Rav (corvid) wrote,

Card Universe: Past Tense

Almost all the stories that Montague had about Delano were in the past tense. Delano was like this at this point in time, or Delano did this, or Delano thought this, or Delano said this - or sometimes, it was Delano could do this once, but not now.

Montague knew about Delano before the Collapse. Delano didn't live in Montague's neighborhood, but he was close enough that stories got around. Delano was the son of a whore and who knows what and grew up, like Montague, spending half his summers on the streets. Montague taught Delano how to throw knives, and Delano told him that he should keep practicing with his gun. Back then, Delano was gawky with a gap toothed grin and an almost cat like grace. The other kids thought that Delano had climbed every gutter in his neighborhood and knew all the roofs like the back of his hand. Sometimes, Montague believed them.

When Montague left the army, Delano was working as a messenger for various gangs. He was a gangly kid who wore mostly black and drank far too much. He ended up watching the kid while Delano was royally sick to his stomach, and dragged the kid to a diner for breakfast and coffee. Delano wasn't that much younger than Montague, but it was just easier to call him the kid.

Delano depended on him. And not that Montague wanted to admit it, he missed that. It was almost like having his Captain there. He ended up teaching Delano how to smoke just about when he quit smoking. Delano tended to smoke way too much, but it did keep his hands busy and kept him mostly sober.

One night, some of the messengers (Peter, and . . . Gregory, if Montague was remembering their names right,) showed up with a pale and shaken Delano. Delano was babbling about blood and drowning, and had a nasty cut on his face. Montague, in his usual subtle way, told Delano to shut up while he bandaged his face.

The messengers said that Delano had gotten in a knife fight, and swore up and down that Delano wasn't high on anything, and hadn't been high on anything in weeks. Which ended up with Montague giving them a half assed lecture on drugs and not being idiots. Not that it mattered, since messengers never lived long.

He let Delano stay at his place while he was healing, and started inviting him to come over for dinner so Delano'd eat more regularly. Delano accepted the invitations. After a while, Montague just got used to Delano's gangly outline smoking on his balcony, Delano all elbows and knees reading one of Montague's books, or sometimes Delano sprawled out asleep on the couch snoring.

Eventually, Delano told him that the knife fight had started as a fist fight, and had gone from bad to worse. He said that he had been feeling odd the entire day, and that he had said something about drowning, and said that some kid called Blind Tom was embezzelling funds. Montague said, "Why did you provoke Blind Tom like that?"

Delano shrugged his shoulders and lit another cigarette. "It wasn't meant to get him mad. It just slipped out. Something I saw."

"Saw? You mean you saw him stealing money?"

Delano shook his head and looked out the window. "I just . . . saw it. Maybe I'm crazy. We're all crazy here."

Neither of them said much when Blind Tom was found face down in the canal a few months later. Delano quit working as a messenger though, and started just living off his saved money, the dole, and the occasional job. It wasn't exactly a rich life, but he seemed to do okay.

Later, Montague asked Delano if he'd want to join the Cards, and Delano laughed and said it couldn't hurt.

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