Firebird-Part Twenty-Two

Firebird copyright (c) 2006 TA Chase

Part Twenty-Two-

After cleaning up, Vlatko and Rue cuddled on the couch in the underground chamber. Rue sat on Vlatko’s lap with those thin arms wrapped around his shoulders.

“So how old are you?” The thief’s question was soft.

“I’m thirty.” Vlatko ran his hand up and down Rue’s leg. The motion soothed the big man.

“When did you sign up to serve the I.U.M.?” The tone of Rue’s voice suggested that the man thought anyone who joined was crazy.

Vlatko shook his head. “I never signed on. Not really. I was created in an I.U.M. lab.”

Rue pushed away, his eyes registering a flare of unease. “You’re a clone?”

Vlatko shook his head again. “No. The scientists implanted a fertilized egg into one of their female breeders. They took me away from her right after she gave birth to me. I’ve never seen her.”

“That’s awful,” Rue murmured, running a hand over Vlatko’s chest.

“Why?” Vlatko frowned. “Is there something special about her?”

“She gave birth to you. I think that makes her damn special.” A bright smile graced Rue’s face.

“It wasn’t as if she was given a choice, Rue. The I.U.M.’s breeding stock is taken from the planets under their umbrella of power. Most are kidnapped and forced into carrying the fertilized eggs. Given the choice, she’d probably have cut me out of her woman and killed me. I was an alien creature living off her body.” Vlatko threaded his fingers through Rue’s blond curls.

“No mother should feel that way about her child.”

Vlatko could hear doubt and pain in Rue’s statement. “What about your mother?”

Rue stiffened and tried to climb off Vlatko’s lap. He encircled the thief’s waist with one arm, holding him to his body. He lifted that pointed chin and forced Rue to look at him.

“You should know by now that I’ll never judge you, not even by your own actions. Whatever happened to you when you were young was not your fault. Even though I’m motherless, I know that she should have protected you.” He pressed a soothing kiss over Rue’s trembling lips.

Rue nodded. “I’d still like to get up.”

Vlatko studied him for a moment and then let go. The thief stood up, staring down at the floor for a second before he started pacing. Vlatko leaned back. He understood that this was going to be hard for Rue. He doubted the man talked about his past very often. He wondered why Rue would choose to tell him. Giving his head a mental shake, Vlatko decided it didn’t matter. Sometimes a person just had to trust someone.

“My mom named me. She always told me she rued the day she ever slept with my father. She might have said that from the moment I was born, I don’t know, but I do know that when I was five, she dumped me on the street and told me she was done taking care of me.” Rue’s hands shook and as Vlatko watched, the thief wrapped his arms tight around his waist as if holding in emotions Rue didn’t want to escape.

Vlatko longed to get up, pull that slender body to his and just hold Rue tight. “She was a bitch, Rue. She should never have been allowed to have children.”

Rue shrugged. “You’re right, but I was five, Vlatko. What kind of monster throws a five-year-old out on the street to live? I’m lucky I managed to survive the first hour, much less a day. I learned how to steal well enough to feed myself. As I got older, I figured out other ways to support myself.” A blush tinged Rue’s cheeks.

Vlatko could imagine what other things Rue did to make money. With someone as pretty as Rue, the thief would find it easy to sell himself. A single tear rolled from those amber eyes and Vlatko stood, moving to catch the drop on his fingertip.

“Why are you crying?” He snuggled Rue’s shivering body tight to his. “Surviving is nothing to be ashamed of. We all do things we know we’ll be ashamed of later, but if it comes down to living or dying, there really is no choice.”

Rue’s eyes flared a deep orange and then he crushed his lips to Vlatko’s. It was an apology and a thank-you all in one. When they were both gasping for breath, Rue pulled back.

“By the time I was sixteen, I was pulling off big jobs and making good money, so I stopped doing everything else, focusing on stealing. I’m good at what I do.”

It wasn’t arrogance or false pride. Vlatko knew Rue was the best, just as Vlatko had been the best killer the I.U.M had ever created. He swept Rue into his arms and carried him back to the couch.

Rue traced the outline of Vlatko’s lips. “I’m glad the I.U.M. tagged me for this job. No matter how it ends, my life will never be the same again.”

Vlatko smiled down at Rue and a wave of feeling rushed through him. He didn’t know what to call it, but Vlatko knew that the man in his arms had come to mean the entire world to him. He cradled Rue’s face in his hands and kissed him.

4 Responses “Firebird-Part Twenty-Two”

  1. T.A.Chase says:

    I’m not sure, Yvonne. I don’t think he’s totally changed his goals. He wants to help Vlatko find a solution to his problem, but when he realizes what the solution is, will he be as willing to do it? *shrug* I don’t know.

    I do know that Rue feels more for Vlatko than he’s ever felt for any other person. Also, though he hasn’t said it yet, he’s a little bitter about the I.U.M. using him to not only get the files from Vlatko, but to cause another planet to surrender to them.

  2. Yvonne says:

    T.A. Read this one several times to get the feel of whats going on. Is Rue that quick to change his goals? This isn’t a ploy on his part is it??

  3. T.A.Chase says:

    Thanks, Sherrill. I’m finding it interesting as well. There’s so much passion between them, but there’s also so much need (that’s the best way to describe it, I guess) Yet you’re right..they both distrust each other.

    I’m beginning to get an idea of where this is headed, so it could be a bumpy ride. 🙂

  4. Sherrill Quinn says:

    I’m really enjoying this story, T.A. Watching the barriers come down but knowing there’s still a hint of distrust between them…like they’re each waiting for the other shoe to fall, each waiting for the other man to be true to his nature–which means pain for the one left behind. *shiver* Next, please!

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