Men Are a Pain, Ya Dig?

(posted Thursday, July 14, 2005)

Aura wearily entered her studio apartment in Kings Row, shutting the door tightly behind her. She securely locked the key lock and both bolts before leaning wearily back against the heavily cracked and peeling wood frame. "What a night." Aura ran the fingers of both hands simultaneously through her thick, tightly curled, black hair. She felt drained.

After a full evening of battling alongside her mates, Heavy Brother, Shyft, and Sturmfront as Gaia's Soldier, Aura had really planned to go home and rest like she had told then she was doing. Trouble was, all the way home all she could think about was the fact that they were nowhere near closer to finding Alexei. It had taken her till 4 AM, and had forced her to go to some awfully hairy areas, but she had connected to every contact she could think of to get the word out. She had even slipped some cash to a few of the less offensive gangers she knew to see what they could suss out as well. Someone had to have seen something or know something.

Aura stood straight and stretched her arms up, then bent them at the elbows and rolled her shoulders hearing a satisfying series of cracks. Then she unbuttoned her BDU shirt and draped it over a box near the door. She would have to get some rest before she went out again or she'd be more of a liability than help to anyone. The stress of the evening weighed on her like a lead apron. She glanced at the blood soaked BDU shirt and sighed. It was obvious some of the blood on it wasn't human, but most of it was probably her own. That, she had to admit, was happening to her far too much lately. Aura's mind wandered to Heavy Brother and chuckled. At least she had not been alone in the hospital last night. She'd had Anthony as company there most of the time.

She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. There was the other problem. Heavy Brother and Anthony. It was like dealing with two men in one body. Big, black and proud, Heavy Brother took shit from no man and never missed an opportunity to be charming with the ladies. He was funny and smooth, full of unending strength and bothered by nothing. Aura had known till last night how different Anthony truly was from him. He seemed to be the one who felt deeply the pain of his people and the fact that he did not think he had done enough for them. There was fear and guilt he had shared with her last night, trusted her with, and she had been blown away by that. Anthony was tender and more so than any other time they had been in each other’s company, Aura had felt herself drawn to him. Heavy Brother was her battle mate, while Anthony…

She walked to the kitchenette and pulled a cup from the cupboard above the stove. Aura had missed him when he had been away, but you always miss your friends when they are gone, right? No big deal. She had moved around for a while now and was always leaving folks behind. It never bothered her before. She opened the freezer and filled the glass most of the way with ice, bumping the door closed again with the side of her hand. Aura sighed deeply. Then why when Anthony spoke of leaving again, of returning to his time, did it take all her strength to hold back the feeling of fear and sadness that had threatened to hit her like a tidal wave?

Aura grabbed one of the bottles of water from the counter and filled her glass. "Must be losing my damn mind." She shook her head and halfheartedly laughed at herself before going to sit in the papasan, her legs hung over the edge slightly, kicking absently. She picked up her sketchbook from the little table next to her and paged through it. During the time Anthony had been gone she had drawn quite a few pictures in it, trying to remember details about him, distracting herself she guessed. Aura stopped at one in particular and grinned. "Must be crazy."

It wasn't that Anthony wasn't attractive. He had a chiseled face and well muscled dark ebony body. It reminded her of a statue of a great African warrior leader she had seen once in a museum as a child. The man had fascinated her and she had stared at him so long she got separated from her homeschooling group. She had gotten into a fair amount of trouble when they finally found her. Aura had dreamed for many nights of the man of that statue, silly girlish dreams, dreams that had her waking up sweaty and out of breath. She smiled now at the thought of them. Maybe that’s why she always had so little time and patience for love. Always waiting for her African prince to come.

Aura set down the sketchbook and leaned back, sipping on her water. Why now? Why when she needed her wits about her, the detached strength of Gaia's Soldier, did she find the heart of Aura aching for this man? She knew better. It was like her mother and aunts always said. Men are more trouble then they are worth. Goddess has a plan for you, a destiny. Don't let anything distract you from the Guardian path you walk. You need no one, you are whole within yourself.

Wasn't that what she was doing? Allowing the weakness of Aura to distract Gaia's Solder from what she needed to do. She had always been a whole woman, in need of no one, so why did the thought of walking away from Anthony feel like she would be leaving a bit of herself behind?

Aura had always been a bit mature for her age, completely skipping the 'boy crazy' phase that all the other girls she knew went through. She had never mooned over some boy. That shit completely turned her stomach. Even listening to Alexei and Althea together sometimes gave her the willies. But now… the pain Althea had to be feeling, the fear, suddenly now Aura felt a good deal more sympathy and understanding for it.

She set down her water and stood. Rest would not come easy tonight, but if she was going to be any help in the hunt for October Star, she had to find a way to get at least a few hours. She'd hit Hollows to talk to that Wincott guy. He seemed straight up for a cop. Aura chuckled. She bet Heavy Brother would have a great deal to say about that, but she simply shrugged. Cops, like all folks, came good or bad. Some cops would drag a sister in their car, forcing himself on her with the threat of busting some member of her family, innocent or not, if she didn't comply. Others risked their lives everyday to protect the people of their city, no matter the color of their skin. The latter was the kind she figured Wincott was, the reason why she went to him, why she was willing to help him and why now she would ask for his help. She'd keep her com on anyway. One way or the other maybe someone would hit paydirt and they'd have some idea where to look next.

Making sure the drapes were pulled Aura got undressed and crawled under the covers. She'd wash up in the morning. She was too tired now to worry about it. Tomorrow Gaia's Solder would be on duty again and maybe she could get this whole Heavy Brother mess out of her head. A moment of weakness that was all it was. Things would be different tomorrow.