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20 October 2017 @ 09:25 am
_The Boy_ part 2  

"Reading and distance vision? No wonder you're having trouble in school." He reached for a pair of frames. "Try these on. They're practically invisible. And they're expensive. Treat them nicely. Or maybe these. I remember that movie where all the President's people wore something like these, and the lens were bullet proof . . . No? Right, how about . . . "

After trying on every pair in the store, the kid had calmed down enough that he barely noticed Ebsa chatting with the attendant, the specialized fab working . . .

Ebsa handed him the invisible pair. With the bifocal lenses.

Axbe froze. Looked around cautiously. "That's . . . I can see it without having to get any closer . . . "

"Let's take a walk." Ebsa steered the boy out the door.

Down the street, turning and looking at everything. "I can see the leaves on the trees." He turned and walked backwards, turned and looked at the people . . . up at the clouds . . .

Ebsa kept quiet and led him down to the waterfront. Where he stared at the waves, the birds, the children. The surfers and swimmers, the kites in the sky.

It was late when they made it back to the parilla.

Axbe's madre was wiping tables . . .

"You know, that flower scent just isn't right for a restaurant. I'd recommend either citrus—natural, not artificial, or better yet, no scent at all."

She huffed a tired sigh and turned away from him.

Axbe was staring up at the bare rafters. "Wow. I can see all the spider webs, now."

His mother glanced around . . . "What are those?"

"Glasses. I can see . . . everything . . . "

Ebsa cleared his throat. "I suspect his vision problems had something to do with his poor school results. Maybe he'll do better now. Umm . . . where does he sleep?"

"At the school, of course. The law says he has to live in the Enclave until he's eighteen or in college."  

"Yeah, wouldn't be so bad if you could rent an apartment or something. Have they got a curfew?"

Rolled eyes. "Of course they have a curfew. They also require the kids to get permission to leave the grounds. Guess what?"

Ebsa grinned. "Right. Kid . . . Ax? I've got a car if you want a ride . . . I'll tackle the office."

The boy blinked. "Ax . . . yeah. And I'd rather go over the fence and sneak back in."

Ebsa shrugged. "I . . . don't have any authority over you. Doubt you'd allow it anyway. So, c'mon. I'll give you a lift."

As he left the parilla, he glanced back.

A man was entering . . . unfortunately recognizable. Jorge. Ohje Clostuone. One time leader of the criminal gang Ebsa had tried so hard to get into as a teenager.

Maybe he won't recognize me. Ha! Senora Chacha tagged me from one afternoon encounter. Jorge knew me for years, while I hung around the edges of the gang.

The boy looked around. Glowered. "Great. My biodad isn't even tough enough to get into a gang."


"Paer, umm . . . you know how you keep telling me . . . " Ebsa bogged down. I'm making it sound like it's her fault! "Umm, let me start over, that wasn't working right at all."

"Ebsa! What happened? What did you do?"

Ebsa cleared his throat. "Got my pocket picked. Grabbed the boy doing it. Got a big zing." Silence. One damn the time delay going through the laser relay at the gate!

A whoop over the comm. "You found your baby!"

"He's ten years old, with a bad attitude." Ebsa relaxed. Of course she's not mad. She's known I was a father, by the complexity of my magic, almost as long as she's known me.

"Oh my. Picking pockets at ten years of age?"

"Magically precocious. Apparently regularly truant from the boarding school his Halfer mother put him in. I . . . think I may have addressed part of that problem. The kid kept squinting, so I hauled him into an optician. One only knows if he'll actually wear the glasses, though."

"Oh, yeah, the social stigma . . . hmm, let me check with Lady Gisele. The Fallen can grow whole eyeballs, surely they can do something about a lens."

"Oh yeah. That would be excellent . . . Umm, Paer? I'm also probably about to get my ass sued here, so you need to stay out of the picture for a bit. The mother's current boyfriend is . . . not someone who ought to have even a remote connection to the President."

"Oh. Bloody politics, eh?"

"Yeah, think about the headlines. Paer's boyfriend's gangland associations." He blew out a breath. "I . . . need to haul the kid in for a DNA test. And . . . look over the laws about child support, when the father was an underage school boy himself. I suppose that having no income for the first six years of the kid's life will save me some money now."

"Don't be stingy."

"I won't, but I don't want to be the main support for his stepfather's drug habit." Ebsa shrugged angrily. "Fortunately the kid's a tough little shit, no sign he's ever been abused. No reflexes like his mother's ever hit him. I . . . haven't spoken to the step father yet. He's . . . When I was an angsty teenager, he was the leader of the gang I tried to get into. He wasn't just one of us kids. He was in his forties, with an established network of drug pushers. He was the big fish, in a small pond. I . . . oh dear. I'd better go talk to Ox."

"Rael's brother-in-law the cop?"

"Yeah, he got talked into running for Chief of Police, and won. He just hates it. I have a nasty suspicion he can tell me all about Jorge without even glancing at his comp."

A distant sigh. "You know I want to meet this kid."

"I'll see what I can think up . . . but the way the kid picks up info . . . "

Paer laughed. "There's a saying about that. Something about your children being your parent's revenge."

"Umm . . . yeah."


A call to his sort-of-stepmother resulted in an invite to a late dinner.

"Poor Ox, he got hauled to Caracas for what sounds like a hideously boring meeting. He just got in, and dinner will be in half an hour."

Ebsa turned the car around and headed north.

As a bastard, he'd never lived with his father, or any of his wives. Madam Raod had been in the process of divorcing him when he'd been murdered. And sensibly married the cop who'd, at first, thought she'd killed him. As a fellow suspect, Ebsa had found the man formidable.

Now, as a distant sort-of-doubled-step-relation . . . Ebsa still found him formidable.

He brought out his good manners for the adults, and chatted with their children. Ryol and Arno were twins, eleven or twelve years old. Raaz was five and Oxde almost three, if he remembered correctly.

Ryol was chatty, trying to impress him. " . . . straight A's. I even beat Arno on points."

Ebsa had passed the threshold of "known and friendly" several years ago, so the usually silent Arno dived into a hole in his sister's chatter. "Chemistry is interesting. Do you know how easy it is to make black powder?"

Ebsa shot a glance toward Ox. Amused, but not alarmed.

"I take it you learned how but didn't actually make any?"

"Only a little. Dad supervised."

Damn, why couldn't I have a dad like that? Or be one . . . except I can't. Because I couldn't possibly make explosives with that boy. I don't have enough history to trust him with that sort of knowledge.

Madam Raod looked a little pained.

Ryol rolled her eyes. "I can't wait until I'm in high school. Do you think I should go to Princess School, Ebsa?"

Her parents' looked horrified . . . and perhaps resigned. Ebsa suspected the subject had come up before.

Ebsa eyed her and gave that serious thought. Shook his head. "Not unless you change as you get older. Right now you want to please and charm people so they'll like you. Princesses . . . are the opposite. They control the situation so other people try to please them."

That actually shut her up. Frowning in thought.

Madam Raod's eyebrows rose and Arno snickered.

"Watch Rael, sometime. She just . . . breezes through and doesn't give a hoot what other people think. She doesn't try to please anyone. And men just fall at her feet."

Ryol scowled . . . Ebsa could nearly see the little gears spinning in her head.

Ox looked like he was thinking too; a small smile crept out and was subdued.

The nanny took the little Ox away early, and then Raaz as she got cranky. The older two kept quiet, probably hoping to be overlooked.

Ox finally set down his glass and eyed Ebsa. "So, what can I do for a Directorate Agent?"

"Umm . . . I'm on leave between assignments . . . and I find that I am not going to be able to avoid an old . . . acquaintance. Ohji 'Jorge' Clostuone."

"Oh. Jorge." Ox leaned back. "He's evolved into a slum landlord. Owns a bunch of businesses in Low Town. And he keeps control of the gangs in 'his' territory. It's . . . low priority on our list of troublesome neighborhoods. Not because there's no crime, but because the crime is, mostly, beyond street level violence."

"Yipes. That's . . . quite a change from the Drug King."

"Yes. Once we broke the Dream trade . . . well, he had some really odd problems with his core gang enforcers after they apparently encountered the Comet Fall Joy Juice in a big street orgy."

"Oh. That stuff will cure anything. Along with the, umm, aphrodisiacs and fertility spells." Ebsa blinked. "Don't tell me his people suddenly were cured of drug and alcohol addictions?"

"Yep. And half of them married, started families. Including, apparently, Jorge. Still plenty mean, mind you. But the whole tenor of the gang changed. Not much drug dealing. Not much violence. Now our main worry is a really nasty international organization moving into the area, mostly Montevideo, but definitely sending signals of aiming for complete regional domination. Affiliated with Al Iadrah." Ox leaned back and eyed him. "So, why can't you avoid him?"

"You mentioned that street orgy. Well, one result was a ten years old pickpocket I grabbed early today. Got a really big zing when I touched him. I'm going to have to deal with this."

Ox buried his face in his palm. "Not Abbe Aparicio. Please tell me, it's not that little mind reading sh . . . child."

"Afraid so. So, umm, it sounds like his mother is Jorge's current girlfriend?"

"Wife, as of two years ago." Ox crossed his arms. "It's almost enough to make me glad I'm the District Chief and not specifically involved with Low Town."

Madam Raod winced. "I should never have pushed you into running for the office. I thought . . . well, I was wrong."

Ox shrugged. "I really don't think I can go back to being a cop, any more."

Ebsa eyed him. "Well, you could try being a small fish in a bigger pond. Interior Relations in Paris. I dunno if Exterior has much for a senior cop to do."

Madam Raod sat up, bright-eyed. "Oh . . . would it get you back to the sort of job you like doing?"

Ox hesitated. "I . . . have no idea."

"Of course, it's a big move. Especially with kids." Ebsa looked around.

Ryol and Arno were wide-eyed.

"Paris?" Ryol squeaked, starting to grin.

Arno looked dubious.

"Oh, One. Don't go making plans, kids." Raod drummed her fingers. "It would be a huge upheaval, and . . . it's all up to your father. And whether he wants whatever job we're talking about here."

"And two more years in office, One help me!"

Ebsa didn't stay much longer, and slunk away, feeling like he ought to apologize for disrupting what he'd always thought was the perfect family.

(Anonymous) on October 20th, 2017 03:04 pm (UTC)
I don't remember that scene with Ox and Raod the first time, but I really like it, and thinks it helps tie the Directorate and other stories together in a good way.

I did notice a couple possible Oner name inconsistencies: Ohje/Ohji, and Axbe/Abbe

Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 20th, 2017 05:13 pm (UTC)
Pam, you changed to ==Jorge, he's her husband==

So you also need to change boyfriend and girlfriend references.

==mother's current boyfriend==

== So, umm, it sounds like his mother is Jorge's current girlfriend?"
"Wife, as of two years ago." ===
==The mother's current boyfriend is ==

Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 20th, 2017 05:24 pm (UTC)
"And two more years in office, One help me!"==

Perhaps Ebsa ++But for some jobs, having held elected office may look good on your resume"
matapampamuphoff on October 20th, 2017 06:22 pm (UTC)
I keep adding things . . . my time line is getting stuffed.

This is after Dysptoia, Loyalties and XR . . . So Izzo's the XR Director now.

In six months we'll have _Children of a Foreign God_ in 1409.
1410--the election and Ebsa and Paer get married.
1411--Scrambled starts in the Spring before E&P's twins are born

So _Lucky Dave_ could be . . . very inconvenient. I was putting it in the summer after Children, but between the election and the wedding Real's going to be running full out.

No reason I can't put LD off at least one or two years. Which would put Ryol at almost fourteen. And Ra'd would realize there'd be a second Lucky Dave dragging Davos and Nicholas through the countryside, shortly after Scrambled.

I think that'll work.

(Anonymous) on October 20th, 2017 11:08 pm (UTC)
Axbe has a strong, engaging personality. He's a piece of work and he's really going to work Ebsa. Would be nice to see him pop up in other stories. He's street smart enough to do some interesting things with Comet Fall kids. He could get the other kids to do all kinds of stunts that will have Ebsa pulling out his hair and Rael giggling. And what he could do at Ebsa's wedding!
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2017 02:03 am (UTC)
Axbe has a strong, engaging personality. He's a piece of work and he's really going to work Ebsa. Would be nice to see him pop up in other stories. He's street smart enough to do some interesting things with Comet Fall kids. He could get the other kids to do all kinds of stunts that will have Ebsa pulling out his hair and Rael giggling. And what he could do at Ebsa's wedding!
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 21st, 2017 10:02 am (UTC)
Ebsa has more sense than to have page boys at his wedding.
matapampamuphoff on October 21st, 2017 11:12 am (UTC)
But he does have to invite them.
Scott Harrison on October 21st, 2017 08:47 pm (UTC)
Has he inherited Ebsa's "interesting life" gene?
matapampamuphoff on October 21st, 2017 09:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Genes
Only time will tell. Fortunately my Muse is not pushing the next generation stories . . . yet.