with such posters - Tank's room is actually the one with the flower painting and the nice lamp. This thing I had of making Tank something completely different turned out to be a good one indeed Wink
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AxelVal
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« Reply #322 on: August 19, 2008, 03:10:58 pm »

Chapter 16 - Ooh, hot hot hot.  Sorry, I've been lacking yaoi for the past two weeks except my own imagination so that was nice!  Very nice homecoming present from Sadie!!

Chapter 17 - Yay for bringing people around.
I love the girl-Ripp.  That is quite awesome I must say.

Also, yay for catching up!  I can start proof-reading again if you want me too.
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Sam the T-man
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« Reply #323 on: August 19, 2008, 03:30:22 pm »

:laughing: Glad you enjoyed it Wink Yeah, "Rose" turned out pretty well with some make-up, but I still think he looks way better as a guy Wink

That's very nice of you, thanks Cheesy I trust I did alright without your assistance? :angel:
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« Reply #324 on: August 19, 2008, 09:11:14 pm »

i luv this story.. its really kool. I cannot wait for the next update.. are they the real dustin and angela cause i thought they were in pleasentview
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« Reply #325 on: August 20, 2008, 10:11:57 am »

Thanks Smiley And yes, they are the real Pleasantview kids courtesy of HP's merged hood Wink
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steelguy
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« Reply #326 on: August 26, 2008, 05:25:55 am »

Oh wow, I nearly missed this, because it was hiding on pg 2. Lucky I went looking for it. Smiley

Great update! The plot, it turns...
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Sam the T-man
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« Reply #327 on: August 27, 2008, 09:32:58 pm »

And thank you for bumping it back to first Wink *sigh* Sorry this took so long; not only did I get lost in a typing spree that's taken me up to thirty-one, but when I did remember to take some pics for this one, I had to do a lot of hunting around... I hate lot-hunting, especially when it's for something like a military base that fits with most of what you have planned...

Rant over, hope you enjoy this installment Smiley



Ironic really, Buzz mused as he leafed through the waiting papers; the higher you climb up the career ladder, the less hands-on your work becomes. Sure, there were the inspections now and then, but most of the field work on a normal day was left to the sergeants.
A knock at the door stilled his wandering mind as he granted entry to his unseen visitor. A blond, well built solider walked into the office and gave a greeting salute.
“At ease,” Buzz replied, “What is it, Private?”



“Sir,” the man acknowledged, “Chief wants to see you, Sir.”
Buzz’s mood dropped through the floor at this news. His heart skipped a good few beats as he gave a sullen nod and rose from his chair, preparing himself for the worst.
The soldier frowned at his change in demeanour, wondering whether to pick him up on his manner or keep quiet. Licking his lips uncomfortably, he opted to sweep their titles aside as he spoke.
“Permission to speak freely, Sir,” he began.
Buzz quickly buried his misgivings as he granted what was asked of him.
“Everything alright?”
Buzz’s brow twitched in bemusement, taken aback at his concern. His suppressed feelings fought for freedom, and were showing signs of victory as Buzz briefly eyed the carpet.
“Yeah,” he dismissed, “It’s fine. Thanks for asking though.”
The soldier crossed his arms as he fixed him with a knowing stare.
“I’m not blind, Sir,” he remarked, causing Buzz to sharply return his gaze. “Something’s wrong, it’s in your eyes…”



Buzz gave a disheartened sigh as he awkwardly rubbed at the nape of his neck. Had this been any other time he would have been quick to reprimand the man on staying out of his affairs, but today was different. The weekend just gone had been a troubling one, and Johnny had given him enough food for thought to keep him chewing for days, maybe even weeks. Work could only keep him occupied for so long, and now he was faced once more with something he was still not used to; someone who truly cared about him. His ex-wife and son he'd thought he could deal with. Someone he’d only seen around once in a while was a different story, and he was caught off-guard.
“It’s personal stuff,” Buzz told him warily, “Can’t say any more than that.”
“Understood, Sir,” came the reply, but the blond man looked as though he had more to say.
“What is it?” Buzz tested.
“You are permitted friends in the army,” he hinted, a little smile playing upon his lips as he swept away the last of the formalities. “That is, if you want one…”
Buzz’s eyebrows twitched in surprise, slowly approaching the young man as he pondered how best to react.
“Is that an offer?” he checked slowly.
“Sure,” the man confirmed, his smile growing a little wider, “You don’t get that often, do you?”
Buzz allowed himself a sad smile as he studied his features a little. “It’s that obvious, huh?” he relented.
“‘Fraid so,” came the almost playful reply.
Buzz slowly nodded in acknowledgement, finding himself warming to the younger soldier. “Thanks,” he told him, but still guarded as he continued. “I’ll think about it.”
“Stephan Mitchell,” he introduced, offering a hand.
Smiling, Buzz accepted and returned with his own name, before excusing himself to the summons Stephan had been sent to deliver.



Buzz tugged awkwardly at his blazer as the voice within granted him access. He gave the faintest of smiles as he entered, along with a dutiful salute before the chief invited him to take a seat.



The chief studied Buzz intently as the general sat opposite him, before sitting back in his seat, ready to begin their meeting. He could have chosen anywhere to base himself since becoming Chief of Army Staff, but after hearing another Grunt had been appointed as General, he decided to remain at Nevada. Someone with a family history as messy as the man sitting before him needed monitoring, he reminded himself.
It was Buzz who broke the silence as he felt an explanation was in order.
“Sorry I’m late, Sir,” Buzz apologised, “Got caught up in a little talk with Private Mitchell.”
“Ah,” the chief nodded, “Yes, there was a reason I chose him to get you.”
Buzz frowned at this remark.
“There was?”
“Very perceptive young man,” the chief mused, “Seems to pick up on troubled minds very easily. He’s been asking about you a few times, like he can sense something’s up with you.”
“Really?” Buzz queried, genuinely surprised.
He began to contemplate their last conversation, comparing notes before he could stop himself as he smiled sadly.
“Lyla and Ripp are a bit like that…”
“Ah yes, Ripp,” the chief hinted as he steered the meeting back on track, testing Buzz’s reaction as he did so.
Buzz glanced at his superior, his heart sinking as his gaze lowered.
“You know what this is about, I presume.”
Buzz merely nodded in reply, bracing himself for whatever was to follow.



“Very well, I’ll get to the point,” the chief acknowledged, “The hospital reported the whole sorry affair; how the boy had suffered extensive bruising and how he’d fallen awkwardly onto his right arm, fracturing his wrist. The latter you probably didn’t mean to happen…”
Buzz shook his head slowly to confirm the last statement.
“I also gather you struck your oldest.”
“That was an accident,” Buzz quickly stated.
The chief frowned at this but let him speak, watching as he seemed to slip into a reverie. It got stranger when the general’s left hand travelled absent-mindedly to his breastbone.
“I felt a grip on my arm, but when I turned it wasn’t Tank I saw… Well, it might have been, but he was holding a knife. There was blood on the blade, probably mine, and I was bleeding…”
The chief crossed his arms as he listened with interest. Sensing an opportunity to speak, he was quick to do so.
“Sounds like you need help, and soon,” he observed, coming to a decision as Buzz drifted back to earth. “I’m going to put you on a course of therapy,” he stated, “And in the meantime you’ll be staying here, away from your children and anyone else you may be a threat to.”
Buzz smiled wryly at the last statement, instantly thinking back to his scuffles with the Curious brothers, the scientist uncles Johnny had mentioned the day before. There was one concern playing on his mind, however.
“Will I be discharged?” he tested hesitantly.
“Suspended from duty,” the chief replied, “If you were anything like your father I’d have discharged you without a second thought, but I can see it’s more complicated than that.”
Buzz cocked his head at his last statement, truly puzzled.
“Anything like…?” Buzz echoed, “I put one of my sons in hospital, and you’re telling me I’m not like him??”
“Well, let’s see,” came the dry reply, “You don’t drink, you assaulted your sons only once, and you sure as hell didn’t kill anyone.”
Buzz stared at the chief aghast, stunned beyond words as he struggled to come to grips with this revelation.



“You don’t remember?” the man checked, “It was you who called the police.”
“Me?” Buzz repeated, scratching the base of his head as he fumbled blindly in the darkness of his mind, desperately trying to piece together the puzzle.
“Oh dear,” the chief remarked gravely, “You really are in trouble.”
Buzz swallowed a lump in his throat, reciting thoughts drifting through his mind before about the incident with the sixteen year old boy.
“Something in Tank’s eyes that reminded me about a knife,” he uttered, “Why…?”
“I think,” the chief offered, “The number one priority will be helping you find that out.”



On the way out of the classroom, Ripp became distracted as Dustin signalled discreetly to him. The blond youth gestured subtly with his right hand, tapping a pocket in his jeans, and Ripp nodded gently in reply. Unbeknown to him however, the two boys were being watched.



“‘Old on a minute,” Tank challenged, not disguising the disapproval in his voice.
“Outside,” Ripp ordered, pulling him toward the door.



“So it was him who got you on the cancer sticks?!” Tank snarled.
“I said don’t lecture me about it,” Ripp harshly reminded him.
Tank threw up his hands in exasperation, unable to hold his tongue any longer.
“Don’t lecture…!?” he started, “You expect me to sit back an’ watch my kid brother puffin’ his lungs away?!”
“Keep it down!” Ripp hissed urgently.
“Oh yeah, sure,” Tank replied bitterly, “’Cause you ain’t even old enough to buy ‘em, that’s right.”
“Cut it out, Tank!” Ripp bit in a hushed tone, “I already told you, I couldn’t cope anymore…”
“Was this before or after your sexual escapades?” Tank challenged, remembering all too well how he’d already tried to handle his situation at home.
“After,” Ripp replied, “Quite a while after.”
“After those antibiotics you were takin’?”
“Yeah,” came the evasive answer as Ripp shuffled on his feet. His eyes began to sting with the onset of tears at the reminder of all he’d endured and, despite not wishing to disclose any further details, he resigned himself to the fact that he’d have to drop yet another bombshell on his already burdened brother.
“To stop your ass itchin’,” Tank pondered, “What was that anyways, some kinda bug?”
“Yes,” came the abrupt reply as Ripp walked off, leaving Tank to chew on a combination of answers given and past knowledge. He began to connect the dots, but didn’t like the picture they were forming.
“Hey, wait a minute,” Tank called out as he chased after him.
Ripp hastily wiped away a stray tear before looking back at him.
“Not now, huh?” Ripp hinted, gesturing over Tank’s shoulder. The older boy turned to find Dustin watching them.
“Bad timing?” the blond youth checked.
“No, it’s cool,” Ripp told him, “I need one now more than ever.”



“So when did you start?” Tank asked as Dustin lit his cigarette.
“A while ago,” came the vague reply, “Like your brother, I needed a coping mechanism.”
Tank raised a disapproving eyebrow at the apparent weakness displayed by the pair of them.
“And f***in’ up your lungs helps you cope?”
“Cool it Tank,” Ripp chastised, “You were only too happy to mess up your knuckles on that piece of canvas.”
“The punchbag ain’t addictive.”
“Pfff!” Ripp spat, “Could’ve fooled me! I had to drag you off it, remember?”
“That’s by the by,” Tank defended, “I ain’t gonna risk lung cancer by it.”
“Whatever,” came the dismissive reply.
“Look buddy,” Dustin chipped in, “I appreciate your concern, but when your life gets f***ed up enough you might understand us better.”
“It already is, thanks,” Tank told him, “Whoever said the ‘golden boy’ comes up smellin’ of roses was lyin’. That father of ours made a f***in’ prisoner of me for years.”
Dustin raised an eyebrow as he glanced between the brothers, his blue eyes resting on Ripp’s blemished features.
“It was him, wasn’t it?” he guessed, indicating the plaster cast.
Ripp studied the toilet bowl as he inhaled another lungful of tobacco smoke, flicking some ash into the pan as he let the smoke trickle from his nostrils.
“Jerk,” Dustin growled, “F***ers take their family for granted, treat ‘em like s***… an’ then you got guys like my dad, great guys who never get a chance to watch their kids grow up.”
Tank’s brow twitched in puzzlement, before looking to his brother for an explanation.
“His dad died when he was little,” Ripp clarified, “Left his mom with two kids and one on the way.”
“Wow,” Tank breathed, before addressing the blond youth, “I’m sorry.”
Dustin gave a little nod as he drew from his cigarette, to signify that his words had been heard, but remained quiet. Tank was left with more brain food to chew on than when he’d confronted Ripp about his smoking habit.



Buzz tossed the last of the heavy luggage to the floor, gazing about the empty house with a heavy heart. His eyes rested on the spot where Ripp had fallen, and for a moment a familiar image returned to haunt his vision; of the boy crumpled to the ground, a crimson waterfall flowing from his fallen body and forming a pool that spread across the wooden floor. The general’s eyes screwed shut in an attempt to banish the picture from his mind, and expelled a little sigh of relief on finding it had worked. Patting the case that contained his diary, he went on to conduct one last search through the house for any remnants of the family that had gradually abandoned him. A hunch pulled him to Tank’s room, where he rummaged briefly through the boy’s drawers and gathered up more scraps of paper from within, storing them inside a magazine he’d also found there. Something about science, he noted with a smile. So much for being an army boy, he mused once again, his heart plainly wasn’t in it.



A finger trailed along the banister as he descended the stairs, clutching the magazine along with photos that he had collected along the way, and stored them into a lighter case before taking a last look around the building he’d once called home.
“Everything ready, Sir?”
Buzz glanced at the waiting solider, before giving a slow nod. Sighing to himself he reluctantly left, taking a moment to rescue the mail he noticed waiting for him in the mailbox. Storing the envelope into a pocket without so much as studying the postage mark, he was distracted by the sight of the proverbial yellow vehicle as it drove past his house.



He watched in solemn resignation as the school bus carried his offspring away, before again being brought back to reality by the waiting soldier.
“Sir?”
“Yes, sorry,” he muttered, the despair evident in his face as he boarded the khaki vehicle. As they set off he watched helplessly as the Arizona sands swept by, mingling seamlessly with those of their neighbouring state. How long he would spend in the military base at Nevada was a question he tried hard not to dwell on.
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mpb4l1fe
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« Reply #328 on: August 31, 2008, 12:43:38 am »

Oh wow, i just read the whole story...and im speechless.

This is such a great story, and i love the way you tell it, and your pictures are just so good.

I can't wait to read more, im hooked! Cheesy
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steelguy
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« Reply #329 on: August 31, 2008, 12:59:36 am »

Another chapter already! We is being spoilt!

*sings* Smokin' in the boys room...
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