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chas_shaw in into_the_future

Persimmon Gallery then ?. Evening. Open post.

It was nearly seven thirty when the battered old VW van pulled up in the parkig spot behind the Persimmon Gallery. The vehicle may have looked a mess on the outside - its poor custom paint job of dolphins and breaking waves faded and scratched - but the engine was sound and the hammock in the back was quite comfortable. Charlie was really looking forward to cooking a proper meal, having a proper shower and stretching out on a proper bed.

It had been a stressful couple of weeks.

They had both known that occasional special 'jobs' for various agencies was the price that Deacon had to pay for remaining free and protected, but this one - just before Christmas and bound to take a LONg time - was the pits. In the end, rather than Charlie staying put had having to endure the speculation of all their friends, they had decided that a complete change of scene was in order and had let it be known that they planned a winter cruise with friends and they would be back whenever. A flight to Key West followed, then a couple of sad and clingy days while Deacon got his new persona in order then he was away. He had promised to keep in touch by various means and Charlie had kept his phone charged and had logged into his email accounts at every possible opportunity on the long road north from Key West.

But Charlie hadn't heard from him yet, and that just added to his discontent as he opened the back door to the gallery, disabled the alarm and let himself in.

He carted his bags upstairs to the living accommodation, shivering a little because the heating wasn't on, turned on the light and looked around with a scowl. His manager, Russell, was normally quite reliable but clearly nothing had been done to get the place ready. That was even more clear when he opened the fridge in the little kitchenette and recoiled. No food and one container of solid greenish milk instead of the basic supplies he had asked and paid for.

He rang his manager's number, glowering, and moved around the apartment trying to clear up some of the mess of packaging and boxes of paperwork, while the ringtone repeated and repeated. Once it went to voicemail he left a polite but terse message, turned the heating on and pulled his coat back on.

"At least I can get something hot at Bean Town," he said and let himself back out and headed down the road. A few mintures later he was staring at the charred building and wondering just what the heck had happened.


It was by sheer coincidence that Mac was on his way down to Board Stiff to help with some of the new winter stock, signing for the boards he wanted, and working on somethings to set up an in-store signing with Atticus. He had parked on the street diagonal to where Bean Town had once been, and had he not dropped some of his papers, he never would have looked up to see Charlie.

Smiling, he dodged across the road, careful not to slip on the ice, tapping his friend on the shoulder. "Charlie! Hey! I didn't know you were in town, you should've called," he said, giving him a hug before he could even reply. "Come over to the skate shop! Are you busy? Let's catch up!"
"Hey, Mac," Charlie returned the hug with a grin. "I just got in. Didn't Maddie tell you I was on my way?" He shivered. "I'll go anywhere there's heating and it looks," he nodded to the remains of the coffee shop, "as though lots has happened."
"I haven't had time to see the girl," Mac said with a shake of his head, leading Charlie around the block to the skate shop. "Um, yeah, you could say that lots has happened. None of it particularly good."

Ushering his friend into the shop, Mac went straight into the back and turned on the coffee pot. "Sit down. I'll fill you in on everything. I guess you already noticed that Bean Town is well and torched. Augusten's boyfriend."
Charlie was taking a seat but paused in a half crouch.

"What?" he said, lowering himself the rest of the way. "But why would he do that? God, it could have spread to the building next door. People could have died!"
Mac poured Charlie a cup of coffee, sighing softly. "You know, just...don't mention it to anyone. Serafino could ge tinto trouble. See it all started after Aiden and Ellis passed. You and D left after the funerals and everything, things got back to normal...well, most things, except for Eli."

He poured his own cup and sat down as well. "Eli's back on heroin. No other way to put it. He gets just downright wicked, mean, and nasty when he's on the stuff. With Adrienne basically out of the house, he turned this on Augusten. Beat the kid black and blue. Augusten had just met Serafino Giovanni, kid comes from a big crime family....he took Auggie in, they started dating, so he burned down Bean Town to teach Eli a lesson...

"....it gets worse, Charlie."
"Oh lord," Charlie sighed. "That could be so dangerous for all of you. Tell me, Mac. I'd hate to say or do the wrong thing and get you into trouble."
"After this happened, Eli decided he didn't get the message...so he jumped Augusten when he was going to school a couple of Saturday's ago. Broke the kids wrist and a few of fingers. He knew it'd hurt Auggie bad, the kid lives to play piano..."

Mac looked down into his coffee cup. "So, Giovanni and a counterpart went looking for Eli. Beat the shit out of him with a tire-iron or a cro-bar or something, broke both his legs."
"Bloody Norah," Charlie said, leaning n the table with a sigh. "And that's where it ends I hope. With Eli in hospital presumably they'll be able to clean him up and if he can't cause trouble then - Giovanni? - won't need to do anything else to him. Or will he?"
Mac shrugged and rubbed his eyes. "Eli has this new boyfriend....seems like a user too. It's just a bad situation all around," he said softly. "But the kids will be so glad you're here. Atticus keeps whining about missing you lot."
"I've missed them too," Charlie said. "I'm going to be living above the gallery for - a while." He hesitated and sighed. "You asked me to keep a secret - please keep one of mine? Deacon's doing a job - quite a difficult one - and so we've both had to drop out of sight for a while. Officially we're on a cruise with friends all around the Pacific. Unofficially, I'm hiding out here." He shook his head. "God knows how long for. What do you think? Should we tell the kids that D and I have split up? Or can they be trusted with the truth?"
"The kids can be trusted," Max said with a little nod. "Atticus and Maddie are old enough to know how big of a deal it is. I think it's safe to tell them the truth, they'd be heart broken if they thought you and uncle D broke up. Especially Madison." He sighed, rubbing at a tired eye. "I'm glad you're in town. You can join us for Christmas."
"Oh that was what I was hoping you'd say. I've been dreading the thought of spending it alone." He tilted his head and studied Mac for a moment.

"Are YOU all right?" he asked. "You look - exhausted. Stressed out."
Mac nodded, sitting down his mug. "Yeah...things have just been sort of all over the place lately. Planning Maddie's wedding, the holidays, the shit with Eli. But I really am happy to see you, you have no idea. It's good to have an old friend around."
"I'm getting the space above the gallery comfortable. Any time you want to come and relax, have a beer, talk things through, have a vent, you just come on up."

Charlie smiled. "It' good to be here. How's your mum?"
"She's great, totally excited. Two grandkids getting married, she's so into it," Mac laughed, sipping his coffee. "I want you over for dinner all the time, like, everyday, okay? Got it? Good."
Charlie chuckled, his voice deeper than it had been when they had both been in their twenties. "I got it. But tonight I need to grab a bite and get my head down. I've driven six hundred miles today in a van out of the ark. Deacon had its engine tuned like a Ferrari but the silly bastard didn't put in a comfortable seat."
Mac laughed too, shaking his head. "Well, get on back to the gallery, have some dinner and rest up, okay? Tomorrow, the Webb family expects you over, all right?"
"I'll be there," Charlie promised. "What time would be best?"
"Come at dinner time, around five," Mac nodded, getting up to walk him out. "I'll see you then. Dress casual." He smiled brightly. "Get some sleep."
"Thanks Mac," Charlie said, weaving a little as he made his way to the door. "I'll be more fun tomorrow I promise. And I brought presents - I just need to find where I put them."

On the threshold he paused and put his arms around Mac and gave him a hug. "Don't come out in the cold," he said.