The Day Has Ended

From the Story Arc: The Weight of the World

Previous Story in the Arc: A Plan Interrupted by Bestial Boy (Sunday, July 17, 2005)

(posted Thursday, August 11, 2005)

This was not how the day was supposed to go. Come home, work out, talk to Carpathia. Nice and clean, and hopefully with a minimum of broken bones on Zach’s end. It would hurt, no doubt, but at least he could look at himself straight in the morning. But life has a funny way of laughing at your plans, and sure enough today had taken a different turn.

First, the revelation of Bestla’s sudden return, in apparently good health, no less. Then, a tender, if premature moment with Bella, following the thwarting of yet another Rikti plot. And most surprising of all, and interruption of that moment by Bekket, a veteran hero, and an old ally of Zach. And, unfortunately, Carpathia as well.

"Don't I know you, Bestial Boy?"

Zach looked up sharply, releasing Bella from their embrace in front of the Portal Corp. gateway. "Do you?"

Bekket raised an eyebrow at Zach, and then give a knowing nod. "Aren't you dating Carpathia?" She asked, her arms folded across her chest.

“Jeez…” Zach had a crappy poker face, and Bekket nodded, knowing she had come upon him at an inopportune time. Zach turned back to Bella, but she was gone.

“Damn flyers…never can keep up.” Zach just hoped that Bella wasn’t feeling to bad about herself. This was Zach’s bed to lie in, and his own stupid fault for letting himself get so close to Bella emotionally before coming clean with Carp. He could justify it to himself all day, he was out of town a lot, she had been away, his responsibilies, but they were all excuses. Zach had done a bad thing, for selfish reasons, and now he had to grab the bull by the horns.

Resignedly, he turned back to Bekket. He would have to look for Bella later...after he had cleaned up his mess.

“Listen Bekket, its not what you think...” That line wasn’t going to work, and Zach felt like an ass for even uttering it. It was EXACTLY what it looked like, the only caveat being that their relationship had been utterly chaste until that very moment. Zach decided to come clean, and basically beg.

“I meant to talk to Carp today, but things kind of kept getting in the way, and then…well, it shouldn’t have happened.” Bekket seemed unconvinced. “I am going to go talk to Carpathia right away. I meant to do it earlier, just please, please, let me talk to her before you tell her all of this.”

Bekket was a steely veteran heroine, and she didn’t reveal her internal thoughts. “Hmm...sure Bestial Boy, I’ll wait until you talk to her. But if I were you, I’d do it soon.” Bekket’s eyes glanced around the room, where a number of heroes were watching them. Many he did not know, but some seemed familiar. How could he be so stupid! Even if Bekket didn’t say anything, Carpathia was going to find out about this, and in the worst way imaginable. For a woman as proud as her, this was going to be like a slap in the face.

Zach headed back from Peregrine Island back to the mainland, dragging himself like a dog that had pooped on the carpet. He was in for punishment, and he knew he deserved it. Rather than his customary bounding across the rooftops, he just walked, trying to remember the good times he had shared with Carpathia, and hoping that she would someday forgive him.

“Shit, I can’t forgive me…why should she?” Zach stood at the steps of the apartment they had been sharing, looking up at the non-descript building, looming like a judge’s podium, awaiting his sentence. This was going to hurt.

****

Three hours later, in the middle of the night. A solitary figure emerged from the building. He had a duffle bag slung over his shoulder, and a heavy overcoat on. No one on the street paid him any mind as he walked past, although some did complain that he smelled of sulfur, and if you looked really close you could see burn marks on his pants, and his hair looked like it had been singed a bit.

But most people did not pay him any mind. In a city with aliens, warlocks and supervillains, a broken man with a tear-streaked face hardly caught anyone’s attention, even if he was green. Slowly but surely, he walked his way to Perez Park. After wandering around a bit among the truly homeless and destitute, the man seemed to find what he was looking for. On a bench slept a red-haired girl, feral in appearance, and yet vulnerable in her repose.

“If they only saw you during the daytime, Bestla…”, the man said to himself. Looking upon his friend that he had once thought dead, he was able to smile half-heartedly.

“Well, at least everything today wasn’t shit...”, thought Zach, but the image of another red-haired girl, this one crying in rage and in tears, kept popping into his mind. Zach tried to stop thinking about it, to stop hearing "how could you??!!!" ringing in ears, he tried to drift off to sleep on the grass. It was going to be a long, lonely night, but at least the grass was soft.