By Any Other Name--How Colin met Carmen, Matt, and Seth

So I've been busy writing the sequel to By Any Other Name, the story I wrote and posted on LJ in 2012. I had no real idea how Colin joined up with Carmen, Seth and Matt until he started to tell the story to Abby. Naturally, I had to write it down, but I didn't write the whole thing, just a snippet. I thought, for the New Year, that I would post it here. :)

Before Colin met up with Carmen, Seth, and Matt, he was with a woman who billed herself as a witch. At first, she treated him like her son, but their relationship soon took a turn for the worse. She started feeding him misinformation and lies, and isolating him to the point that his last performance as a juggler was five years before this. In the end, she poisoned him, bound him, and locked him in a trunk for almost seven months, using his blood for her potions. Eventually, she probably intended to kill him and burn the evidence.

Colin escaped when a thief broke into the witch's trailer and opened the trunk. He finds out later that Seth, who has a bit of talent himself, told the thief that the witch kept something priceless inside that trunk, and that she would be gone from her trailer that night. Seth had sensed something terribly wrong inside the trailer, only realizing later, when he saw the power of one of the witch's potions, that the 'something wrong' was a captive vampire.

If asked, Seth would deny he had any sort of talent. He's a bit gun-shy about it after reading someone's fortune and attempting to stop what he saw would happen to them (and almost getting arrested for murder.) But that's another story for another time...

I'm not sure how regularly I'm going to post this, as it has to be typed in the rest of the way. But I will post it all here, eventually.


Chapter 1

When he found a likely trailer, it seemed to draw him in, promising safety and warmth, even though he suspected he would never be safe and warm again. The door was open; he stumbled inside without checking to make sure the trailer was empty.

Once inside, he wedged himself behind a pile of boxes that sat inside the shower stall--storage, he supposed, but he did not have enough strength to wonder about the contents of the boxes or the occupants of the trailer.

He was asleep before it began to move, and the steady rocking soothed both frazzled nerves and residual panic, now that he was free.

He awoke sometime later to find the boxes gone. Someone had draped a blanket over him; alarm was sluggish to raise its head, but a blanket--and discovery--did not immediately constitute a threat. The heavy blanket draped across the spot where the door did not quite close was problemic, however. It blocked the sunlight, true, but it also--maybe--meant that someone out there knew what he was.

He waited for the panic to rise, but he had no strength left for panic. Cautiously, trying not to make any noise, he pushed himself upright.

And saw the cup--a glass, truly, small, but brimming with the only liquid that would help him recover.

Blood. A few hours old, but still fresh enough to help. They had diluted it a bit with water, but Colin knew that would make no difference; he'd drunk much worse before.

But--was it safe? Did he dare drink it? He picked up the glass and sniffed its contents, straining to detect some sort of drug or poison, but he only smelled blood, nothing more.

He wanted to taste it first, but his body had other ideas. The glass was empty before the first rush of healing warmth started to spread through his body. He leaned against the shower stall and closed his eyes.

A door opened. Presumably the one that led to the outside, because Colin smelled exhaust and rain and frying food; the sound of traffic was a loud hum in the background, now that he noticed it. He had been bound for so long that the relative smallness of the shower stall seemed palatial in comparison. He tried to move his legs into a more comfortable position and kicked over the empty glass.

Outside the shower stall, someone drew in a sharp breath. That noise had not been overlooked.

"Dammit, Seth," someone muttered--a female voice. And then, a bit louder, as if she realized he could hear her, she said, "If you're awake in there, Seth said we should tell you that we mean you no harm, you are welcome here, and he's working on some sort of protection against the sunlight."

Colin thought about this for a moment. "Windows work," he offered, appalled at how terrible he sounded.

The girl let out a breath. "Good. We weren't sure. Did you--" she paused. "Sorry, I'm not used to this. We left a glass. I heard you knock it over. Did you--"

"Yes," Colin said when she fell silent. And then, belatedly, "Thank you."

"Seth said--" the girl sighed. "He said you wouldn't hurt us. I have a million questions, but--is that true?"

"I--" Colin started to speak, then felt something hot and wet run down his cheeks. Tears. "Yes, it's true. I won't--I won't hurt you."

"We won't hurt you either," the girl was quick to assure him. "Are you--do you want to come out of there? The door outside is closed; it's rather overcast and rainy outside. Seth and Matt are bringing back lunch. They should be back soon."

"Who are you?" Colin asked.

"My name is Carmen," the girl told him, and then clearly paused, waiting so he would return the favor.

He spied the case that held his knives lying beside him, hidden by the blanket. Had they opened the case? "My name is Colin," he finally said. "Do you mind if I stay in here for a little while longer? I--" He had to stop to wipe the tears away again.

The blanket covering the door moved. The door, already open a crack, widened. Even though the light hurt his eyes, he could see well enough to identify the owner of the voice. Carmen. She had long, slightly curly black hair, and wore an electric blue t-shirt and worn jeans.

Colin wondered what he looked like, just from the look in her eyes. He found himself shrinking away from her, even though she'd made no move to approach him.

"Someone hurt you very badly," she said, her voice soft.

"What is today's date?" Colin asked.

"November third," Carmen said. "Do you need to know the year as well?"

It was a serious question; he detected no amusement in her tone. "I hope not," he said. "I think--I think it was April when I woke up and found myself locked in that trunk." he rubbed his wrists, unwilling to meet her gaze.

"But I thought vampires were supposed to be--" Carmen stopped. "I'm sorry. I don't want to offend you."

"Do you know who locked me in that trunk?" Colin asked.

"Madame--" Carmen began.

"Don't speak her name, please," Colin said. "She knew what to use to keep me weak. She poisoned me, kept me prisoner--" He closed his eyes, struggling not to remember the agony of endless days of darkness, broken only by the searing light when she opened the trunk to take his blood. He looked down at his arms. They were pockmarked with fading needle tracks. "Used my blood in her potions--"

"How did you escape?" Carmen asked.

"A human broke into the trunk," Colin said. "Looking for something to steal. I--" he hesitated now, knowing what she would think he had done. "I left him in my place." And then, he added, "Alive."

"Seth sensed there was something wrong about her," Carmen said. "He insisted we join up at the last show; we don't usually do circuses."

"What do you do?" Colin asked. "I've--I've never not been in the circus."

"We travel around the country to Faires," Carmen said, more comfortable now that he'd made no move against her. "Medieval or Renaissance Faires. We get to dress up and pretend we're in Elizabethan England, for the most part. We're actors. Matt is trying to learn how to juggle."

"That's what I do," Colin said, and his hand found the box beside him. He opened it, fearful now that the knives would not be inside, but they were still safely nestled in their places. He pulled up the loose lining of the case and eased out a folded poster; the only one he had left. He had to lean forward to hand her the poster, but she did not hesitate to take it.

His hand shook. Colin sat back against the shower stall before he could do something undignified, like collapse.

Gravely, Carmen opened the poster and studied it closer. "You juggle knives?"

"Yes." All this talking exhausted him; he wanted to curl up under the blanket and sleep for weeks. "These Faires--I've never heard of them."

He fell asleep halfway through Carmen's explanation.


Grey Walker said…
Eeee! EeeeEEEEEE! Keep writing!!!

Does he meet Grey?
Jennifer said…
It's not very long, so no Grey in this part. :) But maybe later!

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