Noun: a letter- communication, missive, written message
First and fourth most I want to thank you for your reply. I didn’t realize it until I held your response in my hand that I didn’t expect a return letter. I am not sure why. Just an odd feeling I suppose. The gesture just surprised me and delighted me at the same time. It also surprised me that a mere day later I received a letter from a Capt. Brit Baker. In short, she thanked me for participating in her program and assured me that any and all dialogue between us is strictly between us (I got the vibe she was making sure I understood that for both our personal assurances)
I also got the feels there might be more to it than that but I understand that this is a government program and I am not meant to understand everything. I will try to keep my curiosity to a minimum but no promises okay. ^^
Moving onward, I dare not say that just after one conversation we are friends but it’s a goal I find myself striding for. I don’t know why or how (maybe it’s because it’s just the simple use of pen and paper) but I feel completely at ease with you.
I can tell by the way the things you chose to reveal to me in our opening correspondences that you are what my mama calls a man built for protection. She confided in me she always thought the same about my father. It’s so odd, growing up I ‘knew’ that talking about my father hurt her but since I confessed my choice in my senior project, she has opened up a little more about him to me. I am now hearing tipits about their life together or simple conversations they had once upon a time. Yet I don’t ask too many questions all at once, you can see the pain in her eyes at best of times you know.
On a different note. I made you a batch of fudge (I hope you like it.) and the day I made it I think mama simply stood and watched me do it, afterwards she disappeared for most of the day and returned to me with a little black velvet bag. It held my father’s dog tags, I have never seen them before until then. It honestly set my heart aflutter, I don’t have too many things of his.
I honestly don’t think I have ever cried so much before. (I have worn them proudly since that day.) I like the feel of the weight against my heart, it reminds me of exactly what my father and other men (and women) like you serve to protect. That might be an innocent way of looking at it but ..
It also makes me wonder how you feel about the weight of your own dog tags. My cousin holds a grim outlook on them, one I refuse to acknowledge. Instead (and I know it might seem native or childish) I like to think it’s a reminder. A more positive one.
On a serious matter I wonder if I can acknowledge something you touched a upon in your letter (well there are a number things I want to talk about but unless you wish otherwise we can save some for another time) is the need for this program, You mentioned PTSD, I of course heard the term but until I received your letter I never thought much about it. I have since looked into the condition and felt extremely overwhelmed now my heart aches for the men and women who suffer from it.
Thusly I don’t even know HOW to begin to say what I want/ feel towards moving forward on the matter. There is so much to cover on the topic and so much I want to express but words seem to be inadequate to say the least. So let me just state this, you implored me to understand that you held no grievances in my trials of losing my father, so I BEG you to understand that I only wish to help in any way I can. I understand I am a child compared to you, to the professionals that the Military must offer (such as Capt. Baker) to the soldiers in need of help and guidance but moving forward I will do whatever I can do to help anyone I can. (You mostly of all – if you will let me.)
My friend (I know I shouldn’t tell you this- it may come off making me look more like a child) Amber makes her own stamp jewelry. I bought the materials needed and she taught me how to make a stamp bracelet. I fashioned two of them like dog tags and stamped out my dad’s and your name on the plates. I wear them around my left wrist. My mama noticed, she asked me if I was thinking about enlisting after high school. I saw the panic in her eyes and honestly told her I didn’t know. I feel like I need to ask forgiveness from everyone like my dad and yourself. I am so ashamed really. But…. *sighs* maybe we can discuss this another time.
On the subject of enlisting:
I have talked to the recruiters that are coming in to make their rounds at school, just asking the basic questions and such. There is a PO3 (no clue on what actually rank that is) that follows the Navy recruiter around, his name is Joey Janela… Amber is convinced he is flirting with me. *rolls eyes again* Amber is an odd duck you could say. I ‘hate’ her sometimes. ^^
She is everything I am not. She is around five six in height, size two just about everywhere else. Ash blonde hair with baby blue eyes (I will include a picture of us together- it was taken this past summer at a pet drive) The boys flock to her… she is super excited about senior prom coming up. *giggles* I am glad to go shopping with her, but I am hating the fact she is trying to talk me into going. She thinks since I didn’t attend our junior year prom that I need to go this year. Anyways I am sure you are not concerned about any of that. *lol* I know you said you were a frequent visitor to your LDC in younger days so did you attend your proms and homecomings? I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything.
In truth I like that we have a few things in common and find myself wondering about your Army brothers. How did you three meet? Your younger brother, (Seth was it) I find myself wondering (since he missed the draft) why he enlisted? I am assuming with …. Roman (correct) he too was an unwilling volunteer?
I find myself wondering about your life leading up to and during your service, I can tell the Army has honed you into the man you are, but I wonder at the boy that lost his dad. I wonder about him, what became of him? (Do I insert my cat ears here or do I wait until later*grins madly*) In all fairness I wonder how different I would be if my father was still alive as well?
Anyways, I am sure I have kept you long enough.
I hope you are well and healthy and please let me know if there is anything I can get for you.
Liana aka. Montana (*lol* Capt. Baker referred to me as Montana in her letter, so I guess I have earned my first official Army nickname ^^)
Smiling Liana stuffed the pages (and the picture she promised) of her newest letter to Mox in the envelope and hummed as she glanced over at the small box that she had packaged to go along with the letter. She really hoped he wasn’t allergic to nuts or any type of diary. It was a risky move but still he mentioned a sweet tooth so she was willing to take the risk.
Remembering back on the day she had received Mox’s first letter she had simply stared at it for a good ten minutes. For some reason it actually puzzled her that he had written back. She actually had no idea why it had shocked her why the man had written back, she had assumed that maybe he would feel uncomfortable giving the ten-year age difference between them that he hesitate but she was so pleased to see he didn’t.
She tore open the letter and stared at his curt stiff handwriting and realized her fears were based on nothing, that this man- whoever he was, seemed polite and very kind. It calmed her and smooth her in so many ways and actually relaxed her magic when she read his words. He was different to say the least, she was intrigued because just corresponding with him was this smoothing. Is she ever actually ever .. Shaking her head she had to smile and giggle at herself.
Moving to flop down onto her bed she watched as Amber came in from the bathroom and curled up on the bed next to her, her best friend was looking at her oddly these last of couple of weeks and Liana didn’t know why. But her friend seemed ready to talk about it, “so ready to admit it?” The question was soft and light. Not Amber’s normal bubbly self and that told Liana she was serious. “Admit it?” she stressed the it part of the question.
Amber pouted and then huffed, shifting to sit Indian style on the bed, “Lee we have known each since we were babies practically. I have never seen you act this way over something let alone someone. Just admit it, admit it that your in love with this Mox!”
Startled Liana moaned; this was (at least she hoped) was a faze Amber was going through. Everyone had to be in love with something or someone to her. Being in love is great and all but she just wanted to be a kid a little longer; is that so bad? There is a quiet and subtly nagging feeling of being caught between a rock and a hard place and a slight tug of her magic that suddenly hits her and it confuses the hell of her.
Sighing, she pushes back those thoughts and feelings she wants to make herself perfectly clear, “Am listen I admire him very much. I understand that for the first time I am not telling you everything that’s going on in my life, but my relationship with Mox is cordial I promise you!” She watches as her best friend stares at her and shakes her head, “you can tell yourself all the pretty little lies you want Liana Lynn, but I know you, I watch how you grab your dad’s dog tags then caress the bracelet you made his name on it. So, go on and continue to lie…. I will be here when the time is right to tell you I told you so!”
Rolling her eyes, Liana hummed in a silent whatever and moved onto a different topic: anything to not let her brain go down that path, “so have you decided on what to make your folks for Christmas?” Amber bubbles over at the possibilities and Liana is happy again but as Amber talks she reaches out and touches the bracelet with Mox’s name on it and kicks herself for not making him one for his birthday and or Christmas.
The thought of a leather strap bracelet with Mox’s name on it seems more suitable than her cheap homemade stamped one though however. A hard thought chases that one away quickly however. He seems to be more of a leather type of guy anyways… She muses it over and wonders if she is correct because the thought feels more of ‘knowing’ and that tells her that it’s her magic. So it wouldn’t surprise her if it was true.
The thought was so strong she could almost smell his cologne and the heavy feel of the leather…
He re-reads the letter a dozen times that night and for the next few days, the simple relief of knowing that Britt Baker wasn’t forcing herself into the correspondence with Montana lightens his soul to a degree that he wasn’t expecting. He tries to tease apart her letter, to dissect the parts he wants to address first. In the end it’s impossible, his mind simply can’t focus on one thing he wants to tackle mainly. He is baffled that she seemed sweeter and more innocent than she did in her first letter and his heart thumps in wildly in need to .. what .. to what he doesn’t seem to know or understand.
All he does seem to know is writing with Montana is calming, smoothing him and his magic in ways he has never experienced before. Yet it also is never racking cause he can almost taste her innocence and he knows someone so pure shouldn’t be around someone so dirty like himself. But he is helpless to do anything but drawn closer, so he continues onward.
So he moves onto the picture she included. It was simply too sweet and completely innocent. It showed two girls (a blonde and a red/gold hair girl. The latter being his Montana.) down on their knees playing with dogs and hoarding a bunch of kittens that were exploring. Montana had an arm full of kittens, her red/gold hair pulled back into a ponytail showcasing her heart shaped face.
The random thought of her comment of having cat ears actually makes him laugh. He finishes looking at the photo, he can see her joy in life and makes him happy on such a deep level. He moves his inspection to her features.
Her eyes were laughing and full of untold joy; he tranced a finger over her image and brought the picture up closer to his face. It was then he noticed her unique eye color- they were brown, but they were so light that it reminded him of cognac in color. He has never seen eyes that have made him want to take a drink, gathered with her sweet innocence he finds his magic shifting. Changing slightly. Lightning almost.
Shaking his head then snorting in amusement he almost missed the pepper of freckles that kissed her honey toned skin. All in all, she was a stunning young woman. Filled with a passion of life that refreshed him on the most basic level. Filled him, renewed him in hope that not everything was dark and evil and for that he was truly thankful. Her words were so kind and he swore he actually feel her heart within her words. Her words…
He moved back to her letter itself.
He is finding himself wanting to cover everything she divulged to him in this letter, but his feelings are all over the place to the point where he couldn’t concentrate on writing. Not yet anyways. His magic was rippling as he tried to concentrate, spreading out almost as if wanting to caress. Rubbing his forehead curty he sighed and decided to move on because in the end there were other matters to care of.
Namely his shield brothers, Roman and Seth have been at his side- in this desert for the past six months, their rotation out is coming at the end of the month and he finds himself hating the thought of losing them again. Even with the stress between them right now it feels good to have them by his side. The thought that they might not return burns deep in his soul. But he can’t hate them if they chose not to return.
Stepping into the canteen Jon smiles when he notices his brothers, they are sitting together picking at their food and talking softly to one another. Roman is the first to move, his hand comes to rest on Seth’s shoulder- giving comfort to the younger man and suddenly Jon feels shame for not doing the same and sooner than Roman. Instead he had lashed out at Seth, showing him his hatred for the City when it was obvious his younger brother had been hurting at New Years.
Shuffling to get a tray he makes his way to them and gently slips across them and figures now is a good time to get the talk out of the way. Clearing his throat softly, he smiles awkwardly when both men glanced over to him. Roman’s blue/grey eyes hold a warm welcome, Seth’s brown ones are guarded and watchful and it tears at him a little bit and puts him on guard all at once. There is a pang of for older times, of their bond before everything was shot to hell.
Before he changed, before their bond changed.
Scooping up some eggs and spoons them into his mouth Jon sighs and begins, “Rotation is up for you two in three weeks, I pulled some brass and got you your tickets in two. Ro- you should make it back in time for Jess’s birthday.” There is a thickness in the air but when he looks first at Roman the other man has a small tight smile on his lips, Seth … almost snarls out, “that’s your answer. Ship us out?” There is actual venom in the question and Jon notices Romans hand lands on their baby brother’s shoulder again. This time he notices the shoulder is held in a tight grip.
Slumping his own shoulders, he pokes his way through the rest of this mess, “Seth there isn’t a problem here. Soldiers are on a rotation in this place for a reason. Just because you’re my brothers doesn’t negate that fact. So please go home, work things out with Becks and …’
He doesn’t finish cause Seth is fucking growling at him, his eyes are blazing, and the rage is so out of place it takes Jon a moment to recognize it for what it truly is. “fuck you Deano. I am not leaving you again.” The pure unfiltered love and concern that laces Seth’s voice makes Jon’s breath catch. Eyes soften, heart remembers to beat, voice choking, “consider it an order from your CO then Sethie!”
Then before Seth can respond there is a commotion outside, raising up Jon takes his trash and pitches it- hardly have eaten anything. Before he makes it to the door Orange Cassidy is busting his way in, pausing in his search for him and suddenly Jon feels the needle and pin sensation crawl all over his body.
“Lt!” Cassidy’s voice matches his face, there is pure bliss that’s written all over him. He is aware that Roman and Seth are coming to stand next to him and he shivers in their protective cocoon that they wrap around him. Taking a deep breath, he stills himself and simply asks, “what’s the chatter Cass?” Cassidy walks quickly over to him and with a pleasured smile he hums, “we got ourselves an Acolyte topside!”
Jon freezes, just for a mere second then he is snarling in undiluted joy, “and here I thought the Gods forgot my birthday!”
Cassidy only rocks back on his heels in total agreement. There is pure bliss showing in his dark eyes as looks dead set into Jon’s eyes and replies, “ten four sir!” There is a savage grin on both of their faces that if he were to look back at his brothers he would have seen their worry and their shock.
“Let’s do this!” He bubbles up as he exits the canteen, his magic roar’s in agreement as he rolls his shoulders and his eyes light up in pleasure.
There is a bright light in the hooch that Cassidy has their guest locked in. It’s a plain one room building and Jon wonders briefly what his brothers will think of what’s about to happen, if they follow? The thought of, who cares, follows immediately but he isn’t sorry for what is about to come. For what his brothers are about to witness or what acts he is about to commit.
The boy, for that’s all the Acolytes truly ever are is sitting neatly and defiantly. The defiance is set on his young face; if he didn’t know any better it would almost break something within him, but deep down he knows better. If he was to guess the boy is seventeen maybe eighteen at tops. In a moment he will see. Time and pain will tell the boy’s life.
Not taking his eyes off of the kid he commands Orange Cassidy, “make our guest here more comfortable Staff Sergeant.” He is slightly aware of Roman and Seth coming in behind him, they are quiet and memories of how the Shield used to work haunt him make want to weep in sorrow. But now he has his magic and has learned in the cruelest of ways in the arts of becoming a magic user.
Jericho’s voice echoed in his head for a brief moment.
No one is going to help you down here American.
The ghost of a memory gives him the center and moves him forward, gives him the striking power to advance when and where he needs to. For now he watches as Cassidy takes out his field knife and cuts through the boy’s black robes. It takes a few seconds to tear away the sleeves, but Cassidy works quickly and efficiently. Cassidy also knows how to work the City’s darker magic user.
When the robe is completely cut away Jon leans back and takes in the boys arms and chest. His chest is unmarked but there is plenty of tribal ink to suggest the boy is well into his apprenticeship. The arms (and without looking Jon knows there should be a small area inked up on his back) three quarters covered. There is no color however, “no holy maid to service you boy?” the question is in English- simply because Jon won’t lower himself for a mere boy.
Besides you know he knows English.
The boy’s eyes flash and it’s a telling give away to Jon. Moving behind the boy he hums when he sees the jagged criss cross scars on tattoo-less back. Laughing out loud he mocks, “someone didn’t teach you your manners well enough, did they boy?” His question brings the boy up, twisting around and raging but he slammed back down in the chair by Orange quickly enough.
Still behind the kid Jon grabs his head by grabbing a fist full of dirty matted hair and pulls backwards. Bringing his lips to an ear he whispers, “they exiled you topside before you converted, why? Didn’t your Kalku teach you how to fuck properly?” The boy snarls and cuts loose a few choice words, Jon in return simply brings his knife up and cuts lightly across the boy’s throat. The stinging pain stills the boy momentarily. It’s another telling sign, a more significant flag that the boy might not be as he appears to be. But Jon pushes the thought back.
Instead a memory of a hateful bitch flashes across his own mind as ‘his’ own Kalku taught him how to convert, the scars she left behind reminds him that women can be just as cruel and spiteful as men if not more so. “fuck you American!” The English is broken but it’s there, it’s rough cause Jon is still pulling the boys head backwards, but his response pleases him. So, the boy has spirit- but there was something wrong with him or else El Profeta wouldn’t have discarded the years of work put into the boys training.
Glancing sideways to Cassidy, who nodded in agreement, Jon makes a quick deep slice wound between the sixth and seventh rib. The response was quick and unusual. An Acolyte’s training, for this boy’s age at least, shouldn’t have not even shown a flinch at the cut. Should have not shown no signs of pain at this early stage in what his Profeta would have called training and what Jericho had called play.
Pulling back, he understands immediately that the boy isn’t what he appears to be. Sighing in disgust he lets the boy go and flicks the blood off his knife. “Get him cleaned up and out of my fucking city!” the panic is from the boy- “tener compassion!” Jon doesn’t stop as he exits the hooch but he throws back in perfect Spanish, “La misericordia se detiene sobre el suelo.” Mercy stops above ground!
He misses the horrified and semi shocked looks from his brothers because he didn’t dare look into their eyes as he exits the hooch, he didn’t want to see their disappointment nor their disgust. Most of all he didn’t want to explain, didn’t want to explain himself nor rules of the City to them because hopefully after their rotation was up he would never see them again. His soul was torn at that silent prayer and at that he knew he was truly damned.
It’s later that day when Seth sends for him that everything clicks into place. Seth has cameras all over the Forgotten City and it’s a camera on the North side of the city that picks up the small guerrilla group.
Roman is next to Seth and Cassidy is behind him as they watch. Cassidy is the first to speak, “your timetable is right on schedule Lt!” Jon hums under the praise and rocks back slightly, he glances back to Cassidy in silent question- his answer was a snort, “why do you always doubt me Lt!”
Smirking openly Jon softly tells Seth to zoom in a specific area of the North side of the City and is pleased when Seth is able to pinpoint the exact location, the small statue that should be there is simply smashed to pieces. There is also a dead chicken now with the statue. The meaning is clear to him and Cassidy- not so much to his brothers, “the fuck?” Seth is questioning in open puzzlement. Roman on the other hand mutters, “this is bad juju!” Jon blinks at him- and wonders for a moment if Roman knows more than Jon thinks he knows. But the deep dark look in his brothers eyes don’t show enough concern for someone who has knowledge in the darker side of the Forgotten City and Jon hopes he can keep his brothers clean of the evilness that lurks within and below.
Cassidy doesn’t share in this thought however, “it’s a greeting and a clear warning!” Snapping his eyes to Cassidy he knows that the other man will continue to talk until commanded otherwise so he listens for the point where he needs to cut his friend off. “There is a Profeta either in the City or in the Tunnels- my bet is in the Tunnels or else we would have smoked him out by now!” At that Seth is turning and questioning Orange, “Profeta?” But its Roman that answers the question, “Prophet?” At this Jon feels the need to add, “or a Kalku!” At the other title both Seth and Roman are looking at him.
After a moment when he doesn’t respond Seth swings his eyes to Roman and huffs when the bigger man shakes his head negatively. Cassidy rolls his eyes and softly explains, “A Kalku is a witch of strictly black magic!” At this Seth rolls his eyes and asks, “you expect us to believe a witch is casting black magic?” Roman tisks beside him and snaps out, “speak for yourself uce!”
Smirking in amusement Jon belittles himself because he forgot just how open Roman is to other religions and hokey shit like what is actually under the Forgotten City. But Cassidy is drilling onwards, “I honestly don’t care if you believe it Rollins or not, what we have liv…” Eyes narrowing, Jon is snapping out quickly, “that’s enough Staff Sergeant.” But Roman is wheeling on him, eyes blazing in silent rage. He sees his older brother is starting to understand slightly on some level. Compending that there is something deeper that is going on and it’s just a matter of time before Seth catches on.
Then he will have to explain, explain himself and his connections to the City and he doesn’t want to do that. Not yet at least, not ever he can help it. That wound still hurts like a sonofabitch. Is too raw, too fresh. Sighing he knows in time he will have to explain to them but they come back. Yet there is that part of him, that place that’s buried deep down that knows- just knows that it’s a good possibility of them NOT coming back so the need to explain vanishes before he even thinks of voicing it.
Instead he is shaking off Roman intent and Seth’s odd confused look Jon decides to concentrate on replying to the silent warning that the guerrilla group has issued. “Cass get with a hooch mama and get an outline of offensive line established and pepper it with some Salt and Cumin mixture.” Cassidy is nodding but adds, “you’ll need an Amber amulet Lt!” Amber was an easy and the most basic amulet of energy protection, one he could have a Alta Sacerdotisa craft and bless for him in an hour’s time and yet Pausing, Jon knows it’s taken a chance if he goes without one. “No! If it is a Kalku I will get more out of her if she thinks I am open and defenseless.” Shooting Orange a quick look he knew the other man understood his words.
His brother’s he knew did not, except Roman was giving him a dirty sideways glance. In the end all three men protest together and Jon smiles at the small victory, he is sure it will be the first and last so he will mark it to memory.