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 ..Echoes..

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Mjolnir

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Posts : 2467
Join date : 2010-10-09
Location : London, England

PostSubject: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 3:45 am

 
September 23rd 2012
 
He looked at his watch. 6.55am. He started doing this this a lot lately. Waking before dawn and wandering in the grounds as the sun came up. No set route, no set agenda, just walking amongst the broad oak and sycamore trees, around the lakes, and over the old stone bridge which provided the sweeping view back to the house.
 
It was a wonderful view to watch the sun rise in the low Oxfordshire hills behind Asterson House and fill the verdant countryside with that early morning pinkish light. He’d always enjoyed it.
 
And here he was again. Hands thrust into the pockets of a worn barbour jacket, flat cap pulled across his head; boots, jeans, and a sweater. He looked every inch the genteel member of the English aristocracy. He allowed himself a smile at the thought – genteel, no he didn’t think too many people would use that word to describe David Shand. Nevertheless, he looked the part – the landowner out enjoying his land.
 
However, lately, the walks hadn’t been about giving him a chance to enjoy the view.  He barely noticed the light, the bridge, or the trees. They were just a way to pass the time, and more than ever an excuse to get out of a house which was just too quiet.
 
That was what he missed, the noise; the noise of his wife, her laughs filling the high ceilings of the building or her voice calling out to him or to Luke. And his son, the noise of his son running through the halls, playing his guitar, or watching a movie with the volume turned way up. Too often these days there was nothing but the ticking of the clocks, and it drove him insane.
 
It had been like this for the last year, since Luke had disappeared off to University a year early, insisting that despite his college being within easy traveling distance, he wanted to live amongst his peers in halls, and then secure student accommodation close to campus. Of course David had tried to convince him otherwise, and had offered to buy him whatever apartment he wanted. But Luke had refused, arguing – quite convincingly – that if he was to one day take over Shand Holdings he had to start the way David had started, by learning to be independent and stand on his own two feet. David had understood his son’s decision, even respected it, but it didn’t mean he had to actually like it. It didn’t mean he had to get used to the silence.
 
And what about Rachel, his wife? Her absence was almost as hard to bear as Luke’s.  He didn’t begrudge his wife her success, not at all. He was happy for her. A succession of cookbooks which had become international bestsellers had lead to media appearances and now the filming of a TV series in America. She was enjoying herself and doing something she wanted to do, and after all they had been through he was pleased about that. It would have been selfish to have begrudged her the fame and attention he had surrounded himself with for so long, or demanded her time when he had been so ungenerous with his own. But at the same time, he had left that world behind nearly two years ago, and was it wrong that when he did, he just expected things to be different – for their lives to be normal? The book tours, the media appearances, the TV shows. They all took her away from their lives, away from each other, and away from how he thought it would be. Was it wrong that he was the one who now objected to his marriage being conducted via email?
 
This morning, he missed her more than most. Last night she’d called to say that she wasn’t flying back overnight as originally scheduled. Her New York publicist had set up a last minute appearance on some morning TV chat show, and a lunchtime radio spot. It was, she thought, a great opportunity and Rachel had agreed. She’d fly back on Friday instead.

He’d made plans, booked a restaurant for the two of them, had visions of them together – very personal visions – all of which would now come to nought.
 
He was nearing the house now, the sun shining onto his face. It was late September and the last days of the warm Summer. For a moment he forgot his troubles and just enjoyed the sights around him, trying to pull himself from his melancholy train of thought.
 
But then, as if scripted by some unseen hand, fate intervened. His mobile rang. He considered not bothering to answer it, but then decided that if they were ringing before 7am it might actually be important, so he fished the device from his inside pocket. He was surprised to see Luke’s number.
 
David pressed the touch screen to accept the call.
 
“Luke?"
 
"Yes, it's me."
 
"What are you doing calling this early? I didn’t think students rose before midday?”
 
“Never waste a moment of the day, father, you always told me that”
 
Luke's voice sounded so much like his own, using a line David might have said to his own father.
 
“That’s my boy” David grinned “So, what’s wrong?”
 
“Nothing, I just wondered if you were free tonight”
 
“Tonight. Well, yes, I am as it happens”
 
“Great. Do you mind if I come home for dinner?”
 
“Mind? Of course I don’t mind Luke, this is your home, you don’t have to ask. It’ll be great to see you. I’ll get Lucy to prepare your favourites”
 
“You don’t have to go to any trouble, Dad. I’m not really coming for the food.”
 
David could sense a lot was unsaid in that statement. He hadn't noticed it before but there was also something else that reminded him of his own speech sometimes: the confident yet distant tone that he could adopt when he didn't want somebody to know there was more going on.
 
“Luke, what’s wrong?”
 
“…Nothing. I….I just need to speak to you about something”
 
The confidence seemed to disappear for a second. David could feel the fear rising within him, as any parent would hearing their child speak like that
 
“Luke, what is it, whatever it is you’re worried about, you can tell me”
 
“I just need to speak to you, that’s all. I’ll explain tonight. About 7?”
 
David paused for a moment, but he realised there was little point pushing. Luke wasn’t going to say any more on the phone.
 
“Ok. Do I send a car for you?”
 
“No, I’ll drive myself. I can’t drink – I have lectures tomorrow morning. See you tonight Dad”
 
“See you, Son” David said into the phone, but Luke had already disconnected.
 
David looked down at the phone, a cocktail of emotions running through him. On the one hand he was disturbed by Luke’s guarded comments, but on the other, his son was coming home tonight. He quickened his pace. Lucy, his cook, was going to be busy.
 

Later that day
 
David rubbed his eyes and stretched. He looked at the clock. 6.55pm. It had had a productive day. For whatever reason, the thought of Luke coming home that evening had given him a kickstart of energy which had brought him out of his fog, and after giving his cook some very explicit instructions on his expectations for dinner, he had thrown himself into some work for the rest of the morning. Shand Holdings had grown significantly in size and power over the last 18 months, expanding into new markets and seizing new opportunities now that David was devoted to it full time. He’d spoken with local managers in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and video conferenced to his offices in London and Munich. Things had gone well, and he’d been pleased with the progress on a number of projects – not that he had let his managers know that of course. David usually preferred to give them the impression that he was slightly disappointed by their efforts. It made them try harder.
 
At 5pm he had called his private secretary and told her he wasn’t taking any further calls that evening. He’d taken the dogs for a quick walk in the grounds, and then leapt into the shower. Now he was dressed in a simple pair of black trousers and a black sweater, and was simply sat relaxing in the long gallery, watching the deer amble across the field by the far lake. Beside him sat a small leather box, inside which was a present for his son – a watch he’d picked up a few weeks ago on a trip to Italy. He’d been looking forward to having a chance to give it to him.
 
There came a sharp knock at the door, and David turned toward it just as one of his staff entered.
 
“Mr Shand Sir, I thought you’d like to know that your son’s car has just pulled up at the main gate”
 
A smile played across David’s lips. He nodded a thank you and sprang to his feet, heading across the room and toward a door which lead out towards the main front hall of the massive house. In moments he had crossed the hall and was opening the front door, determined to meet his son as he arrived.
 
Sure enough, Luke’s car came into view a few moments later. It was a black Audi RS4 David had bought him for his 18th birthday. He’d wanted to buy his son something more exotic, but Luke had reasoned that he needed to be able to park the thing without fearing it would end up on bricks or stolen, and that as a student with friends, a two-seater would be of less use for him. David remembered being amused at the time by his son’s logical thinking, and wondering how many 18 year old boys would turn down the offer of a Lamborghini given the chance. Still, Luke seemed adamant, so the Audi it had been.
 
The car came into view now and Luke pulled to a halt on the left side of the drive. He climbed from the car, and David was struck by how - even at 18 - he seemed to get bigger each time he saw him. He was already around 6’6” and filling out with it. The University sports teams had been beating a path to his door. His hand brushed his long blonde hair out of his face, and he walked toward his father, a smile on his face.
 
“You didn’t have to do the full welcoming committee - I do have a key”
 
David just laughed and hugged his son.
 
“Its good to see you son. How are you?”
 
Quite obviously, there was more to that question after the telephone conversation that morning, but Luke wasn’t ready to give anything away yet and his reply was non-committal.
 
“I’m cool, Dad. But hey, you’re looking well”
 
David was well aware Luke was deflecting the question, but he let it go.
 
“Can’t complain - there’s a lot of grounds here to exercise in.” He nodded toward the house “Come on, lets get you inside and have a drink”
 
Luke allowed himself to be lead, as father and son walked through the hallway. David turned to walk toward one of Asterson’s many lounges, but Luke stopped and pointed up the stairs.
 
“Do you mind if we talk in the library, Dad?”
 
David was surprised, and more than a little concerned. Luke had always preferred the less formal parts of the house, and said he thought going into the library was like being summoned to the headmaster’s office.
 
“The Library? Why?”
 
“Like I said this morning, I need to talk to you about something, and I’d rather do it up there where we can shut the doors and no-one’s going to walk in and overhear us”
 
The look on his son’s face was serious, and for a moment, David did nothing but stare back at him. A big part of him didn’t want to hear whatever his son wanted to tell him, but a bigger part - the natural father in him - knew he had to, whatever it was. Eventually, he nodded and walked toward the staircase. Luke followed, and moments later they had climbed to the first floor and walked down the corridors which lead to Asterson House’s infamous library. David opened the solid oak doors, and they stepped inside. The head of Shand Holdings took a seat in a wingback chair on the far side of the room by the fireplace, and Luke sat on the sofa facing him. Neither said anything for a moment, until David finally broke the silence.
 
“Rachel called last night. The book tour is going well but they want her to stay in New York for another day or so to do some more media interviews. Its a shame, she would have liked to have seen you.”
 
“I know, I actually spoke to her last night as well. You don’t mind her being away?”
 
David shrugged
 
“I can’t say I like it. I’d prefer she was here, obviously, but its a necessary part of what she’s doing now, and she’s happy. So I suppose I’m happy for her”
 
“IIt has to be something of a turnaround...I mean, you being the one stuck in the house. Rachel jetting around the world. The big star.”
 
There was something in Luke’s tone that surprised David. It had a slightly harsh edge to it, almost accusatory.
 
“Luke, you know it was part of the job – both the jobs. And yes, I realise the turnaround - which is why I don’t try to stop her, or begrudge her success.”
 
Luke didn’t reply to that. Instead he turned and looked at the photographs which sat on the mantle shelf over the currently dormant fire. Once there had been a lot more photos up there; images of David and his brother Matthew, David and Myron Fox. But now those were gone - victims to the events of the last two years. These days, the shelf held only three photographs. The first showed Luke as a boy, playing rugby on the back lawn at Asterson with his father. The second showed a beautiful young woman, his mother, holding a baby he knew to be himself, in her arms, and the third showed Rachel and David on their wedding day.
 
“The mantle’s looking a little bare these days, Dad”
 
David sighed
 
“Luke, please, don’t. I’m not having that conversation again. You know how I feel. Everyone’s there who deserves to be.”

Luke gave a small shake of his head, but David pressed on.

“Now, why don’t we stop beating around the bush? You wanted to meet in here, so what’s the problem? Whatever it is, I’ll help, but you need to tell me. I have this awful feeling I’m about to become a grandfather”
 
David smiled and Luke couldn't help himself. He returned David's smile.
 
“Don’t worry, its not a girl or anything like that. And before your mind goes down the other path of student stereotypes, I’m not on drugs either”
 
“Good to hear”
 
Luke sat forward.
 
“OK, here it is. I came here tonight because I want to talk about my future”
 
David seemed confused at this
 
“Your future? I thought in the immediate term, and for the next three years, your future revolved around university and your studies”
 
Luke nodded
 
“Oh It does. This isn't about me dropping out or anything like that. But I've been thinking of the longer term. The wider scope.”
 
Again, the words David might have used himself. David sat back in the chair, crossing his legs and giving that a moment’s consideration.
 
“I see. Well, none of this is going to come as a surprise - I hope - but I’d assumed that one day you’d take the reigns at Shand Holdings. You always knew that. You’re my son, so naturally you’d come into the business and be my successor - one day.”
 
“Ahh” replied Luke, looking doubtful “You see, that’s the bit I want to talk to you about - me coming into the family business. I have a slight issue with that”
 
“I don’t understand”
 
“Well, OK, here goes. Basically, I don’t like the idea of having my entire future mapped out for me and being forced to follow a pre-programmed path you have set down. I’m afraid, father, that doesn’t work for me”
 
David drew himself up in his seat, his eyes locking on his son’s face. His tone was cool. Cold even. David hadn't expected this and didn't want to hear it. When he replied there was a hint of sarcasm in his voice
 
 “It doesn’t WORK for you? Tell me Luke, what part of it doesn’t WORK for you?”
 
Luke could do sarcasm as well as his father, his tone was equally edged
 
“The part where you dictate how I live my life”
 
“This isn’t dictatorship Luke, this is opportunity.”
 
David threw up his hands, his voice rising slightly
 
“I don’t understand where you’re coming from here. From your perspective, most would think this is a pretty good deal. I’m planning to help my Son take over a multi-billion pound family corporation one day, I’m doing what any father would do and trying to continue the family lineage and give you the best possible start”

Luke disagreed
 
“No you’re not. You’re not just helping me or protecting the family business. Give me some credit for being able to see through that. I can see what you’re doing father; you’re manipulating me. Yes, manipulation. None of this is actually for my benefit – its just another part of your great master plan. You just want to try to control me, make me into whatever you have already decided I am going to be, and most importantly keep me under your control. Its not fatherly assistance Dad; its manipulation. Just like your father tried to manipulate you. Just like your father tried to map out your entire life for you and make you dance to his tune. Its history repeating.”

Luke shook his head, waving his hands across in front of him
 
“Well no, sorry, I’m not doing it. Simple as. Just like that history coming around again, just like you did, I’m not putting up with that kind of bullshit”
 
“Watch your mouth, young man”
 
David hadn't meant for that to come out like it did.
 
“Young man?” Luke scoffed “Please, don’t treat me like a child!”
 
“Then don’t act like one!” David snapped. He was losing his patience for this.
 
“How dare you bring your grandfather into this. You don't have any understanding of what that situation was like. If you did then you wouldn't have brought it up. You don't know what it was like back then. My life under that man. My situation was nothing like yours is now, and I am nothing like that man was!”
 
David took a deep breath. He didn’t want the conversation to go on like this. He sighed, holding his own hands up in an attempt to calm the situation.
 
“Look, son. Lets just take a step back...yes? I don’t want to shout at you, and it doesn’t do any good.”
 
He rubbed a hand over his eyes again, squeezing the bridge of his nose as he thought.
 
“Ok, I think I understand. I think I can see where you’re trying to go with this. You want some independence, time to do your own thing. Its understandable, happens to most boys your age.  Fine, we can work something out. Take a year after study, please yourself, travel if you want, and get the wanderlust out of your system. And then after that you pick what facet of the business you are interested in, and we start there. I’ll give you room to take it forward, you can get the independence you want.”
 
As David had been speaking, Luke had been shaking his head. He got to his feet now, pacing in front of the fireplace.
 
“Wow...you really don't get it, do you? You are so blind you just can't see it. I don't want it. I don't to be part of the empire. I don’t want to be part of Shand Holdings. Let me put it in clear words: I don't want to be in charge of some division under YOUR umbrella. Forever under YOUR gaze. Just another of YOUR corporate puppets. I don't want to be just another trophy for you to show off. Look, everybody. My son, the next saviour of the company!”
 
David furrowed his brows.
 
“So what do you want then, a separate entity? Fine, you use that year, you come to me with an idea for what you want to do, and I’ll stake you to get you started and….”
 
Luke interrupted, springing forward, his voice rising to a yell.
 
“My god...you really, really don't get it, do you? Staking me? What good what that be? I'd still be under your thumb. I'd still be working for the great David Shand. Understand this, father. I don't want to work for YOU. I don't want to be around YOU in any way, shape or form. You WILL NOT dictate my life for me. You WILL NOT control me the way you seek to control everyone. I don't want your funding. I don't want you advice. And I certainly don't want your council!"
 
Luke calmed himself a little.
 
"Don’t you see it, haven’t you realised?...... I don’t want to have ANYTHING to do with you!”
 
“What are you talking about?”
 
Luke stepped forward toward his father, and as he railed against him he was every bit his father’s son. His bright blue eyes shone with confidence and determination, his long hair whipped around his head as he angrily spat the words. It was like watching David himself in full flow and it was clear this was the release of something Luke had been holding on to for a very long time.
 
“I’m talking about the end, Dad. That’s the truth of what I came here tonight to tell you, that’s why I’m here at Asterson House for what I am determined will absolutely be the last and final time.”
 
Luke laughed, but it was a laugh without humour from his youthful face
 
“You know, its almost funny that I need to do this standing here in a grand gesture like I’m acting a part, but at the same time its weirdly fitting. Somehow the theatrics just make it all the more real in some twisted way. Doesn’t matter. Its about the message. I came here tonight because I want to stand here in front of the mighty David Shand and tell you, my dear father, that from this night onwards, I want nothing more to do with you.
 
Here, in your house, in your own domain, I renounce you. From this night on, I am not your son, I am not a Shand. From this night on, I HAVE NO FATHER!!”
 
Luke may as well have punched David for the way he visibly recoiled in his seat. His voice was barely a whisper.
 
“Luke...What?”
 
“You heard me” the young Shand snarled “You are no father of mine!”
 
“Son, please” David pleaded “I don’t understand….What’s gotten into you?”
 
“You!! You’ve gotten into me. All my fucking life you have gotten into me, just like your poison gets into everyone you touch. Just like you ruin every life that crosses your. But now, right here, tonight, it stops. I cut out this sickness you started growing in me. I turn my back on your manipulation and lies, on your plotting and your broken promises, and unlike so many others have been able to do, I break your chains and I walk away under my own terms. Just like you did from your father."
 
Those words. About cutting out the sickness. Purging David's taint from his blood. They reminded David of another time. Another man. Somebody else who wanted to go his own way. To walk away from David...
 
"You say I don’t know what that situation was like, that you are nothing like him. For ages I asked myself, how can you possibly be so blind? How can you not see the parallels, how you are doing to me exactly what he did to you?”
 
David Shand had never been struck dumb in his life, but at that moment he simply couldn’t form words. His mind was a total maelstrom. Nothing made sense anymore. He struggled to choke out words.
 
“Luke, I…..”
 
“Save it, I’m not interested in hearing more of your lies, letting you con me into believing you, and then becoming another of your victims. I’ve seen it too many times with everyone else. You’ve tried to murder your best friend and your own brother before now, so God alone knows what you might try with me”
 
That was like a slap in the face. David is appalled.
 
“Luke, I would never…”
 
“Never what? Lay a hand on me? Yeah, I bet Matt felt the same just before you caved his skull in with a lump of wood.”
 
David put his head in his hands, the great strategist for once utterly unarmed and unable to handle a situation. This was getting out of control and David simply didn't know how to stop it.
 
“I just don’t understand. Why are you being like this all of a sudden”
 
“Its not all of a sudden. This isn’t some startling bolt from the blue. I’ve had a long time to think about things and to finally see the light. A long time to come to my senses and see you for the pure evil that you are.
 
I’ve had my whole life to reflect on the way you’ve ruined everyone who ever got close to you. Business associates, friends, family, no-one was more important to you than yourself, and every one of us came a distant, scarred, and broken second. It cost us our livelihoods, our careers, our sanity, and in Mum’s case, her life.”
 
David's blood ran cold.
 
“Luke, that isn’t fair”
 
“Fair? Oh no. No, what wasn’t FAIR was my mother dying when I was just a child. What wasn’t FAIR was losing her and then my father not being around when I needed someone to talk about it with because he was either in some business meeting or off being a wrestling superstar. What wasn’t fair was the nights I cried and no-one was hear to hear it."
 
Luke was in full flow now. No holding back. 
 
"Do you know what it was like, to watch your father trying to ruin people who had once been his friends? Rob Arnold. Derek Verona. Special Giznap. Remember them? What wasn't fair was seeing the pain in the eyes of a man who had been like an older brother to me, when he talked about your utter betrayal. Do you remember the night Myron did that? Or how about watching John Higgins – a man who had done nothing in his life except be on your side and look after your family, a man who had been more the father to me that my own father had ever been – leave our house a broken and defeated man. What wasn’t FAIR was my uncle’s bruises where you beat him half to death, or hearing him tell me how you admitted everything to him – about Myron, about using him and Matt, about the trust funds.”
 
David’s eyes went wide, he scrambled to explain.
 
“Luke, wait, I can….”
 
“You can explain? So you keep saying. Well no, you can’t explain this away. Not this time. There isn't anything you can say. There are no more words. And besides, I’ve already told you.  I DON’T WANT AN EXPLANATION!!”
 
David's mind reeled.
 
“What do you want?”
 
Luke sprung forward, his voice rising as he jabbed a finger at his father.
 
“I WANT YOU TO SUFFER!!! I WANT YOU TO SUFFER, LIKE YOU MADE EVERYBODY ELSE SUFFER! I WANT YOU TO HURT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE HURT. AND, FOR ONCE, I WANT YOU TO GENUINELY REGRET SOMETHING FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!!!!
 
I want you to feel pain, real pain, and for once I want you to not be in control of a situation. 

I blame you for everything, and I want you to know that. I want you to live with that knowledge. I want you to watch your only son walk out of your life and know you have lost the one thing you might actually care about, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. 
 
I’ve waited a long time for this. Since the Summer of 2010 actually. Before you walked away and left Rachel and me for 3 months. Just walked out of our lives with not a word of a care and expected us to get on without you. Do you know what we went through? Do you have any clue at all what we imagined? I’d lost one parent and now I was losing a second.

And I blamed myself. I actually thought it was my fault, that I’d done something wrong, said something wrong, that I’d driven you away. There must be something wrong with me in some way."
 
Luke looked disgusted with himself, as if he hated having felt that way.
 
"I tortured myself for that time when you were away. But the more I did, the more I came to realise a truth that I’d been suspecting for months before. That’s when I forced myself to accept what I think I’d always known. Forced to see what had always been there. I saw where the pain in our lives came from, where the dark centre was.

And that’s when I started to think about all this. How I could make you pay for all the people who’s lives you ruined...
 
It was simple. I would ruin yours. That’s why I started talking to people, starting asking the questions, seeking the advice. That’s when I started to stop being your son. But, of course, you didn't even notice...”
 
While Luke had been speaking, David had been trying to rationalise the things he was hearing. He couldn’t believe his son capable of such words, and therefore there had to be another hand at work. Luke’s comments on getting advice confirmed that. Regaining some degree of control over his body and his voice, he looked up at Luke.
 
“This is Matthew, isn’t it? These are his words. He’s put you up to this hasn’t he?”
 
Luke scoffed
 
“I knew you’d say that. Surprisingly enough, no, it wasn’t him. Despite everything you have done he didn’t want any part in this. Didn’t want to be dragged back any closer to you. Matthew has finally walked away from you. For good. But, no, you're right. I did have help. I had help from two friends”
 
With that, Luke fished his mobile phone out of his pocket and pressed a button on the touch screen. A moment later the double doors to the library swung open.
 
David leapt to his feet, rounding in anger at the disturbance…
 
…and looking into the faces of his former lawyer, Neil McIntyre, and his former protégé and best friend, My-ron Novaar.
 
The former was dressed how David had always seen him. Sharp suit. Designer yet nothing too flashy. Enough to show his clients he meant business without threatening them.
 
The latter...well, there was just something about My-Ron's outfit today. Yes, it didn't follow any norm. The top was part tunic, part jacket. Black with the middle held in place by a set of three belts. The trousers cut stylishly yet somehow different. The tall boots elvish yet also hinting at the same designer Italian shoes David had loved to wear when going to meetings. Like a prince come of age.
 
In the same way My-Ron's long silver hair was drawn back into a ponytail. Styled yet functional. Today his face was bare of make up, save perhaps a hint of eyeliner under each eye. A black shirt could be seen under the tunic, a tie between them. A silver tie pin, a dragon wrapped around a eight-pointed star.
 
Novaar smiled at David. It held neither warmth nor friendship.
 
Shand’s voice ws a cold snarl. The blood had now completely drained from his face.
 
“You!?”
 
Novaar stepped forward. The smile stayed in place. For the first time David noticed My-Ron's hands, which had been behind his back before. Clad in black leather gloves. Novaar held one out to David. He didn't take it. Novaar simply raised a mocking eyebrow.
 
“Like you expected anyone else?”
 
“Get out of my house”
 
Novaar looked amused.
 
“Oh I’m not going anywhere just yet – not while there’s a such a show on”
 
David took another step toward Novaar, his eyes burning.
 
“We can see about that. I didn’t invite you this time”
 
The blood that had drained from David's face quickly returned, flushing his cheeks with colour. Shand seemed to cut the distance between him and Novaar in split seconds, although the latter didn't seem overly concerned. Even as Shand stood there, a foot or so in front of him, Novaar remained calm.
 
However, from behind him, Luke’s voice stopped David in his tracks.
 
“No, you didn’t invite him. But as you were keen to remind me, this is also my home, and I did invite them, both of them.”
 
At this, Neil McIntyre stepped forward and extended his hand to David.
 
“David, its good to see you again, perhaps we can sit down and discuss thi…..”
 
His words had died in his throat, shrivelled under the glare David cast his way. He withdrew the hand, afraid that if he kept it extended for a moment longer, David might just rip it off and feed it to him. Instead he decided to walk over to where Luke was standing, and take a seat on the sofa. David had gone back to staring at Novaar.
 
“I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anyone else. I’ve been waiting for some revenge attempt, but I didn’t think it would come like this. This is low, even for you”
 
Novaar feigned innocence, holding his hands out wide in mock defence.
 
“I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about”.
 
“Don’t give me that, Fox”
 
Novaar narrowed his brows.
 
“It is Novaar”
 
“I don’t care what identity you are hiding behind these days, it will always be Fox as far as I am concerned. I owe no civility to a man who is attempting to use my son to further his own petty vendettas against me.”
 
Again, the mocking smile. The cold confidence that he now remembered from the phone call with Luke earlier. It was like looking into a mirror.
 
“You have the gall to stand there and criticise me for using other people, you? David, I could almost applaud you sheer effrontery”
 
“What is this, Myron, some sort of twisted revenge? You’ve looked at every other way to get at me, and the only way you have found is to partner with that scum former lawyer of mine and manipulate a teenage boy’s emotions  against his own father? I thought better of you”
 
Luke had stepped forward, and positioned himself between My-ron and his father. As he spoke, My-ron went and sat down in a chair near the fireplace, never taking his eyes off Shand.
 
“Don’t blame him. None of this is of his making. Its all down to you, its all your fault. And he isn’t manipulating anyone. I’m making these decisions off my own back. I’ve gone to My-ron for help because I know I can trust him. I know despite your best attempts, you never managed to completely poison him.

Oh, and I admit, I do enjoy the fact that it will sting you that bit more to have him involved in all this.
 
My-ron is a rich man. He might live his life in chaotic ways in over parts but he has experience of investments and of using money wisely. I needed his help to ensure I could break away from your cleanly.”
 
David nodded, thinking he had got it now. Some of the shock was giving way to anger, and with it, Shand’s normal acerbic tongue.
 
“I see, so you are hoping Fox will bankroll this little enterprise for the time-being and support you? How long do you think your meagre savings are going to support you, Luke? How long do you think you can pay for the lease on the apartment in Oxford for example? I can see Myron putting his hand in his pocket for a short time just to piss me off, but he’s a Yorkshireman by birth so you shouldn’t expect it to last too long.”
 
David’s tone was almost amused, as if he had found the chink in his son’s armour. However, Luke’s expression hadn’t changed, and his next words caused the colour to, once again, drain from the Reaper’s face.
 
“Oh, I only said I went to My-ron for advice. I don’t need his money. I have plenty of money. You see, while you’ve spent years building up Shand Holdings to be all but impervious to attack from any source - the financial crisis, the collapse of the banks, even earthquakes and natural disasters, and not one of them puts a dent in your business - you weren’t quite so careful managing your finances in another area.

You see, I now have access to my trust funds. All of them. Every single pound, dollar, and yen. I’ve got it all. I that means I don’t need you."
 
David was confused.
 
“What are you talking about? How could you possibly do that?”
 
Luke said nothing so David looked over at My-Ron. Novaar had settled back in his chair, forming his fingers in a steeple. Myron's face remained emotionless, at ease, and tranquil as he spoke. 
 
"How? The how is very simple. I think your question is really 'why did we do this to you'. However, if Luke will permit, I'll indulge you.”
 
Luke nodded, and so My-ron went on.
 
“The how is really very simple David.  You remember when Lauren died. You came to me and told me you were changing the wills and the trust funds, and you wanted to ensure that Luke was protected in all eventualities. So you had a clause put into the trust funds that stated that if anything happened to you, I would take control of their guardianship and control the funds. Well, I simply invoked them..."
 
Shand's eyes flared with anger. Again it seemed to take everything he had just to stay where he was.
 
"That clause was there in case of my death.."
 
 A laugh, the first real sign of any emotion from Novaar.
 
 "Or disappearance. And wasn't that just what happened, David? Remember your little plan? The one that would bring back The Reaper. You had to go away and find your anger again, for all the good it did you for the Reunion show. Well, you disappeared, David. You didn't have any contact with anybody for three months. And three months just happened to be the exact amount of time required for the option on the clause to kick in. No contact with you for three months and I could invoke the rights to take guardianship of the clause. It was Mr McIntyre here that alerted me to this, just a few weeks before he left your employ, I believe."
 
Now it was McIntyre's turn to feel the force of David glare. While Novaar seemed calm under Shand's gaze McIntyre seemed a little less sure. However, he held his nerve.

“I was protecting my client David....I....”

Shand’s voice was as cold as ice
 
"McIntyre...I'm going to..."
 
It was Novaar again who responded.
 
"You are going to do nothing, David, other than listen to what we have come here to say. McIntyre was only looking after one of his charges...Luke."
 
Once again David's eyes went to his son. Once again Luke simply returned the look with equal amounts disgust and amusement. Novaar continued.
 
"So now you know the how, David. Let me explain the why. That requires a little history...so I suggest you take a seat."
 
Shand didn't move an inch.
 
"I'm OK where I am..."
 
"Fine, have it your way. So, to the history. I don't think I have to remind you where we came from. I'm sure you haven't forgotten the day you met me, after that show in Sheffield. How you helped me to get my start in the business. I used to look at that...think you were helping me out. Now, of course, I'm not so sure. Now, you've tainted those memories. Did you ever have my interests at heart? Or was it some longer term plan to help you with your own success in the business? I'm not even sure it matters."
 
David's face flinched.
 
"You deny you had success with me guiding you?"

“Success means nothing if its not on your own terms, and what you took from me is the absolute knowledge it ever was”

“You ungrateful....”

Fox interrupted
 
"Forgive me but I must ask you to be quiet, for now. You'll get your chance to speak. Where was I? Ah, the 'good old days'. Let's flick onto our days in the WHWF. The days of The Trinity. The most feared stable in wrestling history. Worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as The Horseman, DX, the nWo... Three men, one vision. You. Me. Matt. Sure, we knew in those days that you were the leader. That our main aim was to keep the world title around your waist. At the time me and Matt were content with that. We followed your lead. We took the scraps from your table. I can't deny. Life was good...then we decided we wanted to go our own way."
 
Again, David was reminded of what Luke had said earlier. And of the night when Myron had wanted to get away. During the last days of the Trinity they had done some ritual where Myron drank some of David's blood. Later, when he had wanted to break away, Novaar had slashed his arm, claiming he wanted to drain David's taint from him - again, the terms were painfully familiar.
 
Novaar's face darkened, his eyes narrowing. A slight far away look came to his eyes, as if reliving something long in the past. It was evident that he was remembering the same thing. My-Ron rubbed at his arm, where the scar lay underneath the cloth.
 
"First it was Matt. He dropped out. Lilith came in. Then you decided you wanted another wrestler. So Doomsday was recruited. I won the tag belts with Doomsday but it didn't feel quite right. So I left. I promised to bring in a new era of Degeneration Hexed. And you...you didn't like that one bit! So you came down on us. We battled. We fought. We set the tone...the tone of our ‘friendship’.
 
Through the years we fought as allies, as friends. We fought as enemies. We held gold again. We cost each other belts. But all the way through, even when we feuded and went after one another, I thought that our friendship had been genuine. That, while we did not always see the same way, we had a core bond like brothers. Like you and Matt..."
 
Novaar's fists balled, flexed and then returned to steeples.
 
"Myron..."
 
"As I have already told you, my name is My-Ron. That's part of it, you see. The cold, hard fact of all of this is that you brought this on yourself. There was a time when I believed what you said, even when those around me said I shouldn’t, I still believed in you. There was a time when Myron Fox wouldn't have done this to you. Wouldn't have take everything you had.

But, as I have pointed out many, many times I am no longer Myron Fox. I haven't been for the last two years. My name is My-Ron Novaar. And My-Ron can do this to you...
 
I remember something you said to me once. We were talking about The Vampire Antichrist. You said that behind the showman there was a real darkness. One akin to your Reaper mind. You said that was the reason we came together. A mutual darkness of the soul.
 
Well, David, now you can see the truth in what you said. No, Myron Fox, couldn't have done this to you, but My-Ron Novaar's soul is darker than Fox's ever was. Still he battled with it, still he fought with the decision, and still he tried to convince himself that Luke was wrong. But he wasn’t, and in the end I saw that, and your fate was sealed. You David, you're the lonely king. Sitting in your tower of past glories, surrounded by your countless treasures. A man rich with prizes, but always alone, bankrupt in life. I, by contrast, have lived up to my heritage. I am the Elvish Prince. Weird. Alien. An almost cat-like psychology. One that could do anything. Even this..."
 
David felt as if there could be no blood left in his body, his skin pale, sickly. Turning he walked over and took a seat in one of the chairs opposite to My-Ron. Suddenly David looked older than his years.
 
"Getting the picture now, are you, David? The tragic thing is that even recently you could have saved yourself. Even recently I didn't want to believe. I couldn't bring myself to see the same things Luke saw. Even as I became  My-Ron Novaar, I didn't want to believe just what you are. Luke had come to me, asked me to be part of his plot."
 
"When?"
 
"When? Just before you disappeared. He knew something wasn’t right. He asked me to push you, if I saw you. To try and reveal the monster. I did, believing at the time that you would still show that what Luke was saying was wrong.  But when you walked, and when I heard what you were doing while you were gone, the dark places you were returning to, that’s when I knew that Luke was right. I still had my doubts, but I chose to act and to take that first step of securing those trust funds. I told Luke I wouldn’t release them until I was sure. For some reason I still held onto the hope that I was wrong. That there was some shred of decency in you.
 
But then Matt came to me. Matt explained to me what you had said, What you had done. It was then I knew that was we were doing was right. And it was then that I told Luke I would play my full part in this.”
 
My-Ron's face turned into a twisted smile, focusing all of his ill feeling towards David into that one part of his body.
 
"So, you see, David, when you said that you had pulled our strings, you may have been partly right. You certainly showed me just how dark my soul could be...What irony, what sweet, poetic, irony that the darkness would be your bane...What a delicious thought that the confidence you thought you could crush ended up more than you could handle...."
 
My-ron had risen from his seat, and walked toward David. Again he held out his hand, though the look on his face suggested that he didn't expect David to take his hand. Luke and McIntyre were already at the door.
 
"No hard feelings, David? It's only business, after all..."
 
The words were mocking, something the Reaper might have said. David's lips moved. 
 
"I'm sorry, David. I didn't quite catch that."
 
Shand repeated himself, his voice is barely a whisper.
 
“I’ll kill you for this. You know that, don’t you. That you’ll die for what you have done tonight”
 
Myron nodded, sadly. For the first time since he had come in My-Ron Novaar reminded David of Myron Fox. The look in The Cyberstar's eyes showing real sadness.
 
“I may. I know there will be consequences of what I did here tonight. I can guess what they will be. Perhaps a part of me knew it would end like this. I'm not claiming to have won, David. Everybody has lost something here. Luke has lost his father. Matt, a brother. I...lost a man who was my closet friend. A man who was like my brother..."
 
Novaar's face darkened again. Shand simply stared into the distance. His face betraying no emotion anymore. Simple. Resigned.
 
"No, David. Nobody won. Everybody lost. But I had to make sure that you lost most of all. That this would be your greatest defeat. Say goodbye to it all, David. Tonight, your son walks away from you for the last time. Tonight your legacy walks away. Let the lonely king sit on his throne. His tarnished crown of dirt laying on his head. Reminds me of a song we both used to like...
 
Do you remember 'Hurt', David? I always thought the Nine Inch Nails original version was better. You liked Johnny Cash's version. A man sat amongst the wreckage of his life, a survivour, yes. But living with the ghosts of his past. The king's crumbling around him, hurting himself just to see if he still feels. Do you still feel, David? Is there anything in there that still resembles a heart?
 
You are so fond of Shakespeare David. Well, as it says in Hamlet - When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions.”
 
My-Ron turned, walking to the door. Luke went through, McIntyre followed. For a moment My-Ron stopped. But then, without turning, Novaar walked through the door. 
 
And a moment later, David Shand was alone.
 

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PostSubject: Re: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 3:49 am

ooc: Just in case it wasn't obvious from the sub-title, this is a joint role-play written by both Myron and myself.

For me, its the last role-play I'll ever write as this character.

So as he goes out, I want to do a few thankyous.

Firstly to Myron, who has been as responsible for shaping the character over the years as I have. He's the best opponent anyone can work with in an e-fed, and he's a good friend as well.

To Chris, for giving me the chance in this fed to finish the story, and giving the character such a fantastic final match.

And to the rest of you, for playing your parts over the years, and for keeping it fun, which is what all this is meant to be after all!

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PostSubject: Re: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 4:09 am

For me, I'm not sure if I will RP/fed again or not. I keep getting tempted to but I'm not sure. What this will be is a fitting ending when he does quit. So it will be the last RP even if it's not! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 4:54 am

Bravo.


The story of "The Reaper" David Shand ending like a greek tragedy.

The one thing I would never have expected. That was brilliant.

So, What does The Reaper do now? Only the dark imagination of all who see this will know. I can only imagine that as the RP implies, he is never seen again.

But I like to think that Shand is not dead. No, he is somewhere. Alive. Alone.

Tragic. Brilliant.

Applause, curtain falls.
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PostSubject: Re: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 8:15 am

Simply astonishing. A fitting end to the story. I couldn't help but get that feeling of everything coming full-circle, especially with all the references to David's father. Here's hoping that it goes better for Luke than it did his Dad.

So that's it, eh? It's been a pleasure. That character is by far the most influential I've experienced in e-fedding, and what a way for him to go out. You should definitely be proud of how you've portrayed him over the years, David, and the same goes for Myron and his character.

I plan on writing my epilogue after the women's match is posted. That way we can finally close this story.
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PostSubject: Re: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 10:41 am

Can't believe that's the last David Shand RP. The character is the best I've had the chance to work with and follow over my 10 years in E-fedding. This RP is fantastic, and a brilliant way to end the David Shand story... Oh, and Myron was OK as well Razz
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PostSubject: Re: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 11:00 am

lol, *wipes tear away at the love* Wink
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PostSubject: Re: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 11:08 am

Faulerro wrote:

I plan on writing my epilogue after the women's match is posted. That way we can finally close this story.

I hope you'll be able to have some luck with that mess of a text file I sent you.

I do apologize the the errors and the stupid parts I left in. I hope it's workable.
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PostSubject: Re: ..Echoes..   Sun May 01, 2011 11:10 am

Thanks guys.

#collapses in sobs# Wink

Like I said before, Myron Fox (character and person) is a huge part of why the Reaper worked. If it's the end for him, I'll miss his role-plays just as much.


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