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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Writing post! (Yay!)
Thank you so much to everyone who replied to the last post! ^_^ Okay... so if you guys want to read more, I'll post a chapter every Saturday morning... at least until I run out of chapters! (I have 14 written already out of a planned 23, and I write a chapter about every two weeks... too lazy to do the math, but I'll probably run out of chapters before I finish posting them all XD) And then I'll just put them up as I write them. Sound good?

As for the story itself, the first chapter came out of an image someone gave me as a prompt, and then took on a life of it's own? *grins* Also, I apologize if it's confusing to anyone; the second chapter makes things a lot clearer.

Ready? Onward!

In Descending Order

Chapter One

"Hey, kid! Catch!"

Aidan's hand shot up instinctively and caught the leather object before it hit his forehead. He scrambled off the rusted car he was leaning against, ready to jump to his feet as the cheerful tenor voice laughed, but in the thick clouds of ash and smoke that swirled around the junkyard, Aidan could barely make out the silhouette of a man. His eyes darted to the object in his hand, and he raised an eyebrow as he saw it was his own leather wallet. ‘Thank God for small favors,’ he thought with a grim half-smile. ‘Someone actually took the time to find me in all this chaos?’

"Sorry! Didn’t scare you, did I?" The man strode out of the haze, running a hand through his shaggy black hair and grinning. Aidan knew right away that he was homeless: he wore a rumpled, torn black suit that looked like he snatched it from a dumpster, and a frayed tie loosely knotted around his neck. But the man was considerably younger than the average tramp; he looked to be in his thirties, at least. "Couldn't think of a better way to get your attention! That's yours, right?"

“Yeah... thanks.” Aidan absently nodded, brushing his long bangs out of his eyes. “Where’d you find it?”

"Oh, it was lying somewhere over there!" The tramp gestured towards the smoke. "Your hair was a bit shorter on your ID, so I wasn't quite sure it was you, Aidan Connors!"

Aidan drew back, wrapping his brown leather jacket tighter around himself. “You… you looked through it?

"Just in passing!" The tramp dismissively waved a hand. "It's not like I stole from you… you’re as broke as I am!" He laughed again. "Mind if I sit down? I'm not a suspicious person or anything, I promise!"

"Do what you want." Aidan turned away, wondering what kind of person would say something like that out loud.

The tramp flopped down next to Aidan with a long sigh. "Thanks… been on my feet all day!" He turned to Aidan with a bright smile, despite the uncomfortably rocky ground. "I'm Tobias. Tobias Locke. Did you…" Tobias hesitated, and then jerked his head towards the burning city behind them. "Did you live there?"

Aidan simply nodded. "Ahh… I used to, but I don't anymore," Tobias continued. "Guess I brought back some bad luck, huh?”

"I suppose," Aidan mumbled.

"Although it's ironic, isn't it?” Tobias prodded. “That we'd all end up in the Back Wards like this."

Aidan turned around to face Tobias, frowning. "How is that ironic?"

"Well, you know!" Tobias said jovially. "Everyone crammed into this hellhole, it's ironic, right?"

"That's not irony," Aidan shot back. "That’s just unlucky. And besides, look around you. The evacuation route for the Inner Districts is all the way on the west side of the city. Most of these people live here, this is hardly a change of scenery for them." 'Or you, for that matter,' he silently added.

Tobias nodded thoughtfully. "…well, it's ironic for you, right?" he finally chirped.

"You're very persistent, Mr. Locke," Aidan sighed, the formality dripping with sarcasm.

"But you live in the Inner Districts," Tobias said, smirking. "Sandalwood Avenue, that's pretty ritzy, last time I checked. And you work at Wittenberg Memorial, right? Even the janitors there get paid royalties, I can only imagine the kind of money you'd see as a doctor. Oh, excuse me, intern," he corrected. "Never met a doctor as young as you."

"So you can read a few ID cards," Aidan said dryly, tucking his wallet into one of his pockets with a slight flush. "That's not going to impress anyone—wait, what was your point?"

"My point is," Tobias concluded, "that for you, at least, this is ironic!" He beamed at Aidan. "Which means you're wrong."

Aidan opened and closed his mouth a few times soundlessly, then gripped his jacket tighter and moved further away. "Either way, it's not important."

"Sore loser?" Tobias sang, warming his hands over the fire. "You're pretty uptight, Aidan Connors."

"My home is burning down, Mr. Locke, forgive me if I’m hardly cheerful." Aidan forced the disdain out of his voice. "And besides, I've got…" He trailed off, suddenly sitting up and looking around wildly. He stopped when his eyes rested on the teenage girl standing a little past the lines of drum barrel fires, and he shouted, "Lily!"

The girl swung around, eyes wide and pale red pigtails whipping around her face. When her gaze locked with Aidan's, she visibly relaxed. "Don't go any further, okay?" Aidan called. "Stay where I can see you." She offered a quick nod, and turned back to face the city, raptly staring at the steadily rising flames.

"Lily, huh? Pretty name," Tobias commented, leaning forward and squinting to get a better look at her. "Pretty girl, too! She your girlfriend?"

"No!" Aidan spat the word out so forcefully that Tobias stared at him, and Aidan sank back, blushing a little. "That's my little sister."

"Ohhh…" Tobias nodded slowly. "…she your girlfriend?"

"I-I just told you she was my sister!" Aidan spluttered, turning a dangerous shade of purple.

"Well, I never know with you aristocratic types!" Tobias said with an oblivious laugh. "Some of 'em like to keep it in the family!" Aidan stared, speechless, and Tobias leaned in, squinting at him. "Although I suppose I can see the resemblance now..." Tobias pushed Aidan's bangs out of his eyes, and tilted Aidan's chin up to get a good look at his face. "You're kind of pretty, too!" he teased.

Aidan scrambled backwards, trying to put as much distance between himself and Tobias as possible. "I'd appreciate it if you'd leave me alone now, Mr. Locke," he said loudly

"C'mon, I wasn't serious," Tobias said with a soft smile. "And I'm not just bothering you for no reason, you know… I wanted to make you an offer."

Aidan stiffened. "Whatever it is, I'm not interested."

"You're not, now?" Tobias raised an eyebrow. "I thought you might want something to do, seeing as you're not helping out your Wittenberg coworkers-"

"All the exits on the west side are sealed off," Aidan interrupted. "I couldn't get to where they are if I tried."

"That's right, you are pretty far out of your territory," Tobias remarked.

"I was running an errand with my sister," Aidan shot back.

"I didn't ask," Tobias said casually, "Just making an observation. So, how about it? It's going to be a while before the rioters get cleared out. How about making yourself useful elsewhere in the meantime?" He tilted his head to one side. "It's not that you're not any good, right?"

"Of course not," Aidan retorted.

"And there's your sister to consider, of course," Tobias continued. "I don't know how you'll provide for her without a job—"

"You never said this was a job,” Aidan said warily, his defenses crumbling.

"Well, sorta," Tobias drawled, waving a hand in the air. "It's something of a… 'private practice' that I run with my crew, and, well, you could say we have trouble holding onto a good medic."

"What kind of private practice?"

"Well… it's not something I can explain easily." Tobias shrugged. "Why don't we talk somewhere more private? And your sister's more than welcome to listen, too."

There was a long pause, as Aidan stared down at the hard packed dirt… then with a deep breath, he stood. "You have ten minutes. And keep in mind that I haven't agreed to anything yet."

Tobias smiled broadly. "Step right this way, then."

(Feedback is muchly appreciated, and thank you for taking the time to read!)

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