From The Ashes Chapter 1

The cranes and bulldozers were, for a change, silent. No dump trucks moved across the spring sun warmed train yards. A small portable trailer was set to the side of the construction site and workers moved around it with hard hats in place and for some, long colorful hair pulled back. Behind the trailer serving as the project’s central office, building supplies had begun to arrive and that had only been one more headache.

It didn’t seem to matter how much Toshi or Alec tried to reassure the project foreman, the man was convinced that every night the wild addicts and whores of the train yards would rob them blind. It didn’t matter that every morning proved him wrong, the man was conditioned to expect certain things and no words could change his mind. The same had been true of Toshi’s desire that a certain percentage of the workers hired be I/S.

That had nearly forced them to hire another construction firm, until whispers began to spread about how displeased Luke Henri would be at the snub. That had made the owner of the local company more than willing to take the time to instruct I/S workers in how to do jobs his normal crews already knew. That turned into an easier sell. By the time the demolition was almost done on the burned out husk of the Pony Club, the company owner was seeing the I/S as two different groups; his I/S who were dependable and fast learners and good workers and all the rest which were lying, thieving, drug addicted monsters.

It was a very small step but one Toshi found pleasure in. The small change in attitude had started to seep over to the workers and while lunchtime and breaks still had both groups separating into their own areas, it was still progress. It was the small changes, the small steps forward that moved them toward real progress and it was spreading. For the first time, there were whispers inside the camp that maybe they were more than mere horrors to the outside world. With that came something new, a growing sense of pride, culture and self-respect. Which wasn’t a bad start for little over a month of interactions.

The late morning sunshine was warm on Toshi’s shoulders; he could feel it heating up his hair. He couldn’t quite bring himself to wear jeans but the new pairs they’d bought Mick looked fine covering his lover’s hips. In typical Mick style, he’d picked out black jeans, a classic slightly faded blue and a dark blue, all in five pocket cuts but they still hugged his ass in a teasing way without being as blatant as his previous pair. That pair was so tight it was distracting, not just for Toshi but most of the I/S crew as well and some of the human workers.

A touch on his elbow snapped Toshi’s thoughts from how good Mick looked, the sunlight turning his hair from dark auburn to copper penny red and he followed Mick’s nod to glance to their side. It was six motorcycles, moving steadily but speeding, and coming directly toward them.

“Yasun?”

Toshi had to squint behind his sunglasses but he nodded. “Yes.” He wasn’t sure he was grateful his uncle was going to do this with him, or upset to stir such bad memories for the man. “Should have known he’d make an appearance.”

The motorcycles drew the attention of the workers. The I/S in the crew knew just who was arriving and they exchanged whispers and looks but the humans milled about, uncertain and very much the outsiders. They slowly started to group together as the motorcycles grew closer, the fears of working on disputed land where a body could go missing with little to no investigation, returned sharply.

It didn’t matter how often Mick saw Yasun, he somehow forgot he man wasn’t that tall. His personality was so strong, so intense, that once he was gone from sight Mick just pictured him taller than he was and always was a touch surprised at being faced again with reality. Yasun handed his helmet to one of the guards that followed him everywhere and shook out his long, lavender hair. As always, it hung loose to his waist before being gathered into a braid that reached his knees, a long shower of soft, blue lavender that matched his lavender eyes. Eyes still noticeably Asian in shape but twice the size of a humans and unmistakably those of an Incubus.

“Uncle.” Toshi greeted with a carefully inclined tilt of his head.

That made Yasun smile, as always, and he pulled his nephew into a hug. He patted a shoulder that felt thinner than it had the a few weeks earlier before he pulled away to hold Toshi at arms length. “You look tired.”

Toshi shrugged and glanced away from his uncle’s appraising eyes. “I’m fine.”

“Not sleeping?” But Yasun glanced to Mick knowing that Toshi would never admit to it. The human quirked an eyebrow in a look that told Yasun that no, Toshi wasn’t sleeping well but he was okay.

“Sleeping when I can.”

Yasun accepted that and released his nephew without further fuss. He turned and offered his hand to the human that he knew was making sure Toshi took care of himself. “Mick, still in a sling?”

The handshake was firm and strong and Mick took it, knowing the man across from him was more than capable without his bodyguards’ help, of putting him flat on his ass in the dirt. He shrugged the still sore shoulder a little. “Mostly healed, just still weak, sling’s supposed to come off in a couple of days.”

“Good! So, how long until we can go inside?”

“Uncle.”

“Don’t ‘Uncle’ me, I got a call from your father last night. He was all upset about not being in the country to come over here himself. Made me promise to show up today, not that I needed his scolding, I had already made the plans. Did you really think we’d let you do this alone?” He cuffed the back of Toshi’s head the same way he had when the half-breed was small.

“I’m not alone.” He motioned lightly to where Mick stood and where Alec had poked his head out of the office to see who had arrived. “I wanted to spare you this.” He confessed.

“That’s kind of you but…” Yasun glanced to the hollowed out husk that had once been perhaps the most famous sex club in the world. “I think I need to do this as much as you do.” He glanced back to his nephew and again worried over him looking too thin, too stressed, too tired and far too careworn for a man of his age. “So, how long until we can go in?”

“The foreman is confirming that everything is braced up. As soon as we have his say so.” Under the large club had been three basement levels. The fire hadn’t reached the bottom two but they’d been sealed off with the collapse of the upper building. When they’d removed the debris and gained access, their first task had been removing the dead found there. The fire had driven many to try to escape out side doors accessed only from the basement levels. They’d gone underground and been trapped, some of the doors were sealed with key pads and none of the workers had the combination to unlock the secured doors. It was underground they went and underground they stayed.

“Where was your father heading?” Yasun asked more to fill the painful silence of waiting then out of concern.

“Bolivia I believe. I know he means well, but frankly this whole effort to be a better father has me a little unnerved.”

Mick chuckled. “It’s creepy.”

“I didn’t expect him to continue, thought he’d lose interest after a few weeks.”

Yasun nodded. “It’s good he’s making the effort. Our time with our fathers is too short.” Which was far more melancholy than he wanted to sound. He caught himself and squashed the uneasy nerves at walking back into the Pony Club and told himself he had to keep it together if only for Toshi’s sake. The breath he drew was steadying and he surveyed the construction site. “You really want to do this? Re-build on this spot?”

“Without a doubt, you should see the blueprints. I brought down Bill Covington to work with Andy, they went above what I’d hoped for.”

“Bill did, Andy just makes things pretty.” Mick corrected.

“Covington?” Yasun frowned as the name tickled at his memory.

“He’s an architect, from Canada. He was cut from his firm because his wife is I/S, they have three half breed children. Come by the barracks and I’ll introduce you, he’s got some ambitious ideas about things that I’d like to run past you.” Toshi glanced around but of course the man wasn’t in sight. He’d expected the human to be tall and handsome and imposing from how steadfastly he’d stood up to unending harassment because of his love. Instead he’d found a small, slender, homely man with large glasses and little hair that bounced around with laughter and energy and filled with hope and life.

“You know you don’t need my approval for anything you want to do with the train yards.”

“Toshi?” Alec called, slipping from the office with a walkie talkie in his hand. “We got the all clear, they say it’s okay to come down in if you want.”

“Thanks, Alec.” He glanced to his uncle and the tight lines of tension that had formed around his mouth. “Come by and look at the plans anyway, I’d value your input. Still want to do this?”

He only nodded and squared his shoulders, ready to face his own memories and maybe find some measure of peace in letting them go.

 

The Pony Club had been famous. At it’s height of popularity it had stood over three stories tall, with another three levels underground. Most people rarely saw beyond the bar, dance floor and the gallery filled with small, functional rooms. With the right bankroll, a guest was invited further inside and taken to smaller, more private areas that ranged from sadistic dungeons to posh lounges. The club had prided itself on offering something for everyone, no matter how much cash they had to spend, and everything for those few where money wasn’t an issue. Anything could be obtained for the right price and it was rumored that anything actually, literally, meant anything, any perversion, any fantasy, any desire, and taboo and once their fee was met, the Pony Club fulfilled fantasies.

The fact that they did it with slave labor meant nothing. The fine line in the train yard sex clubs between willing prostitute and slave was often impossible to determine. Shine made slaves of anyone and addiction was a heavier chain than any metal links. Once in their hands, it made little difference if the first hit of Shine had been taken willingly or not. It didn’t matter that no one actually ever quit, no one ever simply stopped working for a club unless they stopped breathing as well.

It was something Toshi knew first hand and a fact that he was trying to find a solution to now that he was in charge of the buffer zone between the I/S containment camp and the human city that surrounded it. It was a problem for another day, people were on edge enough with him stepping in to take control, a cooling off time was needed. He’d tear the Pony Club’s burned out husk down and build his nightclub in it’s spot and then, only then, would he approach the other clubs in the Train Yards.

“It doesn’t look like a place of ghost stories now, does it?” Yasun asked softly as they grew closer. Much of the upper stories that had stood after the fire had already been torn down and it left little more than debris and bare support walls to stand like skeletal fingers pointing to an empty sky.

“It was surprising the things we found. I’ve kept some, a bit of stained glass from one of the windows, a plank from the dance floor.” It never failed to put a shiver into his spine when he stepped that last step from outside the club to inside it’s torn apart walls.

“Whatever for?” Yasun nodded to the guards that followed him and they quietly fanned out, some moved to disappear down into the now opened and lit lower levels, checking and securing the area.

“I’m going to have it framed and placed in our office, as a reminder.”

“A reminder of something best forgotten.”

“No, of something unable to be forgotten.”

Yasun shook his head and Mick shrugged his good shoulder. “I said the same thing.”

And then they were there, standing at the top of the wide main stairwell to the basement levels. The workers’ changing room and showers were directly below them, a place Yasun didn’t know but Toshi did, well. Yasun had only seen it while being dragged down to the lowest floor to be tossed into a darkened room and only let out to be tortured. Both men paused at the top of those stairs, uncertain about continuing.

“Sir?” One of the guards said softly, breaking the spell of the moment. “The lower levels are secure sir.”

Yasun drew a breath and nodded. “Thank you.” He glanced to Toshi and beyond to where Mick hovered slightly behind. “Well, can’t linger like frightened children.” He grinned and it was all bravado and it didn’t matter because it got his feet moving.

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