RICHARD: [Sinking a beer or three was just what I needed and where better than my own club. The big bruiser of a guy had seen my approach and ushered me in with “welcome back, Rehv” He’d already been to the house to see me several times with his brother. Didn’t know him but he didn’t push me to remember him either and that was fine with me. I had enough people hanging on hopeful threads every time they were around me and that was too much fucking pressure to deal with hour in hour out] “I’ll have your personal waitress come over, boss. Your booth is up there” [He pointed up the stairs to a private area] “And I’m gonna be back in the office, if you need anything” [again I followed where he directed a finger and I nodded. He hesitated and I knew he wanted to say more. Time to mosey him along, I had drinking to do] Hey thanks, guy. Catch ya later, yeah? [I clapped a hand on his shoulder and threaded through the crowd, up the stairs to the first floor and parked my ass in the leather booth. It gave me a birds-eye view of the entire club, from the DJ stage, to the dancers in cages, along the dance floor and to the entrance. A petite chick in what looked like the regular uniform for the servers pranced her money-maker up the stairs carrying a tray with a tumbler of Scotch, resting on top. I grimaced taking it and ordering a bottle of beer and a basket of nachos. And because she’d been watching me like a hawk for days now, jumpy when I wasn’t where she expected to find me I sent a fast text to Ehlena letting her know I was at the club and would be back at her place later. My place. It was my place, gotta remember that, Rich.. Rehv. Fuck. I took a pull of beer when it arrived, and sat back while the god awful british techno music rattled my eardrums]
ZSADIST: *The last thing Zsadist wanted to spend his night doing was playing babysitter to a symphath who just crawled out of the fucking rabbit hole from Wonderland. But here he was, shouldering past the mountain-sized human bouncer at the door of Zero Sum. No one told him he needed to keep an eye on Rehv—Rich—whatever the fuck he was calling himself. There was just a drive to make sure the fidiot didn’t wander off again. Watching Bella cope with the reality that her brother, the one constant thing in her life since day one, wasn’t with them. His body was, but the male he had been was still MIA. Zsadist made his way over to the VIP section. Xhex jerked her thumb over her shoulder toward the private area, then resumed watching the humans on the dance floor. Yeah, that was another happy fucking camper in all this shit. Z jogged up the stairs. It was no trouble finding his brother-in-law. A whole ton of “fuck off” radiated from the male. That was normal. What wasn’t? The gigantic basket of chips covered in half the kitchen from a Mexican restaurant and domestic piss-water beer on the table in front of him.* This seat taken? No? Good. *Z parked his ass on the other side of the booth. The waitress scurried in, a well-practiced smile on her glossy lips.* “What can I get you?” Water with lemon. *He eyed the nachos, considering ordering himself some for half a second.* That’s it. *Sitting back, he looked at the other male, wondering where the guy’s head was at.*
RICHARD: [‘Course I saw the big bruiser the moment he hit through the crowd. My eyes followed him up the stairs and plonk himself in my booth. I just kept pushing the nachos one after the other into my mouth. I remembered this one, mainly ‘cause of the wicked slash of the scar down his whole face and because Ehlena, helpful as only a wife could be, had told me he was my sister’s husband] Hey big man, you escaped too? [I jutted my chin towards the untouched glass of scotch while I cleaned my hands on a wet wipe that came with the food] A drink going free there, they keep bringing me the shit. [Hooking the half empty beer bottle I noticed the guys trap hadn’t opened yet. Okkkay. So BIL was a quiet one. I had to figure he’d sought me out for a reason and was guessing he’d get to it sooner or later]
ZSADIST: Fuck me, this shit is just not right. *Z scrubbed his skulltrim, having a hell of a time reminding himself he wasn’t talking to his brother-in-law, not technically. The body was the same. But everything else, down to the way the male sat in the leather booth, was different. The waitress dropped off his water. Z thanked her and tipped her, even though he hadn’t really ordered anything.* Nah, I’m good with the water. *Even with his grey matter mostly together since Nalla’s birth, Z still hated being unable to control himself and refused to drink. Hell aspirin made him twitchy.* They bring you the scotch because that’s all they’ve ever seen you drink. And they’ll keep bringing it because they don’t realize you aren’t yourself. *Zsadist waved the girl down and handed her the scotch.* Keep him floating in beer tonight. *She frowned, but wisely didn’t question Z in front of her boss.* Is anything coming back to you yet? *Eventually they’d have to reveal Rehv’s mental hiccup if he didn’t get his memory back. For now, they’d been able to bullshit anyone who pried too much, namely the glymera.*
RICHARD: Thanks, Darlin’ [I told the waitress with a smile when she cleared away the nacho plate and empty beer bottle, replacing it with a freshie. Her baby blues popped wide and she looked like I’d just pissed up her leg. Okay, so the old me wasn’t what, into using fucking manners? I waited until she was gone to reply] Nah, not a thing, guy. Shit is frustratin’, you get me? More so ‘cause it’s pissing off the wife that I don’t remember anything. I thought about lying, saying I did, but shit, lies aint my deal. It is what it is [I shrugged, rolling a shoulder and wandered my gaze down to the lower levels watching the clubbers in varying states of grinding against each other. I pegged those yellow eyes watching me and decided to play my own jeopardy and throw some questions his way since he’d stationed himself in my space and all] I spoke to your wife earlier. She called me. We’re gonna get together in a couple days [I rubbed a hand over my shaved head] Are me and her close? I guess some siblings can go years and not see each other…so…wanted to check first. How ‘bout you and me, BIL [I flashed a smile, taking a pull of the cold beer] We hang much? And careful, if you say we golf I might have to stab you with a fucking fork, buddy. [I settled back in the seat, at ease some, despite not knowing the guy, but he didn’t flap his gums at me trying to force a memory that wasn’t there, so he was alright in my eyes]
ZSADIST: *If anyone had told Zsadist he’d be sitting in a club having a civil conversation with his BIL, he’d tell them to fuck off. Nearly every conversation with Rehvenge since he’d decided Bella was his had been tense, barely a step up from a verbal boxing match. The conversation now? It was… nice. And didn’t that shit make his head hurt. But it was painfully obvious Rich needed someone to guide him through this new-to-him life. Z didn’t want to play guide dog. He couldn’t let the male get hurt because he was unaware of the dangers his life harbored, either. Bella wouldn’t survive the loss of her brother.* Yeah, you and Bella are tight. Matter of fact, you were the father figure she should have had in the first fucking place. *Z growled, remembering all the happy-happy bullshit he’d heard about Rempoon and his idea of how glymera females should look—like God damned walking skeletons with no brains in their heads.* Bella worships you. This, *he waved a hand at Rich,* is breaking her heart in ways I can’t fix. *Zsadist leveled his gaze at the male.* But I’m going to help you try. For her sake.
RICHARD: [Hearing that made the mouthful of beer turn to ash and I struggled to swallow it. Processing, I rubbed a hand over my face, roughly muttering more to myself than anyone else in earshot] This is some fucked up shit. Jesus. [The pressure on my shoulders just quadrupled knowing there was a sister just as hopeful as my wife was for my miraculous return to normalcy. I pegged the male with a steady stare and could see he meant every word he’d said, it settled some shit inside me to have someone on my side that wasn’t giving me the hairy-eyeball of expectancy] I won’t hurt her, Zsadist, you understand? I know this is harder for them than it is me. So I’m gonna go easy when I see her, make it not so… [I searched for the right word, like I had a bag of tricks up my sleeve to make meeting her any easier for us both. If only] difficult for her.. Bella [I remembered to use her name finally] to meet me. [I cut a grin across the booth a minute later when he didn’t respond] I figure you’d have my head in a noose before I could yank my foot out of my trap anyway, yeah? [Laughing, I finished off the foamy dregs of beer] you see like a good guy, I’m glad she’s got you around for her while I’m…incommunicado from my brain.
ZSADIST: *Z’s palm made a rough pass over his skulltrim, like that’d make reality snap back in place and he’d be nose-to-nose with Rehvenge, arguing about what is best for Bella’s well-being. It didn’t work. All he could do was take a drink of his water while his brain tried to cough up a solution for this fucked up situation.* I won’t bullshit you, Rich. You and I, or the male you were before this shit happened, we never saw eye to eye about what was best for Bella. And that is what made me fucking thankful you were there for her when she was growing up. If she’d been left alone to deal with the crap I’ve heard happens in high-ranking families, I’d go on a killing spree that’d make human serial killers look like cuddly puppies. *Zsadist’s eyes dropped down to his wrist and the thick black bands tattooed around it. Only Bella made them something he could tolerate on his flesh. Everyone else’s pity made him want to cut off his fucking forearms so he wouldn’t have to see them twenty-four-seven.* She’s my world. You were right to guess, I’d end you the second you did anything to truly hurt her. Just be honest with her. Let her know where you’re at with everything. My female has been through a lot. She’s got a spine of steel, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to see her cope with losing the brother she knew.
RICHARD: I appreciate the honesty, man [I caught the eye of the hovering waitress, kind of liking having my every whim catered to with a click of my fingers. I circled a finger to the table in that “bring us two more” way then got back in the convo with the guy] So we butted heads huh? [I grinned at that. Figures. From the shit I’d been hearing about “myself” I don’t think I was likeable at all. ‘cept for Ehlena and now hearing of Bella’s devotion to her brother.] you got no fear, brother. I aint the same man I was. I got no intention of hurting Bella [I made him tell me more of her upbringing and felt the bile of anger bubble in my chest. Seemed daddy dearest was a cocksucker of the highest caliber.] Hell… I might have to take her to Disneyland or some shit, to make up for that [I flashed a grin and tipped the overly helpful waitress when she dumped the beer, water and a basket of pretzel/nuts mix on the table. She was all twitchin’ ass and pearly white smiles up in BIL’s space, probably hoping for a bigger tip or a taste of him. Who knew. Either way I was amused and shooed her away with a wave of my hand. She immediately listened retreating back down the stairs back into the belly of the club, and I found I liked the power]
ZSADIST: *The ghost of a dream nagged at the back of Zsadist’s mind. He shoved away the all too familiar panic his dreams brought on. They were manifestations of his fears. He’d been dealing with them just fucking fine. Still, Rich’s off-hand comment struck too close to home.* You have my number. Call if you need anything. We just got you back, I won’t let you get lost again because of stupid shit. *Zsadist sat back in the booth, his eyes roaming the club. It was busy, as always, but they had this little loft area to themselves. Good. He got comfortable and fielded all the questions Rich had about who the hell he was dealing with within the Brotherhood and elsewhere. Zsadist didn’t even realize the time going by until his phone chirped with a new text message. Shit, they’d been chatting for hours, like a couple of old ladies at tea. Bella’s concerned, “When will you be home?” hit like a punch to the kidneys.* I need to head home. *He waved off any worried questions from Rich.* Your sister is checking in and after everything, I really didn’t mean to leave her alone this long without warning. Come by the house as soon as you’re ready. *Zsadist frowned. How would they explain to Nalla what happened to her favorite uncle? They’d just have to take it one step at a time. Z clapped Rich on the shoulder on his way toward the stairs.* We’ll get your head right one day, my man. *With that, he was on his way home to his females, feeling better about what the future held than he had in days.* #SymphathWhoBuddies