Box of Rain (Wayward) Part 2

Jan shook Rigo’s hand - it’d been a while since he’d seen him, and now it looked like he was bringing someone new in with him. Hopefully he lasted. Frank was next on his list, the old hunter sitting with another old hunter -- Alec… someone. He gave a quick status report on Jason, and the fact that he didn’t mention Lucy told the bar dweller all he needed to know. He set himself down at a table across from Randall and silently ordered another round of drinks with hand signals. No one gave a fuck if you weren’t 21 at the Wayward. If you were old enough to get yourself killed fighting some big bad - you were plenty old to drink.

Randall looked at the kid and chuckled to himself.

One of the things he hadn’t understood about the military was its refusal to allow its members under 21 to drink. He remembered the line of thinking was that they weren’t mature enough to handle alcohol.

But they were mature enough to handle killing someone or getting killed or crippled for life?

He shook his head.

“You lose a teammate before?” he asked.

“I grew up with hunters, my mom, her friends, there were always people that went out and didn’t come back. But this is the first one on me. Was bound to happen sometime.” Jan pressed his lips together and raised his glass. Alcohol. He needed alcohol. “To Lucy,” He said, the patrons of the bar repeating him.

“To Lucy,” Randall said, raising his glass and taking a sip of his club soda. “First one is always the hardest.

“For me, it was my second tour in Afghanistan,” he said. “Routine foot patrol through some no-name village in the middle of nowhere. We’re just walking through when a shot rings out, one of my men goes down.

“His name was Michaels,” he said. “He was 19 and from Chicago. He had two things on his mind: movies and marrying his high school sweetheart when he went home on leave. Her name was Erica

“We quickly zero in on the shooter and take him down, then I run over to him,” he said. “Shot caught him right under the jaw. I pull his helmet off, and his brains were inside it.

“He was always smiling,” he said. “He was one of those people that could always find the silver lining in anything, no matter how bad things got.

“A wise old sergeant told me once how he handled that,” he said. “First off, let the pain have its day. Don’t try to hold it in or push it down. Let it out. Cry like a damn baby. Don’t care if people see it and make fun of you.

“Then, focus on something good about the person,” he said. “Focus on that rather than filling yourself up with hate. It’s hard, but it works. A couple of guys I knew filled themselves up on hate. Dined on a hate smorgasbord and went back for seconds. Yes sir, thank you, may I have some more? Soon enough, I didn’t even recognize them.”

He chuckled.

“Look at me, an old man rambling at some kid who probably doesn’t even shave yet,” he said. “What are you, 12? Or are you finally a teenager?”

“Old enough, “Jan told him, bristling at being called River’s age. “I’m Eighteen. Almost. End of next month anyway.” Sure, he was short -- well-- average height and maybe a little skinny,and normally this would be enough to make the boy more indignant, but Randall had held his own against Vamps, and in the army. Now wasn’t really the time for being tetchy. He finished his drink and ordered another. “I’m not much of a cryer.” A bit more of his European accent made an appearance. “Bad shit happens to good people. We try to save as many of them as we can. That’s what Lucy was about -- she knew the risks, I mean, we all know the risks, but what’s the alternative? Go home, live it up and to hell with whoever can’t defend themselves against shit they don’t know exists?” He shook his head. “Lucy wouldn’t have wanted to live as one of them. She .. “ He tapped his empty glass on the table, staring at the distorted coaster beneath the glass. “She knew walking in.”

Randall nodded.

“Tell me more about her,” he said. “Something not related to hunting. She couldn’t do it 24/7. What did she like to do in her downtime? Me, I play guitar. I’m not that good, it’s mostly me just strumming and humming along.”

“I mostly knew her from hunting,” Jan said with a bit of regret. “She was from California, talked about Disney sometimes.” That made the boy chuckle. “I always figured she would head up after a hunt, watch Mickey Mouse cartoons or Frozen and shit. Jason - we saved him - knew her better. I think they were a thing. I don’t know if that’s what got him into this, or if she was helping him out, but he’s the one that’s gonna need to cry over it. Piece of shit vampires.” He ordered a third round for the two of them. “So guitar? You pick that up in the army?”

JP Blitzen, Duke, Cakes, Winters

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