The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part VI -- Cats Eyes
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995


Author's Notes:

After all these long months, it's over. (insert mad scientist laughter.) I thought I'd answer a few questions that you might have in your minds at this point.

(1) I have no intention of doing any further writing for Axer Carrick, other than a Xena-Highlander crossover that I'm working on with someone.

(2) Since this is fanfic, and I treat this domain more like a bohemian coffee house more than anything else, I'm not going to feel possessive about the characters that I created myself. If you want to insert any of them into your own work, feel free to do so -- my only request is that you send me a note that you want to do it, and maybe email me a copy of it when you're ready to post.

In fact, if you somehow feel mad at me for not resolving it well enough, or in a way you'd like, feel free to run with it. The more I think about it, I like the idea of continuing this as a free-flowing round robin. Any takers?

It's been a fun ride, and I'm going to miss it, after I recover from throwing the load from my back. If you want to throw comments my way, or questions, then feel free to do so. I'll take criticism, but only the criticism that tells me what I can do better -- flames that just scream and rant without telling me what it is that I'm supposed to be doing will be sent tenfold back to the sender with a request of $500 for the proofreading and grammar corrections.

Thanks again, and hope to hear from you.

============================================

Chapter 35

LaCroix walked alone, ignoring the aftermath of the riots as he thought. //So after all this time, I turn out to be an experiment, and just that... But why is it that Coleen and Axer sense me when no other immortal does? Do they have a touch of vampire blood in them?// After a moment of thought, he shook his head, //It couldn't be...//

It was then that he realized that he had been pondering for too long. The first rays of the pre-sun got his attention. It was more his nerves than anything else that warned him. Two thousand years of hiding from the sun brings an awareness of it.

But he didn't hide this time. He stood still waiting for it.

The first direct rays touched him, and he certainly felt a sensation... Heat. It was like holding his hand above a forge. Uncomfortable, but not deadly. His skin didn't burn.

LaCroix laughed, tears falling down his face. All this time, and he'd had no idea that he could have stood in the sun from the beginning.

He smiled, thinking about a rather nice practical joke he could play on Nat.

* * *

Scully and Mulder let their bare feet uncompress themselves as they laid them on the seats in front of them. The steward, who had all the manners of an English butler, frowned disapprovingly, but after seeing the looks of thorough exhaustion radiating from them, he realized that maybe he'd better let it slide, since they were paying customers. He left them alone and went to attend to other matters.

Scully opened up her eyes. "Mulder?"

"Hmm...?"

"Promise me that from now on, we're doing desk work. We won't be doing any more field work, will we?"

"You're the one who dragged us up there," he reminded her.

She sighed, "I know... I just want to rest and let the world pass me by."

"I know the feeling. How about we go on a vacation once we get back? Ever been to Holland?"

"No."

They got to talking about Europe in general, and their spirits renewed.

* * *

Axer and Kate entered the Raven, just as things were winding down. The bartender was the last one there, counting cash and the wine bottles. He recognized both of them, and was puzzled by the looks on their faces.

"We've just been given this place," Kate got right to the point. "I imagine that LaCroix will finalize things pretty soon, but I thought I'd let you know that."

And so Axer and Kate became owners of the Raven. But the manager was to be someone else...

Axer turned around without even thinking about it. It wasn't the sensation of an immortal, but rather something more subtle that didn't even say anything to him. A half-starved young man walked through the door, looking around.

"Can we help you?" asked Axer cautiously.

The man looked at Axer as if *he* was sensing an immortal. "Yeah. I'm looking for work." An American accent, slightly western.

"What kind?" Axer was amused by this, wondering if the man were somehow trying to find a reason at the last moment.

"Anything -- bar-tending, managing, sweeping. I'm desperate!"

Axer nodded. He wasn't so poor or enough of an uncaring person that he wouldn't even give this man a chance. "You're an early riser, so that's good enough to put your foot in the door. Have a seat, and I'll make us some breakfast."

Kate looked at him oddly, and Axer whispered, "Trust me on this?" He kissed her good morning as she left to the guest room. Then he went to the bar and started to pour out some 'good morning drinks.' "So, where have you worked before?"

"I was taking classes, but I just lost it. I don't know... it's like nothing mattered anymore..."

Axer nodded in sympathy, starting to look for some human breakfast food, without any luck.

Vachon entered the Raven just at the crack of dawn, his hair pointing in all directions, interrupting Axer's train of thoughts. "Is Tracy still here?" he almost demanded.

Axer shrugged, not really minding Vachon's tone. "I just got here myself. Why don't you try one of the back rooms?"

Vachon nodded and ran for the back rooms, finding Tracy where he'd originally left her. Schanke's body had been taken care of -- discreetly, it seemed. She was asleep in a chair, lightly snoring. He woke her up, gently shaking her shoulder. "Tracy."

"Vachon?" she slowly opened up her eyes.

"It's over," he whispered, "at least for now." Who knew what emotion motivated him, but he impulsively hugged her. "Things can go back to normal."

"What if I don't want normal?" she asked, smiling mischievously.

"If that's the way you don't want it, then that's the way it won't be," he smiled, bowing like a courtier.

"I want to go home," she whispered.

"So do I. What do you think about Catalonia?"

"What?" she was confused.

"I need to get away, and I figured that you do too. Let's go to Barcelona. I can show you around, show you where I grew up, the old buildings, Montserrat, the Basque country..."

"Are you serious?" For some reason, Tracy had a hard time believing it.

"Of course I am!"

Tracy laughed, in spite of herself, "Then let's go!"

* * *

Axer didn't know what the feeling was that he got from Jay, the kid who wanted to work for him, but he trusted it. It was a good feeling in a way. "I'll tell you what. I'm going to make you manager, but I'm going to have to let you in on a few secrets. I'm trusting that you'll do the right thing when I'm done telling you about it. But first..." He fought with himself about this, but he knew it was the right thing, in a big-picture sort of way. He spun around, breaking the kid's neck with a slam to the throat. He died instantly.

The kid lay on the floor, blood spilling out of his mouth. For many long minutes, he lay like this, until the muscles of his neck started tensing, and snapped his head back into place. Then the spine healed, and the kid opened his eyes. "Wha -- " Then pain filled his face.

"Don't talk just yet," smiled Axer cautiously. "Your neck is still healing. In case you're wondering, I've just unleashed your latent immortality." He looked genuinely sad, "I know, I should have waited, but you're at your peak, and I'm doing you a service by making sure that you don't become immortal as a weak old man." He looked at the kid deep in the eye, "And it's not like I should be waiting so that you can live a good life. You don't have a life, do you?"

"No."

"That's the first secret. The rest will come later. Can you move your neck?"

"Yes," he croaked, slowly getting up. "And what's with this crap about me dying?"

"So you don't believe?" asked smiled. "Try this!" He pulled out a knife and slashed up his own arm, and showed Jay how the cuts healed rapidly on their own.

Jay sat down with widened eyes. "That's a hell of an icebreaker!"

"There's more, but I'll break them in more gently..."

Yes, for Axer, he'd reached a comfortable routine. Deep in the back of his mind, he hoped that this kid wouldn't turn out like Coleen. But that's part of the game...

* * *

I found Powys at a coffee shop, sipping coffee and reading the morning paper. He stood up to face me, as if he somehow sensed me. Then he relaxed, "It's been a long time, Bard."

"Yes, it has," I smiled, buying a cup of Kenyan AA for myself. "How goes it?"

"Can't complain. How about you?"

"Never been better. I think I can wrap up this book. Tell me what you think."

He did take it, and read it through in one sitting. Almost a pot and a half of coffee later, he finished it, looking up at me. "Interesting, to say the very least. I'd almost say that you're a master of travelling by Yggdrasil."

"Almost," I corrected, "I use it to scry, while I'm sitting down in my comfortable office chair, leaning back, and typing it down on a P10, which I managed to get from a Tree Trader -- it seemed that my authentic cask of amontillado was too much for him to pass up. Then I take the documents and have a plotter write them down in this book so that it'll look like authentic calligraphy, with the occasional almost-illegible sentences."

"I find it interesting how... creative your writing conventions are. It almost made me dizzy, reading it, changing perspectives like a wheel of fortune, and even throwing your own perspective in at the end. What's the deal with that?"

"It's not an odd style once you think about it. Each section is written from the point of view of the main character, and in those first person narratives, I was the main character, so if you don't like it, that's your problem, and not mine." Then I thought about it. "I know that it's rude, but I can't let those squares cramp my style."

"Always a bohemian, eh?"

"That I am." I sipped some coffee. "Do you think I captured Coleen well enough?"

"I think you captured her well enough to make people hate her... But I think the problem is that you never focus on one person for long enough to make them sink in. And your style is too bare-bones."

I laughed, "Hey, baby! This is reality! When you're documenting reality, do you stop to describe things nobody would notice anyway? No! This is real-life journalism! Find me a real-time article in the paper where the journalist stops the action to describe how Clinton is looking at the moment, or exactly what shade of gray he's wearing. No... I think I'll let people see the action and fill in the blanks. They do it anyway, don't they? Think of how many realistic paintings leave out essential details. Most people don't notice it, because they're automatically filling in the blanks."

"Can't argue with a mule," muttered Powys.

"Well, somebody has to be the mule!"

He muttered something else that I couldn't understand, then asked me, "So what happens next?"

"*You*, the dice roller, are asking *me*?"

"Right. Sorry I asked."

"You're welcome. Have to go now."

"Nice talking to you," he said sarcastically.

I left, whistling. Yes... this was quite a ride, but as we all know, cycles have a way of spinning around for yet another revolution...

The End of the story, and of the Whole Cycle



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