First chapter (for a while!) of Infected: Revolution
1- Haunt You
N.B.: If you have not kept up all the stories – and I mean all of them – this may be a little confusing. Also, there are mild spoilers.
It was going to be a clusterfuck, of that there was no doubt. The only question was how big a clusterfuck.
Roan wasn’t going to bother the Kims with any of this,and although Randi requested to be kept in the loop, he spared her from this as well. Mainly he kept this between him, Holden, and Fiona, although even that wasn’t strictly true. He told Dylan, and even though Scott had been called up to the Vancouver Canucks, Holden had obviously clued him in, as Richie had called Roan to offer his help (along with Jeff’s, whom he was going to drag into things whether he wanted to be in it or not). Roan told him it might not be the best idea, as what if he was recognized, but that just made him laugh. Only hard core Falcons fans would know who he was on sight, and the day he was afraid of a bunch of god squad whackadoos (his words) was the day he quit hockey and started selling insurance. If he wasn’t up against he would have turned him down, but he knew Richie and Jeff were intimidating looking (a nose broken several times and a scarred face had that effect), and were more than capable of taking care of themselves, so he agreed to let them help. It was weird enough that he was putting together a security detail for a funeral. But life these days was pretty fucking weird.
Roan planted a fake burial announcement in the paper, with a real church and a real date listed, but neither one being the actual place, time, and date of the funeral. The Kim family was in on it, so they were able to tell relatives to ignore it, but it was a bluff for some of the crazies to take. He knew there would be leaks of the real location, that it was unavoidable, but if he could draw even twenty percent away, that was a fistful of nutbags they wouldn’t have to deal with.
How Grant Kim, even in death, remained a lightning rod was a bit baffling, but also understandable, as he was the embodiment of many fears in one body. He was infected, he had been in a polyamorous relationship, he was Korean, he was of dubious and arguable sexuality. Just like his trial had been a sideshow, his death was too, and it infuriated Roan, enough that he volunteered to run security for free. Considering the problems he was having keeping the lion at bay, this was probably a bad idea. No, it was definitely a bad idea, and he knew it before he even volunteered, but he couldn’t help it. Randi was a friend, and he brought Grant in in the first place, so he felt kind of responsible for him. Maybe it would have been best to let the cops hunt him down and kill him in the first place, but he’d only been trying to help him. Yeah, good intentions paved the way to hell, blah blah blah. You know what the really funny thing was? So did bad intentions. Ultimately, every road led to hell. Churches didn’t tell you this, because they didn’t want you to know how futile everything actually was.
Oh wow. Roan was impressed with his own optimism. With so much sunshine blasting out his ass, how was he not constantly sunburned? Jesus. No wonder one of Dylan’s friends had referred to him as “King Downer”.
Of course, Holden would just say it was realism. But that was Holden, and Roan was still nervous having him on the security team. Thanks to the religious types he grew up with, he revelled in picking fights with the true believers, the more self-righteous the better. He made Holden promise to be on his best behaviour, but only after the fact did he wonder what Holden considered his “best” behaviour, and if it had any correlation between what Roan had hoped. He could have pressed him, but with Holden less was usually more in the information department. It was also usually all you got, as Holden liked mind fucking just a bit too much. It also made him an excellent interrogator, because he could drive anyone to their breaking point just by being chronically evasive. If the CIA had any sense at all, they’d have snapped him up already.
And Dylan was nervous for Roan, as he thought he was taking too much on, especially after all that had happened. But he knew Roan had to do this, and wouldn’t forgive himself if he didn’t, so all Dyl could do was be supportive and pretend this wasn’t killing him, even though Roan knew it was. It was killing him too.
Ultimately these fucking weirdos should leave the Kims alone and stop making their dead son a symbol of their intolerance, but these idiots had no decency. Roan stopped reading the papers or taking in any news, because the more he heard these morons speak, the more he wanted to let Holden go on them, push them until the cops had no choice but to tase and gas bomb the lot of them. Or maybe Roan should just lion out in front of them, shown them their worst fears were true, and eat some of the fatter ones before they could run to their cars.
Okay, no, he couldn’t do that. But damn, that was fun to think about.
Holden wanted to bring his gun, but since he was a P.I. working under his aegis, he told him he couldn’t unless he got a legal gun (still with its serial number) and a license to carry it, which led Holden to reply, “Spoil the fun, why don’t you.” He knew Holden could use a gun, but he also knew he’d have no compunction about pulling it and using it. It was funny how he could be discreet in all things but busting a cap in someone’s ass.
Dylan wanted to go with him to the funeral, but if he had to go – and he did; of this there was no question – Roan wanted him to stay with Randi and other members of the Kim family. He’d be there as a mourner, but technically he was on the job as well, and if – when – there was trouble, he didn’t want Dyl in the middle of it. Dylan had been hurt enough because of him, and he didn’t want him hurt anymore. Just being married to him got Dyl honorary martyr of the decade status.
Much to Connie’s horror, Gordo asked to be included, mainly because retirement was driving him crazy. Roan took him on, because, while he was older than the rest of them by far, he was a crusty old bastard as well as an ex-cop, and they were good to have around, if only to handle media fallout.
With a couple of guys (unisex meaning – technically it was a man and a woman) from Phil’s security business, the security working the Kim funeral was made up of them, an infected weirdo, a former male prostitute, an ex-cop with a faulty ticker, a part-time dominatrix, and a couple of minor league hockey players. It sounded like the set up to the world’s worst joke, but Roan actually felt like they had a good shot of coming out of this okay. After all, expectations for such a rag tag unit would be super low, and if it didn’t end in a massacre, they’d look like heroes.
There was a chance he’d be followed, he knew that, media scrutiny of him was up again for no good reason (okay, that was a lie – it was a slow news cycle, and all anyone had to do was watch YouTube videos of him to start wondering about him anew), so he had Gordo, Fiona, and the guys from Phil’s outfit (Hannah and Greg, respectively) do some sweeps of the cemetery grounds while he and Holden escorted the Kim family to the funeral. Holden accused him of not sending him on the advance team because he was afraid he’d start some shit, which Roan denied, but it was a hundred percent true. Again, religious zealots were Holden’s sweet spot, the people he most loved to fuck with, and Roan didn’t seem him resisting the temptation. Not that he blamed him in the least, the super repressed were always fun to fuck with, but this was not the day for that. The Kims wanted to have a modicum of dignity, and just because he and Holden were deficient in that arena, it didn’t mean they could deprive them of that.
There were some protestors there, a small clot of the truly disgusting (the “God hates fags/ God hates cats” crowd) against the moderately disgusting (“Infection is a punishment for your sins”). But it wasn’t nearly as bad as Roan had anticipated, suggesting many had taken the bait of the fake funeral announcement. Whenever they got close to the protestors, Holden would blow kisses at them and bat his eyes seductively, which made one of the “God hates fags” guys turn so red in the face that Roan was sure he was going to go Scanners and explode all over the parking lot. Which was so fucking hilarious he couldn’t keep from laughing. This infuriated God guy more, and just encouraged Holden, leading him to make “call me sometime” gestures. Even though he was a dangerous as all fuck, Roan knew this was why he’d hired Holden in the first place. He didn’t run from confrontation either; he egged it on as much as Roan did, leaving the shrinking violet stuff to people who didn’t like to fight. He was a partner in crime, in more than one sense of the term.
It really looked like they were going to get out of this unscathed. The funeral was quiet and dignified, somber enough that even the protestors on the fringe didn’t ruin it. The day was blindingly clear but bitingly cold, and the cemetery was in a quiet, green section of town well outside Seattle proper, although if you walked to its highest hill you could see the gleam of the Puget Sound on the horizon. Birds sang in the mountain ash closest to the grave site, and the Unitarian minister had the hushed voice of a librarian with laryngitis. For a very long moment, it was tranquil and almost beautiful.
Then Roan noticed that the silver Honda Accord had returned.
A few minutes ago it had turned around in the parking lot and drove deeper into the cemetery, but now it was back. There were several reasons why this could have happened. This wasn’t the only funeral taking place, and the cemetery took advantage of its limited space by making the roads through a tangled skein, more complicated than it should have been. Could even have been a looky-loo, those wonderful voyeurs who came out of the woodwork when you least expected it. But he really didn’t like the dark tinted windows that didn’t allow him to see what was going on inside.
He pulled out his two way radio and said, “Gord, you got eyes on the Accord?” Roan was standing with his back to the mourners, in the most open and visible spot, making him the easiest and juiciest target of the bunch, a deliberate choice. Holden tried to argue him out of it, but Roan knew wherever he was, he would be the most obvious target. Putting himself out in the open seemed like tempting fate, but it actually gave him a significant advantage, as he’d see any attack coming. If he was in a more secluded spot, that might not necessarily be true. This levelled the playing field.
“I can see it, yeah,” Gordo replied, grumpy as always. You knew something was wrong when he wasn’t grumpy. “What, it set off your spidey sense?”
“You know very well I’m Batman, which would make it echo-location.” At some point, he’d passed through his annoyance at the cops calling him Batman, and now made jokes about it. Perhaps it was passive-aggressive. “Either way, yes. Can you get close without getting noticed?”
“No fucking clue. Those windows are definitely illegal. There’s a tint limit.”
“So write them a ticket.”
It was then that Accord shifted – its engine had never been turned off – and started driving out of the lot again. Only as it was going past, a window in the back had started coming down, and Roan knew someone was pointing a gun at him.
Several thoughts and impulses hit him at once. He was actually pretty certain he could dodge the shot, but then he remembered the mourners were behind him. He was going to have to take the hit and hope they weren’t skilled or lucky enough to get a head shot. So he presented himself to the bullet even before he heard the hollow pop of gunfire, and braced himself for the hit as he pulled out his Sig Sauer and returned fire.
Only later, viewing footage someone had taken with their camera phone, would Roan realize that he fired within the same second as the gunman in the car. (Holden would bust out the ten dollar word “preternatural” for that.)
The bullet hit him like a super-charged fist in the right side of his chest, knocking the wind out of him, while he simultaneously heard glass breaking and someone’s surprised yelp, as screams erupted behind him. There was a second shot, but so muffled it was clearly confined to the car itself as it accelerated away, sounding like a leaf blower on overdrive. Roan imagined that, if he hadn’t been winded by the shot, he still might be able to catch it. It was only a Honda, after all.
“Oh my god,” Dylan exclaimed, coming up beside him and grabbing his arm to steady him. “Are you all right? Are you hit?”
“I’m okay,” he told him through gritted teeth. “I’m wearing a vest.” Not everybody agreed to wear the bulletproof vest – Gordo hated them on general principal, neither Jeff or Richie could imagine why they’d have to wear them, and Fiona found the biggest one they had still squished her boobs way too much – but Roan had done it for both Dyl’s peace of mind, and the fact that he was making himself such a blatant target.
Gordo came jogging up, his gun out. “You okay?”
Roan just gave him a thumb’s up, trying to swallow back the growl that wanted to erupt from his throat. Even a minor pain like this was enough to set the lion off. Grumpy bastard.
Holden came up at a leisurely pace, holding out his iPhone. “License plate, anyone?”
Gordo plucked it from his hand as he called the cops on his own cell. “Jenny? Hey, yeah, Sikorski, I need you to get an APB out for me …”
Holden gave Roan a curious look. “Couldn’t Matrix that one, Neo?”
Dylan shot him an accusing look. “What?”
Roan just shook his head. “Not the time or place.” To be honest, Holden knew too goddamn much about his abilities, but there was no help for it now. At least he kept secrets like a concrete sealed vault. He looked at Dyl, and asked him, “Can you calm them down? It’s over.”
He was referring to the funeral party, and from Dylan’s deep frown, he knew Roan was trying to distract him. But he was too kind hearted not to, so he turned and started reassuring everyone as Richie and Jeff converged, followed by Fiona, Hannah, and Greg.
“Ever feel like we’re a bargain bin Avengers?” Holden wondered.
Roan rubbed his chest under the vest. He might have cracked a rib, which would be easy to heal if he partially transformed later, but the big ass bruise would probably be his constant companion for the next week. “All the time,” he said, wondering how many painkillers he had in his pocket.
“Motherfucker,” Jeff said. “A drive by at a funeral? Have those people no fuckin’ respect?” It was a rhetorical question, as before anyone could point out respect was lost long ago or never quite had in this Fox News era, Jeff noticed the protestors were only now warily peeling themselves off the ground. “You wanna take him on now, huh?”
“Is this the second time we’ve seen you shot?” Richie asked, scratching his head.
Oh wow – it was. “At least I have a vest on this time,” Roan said.
Richie shrugged. “Wouldn’t have helped you last time.”
“Oh shit, Roan,” Fiona said. “Three o’clock.”
He looked up quickly, but saw nothing at three o’clock, so quickly scanned the parking lot, and saw what Fi must have been referring to. Leaning on a blue rental sedan in the parking lot, arms crossed over her chest, was FBI Agent Monica Flores, her eyebrows raised like she was waiting for him to answer a question.
Goddamn it. Well, at least this didn’t make it that much worse. She already thought he was a freak. So if it was confirmed, so what? He was already screwed. The best he could hope for was the FBI saw no use for him.
Yeah, right – and he was a cute little kitty cat.