Nothing had happened between them that night. That's good, he thinks, wouldn't leave anything too complicated, and with everything that has gone down the day before, Sal is in no shape to deal with his own emotional instability and his emerging feelings for Fae. Wonder fuckin' Woman, he thinks, but with better humor and a smart fuckin' mouth. Perfect, some would say. Namely Sal.
He's leaving her behind this morning, thankful that she has been there in his time of need, and now he finds himself seated on a still damp hay bale just north of Lopatino, pen in one hand and packaging for .308s in the other. One of his uncles had done this thing with writing down his problems, to visualize or some shit, and Sal has nothing but issues at the moment, so he figures he'll give it a shot. The first word is always the hardest, so he begins with what could always whip him into shape.
I had more nightmares. Waking up next to Fae helped, but I still felt clammy and out of breath. Same nightmare as always, of course. Toben still screams my name, even after Luke stops pounding his skull to pieces. When he hands me the bat and says he's sorry, I accept, and then I hear a gunshot. It's Troy, always Troy. Luke laughs, I wake up. I know I should have woken you up on one of those nights, just as I should have woken up Fae last night, but I don't want to burden anyone with this petty shit. Just have to keep on keeping the fuck on.
Yesterday I almost killed someone. I had to hold back when I slipped the knife into him. It wasn't my kill, it belonged to Anarchy. For a second, I had Bishop in my fucking hand, and I wouldn't have to wait for one of the bosses to get their heads out of their asses and realize that he should have been burried ass up at the entrance of a Black Roses camp. Free use, fuckheads.
I guess I just don't feel fucking good, you know? Terrano says I have to stop my blood lust. That I need help. But I don't fucking want help, and I don't think that kind of help is what you and I need right now. At least now I know, seen first fucking hand, what happens if we fuck up.
I love you.
Even as he puts the pen away, he's searching for his box of matches. This part he hadn't learned from his uncle, but rather from his uncle's mistake of getting tossed in jail for a long fuckin' time. He sets his writing ablaze, and as he watches the words vanish, his oft seen cheeky smile begins to grow back onto his otherwise emotionless face. As it all turns to ashes, he looks back down at Lopatino, wondering if Fae is still asleep, and if she waited for him to return. He isn't too worried about her, or whatever it is that they have. All he knows, is that she adds a reason for smiling to a list that is growing shorter with every passing week. The smile spreads to the rest of his face. He allows it to.
At one point it becomes too much for him. He takes off, at first for a few short walks around Lopatino proper. Securing the area, he says, and luckily Terrano doesn't appear to take note of it. The third time is worse. He nearly squeezes the trigger. This time he walks his way up to the airfield, shooting infected with his rifle first, then with his pistol, and when both are out of ammunition he draws the sword from his back, slashing and stabbing until the blade gets stuck in the chest of one of the monsters. Panic should set in, but rather than run from the last few opponents he beats on them with his fists. Thankfully Lopatino lies too far back for anyone to hear him roaring with rage as he lets loose.
A short while later he finds himself on the airfield, walking towards the tents with his rifle out, now reloaded. A handful of the dead are shot before he reaches his destination. As he comes around a corner a man pops out, army clad and with an automatic Rifle. Sal's holding his supressed 1911. The man apologizes for scaring him. Again his finger squeezes at the trigger, but big brother Louis pops into his head, reminding him that he needs to hold it together. You didn't fuckin' scare me, he tells the man before adding, as he realizes the attitude he just presented, go ahead, I ain't lookin' for no ammunition. Have you seen a pair of good fuckin' boots up here? He hasn't, so Sal walks off, no need to add anything else.
15 minutes later he's walking back down to the town when an infected runs up on him. The next few moments are spent unleashing punishment on a shell made of meat that stopped struggling after only half a minute. Covered in the splatter of the creature, he walks back into town and greets Eddie, Richard, and Chris, telling them that he needs a change of clothes. Richard seems concerned. Sal brushes him off. A fresh change of clothes later and he's back guarding The Don's house. It's all still going on, and he feels no less of a desire to give in to his anger. Self-destructive tendencies take over as he attempts to set Victor Kovar's bag on fire, excusing it as shenanigans with Anarchy. Thankfully none of the bosses are around. He continues on by telling the story of how a socialist helped Louis and himself escape when Anarchy jumped them at the factory, making sure to point out that Aleksei was there, as a socialist. They don't care, why would they.
And then, they continue...
Shortly after, after Sal has made sure that Louis isn't home in the house, the sounds of his rage might easily reach down to Lopatino from their home on the hill. It never crosses his mind. He doesn't calm down, but he does clean it all up well enough.
When he lays his head down not long after, an odd thought crosses through his mind:
Perhaps I should've burried that last one...
When Sal wakes up he spends a good while sitting in the brothers' little kitchen, staring at a small picture on their wall. It's nothing special, just a lone boat on the water, undoubtedly reproduced into oblivion. He doesn't have a watch, so the 20 minutes that pass before he gets up mean nothing to him. He takes a piece of paper and a pen and writes a note.
Louis. I'm taking a walk. Need to clear my head. Don't worry about me.
Hours later, the note remains there, undisturbed, as Sal emerges from the woods near Elektrozavodsk, once more covered in the gore of slain infected. The tip of his sword drags along the ground as he walks towards the city in an almost catatonic state. He knows all too well that this day is going to be defining for him. Louis needs him, the family needs him, but he can't seem to focus on any one thing at a time. He hears the thud of Luke's bat hitting Toben, but at the same time he sees Luke, soon to be a father, accepting a handshake and, perhaps, his friendship. He hears Brandon's voice, telling Troy to stop being a little bitch, as a soundtrack of sorts to the image of Troy's dead body atop the school in Vybor. He hears Aleksei, Luke, Kovar, and other Anarchy voices calling Fae a whore, a bitch, a concubine, as pictures of her sleeping flash before his eyes.
A smile forces its way over his lips, and he shakes his head. He's gone fucking nuts, and he knows it. It needs to be dealt with, but he doesn't know how.
He makes his way to the church on the eastern edge of the city, wanting to send a quick thought to the Lord he was taught to worship, but never really believed in. As he nears, he hears the rumbling noise of agitated infected. He lifts his sword and rushes forward, but when he sees the kid in the car he stops in his track. She can't be any more than 9 or 10 years old. Malnourished, dirty, scared and screaming, locked in a car but surrounded by far more infected than even he is crazy enough to attack with a blade. He throws the sword aside, takes the rifle off his shoulder, takes aim, and starts firing. He counts 12 before he can get to the car. She won't open, of course, she's scared out of her mind, so he breaks the glass and drags her out of there. Run, he tells her, as he turns to kill the rest of the infected, and when he's done and turns around she's gone. He searches the area and finds nothing, no sign of the kid, so he walks into the church to ask for guidance from somewhere he never found any.
Once done, with no particular succes, he shakes his head and turns to leave, and there she is, the kid. She's just staring at him for what seems an eternity, with her blonde hair blowing in the wind. He waves at her, she waves back. He takes out a can of peaches, holding them towards her, and she smiles at him but shakes her head. She wipes her chin with one of her fingers, then runs away, and when Sal mimics her gesture he finds a tear on his cheek. You've fuckin' lost it now, Scarpaci, he says quietly and gets to his feet.
When he gets outside there's no sign of the girl, he didn't expect there to be. Instead of searching he walks down to the beach to wash himself off. His spare clothing leaves much to be desired, but it doesn't matter to him. For the first time in a long time, Sal's smile isn't cheeky or jestery, it's simply there.
And unlike his rifle, now sitting on the steps of a church in Elektrozavodsk, he carries it with him on his way back north to Lopatino.
As Sal's eyes blink open due to the morning light hitting his head, he finds himself with a bit of her hair having snuck its way in between his lips. Trying his best not to wake Fae, he struggles to get it out, pulling a few loose strands from his tongue afterwards, and once he manages to clear it all out he looks at her and shakes his head, smiling. He fucks around a lot, and he knows it, but he also knows that this isn't how he usually feels about the women he spent time with back in Brooklyn. Early flirting butterflies are one thing, but he finds himself feeling silly now, and he doesn't give a damn.
So, before he crawls out of bed, he leans over to look at her face. He considers kissing her cheek, but stealing that moment would be cheating, he decides, so he settles for moving a few stray hairs back behind her ear. He gets up, puts on his clothes, and prepares to head out for something to eat, and he swears that he sees her smile when he casts a last look her way.
Not too long after, Sal is making his way up to the Novaya area, hoping for a good breakfast score. His head isn't racing as much today, and the images of all the chaos have settled for the time being. Perhaps his walk with Fae had helped clear it all, he thinks. Seeing her open up had left him without words, a rare occurance, but it only made him care for her so much more, knowing that her strength was based on the solid foundation of a past like that.
When they had left Gorka it was with tears in her eyes, and he wanted nothing more than to do a better job at reassuring her that everything would be fine. But it's Fae, and forcing this locked door is not something he's willing to risk, so he simply walked by her side and joked around to get her smiling and giggling again. Mh, those giggles.
Later that day he would need her in his camp, too, he found. Yet another fuck-up from Chris had paved the way for his execution, and with the people present there; Jimmy, Miss De Luca, the capos, a few soldatos, and half of Anarchy it seems, including Fae, he had to put a bullet in his old Syndicate brother's head. He had thought it would be much harder to do, but when the time came he just did what he was told, and when Chris fell to the ground, lifeless, the only thought Sal had was, "I hope you stay the fuck out of my dreams." And he did.
When Sal wakes up that next morning, with Fae's hair in his mouth, he realizes that he didn't have any nightmares for the first time in weeks. Perhaps that's why it was so hard not to kiss her cheek this morning.
And now, digging through a storage spot he looks out of the doors and up to the sky, and says to himself:
Today's gonna be a good fuckin' day.
Very fuckin' strange, Sal thinks to himself as he digs around for a ring in an entirely wrecked jeweler's store in Zelenogorsk. He is there to find a ring for Fae, something proper instead of the shitty things Luke had made them use as he forced their marriage the day before. Sal's initial reaction had been absolute disappointment, mainly in Fae being forced into something that he, at the time, believed she didn't want, but also in Luke, who he had thought held at least a meassure of respect for him. That then appeared to have been a decidedly wrong assumption.
His search brings nothing worthy of his new wife, so Sal moves further south, reaching for Chernogorsk where he hopes to have more luck. On his way there, his thoughts revolve around many things, but a few stand out.
Louis and Sal have been plotting and scheming, but the past few days have thrown so many balls into their juggling act that he doesn't feel good about moving forward. Too many moving parts, especially with Luke now holding Fae's life over Sal's head.One wrong step and it will all be for nothing. To add, Calvin has continued to prove himself the go-to capo for the Scarpaci brothers, and Sal no longer does it just to gain his trust; Terrano, his friend and Syndicate brother grows weaker, and Sal knows that Louis will pounce on that weakness if he has to. Big brother Louis, always ready to reach for the stars.
In Chernogorsk a few jewelers seem to have been left with at least some inventory left, and it doesn't take Sal too long to find a gold ring with an inlay of 3 little stones. Could be diamonds, he thinks, but what those three stones can represent is more of a deciding factor for him than the stones themselves; Brother, Mother, Father. He would love to add one for himself, but that is something he has to earn, in his mind. He reminds himself to get a hold of Leo, the trader he sent on a chase for the biggest rock around to put on her finger before realizing that Fae is challenged in the finger department and won't be walking around without gloves.
All he needs now is to find Mason. He knows that the leather worker, his friend, will do it for free when it's for Fae, and it stings him that he can't ever repay the gesture.
His way back to New Sin City is trouble free, and he jogs through the meadows with a smile on his face. Fae actually want to be with him. She is not unhappy about the marriage, she knows that he wants nothing less than to be a new David. He is pretty sure that she loves him, and he feels certain that when her new glove is ready, she will say yes when he asks her properly. As she should be asked.
Yesterday was strange, he think, very fuckin' strange indeed.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
He barely has to use his imagination to picture a grandfather clock looming over him. Even though he spends a few hours outside every day, he mainly resides in his and Fae's bed, and he is not happy about it at all. Having taken a bullet for The Don doesn't bother him. Sure, it hurts, but it's his fucking job and he knows it. No, what pisses him off is that The Don might have died, and even knowing that, the Kameníci had walked straight into town and taken over Don Moretti's house as well as the capo house. The boys must have been fuckin' sleepin', he reasons with himself to no avail. They should have been at their posts. HE should have been at his post. Silly though, he knows that, but even with the wound still aching he wants to do the job.
As angry as he is, though, what worries him the most is that Meika was taken alongside Luke and Corrin, and even though she came out of it in one piece, Sal can't help but to worry about what it may have done to her. The kid has grown on him quite a lot over the last few weeks. From having a laugh at her attitude in Stary Yar to holding her hand in the church after he got shot, Meika has grown to be a big part of his life, and with that more of the emotional baggage that Louis warns him about. Fae and Meika, both stars in his eyes, are now targets for anyone who wants to go after him. He knows, he cares, but he can't let it affect him.
So, he carefully sits up in bed and gets to his feet, takes his walking stick, and leaves the house. If nothing else, he thinks, I can stand around by the gate looking pretty.
What a fuckin' week it's been, he thinks to himself as he sits there on the edge of the single bed, hands over his sleepy eyes, Fae incredibly managing to take up most of the space in spite of her small stature. His brother had gone missing, but now he's found and Sal is feeling some of his worries wash away. He knows they are sure to be replaced by new ones, but it really is all about enjoying the small pleasures in this world he lives in.
Now that he is back on his feet and able to move around, he has a few things on his to-do list. Asher would take priority if it wasn't for the kid. The cannibal prick who took Fae's fingers is always rummaging in the back of his head, and he is already planning on what he wants to do to him when they get their hands on him. It will be grim, but it is no less than he deserves, surely.
That has to take a backseat for the time being, though. He made a promise to Meika, and he means to keep it in a real fucking hurry. The kid's memory is messing with her, giving her nightmares and anxiety attacks, and he doesn't know how to deal with it. So he needs help. Rose, Beth, someone else with a deeper medical background than he'd usually find around here. Eden did fuckin' diagnose Rook, he thinks, but that was all an act from him. Besides, much as he likes Eden he's afraid she might be too tough for something like this. No, this requires a lighter touch, even he is smart enough to know that.
With all his thoughts in check, with Louis back, Fae and the kids in one piece, and himself seemingly not having impending death looming over him after his fuck-up with Anarchy, Sal turns around and leans down to kiss Fae's cheek. She has been drooling a bit, and she looks entirely messy as she lays there. He spends a moment just staring at her, smiling, before leaving to dress himself and head out on patrol around the town. There is plenty of work to be done, and he has been sitting on his ass for too long, nursing a wound that his brother would have laughed at.
Paper litters the floor in the little Gorka shack Sal sits in, all with some sort of beginning to a message on them, all adressed to Fae and Meika. The past few days have been rough on the Brooklyn boy, and he's blaming no one but himself. He has gone from small time crook, to capo, to nobody, and somewhere in between all that he managed to become a family man, too. Not the kind of family man he envisioned, either, though he had managed that part as well. And now, he sits in the Gorka shack, wondering if somehow he lost his edge as well.
Meika's last words to him a few days before had been mocking, calling him a chicken, telling him to prove that he is a man. It broke his heart, but he understands that there are certain expectations of him. Hell, had it been his brother spitting those words at him, they would have been a lot more venomous. They wouldn't have sunk their teeth in as deeply, though.
He looks down at the paper again. An ink stain grows around the tip of it. Apparently he's been holding it against the paper while he founds his way back from being lost in his thoughts.
He's unshure if either of them will find it, but it's the house he last shared with Fae, so he's banking on it.
Outside Gorka looks dreary, the day grey. He takes an axe to one infected lurking outside, then walks to the central part of town before turning west. Should anyone have seen him, they'd have seen a Sal Scarpaci who didn't sport a smirk or a smart-ass attitude, but rather a grim look that seemed unwelcoming.