Demons on the Church Steps
Location • Grid:Off-Grid (Outside a Small Church) •
Date • 2020-05-20
Summary • After seeking solace at the same NA meeting, Day stumbles into Mikey's life quite literally.
Mikael was a new face at the meeting, but the church this particular meeting was being held at was large enough that a new face was nothing new at all. He'd sat quietly and respectfully in the back, not spoken aloud once, and just listened in. Now that the meeting was over and various individuals were shuffling around and having conversations, he was among those pouring out of the front doors of the house of worship and onto the steps. He's wearing a light weight flanel and faded jeans, a pair of tags hanging against his shirt. He skirts a group of smokers, shoulder rising agianst the cloud and the glow of the embers as he passes to double-time it down the steps before stopping on the sidewalk for a deep breath drawn, and exhaled through his nose as he takes in the sidewalk, and a glance towards others making their individual ways into the night.
Still fairly new to the city, the brunette woman hasn't really had the chance to connect too much with the others in attendance. She does pause to speak with a plump older woman, one that has undoubtedly been in the program over twenty years per her story-share earlier in the meeting. The older woman reaches over to give the younger brunette a reassuring hug before heading out and leaving Dayana alone. Slowly, the young journalist makes her way closer to the actual stair railing with the aid of her arm-crutch favoring her right leg. With a left hand she reaches to place her touch upon the rail before slowly ambling down the steps one at a time. Even with the disability, she manages some level of finesse and grace in movement though it does take time.
"See ya next time, Day," a young woman with multi-colored hair calls out from the gaggle of smokers--her piercings catching the flicker of lamplight in the process. Dayana, for all her worth, actually returns the wave with a faint smirk. Unfortunately the distraction causes her to misjudge her next step, as she loses her balance.
It wasn't the flicker of lamplight on piercings that caught his attention. He was avoiding that. It's the abrupt arythmic fluttering of Dayana's pulse not very far behind him that peaks the predatory senses and whips his head around. His eyes are immediately wide though. His hands had been tucked in his pockets, but loose enough to tug loose as he steps out of the way and reaches out to catch her up in one arm. He sweeps her up and into it, spun in toward his chest before she can bite the cement at the end of the stairs. The crutch might still go clattering despite his best efforts. "Whoa-whoa, watch your step there - " drawls thick. Far, far from home this one. "They're a bit slick. Thickin' it rained while we were in there. Or someone pissed on 'em." He eyes to the side, scrutinizing the steps with that more mumbled secondary consideration, a small wrinkle in the bridge of his nose before he recalls himself and looks back with a small half smile, easing his arm and seeing her right to her feet. "You a'right there?"
"Woah there, I... I'm fine. Thanks," the woman stumbles for a moment over her words, clearly still trying to get her head on straight. She does hear the clattering of her metal crutch against the ground and feels the crush of his hand and chest upon her. Her own hands go out instinctively to steady herself against him, as she is slowly released. Brown eyes scrutinize him curiously--the woman drinking in every aspect of him from head to toe with a silent assessment. It only takes a few seconds, but might feel like minutes until she offers with a faint curl of her lips, "Yeah, let's hope it was rain. I'd hate to think I almost mopped up urine, not that it would be the first time, mind you. But I really try not to make a habit of it."
There's a lot of sturdy stability there, not the usual level of health to walk through NA meetings, but the tags made for a neat tidy bow to wrap that up in really. It's the sort of thing most people notice after the fact, if at all, the effortlessness of handling her weight. Light fingers, like she weighed nothing at all. His hands draw back slow at first, then all at once once he was sure she was steady. "Would make for a helluva lotta laundry," he mused as he ducked aside and under the rail to reach out and grab the crutch from its landing place. Straightening back up, he offers over the crutch with a small bow and a slightly wider and more impish grin. "Your rulin' stick, your highniss."
She reaches out with her left hand to brace herself against the rail at the bottom of the staircase before retrieving her cane with her right, "You flatter me, but I'm far from royalty. I've been called a royal pain in the ass, but that is about the extend of my blue blood." Inhaling deeply the night air, her face blanches at the scent of the nearby cigarettes. Voice growing softer she gestures for them to move a bit more downwind with her head, "I think some people swap one vice for another at these meetings. The smoke will kill you almost as fast as the narcotics." Her gaze continues to look him over, a brow arching almost speculatively, "You aren't the usual type to frequent these things--not that I'm judging, cause I'm not. Just saying..." she pauses for a moment before offering with a friendly tone, "I'm Dayana, but most call me 'Day'. I don't think I quite caught your name?" the woman fishes openly, making no effort to hide her curiousity.
Mike casts a glance towards the smoker, but at this distance there's less riling in his beast brain. Just a small agreeable upnod before he glances back to find her moving off downwind. Delayed a beat, he falls in alongside her quick enough with that monster stride of his he has to keep checked short once he's caught up. He manages this most easily by twisting around to walk backwards, occasionally glancing over his shoulder to mind the path behind him between words. "What's the usual type?" he asks first. His grin cracks wide into the corners of his eyes at the provided moniker and laughs, "Seems like it's been forever since I seen th'Day." He offers over a hand, then swaps it for one more appropriate to her non-crutch burdened hand. "I'm Mikey." Nodding back the way they'd come, he goes on to ask, "This your regular meetin' or a drop in?"
"Oh, you know the hungry, emaciated, lean party kid or the obsessively plump man who has replaced his previous addiction with a desire to fill his gut with every sugary concoction available?" she offers candidly. His carefree nature is rather infectious as she takes the offered hand with her left to give it a nice firm shake, "Nice play on words there... see... I get what you did." Her hand withdraws to do the mock eyes on you gesture with two fingers. Still, the brunette appears relatively at ease in his presence, "And it's nice to meet you Mikey. I can't really say I've ever met an actual Mikey over the age of twelve before. Got a little bit of Peter Pan syndrome going on there, hmm?" her tone teases lightly.
A brief scrutiny is turned down over himself, pausing his step before he twists around to resume forward alongside her. His hands sink loosely into his pockets as he looks ahead. "Ah, yea. Guess it's the PT. Still do it every day." A beat and he adds as an afterthought, "Kinda live at the gym." He straightens up square, and it must be said 'at attention' under the eyeing up, but it only lasts about half a breath before his grin re-emerges and he relaxes through his back again, hands back to his pockets. "Maybe. Never grow up. Never get old. Fly 'round in the stars and hang out with mermaids... Swash buckles with pirates." His brow furrows a hair, his amusement fading a moment before he shakes his head out of the thoughts and peers towards her. "You from 'round here?"
His response actually brings a warm laugh to the woman's lips as she shakes her head, "Spoken like a true Lost Boy." Dayana muses with a sidelong glance towards him as she pauses to lean against a blue postal mailbox, "Me, native? I think maybe we've been here a week and a half? Time's kind of relative at the moment, really. My boyfriend and I moved here for his work. He does private security contract something or other. I don't really know. He's not at liberty to share a lot of the details, so I just gave up asking." She dismisses it all with a wave of her hand, "We moved here from Chicago, though I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles prior to that," her words barely skip a beat--turning the tables, "And you? There's no way a boy like you with that accent is a native to this hipster town. So what's the scoop?" her brow arches with curiosity as she trains those brown eyes of hers upon him.
When she suggests he's a Lost Boy, his brow lifts up and he leans in to listen a little closer, hands still deep in his pockets. "Ahh, just got me thinkin' bout this crazyness that went down last year, bout this time. Buncha kids goin' missin'. They were callin' 'em the lost boys. Was all pretty fuckin' weird." His grin returns when he laughs, "Well, welcome to Portland with that I reckon." He laughs a little more openly as he steps back from her a couple of steps and looks up towards the sky overhead. "Ah, nah, not from 'round here at all. Showed up last year just followin' a pull. It's where th'Mother wants me. Cut out for a while, had some shit to ..work out." The eye he turns down the way they came may make easy link of that said 'shit' and his reason for being at the meeting, but like every other down beat the man's been an open book about, it's just a blip before it's expelled for the lazy smile. "Met good folks here. Came back with my ... not sure what we are. Sorta like a girlfriend." He clears his throat a little sheepishly there before continuing, "From followin' 'round buncha bands. She does that social media thing?" And he sounds utterly confused about the entire phrase as a concept in and of itself, but shrugs that much off. "Bout the scoop of it I'm 'fraid. Just sorta showed up and met good folks."
"Sounds a little like an influencer. Apparently they are all the rage these days," the woman adds with an understanding nod, "Don't feel too bad, social media makes me feel old myself. I mean I deal with it because I have to, but it's one helluva headache." Dayana appears relatively content to maintain her lean against the post box, enjoying the socialization well enough and not in much of a hurry, "I never really did understand the whole following bands sorta thing. I get that it's a thing, but they are just people like the rest of us. If people had any idea what their lives were really like, I guarantee there would be a lot less worship of them." Her brow knits a little, the woman circling back to something the man said moments before, "You mentioned PT? So you're a trainer at a gym?" Her gaze slides up and down him again, assessing his well-toned body with a nod, "Of course you are, it explains a lot. My idea of a workout these days is managing to get up and down the stairs without breaking my neck--and you can see how well that seems to go. Eric's so much better at the physical than I am. In fact, if you happen to have a card I can pass it on to him. I don't know if he has had time to find a gym or a trainer yet, but it couldn't hurt to check."
"It was a good time if nothin' else. And the time 'way was good," Mike chuckles over the band following. "Buncha old names, ya know. From the 90s." He gives two slow nods over PT, then blinks and shakes his head, stops short on that and wobbles it left to right. "PT is just a hold-over from th'Army. But I do give th'odd lesson at th'gym sometimes. Called On th'Ropes over in North Williams." His hands pull loose to fish out an old, well worn leather wallet patched up with duck tape, but after flipping through he laments, "No card." As he tucks the wallet back in its home, he sighs dramatically, "Stairs might not be your forty." He does not appear to notice his mis-spoken phrasing. "It's mostly set up for fighters. Th'gym. But we got boxes and stairs you could practice on. Put 'em on a nice cushy mat if you come 'long with him."
If he has mis-spoke, she doesn't seem to mind much, laughing it all off with ease, "We'll see. On the Ropes you say? Well, I'll tell him about the place and let him make up his own mind." Dayana's gaze slides to his taped wallet, biting back a smile with amusement, "Umm, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that thing looks about half a step away from death. You know, despite what you guys seem to think? Duct tape does NOT fix everything. You can't really Macgyver a wallet back to health." Brown eyes slide back down the block to their recently departed church as she questions a bit further, "So, how long you been clean?" even as she asks the question her attentions fall back to him with interest, "I mean, you look pretty healthy so I'm going to guess you've probably hit a milestone or two of your own. I just hit my fifth year myself, a few months back." She slowly reaches her hand into her jacket pocket to produce that token x5 year chip, "Some days it is harder than others. I have to keep this on me constantly as a reminder. I don't want to fall back to where I was. I can't."
With a scoff, Mikey assures her, "Of course it doesn't fix everythin'. You need WD-40 for the stuff you don't want stuck together," with poorly feigned seriousness. But then the subject turns more serious and his right hand makes a pass up the back of his head, scrubbing at the close cut at the back while he considers her token and his answer. He tucks it back into his pocket before he finds his way around to, "Nah, not all that many. Next month'll be a year. End of next month. But bein' back here..." He tips his head back to look more up at the city around them, then back down towards her. "Feelin' th'itch. Figured I'd give this a shot."
Sympathy registers upon her features at the man's words, "The first year is always the hardest," she pauses before clarifying, "I mean, they are all kind of hard, but the first year can be brutal. Now, they will tell you it gets easier but not really. The cravings do eventually subside, but there is always that little dark demon sitting in the background just waiting for the moment to strike, you know?" She fidgets a little with her sleeves, letting her cane balance against her leg. Eventually she sighs before confessing, "I stopped and started maybe half a dozen times. In the beginning, I thought I was strong enough to go cold turkey. That was an eye opener." She smirks a little with a wry twist of her lips, "I think I did three different stints in rehab, but it wasn't until the third one that it actually stuck." Once more her gaze slides back to the church in the background, "As crazy and silly as it seems, the meetings help. Sometimes just knowing you're not alone or that others might just be a tad more fucked up than you ever were? Well, it helps."
"That's what I hear." Twisting in his hips, boots still anchored to the concrete, he looks back to the church as well. "We'll see. I don't know if it's...for me. Some demons are a lil darker'n others. Don't know if I'm gonna hear anthin' more fuckt tha-" He stalls himself up as he turns back, clearing his throat with a more put on smile and a shake of his head. "Listen at me carryin' on. And the hour gettin' on to what it is." Straightening up, and pulling both hands free, he adds, "I should prolly be gettin' to the gym. Shift'll be startin' soon. It was real good t'meet ya though. Hope I'll see ya'll come 'round sometime."
A visible frown twists upon her lips at his words, the woman reaching into her pocket to pull out a small business card, "Yeah, it can be hard to get through the meetings in the beginning--but you really ought to stick them out. It's far better than the alternative, trust me..." His own mention of demons and darkness seems to strike a sympathetic chord within her, "Here," she reaches to offer him one of her cards, as she continues, "At the very least, if you feel like you might get the itch to use? Call me. I've never done the whole sponsor thing before. Hell, I'm not even so sure I am any good at it--but talking helps. That much I know is true. So if you think you are going to go off the rails and fall into that dark rabbit hole? You've got my number. Day or night, use it. It's the least I can do for someone who saved me from mopping up a pile of urine with my clothes."
Mike reaches out to take the card between two parallel fingertips and glances it over. His lips move, some minute mouthing along with what he's reading and only getting so far as the first line before it dawns on him the time he's taking. He tucks it away into the same back pocket as the poor sad wallet with deft muscle memory and a more awkward smile and nod sort of situation going on above the shoulders. "I'll..." he starts, looking very much like he was highly skeptical the warm fleshy living woman could in the slightest understand the full scale and scope of encoded supernatural angsty existential problems, but then he diverts instead away from outright denial to simply remind, "...well... we did decide it was hopefully just th'rain." Ahe. "I'll give ya a call." He takes a step back and adds, "If it gets bad." He gives a short, crisp, but cavalier salute as he pivots away on the heel of his boot. "G'night Miss Day," called over his shoulder. "Mind th'curb when ya cross."
"Until next time, Mikey," Dayana raises a hand to wave off towards the man before moving selecting her crutch again and detaching from the mailbox to hobble the rest of the way towards her car in silence.