Julian Files, Chapter 4, scene 1

Julian Files Chapter 4, scene 1:

 

Saturday June 25, 2005
Icebox, Industrial District
Lexington, PA

“Why the hell you gotta bring me to these shit-ass places, Ced?” Julian dropped onto a barstool. “You’re gonna be that cheap, you may as well bring me to a liquor store where I can get some fucking Kamchatka for the same price.”

Icebox was as seedy as ever, and Julian swore to God he just saw a good dozen of his former cases walking across the room. He was probably going to end up in the background of twenty more of his colleagues’ shots. Christ.

Cedrick laughed, as amused by Julian’s pain as ever. Bastard.

“I should remove you as a friend,” Julian grumbled, dragging the mug of beer over that Cedrick offered him. He studiously ignored the glare from the bartender.

Whatever. Julian couldn’t be bothered to care at the moment.

“You’re in an unusually cheerful mood tonight.” Cedrick sipped the god-awful beer he’d gotten on tap. With Innocent Face ™ in full swing, he looked expectantly at Julian and his equally disgusting beer.

Julian snorted. Like he was really going to imbibe such a monstrosity as the drink he’d been offered. He looked down at the amber liquid with a scowl, and drank half of it in great gulps. He scrunched his face up dramatically and earned an outright scowl from the bartender now. He was going to get himself banned at this rate.

“You’re going to get us kicked out.”

There Ceddy went, reading his mind again. Julian huffed out a great sigh and slouched forward.

“Sorry, Crane,” Julian muttered to the bartender.

Crane didn’t seem mollified at all; with a scoff, he threw a rag over his shoulder and stalked to the other end of the bar where one of Julian’s past cases was trying to get the bartender’s attention.

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Julian Files, Chapter 3

Julian Files is a book set in the past of In the Company of Shadows. DO NOT READ JULIAN FILES IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED THROUGH FADE!

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ICOS!


Julian Files by Ais

Three

Friday, June 24, 2005
Lexington, PA

“Come on, come on,” Julian muttered under his breath. “Turn…”

The sandwich bag crinkled with every shift of his ass, which had fallen asleep long ago. He longed to step out of the car and stretch until every vertebra popped, but he couldn’t until Junko fucking turned already.

Just as she started to tilt her lovely little head, the jackass who’d been courting her from the bar finally won. Junko’s whole back shifted to Julian and she was soon out of his sight as the two of them headed upstairs.

Julian scoffed and tossed his camera to the empty passenger seat. Just great. The one time he wasn’t on cheater duty he got a perfect shot. He snagged the remnants of his sandwich out of the bag and moodily chewed it, glowering out the window.

He was about to consider sleeping when he heard his phone trill. He hardly glanced at the name on the screen before bringing it up to his ear.

“Hey Fin,” he said around a mouthful.

There was a distinctly displeased pause. “I told you not to call me that.”

“What? But everyone else calls you it. You’re saying I’m not blue enough for your brotherhood? You wound me.”

He could imagine the eye roll he got out of that one.

“Were you at your office Wednesday night about 2230?”

“Depends. Am I being accused of something?”

Another obvious eye roll without a sound. The man’s silences were impressive.

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Julian Files, Chapter 2

Julian Files is a book set in the past of In the Company of Shadows. DO NOT READ JULIAN FILES IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED THROUGH FADE!

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ICOS!


Julian Files by Ais

Two

Friday May 13, 2005
Carlisle Windsor School, All Saints neighborhood
Lexington, PA

“That child is there again.”

The man said it flatly, and Boyd got nervous. He ducked back into the hallway, wondering if he was in trouble now.

He hadn’t meant to see the man again, but the man and his friend always went to one of the back classrooms in the unused building on the corner of campus. Since Austin put Boyd’s backpacks in weird places like that, Boyd always had to go there before he left. He’d done his best to stay quiet and unseen like always but he must have done something wrong.

Boyd was just debating if it was worse to go home without his backpack and have his mother angry with him or to interrupt the man and his friend, when he realized a third, very tall man had come up behind him.

Boyd’s heart clenched. He looked up and up and up, into angry eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Boyd said, not knowing yet what he’d done wrong but thinking it was probably good to let them know right away he knew it was his fault.

“Bring her in,” said the man inside.

The tall man grabbed Boyd’s shoulder—it hurt—and pushed him ahead of him into the room. Once inside, Boyd saw the man’s friend was looking surprised.

And now that he was closer, Boyd realized he knew who the man was. It was Mr. Cole, Austin’s father. Boyd had seen him pick Austin up from school sometimes but it was always far away. Mr. Cole wore a hat and different kind of clothing here in the back room than he ever did in public, so Boyd hadn’t recognized him until he was close.

“Are you sure about this?” asked the friend, but Mr. Cole was peering at Boyd.

“Who is she?” he demanded.

“I don’t know.” The very tall man shook Boyd. “Who are you?”

Boyd twisted the hem of his shirt between his fingers, and shyly, guiltily, looked up at Mr. Cole through his eyebrows. “I’m Boyd Beaulieu, sir. I’m sorry to bother you. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Mr. Cole’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Beaulieu? I know that name. As in that woman Vivienne?”

“That’s my mother, sir.”

Mr. Cole’s friend swore, which made Mr. Cole frown at him.

“It’s fine,” Mr. Cole said.

“No, it isn’t!” hissed the friend, and moved closer to Mr. Cole. He and Mr. Cole got into a quiet conversation but even though they may have thought Boyd couldn’t hear, he could.
“That bitch doesn’t know when to hold her tongue,” the friend growled under his breath. “And she’s too astute. For a damn spy, she reports everything. You know how much trouble she’s caused some of the parents already? If she finds out—”

“What will she do?” Mr. Cole watched his friend closely. “Whine about her inferiority?”

“But what if she—”

“You think I fear that harpy? You think she’s more powerful than I am?” Mr. Cole’s voice dropped dangerously. He leaned closer to the friend.

The friend leaned back. “Of course not.”

Mr. Cole relaxed a little. “That’s the right answer. She is nothing. She is no one.”

“But between her and the father—”

“I know of him. I research all the players and find their weak points. He’s a hack reporter no one listens to at a pathetic local rag in in Crandall Park. Crandall Park. They couldn’t afford an office in Financial, or at least Lincoln Square, and you’re worried about them? I have ways of suppressing the media. Their voice will be silenced, like the rest.”

“But his specialty—”

“If either of the Beaulieus try anything, they will learn their place.”

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Julian Files, Chapter 1

Julian Files is a series set in the past for In the Company of Shadows. It contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Fade, so do not read until you have finished Fade!


Julian Files, by Ais

One

Thursday May 12, 2005
Lexington, PA

Even on the far end of Crandall Park’s sprawling playground, shrieking kids disrupted the otherwise calm morning. Julian’s fingers twitched and he resisted for the third time reaching for his pack of Winstons. He’d have gone for it anyway if the adulterating mom across the way didn’t give him the evil eye every time he touched his pocket.

Jennifer Groves, twenty-seven years old. Whitebread America mistressing it up with a certain Latino charmer named Joaquin Padilla. Julian doubted she knew he was the PI who had given her husband the racy photos of the two of them going at it like horny teenagers against a window of the White Oaks, but being as she recently stopped smoking she knew a fellow nicotine addict when she saw one. Not that her attempt to go clean living was liable to last long, once good ole Chris Groves was done raking her through the divorce proceedings.

It never ceased to amaze Julian how stupid so many people were. What made them think being in a mid-range hotel made the windows any less transparent when they decided to play out their little fantasies? And so many of them had the receiving partner facing the window, too. Made his job a whole hell of a lot easier to get the money shot.

He considered whipping out a smoke anyway just to fuck with her, when he noticed Cedrick approaching.

The man was a conundrum. He wasn’t bad looking by any stretch, but he easily could have been forgettable. Stocky build, average height, brown eyes, brown hair… Nothing stood out at a glance. In a photo, he would have been the guy in the background no one thought to look at twice.

The gift of anonymity.

Julian wished he had the same, at times.

But in motion, that was when all the little bits came together and made Cedrick recognizable. His easy, loping gait. The smile that seemed ever ready on the edges of his lips, and that goddamned infectious grin that popped up at the least expected moments. Made his whole face light up like a Christmas tree, and at times even made Julian fight a grin in return.

The trademark Beaulieu not-yet-smile was in place as Cedrick strode toward him slower than normal, and when all the trees and kidlets were out of the way Julian saw why.

He raised his eyebrows and flicked a glance down at Cedrick’s side.

“Brought the kid, huh?”

“Couldn’t get a babysitter.” Cedrick rested his hand around Boyd’s skinny little shoulders, pulling him against his thigh like some sort of tall dog. The fond smile aimed down at him probably wouldn’t have looked out of place in those circumstances, either. “Can’t say I’m sad about it, though. I don’t get enough time with him as it is.”

Cedrick dropped easily onto the park bench next to Julian, and soon it was the both of them who stared at Boyd.

Truth be told, the kid creeped Julian out. Like Cedrick, his photo op impression was different than his video. He was a cute kid by looks alone: fine blond hair, huge eyes an unusual amber; a skinny little thing with pouty lips. He hovered in that childlike androgynous zone of not seeming resigned to any gender entirely.

Maybe if he smiled once in a dinosaur’s age it’d be fine but he was like a little alien. He stared at people like he was dissecting their motivations, filing it away in some five-year-old version of Enemy vs Friend, or maybe he was just trying to figure out what the fuck was going on around him. Julian might have thought he was slow but he’d seen the kid write and draw well beyond his nephew who was four years older. And when the kid talked, which wasn’t often, there were times his sentence structure and astute observations were like he was twice his age.

Julian sometimes wondered if the kid was going to turn into a serial killer someday. If so, he should probably make sure he wasn’t on the kid’s hit list. Continue reading

Julian Files, excerpt 10: Cedrick, Julian, and the search for the house

The street was lined with tall, skinny buildings pressed up against one another; old houses and commercial buildings converted into apartments and offices. Windows were broken out of lower levels, with old, faded signs tipped at angles against the blinds. Julian shrugged the collar of his jacket up against the pale touch of the wind. He skimmed the addresses as he passed, listening with relief he didn’t want to acknowledge to Cedrick’s every counter step against the rhythm of Julian’s own gait.

Graffiti covered every available surface, with the gangs crossing out each other’s messages and leaving one of their own. Bullet holes punched through windows and walls, with glass crunching underneath their shoes. The occasional splatter of blood and collection of pictures and mementos marked the places where someone had lost their life.

Julian only hoped he wouldn’t have to build a shrine for his brother in this godforsaken place too. Constriction grew in his stomach first, and moved python-slow up his esophagus. Tightening his throat until it was air, only air, that could release, and even that grew stale and dim and unattainable.

Cedrick bumped lightly against his side and Julian looked over. Saw his friend with his hands buried in his pockets, shoulders hunched against the weathered wind, with a Mona Lisa smile on his lips.

Julian breathed.

The city seemed endless; stretched taut to the sky with valleys and plains in an unknowable pattern. Lights were here and gone in fits and bursts; throwing this alley into relief and that street into shadows too dark for the day. Now and then he caught a hint of music or voices carried along the wind. Laughter and tunes he couldn’t place and the occasional screech of tires, and it was home of a sort, and it was life of a sort, and it should have been comforting to have that urban backdrop even here but it wasn’t.

It wasn’t, because Jeremiah was somewhere in these streets, buried deep somewhere beneath a home, and he could only hope it wasn’t literal by the time he arrived.

“There.”

Julian slowed his stride at Cedrick’s voice, and followed the line of his finger pointing in the distance. The railroad tracks were a dark crosshatched pattern staining the ground, winding here and there in controlled chaos. Several trains were vacant; dormant maybe since the war, or maybe only since the morning. Julian didn’t know at a glance. Julian didn’t care.

“It has to be around here.”

Julian didn’t know where Cedrick got his certainty, but he wanted to believe in the belief Cedrick had. He wanted to believe that life really was as simple as finding a way to smile after loss, and trust blindly in the dark.

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Julian Files, excerpt 9: Cedrick, Boyd, and the great ice cream debate

I know I keep doing a lot of excerpts for Julian Files–sorry. Hopefully there will be some new material you haven’t read yet when it’s finally finished ^^;

But the thing is, I love writing Cedrick with Boyd. He messed with that kid so much sometimes XD It amuses me to imagine. Another excerpt is below, in which Cedrick and Boyd basically fuck with each other because they’re both stubborn dorks.

As always, unedited and possibly will change in the final book.

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Julian Files, excerpt 8: stories

Another random excerpt. I don’t think I’ve shared this one before, but I’m not sure. Sharing now because I like the lines in the last paragraph.


 

Cedrick always found himself wondering what the story was of people he saw. He built fables in his mind; sometimes dramatic, sometimes heartbreakingly not.

To these strangers, he built a story:

The young man was named Max. He had always tried to find love in the girlfriends he had in high school, but it never worked out. Something was missing. In his first year of college, he met Trevor. They became best friends and Max had never been happier. They spent all their free time out of class together, and sometimes even skipped class to go on suddenly devised adventures. Max’s favorite thing to do was to go urban exploring, and Trevor had decided to go with him last night. They were looking for ghosts, which was particularly alarming for Trevor who refused to acknowledge just how afraid he was of the supernatural. They visited the old, abandoned hospital in Carson City; rumored to have housed the worst psychiatric patients the state had seen in decades.

Cedrick had visited the hospital once, and even as someone who was fascinated by mysteries and the supernatural, he had found it to be unbearable. The air had felt suffocating; metallic, as the taste of blood. The shadows had seemed so much darker, an umber hue on the edges but fading so quickly to pitch black it was akin to sharp drops in the sea floor.

That was how it had felt to Trevor, when he’d gone: the cold flutter of air on his skin like skeletal fingers dancing across his back; the creaks of the old building settling like the cracking groan of bones grinding against one another; the piercing silence as the pause right before Death drew in a rattling, endless breath. Trevor’s heart had been a drumline in his chest; tripping over beats and melodies but staying enough of a tune to keep him alive.