He sat down on the bench next to Beverly. She set her helmet on her lap, letting her hair hang loose.
“Not taking part Cal?”
“Not tonight, can’t stay.”
“What’s up?” There was a dull thud over their heads as a paintball collided with the wall. ”Trev, careful.”
“If I didn’t know him better I’d say he was trying to hit me. He’s a crap shot.” Cal rolled his eyes and leaned against the wall.
“He’s getting hit more than not, I think Loren’s picking on him.”
“And now he’s trying for an easier target.”
They watched the others move from wall to wall. The place was, on the outside, a large warehouse. Inside it had been converted into a war zone. Crumbling walls and half built shelters. The full combat experience, or as close as they could get without using live ammo. Trev had first suggest paintball and no-one could find an excuse not to, so here they were.
They had split into teams James, Trev, Sarah and Daniel on one, Darcy, Loren, Sheridan and Beverly on the other. Cal had sat out, both to keep the numbers even and because he didn’t have time to stay. He watched as James took a shot in the chest and swore loudly.
“Where you off to tonight?”
“Got a few people to see, I’m heading out of town for some time, not sure when I’ll be back so got to do the rounds, say bye to everyone before I go.”
“That’s very good of you.”
“Well, since I disappeared last time better keep peoples mind at ease and let them know.”
“Will you be seeing Vivian tonight then?”
“Yeah, gonna head to the bar first then go to hers. I asked Catherine and a few other people to meet me in pub.”
“She good? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her.”
“Yeah, things are pretty quiet for her, well, quiet as they ever get. I guess not breaking the law and turning up looking for information from her is making life easier.”
“You still go shooting together?”
“And how’s Vivian? She was pretty torn up when you disappeared.”
“I know, I’m making it right, I know I-“ He was stopped as a paintball struck him in the shoulder. Yellow paint splattered across his black T-shirt. He watched as Trev’s head disappeared behind a wall and sighed, climbing to his feet. “Back in a second.” He crossed the open ground and weaved between the buildings calmly. The firing around him quickly stopped as the others noticed him heading through the cross fire. He found Trev crouched behind the wall.
He leaned on his elbow against the ledge.
“Oh, Hey Cal. You got some paint on you there.”
“Yes, Yes I do Trev. I wonder how it got there.”
“Sorry about that, I couldn’t resist.”
“Interesting that. How about you try and aim and don’t just fire wildly around the place.”
“I hit the target didn’t I.”
“You hit the wrong target. You land one shot on an actual target and I’ll buy you a beer. Deal?”
Cal returned to his bench. The other looked at each other in confusion until Sarah gave James a nudge and a smile. After that the shots started again.
“Where were we?” Cal looked at Beverly.
“I take it you’ve been speaking to Emma?”
“No, but I’ve noticed subtle changes in her behaviour. She reads her work like she sees something others don’t. I guessed Nahuel had a talk with her.”
“A few days ago yeah. He’s very nervous about it.”
“Well he needn’t be. She’s happy far as I can tell, and excited.” Darcy dropped onto the bench next to him and smiled passing him her helmet. Trev followed on behind her. He had been shot a lot but he looked pleased with himself.
“You owe me a drink.”
The walk to the pub took slightly longer than normal with Trev in tow. They’d left the others after Cal had explained what was going on and promised to set something up when he came back, not paintball though, Trev had flinched at that suggestion.
They set themselves down at the table, Trev between Cheryl and Cal, Cal with Catherine on the other side of him. Caleb and Eric sat across from them. A happy gathering, well, all accept Eric, Cal got the feeling he didn’t really want to be here.
“Something wrong?” He asked the Ronin
“Got a lot on my mind, won’t stay long.” Eric told his beer.
“You know, I get if you don’t want to hangout-“
“I’m here aren’t I?” He interrupted. Perhaps realising how aggressive it had come across, he took another sip and looked off into the distance.
“So, how’s my favourite pup?” Catherine elbowed Cal lightly grabbing his attention.
“I’m fine, and you?”
“Living the quiet life, it’s been a while since you darkened my door. I was beginning to think you’d forgotten about me.”
“Me, forget about you? I’d never hear the end of it.” She grinned at him. Things were good between them.
“Aww, it’s nice to know you’re think of me.” She replied mischievously. Across the table Eric rolled his eyes and sipped his drink.
“How are you Cal?” Caleb asked, politely redirecting the conversation.
“Good, carrying on, you know, nothing special. You?”
“I’m ok, just preparing for another Kinfolk meeting next week. Will you be there as normal?”
“I won’t I’m afraid.”
I’m heading out of town for a while.” He saw Eric raise an eyebrow. “With the pack. There’s some people we need to see in Third City.”
“Hardly, but I’ve gotta go.”
“You gonna swing by Vivian’s tonight then?” Catherine asked.
“Yeah, gonna head over there shortly.”
“I’ll get another round in then, for the road.” She pushed the chair back from the table and headed to the bar.
“Caleb. Would you do me a favour?” Cal caught the priest’s attention.
“Sure what’s on your mind?”
“I need to get some paperwork sorted out, a birth certificate mainly.”
“I’m surprised you haven’t already looked into this, it’s been nearly a year hasn’t it?”
“I keep meaning to but I just falls by the wayside. I thought that I should start sorting it out and everyone says you’re the one to talk to.”
“I’ll see what I can do. I’ll need some details from you.”
“Sure, just remind me before I go.”
“Psst.” Trev nudged him in ribs and pointed at Catherine. “Is she-“
“Don’t even try it. She’s a lesbian and she’ll kick your ass if necessary. Trust me. And I am not going to step in and prevent you getting the crap kicked out of you, again.”
“Hey, I could have handled that guy ok.”
“And the four behind him?”
“Seemed a shame to have all the fun myself.”
“Last time I go to one of your parties.” He finished his drink as Catherine returned. “What you been working on Eric?”
“Who says I’m working on anything?”
“You said you’re very busy.”
“Ignore him Cal.” Catherine put in returning to the table. “He’s just grumpier than usual. My moneys on him having a new girlfriend.” Eric shot her a glare. “Or a boyfriend, I don’t judge.”
He opened his eyes slowly in the morning light. She lay in his arms, hers wrapped round him, promising to never let go. His, comforting her, holding her close to him like she was the most precious thing in his world. He buried his nose in her hair, breathing her scent. He shifted, just a little, trying to make her more comfortable. He ran a hand softly down her side. Their bare skin mingling, all that they were hidden only from the world by the sheets, laid bare to each other.
She stirred in his arms.
“Sorry. Did I wake you?”
“No, it’s ok.”
He kissed her ear and she nestled herself against him. They lay there for some time, blissfully being with each other.
“Do you have to go?” She said at last
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to, but I have to, and I’ll call you every night when I get there.”
“You promise?” She took his hand.